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Title: The Development of the Feeling for Nature in the Middle Ages and Modern Times
Author: Biese, Alfred, 1856-1930
Language: English
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Director of the K. K. Gymnasium at Neuwied

Authorized translation from the German



The encouraging reception of my "Development of the Feeling for
Nature among the Greeks and Romans" gradually decided me, after some
years, to carry the subject on to modern tunes. Enticing as it was, I
did not shut my eyes to the great difficulties of a task whose
dimensions have daunted many a savant since the days of Humboldt's
clever, terse sketches of the feeling for Nature in different times
and peoples. But the subject, once approached, would not let me go.
Its solution seemed only possible from the side of historical
development, not from that of _a priori_ synthesis. The almost
inexhaustible amount of material, especially towards modern times,
has often obliged me to limit myself to typical forerunners of the
various epochs, although, at the same time, I have tried not to lose
the thread of general development. By the addition of the chief
phases of landscape, painting, and garden craft, I have aimed at
giving completeness to the historical picture; but I hold that
literature, especially poetry, as the most intimate medium of a
nation's feelings, is the chief source of information in an enquiry
which may form a contribution, not only to the history of taste, but
also to the comparative history of literature. At a time too when the
natural sciences are so highly developed, and the cult of Nature is
so widespread, a book of this kind may perhaps claim the interest of
that wide circle of educated readers to whom the modern delight in
Nature on its many sides makes appeal. And this the more, since books
are rare which seek to embrace the whole mental development of the
Middle Ages and modern times, and are, at the same time, intended for
and intelligible to all people of cultivation.

The book has been a work of love, and I hope it will be read with
pleasure, not only by those whose special domain it touches, but by
all who care for the eternal beauties of Nature. To those who know my
earlier papers in the _Preussische Jahrbücher_, the _Zeitschrift für
Vergleichende Litteraturgeschichte_, and the _Litteraturbeilage des
Hamburgischen Correspondents_, I trust this fuller and more connected
treatment of the theme will prove welcome.


Published Translations of the following Authors have been used:

SANSCRIT.--Jones, Wilson, Arnold, anonymous translator in a
publication of the Society for Resuscitation of Ancient Literature.

LATIN AND GREEK.--Lightfoot, Jowett, Farrar, Lodge, Dalrymple, Bigg,
Pilkington, Hodgkin, De Montalembert, Gary, Lok, Murray, Gibb, a
translator in Bonn's Classics.

ITALIAN.--Gary, Longfellow, Cayley, Robinson, Kelly, Bent, Hoole,
Roscoe, Leigh Hunt, Lofft, Astley, Oliphant.

GERMAN.--Horton and Bell, Middlemore, Lytton, Swanwick, Dwight,
Boylau, Bowling, Bell, Aytoun, Martin, Oxenford, Morrison, M'Cullum,
Winkworth, Howorth, Taylor, Nind, Brooks, Lloyd, Frothingham, Ewing,
Noel, Austin, Carlyle, Storr, Weston, Phillips.

SPANISH.--Markham, Major, Bowring, Hasell, M'Carthy, French.

FRENCH.--Anonymous translator of Rousseau.


The Translator's thanks are also due to the author for a few
alterations in and additions to the text, and to Miss Edgehill, Miss
Tomlinson, and Dr B. Scheifers for translations from Greek and Latin,
Italian, and Middle German respectively.


Nature in her ever-constant, ever-changing phases is indispensable to
man, his whole existence depends upon her, and she influences him in
manifold ways, in mind as well as body.

The physical character of a country is reflected in its inhabitants;
the one factor of climate alone gives a very different outlook to
northerner and southerner. But whereas primitive man, to whom the
darkness of night meant anxiety, either feared Nature or worshipped
her with awe, civilised man tries to lift her veil, and through
science and art to understand her inner and outer beauty--the
scientist in her laws, the man of religion in her relation to his
Creator, the artist in reproducing the impressions she makes upon

Probably it has always been common to healthy minds to take some
pleasure in her; but it needs no slight culture of heart and mind to
grasp her meaning and make it clear to others. Her book lies open
before us, but the interpretations have been many and dissimilar. A
fine statue or a richly-coloured picture appeals to all, but only
knowledge can appreciate it at its true value and discover the full
meaning of the artist. And as with Art, so with Nature.

For Nature is the greatest artist, though dumb until man, with his
inexplicable power of putting himself in her place, transferring to
her his bodily and mental self, gives her speech.

Goethe said 'man never understands how anthropomorphic he is.' No
study, however comprehensive, enables him to overstep human limits,
or conceive a concrete being, even the highest, from a wholly
impersonal point of view. His own self always remains an encumbering
factor. In a real sense he only understands himself, and his measure
for all things is man. To understand the world outside him, he must
needs ascribe his own attributes to it, must lend his own being to
find it again.

This unexplained faculty, or rather inherent necessity, which implies
at once a power and a limit, extends to persons as well as things.
The significant word sympathy expresses it. To feel a friend's grief
is to put oneself in his place, think from his standpoint and in his
mood--that is, suffer with him. The fear and sympathy which condition
the action of tragedy depend upon the same mental process; one's own
point of view is shifted to that of another, and when the two are in
harmony, and only then, the claim of beauty is satisfied, and
æsthetic pleasure results.

By the well-known expression of Greek philosophy, 'like is only
understood by like,' the Pythagoreans meant that the mathematically
trained mind is the organ by which the mathematically constructed
cosmos is understood. The expression may also serve as an æsthetic
aphorism. The charm of the simplest lyrical song depends upon the
hearer's power to put himself in the mood or situation described by
the poet, on an interplay between subject and object.

Everything in mental life depends upon this faculty. We observe,
ponder, feel, because a kindred vibration in the object sets our own
fibres in motion.

'You resemble the mind which you understand.'

It is a magic bridge from our own mind, making access possible to a
work of art, an electric current conveying the artist's ideas into
our souls.

We know how a drama or a song can thrill us when our feeling vibrates
with it; and that thrill, Faust tells us, is the best part of man.

If inventive work in whatever art or science gives the purest kind of
pleasure, Nature herself seeming to work through the artist, rousing
those impulses which come to him as revelations, there is pleasure
also in the passive reception of beauty, especially when we are not
content to remain passive, but trace out and rethink the artist's
thoughts, remaking his work.

'To invent for oneself is beautiful; but to recognise gladly and
treasure up the happy inventions of others is that less thine?' said
Goethe in his _Jahreszeiten_; and in the _Aphorisms_, confirming what
has just been said: 'We know of no world except in relation to man,
we desire no art but that which is the expression of this relation.'
And, further, 'Look into yourselves and you will find everything, and
rejoice if outside yourselves, as you may say, lies a Nature which
says yea and amen to all that you have found there.'

Certainly Nature only bestows on man in proportion to his own inner
wealth. As Rückert says, 'the charm of a landscape lies in this, that
it seems to reflect back that part of one's inner life, of mind,
mood, and feeling, which we have given it.' And Ebers, 'Lay down your
best of heart and mind before eternal Nature; she will repay you a
thousandfold, with full hands.'

And Vischer remarks, 'Nature at her greatest is not so great that she
can work without man's mind.' Every landscape can be beautiful and
stimulating if human feeling colours it, and it will be most so to
him who brings the richest endowment of heart and mind to bear:
Nature only discloses her whole self to a whole man.

But it is under the poet's wand above all, that, like the marble at
Pygmalion's breast, she grows warm and breathes and answers to his
charm; as in that symbolic saga, the listening woods and waters and
the creatures followed Orpheus with his lute. Scientific knowledge,
optical, acoustical, meteorological, geological, only widens and
deepens love for her and increases and refines the sense of her
beauty. In short, deep feeling for Nature always proves considerable
culture of heart and mind.

There is a constant analogy between the growth of this feeling and
that of general culture.

As each nation and time has its own mode of thought, which is
constantly changing, so each period has its 'landscape eye.' The same
rule applies to individuals. Nature, as Jean Paul said, is made
intelligible to man in being for ever made flesh. We cannot look at
her impersonally, we must needs give her form and soul, in order to
grasp and describe her.

Vischer says[1] 'it is simply by an act of comparison that we think
we see our own life in inanimate objects.' We say that Nature's
clearness is like clearness of mind, that her darkness and gloom are
like a dark and gloomy mood; then, omitting 'like,' we go on to
ascribe our qualities directly to her, and say, this neighbourhood,
this air, this general tone of colour, is cheerful, melancholy, and
so forth. Here we are prompted by an undeveloped dormant
consciousness which really only compares, while it seems to take one
thing for another. In this way we come to say that a rock projects
boldly, that fire rages furiously over a building, that a summer
evening with flocks going home at sunset is peaceful and idyllic;
that autumn, dripping with rain, its willows sighing in the wind, is
elegiac and melancholy and so forth.

Perhaps Nature would not prove to be this ready symbol of man's inner
life were there no secret rapport between the two. It is as if, in
some mysterious way, we meet in her another mind, which speaks a
language we know, wakening a foretaste of kinship; and whether the
soul she expresses is one we have lent her, or her own which we have
divined, the relationship is still one of give and take.

Let us take a rapid survey of the course of this feeling in
antiquity. Pantheism has always been the home of a special tenderness
for Nature, and the poetry of India is full of intimate dealings
between man and plants and animals.

They are found in the loftiest flights of religious enthusiasm in the
Vedas, where, be it only in reference to the splendour of dawn or the
'golden-handed sun,' Nature is always assumed to be closely connected
with man's inner and outer life. Later on, as Brahminism appeared,
deepening the contemplative side of Hindoo character, and the drama
and historical plays came in, generalities gave way to definite
localizing, and in the Epics ornate descriptions of actual landscape
took independent place. Nature's sympathy with human joys and griefs
was taken for granted, and she played a part of her own in drama.

In the _Mahâbhârata_, when Damajanti is wandering in search of her
lost Nala and sees the great mountain top, she asks it for her

    Oh mountain lord!
  Far seen and celebrated hill, that cleav'st
  The blue o' the sky, refuge of living things,
  Most noble eminence, I worship thee!...
  O Mount, whose double ridge stamps on the sky
  Yon line, by five-score splendid pinnacles
  Indented; tell me, in this gloomy wood
  Hast thou seen Nala? Nala, wise and bold!
  Ah mountain! why consolest thou me not,
  Answering one word to sorrowful, distressed,
  Lonely, lost Damajanti?

And when she comes to the tree Asoka, she implores:

  Ah, lovely tree! that wavest here
  Thy crown of countless shining clustering blooms
  As thou wert woodland king! Asoka tree!
  Tree called the sorrow-ender, heart's-ease tree!
  Be what thy name saith; end my sorrow now,
  Saying, ah, bright Asoka, thou hast seen
  My Prince, my dauntless Nala--seen that lord
  Whom Damajanti loves and his foes fear.

In Maghas' epic, _The Death of Sisupala_, plants and animals lead the
same voluptuous life as the 'deep-bosomed, wide-hipped' girls with
the ardent men.

'The mountain Raivataka touches the ether with a thousand heads,
earth with a thousand feet, the sun and moon are his eyes. When the
birds are tired and tremble with delight from the caresses of their
mates, he grants them shade from lotos leaves. Who in the world is
not astonished when he has climbed, to see the prince of mountains
who overshadows the ether and far-reaching regions of earth, standing
there with his great projecting crags, while the moon's sickle
trembles on his summit?'

In Kalidasa's _Urwasi_, the deserted King who is searching for his
wife asks the peacock:

    Oh tell,
  If, free on the wing as you soar,
  You have seen the loved nymph I deplore--
  You will know her, the fairest of damsels fair,
  By her large soft eye and her graceful air;
  Bird of the dark blue throat and eye of jet,
  Oh tell me, have you seen the lovely face
  Of my fair bride--lost in this dreary wilderness?

and the mountain:

  Say mountain, whose expansive slope confines
  The forest verge, oh, tell me hast thou seen
  A nymph as beauteous as the bride of love
  Mounting with slender frame thy steep ascent,
  Or wearied, resting in thy crowning woods?

As he sits by the side of the stream, he asks whence comes its charm:

  Whilst gazing on the stream, whose new swollen waters
  Yet turbid flow, what strange imaginings
  Possess my soul and fill it with delight.
  The rippling wave is like her aching brow;
  The fluttering line of storks, her timid tongue;
  The foaming spray, her white loose floating vest;
  And this meandering course the current tracks
  Her undulating gait.

Then he sees a creeper without flowers, and a strange attraction
impels him to embrace it, for its likeness to his lost love:

  Vine of the wilderness, behold
  A lone heartbroken wretch in me,
  Who dreams in his embrace to fold
  His love, as wild he clings to thee.

Thereupon the creeper transforms itself into Urwasi.

In Kalidasa's _Sakuntala_, too, when the pretty girls are watering
the flowers in the garden, Sakuntala says: 'It is not only in
obedience to our father that I thus employ myself. I really feel the
affection of a sister for these young plants.' Taking it for granted
that the mango tree has the same feeling for herself, she cries: 'Yon
Amra tree, my friends, points with the fingers of its leaves, which
the gale gently agitates, and seems inclined to whisper some secret';
and with maiden shyness, attributing her own thoughts about love to
the plants, one of her comrades says: 'See, my Sakuntala, how yon
fresh Mallica which you have surnamed Vanadosini or Delight of the
Grove, has chosen the sweet Amra for her bridegroom....'

'How charming is the season, when the nuptials even of plants are
thus publicly celebrated!'--and elsewhere:

'Here is a plant, Sakuntala, which you have forgotten.' Sakuntala:
'Then I shall forget myself.'

Birds,[2] clouds, and waves are messengers of love; all Nature
grieves at the separation of lovers. When Sakuntala is leaving her
forest, one of her friends says: 'Mark the affliction of the forest
itself when the time of your departure approaches!

'The female antelope browses no more on the collected Cusa grass, and
the pea-hen ceases to dance on the lawn; the very plants of the
grove, whose pale leaves fall on the ground, lose their strength and
their beauty.'

The poems of India, especially those devoted to descriptions of
Nature, abound in such bold, picturesque personifications, which are
touching, despite their extravagance, through their intense sympathy
with Nature. They shew the Hindoo attitude toward Nature in general,
as well as his boundless fancy. I select one example from 'The
Gathering of the Seasons' in Kalidasa's _Ritusanhare_: a description
of the Rains.

'Pouring rain in torrents at the request of the thirst-stricken
Chatakas, and emitting slow mutterings pleasing to the ears, clouds,
bent down by the weight of their watery contents, are slowly moving

'The rivers being filled up with the muddy water of the rivers, their
force is increased. Therefore, felling down the trees on both the
banks, they, like unchaste women, are going quickly towards the

'The heat of the forest has been removed by the sprinkling of new
water, and the Ketaka flowers have blossomed. On the branches of
trees being shaken by the wind, it appears that the entire forest is
dancing in delight. On the blossoming of Ketaka flowers it appears
that the forest is smiling. Thinking, "he is our refuge when we are
bent down by the weight of water, the clouds are enlivening with
torrents the mount Vindhya assailed with fierce heat (of the

Charming pictures and comparisons are numerous, though they have the
exaggeration common to oriental imagination, 'Love was the cause of
my distemper, and love has healed it; as a summer's day, grown black
with clouds, relieves all animals from the heat which itself had

'Should you be removed to the ends of the world, you will be fixed in
this heart, as the shade of a lofty tree remains with it even when
the day is departed.'

'The tree of my hope which had risen so luxuriantly is broken down.'

'Removed from the bosom of my father, like a young sandal tree rent
from the hill of Malaja, how shall I exist in a strange soil?'

This familiar intercourse with Nature stood far as the poles asunder
from the monotheistic attitude of the Hebrew. The individual, it is
true, was nothing in comparison with Brahma, the All-One; but the
divine pervaded and sanctified all things, and so gave them a certain
value; whilst before Jehovah, throned above the world, the whole
universe was but dust and ashes. The Hindoo, wrapt in the
contemplation of Nature, described her at great length and for her
own sake, the Hebrew only for the sake of his Creator. She had no
independent significance for him; he looked at her only 'sub specie
eterni Dei,' in the mirror of the eternal God. Hence he took interest
in her phases only as revelations of his God, noting one after
another only to group them synthetically under the idea of Godhead.
Hence too, despite his profound inwardness--'The heart is deceitful
above all things and desperately wicked, who can know it?'
(_Jeremiah_)--human individuality was only expressed in its relation
to Jehovah.

'The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his
handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth
knowledge.'--_Psalm_ 19.

'Let the heavens rejoice and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar,
and the fulness thereof.

'Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein; then shall all the
trees of the wood rejoice.'--_Psalm_ 96.

'Let the floods clap their hands: let the hills be joyful
together.'--_Psalm_ 98.

'The floods have lifted up, O Lord, the floods have lifted up their
voice; the floods lift up their waves. The Lord on high is mightier
than the noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the
sea.'--_Psalm_ 93.

'The sea saw it, and fled: Jordan was driven back. The mountains
skipped like rams, and the little hills like lambs.'--_Psalm_ 114.

'The waters saw thee, O God, the waters saw thee; they were afraid:
the depths also were troubled.'--_Psalm_ 77.

All these lofty personifications of inanimate Nature only
characterise her in her relation to another, and that not man but
God. Nothing had significance by itself, Nature was but a book in
which to read of Jehovah; and for this reason the Hebrew could not be
wrapt in her, could not seek her for her own sake, she was only a
revelation of the Deity.

'Lord, how great are thy works, in wisdom hast thou made them all:
the earth is full of thy goodness.'

Yet there is a fiery glow of enthusiasm in the songs in praise of
Jehovah's wonders in creation.

'0 Lord my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and

'Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment; who stretchest
out the heavens like a curtain.

'Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters; who maketh the
clouds his chariot; who walketh upon the wings of the wind.

'Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire; who
laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for

'Thou coveredst the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above
the mountains.

'At thy rebuke they fled; at the voice of thy thunder they hasted

'They go up by the mountains; they go down by the valleys unto the
place which thou hast founded for them.

'Thou hast set a bound that they may not pass over; that they turn
not again to cover the earth.

'He sendeth the springs into the valleys, which run among the hills.

'They give drink to every beast of the field: the wild asses quench
their thirst.

'By them shall the fowls of the heaven have their habitation, which
sing among the branches ...

'He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the
service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth.

'And wine that maketh glad the heart of man ...

'The trees of the Lord are full of sap; the cedars of Lebanon, which
he hath planted.

'Where the birds make their nests: as for the stork, the fir trees
are her house.

'The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats, and the rocks for
the conies.

'He appointed the moon for seasons: the sun knoweth his going down.

'Thou makest darkness, and it is night: wherein all the beasts of the
forest do creep forth.

'The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God.

'The sun ariseth, they gather themselves together, and lay them down
in their dens.

'Man goeth forth to his work and to his labour until the evening....

'This great and wide sea, wherein are creeping things innumerable,
both small and great beasts....

'He looketh on the earth, and it trembleth; he toucheth the hills,
and they smoke.

'I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to
my God as long as I have my being.'--_Psalm_ 104.

And what a lofty point of view is shewn by the overpowering words
which Job puts into the mouth of Jehovah; 'Where wast thou when I
laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if thou hast
understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof if thou knowest, or
who hath stretched the line upon it?

'Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the
corner stone thereof?

'When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God
shouted for joy?...

'Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days; and caused the
dayspring to know his place?

'That it might take hold of the ends of the earth, that the wicked
might be shaken out of it?...

'Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea, or hast thou walked
in the search of the deep?...

'Declare, if thou knowest it all!...

'Where is the way where light dwelleth, and as for darkness, where is
the place thereof?' etc.

Compare with this _Isaiah_ xl. verse 12, etc.

Metaphors too, though poetic and fine, are not individualized.

'Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy water-spouts: all thy
waves and thy billows are gone over me.'--_Psalm_ 42.

'Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto my soul. I sink in
deep mire, where there is no standing; I am come into deep waters,
where the floods overflow me.'--_Psalm_ 69.

There are many pictures from the animal world; and these are more
elaborate in Job than elsewhere (see _Job_ xl. and xli.).
Personifications, as we have seen, are many, but Nature is only
called upon to sympathise with man in isolated cases, as, for
instance, in 2 _Samuel_ i.:

'Ye mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew, neither let there be
rain upon you, nor fields of offerings: for there the shield of the
mighty is vilely cast away, the shield of Saul, as if he had not been
anointed with oil.'

The Cosmos unfolded itself to the Hebrew[3] as one great whole, and
the glance fixed upon a distant horizon missed the nearer lying
detail of phenomena. His imagination ranged the universe with the
wings of the wind, and took vivid note of air, sky, sea, and land,
but only, so to speak, in passing; it never rested there, but hurried
past the boundaries of earth to Jehovah's throne, and from that
height looked down upon creation.

The attitude of the Greek was very different. Standing firmly rooted
in the world of sense, his open mind and his marvellous eye for
beauty appreciated the glorious external world around him down to its
finest detail. His was the race of the beautiful, the first in
history to train all its powers into harmony to produce a culture of
beauty equal in form and contents, and his unique achievement in art
and science enriched all after times with lasting standards of the
great and beautiful.

The influence of classic literature upon the Middle Ages and modern
times has not only endured, but has gone on increasing with the
centuries; so that we must know the position reached by Greece and
Rome as to feeling for Nature, in order to discover whether the line
of advance in the Middle Ages led directly forward or began by a
backward movement--a zigzag.

The terms ancient and modern, naive and sentimental, classic and
romantic, have been shibboleths of culture from Jean Paul, Schiller,
and Hegel, to Vischer. Jean Paul, in his _Vorschule zur Aesthetik_,
compares the ideally simple Greek poetry, with its objectivity,
serenity, and moral grace, with the musical poetry of the romantic
period, and speaks of one as the sunlight that pervades our waking
hours, the other as the moonlight that gleams fitfully on our
dreaming ones. Schiller's epoch-making essay _On Naive and
Sentimental Poetry_, with its rough division into the classic-naive
depending on a harmony between nature and mind, and the
modern-sentimental depending on a longing for a lost paradise, is
constantly quoted to shew that the Greeks took no pleasure in Nature.
This is misleading. Schiller's Greek was very limited; in the very
year (1795) in which the essay appeared in _The Hours_, he was asking
Humboldt's advice as to learning Greek, with special reference to
Homer and Xenophon.

To him Homer was the Greek _par excellence_, and who would not agree
with him to-day?

As in Greek mythology, that naive poem of Nature, the product of the
artistic impulse of the race to stamp its impressions in a beautiful
and harmonious form, so in the clear-cut comparisons in Homer, the
feeling for Nature is profound; but the Homeric hero had no personal
relations with her, no conscious leaning towards her; the
descriptions only served to frame human action, in time or space.

But that cheerful, unreflecting youth of mankind, that naive Homeric
time, was short in spite of Schiller, who, in the very essay referred
to, included Euripides, Virgil, and Horace among the sentimental, and
Shakespeare among the naive, poets--a fact often overlooked.

In line with the general development of culture, Greek feeling for
Nature passed through various stages. These can be clearly traced
from objective similes and naive, homely comparisons to poetic
personifications, and so on to more extended descriptions, in which
scenery was brought into harmony or contrast with man's inner life;
until finally, in Hellenism, Nature was treated for her own sake, and
man reduced to the position of supernumerary both in poetry and
also--so approaching the modern--in landscape-painting.

Greece had her sentimental epoch; she did not, as we have said, long
remain naive. From Sophist days a steady process of decomposition
went on--in other words, a movement towards what we call modern, a
movement which to the classic mind led backward; but from the wider
standpoint of general development meant advance. For the path of
culture is always the same in the nations; it leads first upward and
then downward, and all ripening knowledge, while it enriches the
mind, brings with it some unforeseen loss. Mankind pays heavily for
each new gain; it paid for increased subjectivity and inwardness by a
loss in public spirit and patriotism which, once the most valued of
national possessions, fell away before the increasing individuality,
the germ of the modern spirit. For what is the modern spirit but
limitless individuality?

The greater the knowledge of self, the richer the inner life. Man
becomes his own chief problem--he begins to watch the lightest
flutter of his own feelings, to grasp and reflect upon them, to look
upon himself in fact as in a mirror; and it is in this doubling of
the ego, so to speak, that sentimentality in the modern sense
consists. It leads to love of solitude, the fittest state for the
growth of a conscious love of Nature, for, as Rousseau said 'all
noble passions are formed in solitude,' 'tis there that one
recognizes one's own heart as 'the rarest and most valuable of all
possessions.' 'Oh, what a fatal gift of Heaven is a feeling heart!'
and elsewhere he said: 'Hearts that are warmed by a divine fire find
a pure delight in their own feelings which is independent of fate and
of the whole world.' Euripides, too, loved solitude, and avoided the
noise of town life by retiring to a grotto at Salamis which he had
arranged for himself with a view of the sea; for which reason, his
biographer tells us, most of his similes are drawn from the sea. He,
rather than Petrarch or Rousseau, was the father of sentimentality.
His morbidly sensitive Hippolytos cries 'Alas! would it were possible
that I should see myself standing face to face, in which case I
should have wept for the sorrows that we suffer'; and in the chorus
of _The Suppliants_ we have: 'This insatiate joy of mourning leads me
on like as the liquid drop flowing from the sun-trodden rock, ever
increasing of groans.' In Euripides we have the first loosening of
that ingenuous bond between Nature and the human spirit, as the
Sophists laid the axe to the root of the old Hellenic ideas and
beliefs. Subjectivity had already gained in strength from the birth
of the lyric, that most individual of all expressions of feeling; and
since the lyric cannot dispense with the external world, classic song
now shewed the tender subjective feeling for Nature which we see in
Sappho, Pindar, and Simonides. Yet Euripides (and Aristophanes, whose
painful mad laugh, as Doysen says, expresses the same distraction and
despair as the deep melancholy of Euripides) only paved the way for
that sentimental, idyllic feeling for Nature which dwelt on her quiet
charms for their own sake, as in Theocritus, and, like the modern,
rose to greater intensity in the presence of the amorous passion, as
we see in Kallimachos and the Anthology. It was the outcome of
Hellenism, of which sentimental introspection, the freeing of the ego
from the bonds of race and position, and the discovery of the
individual in all directions of human existence, were marks. And this
feeling developing from Homer to Longos, from unreflecting to
conscious and then to sentimental pleasure in Nature, was expressed
not only in poetry but in painting, although the latter never fully
mastered technique.

The common thoughtless statement, so often supported by quotations
from Schiller, Gervinus, and others, that Greek antiquity was not
alive to the beauty of Nature and her responsiveness to human moods,
and neither painted scenery nor felt the melancholy poetic charm of
ruins and tombs, is therefore a perversion of the truth; but it must
be conceded that the feeling which existed then was but the germ of
our modern one. It was fettered by the specific national beliefs
concerning the world and deities, by the undeveloped state of the
natural sciences, which, except botany, still lay in swaddling-clothes,
by the new influence of Christendom, and by that strict feeling for
style which, very much to its advantage, imposed a moderation that
would have excluded much of our senseless modern rhapsody.

It was not unnatural that Schiller, in distaste for the weak riot of
feeling and the passion for describing Nature which obtained in his
day, was led to overpraise the Homeric naïvete and overblame the
sentimentality which he wrongly identified with it.

In all that is called art, the Romans were pupils of the Greek, and
their achievements in the region of beauty cannot be compared with
his. But they advanced the course of general culture, and their
feeling--always more subjective, abstract, self-conscious, and
reflective--has a comparatively familiar, because modern, ring in the
great poets.

The preference for the practical and social-economic is traceable in
their feeling for Nature. Their mythology also lay too much within
the bounds of the intelligible; shewed itself too much in forms and
ceremonies, in a cult; but it had not lost the sense of awe--it still
heard the voices of mysterious powers in the depths of the forest.

The dramatists wove effective metaphors and descriptions of Nature
into their plays.

Lucretius laid the foundations of a knowledge of her which refined
both his enjoyment and his descriptions; and the elegiac sentimental
style, which we see developed in Tibullus, Propertius, Ovid, Virgil,
and Horace, first came to light in the great lyrist Catullus. In
Imperial times feeling for Nature grew with the growth of culture in
general; men turned to her in times of bad cheer, and found comfort
in the great sky spaces, the constant stars, and forests that
trembled with awe of the divine Numen.

It was so with Seneca, a pantheist through and through. Pliny the
younger was quite modern in his choice of rural solitudes, and his
appreciation of the views from his villa. With Hadrian and Apuleius
the Roman rococo literature began; Apuleius was astonishingly modern,
and Ausonius was almost German in the depth and tenderness of his
feeling for Nature. Garden-culture and landscape-painting shewed the
same movement towards the sympathetic and elegiac-sentimental.

Those who deny the Roman feeling for Nature might learn better from a
glance at the ruins of their villas. As H. Nissen says in his
_Italische Landeskunde_:

'It was more than mere fashion which drew the Roman to the sea-side,
and attracted so strongly all those great figures, from the elder
Scipio Africanus and his noble daughter, Cornelia, down to Augustus
and Tiberius and their successors, whenever their powers flagged in
the Forum. There were soft breezes to cool the brow, colour and
outline to refresh the eye, and wide views that appealed to a race
born to extensive lordship.

'In passing along the desolate, fever-stricken coasts of Latium and
Campania to-day, one comes upon many traces of former splendour, and
one is reminded that the pleasure which the old Romans took in the
sea-side was spoilt for those who came after them by the havoc of the

In many points, Roman feeling for Nature was more developed than
Greek. For instance, the Romans appreciated landscape as a whole, and
distance, light and shade in wood and water, reflections, the charms
of hunting and rowing, day-dreams on a mountain side, and so forth.

That antiquity and the Middle Ages had any taste for romantic scenery
has been energetically denied; but we can find a trace of it. The
landscape which the Roman admired was level, graceful, and gentle; he
certainly did not see any beauty in the Alps. Livy's 'Foeditas
Alpinum' and the dreadful descriptions of Ammian, with others, are
the much-quoted vouchers for this. Nor is it surprising; for modern
appreciation, still in its youth, is really due to increased
knowledge about Nature, to a change of feeling, and to the
conveniences of modern travelling, unknown 2000 years ago.

The dangers and hardships of those days must have put enjoyment out
of the question; and only served to heighten the unfavourable
contrast between the wildness of the mountain regions and the
cultivation of Italy.

Lucretius looked at wild scenery with horror, but later on it became
a favourite subject for description; and Seneca notes, as shewing a
morbid state of mind, in his essay on tranquillity of mind, that
travelling not only attracts men to delightful places, but that some
even exclaim: 'Let us go now into Campania; now that delicate soil
delighteth us, let us visit the wood countries, let us visit the
forest of Calabria, and let us seek some pleasure amidst the deserts,
in such sort as these wandering eyes of ours may be relieved in
beholding, at our pleasure, the strange solitude of these savage

We have thus briefly surveyed on the one hand, in theory, the
conditions under which a conscious feeling for Nature develops, and
the forms in which it expresses itself; and, on the other, the course
this feeling has followed in antiquity among the Hindoos, Hebrews,
Greeks, and Romans. The movement toward the modern, toward the
subjective and individual, lies clear to view. We will now trace its
gradual development along lines which are always strictly analogous
to those of culture in general, through the Middle Ages.



When the heathen world had outlived its faculties, and its creative
power had failed, it sank into the ocean of the past--a sphinx, with
her riddle guessed,--and mediæval civilization arose, founded upon
Christianity and Germanism. There are times in the world's history
when change seems to be abrupt, the old to be swept away and all
things made new at a stroke, as if by the world-consuming fire of the
old Saga. But, in reality, all change is gradual; the old is for ever
failing and passing out of sight, to be taken up as a ferment into
the ever emerging new, which changes and remodels as it will. It was
so with Christianity. It is easy to imagine that it arose suddenly,
like a phoenix, from the ashes of heathendom; but, although dependent
at heart upon the sublime personality of its Founder, it was none the
less a product of its age, and a result of gradual development--a
river with sources partly in Judea, partly in Hellas. And mediæval
Christianity never denied the traces of its double origin.

Upon this syncretic soil its literature sprang up, moulded as to
matter upon Old Testament and specifically Christian models, as to
form upon the great writers of antiquity; but matter and form are
only separable in the abstract, and the Middle Ages are woven through
and through with both Greco-Roman and Jewish elements.

But these elements were unfavourable to the development of feeling
for Nature; Judaism admitted no delight in her for her own sake, and
Christianity intensified the Judaic opposition between God and the
world, Creator and created.

'Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world; if any
man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him': by which
John meant, raise your eyes to your Heavenly Father, throned above
the clouds.

Christianity in its stringent form was transcendental, despising the
world and renouncing its pleasures. It held that Creation, through
the entrance of sin, had become a caricature, and that earthly
existence had only the very limited value of a thoroughfare to the
eternal Kingdom.

While joy in existence characterized the Hellenic world until its
downfall, and the Greek took life serenely, delighting in its smooth
flow; with Christianity, as Jean Paul put it, 'all the present of
earth vanished into the future of Heaven, and the Kingdom of the
Infinite arose upon the ruins of the finite.'

The beauty of earth was looked upon as an enchantment of the devil;
and sin, the worm in the fruit, lurked in its alluring forms.

Classic mythology created a world of its own, dimly veiled by the
visible one; every phase of Nature shewed the presence or action of
deities with whom man had intimate relations; every form of life,
animated by them, held something familiar to him, even sacred--his
landscape was absorbed by the gods.

To Judaism and Christianity, Nature was a fallen angel, separated as
far as possible from her God. They only recognized one world--that of
spirit; and one sphere of the spiritual, religion--the relation
between God and man. Material things were a delusion of Satan's; the
heaven on which their eyes were fixed was a very distant one.

The Hellenic belief in deities was pandemonistic and cosmic;
Christianity, in its original tendency, anti-cosmic and hostile to
Nature. And Nature, like the world at large, only existed for it in
relation to its Creator, and was no longer 'the great mother of all
things,' but merely an instrument in the hands of Providence.

The Greek looked at phenomena in detail, in their inexhaustible
variety, rarely at things as a whole; the Christian considered Nature
as a work of God, full of wonderful order, in which detail had only
the importance of a link in a chain.

As Lotze says, 'The creative artistic impulse could be of no use to a
conception of life in which nothing retained independent
significance, but everything referred to or symbolized something
else.' But yet, the idea of individuality, of the importance of the
ego, gained ground as never before through this introspection and
merging of material in spiritual, this giving spirit the exclusive
sway; and Christianity, while it broke down the barriers of nation,
race, and position, and widened the cleft between Nature and spirit,
discovered at the same time the worth of the individual.

And this individuality was one of the chief steps towards an
artistic, that is, individual point of view about Nature, for it was
not possible to consider her freely and for her own sake alone, until
the unlimited independence of mind had been recognized.

But the full development of Christianity was only reached when it
blended with the Germanic spirit, with the German Gemüth (for which
no other language has a word), and intensified, by so doing, the
innately subjective temperament of the race.

The northern climate gives pause for the development of the inner
life; its long bleak winter, with the heavy atmosphere and slow
coming of spring, wake a craving for light and warmth, and throw man
back on himself. This inward inclination, which made itself felt very
early in the German race, by bringing out the contemplative and
independent sides of his character, and so disinclining him for
combined action with his fellows, forwarded the growth of the
over-ripe seeds of classic culture and vital Christianity.

The Romanic nations, with their brilliant, sharply-defined landscape
and serene skies, always retained something of the objective delight
in life which belonged to antiquity; they never felt that mysterious
impulse towards dreams and enthusiastic longing which the Northerner
draws from his lowering skies and dark woods, his mists on level and
height, the grey in grey of his atmosphere, and his ever varying
landscape. A raw climate drives man indoors in mind as well as body,
and prompts that craving for spring and delight in its coming which
have been the chief notes in northern feeling for Nature from
earliest times.

Vischer has shewn in his _Aesthetik_, that German feeling was early
influenced by the different forms of plant life around it. Rigid
pine, delicate birch, stalwart oak, each had its effect; and the
wildness and roughness of land, sea, and animal life in the North
combined with the cold of the climate to create the taste for
domestic comfort, for fireside dreams, and thought-weaving by the

Nature schooled the race to hard work and scanty pleasure, and yet
its relationship to her was deep and heartfelt from the first.
Devoutly religious, it gazed at her with mingled love and fear; and
the deposit of its ideas about her was its mythology.

Its gods dwelt in mountain tops, holes in the rocks, and rivers, and
especially in dark forests and in the leafy boughs of sacred trees;
and the howling of wind, the rustle of leaves, the soughing in the
tree tops, were sounds of their presence. The worship of woods lasted
far into Christian times, especially among the Saxons and

Wodan was the all-powerful father of gods and men--the highest god,
who, as among all the Aryan nations, represented Heaven. Light was
his shining helmet, clouds were the dark cap he put on when he spread
rain over the earth, or crashed through the air as a wild hunter with
his raging pack. His son Donar shewed himself in thunder and
lightning, as he rode with swinging axe on his goat-spanned car.
Mountains were sacred to both, as plants to Ziu. Freyr and Freya were
goddesses of fertility, love, and spring; a ram was sacred to them,
whose golden fleece illuminated night as well as day, and who drew
their car with a horse's speed.[2] As with Freya, an image of the
goddess Nerthus was drawn through the land in spring, to announce
peace and fertility to mortals.

The suggestive myth of Baldur, god of light and spring, killed by
blind Hödur, was the expression of general grief at the passing of

The _Edda_ has a touching picture of the sorrow of Nature, of her
trees and plants, when the one beloved of all living things fell,
pierced by an arrow. Holda was first the mild and gracious goddess,
then a divine being, encompassing the earth. She might be seen in
morning hours by her favourite haunts of lake and spring, a beautiful
white woman, who bathed and vanished. When snow fell, she was making
her bed, and the feathers flew. Agriculture and domestic order were
under her care.

Ostara was goddess of bright dawn, of rising light, and awakening
spring, as Hel of subterranean night, the darkness of the underworld.
Frigg, wife of the highest god, knew the story of existence, and
protected marriage. She was the Northern Juno or Hera.

Ravines and hollows in the mountains were the dwelling-places of the
dwarfs (Erdmännlein), sometimes friendly, sometimes unfriendly to
man; now peaceful and helpful, now impish spirits of mischief in
cloud caps and grey coats, thievish and jolly.

They were visible by moonlight, dancing in the fields; and when their
track was found in the dew,[3] a good harvest was expected. Popular
belief took the floating autumn cobwebs for the work of elves and
fairies. The spirits of mountain and wood were related to the
water-spirits, nixies who sat combing their long hair in the sun, or
stretched up lovely arms out of the water. The elves belonged to the
more spiritual side of Nature, the giants to the grosser. Rocks and
stones were the weapons of the giants; they removed mountains and
hills, and boulders were pebbles shaken out of their shoes.

Among animals the horse was sacred to many deities, and gods and
goddesses readily transformed themselves into birds. Two ravens,
Hugin and Munin, whose names signify thought and memory, were Odin's
constant companions. The gift of prophecy was ascribed to the cuckoo,
as its monotonous voice heralded the spring:

  Kukuk vam haven, wo lange sail ik leven?

There were many legends of men and snakes who exchanged shapes, and
whom it was unlucky to kill.[4]

The sun and moon, too, were familiar figures in legends.

Their movement across the sky was a flight from two pursuing wolves,
of which one, the Fenris wolf, was fated one day to catch and devour
the moon. The German, like the Greek, dreaded nothing more than the
eclipse of sun or moon, and connected it with the destruction of all
things and the end of the world. In the moon spots he saw a human
form carrying a hare or a stick or an axe on his shoulder.

The Solstices impressed him most of all, with their almost constant
day in summer, almost constant night in winter. Sun, moon, and stars
were the eyes of heaven; there was a pious custom to greet the stars
before going to bed. Still earlier, they were sparks of fire from
Muspilli, to light the gods home. Night, day, and the sun had their
cars--night and day with one horse, the sun with two: sunrise brought
sounds sweeter than the song of birds or strings; the rising sun, it
was said, rings for joy, murmuring daybreak laughs.[5]

Day brought joy, night sorrow; the first was good and friendly, the
second bad and hostile. The birds greeted daytime and summer with
songs of delight, but grieved in silence through night and winter:
the first swallow and stork were hailed as spring's messengers. May
with greening woods led in beloved summer, frost and snow the winter.

So myth, fable, and legend were interlaced in confusion; who can
separate the threads?

At any rate, the point of view which they indicate remained the
common one even far into the Middle Ages, and shewed simple familiar
intercourse with Nature. Even legal formulæ were full of pictures
from Nature. In the customary oath to render a contract binding, the
promise is to hold, so it runs, 'so long as the sun shines and rivers
flow, so long as the wind blows and birds sing, so far off as earth
is green and fir trees grow, so far as the vault of heaven reaches.'
As Schnaase says,[6] though with some exaggeration, such formulæ, in
their summary survey of earth and sky, often give a complete
landscape poem in a few words. He points out that in northern, as
opposed to classic mythology, Nature was considered, not in the
cursory Hebrew way, that hurried over or missed detail, but as a
whole, and in her relation to man's inner life.

'The collective picture of heaven and earth, of cloud movement, of
the mute life of plants--that side of Nature which had almost escaped
the eye of antiquity--occupied the Northerner most of all.

'The _Edda_ even represents all Nature together in one colossal
form--the form of the giant Ymir, whom the sons of Boer slew, in
order to make the mountains from his bones, the earth from his flesh,
the skies from his skull.'

A still grander mythical synthesis was the representation of the
whole world under the form of the sacred ash tree Yggdrasil. This was
the world tree which united heaven, earth, and hell. Its branches
stretched across the world and reached up to the skies, and its roots
spread in different directions--one toward the race of Asa in heaven,
another toward the Hrimthursen, the third toward the underworld; and
on both roots and branches creatures lived and played--eagle,
squirrel, stag, and snake; while by the murmuring Urdhar stream,
which rippled over one root, the Nones sat in judgment with the race
of Asa.

Not less significant was the conception of the end of the world, the
twilight of the gods (Götterdämmerung), according to which all the
wicked powers broke loose and fought against the gods; the sun and
moon were devoured by wolves, the stars fell and earth quaked, the
monster world-serpent Joermungande, in giant rage, reared himself out
of the water and came to land: Loki led the Hrimthursen and the
retinue of hell, and Surt, with his shining hair, rode away from the
flaming earth across Bifröst, the rainbow, which broke beneath him.

After the world conflagration a new and better earth arose, with
rejuvenated gods.[7]

German mediæval poetry, as a whole, epic and lyric, was interwoven
with a hazy network of suggestive myth and legend; and moral
elements, which in mythology were hidden by the prominence of Nature,
stood out clear to view in the fate and character of the heroes. The
germ of many of our fairy tales is a bit of purest poetry of
Nature--a genuine Nature myth transferred to human affairs, which lay
nearer to the child-like popular mind, and were therefore more
readily understood by it.

So, for instance, from the Maiden of the Shield, Sigrdrifa, who was
pierced by Odin's sleep thorn, and who originally represented the
earth, frozen in winter, kissed awake by the sun-god, came Brunhild,
whose mail Siegfried's sword penetrated as the sun rays penetrate the
frost, and lastly the King's daughter, who pricked herself with the
fateful spindle, and sank into deep sleep. And as Sigrdrifa was
surrounded by walls of flame, so now we have a thorny hedge of wild
briar round the beautiful maiden (hence named Dornröschen) when the
lucky prince comes to waken her with a kiss.[8]

Not all fairy tales have preserved the myth into Christian times in
so poetic and transparent a form as this. Its poetic germ arose from
hidden depths of myth and legend, and, like heathen superstitions in
the first centuries of Christianity, found its most fruitful soil
among the people. It has often been disguised beyond recognition by
legends, and by the worship of the Madonna and saints, but it has
never been destroyed, and it keeps its magic to the present day.

We see then that the inborn German feeling for Nature, conditioned by
climate and landscape, and pronounced in his mythology, found both an
obstacle and a support in Christianity--an obstacle in its
transcendentalism, and a support in its inwardness.



The Middle Ages employed its best intellectual power in solving the
problems of man's relation to God and the Redeemer, his moral
vocation, and his claim to the Kingdom of the blessed. Mind and heart
were almost entirely engrossed by the dogmas of the new faith, such
as the incarnation, original sin, and free-will, and by doubts which
the Old Testament had raised and not solved. Life was looked upon as
a test-place, a thoroughfare to the heavenly Kingdom; earth, with its
beauty and its appeal to the senses, as a temptress.

To flee the world and to lack artistic feeling were therefore marks
of the period. We have no trace of scientific knowledge applied to
Nature, and she was treated with increasing contempt, as the
influence of antiquity died out. In spite of this, the attitude of
the Apostolic Fathers was very far from hostile. Their fundamental
idea was the Psalmist's 'Lord, how great are Thy works; in wisdom
hast Thou made them all!' and yet they turned to Nature--at any rate,
the noblest Grecians among them--not only for proof of divine wisdom
and goodness, but with a degree of personal inclination, an
enthusiasm, to which antiquity was a stranger.

Clement of Rome wrote to the Corinthians:

'Let us note how free from anger He is towards all His creatures. The
heavens are moved by His direction and obey Him in peace. Day and
night accomplish the course assigned to them by Him, without
hindrance one to another. The sun and the moon and the dancing stars,
according to His appointment, circle in harmony within the bounds
assigned to them, without any swerving aside. The earth, bearing
fruit in fulfilment of His will at her proper seasons, putteth forth
the food that supplieth abundantly both men and beasts and all living
things which are thereupon, making no dissension, neither altering
anything which He hath decreed. Moreover, the inscrutable depths of
the abysses and unutterable statutes of the nether regions are
constrained by the same ordinances. The basin of the boundless sea,
gathered together by His workmanship into its reservoirs, passeth not
the barriers wherewith it is surrounded; but even as He ordered it,
so it doeth. For He said, "so far shalt thou come, and thy waves
shall be broken within thee." The ocean which is impassable for men,
and the worlds beyond it, are directed by the same ordinances of the
Master. The seasons of spring and summer and autumn and winter give
way in succession one to another in peace. The winds in their several
quarters at their proper seasons fulfil their ministry without
disturbance, and the overflowing fountains, created for enjoyment and
health, without fail give their breasts which sustain the life for
men. Yea, the smallest of living things come together in concord and

The three great Cappadocians, the most representative of the Greek
Fathers and leaders of the fourth century, wrote about the scenery
round them in a tone of sentimentality not less astonishing, in view
of the prejudice which denies all feeling for Nature to the Middle
Ages, than their broad humanity and free handling of dogma.

It was no ascetic renouncing the world and solitude[2]; but rather a
sensitive man, thoughtful and dreamy at once, who wrote as follows
(Basil the Great to Gregory Nazianzen):

    It is a lofty mountain overshadowed with a deep wood, irrigated
    on the north by cold and transparent streams. At its foot is
    spread a low plain, enriched perpetually with the streams from
    the mountains. The wood, a virgin forest of trees of various
    kinds and foliage which grows around it, almost serves it as a
    rampart; so that even the Isle of Calypso, which Homer evidently
    admired as a paragon of loveliness, is nothing in comparison with
    this. For indeed it is very nearly an island, from its being
    enclosed on all sides with rocky boundaries. On two sides of it
    are deep and precipitous ravines, and on another side the river
    flowing from the steep is itself a continuous and almost
    impassable barrier. The mountain range, with its moon-shaped
    windings, walls off the accessible parts of the plain. There is
    but one entrance, of which we are the masters. My hut is built on
    another point, which uplifts a lofty pinnacle on the summit, so
    that this plain is outspread before the gaze, and from the height
    I can catch a glimpse of the river flowing round, which to my
    fancy affords no less delight than the view of the Strymore as
    you look from Amphipolis. For the Strymore broadens into lakes
    with its more tranquil stream, and is so sluggish as almost to
    forfeit the character of a river. The Iris, on the other hand,
    flowing with a swifter course than any river I know, for a short
    space billows along the adjacent rock, and then, plunging over
    it, rolls into a deep whirlpool, affording a most delightful view
    to me and to every spectator, and abundantly supplying the needs
    of the inhabitants, for it nurtures an incredible number of
    fishes in its eddies.

    Why need I tell you of the sweet exhalations from the earth or
    the breezes from the river? Other persons might admire the
    multitude of the flowers, or of the lyric birds, but I have no
    time to attend to them. But my highest eulogy of the spot is,
    that, prolific as it is of all kinds of fruits from its happy
    situation, it bears for me the sweetest of all fruits,
    tranquillity; not only because it is free from the noises of
    cities, but because it is not traversed by a single visitor
    except the hunters, who occasionally join us. For, besides its
    other advantages, it also produces animals--not bears and wolves,
    like yours--heaven forbid! But it feeds herds of stags, and of
    wild goats and hares, and creatures of that kind. Do you not then
    observe what a narrow risk I ran, fool that I was, to change such
    a spot for Tiberine, the depth of the habitable world? I am now
    hastening to it, pardon me. For even Alcmæon, when he discovered
    the Echinades, no longer endured his wanderings.[3]

This highly-cultured prince of the Church clearly valued the place
quite as much for its repose, its idyllic solitude, for what we
moderns would call its romantic surroundings, sylvan and rugged at
once, as for its fertility and practical uses. But it is too much to
say, with Humboldt[4]:

    In this simple description of scenery and forest life, feelings
    are expressed which are more intimately in unison with those of
    modern tunes, than anything which has been transmitted to us from
    Greek or Roman antiquity. From the lonely Alpine hut to which
    Basil withdrew, the eye wanders over the humid and leafy roof of
    the forest below.... The poetic and mythical allusion at the
    close of the letter falls on the Christian ear like an echo from
    another and earlier world.

The Hellenic poets of the Anthology, and the younger Pliny in
Imperial days, held the same tone, elegiac and idyllic[5]; as
Villemain says, 'These pleasant pictures, these poetic allusions, do
not shew the austerity of the cloister.'[6] The specifically
Christian and monastic was hidden by the purely human.

Other writings of Basil's express still more strongly the mild
dejection which longs for solitude. For instance, when Gregory had
been dwelling upon the emptiness of all earthly things, he said in
reply, that peace of soul must be man's chief aim, and could only be
attained by separation from the world, by solitude; 'for the
contemplation of Nature abates the fever of the soul, and banishes
all insincerity and presumption.' Therefore he loved the quiet corner
where he was undisturbed by human intercourse.

He drew melancholy comparisons from Nature: men were compared to
wandering clouds that dissolve into nothing, to wavering shadows, and
shipwrecked beings, etc.

His homilies on the Hexameron, too, shew thought of Nature. There is
a fine sense for the play of colour on the sea here: 'A pleasant
sight is the glistening sea when a settled calm doth hold it; but
pleasant too it is to behold its surface ruffled by gentle breezes,
and its colour now purple, now white, now dark; when it dasheth not
with violence against the neighbouring coast, but holdeth it in
tranquil embrace.'[7]

There is enthusiastic admiration for Nature mixed with his profound
religious feeling in the whole description of the stars, the seasons,
etc. The expression of Ptolymäos, that when he gazed at the stars he
felt himself raised to the table of Zeus, is weak in comparison with
Basil's words, 'If, on a clear night, you have fixed your gaze upon
the beauty of the stars, and then suddenly turned to thoughts of the
artist of the universe, whoever he be, who has adorned the sky so
wonderfully with these undying flowers, and has so planned it that
the beauty of the spectacle is not less than its conformity to
law....if the finite and perishable world is so beautiful, what must
the infinite and invisible be?'[8]

For him, as for modern minds, starlight brought thoughts of eternity:
'If the greatness of the sky is beyond human comprehension, what
mind, what understanding could fathom eternal things?'

Gregory Nazianzen's feeling for Nature was intensely melancholy. His
poem _On Human Nature_ says:

    For yesterday, worn out with my grief alone, I sat apart in a
    shady grove, gnawing my heart out. For somehow I love this remedy
    in time of grief, to talk with mine own heart in silence. And the
    breezes whispered to the note of the songster birds, and from the
    branches brought to me sweet slumber, though my heart was
    well-nigh broken. And the cicadas, friends of the sun, chirped
    with the shrill note that issues from their breasts, and filled
    the whole grove with sound. A cold spring hard by bedewed my feet
    as it flowed gently through the glen; but I was held in the
    strong grip of grief, nor did I seek aught of these things, for
    the mind, when it is burdened with sorrow, is not fain to take
    part in pleasure.

The classic writers had also contrasted Nature with mind, as, for
example, Ibykos in his famous _Spring Song_[9]; but not with
Gregory's brooding melancholy and self-tormenting introspection. The
poem goes on to compare him to a cloud that wanders hither and
thither in darkness, without even a visible outline of that for which
he longed; without peace:

    I am a stream of troubled water: ever onward I move, nor hath any
    part of me rest; thou wilt not a second time pass over that
    stream thou didst before pass over, nor wilt thou see a second
    time the man thou sawest before.

In his dreamy enthusiasm he likes nothing better than solitude:
'Happy he who leads a lonely life, happy he who with the mighty force
of a pure mind seeth the glory of the lights of heaven.'

The same tone constantly recurs in his writings. Human life is but
dust, blown by the wind; a stormy voyage, faded grass; kingdoms and
powers are waves of the sea, which suck under and drown; a charming
girl is a rose with thorns, etc.

Gregory of Nyssa again praises the order and splendour of Nature and
her Creator in Old Testament style: 'Seeing the harmony of the whole,
of wonders in heaven and in earth, and how the elements of things,
though mutually opposed, are all by Nature welded together, and make
for one aim through a certain indefinable intercommunion.'

With the pathos of Job he cries:

      Who has spread out the ground at my feet?
      Who has made the sky firm over me as a dome?
      Who carries the sun as a torch before me?
      Who sends springs into the ravines?
      Who prepares the path of the waters?

    And who gives my spirit the wing for that high flight in which I
    leave earth behind and hasten through the wide ocean of air, know
    the beauty of the ether, and lift myself to the stars and observe
    all their splendour, and, not staying there, but passing beyond
    the limits of mutable things, comprehend unchangeable Nature--the
    immutable Power which is based upon itself, and leads and
    supports all that exists?

This, with its markedly poetic swing, is surprisingly like the
passage in Plato's _Phædo_, where Socrates says: 'If any man could
arrive at the exterior limit or take the wings of a bird and come to
the top, then, like a fish who puts his head out of the water and
sees this world, he would see a world beyond; and if the nature of
man could sustain the sight, he would acknowledge that this other
world was the place of the true heaven and the true light and the
true earth.' But even the thought, that the order and splendour of
Nature witnessed to the eternal powers which had created her, was not
strange to the Greek, as Aristotle proves in the remarks which Cicero
preserved to us in his treatise _On the Nature of the Gods_.

Well then did Aristotle observe: 'If there were men whose habitations
had been always underground, in great and commodious houses, adorned
with statues and pictures, finished with everything which they who
are reputed happy abound with, and if, without stirring from thence,
they should be informed of a certain divine power and majesty, and
after some time the earth should open, and they should quit their
dark abode to come to us, where they should immediately behold the
earth, the seas, the heavens, should consider the vast extent of the
clouds and force of the winds, should see the sun, and observe his
grandeur and beauty, and also his generative power, inasmuch as day
is occasioned by the diffusion of his light through the sky, and when
night has obscured the earth, they should contemplate the heavens
bespangled and adorned with stars, the surprising variety of the moon
in her increase and wane, the rising and setting of all the stars and
the inviolable regularity of all their courses; when,' says he, 'they
should see these things, they would undoubtedly conclude that there
are gods, and that these are their mighty works.'

Thus unconsciously the Greek Fathers of the Church took over the
thoughts of the great classic philosophers, only substituting a unity
for a plurality of godhead. To soar upon the wings of bird, wind, or
cloud, a _motif_ which we find here in Gregory of Nyssa, and which
reached its finest expression in Ganymede and the evening scene in
Faust, had reached a very modern degree of development in

Gregory of Nyssa was still more sentimental and plaintive than Basil
and Gregory Nazianzen:

    When I see every ledge of rock, every valley and plain, covered
    with new-born verdure, the varied beauty of the trees, and the
    lilies at my feet decked by Nature with the double charms of
    perfume and of colour, when in the distance I see the ocean,
    towards which the clouds are onward borne, my spirit is
    overpowered by a sadness not wholly devoid of enjoyment. When in
    autumn the fruits have passed away, the leaves have fallen, and
    the branches of the trees, dried and shrivelled, are robbed of
    their leafy adornments, we are instinctively led, amid the
    everlasting and regular change in Nature, to feel the harmony of
    the wondrous powers pervading all things. He who contemplates
    them with the eye of the soul, feels the littleness of man amid
    the greatness of the universe.

Are not these thoughts, which Humboldt rightly strings together,
highly significant and modern? Especially in view of the opinion
which Du Bois Reymond, for example, expresses: 'In antiquity,
mediæval times, and in later literature up to the last century, one
seeks in vain for the expression of what we call a feeling for

Might not Werther have written them? They have all his sentimental
melancholy, coupled with that 'delight of sorrow' which owes its name
(Wonne der Wehmuth) to Goethe, although its meaning was known to

Yet it was only in rare cases, such as Seneca and Aristotle, that
classic writers combined such appreciation of Nature's individual
traits with that lofty view of the universe which elevates and
humbles at once.

Gregory shewed the blending of Christian with classic feeling; and
the deepening of the inner life through the new faith is quite as
clear in patristic writings as their close relationship to the

But the thinkers and poets of the Middle Ages did not always see
Nature under the brilliant light of Hellenic influence; there were
wide spaces of time in which monkish asceticism held sway, and she
was treated with most unscientific contempt. For the development of
feeling did not proceed in one unswerving line, but was subject to
backward movements. The rosy afterglow of the classic world was upon
these Greek Fathers; but at the same time they suffered from the
sorrowfulness of the new religion, which held so many sad and
pessimistic elements.

The classic spirit seemed to shudder before the eternity of the
individual, before the unfathomable depths which opened up for
mankind with this religion of the soul, which can find no rest in
itself, no peace in the world, unless it be at one with God in
self-forgetting devotion and surrender.

Solitude, to which all the deeper minds at this time paid homage,
became the mother of new and great thoughts, and of a view of the
world little behind the modern in sentimentality.

What Villemain says of the quotation from Gregory Nazianzen just
given, applies with equal force to the others:

    No doubt there is a singular charm in this mixture of abstract
    thoughts and emotions, this contrast between the beauties of
    Nature and the unrest of a heart tormented by the enigma of
    existence and seeking to find rest in faith.... It was not the
    poetry of Homer, it was another poetry.... It was in the new form
    of contemplative poetry, in this sadness of man about himself, in
    these impulses towards God and the future, in this idealism so
    little known by the poets of antiquity, that the Christian
    imagination could compete without disadvantage. It was there that
    that poetry arose which modern satiety seeks for, the poetry of
    reverie and reflection, which penetrates man's heart and
    deciphers his most intimate thoughts and vaguest wishes.

Contempt for art was a characteristic of the Fathers of the Church,
and to that end they extolled Nature; man's handiwork, however
dazzling, was but vanity in their eyes, whereas Nature was the
handiwork of the Creator. Culture and Nature were purposely set in
opposition to each other.[12] St Chrysostom wrote:

    If the aspect of the colonnades of sumptuous buildings would lead
    thy spirit astray, look upwards to the vault of heaven, and
    around thee on the open fields, in which herds graze by the
    water's side. Who does not despise all the creations of art, when
    in the stillness of his soul he watches with admiration the
    rising of the sun, as it pours its golden light over the face of
    the earth; when resting on the thick grass beside the murmuring
    spring, or beneath the sombre shade of a thick and leafy tree,
    the eye rests on the far receding and hazy distance?

The visible to them was but a mirror of the invisible; as Paul says
(13th of the 1st Corinthians): 'Here we see in a glass darkly,' and
Goethe: 'Everything transitory is but a similitude.'

    God (says St Chrysostom again) has placed man in the world as in
    a royal palace gleaming with gold and precious stones; but the
    wonderful thing about this palace is, that it is not made of
    stone, but of far costlier material; he has not lighted up a
    golden candelabra, but given lights their fixed course in the
    roof of the palace, where they are not only useful to us, but an
    object of great delight.[13]

The Roman secular writers of the first Christian centuries had not
this depth of thought and sadness; but from them too we have notable
descriptions of Nature in which personal pleasure and sympathy are
evident motives as well as religious feeling.

In the little _Octavius_ of Minucius Felix, a writing full of genuine
human feeling of the time of Commodus, the mixture of the heathen
culture and opinions of antiquity with the Christian way of thinking
has a very modern ring. The scenery is finely sketched.

    The heats of summer being over, autumn began to be temperate ...
    we (two friends, a heathen and a Christian) agreed to go to the
    delightful city of Ostia.... As, at break of day, we were
    proceeding along the banks of the Tiber towards the sea, that the
    soft breeze might invigorate our limbs, and that we might enjoy
    the pleasure of feeling the beach gently subside under our
    footsteps, Cæcilius observed an image of Serapis, and having
    raised his hands to his lips, after the wont of the superstitious
    vulgar, he kissed it.... Then Octavius said: 'It is not the part
    of a good man, brother Marcus, thus to leave an intimate
    companion and friend amidst blind popular ignorance, and to
    suffer him, in such open daylight, to stumble against stones,'
    etc.... Discoursing after this sort, we traversed the space
    between Ostia and the sea, and arrived at the open coast. There
    the gentle surges had smoothed the outermost sands like a
    pleasure walk, and as the sea, although the winds blow not, is
    ever unquiet, it came forward to the shore, not hoary and
    foaming, but with waves gently swelling and curled. On this
    occasion we were agreeably amused by the varieties of its
    appearance, for, as we stood on the margin and dipped the soles
    of our feet in the water, the wave alternately struck at us, and
    then receding, and sliding away, seemed to swallow up itself. We
    saw some boys eagerly engaged in the game of throwing shells in
    the sea.... Cæcilius said: 'All things ebb into the fountain from
    which they spring, and return back to their original without
    contriver, author, or supreme arbiter ... showers fall, winds
    blow, thunder bellows, and lightnings flash ... but they have no
    aim.' Octavius answers: 'Behold the heaven itself, how wide it is
    stretched out, and with what rapidity its revolutions are
    performed, whether in the night when studded with stars, or in
    the daytime when the sun ranges over it, and then you will learn
    with what a wonderful and divine hand the balance is held by the
    Supreme Moderator of all things; see how the circuit made by the
    sun produces the year, and how the moon, in her increase, wanes
    and changes, drives the months around.... Observe the sea, it is
    bound by a law that the shore imposes; the variety of trees, how
    each of them is enlivened from the bowels of the earth! Behold
    the ocean, it ebbs and flows alternately. Look at the springs,
    they trickle with a perpetual flow; at rivers, they hold on their
    course in quick and continued motion. Why should I speak of the
    ridges of mountains, aptly disposed? of the gentle slope of
    hills, or of plains widely extended?... In this mansion of the
    world, when you fully consider the heaven and the earth, and that
    providence, order, and government visible in them, assure
    yourself that there is indeed a Lord and Parent of the whole ...
    do not enquire for the name of God--God is his name.... If I
    should call Him Father, you would imagine Him earthly; if King,
    carnal; and if Lord, mortal. Remove all epithets, and then you
    will be sensible of His glory....'

How like Faust's confession of faith to Gretchen:

  Him who dare name
  And yet proclaim,
  Yes! I believe...
  The All-embracer,
  Doth he not embrace, sustain,
  Thee, me, Himself?
  Lifts not the Heaven its dome above?
  Doth not the firm-set earth beneath us rise?...
  And beaming tenderly with looks of love
  Climb not the everlasting stars on high?...
  Fill thence thy heart, how large so e'er it be,
  And in the feeling when thou'rt wholly blest,
  Then call it what thou wilt--Bliss! Heart! Love! God!
  I have no name for it--'tis feeling all
  Name is but sound and smoke
  Shrouding the glow of Heaven.

Such statements of belief were not rare in the Apologists; but Nature
at this time was losing independent importance in men's minds, like
life itself, which after Cyprian was counted as nothing but a fight
with the devil.[14]

There is deep reverence for Nature in the lyrics, the hymns of the
first centuries A.D., as a work of God and an emblem of moral ideas.
Ebert observes[15]

    In comparison with the old Roman, one can easily see the
    peculiarities and perfect originality of these Christian lyrics.
    I do not mean merely in that dominance of the soul life in which
    man appeared to be quite merged, and which makes them such
    profound expressions of feeling; but in man's relationship to
    Nature, which, one might say, supplies the colour to the
    painter's brush.[16] Nature appears here in the service of ideal
    moral powers and robbed of her independence;[17] the servant of
    her Creator, whose direct command she obeys. She is his
    instrument for man's welfare, and also at times, under the
    temporary mastery of the devil, for his destruction. Thus Nature
    easily symbolizes the moral world.

'Bountiful Giver of light, through whose calm brightness, when the
time of night is past and gone, the daylight is suffused abroad,
Thou, the world's true morning star, clearer than the full glorious
sun, Thou very dayspring, very light in all its fulness, that dost
illumine the innermost recesses of the heart,' sings St Hilary in his
Morning Hymn; and in another hymn, declaring himself unworthy to lift
his sinful eyes to the clear stars, he urges all the creatures, and
heaven, earth, sea and river, hill and wood, rose, lily, and star to
weep with him and lament the sinfulness of man.

In the Morning Hymn of St Ambrose dawn is used symbolically; dark
night pales, the light of the world is born again, and the new birth
of the soul raises to new energy; Christ is called the true sun, the
source of light; 'let modesty be as the dawn, faith as the noonday,
let the mind know no twilight.'

And Prudentius sings in a Morning Hymn [18]: 'Night and mist and
darkness fade, light dawns, the globe brightens, Christ is coming!'
and again: 'The herald bird of dawn announces day, Christ the awaker
calls us to life.' And in the ninth hymn: 'Let flowing rivers, waves,
the seashore's thundering, showers, heat, snow, frost, forest and
breeze, night, day, praise Thee throughout the ages.'[19]

He speaks of Christ as the sun that never sets, never is obscured by
clouds, the flower of David, of the root of Jesse; of the eternal
Fatherland where the whole ground is fragrant with beds of purple
roses, violets, and crocuses, and slender twigs drop balsam.

St Jerome united Christian genius, as Ebert says, with classic
culture to such a degree that his writings, especially his letters,
often shew a distinctly modern tone,[20] and go to prove that
asceticism so deepened and intensified character that even literary
style took individual stamp.[21] But the most perfect representative,
the most modern man, of his day was Augustine.

As Rousseau's _Confessions_ revealed the revolutionary genius of the
eighteenth century, Augustine's opened out a powerful character,
fully conscious of its own importance, striving with the problems of
the time, and throwing search-lights into every corner of its own
passionate heart. He had attained, after much struggling, to a
glowing faith, and he described the process in characteristic and
drastic similes from Nature, which are scarcely suitable for
translation. He said on one occasion:

    For I burned at times in my youth to satiate myself with deeds of
    hell, and dared to run wild in many a dark love passage.... In
    the time of my youth I took my fill passionately among the wild
    beasts, and I dared to roam the woods and pursue my vagrant loves
    beneath the shade; and my beauty consumed away and I was
    loathsome in Thy sight, pleasing myself and desiring to please
    the eyes of men.... The seething waves of my youth flowed up to
    the shores of matrimony....

Comfortless at the death of his friend:

    I burned, I sighed, I wept, I was distraught, for I bore within
    me a soul rent and bloodstained, that would no longer brook my
    carrying; yet I found no place where I could lay it down, neither
    in pleasant groves nor in sport was it at rest. All things, even
    the light itself, were filled with shuddering.

Augustine, like Rousseau, understood 'que c'est un fatal présent du
ciel qu'une ame sensible.'

He looked upon his own heart as a sick child, and sought healing for
it in Nature and solitude, though in vain.

The pantheistic belief of the Manicheans that all things, fire, air,
water, etc., were alive, that figs wept when they were picked and the
mother tree shed milky tears for the loss of them, that everything in
heaven and earth was a part of godhead, gave him no comfort; it was
rather the personal God of the Psalms whom he saw in the ordering of

The cosmological element in theism has never been more beautifully
expressed than in his words:

    I asked the earth, and she said: 'I am not He,' and all things
    that are in her did confess the same. I asked the sea and the
    depths and creeping things, and they answered: 'We are not thy
    God, seek higher.' I asked the blowing breezes, and the whole
    expanse of air with its inhabitants made answer: 'Anaxagoras was
    at fault, I am not God.' I asked the sky, the sun, the moon, the
    stars, and with a loud voice did they exclaim: 'He made us.' My
    question was the enquiry of my spirit, their answer was the
    beauty of their form.

In another place:

    Not with uncertain but with sure consciousness, Lord, I love
    Thee. But behold, sea and sky and all things in them from all
    sides tell me that I must love Thee, nor do they cease to give
    all men this message, so that they are without excuse. Sky and
    earth speak to the deaf Thy praises: when I love Thee, I love not
    beauty of form, nor radiancy of light; but when I love my God, I
    love the light, the voice, the sweetness, the food, the embrace
    of my innermost soul. That is what I love when I love my God.

Augustine's interest in Nature was thus religious. At the same time,
the soothing influence of quiet woods was not unknown to him.

The likeness and unlikeness between the Christian and heathen points
of view are very clear in the correspondence between Ausonius, the
poet of the Moselle, and Paulinus, Bishop of Nola; and the deep
friendship expressed in it raises their dilettante verses to the
level of true poetry.

Ausonius, thoroughly heathen as he was, carries us far forward into
Christian-Germanic times by his sentimentality and his artistic
descriptions of the scenery of the Moselle.[22]

It is characteristic of the decline of heathendom, that the lack of
original national material to serve as inspiration, as the Æneas Saga
had once served, led the best men of the time to muse on Nature, and
describe scenery and travels. Nothing in classic Roman poetry attests
such an acute grasp of Nature's little secret charms as the small
poem about the sunny banks of the Moselle, vine-clad and crowned by
villas, and reflected in the crystal water below. It seemed as if the
Roman, with the German climate, had imbibed the German love of
Nature; as if its scenery had bewitched him like the German maiden
whom he compared to roses and lilies in his song.

Many parts of his poetical epistles are in the same tone, and we
learn incidentally from them that a lengthy preamble about weather
and place belonged to letter-writing even then.[23]

Feeling for Nature and love of his friend are interwoven into a truly
poetic appeal in No. 64, in which Ausonius complains that Paulinus
does not answer his letters:

    Rocks give answer to the speech of man, and his words striking
    against the caves resound, and from the groves cometh the echo of
    his voice. The cliffs of the coast cry out, the rivers murmur,
    the hedge hums with the bees that feed upon it, the reedy banks
    have their own harmonious notes, the foliage of the pine talks in
    trembling whispers to the winds: what time the light south-east
    falls on the pointed leaves, songs of Dindymus give answer in the
    Gargaric grove. Nature has made nothing dumb; the birds of the
    air and the beasts of the earth are not silent, the snake has its
    hiss, the fishes of the sea as they breathe give forth their
    note.... Have the Basque mountains and the snowy haunts of the
    Pyrenees taken away thy urbanity?... May he, who advises thee to
    keep silence, never enjoy the singing of sweet songs nor the
    voices of Nature ... sad and in need may he live in desolate
    regions, and wander silent in the rounded heights of the Alpine

The sounds of Nature are detailed with great delicacy in this appeal,
and we see that the Alps are referred to as desolate regions.

In another letter (25) he reminded his friend of their mutual love,
their home at Burdigala, his country-house with its vine-slopes,
fields, woods, etc., and went on:

    Yet without thee no year advanceth with grateful change of
    season; the rainy spring passeth without flower, the dog-star
    burns with blazing heat, Pomona bringeth not the changing scents
    of autumn, Aquarius pours forth his waters and saddens winter.
    Pontius, dear heart, seest thou what thou hast done?

Closing in the same tender strain with a picture of his hope

    Now he leaves the snowy towns of the Iberians, now he holds the
    fields of the Tarbellians, now passeth he beneath the halls of
    Ebromagus, now he is gliding down the stream, and now he knocketh
    at thy door! Can we believe it? Or do they who love, fashion
    themselves dreams?

The greater inwardness of feeling here, as contrasted with classic
times, is undeniable; the tone verges on the sentimentality of the
correspondences between 'beautiful souls' in the eighteenth century.

Paulinus was touchingly devoted to his former teacher Ausonius, and
in every way a man of fine and tender feeling. He gave himself with
zeal to Christianity, and became an ascetic and bishop.

It was a bitter grief to him that his Ausonius remained a heathen
when he himself had sworn allegiance to Christ and said adieu to
Apollo. There is a fine urbanity and humanity in his writings, but he
did not, like Ausonius, love Nature for her own sake. The one took
the Christian ascetic point of view, the other the classic heathen,
with sympathy and sentiment in addition.

Paulinus recognized the difference, and contrasted their ideas of
solitude. 'They are not crazed, nor is it their savage fierceness
that makes men choose to live in lonely spots; rather, turning their
eyes to the lofty stars, they contemplate God, and set the leisure
that is free from empty cares, to fathom the depths of truth they

In answer to his friend's praise of home, he praised Spain, in which
he was living, and many copious descriptions of time and place run
through his other writings[24]; but while he yielded nothing to
Ausonius in the matter of friendship, 'sooner shall life disappear
from my body than thy image from my heart,' he was without his quiet
musing delight in Nature. For her the heathen had the clearer eye and
warmer heart; the Christian bishop only acknowledged her existence in
relation to his Creator, declaring with pride that no power had been
given to us over the elements, nor to them over us, and that not from
the stars but from our own hearts come the hindrances to virtue.

Lives of the saints and paraphrases of the story of creation were the
principal themes of the Christian poets of the fourth and fifth
centuries. In some of these the hermit was extolled with a dash of
Robinson Crusoe romance, and the descriptions of natural phenomena in
connection with Genesis often showed a feeling for the beauty of
Nature in poetic language. Dracontius drew a detailed picture of
Paradise with much self-satisfaction.

    Then in flight the joyous feathered throng passed through the
    heavens, beating the air with sounding wings, various notes do
    they pour forth in soothing harmony, and, methinks, together
    praise for that they were accounted worthy to be created.[26]

For the charming legend of Paradise was to many Christian minds of
this time what the long-lost bliss of Elysium and the Golden Age had
been to the Hellenic poets and the Roman elegist--the theme of much
vivid imagery and highly-coloured word-painting.

    Eternal spring softens the air, a healing flame floods the world
    with light, all the elements glow in healing warmth; as the
    shades of night fade, day rises.... Then the feathered flocks fly
    joyfully through the air, beating it with their wings in the rush
    of their passage, and with flattering satisfaction their voices
    are heard, and I think they praise God that they were found
    worthy to be created; some shine in snowy white, some in purple,
    some in saffron, some in yellow gold; others have white feathers
    round the eyes, while neck and breast are of the bright tint of
    the hyacinth ... and upon the branches, the birds are moved to
    and fro with them by the wind.

This shews careful observation of detail; but, for the most part,
such idyllic feeling was checked by lofty religious thoughts.

'Man,' he cries, 'should rule over Nature, over all that it contains,
over all earth offers in fruit, flowers, and verdure that tree and
vine, sea and spring, can give.' He summons all creation to praise
the Creator--stars and seasons, hail-storm and lightning, earth, sea,
river and spring, cloud and night, plants, animals, and light; and he
describes the flood in bold flights of fancy.

In the three books of Avitus[27] we have 'a complete poem of the lost
Paradise, far removed from a mere paraphrase or versification of the
Bible,'[28] which shews artistic leanings and sympathetic feeling
here and there. As Catullus[29] pictures the stars looking down upon
the quiet love of mortals by night, and Theocritus[30] makes the
cypresses their only witnesses, the Christian poet surrounds the
marriage of our first parents with the sympathy of Nature:

    And angel voices joined in harmony and sang to the chaste and
    pure; Paradise was their wedding-chamber, earth their dowry, and
    the stars of heaven rejoiced with gladsome radiance.... The
    kindness of heaven maintains eternal spring there; the tumultuous
    south wind does not penetrate, the clouds forsake an air which is
    always pure.... The soil has no need of rains to refresh it, and
    the plants prosper by virtue of their own dew. The earth is
    always verdant, and its surface animated by a sweet warmth
    resplendent with beauty. Herbs never abandon the hills, the trees
    never lose their leaves, etc.

And when Adam and Eve leave it, they find all the rest of the
beautiful world ugly and narrow in comparison. 'Day is dark to their
eyes, and under the clear sun they complain that the light has

It was the reflection of their own condition in Nature. Among heathen
writers who were influenced, without being entirely swayed, by
Christian teaching, and imitated the rhetorical Roman style in
describing Nature, Apollonius Sidonius takes a prominent place. In
spite of many empty phrases and a stilted style, difficult to
understand as well as to translate, his poems, and still more his
letters, give many interesting pictures of the culture of his part of
the fifth century. In Carm. 2 he draws a highly--coloured picture of
the home of Pontius Leontas,[31] a fine country property, and paints
the charms of the villa with all the art of his rhetoric and some
real appreciation. The meeting of the two rivers, the Garonne and the
Dordogne, in the introduction is poetically rendered, and he goes on
to describe the cool hall and grottos, state-rooms, pillars--above
all, the splendid view: 'There on the top of the fortress I sit down
and lean back and gaze at the mountains covered by olives, so dear to
the Muse and the goats. I shall wander in their shade, and believe
that coward Daphne grants me her love.' He delighted in unspoilt
Nature, and describes:

    My fountain, which, as it flows from the mountain-side, is
    overshadowed by a many-covered grotto with its wide circle. It
    needs not Art; Nature has given it grace. That no artist's hand
    has touched it is its charm; it is no masterpiece of skill, no
    hammer with resounding blow will adorn the rocks, nor marble fill
    up the place where the tufa is worn away.

He lays stress upon the contrast between culture and Nature, town
luxury and country solitude, in his second letter to Domidius, and
describes the beauties of his own modest estate with sentimental

    You reproach me for loitering in the country; I might complain
    with more reason that you stay in the town when the earth shines
    in the light of spring, the ice is melting from the Alps, and the
    soil is marked by the dry fissures of tortuous furrows ... the
    stones in the stream, and the mud on the banks are dried up ...
    here neither nude statues, comic actors, nor Hippodrome are to be
    found ... the noise of the waters is so great that it drowns
    conversation. From the dining-room, if you have time to spare at
    meals, you can occupy it with the delight of looking at the
    scenery, and watch the fishing ... here you can find a hidden
    recess, cool even in summer heat, a place to sleep in. Here what
    joy it is to listen to the cicadas chirping at noonday, and to
    the frogs croaking when the twilight is coming on, and to the
    swans and geese giving note at the early hours of the night, and
    at midnight to the cocks crowing together, and to the boding
    crows with three-fold note greeting the ruddy torch of the rising
    dawn; and in the half light of the morning to hear the
    nightingale warbling in the bushes, and the swallow twittering
    among the beams.... Between whiles, the shepherds play in their
    rustic fashion. Not far off is a wood where the branches of two
    huge limes interlace, though their trunks are apart (in their
    shade we play ball), and a lake that rises to such fury in a
    storm that the trees that border it are wetted by the spray.

In another letter to Domidius he described a visit to the
country-seat of two of his friends:

    We were torn from one pleasure to another--games, feastings,
    chatting, rowing, bathing, fishing.

As a true adherent even as a bishop of classic culture and humanity,
Sidonius is thus an interesting figure in these wild times, with his
Pliny-like enthusiasm for country rather than city, and his
susceptibility to woodland and pastoral life.

The limit of extravagance in the bombastic rhetoric of the period was
reached in the travels of Ennodius,[32] who was scarcely more than a
fantastic prattler. The purest, noblest, and most important figure of
the sixth century was undoubtedly Boetius; but it is Cassiodorus, a
statesman of the first rank under Theodoric, who in his _Variorium
libris_ gives the most interesting view of the attitude of his day
towards Nature. He revelled in her and in describing her. After
praising Baja for its beauty[33] and Lactarius for its healthiness,
he said of Scyllacium:

    The city of Scyllacium hangs upon the hills like a cluster of
    grapes, not that it may pride itself upon their difficult ascent,
    but that it may voluptuously gaze on verdant plains and the blue
    back of the sea. The city beholds the rising sun from its very
    cradle, when the day that is about to be born sends forward no
    heralding Aurora; but as soon as it begins to rise, the quivering
    brightness displays its torch. It beholds Phoebus in his joy; it
    is bathed in the brightness of that luminary so that it might be
    thought to be itself the native land of the sun, the claims of
    Rhodes to that honour being outdone.... It enjoys a translucent
    air, but withal so temperate, that its winters are sunny and its
    summers cool, and life passes there without sorrow, since hostile
    seasons are feared by none. Hence, too, man himself is here freer
    of soul than elsewhere, for this temperateness of the climate
    prevails in all things.... Assuredly for the body to imbibe muddy
    waters is a different thing from sucking in the transparency of a
    sweet fountain. Even so the vigour of the mind is repressed when
    it is clogged by a heavy atmosphere. Nature itself hath made us
    subject to these influences.... clouds make us feel sad, and
    again a bright day fills us with joy.... At the foot of the
    Moscian Mount we hollowed out the bowels of the rock, and
    tastefully introduced therein the eddying waves of Nereus. Here a
    troop of fishes sporting in free captivity refreshes all minds
    with delight, and charms all eyes with admiration. They run
    greedily to the hand of man, and, before they become his food,
    seek dainties from him.

He described the town as rich in vineyards and olive woods,
cornfields and villas.

He awarded the palm of beauty to Como and its lake, and although he
wrote in the clumsy language of a decaying literature, this
sixth-century sketch still strikes us as surprisingly complete and
artistic in feeling:

    Como, with its precipitous mountains and its vast expanse of
    lake, seems placed there for the defence of the Province of
    Liguria; and yet again, it is so beautiful, that one would think
    it was created for pleasure only.

    To the south lies a fertile plain with easy roads for the
    transport of provisions; on the north, a lake sixty miles long
    abounding in fish, soothing the mind with delicious
    recreation.... Rightly is it called Como, because it is adorned
    with such gifts. The lake lies in a shell-like valley with white
    margins. Above rises a diadem of lofty mountains, their slopes
    studded with bright villas; a girdle of olives below, vineyards
    above, while a crest of thick chestnut woods adorns the very
    summit of the hills. Streams of snowy clearness dash from the
    hill-sides into the lake. On the eastern side these unite to form
    the river Addua, so called because it contains the added volume
    of two streams.... So delightful a region makes men delicate and
    averse to labour.... Therefore the inhabitants deserve special
    consideration, and for this reason we wish them to enjoy
    perpetually the royal bounty.

This shews, beyond dispute, that the taste for the beauty of Nature,
even at that wild time, was not dead, and that the writer's attitude
was not mainly utilitarian. He noted the fertility of the land in
wine and grain, and of the sea in fish, but he laid far greater
stress upon its charms and their influence upon the inhabitants.

On _a priori_ grounds (so misleading in questions of this kind) one
would scarcely expect the most disturbed period in the history of the
European people to have produced a Venantius Fortunatus, the greatest
and most celebrated poet of the sixth century. His whole personality,
as well as his poetry, shewed the blending of heathenism and
Christianity, of Germanism and Romanism, and it is only now and then
among the Roman elegists and later epic poets that we meet a feeling
for Nature which can be compared to his. Like all the poets of this
late period, his verse lacks form, is rugged and pompous, moving upon
the stilts of classic reminiscences, and coining monstrous new
expressions for itself; but its feeling is always sincere. It was the
last gleam of a setting sun of literature that fell upon this one
beneficent figure. He was born in the district of Treviso near
Venice, and crossed the Alps a little before the great Lombard
invasion, while the Merovingians, following in the steps of Chlodwig,
were outdoing each other in bloodshed and cruelty. In the midst of
this hard time Fortunatus stood out alone among the poets by virtue
of his talent and purity of character. His poems are often disfigured
by bombast, prolixity, and misplaced learning; but his keen eye for
men and things is undeniable, and his feeling for Nature shews not
only in dealing with scenery, but in linking it with the inner life.

The lover's wish in _On Virginity_,[34] one of his longer poems,
suggests the Volkslieder:

    O that I too might go, if my hurrying foot could poise amid the
    lights of heaven and hold on its starry course. But now, without
    thee, night comes drearily with its dark wings, and the day
    itself and the glittering sunshine is darkness to me. Lily,
    narcissus, violet, rose, nard, amomum, bring me no joy--nay, no
    flower delights my heart. That I may see thee, I pass hovering
    through each cloud, and my love teaches my wandering eyes to
    pierce the mist, and lo! in dread fear I ask the stormy winds
    what they have to tell me of my lord. Before thy feet I long to
    wash the pavement, and with my hair to sweep thy temples.
    Whatever it be, I will bear it; all hard things are sweet; if
    only I see thee, this penalty is my joy. But be thou mindful, for
    thy vows do I yearn; I have thee in my heart, have me in thy
    heart too.

This is more tender in feeling than any poem by Catullus or Tibullus.
We can only explain it by two facts--the deepening of the inner life
through Christianity (we almost hear Christ's words about the 'great
sinner'), and the intimate friendship which Fortunatus enjoyed with a
German lady, who may justly be called the noblest and purest figure
of her time in Franconia.

This was Radegunde, the unhappy daughter of a Thuringian king, who
first saw her father's kingdom lost, and then, fleeing from the
cruelty of her husband, the bloodstained Chlotaire, took the veil in
Poitiers and founded a convent, of which she made Agnes, a noble
Franconian lady, the abbess. When Fortunatus visited the place, these
ladies became his devoted friends, and he remained there as a priest
until the death of Radegunde. His poems to them, which were often
letters and notes written off-hand, are full of affection and
gratitude (he was, by the way, a gourmet, and the ladies made
allowance for this weakness in dainty gifts), and form an enduring
witness of a pure and most touching friendship. They contain many
pretty sketches of Nature and delicate offerings of flowers. In one
he said: 'If the season brought white lilies or blossomed in red
roses, I would send them to you, but now you must be content with
purple violets for a greeting'; and in another, because gold and
purple are not allowable, he sends her flowers, that she may have
'her gold in crocuses, her purple in violets, and they may adorn her
hair with even greater delight than she draws from their fragrance.'
Once, when following pious custom, she had withdrawn into her cell,
his 'straying thoughts go in search of her':

    How quickly dost thou hide the light from mine eyes! for without
    thee I am o'erweighted by the clouds that bear me down, and
    though thou flee and hide thyself here but for a few short days,
    that month is longer than the whole hurrying year. Prithee, let
    the joys of Easter bring thee back in safety, and so may a
    two-fold light return to us at once.

And when she comes out, he cries:

    Thou hadst robbed me of my happiness; now it returns to me with
    thee, thou makest me doubly celebrate this solemn festival....
    Though the seedlings are only just beginning to shoot up from the
    furrows, yet I to-day will reap my harvest in seeing thee once
    more. To-day do I gather in the fruit and lay the peaceful
    sheaves together. Though the field is bare, nor decked with ears
    of corn, yet all, through thy return, is radiant fulness.

The comparison is tedious and spun out; but the idea is poetic. We
find it in the classics: for instance, in Theocritus, when he praises
Nais, whose beauty draws even Nature under her sway, and whose coming
makes spring everywhere:

    Where has my light hidden herself from my straying eyes? When I
    see not thee, I am ne'er satisfied. Though the heavens be bright,
    though the clouds have fled, yet for me is the day sunless, if it
    hide thee from me.

The most touching evidence of this friendship is the poem _On the
Downfall of Thuringia_.

'One must,' says Leo,[35] 'refer the chief excellence of the poem to
the lady who tells the tale, must grant that the irresistible power
of the description, the spectacle of the freshly open wounds, the
sympathy in the consuming sorrow of a friend, gave unwonted power of
the wing to this low-flying pen.' Radegunde is thinking of her only
remaining relative, Amalafried:

    When the wind murmurs, I listen if it bring me some news, but of
    all my kindred not even a shadow presents itself to me.... And
    thou, Amalafried, gentle son of my father's brother, does no
    anxiety for me consume thy heart? Hast thou forgotten what
    Radegunde was to thee in thy earliest years, and how much thou
    lovedst me, and how thou heldst the place of the father, mother,
    brother, and sister whom I had lost? An hour absent from thee
    seemed to me eternal; now ages pass, and I never hear a word from
    thee. A whole world now lies betwixt those who loved each other
    and who of old were never separate. If others, for pity alone,
    cross the Alps to seek their lost slaves, wherefore am I
    forgotten?--I who am bound to thee by blood? Where art thou? I
    ask the wind as it sighs, the clouds as they pass--at least some
    bird might bring me news of thee. If the holy enclosure of this
    monastery did not restrain me, thou shouldst see me suddenly
    appear beside thee. I could cross the stormy seas in winter if it
    were necessary. The tempest that alarms the sailors should cause
    no fear to me who love thee. If my vessel were dashed to pieces
    by the tempest, I should cling to a plank to reach thee, and if I
    could find nothing to cling to, I should go to thee swimming,
    exhausted. If I could but see thee once more, I should deny all
    the perils of the journey....

There is little about Nature in this beautiful avowal of love and
longing, but the whole colouring of the mood forms a background of
feeling for his longer descriptions. His very long and tedious poem
about the bridal journey of Gelesiuntha, the Spanish princess, who
married King Chilperic, shews deep and touching feeling in parts. She
left her Toledo home with a heavy heart, crossing the Pyrenees, where
'the mountains shining with snow reach to the stars, and their sharp
peaks project over the rain clouds.' In the same vein as Ausonius,
when he urged Paulinus to write to him, she begs her sister for news:

    By thy name full oft I call thee, Gelesiuntha, sister mine: with
    this name fountains, woods, rivers, and fields resound. Art thou
    silent, Gelesiuntha? Answer as to thy sister stones and
    mountains, groves and waters and sky, answer in language mute.

In troubled thought and care she asked the very breezes, but of her
sister's safety all were silent.

Fortunatus, like Ausonius, not only looked at Nature with sympathy,
but was a master in description of scenery. His lengthy descriptions
of spring are mostly only decorative work, but here and there we find
a really poetic idea. For example:

At the first spring, when earth has doffed her frost,
the field is clothed with variegated grass; the mountains
stretch their leafy heads towards the sky, the
shady tree renews its verdant foliage, the lovely vine
is swelling with budding branches, giving promise that
a weight of grapes shall hang from its prolific stems.
While all joys return, the earth is dead and dull.


    The soft violets paint the field with their own purple, the
    meadows are green with grass, the grass is bright with its fresh
    shoots. Little by little, like stars, the bright flowers spring
    up, and the sward is joyous and gay with flecks of colour, and
    the birds that through the winter cold have been numb and silent,
    with imprisoned song, are now recalled to their song.

He describes the cold winter, and a hot summer's day, when

    Even in the forests no shade was to be found, and the traveller
    almost fainted on the burning roads, longing for shade and cool
    drinks. At last the rustle of a crystal stream is heard, he
    hurries to it with delight, he lies down and lays his limbs in
    the soft kisses of the grass.

His poems about beautiful and noteworthy places include some on the
Garonne and Gers (Egircius):

    So dried up by heat that it is neither river nor land, and the
    grumbling croak of the frog, sole ruler of the realm from which
    the fish are banished, is heard in the lonely swamp; but when the
    rain pours down, the flood swells, and what was a lake suddenly
    becomes a sea.

He has many verses of this sort, written with little wit but great

More attractive are descriptions of the Rhine and Moselle, recalling
Ausonius, and due to love partly of Nature, partly of verbal
scene-painting. The best and most famous of these is on his journey
by the Moselle from Metz to Andernach on the Rhine. Here he shews a
keen eye and fine taste for wide views and high mountains, as well as
for the minutiæ of scenery, with artistic treatment. He also blends
his own thoughts and feelings with his impressions of Nature, making
it clear that he values her not merely for decoration, but for her
own sake.

He has been called the last Roman poet; in reality, he belonged not
only to the period which directly succeeded his own, when the Roman
world already lay in ruins, but to the fully-developed Middle
Ages--the time when Christianity and Germanism had mated with Roman

In his best pieces, such as his famous elegy, he caught the classic
tone to perfection, feeling himself in vital union with the great of
bygone centuries; but in thought and feeling he was really modern and
under the influence of the Christian Germanic spirit with all its
depth and intensity. His touching friendship with Radegunde is, as it
were, a symbol of the blending of the two elements out of which the
modern sprang. It was the stimulating influence of the noble Germanic
princess, herself Christian in soul, which fanned the dying sparks of
classic poetry into a flame.

Fortunatus stood upon a borderland. Literature was retreating further
and further from the classic models, and culture was declining to its
fall. In Gaul, as in Spain and Italy, the shadows of coming night
were broadening over literary activity, thought, and feeling.

It is a characteristic fact in Roman literature, that not only its
great lights, but the lesser ones who followed them, were
enthusiastically imitated. Latin poetry of the Middle Ages lived upon
recollections of the past, or tried to raise itself again by its
help; even so late a comer as Fortunatus became in his turn an object
of marvel, and was copied by poets who never reached his level.

It is not surprising that feeling for Nature shewed a corresponding
shallowness and lassitude.

Not only bucolic but didactic writing was modelled upon the classic.
Isodorus and Beda, in their works with identical titles 'concerning
the existence of things,' relied on Roman models no less than Alcuin,
who had formed himself on the pattern of Augustine's time in his
_Conflict between Winter and Spring_, as well as in many single
verses, directly inspired by Virgil.[36]

His _Farewell to his Cell_ caught the idyllic tone very neatly:

  Beloved cell, retirement's sweet abode!
  Farewell, a last farewell, thy poet bids thee!
  Beloved cell, by smiling woods embraced,
  Whose branches, shaken by the genial breeze,
  To meditation oft my mind disposed.
  Around thee too, their health-reviving herbs
  In verdure gay the fertile meadows spread;
  And murmuring near, by flowery banks confined,
  Through fragrant meads the crystal streamlets glide,
  Wherein his nets the joyful fisher casts,
  And fragrant with the apple bending bough,
  With rose and lily joined, the gardens smile;
  While jubilant, along thy verdant glades
  At dawn his melody each songster pours,
  And to his God attunes the notes of praise.

These heartfelt effusions express a feeling which certainly inspired
many monks when they turned from their gloomy cells to the gardens
and woods beyond--a feeling compounded of renunciation of the world
with idyllic comfort in their surroundings. If their fundamental
feeling was worship and praise of the Creator, their constant outdoor
work, which, during the first centuries, was strenuous cultivation of
the soil, must have roused a deep appreciation of Nature in the
nobler minds among them. Their choice of sites for monasteries and
hermitages fully bears out this view.[37]

_The Conflict between Spring and Winter_, with its classic
suggestions, is penetrated by a truly German love of spring.[38] It
described the time when the cuckoo sings high in the branches, grass
clothes earth with many tints, and the nightingale sings untiringly
in the red-gold butcher's broom, captivating us with her changing

Among the savants whom Charlemagne gathered round him was Angilbert.
Virgil was his model, but the influence of the lighter fluency of
Fortunatus was visible, as in so many of his contemporaries. With a
vivid and artistic pen he described the wood and park of Aachen and
the Kaiser's brilliant hunt[39]; the great forest grove, the grassy
meadows with brooks and all sorts of birds flitting about, the
thicket stocked with many kinds of game.

At the same time, his writing betrayed the conventional tone of
courts in its praise of his great secular lord, and a 'thoughtful
romantic inclination' for the eternal feminine, for the beautiful
women with splendid ornaments, and necks shining like milk or snow or
glowing like a rose, who, as Ebert puts it, 'lay far from the
asceticism of the poetry of the saints.'

Naso Muadorinus in his pastorals took Calpurnius and Nemesianus for
his models, just as they had taken Virgil, and Virgil Theocritus.
Muadorinus imitated the latter in his pastorals.

In an alternate song of his between an old man and a boy, the old man
draws an artistic contrast between the shady coolness of the wood and
the mid-day glow of the sun, while the boy praises Him whose songs
the creatures follow as once they followed Orpheus with his lute; and
at the end, Charlemagne, who was extolled at the beginning as a
second Cæsar, is exalted to heaven as the founder of a new Golden

In the Carolingian Renaissance of the Augustine epoch of literature,
Theodulf, Bishop of Orleans, takes first place. At any rate, he
described in a very superior way, and, like Fortunatus, with some
humour, the draining of the Larte at Le Mans, Feb. 820; also, in a
light and lively strain, the Battle of the Birds, and, with the same
strong colouring, Paradise.

The idyll of the cloister garden, so often treated, became famous in
the much-read _Hortulus_ of Wahlafried.[40]

Despite classical flourishes from Virgil and Columella, and
pharmaceutical handling of plants, there is a good deal of thoughtful
observation of Nature in these 444 hexameters.

They contain descriptions of seasons, of recipes, flowers and
vegetables, of the gardener's pleasure in digging his fields in
spring, clearing them of nettles, and levelling the ground thrown up
by the moles, in protecting his seedlings from rain and sun, and,
later on, in his gay beds of deciduous plants.

There is a touch here and there which is not unpoetic--for instance:

    A bright green patch of dark blue rue paints this shady grove; it
    has short leaves and throws out short umbels, and passes the
    breath of the wind and the rays of the sun right down to the end
    of the stalk, and at a gentle touch gives forth a heavy scent.


    With what verse, with what song, can the dry thinness of my
    meagre muse rightly extol the shining lily, whose whiteness is as
    the whiteness of gleaming snow, whose sweet scent is as the scent
    of Sabian woods?

He closes pleasantly too, adjuring Grimald to read the book under the
shade of the peach tree, while his school-fellows play round and pick
the great delicate fruit which they can barely grasp with one hand.
In the poem to the layman Ruodbern (100 hexameters) he described the
dangers of Alpine travelling, both from weather and other foes. In
those days the difficulties of the road excluded all interest in
mountain beauty. There is a tender and expressive poem in Sapphic
metre, in which, homesick and cold in winter, he sang his longing for
beautiful Reichenau. But even he, like most of his predecessors and
all his followers, wielded his pen with labour, expression often
failing to keep pace with thought.

It only remains to mention Wandalbert, a monk of the monastery at
Prün, who, in a postscript to the _Conclusio des Martyrologium_,
gives a charming account of a landowner's life in field, garden, and

In the cloister, then, idyllic comfort, delighting in Nature and a
quiet country life, was quite as much at home as scholarship and
classical study. But we shall look there in vain for any trace of the
sentimental, the profoundly melancholy attitude of the Fathers of the
Church, Basil and Gregory, or for Augustine's deep faith and devout
admiration of the works of creation: even the tone of Ausonius and
Fortunatus, in their charming descriptions of scenery, was now a
thing of the past. Feeling for Nature--sentimental, sympathetic,
cosmic, and dogmatic--had dwindled down to mere pleasure in
cultivating flowers in the garden, to the level Aachen landscape and
such like; and the power to describe the impression made by scenery
was, like the impression itself, lame and weary.

It was the night of the decline breaking over Latin literature.

And how did it stand with German literature up to the eleventh
century? A German Kingdom had existed from the treaties of Verdun and
Mersen (842), but during this period traces of German poetry are few,
outweighed by Latin.

The two great Messianic poems, _Heliand_ and _Krist_, stand out
alone. In the _Heliand_ the storm on the lake of Gennesaret is
vividly painted:

    Then began the power of the storm; in the whirlwind the waves
    rose, night descended, the sea broke with uproar, wind and water
    battled together; yet, obedient to the command and to the
    controlling word, the water stilled itself and flowed serenely.

In _Krist_ there is a certain distinction in the description of the
Ascension, as the rising figures soar past the constellations of
stars, which disappear beneath their feet; for the rest, the symbolic
so supplants the direct meaning, that in place of an epic we have a
moralizing sermon. But there are traces of delight in the beauty of
the outer world, in the sunshine, and sympathy is attributed to

  She grew very angry at such deeds.

The poem _Muspilli_ (the world fire) shews the old northern feeling
for Nature; still more the few existing words of the _Wessobrunner

  This I heard as the greatest marvel among men,
  That once there was no earth nor heaven above,
  The bright stars gave no light, the sun shone not,
  Nor the moon, nor the glorious sea.

How plainly 'the bright stars' and the 'glorious sea' shew joy in the
beauty of the world!

In the oldest Scandinavian poems the inflexible character of the
Northerner and the northern landscape is reflected; the descriptions
are short and scanty; it is not mountain, rock, and sea which count
as beautiful, but pleasant, and, above all, fruitful scenery. The
imagery is bold: (Kenninger) the wind is the wolf of wood or sail,
the sea the pathway of the whale, the bath of the diving bird, etc.

The Anglo-Saxon was especially distinguished by his forcible images
and epithets. In Rynerwulf we have 'night falls like a helmet, dark
brown covers the mountains.' 'The sky is the fortress of the storm,
the sun the torch of the world, the jewel of splendour.' 'Fire is
eager, wild, blind, and raging; the sea is the gray sea, and the
sparkling splendid sea; waves are graves of the dead,' etc.

Vivid feeling for Nature is not among the characteristic features of
either Scandinavian or old German poetry.

It is naive and objective throughout, and seldom weighty or forcible.

The Waltharius shews the influence of Virgil's language, in
highly-coloured and sympathetic descriptions like those of the Latin
poetry of the Carolingian Renaissance.

Animal saga probably first arose just before the twelfth century, and
their home was probably Franconia.

Like the genial notices of plant life in the Latin poems of the
Carlovingian period, the animal poems shewed interest in the animal
world--the interest of a child who ponders individual differences and
peculiarities, the virtues and failings so closely allied to its own.
It was a naive 'hand-and-glove' footing between man and the
creatures, which attributed all his wishes and weaknesses to them,
wiped out all differences between them with perfect impartiality, and
gave the characteristics of each animal with exactness and poetry.

The soil for the cultivation of poetry about animals was prepared by
the symbolic and allegorical way of looking at Nature which held sway
all through the Middle Ages.

The material was used as a symbolic language for the immaterial, the
world of sense conceived of as a great picture-book of the truths of
salvation, in whose pages God, the devil, and, between them man,
figured: thus plant life suggested the flower of the root of Jesse,
foretold by Isaiah, red flowers the Saviour's wounds, and so forth.
In the earliest Christian times, a remarkable letter existed in
Alexandria, the so-called 'Physiologus,' which has affected the
proverbial turns of speech in the world's literature up to the
present day to an almost unequalled degree.

It gave the symbolic meanings of the different animals. The lamb and
unicorn were symbols of Christ; sheep, fish, and deer, of his
followers; dragons, serpents, and bears, of the devil; swine, hares,
hyenas, of gluttony; the disorderly luxuriance of snow meant death,
the phoenix the resurrection, and so forth, indeed, whole categories
of animals were turned into allegories of the truths of
salvation.[41] The cleverest fables of animals were in _Isengrimen_,
published in Ghent about 1140 in Latin verse--the story of the sick
lion and his cure by the fox, and the outwitting of the wolf. Such
fables did not remain special to German national literature, but
became popular subjects in the literature of the whole world; and it
is a significant fact that they afterwards took root especially in
Flanders, where the taste for still life and delight in Nature has
always found a home, and which became the nursery, in later times, of
landscape, animal, and genre painting.



In the development and maturing of the race, as of the individual,
nothing is more helpful than contact with foreign elements, people of
other manners, thoughts, and feelings. Intimate intercourse between
different nationalities rouses what is best in the soul of a nation,
inviting, as it does, to discussion and opposition, as well as to the
acquisition of new ideas. The conquests of Alexander the Great opened
up a new world to the Greek, and a new culture arose--Hellenism. It
was a new world that rose before the astonished eyes of the
Crusader--in his case too, the East; but the resulting culture did
not last. The most diverse motives fused to bring about this great
migration to a land at once unknown and yet, through religion,
familiar; and a great variety of characters and nations met under the
banner of the Cross.

Naturally this shaking up together, not only of Europeans among
themselves, but of the eastern with the western world, brought about
a complete revolution in manners, speech, art, science, trade,
manufacture, thought, and feeling, and so became an important factor
in general progress.

The narrow boundaries of nationality, race, and education were broken
through; all felt equal before the leading idea; men, places, plants,
and animals were alike new and wonderful. Little wonder if German
knights returning home from the East wove fiction with their fact,
and produced the most fantastic and adventurous heroic songs.

Many of the noblest of the nations joined the Crusades in pious
ardour for the cause, and it is easy to imagine the effect of the
complete novelty of scene upon them. With such tremendous new
impressions to cope with, it is not surprising that even the best
minds, untrained as they were, were unequal to the task, and that the
descriptions of real experiences or events in poetic form failed to
express what they meant. Besides this, there is no doubt that in many
ways the facts fell below their ideals; also that the Crusader's
mantle covered at the same time a rabble, which joined from the
lowest motives, the scum of Europe. It must also be remembered that
it is far easier to experience or feel than to pass on that
experience and feeling to others; that those who wrote did not always
belong to the most educated; and that they wrote, for the most part,
with difficulty in Greek or Latin. When all this has been weighed and
admitted, the fact remains that in existing accounts of the Crusades
there is great poverty of description of scenery, and lack of much
feeling for Nature. The historian, as such, was bound to give first
place to matters of fact and practical importance, and so to judge a
place by its value to an army passing through or occupying it; by its
fertility, water-supply, its swamps or stony ground, and so forth;
but still the modern reader is astonished to see how little
impression the scenery of the Holy Land made, judged by the accounts
we possess, upon the Crusaders. Even when it is conceded that other
important concerns came first, and that danger, want, and hunger must
often have made everything disagreeable, still, references to Nature
are very scanty, and one may look in vain for any interest in
beautiful scenery for its own sake.

There is only matter-of-fact geographical and mythological
information in William of Tours' _History of the Crusades_; for
instance, in his description of the Bosphorus he does not waste a
word over its beauty. But, as 'fruitful' and 'pleasant' are
ever-recurring adjectives with him, one cannot say that he absolutely
ignored it.

He said of Durazzo: 'They weather the bad seasons of the year in
fruitful districts rich in woods and fields, and all acceptable
conditions'; of Tyre, 'The town has a most excellent position on a
plain, almost entirely surrounded by mountains. The soil is
productive, the wood of value in many ways.' Of Antioch, 'Its
position is very convenient and pleasant, it lies in valleys which
have excellent and fertile soil, and are most pleasantly watered by
springs and streams. The mountains which enclose the town on both
sides are really very high; but send down very clear water, and their
sides and slopes are covered by buildings up to the very summits.'
There is nothing about beautiful views, unless one takes this, which
really only records a meteorological curiosity: 'From the top of one
mountain one can see the ball of the sun at the fourth watch of the
night, and if one turns round at the time when the first rays light
up the darkness, one has night on one side and day on the other.'

Tyre is described again as 'conspicuous for the fertility of its soil
and the charm of its position.' Its great waterworks are especially
admired, since by their means 'not only the gardens and most fruitful
orchards flourish, but the cane from which sugar is made, which is so
useful to man for health and other purposes, and is sent by merchants
to the most distant parts of the world.' Other reporters were charmed
by the fertility and wealth of the East. 'On those who came from the
poorer and colder western countries, the rich resources of the sunny
land in comparison with the poverty of home made an impression of
overflowing plenty, and at times almost of inexhaustibleness. The
descriptions of certain districts, extolled for their special
richness, sound almost enthusiastic.[1]

Burkhard von Monte Sion was enthusiastic about Lebanon's wealth of
meadows and gardens, and the plain round Tripolis, and considered the
Plain of Esdraelon the most desirable place in the world; but, on
exact and unprejudiced examination, there is nothing in his words
beyond homely admiration and matter-of-fact discussion of its great
practical utility.

He says of La Boneia, 'That plain has many homesteads, and beautiful
groves of olive and fig and other trees of various kinds, and much
timber. Moreover, it abounds in no common measure in rivers and
pasture land'; closes a geographical account of Lebanon thus, 'There
are in Libanus and Antilibanus themselves fertile and well-tilled
valleys, rich in pasture land, vineyards, gardens, plantations--in a
word, in all the good things of the world'; and says of the Plain of
Galilee, 'I never saw a lovelier country, if our sins and wrong-doing
did not prevent Christians from living there.'

He had some feeling too for a distant view. He wrote of Samaria: 'The
site was very beautiful; the view stretched right to the Sea of Joppa
and to Antipatris and Cæsarea of Palestine, and over the whole
mountain of Ephraim down to Ramathaym and Sophim and to Carmel near
Accon by the sea. And it is rich in fountains and gardens and olive
groves, and all the good things this world desires.' But it would be
going too far to conclude from the following words that he
appreciated the contrast between simple and sublime scenery: 'It must
be noticed too, that the river, from the source of Jordan at the foot
of Lebanon as far as the Desert of Pharan, has broad and pleasant
plains on both sides, and beyond these the fields are surrounded by
very high mountains as far as the Red Sea.'

In dealing with Gethsemane and the Mount of Olives, religious
enthusiasm suppresses any reference to scenery.

These descriptions shew that the wealth and fertility of the country
were praised before its beauty, and that this was only referred to in
short, meagre phrases, which tell less about it than any raptures
without special knowledge.

It was much the same with Phokas, who visited the Holy Land in

He was greatly impressed by the position of Antioch, 'with its
meadows and fruitful gardens, and the murmur of waters as the river,
fed by the torrents of the Castalian spring, flows quietly round the
town and besprinkles its towers with its gentle waves ... but most to
be admired of all is the mountain between town and sea, a noble and
remarkable sight--indeed, a delight to the beholder's eye ... the
Orontes flows with countless windings at the foot of it, and
discharges itself into the sea.'

He thought Lebanon very beautiful and worthy its praise in Holy
Scripture: 'The sun lies like white hair upon its head; its valleys
are crowned with pines, cedars, and cypresses; streams, beautiful to
look at and quite cold, flow from the ravines and valleys down to the
sea, and the freshly melted snow gives the flowing water its crystal

Tyre, too, was praised for its beauty: 'Strangers were particularly
delighted with one spring, which ran through meadows; and if one
stands on the tower, one can see the dense growth of plants, the
movement of the leaves in the glow of noon.'

The plain of Nazareth, too, was 'a heaven on earth, the delight of
the soul.'

But recollections of the sacred story were dearer to Phokas than the
scenery, and elsewhere he limited himself to noting the rich fruit
gardens, shady groups of trees, and streams and rivers with pleasant

Epiphanius Monachus Hagiopolitæ, in his _Enarratio Syriæ_, was a very
dry pioneer; so, too, the _Anonymus de locis Hierosolymitanis_;
Perdiccas, in his _Hierosolyma_, describes Sion thus: 'It stands on
an eminence so as to strike the eye, and is beautiful to behold,
owing to a number of vines and flower gardens and pleasant spots.'

It must be admitted then, that, beside utilitarian admiration of a
Paradise of fruitfulness, there is some record of simple, even
enthusiastic delight in its beauty; but only as to its general
features, and in the most meagre terms. The country was more
interesting to the Crusaders as the scene of the Christian story than
as a place in which to rest and dream and admire Nature for her own

The accounts of German pilgrimages[3] of the fourteenth and fifteenth
centuries only contain dry notices, such as those of Jacob von Bern
(1346-47), Pfintzing (1436-40), and Ulrich Leman (1472-80). The
last-mentioned praises Damascus in this clumsy fashion: 'The town is
very gay, quite surrounded by orchards, with many brooks and springs
flowing inside and out, and an inexpressible number of people in it,'
etc. Dietrich von Schachten describes Venice in this way: 'Venice
lies in the sea, and is built neither on land nor on mountain, but on
wooden piles, which is unbelievable to one who has not seen it'; and
Candia: 'Candia is a beautiful town in the sea, well built; also a
very fruitful island, with all sorts of things that men need for
living.' He describes a ride through Southern Italy: 'Saturday we
rode from Trepalda, but the same day through chestnut and hazel
woods; were told that these woods paid the king 16,000 gulden every
year. After that we rode a German mile through a wood, where each
tree had its vine--many trees carried 3 ohms of wine, which is
pleasant to see--and came to Nola.'

He called Naples 'very pretty and big,' and on: 'Then the king took
us to the sea and shewed us the ports, which are pretty and strong
with bulwarks and gates; we saw many beautiful ships too,' etc. One
does not know which is the more wonderful here, the poverty of the
description or the utter lack of personal observation: what the wood
produced, and how one was protected from the sea, was more important
to the writer than wood and sea themselves, and this, even in
speaking of the Bay of Naples, perhaps the most beautiful spot in
Europe. But instances like these are typical of German descriptions
at the time, and their Alpine travels fared no better.[4]

Geographical knowledge of the Alps advanced very slowly; there was as
yet no æsthetic enjoyment of their beauty. The Frankish historians
(Gregory of Tours, Fredegar) chronicled special events in the Alps,
but very briefly. Fredegar, for instance, knew of the sudden
appearance of a hot spring in the Lake of Thun, and Gregory of Tours
notes that the land-slip in 563 at the foot of the Dent du Midi,
above the point where the Rhine enters the Lake of Geneva, was a
dreadful event. Not only was the Castle of Tauretunum overwhelmed,
but the blocking of the Rhine caused a deluge felt as far as Geneva.
The pious prince of the Church explained this as a portent of another
catastrophe, the pest, which ravaged Gaul soon after.

There was much fabling at that time in the legends of saints, about
great mines of iron, gold, and silver, and about chamois and buck,
cattle-breeding and Alpine husbandry in the 'regio montana'; for
example, in von Aribo's _Vita S. Emmerani_. When the Alps became more
frequented, especially when, through Charlemagne, a political bridge
came to unite Italy and Germany, new roads were made and the whole
region was better known--in fact, early in mediæval times, not only
political, but ecclesiastical and mercantile life spread its threads
over a great part of the known world, and began to bind the lives of
nations together, so that the Alps no longer remained _terra
incognita_ to dwellers far and near.

We have accounts of Alpine journeys by the Abbé Majolus v. Clugny
(970), Bernard v. Hildesheim (1101), Aribert v. Mailand, Anno v.
Coeln[5], but without a trace of orography. They scarcely refer to
the snow and glacier regions from the side of physical geography, or
even of æsthetic feeling; and do not mention the mountain monarchs so
familiar to-day--Mt. Blanc, the Jungfrau, Ortner, Glockner,
etc.--which were of no value to their life, practical or scientific.
These writers record nothing but names of places and their own
troubles and dangers in travelling, especially in winter. And even at
the end of the fifteenth century, German travels across the Alps were
written in the same strain--for example, the account of the voyage of
the Elector-Palatine Alexander v. Zweibrücken and Count Joh. Ludwig
zu Nassau (1495-96) from Zurich Rapperschwyl and Wesen to Wallensee:
'This is the real Switzerland; has few villages, just a house here
and a house there, but beautiful meadows, much cattle, and very high
mountains, on which snow lies, which falls before Christmas, and is
as hard as any rock.' As an exception to this we have a vivid and
poetic description of the famous Verona Pass in Latin verse by
Guntherus Ligurinus.

Günther's description of this notorious ravine, between sky-high
Alps, with the torrent rushing at the bottom and a passage so narrow
that men could only move forward one by one, sounds like a personal
experience. This twelfth-century poem comes to us, in fact, like a
belated echo of Fortunatus.

We must now enquire whether the chief representatives of German
literature at this time shewed any of the national love of Nature,
whether the influence of the Crusades was visible in them, how far
scenery took a place in epic and song, and whether, as moderns have
so often stated, mediæval Germany stood high above antiquity in this
respect. Gervinus, a classic example on the last point, in the
section of his history of German poetry which treats of the
difference between the German fables about animals on the one hand,
and Esop's and the Oriental on the other, said:

    The way in which animals are handled in the fables demanded a far
    slighter familiarity between them and men; so exact a knowledge
    as we see in the German fables, often involving knowledge of
    their natural history, such insight into the 'privacy of the
    animal world,' belonged to quite another kind of men. Antiquity
    did not delight in Nature, and delight in Nature is the very
    foundation of these poems. Remote antiquity neither knew nor
    sought to know any natural history; but only wondered at Nature.
    The art of hunting and the passion for it, often carried to
    excess in the Middle Ages, was unknown to it. It is a bold remark
    of Grimm's that he could smell the old smell of the woods in the
    German animal poems, but it is one whose truth every one will
    feel, who turns to this simple poetry with an open mind, who
    cares for Nature and life in the open.

This is a very tangle of empty phrases and misstatements. No people
stood in more heartfelt and naive relation to Nature, especially to
the animal world, than the Hindoos and Persians. In earlier
enquiries[6] we have reviewed the naive feeling displayed in Homer
and the sentimental in Hellenism, and have seen that the taste for
hunting increased knowledge of Nature in the open in Hellenic days
far more than in the Middle Ages. We shall see now that the level of
feeling reached in those and imperial Roman days was not regained in
European literature until long after the fall of Latin poetry, and
that it was the fertilizing influence of that classic spirit, and
that alone, which enabled the inborn German taste for Nature, and for
hunting, and plant and animal life, to find artistic expression. It
was a too superficial knowledge of classic literature, and an
inclination to synthesis, and clever _a priori_ argument (a style
impressed upon his day by Hegel's method, and fortunately fast
disappearing), which led Gervinus to exalt the Middle Ages at the
expense of antiquity. It sounds like a weak concession when he says

    Joy in Nature, which is peculiar to modern times, in contrast to
    antiquity, which is seen in the earliest mediæval poems, and in
    which, moreover, expiring antiquity came to meet the German--this
    joy in Nature, in dwelling on plant and animal life, is the very
    soul of this (animal) poetry. As in its plastic art, so in all
    its poetry, antiquity only concerned itself with gods and heroes;
    its glance was always turned upwards.

But, as a fact, no one has ever stood with feet more firmly planted
on this earth than the Greek, enjoying life and undeterred by much
scruple or concern as to the powers above; and centuries of
development passed before German literature equalled Greek in love of
Nature and expressive representation of her beauty.

To rank the two national epics of Germany, the _Nibelungenlied_ and
_Gudrun_, side by side with the _Iliad_ and _Odyssey_ is to
exaggerate their value. And here, as ever, overstraining the
comparison is mischievous.

The _Nibelungenlied_ is undeniably charming with its laconic and yet
plastic descriptions, its vigorous heroes, and the tragic course of
their fate; so is _Gudrun_, that melodious poem of the North Sea. But
they never, either in composition, method of representation, or
descriptive epithets, reach the perfect art of the Greek epics. What
moral beauty and plastic force there is in Homer's comparisons and in
his descriptions of times and seasons! what a clear eye and warm
heart he has for Nature in all her moods! and what raw and scanty
beginnings of such things we have in the _Nibelungenlied_! It is true
Homer had not attained to the degree of sympathy which finds in
Nature a friend, a sharer of one's joys and sorrows; she is pictured
objectively in the form of epic comparisons; but how faithfully, and
with what range and variety!

There can scarcely be another epic in the world so poor in
descriptions of time and place as the _Nibelungenlied_; it cannot be
used to prove German feeling for Nature!

India, Persia, and Greece made natural phenomena the counterparts of
human life, weaving into the tale, by way of comparison or
environment, charming genre pictures of plant and animal life, each
complete in itself; in the _Nibelungenlied_ Nature plays no part at
all, not even as framework.

Time is indicated as sparsely as possible:

'Upon the 7th day at Worms on the Rhine shore, the gallant horsemen

'On a Whitsun morning we saw them all go by'; or 'When it grew
towards even, and near the sun's last ray, seeing the air was
cooler'; or 'He must hang, till light morning threw its glow through
the window.' The last is the most poetic; elsewhere it is 'Day was
over, night fell.'

Terseness can be both a beauty and a force; but, in comparison with
Greece, how very little feeling for Nature these expressions contain!

It is no better with descriptions of place:

'From the Rhine they rode through Hesse, their warriors as well,
towards the Saxon country, where they to fighting fell.'

'He found a fortress placed upon a mountain.'

'Into a wide-roomed palace of fashion excellent, for there, beneath
it rushing, one saw the Danube's flood.'

Even the story of the hunt and the murder of Siegfried is quite
matter-of-fact and sparse as to scenery: 'By a cold spring he soon
lost his life ... then they rode from there into a deep wood ...
there they encamped by the green wood, where they would hunt on the
broad mead ... one heard mountain and tree echo.'

'The spring of water was pure and cool and good.' ...

'There fell Chriemhild's husband among the flowers ... all round
about the flowers were wetted with his blood.'

One thinks instinctively of Indian and Greek poetry, of Adonis and
the death of Baldur in the Northern Saga. But even here, where the
subject almost suggests it, there is no trace of Nature's sympathy
with man.

References to the animal world too--Chriemhild's dreams of the
falcons seized by two eagles, and the two wild boars which attacked
Siegfried, the game hunted in the forests by the heroes who run like
panthers--all show it to be of no importance.

Even such phrases as rosy-red, snow-white, etc., are rare--'Her
lovely face became all rosy-red with pleasure'; but there is a
certain tenderness in the comparisons of Chriemhild:

'Then came the lovely maiden, even as morning red from sombre clouds
outbreaking,' and, 'just as the moon in brightness excels the
brightest stars, and suddenly outshining, athwart the clouds
appears,' so she excelled all other women.

It has been said that one can hear the sighing of the north wind and
the roar of the North Sea in _Gudrun_, but this is scarcely more than
a pretty phrase. The 'dark tempestuous' sea, 'wild unfathomable'
waves, the shore 'wet from the blood of the slain,' are indeed
mentioned, but that is all.

Wat of Sturmland says to the young warriors: 'The air is still and
the moon shines clear ... when the red star yonder in the south dips
his head in the brine, I shall blow on my great horn that all the
hosts shall hear'; but it is hope of morning, not delight in the
starry sky, that he is expressing.

Indications of place too are of the briefest, just 'It was a broad
neck of land, called the Wülpensand,' or, 'In a few hours they saw
the shores where they would land, a little harbour lay in sight
enfolded by low hills clothed with dark fir trees.'

The first trace of sympathy with Nature occurs in the account of the
effect of Horand's song.

Like Orpheus, he charms the little birds and other creatures: 'He
sang with such a splendid voice, that the little birds ceased their

'And as he began to sing again, all the birds in the copse round
ceased their sweet songs.'

'The very cattle left their green pastures to hearken, the little
gold beetles stopped running among the grass, the fishes ceased to
shoot about in the brooks. He sang long hours, and it seemed but a
brief moment. The very church bells sounded sweet no longer; the folk
left the choir songs of the priests and ran to hear him. All who
heard his voice were heart-sick after the singer, so grand and sweet
was the strain.'

Indications of time are rarely found more short and concise than

  When night ended and day began.
  On the 12th day they quitted the country.
  In Maytime. On a cool morning.

This is a little richer:

    It was the time when leaves spring up delightfully and birds of
    all sorts sing their best in the woods.

Much more definite and distinct is:

    It was about that time of the year when departing winter sheds
    his last terrors upon the earth; a sharp breeze was blowing and
    the sea was covered with broken up ice; but there were gleams of
    sunshine upon the hills, and the little birds began to tune their
    throats tremulously, that they might be ready to sing their lay
    when the March weather was past.

    Gudrun trembled with cold; her wet garment clung close to her
    white limbs; the wind dashed her golden hair about her face.

And later, when the morning of Gudrun's deliverance breaks, the
indications of time, though short, are plastic enough:

    After the space of an hour the red star went down upon the edge
    of the sea, and Wat of Sturmland, standing upon the hill, blew a
    great blast on his horn, which was heard in the land for miles
    round.... The sound of Wat's horn ... wakened a young maid, who,
    stealing on tiptoe to the window, looked over the bay and beheld
    the glimmering of spears and helms upon the sands.... 'Awake,
    mistress,' she cried, 'the host of the Hegelings is at hand.'

Companions are few;

  He sprang like a wild lion.

The shower of stones flung down upon Wat 'is but an April shower.'

Images are few too:

    This flower of hope, to find repose here on the shore, Hartmouth
    and his friends did not bring to blossom.

Wilhelm Grimm rightly observes:

    At this epoch the poetry of the Fatherland gave no separate
    descriptions of Nature--descriptions, that is, whose only object
    was to paint the impression of the landscape in glowing colours
    upon the mind. The old German masters certainly did not lack
    feeling for Nature, but they have left us no other expression of
    it than such as its connection with historical events demanded.

And further:

    The question, whether contact with Southern Italy, or, through
    the Crusades, with Asia Minor, Syria, and Palestine, did not
    enrich German poetry with new pictures of Nature, can only, as a
    general rule, be answered in the negative.

In the courtly epics of chivalry, the place of real Nature was taken
by a fabulous wonderworld, full of the most fantastic and romantic
scenery, in which wood, field, plants, and animals were all
distorted. For instance, in the Alexander saga (of Pfaffen Lamprecht)
Alexander the Great describes to his teacher Aristotle the wonders he
has seen, and how one day he came with his army to a dark forest,
where the interlacing boughs of tall trees completely shut out the
sunlight. Clear, cool streams ran through it down to the valley, and
birds' songs echoed in the shade. The ground was covered by an
enormous quantity of flower buds of wondrous size, which looked like
great balls, snow-white and rose-coloured, closely folded up.
Presently, the fragrant goblets opened, and out of all these
wonder-flowers stepped lovely maidens, rosy as dawn and white as day,
and about twelve years old. All these thousands of charming beings
raised their voices together and competed with the birds in song,
swaying up and down in charming lines, singing and laughing in the
cool shade. They were dressed in red and white, like the flowers from
which they were born; but if sun rays fell on them, they would fade
and die. They were only children of the woodland shade and the
summer, and lived no longer than the flowers, which May brings to
life and Autumn kills. In this wood Alexander and his host pitched
their tents, and lived through the summer with the little maids. But
their happiness only lasted three months and twelve days:

    When the time came to an end, our joy passed away too; the
    flowers faded, and the pretty girls died; trees lost their
    leaves, springs their flow, and the birds their song; all
    pleasure passed away. Discomfort began to touch my heart with
    many sorrows, as day by day I saw the beautiful maidens die, the
    flowers fade: with a heavy heart, I departed with my men.

This fairy-like tale, with its blending of human and plant life, is
very poetically conceived; but it is only a play of fancy, one of the
early steps towards the modern feeling.

The battle scenes, as well as other scenes in this poem, are bold and
exaggerated. Armies meet like roaring seas; missiles fly from both
sides as thick as snow; after the dreadful bath of blood, sun and
moon veil their light and turn away from the murder committed there.

Hartmann von der Aue, too, did not draw real Nature, but only one of
his own invention.

For example, the wild forest with the magic spring in _Iwein_:

    I turned to the wilds next morning, and found an extensive
    clearing, hidden in the forest, solitary and without husbandmen.
    There, to my distress, I descried a sad delight of the
    eyes--beasts of every kind that I know the names of, attacking
    each other.... this spring is cold and very pure; neither rain,
    sun, or wind reach it; it is screened by a most beautiful lime
    tree. The tree is excessively tall and thick, so that neither sun
    nor rain can penetrate its foliage, winter does not injure it,
    nor lessen its beauty by one hair; 'tis green and blossoming the
    whole year round.... Over the spring there is a wonderfully fine
    stone ... the tree was so covered with birds that I could
    scarcely see the branches, and even the foliage almost
    disappeared. The sweet songs were pleasant and resounded through
    the forest, which re-echoed them....

    As I poured water upon the ruby, the sun, which had just come
    out, disappeared, the birds' song round about ceased, a black
    storm approached, dark heavy storm-clouds came from all four
    quarters of the vault of heaven. It seemed no longer bright day
    ... soon a thousand flashes of lightning played round me in the
    forest ... there came storm, rain, and hail ... the storm became
    so great that the forest broke down.

He never shews a real love for Nature even in his lyrics, for the
wish for flowers in _Winter Complaint_ can hardly be said to imply

    He who cares for flowers must lament much at this heavy, dismal
    time; a wife helps to shorten the long nights. In this way I will
    shorten long winter without the birds' song.

Wolfram von Eschenbach, too, is very sparing of references to Nature:
time is given by such phrases as 'when twilight began,' or 'as the
day broke,' 'at the bright glow of morning' ... 'as day already
turned to evening.'

His interest in real things was driven into the background by
love-making and adventures--_Arthur's Round Table_ and the _Holy
Grail_; all the romance of knighthood. When he described a forest or
a garden, he always decked it out lavishly.

For instance, the garden in Orgeluse:

    A garden surrounding a mountain, planted with noble trees where
    pomegranates, figs, olives, vines, and other fruits grew richly
    ... a spring poured from the rock, and (for all this would have
    been nothing to him without a fair lady) there he found what did
    not displease him--a lady so beautiful and fair that he was
    charmed at the sight, the flower of womanly beauty.

Comparisons are few and not very poetic. In _Songs of the Heart_--

    The lady of the land watered herself with her heart's tears.

    Her eyes rained upon the child.

    Her joy was drowned in lamentation.

Gawan and Orgeluse,

    Spite their outer sweetness, as disagreeable as a shower of rain
    in sunshine.

    There were many fair flowers, but their colours could not compare
    with that of Orgeluse.

His heroes are specially fond of birds. Young Parzival

    Felt little care while the little birds sang round him; it made
    his heart swell, he ran weeping into the house.

and Gawan

    Found a door open into a garden; he stept in to look round and
    enjoy the air and the singing of the birds.

So we see that in the _Nibelungenlied_ scarcely a plant grew, and
Hartmann and Wolfram's gardens belonged almost entirely to an unreal
region; there are no traces of a very deep feeling for Nature in all

But Gottfried von Strassburg, with his vivid, sensuous imagination
and keen eye for beauty, shewed a distinct advance both in taste and
achievement. He, too, notes time briefly: 'And as it drew towards
evening,' 'Now day had broke.' He repeats his comparisons: fair
ladies are 'the wonder rose of May,' 'the longing white rose.' The
two Isolts are sun and dawn. Brangäne is the full moon. The terrified
girl is thus described:

    Her rosy mouth paled; the fair colour, which was her ornament,
    died out of her skin; her bright eyes grew dim like night after

Another comparison is:

    Like the siren's song, drawing a bark to the reef as by a magnet,
    so the sweet young queen attracted many hearts.

Love is a usurious plant, whose sun never goes down; a romance
sweetens the mood as May dew sweetens the blood.

Constant friendship is one which takes the pleasure with the pain,
the thorn with the rose. The last comparisons shew more thought, and
still more is seen in the beginning of the poem, _Riwalin and
Blancheflur_, which has a charming description of Spring.

  Now the festival was agreed upon and arranged
  For the four flowering weeks
  When sweet May attracts, till he flies off again.
  At Tinkapol upon a green plain
  High up on a wonderful meadow with spring colour
  Such as no eye has seen before or since. Soft sweet May
  Had dressed it with his own charming extravagance.
  There were little wood birds, a joy to the ear,
  Flowers and grass and green plants and summer meads
  That were a delight to eye and heart.
  One found there whatever one would, whatever May should bring--
  Shade from the sun, limes by the brook,
  A gentle breeze which brought the prattle
  Of Mark's court people. May's friend, the green turf,
  Had made herself a charming costume of flowers,
  In which she shone back at the guests with a festival of her own;
  The blossoming trees smiled so sweetly at every one,
  That heart and mind smiled back again.
  The pure notes of the birds, blessed and beautiful,
  Touched heart and senses, filling hill and dale with joy.
  The dear nightingale,
  Sweet bird, may it ever be blessed!
  Sang so lustily upon the bough
  That many a heart was filled with joy and good humour.
  There the company pitched itself
  With great delight on the green grass.
  The limes gave enough shade,
  And many covered their tent roofs with green boughs.

There is a heartfelt ring in this. We see that even this early period
of German mediæval poetry was not entirely lacking in clear voices to
sing of Nature with real sympathy.

The description of the Minne grotto is famous, with its magical
accessories, its limes and other trees, birds, songs, and flowers, so
that 'eye and ear alike found solace'; but the romantic love episode,
interwoven as it is by the poet with the life of Nature, is more
interesting for our purpose.

    They had a court, they had a council which brought them nought
    but joy. Their courtiers were the green trees, the shade and the
    sunlight, the streamlet and the spring; flowers, grass, leaf, and
    blossom, which refreshed their eyes. Their service was the song
    of the birds, the little brown nightingales, the throstlets and
    the merles and other wood birds. The siskin and the ringdove vied
    with each other to do them pleasure, all day long their music
    rejoiced ear and soul. Their love was their high feast.... The
    man was with the woman, and the woman with the man; they had the
    fellowship they most desired, and were where they fain would

    In the dewy morning they gat them forth to the meadow where grass
    and flowers alike had been refreshed. The glade was their
    pleasure-ground; they wandered hither and thither hearkening each
    other's speech, and waking the song of the birds by their
    footsteps. Then they turned them to where the cool clear spring
    rippled forth, and sat beside its stream and watched its flow
    till the sun grew high in the heaven, and they felt its shade.
    Then they betook them to the linden, its branches offered them a
    welcome shelter, the breezes were sweet and soft beneath its
    shade, and the couch at its feet was decked with the fairest
    grass and flowers.

With these lovers, love of Nature is only second to love of each
other. So in the following:

    That same morning had Tristan and his lady-love stolen forth hand
    in hand and come full early, through the morning dew, to the
    flowery meadow and the lovely vale. Dove and nightingale saluted
    them sweetly, greeting their friends Tristan and Iseult. The wild
    wood birds bade them welcome in their own tongue ... it was as if
    they had conspired among themselves to give the lovers a morning
    greeting. They sang from the leafy branches in changeful wise,
    answering each other in song and refrain. The spring that charmed
    their eye and ear whispered a welcome, even as did the linden
    with its rustling leaves. The blossoming trees, the fair meadow,
    the flowers, and the green grass--all that bloomed laughed at
    their coming; the dew which cooled their feet and refreshed their
    heart offered a silent greeting.

The amorous passion was the soil in which, in its early narrow
stages, sympathy for Nature grew up. Was it the thirteenth-century
lyrics, the love-songs of the Minnesingers, which unfolded the germ?
For the lyric is the form in which the deepest expression can be
given to feeling for Nature, and in which she either appears as
background, frame, or ornament, or, by borrowing a soul or
symbolizing thought and feeling, blends with the inner life.

As the German court epics took their material from France, so the
German love-songs were inspired by the Provençal troubadours. The
national differences stand out clear to view: the vivid glowing
Provençal is fresher, more vehement, and mettlesome; the dreamy
German more monotonous, tame, and melancholy. The one is given to
proud daring, wooing, battle, and the triumph of victory; the other
to musing, loving, and brooding enthusiasm. The stamp of the
occasional, of improvisation, is upon all Provençal work; while with
the German Minnesingers, everything--Nature as well as love--tends to
be stereotyped, monotonous.

The scanty remains of Troubadour songs[7] often shew mind and Nature
very strikingly brought together, either in harmony or contrast. For
example, Bernard von Ventadour (1195):

    It may annoy others to see the foliage fall from the trees, but
    it pleases me greatly; one cannot fancy I should long for leaves
    and flowers when she, my dear one, is haughty to me.

    Cold and snow become flowers and greenery under her charming

    As I slumber at night, I am waked by the sweet song of the
    nightingale; nothing but love in my mind quite thrilled by
    shudders of delight.

    God! could I be a swallow and sweep through the air, I would go
    at midnight to her little chamber.

  When I behold the lark up spring
  To meet the bright sun joyfully,
  How he forgets to poise his wing
  In his gay spirit's revelry.
  Alas! that mournful thoughts should spring
  E'en from that happy songster's glee!
  Strange that such gladdening sight should bring
  Not joy but pining care to me.

A very modern thought which calls to mind Theodore Storm's touching
lines after the death of his wife:

    But this I cannot endure, that the sun smiles as before, clocks
    strike and bells ring as in thy lifetime, and day and night still
    follow each other.

He connects spring with love:

  When grass grows green and fresh leaves spring
  And flowers are budding on the plain,
  When nightingales so sweetly sing
  And through the greenwood swells the strain,
  Then joy I in the song and in the flower,
  Joy in myself but in my lady more;
  All objects round my spirit turns to joy,
  But most from her my rapture rises high.

Arnold von Mareuil (about 1200) sings in the same way:

  O! how sweet the breeze of April
  Breathing soft, as May draws near,
  While through nights serene and gentle
  Songs of gladness meet the ear.
  Every bird his well-known language
  Warbling in the morning's pride,
  Revelling on in joy and gladness
  By his happy partner's side....
  With such sounds of bliss around me,
  Who could wear a saddened heart?

He calls his lady-love

    The fairest creature which Nature has produced here below, fairer
    than I can express and faker than a beautiful May day, than
    sunshine in March, shade in summer, than May roses, April rain,
    the flower of beauty, mirror of love, the key of Fame.

Bertran de Born too sings:

  The beautiful spring delights me well
  When flowers and leaves are growing,
  And it pleases my heart to hear the swell
  Of the bird's sweet chorus flowing
  In the echoing wood, etc.

The Greek lyrists up to Alexandrian times contented themselves with
implying indirectly that nothing delighted them so much as May and
its delights; but these singers implicitly state it. The German
Minnesingers too[8] are loud in praise of spring, as in that
anonymous song:

  I think nothing so good nor worthy of praise
  As a fair rose and my good man's love;
  The song of the little birds in the woods is clear to many a heart.

and summer is greeted with:

    The good are glad that summer comes. See what a benefit it is to
    many hearts.

The Troubadour motive is here too:

    Winter and snow seem as beautiful flowers and clover to me, when
    I have embraced her.

and Kürenberg makes a lady sing:

    When I stand there alone in my shift and think of thee, noble
    knight, I blush like a rose on its thorn.

Delight in summer, complaint of winter--this is the fundamental chord
struck again and again; there is scarcely any trace of blending the
feelings of the lover with those of Nature. It is a monotonous
repetition of a few themes, of flowers and little birds as messengers
of love, and lady-loves who are brighter than the sun, whose presence
brings spring in winter or cheers a grey and snowy day.

Deitmar von Eist greets spring with:

    Ah! now the time of the little birds' singing is coming for us,
    the great lime is greening, the long winter is past, one sees
    well-shaped flowers spread their glory over the heath. 'Tis a joy
    to many hearts, and a comfort too to mine.

In another song the birds and roses remind him of a happy past and of
the lady of his heart.

  A little bird sang on the lime o'erhead,
  Its song resounded through the wood
  And turned my heart back to another place;
  And once again I saw the roses blow,
  And they brought back the many thoughts
  I cherish of a lady.

A lady says to a falcon:

  You happy falcon you! You fly whither you will!
  And choose the tree you like in the wood.
  I have done the same. I chose a husband
  For myself, whom my eyes chose.
  So 'tis fitting for beautiful women.

In winter he complains:

    Alas for summer delight! The birds' song has disappeared with the
    leaves of the lime. Time has changed, the nightingales are dumb.
    They have given up their sweet song and the wood has faded from

Uhland's beautiful motive in _Spring Faith_, that light and hope will
come back to the oppressed heart with the flowers and the green, is
given, though stiffly and dimly, by Heinrich von Veldegge:

    I have some delightful news; the flowers are sprouting on the
    heath, the birds singing in the wood. Where snow lay before,
    there is now green clover, bedewed in the morning. Who will may
    enjoy it. No one forces me to, I am not free from cares.

and elsewhere:

    At the time when flowers and grass come to us, all that made my
    heart sad will be made good again.

The loss of the beauty of summer makes him sad:

    Since the bright sunlight has changed to cold, and the little
    birds have left off singing their song, and cold nights have
    faded the foliage of the lime, my heart is sad.

Ulrich von Guotenberg makes a pretty comparison:

  She is my summer joy, she sows flowers and clover
  In my heart's meadow, whence I, whate'er befall,
  Must teem with richer bliss: the light of her eyes
  Makes me bloom, as the hot sun the dripping trees....
  Her fair salute, her mild command
  Softly inclining, make May rain drop down into my heart.

Heinrich von Rugge laments winter:

    The dear nightingale too has forgotten how beautifully she sang
    ... the birds are mourning everywhere.

and longs for summer:

    I always craved blissful days.... I liked to hear the little
    birds' delightful songs. Winter cannot but be hard and
    immeasurably long. I should be glad if it would pass away.

Heinrich von Morungen:

  How did you get into my heart?
  It must ever be the same with me.
  As the noon receives her light from the sun,
  So the glance of your bright eyes, when you leave me,
  Sinks into my heart.

He calls his love his light of May, his Easter Day:

  She is my sweetheart, a sweet May
  Bringing delights, a sunshine without cloud.

and says, in promising fidelity: 'My steady mind is not like the

Reinmar says:

  When winter is over
  I saw the heath with the red flowers, delightful there....
  The long winter is past away; when I saw the green leaves
  I gave up much of my sorrow.

In a time of trouble he cried:

    To me it must always be winter.

So we see that Troubadour references to Nature were drawn from a very
limited area. Individual grasp of scenery was entirely lacking, it
did not occur to them to seek Nature for her own sake. Their
comparisons were monotonous, and their scenes bare, stereotyped
arabesques, not woven into the tissue of lyric feeling. Their ruling
motives were joy in spring and complaint of winter. Wood, flowers,
clover, the bright sun, the moon (once), roses, lilies, and woodland
birds, especially the nightingale, served them as elementary or
landscape figures.

Wilhelm Grimm says:

    The Minnesingers talk often enough of mild May, the nightingale's
    song, the dew shining on the flowers of the heath, but always in
    relation only to their own feelings reflected in them. To
    indicate sad moods they used faded leaves, silent birds, seed
    buried in snow.

and Humboldt:

    The question, whether contact with Southern Italy, or the
    Crusades in Asia Minor, Syria, and Palestine, have enriched the
    art of poetry in Germany with new natural pictures, can only
    generally be answered by the negative. It is not remarked that
    the acquaintance with the East gave any new direction to the
    songs of the minstrels. The Crusaders came little into actual
    contact with the Saracens; they even lived in a state of great
    restraint with other nations who fought in the same cause. One of
    the oldest lyric poets was Friedrich of Hausen. He perished in
    the army of Barbarossa. His songs contain many views of the
    Crusades; but they chiefly express religious sentiments on the
    pain of being separated from his dear friends. He found no
    occasion to say anything concerning the country or any of those
    who took part in the wars, as Reinmar the Elder, Rubin, Neidhart,
    and Ulrich of Lichtenstein. Reinmar came a pilgrim to Syria, as
    it appears, in the train of Leopold the 6th, Duke of Austria. He
    complains that the recollections of his country always haunted
    him, and drew away his thoughts from God. The date tree has here
    been mentioned sometimes, when they speak of the palm branches
    which pious pilgrims bore upon their shoulders. I do not remember
    that the splendid scenery in Italy has excited the fancy of the
    minstrels who crossed the Alps. Walther, who had wandered about,
    had only seen the river Po; but Friedank was at Rome. He merely
    remarked that grass grew in the palaces of those who formerly
    bore sway there.

As a fact, even the greatest Minnesinger, Walther, the master lyrist
of the thirteenth century, was not ahead of his contemporaries in
this matter. His _Spring Longing_ begins:

  Winter has wrought us harm everywhere,
  Forest and field are dreary and bare
  Where the sweet voices of summer once were,
  Yet by the road where I see maiden fair
  Tossing the ball, the birds' song is there.

and _Spring and Women_:

  When flowers through the grass begin to spring
  As though to greet with smiles the sun's bright rays,
  On some May morning, and in joyous measure,
  Small songbirds make the dewy forest ring
  With a sweet chorus of sweet roundelays,
  Hath life in all its store a purer pleasure?
  'Tis half a Paradise on earth.
  Yet ask me what I hold of equal worth,
  And I will tell what better still
  Ofttimes before hath pleased mine eyes,
  And, while I see it, ever will.
  When a noble maiden, fair and pure,
  With raiment rich and tresses deftly braided,
  Mingles, for pleasure's sake, in company,
  High bred, with eyes that, laughingly demure,
  Glance round at times and make all else seem faded,
  As, when the sun shines, all the stars must die.
  Let May bud forth in all its splendour;
  What sight so sweet can he engender
  As with this picture to compare?
  Unheeded leave we buds and blooms,
  And gaze upon the lovely fair!

The grace in this rendering of a familiar motive, and the
individuality in the following _Complaint of Winter_, were both
unusual at the time:

  Erewhile the world shone red and blue
  And green in wood and upland too,
  And birdlets sang on the bough.
  But now it's grown grey and lost its glow,
  And there's only the croak of the winter crow,
  Whence--many a ruffled brow!

Elsewhere he says that his lady's favour turns his winter to spring,
and adds:

  Cold winter 'twas no more for me,
  Though others felt it bitterly;
  To me it was mid May.

He has many pictures of Nature and pretty comparisons, but the
stereotyped style predominates--heath, flowers, grass, and
nightingales. The pearl of the collection is the naive song which
touches sensuous feeling, like the _Song of Solomon_, with the magic
light of innocence:

  Under the lime on the heath where I sat with my love,
  There you would find
  The grass and the flowers all crushed--
  Sweetly the nightingale sang in the vale by the wood.
  When I came up to the meadow my lover was waiting me there.
  Ah! what a greeting I had! Gracious Mary, 'tis bliss to me still!
  Tandaradei! Did he kiss me, you ask? Look at the red of my lips!
  Of sweet flowers of all sorts he made us a bed,
  I wager who passes now smiles at the sight,
  The roses would still show just where my head lay.
  But how he caressed me, that any but one
  Should know that, God forbid! I were shamed if they did;
  Only he and I know it,
  And one little birdie who never will tell.

So we see that interest in Nature in the literature of the Crusaders
very seldom went beyond the utilitarian bounds of pleasure and
admiration in fertility and pleasantness; and the German national
epics rarely alluded to her traits even by way of comparison. The
court epics shewed some advance, and sympathy was distinctly
traceable in Gottfried, and even attained to artistic expression in
his lyrics, where his own feelings chimed with Nature.

For the rest, the Minnesingers' descriptions were all alike. The
charm of Nature apart from other considerations, delight in her for
her own sake alone, was unknown to the time.

Hitherto we have only spoken of literature.

Feeling for Nature reveals itself in plastic art also, especially in
painting; and since the mind of a people is one united organism, the
relation between poetry and painting is not one of opposition and
mutual exclusion--they rather enlarge and explain, or condition each

As concerns feeling for Nature, it may be taken as a universal rule
that landscape-painting only develops when Nature is sought for her
own sake, and that so long as scenery merely serves the purpose of
ornament in literature, so long it merely serves as accessory and
background in painting; whereas, when Nature takes a wider space in
prose and poetry, and becomes an end of representation in herself,
the moment for the birth of landscape-painting has come. We will
follow the stages of the development of painting very briefly, from
Woltmann and Woermann's excellent book,[9] which, if it throws no
fresh light upon our subject, illustrates what has just been said in
a striking manner.

In the first centuries _Anno Domini_, painting was wholly proscribed
by Christendom. Its technique did not differ from that of antiquity;
but Christendom took up an attitude of antagonism. The picture
worship of the old religions was opposed to its very origin and
essence, and was only gradually introduced into the Christian cult
through heathen influences. It is a fact too, easy to explain,
especially through its Jewish origin, that Christianity at first felt
no need of art, and that this one-sidedness only ceased when the
specifically Jewish element in it had died out, and Christendom
passed to cultivated Greeks and Romans. In the cemeteries and
catacombs of the first three centuries, we find purely decorative
work, light vines with Cupids, but also remains of landscapes; for
instance, in the oldest part of the cemetery of Domitilla at Rome,
where the ceiling decoration consists of shepherds, fishers, and
biblical scenes. The ceiling picture in St Lucina (second century)
has apparently the Good Shepherd in the middle, and round it
alternate pictures of Him and of the praying Madonna; whilst in the
middle it has also charming divisions with fields, branches with
leaves and flowers, birds, masks, and floating genii.

In Byzantine painting too, the influence of antiquity was still
visible, especially in a Psaltery with a Commentary and fourteen
large pictures. David appears here as a shepherd; a beautiful woman's
form, exhibiting the melody, is leaning with her left arm upon his
shoulder; a nymph's head peeps out of the foliage; and in front we
have Bethlehem, and the mountain god resting in a bold position under
a rock; sheep, goats, and water are close by, and a landscape with
classic buildings, streams, and mountains forms the background; it is
very poetically conceived. Elsewhere, too, personifications recur, in
which classic beauty is still visible, mixed with severe Christian

At the end of the tenth century began the Romantic period, which
closed in the thirteenth.

The brilliant progress made by architecture paved the way for the
other arts; minds trained in its laws began to look for law in
organic Nature too, and were no longer content with the old uncertain
and arbitrary shapes. But as no independent feeling for Nature, in
the widest sense of the term, existed, mediæval art treated her, not
according to her own laws, but to those of architecture. With the
development of the Gothic style, from the thirteenth century on, art
became a citizen's craft, a branch of industry. Heretofore it had
possessed but one means of expression--religious festival or
ceremony, severely ecclesiastical. This limit was now removed. The
artist lived a wide life, open to impressions from Nature, his
imagination fed by poetry with new ideas and feelings, and constantly
stimulated by the love of pleasure, which was so vehement among all
classes that it turned every civil and ecclesiastical event to
histrionic purposes, and even made its influence felt upon the
clergy. The strong religious feeling which pervaded the Middle Ages
still ruled, and even rose to greater enthusiasm, in accordance with
the spirit of the day; but it was no longer a matter of blind
submission of the will, but of conscious acceptance.

It is true that knowledge of the external world was as yet very
limited; the painter had not explored and mastered it, but only used
it as a means to represent a certain realm of feeling, studying it
just so far as this demanded. We have seen the same in the case of
poetry. The beginnings of realistic painting were visible, although,
as, for example, in representing animals, no individuality was

From the middle of the fourteenth century a new French school sprang
up. The external world was more keenly and accurately studied,
especially on its graceful side. It was only at the end of that
period that painting felt the need to develop the background, and
indicate actual surroundings by blue sky, hills, Gothic buildings,
and conventional trees. These were given in linear perspective; of
aerial perspective there was none. The earlier taste still ruled in
initialling and border decorations; but little flowers were added by
degrees to the thorn-leaf pattern, and birds, sometimes angels,

The altar-piece at Cologne, at the end of the fourteenth century, is
more subjective in conception, and full of lyric feeling. Poetic
feeling came into favour, especially in Madonna pictures of purely
idyllic character, which were painted with most charming
surroundings. Instead of a throne and worshipping figures, Mary was
placed sitting comfortably with the Child on flowery turf, and saints
around her; and although the background might be golden instead of
landscape, yet all the stems and blossoms in the grass were naturally
and accurately treated. In a little picture in the town museum at
Frankfort, the Madonna is seated in a rose garden under fruit trees
gay with birds, and reading a book; a table with food and drinks
stands close by, and a battlemented wall surrounds the garden. She is
absorbed in contemplation; three female saints are attending to
mundane business close by, one drawing water from a brook, another
picking cherries, the third teaching the child Christ to play the
zither. There is real feeling in the whole picture, and the landscape
is worked in with distinct reference to the chief idea.

Hence, although there were many isolated attempts to shew that realistic
and individual study of Nature had begun, landscape-painting had not
advanced beyond the position of a background, treated in a way more or
less suited to the main subject of the picture; and trees, rocks,
meadows, flowers, were still only framework, ornament, as in the poetry
of the Minnesingers.[10]



In a certain sense all times are transitional to those who live in
them, since what is old is always in process of being destroyed and
giving way to the new. But there are landmarks in the general
development of culture, which mark off definite periods and divide
what has been from what is beginning. Hellenism was such a landmark
in antiquity, the Renaissance in the Middle Ages.

Without overlooking the differences between Greek and Italian,
classic and modern, which are relative and not absolute, it is
instructive to note the great likeness between these two epochs. The
limits of their culture will stand out more clearly, if, by the aid
of Helbig's researches and Burckhardt's masterly account of the
Renaissance, we range the chief points of that likeness side by side.

They were epochs in which an icy crust, which had been lying over
human thought and feeling, melted as if before a spring breeze. It is
true that the theory of life which now began to prevail was not
absolutely new; the stages of growth in a nation's culture are never
isolated; it was the result of the enlargement of various factors
already present, and their fusion with a flood of incoming ones.

The Ionic-Doric Greek kingdom widened out in Alexander's time to a
Hellenic-Asiatic one, and the barriers of the Romano-Germanic Middle
Ages fell with the Crusades and the great voyages of discovery.
Hellenism and the Renaissance brought about the transition from
antiquity and the mediæval to the specifically modern; the Roman
Empire inherited Hellenism, the Reformation the Renaissance. Both had
their roots in the past, both made new growth which blossomed at a
later time. In Hellenism, Oriental elements were mixed with the
Greek; in the Renaissance, it was a mixture of Germanic with the
native Italian which caused the revival of classic antiquity and new
culture. Burckhardt says[1]:

    Elsewhere in Europe men deliberately and with reflection borrowed
    this or the other element of classical civilization; in Italy,
    the sympathies both of the learned and of the people were
    naturally engaged on the side of antiquity as a whole, which
    stood to them as a symbol of past greatness. The Latin language
    too was easy to an Italian, and the numerous monuments and
    documents in which the country abounded facilitated a return to
    the past. With this tendency, other elements--the popular
    character which time had now greatly modified, the political
    institutions imported by the Lombards from Germany, chivalry and
    northern forms of civilization, and the influence of religion and
    the Church--combined to produce the modern Italian spirit, which
    was destined to serve as the model and ideal for the whole
    western world.

The distance between the works of the Greek artists and
poets--between Homer, Sophocles, and Phidias on the one hand, and the
Alexandrian Theocritus and Kallimachos and the Pergamos sculptures on
the other--is greater than lies between the _Nibelungenlied_ and the
Minnesingers, and Dante and Petrarch. In both cases one finds oneself
in a new world of thought and feeling, where each and all bears the
stamp of change, in matters political and social as well as artistic.
If, for example, by the aid of Von Helbig's researches,[2] we conjure
up a picture of the chief points in the history of Greek culture, we
are astonished to see how almost every point recurred at the
Renaissance, as described by Burckhardt.

The chief mark of both epochs was individualism, the discovery of the
individual. In Hellenism it was the barriers of race and position
which fell; in the Renaissance, the veil, woven of mysticism and
delusion, which had obscured mediæval faith, thought, and feeling.
Every man recognized himself to be an independent unit of church,
state, people, corporation--of all those bodies in which in the
Middle Ages he had been entirely merged.

Monarchical institutions arose in Hellenism; but the individual was
no longer content to serve them only as one among many; he must needs
develop his own powers. Private affairs began to preponderate over
public; the very physiognomy of the race shewed an individual stamp.

    After the time of Alexander the Great, portrait shewed most
    marked individuality. Those of the previous period had a certain
    uniform expression; one would have looked in vain among them for
    the diversities in contemporary types shewn by comparing
    Alexander's vivid face full of stormy energy, Menander's with its
    peculiar look of irony, and the elaborate savant-physiognomy of
    Aristotle. (HELBIG.)

And Burckhardt says:

    At the close of the thirteenth century Italy began to swarm with
    individuality; the charm laid upon human personality was
    dissolved, and a thousand figures meet us each in its own special
    shape and dress.... Despotism, as we have already seen, fostered
    in the highest degree the individuality, not only of the tyrant
    or Condottiere himself, but also of the men whom he protected or
    used as his tools--the secretary, minister, poet, or companion.

Political indifference brought about a high degree of
cosmopolitanism, especially among those who were banished. 'My
country is the whole world,' said Dante; and Ghiberti: 'Only he who
has learned everything is nowhere a stranger; robbed of his fortune
and without friends, he is yet a citizen of every country, and can
fearlessly despise the changes of fortune.'

In both Hellenism and the Renaissance, an effort was made in art and
science to see things as they really were. In art, detail was
industriously cultivated; but its naturalism, especially as to
undraped figures, was due to a sensuous refinement of gallantry and
erotic feeling. The sensuous flourished no less in Greek times than
in those of Boccaccio; but the most characteristic peculiarity of
Hellenism was its intentional revelling in feeling--its
sentimentality. There was a trace of melancholy upon many faces of
the time, and unhappy love in endless variations was the poet's main
theme. Petrarch's lyre was tuned to the same key; a melancholy
delight in grief was the constant burden of his song.

In Greece the sight of foreign lands had furthered the natural
sciences, especially geography, astronomy, zoology, and botany; and
the striving for universality at the Renaissance, which was as much a
part of its individualism as its passion for fame, was aided by the
widening of the physical and mental horizons through the Crusades and
voyages of discovery. Dante was not only the greatest poet of his
time, but an astronomer; Petrarch was geographer and cartographer,
and, at the end of the fifteenth century, with Paolo Toscanelli,
Lucca Baccioli, and Leonardo da Vinci, Italy was beyond all
comparison the first nation in Europe in mathematics and natural

    A significant proof of the wide-spread interest in natural
    history is found in the zeal which shewed itself at an early
    period for the collection and comparative study of plants and
    animals. Italy claims to be the first creator of botanical
    gardens.... princes and wealthy men, in laying out their pleasure
    gardens, instinctively made a point of collecting the greatest
    possible number of different plants in all their species and
    varieties. (BURCKHARDT.)

Leon Battista Alberti, a man of wide theoretical knowledge as well as
technical and artistic facility of all sorts, entered into the whole
life around him with a sympathetic intensity that might almost be
called nervous.

    At the sight of noble trees and waving corn-fields he shed tears
    ... more than once, when he was ill, the sight of a beautiful
    landscape cured him. (BURCKHARDT.)

He defined a beautiful landscape as one in which one could see in its
different parts, sea, mountain, lake or spring, dry rocks or plains,
wood and valley. Therefore he cared for variety; and, what is more
striking, in contrast to level country, he admired mountains and

In Hellenism, hunting, to which only the Macedonians had been
addicted before, became a fashion, and was enjoyed with Oriental pomp
in the _paradeisoi_. Writers drew most of their comparisons from it.
In the Renaissance, Petrarch did the same, and animals often served
as emblems of state--their condition ominous of good or evil--and
were fostered with superstitious veneration, as, for example, the
lions at Florence.

Thus the growth of the natural sciences increased interest in the
external world, and sensitiveness brought about a sentimental
attitude towards Nature in Hellenism and in the Renaissance.

Both discovered in Nature a source of purest pleasure; the
Renaissance feeling was, in fact, the extension and enhancement of
the Hellenic. Burckhardt overlooked the fact that beautiful scenery
was appreciated and described for its own sake in Hellenism, but he
says very justly;

    The Italians are the first among modern peoples by whom the
    outward world was seen and felt as something beautiful.... By the
    year 1200, at the height of the Middle Ages, a genuine hearty
    enjoyment of the external world was again in existence, and found
    lively expression in the minstrelsy of different nations, which
    gives evidence of the sympathy felt with all the simple phenomena
    of Nature--spring with its flowers, the green fields and the
    woods. But these pictures are all foreground without perspective.

Among the Minnesingers there were traces of feeling for Nature; but
only for certain stereotyped phases. Of the individuality of a
landscape, its characteristic colour, form, and light, not a word was

Even the Carmina Burana were not much ahead of the Minnesingers in
this respect, although they deserve a closer examination.

These Latin poems of wandering clerks probably belong to the twelfth
century, and though no doubt a product in which the whole of Europe
had a share, their best pieces must be ascribed to a French hand.
Latin poetry lives again in them, with a freshness the Carlovingian
Renaissance never reached; they are mediæval in form, but full of a
frank enjoyment of life and its pleasures, which hardly any
northerner of that day possessed. Often enough this degenerated into
frivolity; but the stir of national awakening after the long sleep of
the Middle Ages is felt like a spring breeze through them all.

It is a far cry from the view of Nature we saw in the Carlovingian
monks, to these highly-coloured verses. The dim light of churches and
bare cell walls may have doubled the monks' appreciation of blue
skies and open-air life; but they were fettered by the constant fight
with the senses; Nature to them must needs be less a work of God for
man's delight, than a dangerous means of seduction. 'They wandered
through Nature with timid misgiving, and their anxious fantasy
depicted forms of terror or marvellous rescues.[3] The idyllic
pleasure in the simple charms of Nature, especially in the monastery
garden of the Carlovingian time, contrasts strikingly with the tone
of these very mundane _vagantes clerici_, for whom Nature had not
only long been absorbed and freed from all demoniac influence, but
peopled by the charming forms of the old mythic poems, and made for
the joy and profit of men, in the widest and naivest sense of the

Spring songs, as with the Minnesingers, take up most of the space;
but the theme is treated with greater variety. Enjoyment of life and
Nature breathes through them all.

One runs thus:

    Spring cometh, and the earth is decked and studded with vernal
    flowers. The harmony of the birds' returning song rouses the
    heart to be glad. It is the time of joy.

Songs 98 to 118 rejoice that winter is gone; for instance:

    Now in the mild springtime Flora opens the lap which the cold
    frost had locked in cruel time of winter; the zephyr with gentle
    murmur cometh with the spring; the grove is clad in leaves. The
    nightingale is singing, the fields are gay with divers hues. It
    is sweet to walk in the wooded glens, it is sweeter to pluck the
    lily with the rose, it is sweetest of all to sport with a lovely

Another makes a similar confession, for Nature and amorous passion
are the two strings of these lyres:

    Beneath the pleasant foliage of a tree 'tis sweet to rest, while
    the nightingale sings her plaintive song; sweeter still, to sport
    in the grass with a fair maiden.... O, to what changeful moods is
    the heart of the lover prone! As the vessel that wanders o'er the
    waves without an anchor, so doth Love's uncertain warfare toss
    'twixt fear and hope.

The beauties of Nature are drawn upon to describe the fair maiden;
her eyes are compared to stars, her colour to lilies and snow, her
mouth to a rose, her kiss 'doth rend in sunder all the clouds of

    In the flowery season I sat beneath a shady tree while the birds
    sang in the groves ... and listened to my Thisbe's talk, the talk
    I love and long for; and we spoke of the sweet interchange of
    love, and in the doubtful balance of the mind wanton love and
    chastity were wavering.

    I have seen the bright green of flowers, I have seen the flower
    of flowers, I have seen the rose of May; I have seen the star
    that is brighter than all other, that is glorious and fair above
    all other, through whom may I ever spend my life in love.

On such a theme the poet rings endless changes. The most charming is
the poem _Phyllis and Flora_. Actual landscape is not given, but
details are treated with freshness and care:

    In the flowery season of the year, under a sky serene, while the
    earth's lap was painted with many colours, when the messenger of
    Aurora had put to flight the stars, sleep left the eyes of
    Phyllis and of Flora, two maidens whose beauty answered to the
    morning light. The breeze of spring was gently whispering, the
    place was green and gay with grass, and in the grass itself there
    flowed a living brook that played and babbled as it went. And
    that the sun's heat might not harm the maidens, near the stream
    there was a spreading pine, decked with leaves and spreading far
    its interweaving branches, nor could the heat penetrate from
    without. The maidens sat, the grass supplied the seat.... They
    intend to go to Love's Paradise: at the entrance of the grove a
    rivulet murmurs; the breeze is fragrant with myrrh and balsam;
    they hear the music of a hundred timbrels and lutes. All the
    notes of the birds resound in all their fulness; they hear the
    sweet and pleasant song of the blackbird, the garrulous lark, the
    turtle and the nightingale, etc.... He who stayed there would
    become immortal; every tree there rejoices in its own fruit; the
    ways are scented with myrrh and cinnamon and amomum; the master
    could be forced out of his house.

The first to shew proof of a deepening effect of Nature on the human
spirit was Dante.

Dante and Petrarch elaborated the Hellenistic feeling for Nature;
hence the further course of the Renaissance displayed all its
elements, but with increased subjectivity and individuality.

No one, since the days of Hellenism, had climbed mountains for the
sake of the view--Dante was the first to do it. And although, in
ranging heaven, earth, hell, and paradise in the _Divina Commedia_,
he rarely described real Nature, and then mostly in comparisons; yet,
as Humboldt pointed out, how incomparably in a few vigorous lines he
wakens the sense of the morning airs and the light on the distant sea
in the first canto of Purgatorio:

  The dawn was vanquishing the matin hour,
  Which fled before it,-so that from afar
  I recognized the trembling of the sea.

And how vivid this is:

                            The air
  Impregnate changed to water. Fell the rain:
  And to the fosses came all that the land
  Contain'd not, and, as mightiest streams are wont,
  To the great river with such headlong sweep
  Rush'd, that naught stayed its course.

  Through that celestial forest, whose thick shade
  With lively greenness the new-springing day
  Attempered, eager now to roam and search
  Its limits round, forthwith I left the bank;
  Along the champaign leisurely my way
  Pursuing, o'er the ground that on all sides
  Delicious odour breathed. A pleasant air,
  That intermitted never, never veered,
  Smote on my temples gently, as a wind
  Of softest influence, at which the sprays,
  Obedient all, lean'd trembling to that part
  Where first the holy mountain casts his shade;
  Yet were not so disordered; but that still
  Upon their top the feather'd quiristers
  Applied their wonted art, and with full joy
  Welcomed those hours of prime, and warbled shrill
  Amid the leaves, that to their jocund lays
  Kept tenour; even as from branch to branch
  Along the piny forests on the shore
  Of Chiassi rolls the gathering melody,
  When Eolus hath from his cavern loosed
  The dripping south. Already had my steps,
  Tho' slow, so far into that ancient wood
  Transported me, I could not ken the place
  Where I had enter'd; when behold! my path
  Was bounded by a rill, which to the left
  With little rippling waters bent the grass
  That issued from its brink.

and this of the heavenly Paradise:

                                I looked,
  And, in the likeness of a river, saw
  Light flowing, from whose amber-seeming waves
  Flash'd up effulgence, as they glided on
  'Twixt banks, on either side, painted with spring,
  Incredible how fair; and, from the tide,
  There, ever and anon outstarting, flew
  Sparkles instinct with life; and in the flowers
  Did set them, like to rubies chased in gold;
  Then, as if drunk with odours, plunged again
  Into the wondrous flood, from which, as one
  Re-entered, still another rose.

His numerous comparisons conjure up whole scenes, perfect in truth to
Nature, and shewing a keen and widely ranging eye. For example:

              Bellowing, there groaned
  A noise, as of a sea in tempest torn
  By warring winds.

  O'er better waves to steer her rapid course
  The light bark of my genius lifts the sail,
  Well pleased to leave so cruel sea behind.

  All ye, who in small bark have following sail'd,
  Eager to listen on the adventurous track
  Of my proud keel, that singing cuts her way.

  As sails full spread and bellying with the wind
  Drop suddenly collapsed, if the mast split,
  So to the ground down dropp'd the cruel fiend.

              As, near upon the hour of dawn,
  Through the thick vapours Mars with fiery beam
  Glares down in west, over the ocean floor.

              As 'fore the sun
  That weighs our vision down, and veils his form
  In light transcendent, thus my virtue fail'd
  Unequal.                         (Purgatorio.)

              As sunshine cheers
  Limbs numb'd by nightly cold, e'en thus my look
  Unloosed her tongue.

  And now there came o'er the perturbed waves,
  Loud crashing, terrible, a sound that made
  Either shore tremble, as if of a wind
  Impetuous, from conflicting vapours sprung,
  That, 'gainst some forest driving all his might,
  Plucks off the branches, beats them down, and hurls
  Afar; then, onward pressing, proudly sweeps
  His whirlwind rage, while beasts and shepherds fly.

  As florets, by the frosty air of night
  Bent down and closed, when day has blanch'd their leaves
  Rise all unfolded on their spiry stems,
  So was my fainting vigour new restored.

      As fall off the light autumnal leaves,
  One still another following, till the bough
  Strews all its honours on the earth beneath.

Bees, dolphins, rays of sunlight, snow, starlings, doves, frogs, a
bull, falcons, fishes, larks, and rooks are all used, generally with
characteristic touches of detail.

Specially tender is this:

  E'en as the bird, who 'mid the leafy bower
  Has, in her nest, sat darkling through the night
  With her sweet brood; impatient to descry
  Their wished looks, and to bring home their food,
  In the fond quest, unconscious of her toil;

  She, of the time prevenient, on the spray
  That overhangs their couch, with wakeful gaze
  Expects the sun, nor, ever, till the dawn
  Removeth from the east her eager ken,
  So stood the dame erect.

The most important forward step was made by Petrarch, and it is
strange that this escaped Humboldt in his famous sketch in the second
volume of _Cosmos_, as well as his commentator Schaller, and

For when we turn from Hellenism to Petrarch, it does not seem as if
many centuries lay between; but rather as if notes first struck in
the one had just blended into distinct harmony in the other.

The modern spirit arose from a union of the genius of the Italian
people of the thirteenth century with antiquity, and the feeling for
Nature had a share in the wider culture, both as to sentimentality
and grasp of scenery. Classic and modern joined hands in Petrarch.
Many Hellenic motives handed on by Roman poets reappear in his
poetry, but always with that something in addition of which antiquity
shewed but a trace--the modern subjectivity and individuality. It was
the change from early bud to full blossom. He was one of the first to
deserve the name of modern--modern, that is, in his whole feeling and
mode of thought, in his sentimentality and his melancholy, and in the
fact that 'more than most before and after him, he tried to know
himself and to hand on to others what he knew.' (Geiger.) It is an
appropriate remark of Hettner's, that the phrase, 'he has discovered
his heart,' might serve as a motto for Petrarch's songs and sonnets.
He knew that he had that sentimental disorder which he called
'acedia,' and wished to be rid of it. This word has a history of its
own. To the Greeks, to Apollonius, for instance,[4] it meant
carelessness, indifference; and, joined with the genitive [Greek:
nooio]--that is, of the mind--it meant, according to the scholiasts,
as much as [Greek: lypê] (Betrübnis)--that is, distress or grief. In
the Middle Ages it became 'dislike of intellect so far as that is a
divine gift'--that disease of the cloister which a monkish chronicler
defined as 'a sadness or loathing and an immoderate distress of mind,
caused by mental confusion, through which happiness of mind was
destroyed, and the mind thrown back upon itself as from an abyss of

To Dante it meant the state--

  In the sweet air, made gladsome by the sun,

distaste for the good and beautiful.

The modern meaning which it took with Petrarch is well defined by
Geiger as being neither ecclesiastic nor secular sin,[5] but

    Entirely human and peculiar to the cleverest--the battle between
    reality and seeming, the attempt to people the arid wastes of the
    commonplace with philosophic thought--the unhappiness and despair
    that arise from comparing the unconcern of the majority with
    one's own painful unrest, from the knowledge that the results of
    striving do not express the effort made--that human life is but a
    ceaseless and unworthy rotation, in which the bad are always to
    the fore, and the good fall behind ... as pessimism, melancholy,
    world pain (Weltschmerz)--that tormenting feeling which mocks all
    attempt at definition, and is too vitally connected with erring
    and striving human nature to be curable--that longing at once for
    human fellowship and solitude, for active work and a life of

Petrarch knew too the pleasure of sadness, what Goethe called 'Wonne
der Wehmuth,' the _dolendi voluptas._

  Lo, what new pleasure human wits devise!
  For oftentimes one loves
  Whatever new thing moves
  The sighs, that will in closest order go;
  And I'm of those whom sorrowing behoves;
  And that with some success
  I labour, you may guess,
  When eyes with tears, and heart is brimmed with woe.

In Sonnet 190:

  My chiefest pleasure now is making moan.

  Oh world, oh fruitless thought,
  Oh luck, my luck, who'st led me thus for spite!...
  For loving well, with pain I'm rent....
  Nor can I yet repent,
  My heart o'erflowed with deadly pleasantness.
  Now wait I from no less
  A foe than dealt me my first blow, my last.
  And were I slain full fast,
  'Twould seem a sort of mercy to my mind....
  My ode, I shall i' the field
  Stand firm; to perish flinching were a shame,
  In fact, myself I blame
  For such laments; my portion is so sweet.
  Tears, sighs, and death I greet.
  O reader that of death the servant art,
  Earth can no weal, to match my woes, impart.

His poems are full of scenes and comparisons from Nature; for the
sympathy for her which goes with this modern and sentimental tone is
a deep one:

  In that sweet season of my age's prime
  Which saw the sprout and, as it were, green blade
  Of the wild passion....

                      Changed me
  From living man into green laurel whose
  Array by winter's cold no leaf can lose.
                                       (Ode 1.)

Love is that by which

  My darknesses were made as bright
  As clearest noonday light.       (Ode 4.)

Elsewhere it is the light of heaven breaking in his heart, and
springtime which brings the flowers.

In Sonnet 44 he plays with impossibilities, like the Greek and Roman

  Ah me! the sea will have no waves, the snow
  Will warm and darken, fish on Alps will dwell,
  And suns droop yonder, where from common cell

  The springs of Tigris and Euphrates flow,
  Or ever I shall here have truce or peace
  Or love....

and uses the same comparisons, Sestina 7:

  So many creatures throng not ocean's wave,
  So many, above the circle of the moon,
  Of stars were never yet beheld by night;
  So many birds reside not in the groves;
  So many herbs hath neither field nor shore,
  But my heart's thoughts outnumber them each eve.

Many of his poems witness to the truth that the love-passion is the
best interpreter of Nature, especially in its woes. The woes of love
are his constant theme, and far more eloquently expressed than its

  So fair I have not seen the sun arise,
  When heaven was clearest of all cloudy stain--
  The welkin-bow I have not after rain
  Seen varied with so many shifting dyes,
  But that her aspect in more splendid guise
  Upon the day when I took up Love's chain
  Diversely glowed, for nothing mortal vies
  Therewith....                (Sonnet 112.)

  From each fair eyelid's tranquil firmament
  So brightly shine my stars untreacherous,
  That none, whose love thoughts are magnanimous,
  Would from aught else choose warmth or guidance lent.
  Oh, 'tis miraculous, when on the grass
  She sits, a very flower, or when she lays
  Upon its greenness down her bosom white.
                                       (Sonnet 127.)

  Oh blithe and happy flowers, oh favoured sod,
  That by my lady in passive mood are pressed,
  Lawn, which her sweet words hear'st and treasurest,
  Faint traces, where her shapely foot hath trod,
  Smooth boughs, green leaves, which now raw juices load,
  Pale darling violets, and woods which rest
  In shadow, till that sun's beam you attest,
  From which hath all your pride and grandeur flowed;
  Oh land delightsome, oh thou river pure
  Which bathest her fair face and brilliant eyes
  And winn'st a virtue from their living light,
  I envy you each clear and comely guise
  In which she moves.       (Sonnet 129.)

These recall Nais in Theocritus:

  When she crept or trembling footsteps laid,
  Green bright and soft she made
  Wood, water, earth, and stone; yea, with conceit
  The grasses freshened 'neath her palms and feet.
  And her fair eyes the fields around her dressed
  With flowers, and the winds and storms she stilled
  With utterance unskilled
  As from a tongue that seeketh yet the breast,
                                     (Sonnet 25.)

  As oft as yon white foot on fresh green sod
  Comelily sets the gentle step, a dower
  Of grace, that opens and revives each flower,
  Seems by the delicate palm to be bestowed.
                                     (Sonnet 132.)

  I seem to hear her, hearing airs and sprays,
  And leaves, and plaintive bird notes, and the brook
  That steals and murmurs through the sedges green.
  Such pleasure in lone silence and the maze
  Of eerie shadowy woods I never took,
  Though too much tow'r'd my sun they intervene.
                                    (Sonnet 143.)

and like Goethe's:

  I think of thee when the bright sunlight shimmers
  Across the sea;
  When the clear fountain in the moonbeam glimmers
  I think of thee....

  I hear thee, when the tossing waves' low rumbling
  Creeps up the hill;
  I go to the lone wood and listen trembling
  When all is still....

So Petrarch sings in Ode 15:

  Now therefore, when in youthful guise I see
  The world attire itself in soft green hue,
  I think that in this age unripe I view
  That lovely girl, who's now a lady's mien.
  Then, when the sun ariseth all aglow,
  I trace the wonted show
  Of amorous fire, in some fine heart made queen...
  When leaves or boughs or violets on earth
  I see, what time the winter's cold decays,
  And when the kindly stars are gathering might,
  Mine eye that violet and green portrays
  (And nothing else) which, at my warfare's birth,
  Armed Love so well that yet he worsts me quite.
  I see the delicate fine tissue light
  In which our little damsel's limbs are dressed....
  Oft on the hills a feeble snow-streak lies,
  Which the sun smiteth in sequestered place.
  Let sun rule snow! Thou, Love, my ruler art,
  When on that fair and more than human face
  I muse, which from afar makes soft my eyes....
  I never yet saw after mighty rain
  The roving stars in the calm welkin glide
  And glitter back between the frost and dew,
  But straight those lovely eyes are at my side....
  If ever yet, on roses white and red,
  My eyes have fallen, where in bowl of gold
  They were set down, fresh culled by virgin hands,
  There have I seemed her aspect to behold....
  But when the year has flecked
  Some deal with white and yellow flowers the braes,
  I forthwith recollect
  That day and place in which I first admired
  Laura's gold hair outspread, and straight was fired....
  That I could number all the stars anon
  And shut the waters in a tiny glass
  Belike I thought, when in this narrow sheet
  I got a fancy to record, alas,
  How many ways this Beauty's paragon
  Hath spread her light, while standing self-complete,
  So that from her I never could retreat....
  She's closed for me all paths in earth and sky.

The reflective modern mind is clear in this, despite its loquacity.
He was yet more eloquent and intense, more fertile in comparisons,
when his happiest days were over.

In Ode 24, standing at a window he watches the strange forms his
imagination conjures up--a wild creature torn in pieces by two dogs,
a ship wrecked by a storm, a laurel shattered by lightning:

  Within this wood, out of a rock did rise
  A spring of water, mildly rumbling down,
  Whereto approached not in any wise
  The homely shepherd nor the ruder clown,
  But many muses and the nymphs withal....
  But while herein I took my chief delight,
  I saw (alas!) the gaping earth devour
  The spring, the place, and all clean out of sight--
  Which yet aggrieves my heart unto this hour....
  At last, so fair a lady did I spy,
  That thinking yet on her I burn and quake,
  On herbs and flowers she walked pensively....
  A stinging serpent by the heel her caught,
  Wherewith she languished as the gathered flower.

  Now Zephyrus the blither days brings on,
  With flowers and leaves, his gallant retinue,
  And Progne's chiding, Philomela's moan,
  And maiden spring all white and pink of hue;
  Now laugh the meadows, heaven is radiant grown,
  And blithely now doth Love his daughter view;
  Air, water, earth, now breathe of love alone,
  And every creature plans again to woo.
  Ah me! but now return the heaviest sighs,
  Which my heart from its last resources yields
  To her that bore its keys to heaven away.
  And songs of little birds and blooming fields
  And gracious acts of ladies, fair and wise,
  Are desert land and uncouth beasts of prey.
                                      (Sonnet 269.)

  The nightingale, who maketh moan so sweet
  Over his brood belike or nest-mate dear,
  So deft and tender are his notes to hear,
  That fields and skies are with delight replete;
  And all night long he seems with me to treat,
  And my hard lot recall unto my ear.
                                      (Sonnet 270.)

  In every dell
  The sands of my deep sighs are circumfused.
                                           (Ode 1.)

  Oh banks, oh dales, oh woods, oh streams, oh fields
  Ye vouchers of my life's o'erburdened cause,
  How often Death you've heard me supplicate.
                                            (Ode 8.)

  Whereso my foot may pass,
  A balmy rapture wakes
  When I think, here that darling light hath played.
  If flower I cull or grass,
  I ponder that it takes
  Root in that soil, where wontedly she strayed
  Betwixt the stream and glade,
  And found at times a seat
  Green, fresh, and flower-embossed.   (Ode 13.)

  Whenever plaintive warblings, or the note
  Of leaves by summer breezes gently stirred,
  Or baffled murmur of bright waves I've heard
  Along the green and flowery shore to float,
  Where meditating love I sat and wrote,
  Then her whom earth conceals, whom heaven conferred,
  I hear and see, and know with living word
  She answereth my sighs, though so remote.
  'Ah, why art thou,' she pityingly says,
  'Pining away before thy hour?'
                               (Sonnet 238.)

  The waters and the branches and the shore,
  Birds, fishes, flowers, grasses, talk of love,
  And me to love for ever all invite.
                               (Sonnet 239.)

  Thou'st left the world, oh Death, without a sun....
  Her mourners should be earth and sea and air.
                               (Sonnet 294.)

Here we have happiness and misery felt in the modern way, and Nature
in the modern way drawn into the circle of thought and feeling, and

Petrarch was the first, since the days of Hellenism, to enjoy the
pleasures of solitude quite consciously.

  How often to my darling place of rest,
  Fleeing from all, could I myself but flee,
  I walk and wet with tears my path and breast.
                                  (Sonnet 240.)

He shared Schiller's thought:

  Oh Nature is perfect, wherever we stray,
  'Tis man that deforms it with care.

  As love from thought to thought, from hill to hill,
  Directs me, when all ways that people tread
  Seem to the quiet of my being, foes,
  If some lone shore, or fountain-head, or rill
  Or shady glen, between two slopes outspread,
  I find--my daunted soul doth there repose....
  On mountain heights, in briary woods, I find
  Some rest; but every dwelling place on earth
  Appeareth to my eyes a deadly bane....
  Where some tall pine or hillock spreads a shade,
  I sometimes halt, and on the nearest brink
  Her lovely face I picture from my mind....
  Oft hath her living likeness met my sight,
  (Oh who'll believe the word?) in waters clear,
  On beechen stems, on some green lawny space,
  Or in white cloud....
  Her loveliest portrait there my fancy draws,
  And when Truth overawes
  That sweet delusion, frozen to the core,
  I then sit down, on living rock, dead stone,
  And seem to muse, and weep and write thereon....
  Then touch my thoughts and sense
  Those widths of air which hence her beauty part,
  Which always is so near, yet far away....
  Beyond that Alp, my Ode,
  Where heaven above is gladdest and most clear,
  Again thou'lt meet me where the streamlet flows
  And thrilling airs disclose
  The fresh and scented laurel thicket near,
  There is my heart and she that stealeth it.
                                        (Ode 17.)

It is the same idea as Goethe's in _Knowest thou the Land_? Again:

  Alone, engrossed, the least frequented strands
  I traverse with my footsteps faint and slow,
  And often wary glances round me throw,
  To flee, should human trace imprint the sands.
                                      (Sonnet 28.)

  A life of solitude I've ever sought,
  This many a field and forest knows, and will.
                                      (Sonnet 221.)

Love of solitude and feeling for Nature limit or increase each other;
and Petrarch; like Dante, took scientific interest in her, and found
her a stimulant to mental work.

Burckhardt says: 'The enjoyment of Nature is for him the favourite
accompaniment of intellectual pursuits; it was to combine the two
that he lived in learned retirement at Vaucluse and elsewhere, that
he from time to time fled from the world and from his age.'

He wrote a book _On a Life of Solitude (De Vita Solitaria)_ by the
little river Sorgue, and said in a letter from Vaucluse: 'O if you
could imagine the delight with which I breathe here, free and far
from the world, with forests and mountains, rivers and springs, and
the books of clever men.'

Purely objective descriptions, such as his picture of the Gulf of
Spezzia and Porto Venere at the end of the sixth book of the
_Africa_, were rare with him; but, as we have already seen, he
admired mountain scenery. He refers to the hills on the Riviera di
Levante as 'hills distinguished by most pleasant wildness and
wonderful fertility.'[6]

The scenery of Reggio moved him, as he said,[7] to compose a poem. He
described the storm at Naples in 1343, and the earthquake at Basle.
As we have seen from one of his odes, he delighted in the wide view
from mountain heights, and the freedom from the oppression of the air
lower down. In this respect he was one of Rousseau's forerunners,
though his 'romantic' feeling was restrained within characteristic
limits. In a letter of April 26, 1335, interesting both as to the
period and the personality of the writer, he described to Dionisius
da Borgo San Sepolchro the ascent of Mt. Ventoux near Avignon which
he made when he was thirty-two, and greatly enjoyed, though those who
were with him did not understand his enjoyment. When they had
laboured through the difficulties of the climb, and saw the clouds
below them, he was immensely impressed. It was in accordance with his
love of solitude that lonely mountain tops should attract him, and
the letter shows that he fully appreciated both climb and view.

'It was a long day, the air fine. We enjoyed the advantages of vigour
of mind, and strength and agility of body, and everything else
essential to those engaged in such an undertaking, and so had no
other difficulties to face than those of the region itself.' ... 'At
first, owing to the unaccustomed quality of the air and the effect of
the great sweep of view spread out before me, I stood like one dazed.
I beheld the clouds under our feet, and what I had read of Athos and
Olympus seemed less incredible as I myself witnessed the same things
from a mountain of less fame. I turned my eyes towards Italy, whither
my heart most inclined. The Alps, rugged and snow-capped, seemed to
rise close by, although they were really at a great distance.... The
Bay of Marseilles, the Rhone itself, lay in sight.'

It was a very modern effect of the wide view that 'his whole past
life with all its follies rose before his mind; he remembered that
ten years ago, that day, he had quitted Bologna a young man, and
turned a longing gaze towards his native country: he opened a book
which was then his constant companion, _The Confessions of St
Augustine_, and his eye fell on the passage in the tenth chapter:

    And men go about and admire lofty mountains and broad seas, and
    roaring torrents and the ocean, and the course of the stars, and
    forget their own selves while doing so.

His brother, to whom he read these words, could not understand why he
closed the book and said no more. His feeling had suddenly changed.

He knew, when he began the climb, that he was doing something very
unusual, even unheard of among his contemporaries, and justified
himself by the example of Philip V. of Macedon, arguing that a young
man of private station might surely be excused for what was not
thought blamable in a grey-haired king. Then on the mountain top,
lost in the view, the passage in St Augustine suddenly occurred to
him, and he started blaming himself for admiring earthly things so
much. 'I was amazed ... angry with myself for marvelling but now at
earthly things, when I ought to have learnt long ago that nothing
save the soul was marvellous, and that to the greatness of the soul
nought else was great'; and he closed with an explanation flavoured
with theology to the taste of his confessor, to whom he was writing.
The mixture of thoroughly modern delight in Nature[8] with ascetic
dogma in this letter, gives us a glimpse into the divided feelings of
one who stood upon the threshold between two eras, mediæval and
modern, into the reaction of the mediæval mind against the budding
modern feeling.

This is, at any rate, the first mountain ascent for pleasure since
Hellenic days, of which we have detailed information. From Greece
before Alexander we have nothing; but the Persian King Darius, in his
expedition against the Scythians in the region of Chalcedon, ascended
the mountain on which stood the Urios temple to Zeus, and there
'sitting in the temple, he took a view of the Euxine Sea, which is
worthy of admiration.' (Herodotus.)

Philip V. of Macedon ascended the Hæmus B.C. 181, and Apollonios
Rhodios describes the panorama spread out before the Argonauts as
they ascended the Dindymon, and elsewhere recalls the view from Mt.
Olympus. These are the oldest descriptions of distant views conceived
as landscape in the classic literature preserved to us. Petrarch's
ascent comes next in order.

This sentimental and subjective feeling for Nature, half-idyllic,
half-romantic, which seemed to arise suddenly and spontaneously in
Petrarch, is not to be wholly explained by a marked individuality,
nourished by the tendencies of the period; the influence of Roman
literature, the re-birth of the classic, must also be taken into
account. For the Renaissance attitude towards Nature was closely
allied to the Roman, and therefore to the Hellenic; and the fact that
the first modern man arose on Italian soil was due to the revival of
antiquity plus its union with the genius of the Italian people. Many
direct analogies can be traced between Petrarch and the Roman poets;
it was in their school that his eyes opened to the wonders of Nature,
and he learnt to blend the inner with the outer life.

Boccaccio does not lead us much further. There is idyllic quality in
his description of a wood in the _Ameto_,[9] and especially in
_Fiammetta_, in which he praises country life and describes the
spring games of the Florentine youth.

This is the description of a valley in the _Decameron_: 'After a walk
of nearly a mile, they came to the Ladies' Valley, which they entered
by a straight path, whence there issued forth a fine crystal current,
and they found it so extremely beautiful and pleasant, especially at
that sultry season, that nothing could exceed it, and, as some of
them told me afterwards, the plain in the valley was so exact a
circle, as if it had been described by a pair of compasses, though it
seemed rather the work of Nature than of art, and was about half a
mile in circumference, surrounded by six hills of moderate height, on
each of which was a palace built in the form of a little castle....
The part that looks toward the south was planted as thick as they
could stand together with vines, olives, almonds, cherries, figs, and
most other kinds of fruit trees, and on the northern side were fine
plantations of oak, ash, etc., so tall and regular that nothing could
be more beautiful. The vale, which had only that one entrance, was
full of firs, cypress trees, laurels, and pines, all placed in such
order as if it had been done by the direction of some exquisite
artist, and through which little or no sun could penetrate to the
ground, which was covered with a thousand different flowers.... But
what gave no less delight than any of the rest was a rivulet that
came through a valley which divided two of the mountains, and running
through the vein of a rock, made a most agreeable murmur with its
fall, appealing, as it was dashed and sprinkled into drops, like so
much quicksilver.'

Description of scenery for its own sake is scarcely more than
attempted here, nor do Petrarch's lyrics, with their free thought of
passion and overpowering consciousness of the joys and sorrows of
love, reach the level of Hellenism in this respect. Yet it advanced
with the Renaissance. Pope Pius II. (Æneas Sylvius) was the first to
describe actual landscape (Italian), not merely in a few subjective
lines, but with genuine modern enjoyment. He was one of those figures
in the world's history in whom all the intellectual life and feeling
of a time come to a focus.

He had a heart for everything, and an all-round enthusiasm for Nature
unique in his day. Antiquity and Nature were his two passions, and
the most beautiful descriptions of Nature before Rousseau and Goethe
are contained in his _Commentaries_.

Writing of the country round his home, he says:

'The sweet spring time had begun, and round about Siena the smiling
hills were clothed with leaves and flowers, and the crops were rising
in plenty in the fields. Even the pasture land quite close to the
town affords an unspeakably lovely view; gently sloping hills, either
planted with homely trees or vines, or ploughed for corn, look down
on pleasant valleys in which grow crops, or green fields are to be
seen, and brooks are even flowing. There are, too, many plantations,
either natural or artificial, in which the birds sing with wondrous
sweetness. Nor is there a mound on which the citizens have not built
a magnificent estate; they are thus a little way out of the town.
Through this district the Pope walked with joyous head.'

Again and again love of Nature drew him away even in old age from
town life and the circle of courtiers and flatterers; he was for ever
finding new reasons to prolong his _villeggiatura_, despite the
grumbling of his court, which had to put up with wretched inns or
monasteries overrun by mice, where the rain came through the roofs
and the necessaries of life were scanty.[10]

His taste for these beautifully-situated monastic solitudes was a
riddle to those around him. He wrote of his summer residence in

'On all sides round the town in summer there are most lovely
plantations, to which the Pope with his cardinals often retired for
relaxation, sitting sometimes on some green sward beneath the olives,
sometimes in a green meadow on the bank of the river Aino, whence he
could see the clear waters. There are some meadows in a retired glen,
watered by many streams; Pius often rested in these meadows near the
luxuriant streams and the shady trees. He lived at Tibur with the
Minorites on an elevation whence he could see the town and the course
of the Aino as it flowed into the plain beneath him and through the
quiet gardens, nor did anything else give him pleasure.

'When the summer was over, he had his bedroom in the house
overlooking the Aino; from there the most beautiful view was to be
seen, and also from a neighbouring mountain on the other side of the
river, still covered with a green and leafy grove ... he completed a
great part of his journey with the greatest enjoyment.'

In May 1462 he went to the baths at Viterbo, and, old man as he was,
gives this appreciative description of spring beauties by the way:

'The road by which he made for Sorianum was at that time of the year
delightful; there was a tremendous quantity of genista, so that a
great part of the field seemed a mass of flowering yellow, while the
rest, covered as it was by shrubs and various grasses, brought purple
and white and a thousand different colours before the eyes. It was
the month of May, and everything was green. On one side were the
smiling fields, on the other the smiling woods, in which the birds
made sweet harmony. At early dawn he used to walk into the fields to
catch the exquisite breeze before the day should grow hot, and gaze
at the green crops and the flowering flax, which then, emulating
heaven's own blue, gave the greatest joy to all beholders.... Now the
crows are holding vigil, and the ringdoves; and the owl at times
utters lament with funeral note. The place is most lovely; the view
in the direction of Siena stretches as far as Amiata, and in the west
reaches Mt. Argentarius.'

In the plains the plague was raging; the sight of the people
appealing to him as to a god, moved him to tears as he thought how
few of the children would survive in the heat. He travelled to a
castle charmingly placed on the lake of Bolsena, where 'there is a
shady circular walk in the vineyard under the big grapes; stone steps
shaded by the vine leaves lead down to the bank, where ilex oaks,
alive with the songs of blackbirds, stand among the crags.' Halfway
up the mountain, in the monastery of San Salvatore, he and his court
took up their quarters.

'The most lovely scenery met the eye. As you look to the west from
the higher houses, the view reaches beyond Ilcinum and Siena as far
as the Pistorian Alps. To the north a variety of hills and the
pleasant green of woods presents itself, stretching a distance of
five miles; if your sight is good, your eye will travel as far as the
Apennine range and can see Cortona.'

There he passed the time, shooting birds, fishing, and rowing.

'In the cool air of the hills, among the old oaks and chestnuts, on
the green meadows where there were no thorns to wound the feet, and
no snakes or insects to hurt or annoy, the Pope passed days of
unclouded happiness.'

This is thoroughly modern: 'Silvarum amator,' as he calls himself, he
includes both the details of the near and the general effect of the
far-distant landscape.

And with age his appreciation of it only seemed to increase; for
instance, he says of Todi:

'A most lovely view meets the eye wherever you turn; you can see
Perusia and all the valley that lies between, full of wide--spreading
forts and fertile fields, and honoured by the river Tiber, which,
drawing its coils along like a snake, divides Tuscia from Umbria,
and, close to the city itself, enters many a mountain, passing
through which it descends to the plain, murmuring as it goes, as
though constrained against its will.'

This is his description of a lake storm, during an excursion to the
Albanian Mountains:

As far as Ostia 'he had a delightful voyage; at night the sea began
to be most unwontedly troubled, and a severe storm arose. The east
wind rolled up the waters from their lowest depths, huge waves beat
the shore; you could have heard the sea, as it were, groaning and
wailing. So great was the force of the winds, that nothing seemed
able to resist it; they raged and alternately fled and put one
another to rout, they overturned woods and anything that withstood
them. The air glittered with frequent lightning, the sky thundered,
and terrific thunder-bolts fell from the clouds.... The night was
pitch dark, though the flashes of lightning were continuous.'

And of a lake at rest he says:

'The beauty of that lake is remarkable; everywhere it is surrounded
by high rocks, the water is transparently clear. Nature, so far
superior to art, provided a most pleasant journey. The Nemorian lake,
with its crystal-clear waters, reflects the faces of those that look
into it, and fills a deep basin. The descent from the top to the
bottom is wooded. The poetic genius would never be awakened if it
slept here; you would say it was the dwelling-place of the Muses, the
home of the Nymphs, and, if there is any truth in legends, the
hiding-place of Diana.'

He visited the lakes among the mountains, climbing and resting under
the trees; the view from Monte Cavo was his favourite, from which he
could see Terracina, the lakes of Nemi and Albano, etc. He noted
their extent and formation, and added:

'The genista, however, was especially delightful, covering, as it did
with its flowers, the greater part of the plains. Then, moreover,
Rome presented itself fully to the eyes, together with Soracte and
the Sabine Land, and the Apennine range white with snow, and Tibur
and Præneste.'

It is clear that it was a thoroughly modern enthusiasm which
attracted Æneas Sylvius to the country and gave him this ready pen
for everything in Nature--everything, that is, except bare mountain

It is difficult to attribute this faculty for enjoying and describing
scenery to the influence of antiquity alone, for, save the younger
Pliny, I know of no Roman under the Empire who possessed it, and,
besides, we do not know how far Pius II. was acquainted with Roman
literature. We know that the re-awakening of classic literature
exerted an influence upon the direction of the feeling for Nature in
general, and, for the rest, very various elements coalesced. Like
times produce like streams of tendency, and Hellenism, the Roman
Empire, and the Renaissance were alike to some extent in the
conditions of their existence and the results that flowed from them;
the causal nexus between them is undeniable, and makes them the chief
stepping-stones on the way to the modern.

Theocritus, Meleager, Petrarch, and Æneas Sylvius may serve as
representatives of the development of the feeling for Nature from
classic to modern; they are the ancestors of our enthusiasm, the
links in the chain which leads up to Rousseau, Goethe, Byron, and

From the autobiography of Æneas Sylvius and the lyrics of Petrarch we
gain a far truer picture of the feeling of the period up to the
sixteenth century than from any poetry in other countries. Even the
epic had a more modern tone in Italy; Ariosto's descriptions were far
ahead of any German epic.

Humboldt pointed out very clearly the difference between the epic of
the people and the epic of art--between Homer and Ariosto. Both, he
said, are true painters of the world and Nature; but Ariosto pleases
more by his brilliance and wealth of colour, Homer by purity of form
and beauty of composition. Ariosto achieves through general effect,
Homer through perfection of form. Nature is more naive in Homer, the
subject is paramount, and the singer disappears; in Ariosto, Nature
is sentimental, and the poet always remains in view upon the stage.
In Homer all is closely knit, while Ariosto's threads are loosely
spun, and he breaks them himself in play. Homer almost never
describes, Ariosto always does.

Ariosto's scenes and comparisons from Nature, being calculated for
effect, are more subjective, and far more highly-coloured than
Homer's. But they shew a sympathetic grasp.

The modern bloom, so difficult to define, lies over them--something
at once sensuous, sentimental, and chivalrous. He is given to
describing lonely woodland scenery, fit places for trysts and lovers'

In the 1st Canto of _Mad Orlando_:

  With flowery thorns, vermilion roses near
  Her, she upon a lovely bush doth meet,
  That mirrored doth in the bright waves appear,
  Shut out by lofty oaks from the sun's heat.

  Amidst the thickest shades there is a clear
  Space in the middle for a cool retreat;
  So mixed the leaves and boughs are, through them none
  Can see; they are impervious to the sun.

In the 6th Canto the Hippogriff carries Roger into a country:

  Nor could he, had he searched the whole world through,
  Than this a more delightful country see....
  Soft meads, clear streams, and banks affording shade,
  Hillocks and plains, by culture fertile made.
  Fair thickets of the cedar, palm and no
  Less pleasant myrtle, of the laurel sweet,
  Of orange trees, where fruit and flow'rs did grow,
  And which in various forms, all lovely, meet
  With their thick shades against the fervid glow
  Of summer days, afforded a retreat;
  And nightingales, devoid of fear, among
  Those branches fluttered, pouring forth their song.
  Amid the lilies white and roses red,
  Ever more freshened by the tepid air,
  The stag was seen, with his proud lofty head,
  And feeling safe, the rabbit and the hare....
  Sapphires and rubies, topazes, pearls, gold,
  Hyacinths, chrysolites, and diamonds were
  Like the night flow'rs, which did their leaves unfold
  There on those glad plains, painted by the air
  So green the grass, that if we did behold
  It here, no emeralds could therewith compare;
  As fair the foliage of the trees was, which
  With fruit and flow'r eternally were rich.
  Amid the boughs, sing yellow, white, and blue,
  And red and green small feathered creatures gay;
  The crystals less limpidity of hue
  Than the still lakes or murmuring brooks display.
  A gentle breeze, that seemeth still to woo
  And never change from its accustomed way,
  Made all around so tremulous the air
  That no annoyance was the day's hot glare.
          (Canto 34.)

Descriptions of time are short:

  From the hard face of earth the sun's bright hue
  Not yet its veil obscure and dark did rend;
  The Lycaonian offspring scarcely through
  The furrows of the sky his plough did send.
          (Canto 80.)

Comparisons, especially about the beauty of women, are very artistic,
recalling Sappho and Catullus:

  The tender maid is like unto the rose
  In the fair garden on its native thorn;
  Whilst it alone and safely doth repose,
  Nor flock nor shepherd crops it; dewy morn,
  Water and earth, the breeze that sweetly blows,
  Are gracious to it; lovely dames adorn
  With it their bosoms and their beautiful
  Brows; it enamoured youths delight to cull.
          (Canto 1.)

  Only, Alcina fairest was by far
  As is the sun more fair than every star....
  Milk is the bosom, of luxuriant size,
  And the fair neck is round and snowy white;
  Two unripe ivory apples fall and rise
  Like waves upon the sea-beach when a slight
  Breeze stirs the ocean.        (Canto 7.)

  Now in a gulf of bliss up to the eyes
  And of fair things, to swim he doth begin.
          (Canto 7.)

  So closely doth the ivy not enlace
  The tree where firmly rooted it doth stand,
  As clasp each other in their warm embrace
  These lovers, by each other's sweet breath fanned.
  Sweet flower, of which on India's shore no trace
  Is, or on the Sabæan odorous sand.
          (Canto 7.)

  Her fair face the appearance did maintain
  That sometimes shewn is by the sky in spring,
  When at the very time that falls the rain,
  The sun aside his cloudy veil doth fling.
  And as the nightingale its pleasant strain
  Then on the boughs of the green trees doth sing,
  Thus Love doth bathe his pinions at those bright
  But tearful eyes, enjoying the clear light.
          (Canto 11.)

  But as more fickle than the leaf was she,
  When it in autumn doth more sapless grow,
  And the old wind doth strip it from the tree,
  And doth before it in its fury grow.
                                         (Canto 21.)

He uses the sea:

  As when a bark doth the deep ocean plough,
  That two winds strike with an alternate blast,
  'Tis now sent forward by the one, and now
  Back by the other in its first place cast,
  And whirled from prow to poop, from poop to prow,
  But urged by the most potent wind at last
  Philander thus irresolute between
  The two thoughts, did to the least wicked lean.
                                          (Canto 21.)

  As comes the wave upon the salt sea shore
  Which the smooth wind at first in thought hath fanned;
  Greater the second is than that before
  It, and the third more fiercely follows, and
  Each time the humour more abounds, and more
  Doth it extend its scourge upon the land:
  Against Orlando thus from vales below
  And hills above, doth the vile rabble grow.
                                            (Canto 24.)

These comparisons not only shew faithful and personal observation,
but are far more subjective and subtle than, for instance, Dante's.
The same holds good of Tasso. How beautiful in detail, and how
sentimental too, is this from _Jerusalem Delivered_:

  Behold how lovely blooms the vernal rose
  When scarce the leaves her early bud disclose,
  When, half unwrapt, and half to view revealed,
  She gives new pleasure from her charms concealed.
  But when she shews her bosom wide displayed,
  How soon her sweets exhale, her beauties fade!
  No more she seems the flower so lately loved,
  By virgins cherished and by youths approved.
  So swiftly fleeting with the transient day
  Passes the flower of mortal life away.

Not less subjective is:

                   Like a ray of light on water
  A smile of soft desire played in her liquid eyes.
                                           (Sonnet 18.)

The most famous lines in this poem are those which describe a
romantic garden so vividly that Humboldt says 'it reminds one of the
charming scenery of Sorrento.' It certainly proves that even epic
poetry tried to describe Nature for her own sake:

  The garden then unfolds a beauteous scene,
  With flowers adorned and ever living green;
  There silver lakes reflect the beaming day,
  Here crystal streams in gurgling fountains play.
  Cool vales descend and sunny hills arise,
  And groves and caves and grottos strike the eyes.
  Art showed her utmost power; but art concealed
  With greater charm the pleased attention held.
  It seemed as Nature played a sportive part
  And strove to mock the mimic works of art:
  By powerful magic breathes the vernal air,
  And fragrant trees eternal blossoms bear:
  Eternal fruits on every branch endure,
  Those swelling from their buds, and these mature:
  The joyous birds, concealed in every grove,
  With gentle strife prolong the notes of love.
  Soft zephyrs breathe on woods and waters round,
  The woods and waters yield a murmuring sound;
  When cease the tuneful choir, the wind replies,
  But, when they sing, in gentle whisper dies;
  By turns they sink, by turns their music raise
  And blend, with equal skill, harmonious lays.

But even here the scene is surrounded by an imaginary atmosphere;
flowers, fruit, creatures, and atmosphere all lie under a magic
charm. Tasso's importance for our subject lies far more in his
much-imitated pastorals.

The _Arcadia_ of Jacopo Sannazaro, which appeared in 1504, a work of
poetic beauty and still greater literary importance,[11] paved the
way for pastoral poetry, which, like the sonnet, was interwoven with
prose. The shepherd's occupations are described with care, though
many of the songs and terms of expression rather fit the man of
culture than the child of Nature, and he had that genuine enthusiasm
for the rural which begets a convincing eloquence. ''Tis you,' he
says at the end, addressing the Muse, 'who first woke the sleeping
woods, and taught the shepherds how to strike up their lost songs.'

Bembo wrote this inscription for his grave:

  Strew flowers o'er the sacred ashes, here lies Sannazaro;
  With thee, gentle Virgil, he shares Muse and grave.

Virgil too was industriously imitated in the didactic poetry of his

Giovanni Rucellai (born 1475) wrote a didactic poem, _The Bees_,
which begins:

'O chaste virgins, winged visitants of flowery banks, whilst I
prepared to sing your praise in lofty verse, at peep of day I was
o'ercome by sleep, and then appeared a chorus of your tiny folk, and
from their rich mellifluous haunts, in a clear voice these words
flowed forth.... And I will sing how liquid and serene the air
distils sweet honey, heavenly gilt, on flowerets and on grass, and
how the bees, chaste and industrious, gather it, and thereof with
care and skill make perfumed wax to grace the altars of our God.'

And a didactic poem by Luigi Alamanni (born 1495), called
_Husbandry_, has: 'O blessed is he who dwells in peace, the actual
tiller of his joyous fields, to whom, in his remoteness, the most
righteous earth brings food, and secure in well-being, he rejoices in
his heart. If thou art not surrounded by society rich with purple and
gems, nor with houses adorned with costly woods, statues, and
gold;... at least, secure in the humble dwelling of wood from the
copse hard by, and common stones collected close at hand, which thine
own hand has founded and built, whenever thou awakenest at the
approach of dawn, thou dost not find outside those who bring news of
a thousand events contrary to thy desires.... Thou wanderest at will,
now quickly, now slowly, across the green meadow, through the wood,
over the grassy hill, or by the stream. Now here, now there ... thou
handlest the hatchet, axe, scythe, or hoe.... To enjoy in sober
comfort at almost all seasons, with thy dear children, the fruits of
thine own tree, the tree planted by thyself, this brings a sweetness
sweet beyond all others.'

These didactic writings, inspired by Virgilian Georgics, show a
distinct preference for the idyllic.

Sannazaro's _Arcadia_ went through sixty editions in the sixteenth
century alone. Tasso reckoned with the prevalent taste of his day in
_Aminta_, which improved the then method of dramatizing a romantic
idyll. The whole poem bears the stamp of an idealizing and romantic
imagination, and embodies in lyric form his sentimental idea of the
Golden Age and an ideal world of Nature. Even down to its details
_Aminta_ recalls the pastorals of Longos; and Daphne's words (Act I.
Scene 1) suggest the most feeling outpourings of Kallimachos and

  And callest thou sweet spring-time
  The time of rage and enmity,
  Which breathing now and smiling,
  Reminds the whole creation,
  The animal, the human,
  Of loving! Dost thou see not
  How all things are enamoured
  Of this enamourer, rich with joy and health?
  Observe that turtle-dove,
  How, toying with his dulcet murmuring,
  He kisses his companion. Hear that nightingale
  Who goes from bough to bough
  Singing with his loud heart, 'I love!' 'I love!'...

                             The very trees
  Are loving. See with what affection there,
  And in how many a clinging turn and twine,
  The vine holds fast its husband. Fir loves fir,
  The pine the pine, and ash and willow and beech
  Each towards the other yearns, and sighs and trembles.
  That oak tree which appears
  So rustic and so rough,
  Even that has something warm in its sound heart;
  And hadst thou but a spirit and sense of love,
  Thou hadst found out a meaning for its whispers.
  Now tell me, would thou be
  Less than the very plants and have no love?

One seems to hear Sakuntala and her friends talking, or Akontios
complaining. So, too, when the unhappy lover laments (Aminta):

  In my lamentings I have found
  A very pity in the pebbly waters,
  And I have found the trees
  Return them a kind voice:
  But never have I found,
  Nor ever hope to find,
  Compassion in this hard and beautiful
  What shall I call her?

Aminta describes to Tirsis how his love grew from boyhood up:

  There grew by little and little in my heart,
  I knew not from what root,
  But just as the grass grows that sows itself,
  An unknown something which continually
  Made me feel anxious to be with her.

Sylvia kisses him:

  Never did bee from flower
  Suck sugar so divine
  As was the honey that I gathered then
  From those twin roses fresh.

In Act II. Scene 1, the rejected Satyr, like the rejected Polyphemus
or Amaryllis in Theocritus, complains in antitheses which recall

    The woods hide serpents, lions, and bears under their green
    shade, and in your bosom hatred, disdain, and cruelty dwell....
    Alas, when I bring the earliest flowers, you refuse them
    obstinately, perhaps because lovelier ones bloom on your own
    face; if I offer beautiful apples, you reject them angrily,
    perhaps because your beautiful bosom swells with lovelier
    ones.... and yet I am not to be despised, for I saw myself lately
    in the clear water, when winds were still and there were no

This is the sentimental pastoral poetry of Hellenism reborn and

So with the elegiac motive so loved by Alexandrian and Roman poets,
praise of a happy past time; the chorus sings in _Aminta_:

  O lovely age of gold,
  Not that the rivers rolled
  With milk, or that the woods wept honeydew;
  Not that the ready ground
  Produced without a wound,
  Or the mild serpent had no tooth that slew....
  But solely that.... the law of gold,
  That glad and golden law, all free, all fitted,
  Which Nature's own hand wrote--What pleases is permitted!...
  Go! let us love, the daylight dies, is born;
  But unto us the light
  Dies once for all, and sleep brings on eternal night.

Over thirty pastoral plays can be ascribed to Italy in the last third
of the sixteenth century. The most successful imitator of Tasso was
Giovanni Battista Guarini (born 1537) in _The True Shepherd (II
Pastor Fido)_. One quotation will shew how he outvied _Aminta_. In
Act I, Scene 1, Linko says:

  Look round thee, Sylvia; behold
  All in the world that's amiable and fair
  Is love's sweet work: heaven loves, the earth, the sea,
  Are full of love and own his mighty sway.
  Love through the woods
  The fiercest beasts; love through the waves attends
  Swift gliding dolphins and the sluggish whales.
  That little bird which sings....
  Oh, had he human sense,
  'I burn with love,' he'd cry, 'I burn with love,'
  And in his heart he truly burns,
  And in his warble speaks
  A language, well by his dear mate conceived,
  Who answering cries, 'And I too burn with love.'

He praises woodland solitude:

  Dear happy groves!
  And them all silent, solitary gloom,
  True residence of peace and of repose!
  How willingly, how willingly my steps
  To you return, and oh! if but my stars
  Benightly had decreed
  My life for solitude, and as my wish
  Would naturally prompt to pass my days--
  No, not the Elysian fields,
  Those happy gardens of the demi-gods,
  Would I exchange for yon enchanting shades.

The love lyrics of the later Renaissance are remarkably rich in vivid
pictures of Nature combined with much personal sentiment. Petrarch's
are the model; he inspired Vittoria Colonna, and she too revelled in
sad feelings and memories, especially about the death of her

'When I see the earth adorned and beautiful with a thousand lovely
and sweet flowers, and how in the heavens every star is resplendent
with varied colours; when I see that every solitary and lively
creature is moved by natural instinct to come out of the forests and
ancient caverns to seek its fellow by day and by night; and when I
see the plains adorned again with glorious flowers and new leaves,
and hear every babbling brook with grateful murmurs bathing its
flowery banks, so that Nature, in love with herself, delights to gaze
on the beauty of her works, I say to myself, reflecting: "How brief
is this our miserable mortal life!" Yesterday this plain was covered
with snow, to-day it is green and flowery. And again in a moment the
beauty of the heavens is overclouded by a fierce wind, and the happy
loving creatures remain hidden amidst the mountains and the woods;
nor can the sweet songs of the tender plants and happy birds be
heard, for these cruel storms have dried up the flowers on the
ground; the birds are mute, the most rapid streams and smallest
rivulets are checked by frost, and what was one hour so beautiful and
joyous, is, for a season, miserable and dead.'

Here the two pictures in the inner and outer life are equally vivid
to the poetess; it is the real 'pleasure of sorrow,' and she lingers
over them with delight.

Bojardo, too, reminds us of Petrarch; for example, in Sonnet 89:[13]

  Thou shady wood, inured my griefs to hear,
  So oft expressed in quick and broken sighs;
  Thou glorious sun, unused to set or rise
  But as the witness of my daily fear;

  Ye wandering birds, ye flocks and ranging deer,
  Exempt from my consuming agonies;
  Thou sunny stream to whom my sorrow flies
  'Mid savage rocks and wilds, no human traces near.

  O witnesses eternal, how I live!
  My sufferings hear, and win to their relief
  That scornful beauty--tell her how I grieve!

  But little 'tis to her to hear my grief.
  To her, who sees the pangs which I receive,
  And seeing, deigns them not the least relief.

Lorenzo de Medici's idylls were particularly rich in descriptions of
Nature and full of feeling. 'Here too that delight in pain, in
telling of their unhappiness and renunciation; here too those
wonderful tones which distinguish the sonnets of the fourteenth and
fifteenth centuries so favourably from those of a later time.'

There is a delicate compliment in this sonnet:

  O violets, sweet and fresh and pure indeed,
  Culled by that hand beyond all others fair!
  What rain or what pure air has striven to bear
  Flowers far excelling those 'tis wont to yield?
  What pearly dew, what sun, or sooth what earth
  Did you with all these subtle charms adorn;
  And whence is this sweet scent by Nature drawn,
  Or heaven who deigns to grant it to such worth?
  O, my dear violets, the hand which chose
  You from all others, that has made you fair,
  'Twas that adorned you with such charm and worth;
  Sweet hand! which took my heart altho' it knows
  Its lowliness, with that you may compare.
  To that give thanks, and to none else on earth.

Thus we see that the Italians of the thirteenth, fourteenth, and
fifteenth centuries were penetrated through and through by the modern
spirit--were, indeed, its pioneers. They recognized their own
individuality, pondered their own inner life, delighted in the charms
of Nature, and described them in prose and poetry, both as
counterparts to feeling and for her own sake.

Over all the literature we have been considering--whether poetic
comparison and personification, or sentimental descriptions of
pastoral life and a golden age, of blended inner and outer life, or
of the finest details of scenery--there lies that bloom of the
modern, that breath of subjective personality, so hard to define. The
rest of contemporary Europe had no such culture of heart and mind, no
such marked individuality, to shew.

The further growth of the Renaissance feeling, itself a rebirth of
Hellenic and Roman feeling, was long delayed.

Let us turn next to Spain and Portugal--the countries chiefly
affected by the great voyages of discovery, not only socially and
economically, but artistically--and see the effect of the new scenery
upon their imagination.



The great achievement of the Italian Renaissance was the discovery of
the world within, of the whole deep contents of the human spirit.
Burckhart, praising this achievement, says:

    If we were to collect the pearls from the courtly and knightly
    poetry of all the countries of the West during the two preceding
    centuries, we should have a mass of wonderful divinations and
    single pictures of the inward life, which at first sight would
    seem to rival the poetry of the Italians. Leaving lyrical poetry
    out of account, Godfrey of Strassburg gives us, in his _Tristram
    and Isolt_, a representation of human passion, some features of
    which are immortal. But these pearls lie scattered in the ocean
    of artificial convention, and they are altogether something very
    different from a complete objective picture of the inward man and
    his spiritual wealth.

The discovery of the beauty of scenery followed as a necessary
corollary of this awakening of individualism, this fathoming of the
depths of human personality. For only to fully-developed man does
Nature fully disclose herself.

This had already been stated by one of the most philosophic minds of
the time, Pico della Mirandola, in his speech on the dignity of man.
God, he tells us, made man at the close of creation to know the laws
of the universe, to love its beauty, to admire its greatness. He
bound him to no fixed place, to no prescribed form of work, and by no
iron necessity; but gave him freedom to will and to move.

'I have set thee,' said the Creator to Adam, 'in the midst of the
world, that thou mayest the more easily behold and see all that is
therein. I created thee a being neither heavenly nor earthly, neither
mortal nor immortal, only that thou mightest be free to shape and to
overcome thyself. Thou mayest sink into a beast, and be born again to
the Divine likeness. The brutes bring with them from their mothers'
body what they will carry with them as long as they live; the higher
spirits are from the beginning, or soon after, what they will be for
ever. To thee alone is given a growth and a development depending on
thine own free will. Thou bearest in thee the germs of a universal

The best men of the Renaissance realized this ideal of an all-round
development, and it was the glory of Italy in the fourteenth and
fifteenth centuries, that she found a new realm in the inner man at
the very time that her discoveries across the seas were enlarging the
boundaries of the external world, and her science was studying it.
Mixed as the motives of the discoverers must have been, like those of
the crusaders before them, and probably, for the most part,
self-interested, it is easy to imagine the surprise they must have
felt at seeing ignorant people, who, to quote Peter Martyr (de rebus

    Naked, without weights or measures or death-dealing money, live
    in a Golden Age without laws, without slanderous judges, without
    the scales of the balance. Contented with Nature, they spend
    their lives utterly untroubled for the future.... Theirs is a
    Golden Age; they do not enclose their farms with trench or wall
    or hurdle; their gardens are open. Without laws, without the
    scales of the balance, without judges, they guard the right by
    Nature's light.

And their wonder at the novelties in climate and vegetation, the
strange forests, brilliant birds, and splendid stars of the tropics,
must have been no less.

Yet it is one thing to feel, and another to find words to convey the
feeling to others; and the explorers often expressed regret for their
lack of skill in this respect.

Also, and this is more important in criticizing what they wrote,
these seamen were mostly simple, unlettered folk, to whom a country's
wealth in natural products and their practical value made the
strongest appeal, and whose admiration of bays, harbours, trees,
fields of grain, etc., was measured by the same standard of utility.
Even such unskilled reporters did not entirely fail to refer to the
beauty of Nature; but had it not been for the original and powerful
mind of Christopher Columbus, we should have had little more in the
way of description than 'pleasant,' 'pretty,' and such words.

Marco Polo described his journey to the coast of Cormos[2] in very
matter-of-fact fashion, but not without a touch of satisfaction at
the peculiarities of the place:

    You then approach the very beautiful plain of Formosa, watered by
    fine rivers, with plantations of the date palms, and having the
    air filled with francolins, parrots, and other birds unknown to
    our climate. You ride two days to it, and then arrive at the
    ocean, on which there is a city and a fort named Cormos. The
    ships of India bring thither all kinds of spiceries, precious
    stones, and pearls, cloths of silk and gold, elephants' teeth,
    and many other articles.... They sow wheat, barley, and other
    kinds of grain in the month of November, and reap them in March,
    when they become ripe and perfect; but none except the date will
    endure till May, being dried up by the extreme heat.

Elsewhere he wrote of scenery in the same strain: of the Persian
deserts, and the green table-lands and wild gorges of Badachshan,
Japan with its golden roofed palaces, paradisaical Sunda Islands with
their 'abundance of treasure and costly spices,' Java the less with
its eight kingdoms, etc.; but naturally his chief interest was given
to the manners and customs of the various races, and the fertility
and uses of their countries.

In Bishop Osorio's _History of Emmanuel, King of Portugal_, we see
some pleasure in the beauties of Nature peeping through the
matter-of-fact tone of the day.

Thus, speaking of the companions of Vasco da Gama, he says that they
admired the far coast of Africa:

    They descried some little islands, which appeared extremely
    pleasant; the trees were lofty, the meadows of a beautiful
    verdure, and great numbers of cattle frisked about everywhere;
    they could see the inhabitants walking upon the shore in vast

Of Mozambique he says:

    The palm trees are of a great height, covered with long prickly
    leaves; broad-spreading boughs afford an agreeable shade, and
    bear nuts of a great size, called cocoes.

Of Melinda:

    The city stands in a beautiful plain, surrounded with a variety
    of fine gardens; these are stocked with all sorts of trees,
    especially the orange, the flowers of which yield a most graceful
    diffusive smell. The country is rich and plentiful, abounding not
    only with tame and domestic cattle, but with game of all kinds,
    which the natives hunt down or take with nets.

Of Zanzibar:

    The soil of this place is rich and fertile, and it abounds with
    springs of the most excellent water; the whole island is covered
    with beautiful woods, which are extremely fragrant from the many
    wild citrons growing there, which diffuse the most grateful

Of Brazil, which is 'extremely pleasant and the soil fruitful':

    Clothed with a beautiful verdure, covered with tall trees,
    abounding with plenty of excellent water ... and so healthy that
    the inhabitants make no use of medicines, for almost all who die
    here are not cut off by any distemper, but worn out by age. Here
    are many large rivers, besides a vast number of delightful
    springs. The plains are large and spacious, and afford excellent
    pasture.... In short, the whole country affords a most beautiful
    prospect, being diversified with hills and valleys, and these
    covered with thick shady woods stocked with great variety of
    trees, many of which our people were quite strangers to: of these
    there was one of a particular nature, the leaves of which, when
    cut, sent forth a kind of balsam. The trees used in dyeing
    scarlet grow here in great plenty and to a great height. The soil
    likewise produces the most useful plants.

Of Ormuz, near Arabia:

    The name of the island seems to be taken from the ancient city of
    Armuza in Caramania ... the place is sandy and barren, and the
    soil so very poor that it produces nothing fit for human
    sustenance, neither by nature nor by the most laborious
    cultivation ... yet here you might see greater plenty of these,
    as well as all luxurious superfluities, than in most other
    countries of a richer and more fertile soil, for the place, poor
    in itself, having become the great mart for the commodities of
    India, Persia, and Arabia, was thus abundantly stocked with the
    produce of all these countries.

Peter Martyr's[3] point of view was much the same. He was full of
surprise at the splendour round him, and the advantages such
fertility offered to husbandry:

    Thus after a few days with cheerful hearts they espied the land
    long looked for....

    As they coasted along by the shore of certain of these islands,
    they heard nightingales sing in the thick woods in the month of

    They found also great rivers of fresh water and natural havens of
    capacity to harbour great navies of ships.... They found there
    wild geese, turtle-doves, and ducks, much greater than ours, and
    as white as swans, with heads of purple colour. Also popinjays,
    of the which some are green, some yellow, and having their
    feathers intermingled with green, yellow, and purple, which
    varieties delighted the sense not a little.... They entered into
    a main large sea, having in it innumerable islands, marvellously
    differing one from another; for some of them were very fruitful,
    full of herbs and trees, other some very dry, barren, and rough,
    with high rocky mountains of stone, whereof some were of bright
    blue, or azurine colour, and other glistening white.

He filled a whole page with descriptions of the wonderful wealth of
flowers, fruit, and vegetables of all kinds, which the ground yields
even in February. The richness of the prairie grass, the charm of the
rivers, the wealth of fruit, the enormous size of the trees (with a
view to native houses), the various kinds of pines, palms, and
chestnuts, and their uses, the immense downfall of water carried to
the sea by the rivers--all this he noted with admiration; but
industrial interest outweighed the æsthetic, even when he called
Spain happier than Italy. There is no trace of any real feeling for
scenery, any grasp of landscape as a whole; he did not advance beyond
scattered details, which attracted his eye chiefly for their material

But there is real delight in Nature in the account of a journey to
the Cape Verde Islands, undertaken on the suggestion of Henry the
Navigator by Aloise da Mosto,[4] an intelligent Venetian nobleman:

    Cape de Verde is so called because the Portuguese, who had
    discovered it about a year before, found it covered with trees,
    which continue green all the year round. This is a high and
    beautiful Cape, which runs a good length into the sea, and has
    two hills or little mountains at the point thereof. There are
    several villages of negroes from Senega, on and about the
    promontory, who dwell in thatched houses close to the shore, and
    in sight of those who sail by.... The coast is all low and full
    of fine large trees, which are constantly green; that is, they
    never wither as those in Europe do, for the new leaves grow
    before the old ones fall off. These trees are so near the shore
    that they seem to drink out of the sea. It is a most beautiful
    coast to behold, and the author, who had sailed both in the East
    and West, never saw any comparable with it.

As Ruge says:

    The delight of this solid and prudent citizen of Strasburg in the
    beauty of the tropics is lost in translation, but very evident in
    the original account.[5]

After reading it, we cannot quite say with Humboldt that Columbus was
the very first to give fluent expression to Nature's beauty on the
shores of the New World; none the less, and apart from his importance
in other respects, he remains the chief representative of his time in
the matter. Humboldt noted this in his critical examination of the
history of geography in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, in
which he pointed out his deep feeling for Nature, and also, what only
those who know the difficulties of language at the time can
appreciate, the beauty and simplicity of his expression of it.[6]

Columbus is a striking example of the fact that a man's openness to
Nature increases with his general inner growth. No one doubts that
uneducated sailors, like other unlettered people, are vividly
impressed by fine scenery, especially when it is new to them, if they
possess a spark of mental refinement. They have the feeling, but are
unable to express it in words. But, as Humboldt says, feeling
improves speech; with increased culture, the power of expression

We owe a debt of gratitude to Fernandez de Navarrete[7] for the Diary
in which we can trace Columbus' love for Nature increasing to 'a deep
and poetic feeling for the majesty of creation.'

He wrote, October 8th, 1492, in his diary:

    'Thanks be to God,' says the Admiral, 'the air is very soft like
    the April at Seville, and it is a pleasure to be there, so balmy
    are the breezes.'

And Humboldt says:

    The physiognomy and forms of the vegetation, the impenetrable
    thickets of the forests, in which one can scarcely distinguish
    the stems to which the several blossoms and leaves belong, the
    wild luxuriance of the flowering soil along the humid shores, and
    the rose-coloured flamingoes which, fishing at early morning at
    the mouth of the rivers, impart animation to the scenery,--all in
    turn arrested the attention of the old mariner as he sailed along
    the shores of Cuba, between the small Lucayan Islands and the

Each new country seemed to him more beautiful than the last; he
complained that he could not find new words in which to give the
Queen an impression of the beauty of the Cuban coast.

It will repay us to examine the Diary more closely, since Humboldt
only treated it shortly and in scattered extracts, and it has been
partly falsified, unintentionally, by attempts to modernize the
language instead of adhering to literal translation. What Peschel
says, for instance, is pretty but distinctly exaggerated:

    Columbus was never weary of listening to the nightingales,
    comparing the genial Indian climate with the Andalusian spring,
    and admiring the luxuriant wilderness on these humid shores, with
    their dense vegetation and forests so rich in all kinds of
    plants, and alive with swarms of parrots ... with an open eye for
    all the beauties of Nature and all the wonders of creation, he
    looked at the splendour of the tropics very much as a tender
    father looks into the bright eyes of his child.[8]

The Diary of November 3rd says:

    He could see nothing, owing to the dense foliage of the trees,
    which were very fresh and odoriferous; so that he felt no doubt
    that there were aromatic herbs among them. He said that all he
    saw was so beautiful that his eyes could never tire of gazing
    upon such loveliness, nor his ears of listening to the songs of

November 14th:

    He saw so many islands that he could not count them all, with
    very high land covered with trees of many kinds and an infinite
    number of palms. He was much astonished to see so many lofty
    islands, and assured the Sovereigns that the mountains and
    islands he had seen since yesterday seemed to him to be second to
    none in the world, so high and clear of clouds and snow, with the
    sea at their bases so deep.

November 25th:

    He saw a large stream of beautiful water falling from the
    mountains above, with a loud noise.... Just then the sailor boys
    called out that they had found large pines. The Admiral looked up
    the hill and saw that they were so wonderfully large, that he
    could not exaggerate their height and straightness, like stout
    yet fine spindles. He perceived that here there was material for
    great store of planks and masts for the largest ships in Spain
    ... the mountains are very high, whence descend many limpid
    streams, and all the hills are covered with pines, and an
    infinity of diverse and beautiful trees.

November 27th:

    The freshness and beauty of the trees, the clearness of the water
    and the birds, made it all so delightful that he wished never to
    leave them. He said to the men who were with him that to give a
    true relation to the Sovereigns of the things they had seen, a
    thousand tongues would not suffice, nor his hand to write it, for
    that it was like a scene of enchantment.

December 13th:

    The nine men well armed, whom he sent to explore a certain place,
    said, with regard to the beauty of the land they saw, that the
    best land in Castille could not be compared with it. The Admiral
    also said that there was no comparison between them, nor did the
    Plain of Cordova come near them, the difference being as great as
    between night and day. They said that all these lands were
    cultivated, and that a very wide and large river passed through
    the centre of the valley and could irrigate all the fields. All
    the trees were green and full of fruit, and the plants tall and
    covered with flowers. The roads were broad and good. The climate
    was like April in Castille; the nightingale and other birds sang
    as they do in Spain during that month, and it was the most
    pleasant place in the world. Some birds sing sweetly at night,
    the crickets and frogs are heard a good deal.

All this shews a naive and spontaneous delight in Nature, as free
from sentimentality as from any grasp of landscape as a distinct

In a letter about Cuba, which Humboldt gives, he says:

    The lands are high, and there are many very lofty mountains ...
    all most beautiful, of a thousand different shapes, accessible
    and covered with trees of a thousand kinds of such great height
    that they seemed to reach the skies. I am told that the trees
    never lose their foliage, and I can well believe it, for I
    observed that they were as green and luxuriant as in Spain in the
    month of May. Some were in bloom, others bearing fruit, and
    others otherwise according to their nature. There were palm trees
    of six or eight kinds, wonderful in their beautiful variety; but
    this is the case with all the other trees; fruits and grasses,
    trees, plants and fruits filled us with admiration. It contains
    extraordinary pine groves and very extensive plains.

Humboldt here comments that these often-repeated expressions of
admiration prove a strong feeling for the beauty of Nature, since
they are concerned with foliage and shade, not with precious metals.
The next letter shews the growing power of description:

    Reaching the harbour of Bastimentos, I put in.... The storm and a
    rapid current kept me in for fourteen days, when I again set
    sail, but not with favourable weather.... I had already made four
    leagues when the storm recommenced and wearied me to such a
    degree that I absolutely knew not what to do; my wound re-opened,
    and for nine days my life was despaired of. Never was the sea
    seen so high, so terrific, and so covered with foam; not only did
    the wind oppose our proceeding onward, but it also rendered it
    highly dangerous to run in for any headland, and kept me in that
    sea, which seemed to me a sea of blood, seething like a cauldron
    on a mighty fire. Never did the sky look more fearful; during one
    day and one night it burned like a furnace, and emitted flashes
    in such fashion that each time I looked to see if my masts and my
    sails were not destroyed; these flashes came with such alarming
    fury that we all thought the ship must have been consumed. All
    this time the waters from heaven never ceased, not to say that it
    rained, for it was like a repetition of the Deluge. The men were
    at this time so crushed in spirit, that they longed for death as
    a deliverance from so many martyrdoms. Twice already had the
    ships suffered loss in boats, anchors, and rigging, and were now
    lying bare without sails.

These extracts shew how feeling for Nature in unlettered minds could
develop into an enthusiasm which begot to some extent its own power
of expression. Columbus was entirely deficient in all previous
knowledge of natural history; but he was gifted with deep feeling
(the account of the nocturnal visions in the _Lettera Rarissima_ is
proof of this)[9], mental energy, and a capacity for exact
observation which many of the other explorers did not possess, and
these faculties made up for what he lacked in education.

     In Cuba alone, he distinguishes seven or eight
     different species of palm more beautiful and taller than
     the date tree; he informs his learned friend Anghiera
     that he has seen pines and palms wonderfully associated
     together in one and the same plain, and he even
     so acutely observed the vegetation around him, that he
     was the first to notice that there were pines in the
     mountains of Cibao, whose fruits are not fir cones but
     berries like the olives of the Axarafe de Sevilla.


Most of Vespucci's narratives of travel, especially his letters to
the Medici, only contain adventures and descriptions of manners and
customs. He lacked the originality and enthusiasm which gave the
power of the wing to Columbus.

That imposing Portuguese poem, the _Lusiad_ of Camoens, is full of
jubilation over the discovery of the New World. Camoens made his
notes of foreign places at first hand; he had served as a soldier,
fought at the foot of Atlas in the Red Sea and Persian Gulf, had
doubled the Cape twice, and, inspired by a deep love for Nature, had
spent sixteen years in examining the phenomena of the ocean on the
Indian and Chinese shores. He was a great sea painter. His poetic and
inventive power remind one at times of Dante--for instance, in the
description of the Dream Face; and he pictures foreign lands with the
clearness and detail of the discoverers and later travellers. Here
and there his poetry is like the Diary of Columbus translated into
verse--epic verse.

He had the same fiery spirit, nerve, and fresh insight, with the
poet's gift added.

(None the less, the classic apparatus of deities in Thetys' _Apology_
is no adornment.)

Comparisons from Nature and animals are few but detailed:

  E'en as the prudent ants which towards their nest
  Bearing the apportioned heavy burden go,
  Exercise all their forces at their best,
  Hostile to hostile winter's frost and snow;
  There, all their toils and labours stand confessed,
  There, never looked-for energy they show;
  So, from the Lusitanians to avert
  Their horrid Fate, the nymphs their power exert.

  Thus, as in some sequestered sylvan mere
  The frogs (the Lycian people formerly),
  If that by chance some person should appear
  While out of water they incautious be,
  Awake the pool by hopping here and there,
  To fly the danger which they deem they see,
  And gathering to some safe retreat they know,
  Only their heads above the water show--So fly the Moors.

  E'en as when o'er the parching flame there glows
  A flame, which may from some chance cause ignite,
  (All while the whistling, puffing Boreas blows),
  Fanned by the wind sets all the growth alight,
  The shepherd's group, lying in their repose
  Of quiet sleep, aroused in wild afright
  At crackling flames that spread both wide and high,
  Gather their goods and to the village fly;
  So doth the Moor.

  E'en as the daisy which once brightly smiled,
  Plucked by unruly hands before its hour,
  And harshly treated by the careless child,
  All in her chaplet tied with artless power.
  Droops, of its colour and its scent despoiled,
  So seems this pale and lifeless damsel flower;
  The roses of her lips are dry and dead,
  With her sweet life the mingled white and red.

The following simile reminds us of the far-fetched comparison of
Apollonios Rhodios[11]:

  As the reflected lustre from the bright
  Steel mirror, or of beauteous crystal fine,
  Which, being stricken by the solar light,
  Strikes back and on some other part doth shine;
  And when, to please the child's vain curious sight,
  Moved o'er the house, as may his hand incline,
  Dances on walls and roof and everywhere,
  Restless and tremulous, now here now there,
  So did the wandering judgment fluctuate.

He says of Diana:

  And, as confronted on her way she pressed,
  So beautiful her form and bearing were,
  That everything that saw her love confessed,
  The stars, the heaven, and the surrounding air.

The Indus and Ganges are personified in stanza xiv. 74, the Cape in
v. 50.

His time references are mostly mixed up with ancient mythology:

  As soon, however, as the enamelled morn
  O'er the calm heaven her lovely looks outspread,
  Opening to bright Hyperion, new-born,
  Her purple portals as he raised his head,
  Then the whole fleet their ships with flags adorn.


  So soon, however, as great Sol has spread
  His rays o'er earth, whom instantly to meet,
  Her purple brow Aurora rising shews,
  And rudely life around the horizon throws.

He is at his best in writing of the sea.

He says of the explorers on first setting sail:

  Now were they sailing o'er wide ocean bright,
  The restless waves dividing as they flew;
  The winds were breathing prosperous and light,
  The vessels' hollow sails were filled to view;
  The seas were covered o'er with foaming white
  Where the advancing prows were cutting through
  The consecrated waters of the deep....
  Thus went we forth these unknown seas to explore,
  Which by no people yet explored had been;
  Seeing new isles and climes which long before
  Great Henry, first discoverer, had seen.

  Now did the moon in purest lustre rise
  On Neptune's silvery waves her beams to pour,
  With stars attendant glittered all the skies,
  E'en like a meadow daisy-spangled o'er;
  The fury of the winds all peaceful lies
  In the dark caverns close along the shore,
  But still the night-watch constant vigils keep,
  As long had been their custom on the deep.

  To tell thee of the dangers of the sea
  At length, which human understanding scare,
  Thunder-storms, sudden, dreadful in degree,
  Lightnings, which seem to set on fire the air,
  Dark floods of rain, nights of obscurity,
  Rollings of thunder which the world would tear,
  Were not less labour than a great mistake,
  E'en if I had an iron voice to speak.

He describes the electric fires of St Elmo and the gradual
development of the waterspout:

  I saw, and clearly saw, the living light
  Which sailors everywhere as sacred hold
  In time of storm and crossing winds that fight,
  Of tempest dark and desperation cold;
  Nor less it was to all a marvel quite,
  And matter surely to alarm the bold,
  To observe the sea-clouds, with a tube immense,
  Suck water up from Ocean's deep expanse....
  A fume or vapour thin and subtle rose,
  And by the wind begin revolving there;
  Thence to the topmost clouds a tube it throws,
  But of a substance so exceeding rare....
  But when it was quite gorged it then withdrew
  The foot that on the sea beneath had grown,
  And o'er the heavens in fine it raining flew,
  The jacent waters watering with its own.

The storm at sea reminds us of Æschylus in splendour:

  The winds were such, that scarcely could they shew
  With greater force or greater rage around,
  Than if it were this purpose then to blow
  The mighty tower of Babel to the ground....
  Now rising to the clouds they seem to go
  O'er the wild waves of Neptune borne on end;
  Now to the bowels of the deep below;
  It seems to all their senses, they descend;
  Notus and Auster, Boreas, Aquila,
  The very world's machinery would rend;
  While flashings fire the black and ugly night
  And shed from pole to pole a dazzling light....
  But now the star of love beamed forth its ray,
  Before the sun, upon the horizon clear,
  And visited, as messenger of day,
  The earth and spreading sea, with brow to cheer....

And, as it subsides:

  The mountains that we saw at first appeared,
  In the far view, like clouds and nothing more.

Off the coast of India:

  Now o'er the hills broke forth the morning light
  Where Ganges' stream is murmuring heard to flow,
  Free from the storm and from the first sea's fight,
  Vain terror from their hearts is banished now.

His magic island, the Ilha of Venus, could only have been imagined by
a poet who had travelled widely. All the delights of the New World
are there, with the vegetation of Southern Europe added. It is a
poet's triumphant rendering of impressions which the discoverers so
often felt their inability to convey:

  From far they saw the island fresh and fair,
  Which Venus o'er the waters guiding drove
  (E'en as the wind the canvas white doth bear)....
  Where the coast forms a bay for resting-place,
  Curved and all quiet, and whose shining sand
  Is painted with red shells by Venus' hand....
  Three beauteous mounts rise nobly to the view,
  Lifting with graceful pride their sweeling head,
  O'er which enamelled grass adorning grew.
  In this delightful lovely island glad,
  Bright limpid streams their rushing waters threw
  From heights with rich luxuriant verdure clad,
  'Midst the white rocks above, their source derive,
  The streams sonorous, sweet, and fugitive....
  A thousand trees toward heaven their summits raise,
  With fruits odoriferous and fair;
  The orange in its produce bright displays
  The tint that Daphne carried in her hair;
  The citron on the ground its branches lays,
  Laden with yellow weights it cannot bear;
  The beauteous melons, which the whole perfume
  The virgin bosom in their form assume.
  The forest trees, which on the hills combine
  To ennoble them with leafy hair o'ergrown,
  Are poplars of Alcides; laurels shine,
  The which the shining God loved as his own;
  Myrtles of Cytherea with the pine
  Of Cybele, by other love o'erthrown;
  The spreading cypress tree points out where lies
  The seat of the ethereal paradise....
  Pomegranates rubicund break forth and shine,
  A tint whereby thou, ruby, losest sheen.
  'Twixt the elm branches hangs the jocund vine,
  With branches some of red and some of green....
  Then the refined and splendid tapestry,
  Covering the rustic ground beneath the feet,
  Makes that of Achemeina dull to be,
  But makes the shady valley far more sweet.
  Cephisian flowers with head inclined we see
  About the calm and lucid lake's retreat....
  'Twas difficult to fancy which was true,
  Seeing on heaven and earth all tints the same,
  If fair Aurora gave the flowers their time,
  Or from the lovely flowers to her it came;
  Flora and Zephyr there in painting drew
  The violets tinted, as of lovers' flame,
  The iris, and the rose all fair and fresh
  E'en as it doth on cheek of maiden blush....
  Along the water sings the snow-white swan,
  While from the branch respondeth Philomel....
  Here, in its bill, to the dear nest, with care,
  The rapid little bird the food doth bear.

Subjective feeling for Nature is better displayed in the lyric than
the epic.

The Spaniard, Fray Luis de Leon, was a typical example of a
sixteenth-century lyrist; full of mild enthusiasm for Nature, the
theosophico-mystical attitude of the Catholic.

A most fervid feeling for Nature from the religious side breathed in
St Francis of Assisi--the feeling which inspired his hymn to Brother
Sun (_Cantico del Sole_), and led his brother Egidio, intoxicated
with love to his Creator, to kiss trees and rocks and weep over

  Praised by His creatures all,
  Praised be the Lord my God
  By Messer Sun, my brother above all,
  Who by his rays lights us and lights the day--
  Radiant is she, with his great splendour stored,
  Thy glory, Lord, confessing.
  By Sister Moon and Stars my Lord is praised,
  Where clear and fair they in the heavens are raised
  By Brother Wind, etc....

His follower, Bonaventura, too, in his verses counted--

    The smallest creatures his brothers and sisters, and called upon
    crops, vineyards, trees, flowers, and stars to praise God.

Bernard von Clairvaux made it a principle 'to learn from the earth,
trees, corn, flowers, and grass'; and he wrote in his letter to
Heinrich Murdach (Letter 106):

    Believe me, I have proved it; you will find more in the woods
    than in books; trees and stones will teach you what no other
    teacher can.

He looked upon all natural objects as 'rays of the Godhead,' copies
of a great original.

His contemporary, Hugo von St Victor, wrote:

    The whole visible world is like a book written by the finger of
    God. It is created by divine power, and all human beings are
    figures placed in it, not to shew the free-will of man, but as a
    revelation and visible sign, by divine will, of God's invisible
    wisdom. But as one who only glances at an open book sees marks on
    it, but does not read the letters, so the wicked and sensual man,
    in whom the spirit of God is not, sees only the outer surface of
    visible beings and not their deeper parts.

German mystics wrote in the same strain; for instance, the popular
Franciscan preacher, Berthold von Regensburg (1272),

    Whose sermons on fields and meadows drew many thousands of
    hearers, and moved them partly by the unusual freshness and
    vitality of his pious feeling for Nature,

in spite of many florid symbolical accessories, such as we find again
in Ekkehart and other fifteenth-century mystics, and especially in
Tauler, Suso, and Ruysbroek.

The northern prophetess and foundress of an Order Birgitta (1373)
held that the breath of the Creator was in all visible things: 'We
feel it pervading us in her visions,' says Hammerich,[13]

    Whether by gurgling brook or snow-covered firs. It is with us
    when the prophetess leads us along the ridges of the Swedish
    coast with their surging waves or down the shaft of a mine, or to
    wander in the quiet of evening through vineyards between roses
    and lilies, while the dew is falling and the bells ring out the
    Ave Maria.

Vincentius von Beauvais (1264) in his _Speculum Naturæ_ demonstrates
the value of studying Nature from a religious and moral point of
view; and the Carthusian general, Dionysius von Rickel (1471), in his
paper _On the beauty of the world and the glory of God (De venustate
mundi et de pulchritudine Dei)_ says in Chapter xxii.: 'All the
beauty of the animal world is nothing but the reflection and out-flow
of the original beauty of God,' and gives as special examples:

     Roses, lilies, and other beautiful and fragrant
     flowers, shady woods, pine trees, pleasant meadows,
     high, mountains, springs, streams and rivers, and the
     broad arm of the immeasurable sea ... and above
     all shine the stars, completing their course in the
     clear sky in wonderful splendour and majestic order.

Raymundus von Sabieude, a Spaniard, who studied medicine and
philosophy at Toulouse, and wrote his _Theologia Naturalis_ in 1436,
considered Nature, like Thomas Aquinas, from a mystical and
scholastic point of view, as made up of living beings in a graduated
scale from the lowest to the highest; and he lauded her in terms
which even Pope Clement VII. thought exaggerated. Piety in him went
hand in hand with a natural philosophy like Bacon's, and his interest
in Nature was rather a matter of intellect than feeling.

    God has given us two books--the book of all living beings, or
    Nature, and the Holy Scriptures. The first was given to man from
    the beginning when all things were created, for each living being
    is but a letter of the alphabet written by the finger of God, and
    the book is composed of them all together as a book is of letters
    ... man is the capital letter of this book. This book is not like
    the other, falsified and spoilt, but familiar and intelligible;
    it makes man joyous and humble and obedient, a hater of evil and
    a lover of virtue.

Among the savants of the Renaissance who applied the inductive method
to Nature before Bacon,[14] we must include the thoughtful and pious
Spaniard Luis Vives (1540), who wrote concerning the useless
speculations of alchemists and astrologers about occult things: 'It
is not arguing that is needed here, but silent observation of
Nature.' Knowledge of Nature, he said, would serve both body and

The tender religious lyrics of the mystic, Luis de Leon, followed
next.[15] His life (1521-1591) brings us up to the days of the
Inquisition. He himself, an excellent teacher and man of science, was
imprisoned for years for opinions too openly expressed in his
writings; but with all his varied fortunes he never lost his innate
manliness and tenderness. His biographer tells us, that as soon as
the holidays began, he would hurry away from the gloomy lecture rooms
and the noisy students at Salamanca, to the country, where he had
taken an estate belonging to a monastery at the foot of a hill by a
river, with a little island close by.

It had a large uncultivated garden, made beautiful by fine old trees,
with paths among the vines and a stream running through it to the
river, and a long avenue of poplars whose rustle blended with the
noise of the mill-wheel. Beyond was a view of fields. Leon would sit
for hours here undisturbed, dipping his feet in the brook under a
poplar--the tree which was reputed to flourish on sand alone and give
shelter to all the birds under heaven--while the rustle of the leaves
sang his melancholy to sleep. His biographer goes on to say that he
had the Spaniard's special delight in Nature, and understood her
language and her secrets; and the veiled splendour of her tones,
colours, and forms could move him to tears. As he sat there gazing at
the clouds, he felt lifted up in heart by the insignificance of all
things in comparison with the spirit of man.

In the pitching and tossing of his 'ships of thought' he never lost
the consciousness of Nature's beauty, and would pray the clouds to
carry his sighs with them in their tranquil course through heaven. He
loved the sunrise, birds, flowers, bees, fishes; nothing was
meaningless to him; all things were letters in a divine alphabet,
which might bring him a message from above. Nature was symbolic; the
glow of dawn meant the glow of divine love; a wide view, true
freedom; rays of sunshine, rays of divine glory; the setting sun,
eternal light; stars, flowers of light in an everlasting spring.

His love for the country, especially for its peacefulness, was free
from the folly and excess of the pastoral poetry of his day. He did
not paint Nature entirely for her own sake; man was always her
master[16] in his poems, and he sometimes, very finely, introduced
himself and his affairs at the close, and represented Nature as
addressing himself.

His descriptions are short, and he often tries to represent sounds

This is from his ode, _Quiet Life_[17]:

  O happy he who flies
  Far from the noisy world away--
  Who with the worthy and the wise
  Hath chosen the narrow way.
  The silence of the secret road
  That leads the soul to virtue and to God!...
  O streams, and shades, and hills on high,
  Unto the stillness of your breast
  My wounded spirit longs to fly--
  To fly and be at rest.
  Thus from the world's tempestuous sea,
  O gentle Nature, do I turn to thee....
  A garden by the mountain side
  Is mine, whose flowery blossoming
  Shews, even in spring's luxuriant pride,
  What Autumn's suns shall bring:
  And from mountain's lofty crown
  A clear and sparkling rill comes tumbling down;
  Then, pausing in its downward force
  The venerable trees among,
  It gurgles on its winding course;
  And, as it glides along,
  Gives freshness to the day and pranks
  With ever changing flowers its mossy banks.
  The whisper of the balmy breeze
  Scatters a thousand sweets around,
  And sweeps in music through the trees
  With an enchanting sound
  That laps the soul in calm delight
  Where crowns and kingdoms are forgotten quite.

The poem, _The Starry Sky_,[18] is full of lofty enthusiasm for
Nature and piety:

  When yonder glorious sky
  Lighted with million lamps I contemplate,
  And turn my dazzled eye
  To this vain mortal state
  All mean and visionary, mean and desolate,
  A mingled joy and grief
  Fills all my soul with dark solicitude....
  List to the concert pure
  Of yon harmonious countless worlds of light.
  See, in his orbit sure
  Each takes his journey bright,
  Led by an unseen hand through the vast maze of night.
  See how the pale moon rolls
  Her silver wheel....
  See Saturn, father of the golden hours,
  While round him, bright and blest,
  The whole empyrean showers
  Its glorious streams of light on this low world of ours.
  But who to these can turn
  And weigh them 'gainst a weeping world like this,
  Nor feel his spirit burn
  To grasp so sweet a bliss
  And mourn that exile hard which here his portion is?
  For there, and there alone,
  Are peace and joy and never dying love:
  Day that shall never cease,
  No night there threatening,
  No winter there to chill joy's ever-during spring.
  Ye fields of changeless green
  Covered with living streams and fadeless flowers;
  Thou paradise serene,
  Eternal joyful hours
  Thy disembodied soul shall welcome in thy towers!

It was chiefly in Spanish literature at this time that Nature was
used allegorically. Tieck[19] says: 'In Calderon's poetry, and that
of his contemporaries, we often find, in romances and song-like
metres, most charming descriptions of the sea, mountains, gardens,
and woody valleys, but almost always used allegorically, and with an
artistic polish which ends by giving us, not so much a real
impression of Nature, as one of clever description in musical verse,
repeated again and again with slight variations.' This is true of
Leon, but far more of Calderon, since it belongs to the very essence
of drama. But, despite his passion for description and his Catholic
and conventional tone, there is inexhaustible fancy, splendid colour,
and a modern element of individuality in his poems. His heroes are
conscious of their own ego, feel themselves to be 'a miniature
world,' and search out their own feelings 'in the wild waves of
emotion' (as Aurelian, for example, in _Zenobia_).

Fernando says in _The Constant Prince_:

  These flowers awoke in beauty and delight
  At early dawn, when stars began to set;
  At eve they leave us but a fond regret,
  Locked in the cold embraces of the night.
  These shades that shame the rainbow's arch of light.
  Where gold and snow in purple pomp are met,
  All give a warning man should not forget,
  When one brief day can darken things so bright.
  'Tis but to wither that the roses bloom--
  'Tis to grow old they bear their beauteous flowers,
  One crimson bud their cradle and their tomb.
  Such are man's fortunes in this world of ours;
  They live, they die; one day doth end their doom,
  For ages past but seem to us like hours.

The warning which Zenobia gives her captor in his hour of triumph to
beware of sudden reverses of fortune is finely conceived:

  Morn comes forth with rays to crown her,
  While the sun afar is spreading
  Golden cloths most finely woven
  All to dry her tear-drops purely.
  Up to noon he climbs, then straightway
  Sinks, and then dark night makes ready
  For the burial of the sea
  Canopies of black outstretching--
  Tall ships fly on linen pinions,
  On with speed the breezes send it,
  Small the wide seas seem and straitened,
  To its quick flight onward tending.
  Yet one moment, yet one instant,
  And the tempest roars, uprearing
  Waves that might the stars extinguish,
  Lifted for that ship's o'erwhelming.
  Day, with fear, looks ever nightwards,
  Calms must storm await with trembling;
  Close behind the back of pleasure
  Evermore stalks sadness dreary.

In _Life's a Dream_ Prince Sigismund, chained in a dark prison, says:

  What sinned I more herein
  Than others, who were also born?
  Born the bird was, yet with gay
  Gala vesture, beauty's dower,
  Scarcely 'tis a winged flower
  Or a richly plumaged spray,
  Ere the aerial halls of day
  It divideth rapidly,
  And no more will debtor be
  To the nest it hates to quit;
  But, with more of soul than it,
  I am grudged its liberty.
  And the beast was born, whose skin
  Scarce those beauteous spots and bars,
  Like to constellated stars,
  Doth from its greater painter win
  Ere the instinct doth begin:
  Of its fierceness and its pride,
  And its lair on every side,
  It has measured far and nigh;
  While, with better instinct, I
  Am its liberty denied.
  Born the mute fish was also,
  Child of ooze and ocean weed;
  Scarce a finny bark of speed
  To the surface brought, and lo!
  In vast circuits to and fro
  Measures it on every side
  Its illimitable home;
  While, with greater will to roam,
  I that freedom am denied.
  Born the streamlet was, a snake
  Which unwinds the flowers among,
  Silver serpent, that not long
  May to them sweet music make,
  Ere it quits the flowery brake,
  Onward hastening to the sea
  With majestic course and free,
  Which the open plains supply;
  While, with more life gifted, I
  Am denied its liberty.

In Act II. Clotardo tells how he has talked to the young prince,
brought up in solitude and confinement:

  There I spoke with him awhile
  Of the human arts and letters,
  Which the still and silent aspect
  Of the mountains and the heavens
  Him have taught--that school divine
  Where he has been long a learner,
  And the voices of the birds
  And the beasts has apprehended.

Descriptions of time and place are very rich in colour.

  One morning on the ocean,
  When the half-awakened sun,
  Trampling down the lingering shadows
  Of the western vapours dun,
  Spread its ruby-tinted tresses
  Over jessamine and rose,
  Dried with cloths of gold Aurora's
  Tears of mingled fire and snows
  Which to pearl his glance converted.

  Since these gardens cannot steal
  Away your oft returning woes,
  Though to beauteous spring they build
  Snow-white jasmine temples filled
  With radiant statues of the rose;
  Come into the sea and make
  Thy bark the chariot of the sun,
  And when the golden splendours run
  Athwart the waves, along thy wake
  The garden to the sea will say
  (By melancholy fears deprest)--
  'The sun already gilds the west,
  How very short has been this day.'

There is a striking remark about a garden; Menon says:

  A beautiful garden surrounded by wild forest
  Is the more beautiful the nearer it approaches its opposite.

Splendour of colour was everything with Calderon, but it was
splendour of so stiff and formal a kind, that, like the whole of his
intensely severe, even inquisitorial outlook, it leaves us cold.

We must turn to Shakespeare to learn how strongly the pulse of
sympathy for Nature could beat in contemporary drama. Goethe said:
'In Calderon you have the wine as the last artificial result of the
grape, but expressed into the goblet, highly spiced and sweetened,
and so given you to drink; but in Shakespeare you have the whole
natural process of its ripening besides, and the grapes themselves
one by one, for your enjoyment, if you will.'

In _Worship at the Cross_ there is pious feeling for Nature and
mystical feeling side by side with an obnoxious fanaticism,
superstition, and other objectionable traits[20]; and mystical
confessions of the same sort may be gathered in numbers from the
works of contemporary monks and nuns. Even of such a fanatic and
self-tormentor as the Spanish Franciscan Petrus von Alcantara (1562),
his biographer says that despite his strict renunciation of the
world, he retained a most warm and deep feeling for Nature.

'Whatever he saw of the outer world increased his devotion and gave
it wings. The starry sky seen through his little monastery window,
often kept him rapt in deep meditation for hours; often he was as if
beside himself, so strong was his pious feeling when he saw the power
and glory of God reflected in charming flowers and plants.'

When Gregorio Lopez (1596), a man who had studied many sides of
Nature, was asked if so much knowledge confused him, he answered: 'I
find God in all things, great and small.' Similar remarks are
attributed to many others.

Next to Leon, as a poet in enthusiasm and mysticism, came St Teresa
von Avila. She was especially notable for the ravishingly pretty
pictures and comparisons she drew from Nature to explain the soul
life of the Christian.[21]

In all these outpourings of mystic feeling for Nature, there was no
interest in her entirely for her own sake; they were all more or less
dictated by religious feeling. It was in the later German and Italian
mystics--for example, Bruno, Campanella, and Jacob Boehme--that a
more subjective and individual point of view was attained through
Pantheism and Protestantism.

The Protestant free-speaking Shakespeare shewed a far more intense
feeling for Nature than the Catholic Calderon.



The poetry of India may serve as a measure of the part which Nature
can play in drama; it is full of comparisons and personifications,
and eloquent expressions of intimate sympathy with plants and
animals. In Greek tragedy, Nature stepped into the background;
metaphors, comparisons, and personifications are rarer; it was only
by degrees, especially in Sophocles and Euripides, in the choruses
and monologues, that man's interest in her appeared, and he began to
greet the light or the sky, land or sea, to attribute love, pity, or
hate to her, or find comfort in her lonely places. During the Middle
Ages, drama lay fallow, and the blossoming period of French tragedy,
educated to the pathos of Seneca, only produced cold declamation,
frosty rhetoric; of any real sympathy between man and Nature there
was no question.

Over this mediæval void Calderon was the bridge to Shakespeare.

Shakespeare reached the Greek standpoint and advanced far beyond it.
He was not only the greatest dramatist of modern times as to human
action, suffering, and character, but also a genius in the
interpretation of Nature.[1]

In place of the narrow limits of the old dramatists, he had the wider
and maturer modern vision, and, despite his mastery of language, he
was free both from the exaggeration and redundance of Oriental drama,
and from the mere passion for describing, which so often carried
Calderon away.

In him too, the subjectivity, which the Renaissance brought into
modern art, was still more fully developed. His metaphors and
comparisons shew this, and, most of all, the very perfect art with
which he assigns Nature a part in the play, and makes her not only
form the appropriate background, dark or bright as required, but
exert a distinct influence upon human fate.

As Carrière points out:

    At a period which had painting for its leading art, and was
    turning its attention to music, his mental accord produced
    effects in his works to which antiquity was a stranger.

Herder had already noted that Shakespeare gives colour and atmosphere
where the Greek only gave outline. And although Shakespeare's
outlines are drawn with more regard to fidelity than to actual
beauty, yet, like a great painter, he brings all Nature into sympathy
with man. We feel the ghostly shudder of the November night in
_Hamlet_, breathe the bracing Highland air in _Macbeth_, the air of
the woods in _As You Like It_; the storm on the heath roars through
Lear's mad outburst, the nightingale sings in the pomegranate outside
Julia's window.

'How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank,' when Love solves all
differences in the _Merchant of Venice_! On the other hand, when
Macbeth is meditating the murder of Duncan, the wolf howls, the owl
hoots, and the cricket cries. And since Shakespeare's characters
often act out of part, so that intelligible motive fails, while it is
important to the poet that each scene be raised to dramatic level and
viewed in a special light, Goethe's words apply:

    Here everything which in a great world event passes secretly
    through the air, everything which at the very moment of a
    terrible occurrence men hide away in their hearts, is expressed;
    that which they carefully shut up and lock away in their minds is
    here freely and eloquently brought to light; we recognize the
    truth to life, but know not how it is achieved.

Amorous passion in his hands is an interpreter of Nature; in one of
his sonnets he compares it to an ocean which cannot quench thirst.

In Sonnet 130 he says:

  My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
  Coral is far more red than her lips' red;
  If snow be white, why then her breasts are dim;
  If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
  I have seen roses damask'd, red and white,
  But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
  And in some perfumes is there more delight
  Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks....
  And yet, by Heaven, I think my love as rare
  As any she belied by false compare.

His lady-love is a mirror in which the whole world is reflected:

  Since I left you, mine eye is in my mind....
  For if it see the rudest or gentlest sight,
  The most sweet favour or deformed'st creature,
  The mountain or the sea, the day or night,
  The crow or dove, it shapes them to your feature.
  (Sonnet 113.)

  When she leaves him it seems winter even in spring:
  'For summer and his pleasures wait on thee,
  And thou away, the very birds are mute.'
  (Sonnet 97.)

Here, as in the dramas,[2] contrasts in Nature are often used to
point contrasts in life:

  How sweet and lovely dost thou make the shame
  Which like a canker in the fragrant rose
  Doth spot the beauty of thy budding name!
  O in what sweets dost thou thy sins enclose!
  (Sonnet 95.)


  No more be grieved at that which thou hast done;
  Roses have thorns and silver fountains mud;
  Clouds and eclipses stain both moon and sun,
  And loathsome canker lives in sweetest bud.
  (Sonnet 35.)

In an opposite sense is Sonnet 70:

  The ornament of beauty is suspect
  A crow that flies in heaven's sweetest air,
  For canker vice the sweetest buds did love,
  And thou presentest a pure unstained prime.

Sonnet 7 has:

  Lo! in the orient when the gracious light
  Lifts up his burning head, each under eye
  Doth homage to his new-appearing sight,
  Serving with looks his sacred majesty.

Sonnet 18:

  Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
  Thou art more lovely and more temperate,
  Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
  And summer's lease hath all too short a date--
  But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
  Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
  Nor shall Death brag thou wanderest in his shade,
  When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
  So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
  So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

Sonnet 60:

  Like as the waves make toward the pebbled shore,
  So do our minutes hasten to their end;
  Each changing place with that which goes before,
  In sequent toil all forwards do contend.

Sonnet 73:

  That time of life thou mayst in me behold,
  When yellow leaves, or none, or few do hang
  Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
  Bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang
  In me thou see'st the twilight of such day
  As after sunset fadeth in the west,
  Which by-and-by black night doth take away,
  Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.
  In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire
  That on the ashes of his youth doth lie
  As the death-bed whereon it must expire,
  Consumed with that which it was nourished by.
  This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong
  To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

There are no better similes for the oncoming of age and death, than
the sere leaf trembling in the wind, the twilight of the setting sun,
the expiring flame.

Almost all the comparisons from Nature in his plays are original, and
rather keen and lightning-like than elaborate, often with the
terseness of proverbs;

  The strawberry grows underneath the nettle.
                                      (_Henry V._)

  Smooth runs the water where the brook is deep.
                                      (_Henry VI._)

  The waters swell before a boisterous storm.
                                   (_Richard III._)

Sometimes they are heaped up, like Calderon's, 'making it' (true

  Swift as a shadow, short as any dream,
  Brief as the lightning in the collied night
  That in a spleen unfolds both heaven and earth,
  And ere a man hath power to say 'Behold!'
  The jaws of darkness do devour it up.
                        (_Midsummer Night's Dream._)

Compared with Homer's they are very bold, and shew an astonishing
play of imagination; in place of the naive simplicity and naturalness
of antiquity, this modern genius gives us a dazzling display of wit
and thought. To quote only short examples[3]:

  'Open as day,' 'deaf as the sea,' 'poor as winter,'
  'chaste as unsunn'd snow.'

He ranges all Nature. These are characteristic

  King Richard doth himself appear
  As doth the blushing discontented sun
  From out the fiery portal of the east,
  When he perceives the envious clouds are bent
  To dim his glory and to stain the track
  Of his bright passage to the occident.
                                   (_Richard II._)

  Since the more fair crystal is the sky,
  The uglier seem the clouds that in it fly.
  As when the golden sun salutes the morn,
  And, having gilt the ocean with his beams,
  Gallops the zodiac in his glistering coach
  And overlooks the highest peering hills,
  So Tamora.                  (_Titus Andronicus._)

  As all the world is cheered by the sun,
  So I by that; it is my day, my life.
                                   (_Richard III._)

  So sweet a kiss the golden sun gives not
  To those fresh morning drops upon the rose,
  As thy eye-beams, when their fresh rays have smote
  The night of dew that on my cheek down flows;
  Nor shines the silver moon one half so bright
  Through the transparent bosom of the deep.
  As doth thy face through tears of mine give light;
  Thou shinest on every tear that I do weep.
                          (_Love's Labour's Lost._)

This is modern down to its finest detail, and much richer in
individuality than the most famous comparisons of the same kind in

Sea and stream are used:

  Like an unseasonable stormy day
  Which makes the silver rivers drown their shores
  As if the world were all dissolved to tears,
  So high above his limits swells the rage
  Of Bolingbroke.                    (_Richard II._)

  The current that with gentle murmur glides,
  Thou know'st, being stopped, impatiently doth rage;
  But when his fair course is not hindered,
  He makes sweet music with the enamell'd stones,
  Giving a gentle kiss to every sedge
  He overtaketh on his pilgrimage;
  And so by many winding nooks he strays
  With willing sport to the wild ocean.
  Then let me go, and hinder not my course.
                        (_Two Gentlemen of Verona._)

  Faster than spring-time showers comes thought on thought.
  You are the fount that makes small brooks to flow.
  And what is Edward but a ruthless sea?
                                       (_Henry VI._)

  If there were reason for these miseries,
  Then into limits could I bind my woes;
  When heaven doth weep, doth not the earth o'er-flow?
  If the winds rage, doth not the sea wax mad,
  Threatening the welkin with his big-swoln face?
  And wilt thou have a reason for this coil?
  I am the sea: hark, how her sighs do blow!
  She is the weeping welkin, I the earth;
  Then must my sea be moved with her sighs;
  Then must my earth with her continual tears
  Become a deluge, overflow'd and drowned.
                                (_Titus Andronicus._)

  This battle fares like to the morning's war
  When dying clouds contend with growing light,
  What time the shepherd blowing of his nails
  Can neither call it perfect day nor night.
  Now sways it this way, like a mighty sea
  Forced by the tide to combat with the wind;
  Now sways it that way, like the self-same sea
  Forced to retire by fury of the wind.
  Sometime the flood prevails and then the wind:
  Now one the better, then another best;
  Both tugging to be victors, breast to breast,
  Yet neither conqueror nor conquered.
  So is the equal poise of this fell war.
                                      (_Henry VI._)

In the last five examples the epic treatment and the personifications
are noteworthy.

Comparisons from animal life are forcible and striking:

  How like a deer, stricken by many princes,
  Dost thou lie here!              (_Julius Cæsar._)

Richard III. is called:

  The wretched bloody and usurping boar
  That spoil'd your summer fields and fruitful vines,
  Swills your warm blood like wash and makes his trough
  In your embowell'd bosoms; this foul swine
  Lies now even in the centre of this isle.
  The tiger now hath seized the gentle hind.
                                     (_Richard III._)

The smallest objects are noted:

  As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods;
  They kill us for their sport.        (_King Lear._)

  _Marcus_: Alas! my lord, I have but kill'd a fly.

  _Titus_: But how if that fly had a father and a mother?
  How would he hang his slender gilded wings,
  And buzz lamenting doings in the air!
  Poor harmless fly!
  That, with his pretty buzzing melody,
  Came here to make us merry! and thou
  Hast kill'd him!
                              (_Titus Andronicus._)

Shakespeare has abundance of this idyllic miniature painting, for
which all the literature of the day shewed a marked taste.

Tamora says:

  My lovely Aaron, wherefore look'st thou sad,
  When everything doth make a gleeful boast?
  The birds chant melody on every bush,
  The snake lies rolled in the cheerful sun,
  The green leaves quiver with the cooling wind
  And make a chequer'd shadow on the ground.
                             (_Titus Andronicus._)

And Valentine in _Two Gentlemen of Verona_:

  This shadowy desert, unfrequented woods,
  I better brook than flourishing peopled towns;
  Here can I sit alone, unseen of any,
  And to the nightingale's complaining notes
  Tune my distresses and record my woes.

Like this, in elegiac sentimentality, is Romeo:

          Before the worshipp'd sun
  Peer'd forth the golden window of the east....
  Many a morning hath he there been seen
  With tears augmenting the fresh morning's dew.

_Cymbeline, Winter's Tale_, and _As You Like It_ are particularly
rich in idyllic traits; the artificiality of court life is contrasted
with life in the open; there are songs, too, in praise of woodland

  Under the greenwood tree
  Who loves to lie with me,
  And tune his merry note
  Unto the sweet bird's throat,
  Come hither, come hither, come hither!
  Here shall he see
  No enemy
  But winter and rough weather.
                                (_As You Like It._)

  Blow, blow, thou winter wind,
  Thou art not so unkind
  As man's ingratitude.
  Thy tooth is not so keen,
  Because thou art not seen
  Altho' thy breath be rude.
  Heigh-ho, sing heigh-ho unto the green holly!
  Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly![4]
                                (_As You Like It._)

Turning again to comparisons, we find birds used abundantly:

  More pity that the eagle should be mewed
  While kites and buzzards prey at liberty.
                                   (_Richard III._)

  True hope is swift and flies with swallow's wings.
                                   (_Richard III._)

  As wild geese that the creeping fowler eye,
  Or russet-pated choughs, many in sort
  Rising and cawing at the gun's report
  Sever themselves and madly sweep the sky,
  So at his sight away his fellows fly.
                       (_Midsummer Night's Dream._)

And plant life is touched with special tenderness:

  All the bystanders had wet their cheeks
  Like trees bedashed with rain.
                                   (_Richard III._)

  Why grow the branches when the root is gone?
  Why wither not the leaves that want their sap?
                                   (_Richard III._)

  Their lips were four red roses on a stalk,
  Which in their summer beauty kiss'd each other.
                                   (_Richard III._)

  Ah! my tender babes!
  My unblown flowers, new appearing sweets.
                                   (_Richard III._)

Romeo is

  To himself so secret and so close ...
  As is the bud bit with an envious worm,
  Ere he can spread his sweet leaves to the air
  Or dedicate his beauty to the sun.

It is astonishing to see how Shakespeare noted the smallest and most
fragile things, and found the most poetic expression for them without
any sacrifice of truth to Nature.

Juliet is 'the sweetest flower of all the field.' Laertes says to

  For Hamlet and the trifling of his favour
  Hold it a fashion and a toy in blood,
  A violet in the youth of primy nature,
  Forward not permanent, sweet not lasting,
  The perfume and suppliance of a moment.
  The canker galls the infants of the spring
  Too oft before their buttons be disclosed;
  And in the morn and liquid dew of youth
  Contagious blastments are most imminent.

Hamlet soliloquizes:

  How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable
  Seems to me all the uses of this world.
  Fie on't, O fie! 'tis an unweeded garden
  That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature
  Possess it merely.

    Indeed, it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly
    frame the earth seems to me a sterile promontory, this most
    excellent canopy the air, look you--this brave o'erhanging
    firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire, why, it
    appears no other thing to me but a foul and pestilent
    congregation of vapours.

But the great advance which he made is seen far more in the
sympathetic way in which he drew Nature into the action of the play.

He established perfect harmony between human fate and the natural
phenomena around it.

There are moonlight nights for Romeo and Juliet's brief dream, when
all Nature, moon, stars, garden, seemed steeped in love together.

He places his melancholy, brooding Hamlet

    In a land of mist and long nights, under a gloomy sky, where day
    is only night without sleep, and the tragedy holds us imprisoned
    like the North itself, that damp dungeon of Nature. (BOERNE.)

What a dark shudder lies o'er Nature in _Macbeth_! And in _Lear_, as
Jacobi says:

    What a sight! All Nature, living and lifeless, reasonable and
    unreasonable, surges together, like towering storm clouds, hither
    and thither; it is black oppressive Nature with only here and
    there a lightning flash from God--a flash of Providence, rending
    the clouds.

One must look at the art by which this is achieved in order to
justify such enthusiastic expressions. Personification of Nature lies
at the root of it, and to examine this in the different poets forms
one of the most interesting chapters of comparative poetry,
especially in Shakespeare.

With him artistic personification reached a pitch never attained
before. We can trace the steps by which Greece passed from mythical
to purely poetic personification, increasing in individuality in the
Hellenic period; but Shakespeare opened up an entirely new region by
dint of that flashlight genius of imagination which combined and
illuminated all and everything.

Hense says[5];

    The personification is plastic when Æschylus calls the heights
    the neighbours of the stars; individual, when Shakespeare speaks
    of hills that kiss the sky. It is plastic that fire and sea are
    foes who conspire together and keep faith to destroy the Argive
    army; it is individual to call sea and wind old wranglers who
    enter into a momentary armistice. Other personifications of
    Shakespeare's, as when he speaks of the 'wanton wind,' calls
    laughter a fool, and describes time as having a wallet on his
    back wherein he puts alms for oblivion, are of a kind which did
    not, and could not, exist in antiquity.

The richer a man's mental endowment, the more individual his
feelings, the more he can see in Nature.

Shakespeare's fancy revelled in a wealth of images; new metaphors,
new points of resemblance between the inner and outer worlds, were
for ever pouring from his inexhaustible imagination.

The motive of amorous passion, for instance, was a very divining-rod
in his hands, revealing the most delicate relations between Nature
and the soul. Ibykos had pointed the contrast between the gay spring
time and his own unhappy heart in which Eros raged like 'the Thracian
blast.' Theocritus had painted the pretty shepherdess drawing all
Nature under the spell of her charms; Akontios (Kallimachos) had
declared that if trees felt the pangs and longings of love, they
would lose their leaves; all such ideas, modern in their way, had
been expressed in antiquity.

This is Shakespeare's treatment of them:

  How like a winter hath my absence been
  From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year!
  What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen!
  What old December's bareness everywhere!
  And yet this time removed was summer time,
  The teeming autumn, big with rich increase ...
  For summer and his pleasures wait on thee.
  And thou away the very birds are mute,
  Or, if they sing, 'tis with so dull a cheer
  That leaves look pale, dreading the winter's near,
                                             (Sonnet 97.)

  From you have I been absent in the spring,
  When proud-pied April dress'd in all his trim
  Hath put a spirit of youth in everything,
  That heavy Saturn laugh'd and leap'd with him.
  Yet nor the lays of birds nor the sweet smell
  Of different flowers in odour and in hue
  Could make me any summer's story tell....
  Yet seem'd it winter still....             (Sonnet 98.)

Or compare again the cypresses in Theocritus sole witnesses of secret
love; or Walther's

  One little birdie who never will tell,


  These blue-veined violets whereon we lean
  Never can blab, nor know not what we mean.
                              (_Venus and Adonis._)

Comparisons of ladies' lips to roses, and hands to lilies, are common
with the old poets. How much more modern is:

  The forward violet thus did I chide;
  Sweet thief, whence didst thou steal thy sweet that smells
  If not from my love's breath?...
  The lily I condemned for thy hand,
  And buds of marjoram had stolen thy hair;
  The roses fearfully on thorns did stand,
  One blushing shame, another white despair....
  More flowers I noted, yet I none could see
  But sweet or colour it had stolen from thee.
                                           (Sonnet 99.)

And how fine the personification in Sonnet 33:

  Full many a glorious morning have I seen
  Flatter the mountain tops with sovereign eye,
  Kissing with golden face the meadows green,
  Gilding pale streams with heavenly alchemy;
  Anon permit the basest clouds to ride
  With ugly rack on his celestial face,
  And from the forlorn world his visage hide,
  Stealing unseen to West with this disgrace:
  Even so my sun one early morn did shine
  With all triumphant splendour on my brow;
  But out, alack! he was but one hour mine;
  The region cloud hath mask'd him from me now.
  Yet him for this my love no whit disdaineth;
  Suns of the world may stain when heaven's sun staineth.

This is night in _Venus and Adonis_:

  Look! the world's comforter with weary gait
  His day's hot task hath ended in the West;
  The owl, night's herald, shrieks 'tis very late;
  The sheep are gone to fold, birds to their nest
  And coal-black clouds, that shadow heaven's light,
  Do summon us to part and bid good-night.

And this morning, in _Romeo and Juliet_:

  The grey-ey'd morn smiles on the frowning night,
  Checkering the Eastern clouds with streaks of light.
  And flecked darkness like a drunkard reels
  From forth day's path and Titan's fiery wheels;
  Now, ere the sun advance his burning eye,
  The day to cheer, and night's dank dew to dry ...

Such wealth and brilliance of personification was not found again
until Goethe, Byron, and Shelley.

He is unusually rich in descriptive phrases:

  The weary sun hath made a golden set,
  And by the bright track of his golden car
  Gives token of a goodly day to-morrow.

            The worshipp'd Sun
  Peered forth the golden window of the East.

            The all-cheering sun
  Should in the farthest East begin to draw
  The shady curtains from Aurora's bed.

The moon:

  Like to a silver bow
  New bent in heaven.

Titania says:

  I will wind thee in my arms....
  So doth the woodbine the sweet honeysuckle
  Gently entwist; the female ivy so
  Enrings the barky fingers of the elm.
  O how I love thee!

  That same dew, which sometime on the buds
  Was wont to swell, like round and orient pearls,
  Stood now within the pretty flow'rets' eyes
  Like tears.
                      (_Midsummer Night's Dream._)

  That come before the swallow dares, and take
  The winds of March with beauty.
                                (_Winter's Tale._)

                         Pale primroses
  That die unmarried, ere they can behold
  Bright Phoebus in his strength.
                                (_Winter's Tale._)

Goethe calls winds and waves lovers. In _Troilus and Cressida_ we

  The sea being smooth,
  How many shallow bauble boats dare sail
  Upon her patient breast, making their way
  With those of nobler bulk!
  But let the ruffian Boreas once enrage
  The gentle Thetis, and anon behold
  The strong-ribb'd bark through liquid mountains cut,
  Bounding between two moist elements
  Like Perseus' horse.

And further on in the same scene:

  What raging of the sea! shaking of earth!
  Commotion in the winds!
  ... the bounded waters
  Should lift their bosoms higher than the shores.

The personification of the river in _Henry IV._ is half mythical:

  When on the gentle Severn's sedgy bank
  In single opposition, hand to hand,
  He did confound the best part of an hour
  In changing hardiment with great Glendower;
  Three times they breath'd, and three times did they drink,
  Upon agreement, of swift Severn's flood;
  Who, then affrighted with their bloody looks,
  Ran fearfully among the trembling reeds,
  And hid his crisp head in the hollow bank,
  Blood-stained with these valiant combatants.

Striking instances of personification from _Antony and Cleopatra_

  The barge she sat in, like a burnish'd throne
  Burn'd on the water; the poop was beaten gold;
  Purple the sails, and so perfumed, that
  The winds were lovesick with them; the oars were silver,
  Which to the time of flutes kept stroke, and made
  The water which they beat to follow faster
  As amorous of their strokes.

And Antony, enthron'd in the market-place, sat alone

  Whistling to the air, which but for vacancy
  Had gone to gaze on Cleopatra too
  And made a gap in nature.

Instead of accumulating further instances of these very modern and
individual (and sometimes far-fetched) personifications, it is of
more interest to see how Shakespeare used Nature, not only as
background and colouring, but to act a part of her own in the play,
so producing the grandest of all personifications.

At the beginning of Act III. in _King Lear_, Kent asks:

  Who's there beside foul weather?

  _Gentleman_: One minded like the weather, most unquietly.

  _Kent_: Where's the King?

  _Gent_: Contending with the fretful elements.
  Bids the wind blow the earth into the sea,
  Or swell the curled waters 'bove the main,
  That things might change or cease; tears his white hair,
  Which the impetuous blasts with eyeless rage
  Catch in their fury and make nothing of;
  Strives in his little world of men to outscorn
  The to-and-fro conflicting wind and rain.

In the stormy night on the wild heath the poor old man hears the echo
of his own feelings in the elements; his daughters' ingratitude,
hardness, and cruelty produce a moral disturbance like the
disturbance in Nature; he breaks out:

  Blow, wind, and crack your cheeks. Rage! Blow!
  You cataracts and hurricanes, spout
  Till you have drench'd our steeples, drowned the cocks!
  You sulphurous and thought-executing fires,
  Vaunt couriers of oak-cleaving thunder-bolts,
  Singe my white head! And thou, all-shaking thunder,
  Strike flat the thick rotundity o' the world!
  Crack nature's moulds, all germens spill at once
  That make ungrateful man....
  Rumble thy bellyful! Spit fire, spout rain!

  Nor rain, wind, thunder, fire are my daughters,
  I tax you not, you elements, with unkindness;
  I never gave you kingdom, call'd you children,
  You owe me no subscription; then, let fall
  Your horrible pleasure; here I stand, your slave,
  A poor, infirm, weak, and despis'd old man:
  But yet I call you servile ministers,
  That will with two pernicious daughters join
  Your high engender'd battles 'gainst a head
  So old and white as this. O! O! 'tis foul!

How closely here animate and inanimate Nature are woven together, the
reasoning with the unreasoning. The poet makes the storm, rain,
thunder, and lightning live, and at the same time endues his human
figures with a strength of feeling and passion which gives them
kinship to the elements. In _Othello_, too, there _is_ uproar in

  Do but stand upon the foaming shore,
  The chidden billow seems to pelt the clouds....
  I never did like molestation view
  On the enchafed flood.

but even the unruly elements spare Desdemona:

  Tempests themselves, high seas and howling winds,
  The gather'd rocks and congregated sands.
  Traitors ensteep'd to clog the guiltless keel--
  As having sense of beauty, do omit
  Their mortal natures, letting go safely by
  The divine Desdemona.

Cassio lays stress upon 'the great contention of the sea and skies';
but when Othello meets Desdemona, he cries:

                     O my soul's joy!
  If after every tempest come such calms,
  May the winds blow till they have wakened death!
  And let the labouring bark climb hills of seas
  Olympus-high, and duck again as low
  As hell's from heaven. If it were now to die,
  'Twere now to be most happy.

Iago calls the elements to witness his truthfulness:

  Witness, you ever-burning lights above,
  You elements that clip us round about,
  Witness, that here Iago doth give up
  The execution of his wit, hands, heart,
  To wrong'd Othello's service.

Nature is disgusted at Othello's jealousy:

  Heaven stops the nose at it, and the moon winks;
  The bawdy wind, that kisses all it meets,
  Is hush'd within the hollow mine of earth
  And will not hear it.

In terrible mental confusion he cries:

  O insupportable, O heavy hour!
  Methinks it should be now a huge eclipse
  Of sun and moon, and that the affrighted globe
  Should yawn at alteration.

Unhappy Desdemona sings:

  The poor soul sat sighing by a sycamore tree,
  Sing all a green willow;
  Her hand on her bosom, her head on her knee,
  Sing willow, willow, willow;
  The fresh streams ran by her and murmur'd her moans,
  Sing willow, willow, willow.

A song in _Cymbeline_ contains a beautiful personification of

  Hark! hark! the lark at heaven's gate sings,
  And Phoebus 'gins arise,
  His steeds to water at those springs
  On chalic'd flowers that lies;
  And winking Mary-buds begin
  To ope their golden eyes;
  With everything that pretty is,
  My lady sweet, arise;
  Arise! Arise!

The clearest expression of sympathy for Nature is in _Macbeth_.

Repeatedly we meet the idea that Nature shudders before the crime,
and gives signs of coming disaster.

Macbeth himself says:

                   Stars, hide your fires!
  Let not light see my black and deep desires;
  The eye wink at the hand; yet let that be
  Which the eye fears, when it is done, to see.

and Lady Macbeth:

       ... The raven himself is hoarse
  That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan
  Under my battlements.... Come, thick night,
  And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell,
  That my keen knife see not the wound it makes,
  Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark
  To cry 'Hold! hold!'...

The peaceful castle to which Duncan comes all unsuspectingly, is in
most striking contrast to the fateful tone which pervades the
tragedy. Duncan says:

  This castle hath a pleasant seat; the air
  Nimbly and sweetly recommends itself
  Unto our gentle senses.

and Banquo:

                    This guest of summer,
  The temple-haunting martlet, does approve
  By his loved masonry, that the heaven's breath
  Smells wooingly here; no jetty, frieze,
  Buttress, nor coign of vantage but this bird
  Hath made his pendent bed and procreant cradle;
  Where they most breed and haunt I have observ'd
  The air is delicate.

Perhaps the familiar swallow has never been treated with more
discrimination; and at this point of the tale of horror it has the
effect of a ray of sunshine in a sky dark with storm clouds.

In Act II. Macbeth describes his own horror and Nature's:

               Now o'er the one half world
  Nature seems dead.... Thou sure and firm-set earth,
  Hear not my steps, which way they walk, for fear
  Thy very stones prate of my whereabouts.

Lady Macbeth says:

  It was the owl that shriek'd, the fatal bellman
  Which gives the stern'st good-night.

Lenox describes this night:

  The night has been unruly: where we lay
  Our chimneys were blown down; and, as they say,
  Lamentings heard i' the air; strange screams of death
  And prophesying, with accents terrible,
  Of dire combustion and confus'd events,
  New hatch'd to the woeful time: the obscure bird
  Clamour'd the live-long night: some say, the earth
  Was feverish and did shake.

and later on, an old man says:

  Three score and ten I can remember well;
  Within the volume of which time I have seen
  Hours dreadful and things strange; but this sore night
  Hath trifled former knowings.

Rosse answers him:

                       Ah, good father,
  Thou see'st the heavens, as troubled with man's act,
  Threaten his bloody stage; by the clock 'tis day,
  And yet dark night strangles the travelling lamp.
  Is't night's predominance or the day's shame
  That darkness does the-face of earth entomb
  When living light should kiss it?

The whole play is a thrilling expression of the sympathy for Nature
which attributes its own feelings to her--a human shudder in presence
of the wicked--a human horror of crime, most thrilling of all in
Macbeth's words:

                  Come, seeling night,
  Scarf up the tender eye of pitiful day,
  And with thy bloody and invisible hand
  Cancel and tear to pieces that great bond
  Which keeps me pale.

In _Hamlet_, too, Nature is shocked at man's mis-deeds:

       ... Such an act (the queen's)
  That blurs the grace and blush of modesty
       ... Heaven's face doth glow,
  Yea, this solidity and compound mass
  With tristful visage, as against the doom,
  Is thought-sick at the act.

But there are other personifications in this most wonderful of all
tragedies, such as the magnificent one:

  But look, the dawn, in russet mantle clad.
  Walks o'er the dew of yon high eastern hill.

The first player declaims:

  But, as we often see, against some storm
  A silence in the heavens, the rack stand still,
  The bold winds speechless, and the orb below
  As hush as death....

Ophelia dies:

  When down her weedy trophies and herself
  Fell in the weeping brook.

and Laertes commands:

  Lay her i' the earth,
  And from her fair and unpolluted flesh
  May violets spring.

Thus Shakespeare's great imagination gave life and soul to every
detail of Nature, and he obtained the right background for his
dramas, not only through choice of scenery, but by making Nature a
sharer of human impulse, happy with the happy, shuddering in the
presence of wickedness.

He drew every phase of Nature with the individualizing touch which
stamps her own peculiar character, and also brings her into sympathy
with the inner life, often with that poetic intuition which is so
closely allied to mythology. And this holds good not only in dealing
with the great elementary forces--storms, thunder, lightning,
etc.--but with flowers, streams, the glow of sunlight. Always and
everywhere the grasp of Nature was intenser, more individual, and
subjective, than any we have met hitherto.

Idyllic feeling for Nature became sympathetic in his hands.



The indispensable condition of landscape-painting--painting, that is,
which raises the representation of Nature to the level of its main
subject and paints her entirely for her own sake--is the power to
compose separate studies into a whole and imbue that with an artistic
idea. It was therefore impossible among people like the Hebrews,[1]
whose eyes were always fixed on distance and only noted what lay
between in a cursory way, and among those who considered detail
without relation to a whole, as we have seen in mediæval poetry until
the Renaissance. But just as study of the laws of aerial and linear
perspective demands a trained and keen eye, and therefore implies
interest in Nature, so the artistic idea, the soul of the picture,
depends directly upon the degree of the artist's feeling for her
Literature and painting are equal witnesses to the feeling for
Nature, and so long as scenery was only background in poetry, it had
no greater importance in painting. Landscape painting could only
arise in the period which produced complete pictures of scenery in
poetry--the sentimental idyllic period.

We have seen how in the Italian Renaissance the fetters of dogma,
tradition, and mediæval custom were removed, and servility and
visionariness gave place to healthy individuality and realism; how
man and the world were discovered anew; and further, how among the
other Romanic nations a lively feeling for Nature grew up, partly
idyllic, partly mystic; and finally, how this feeling found dramatic
expression in Shakespeare.

Natural philosophy also, in the course of its search for truth, as it
threw off both one-sided Christian ideas and ancient traditions, came
gradually to feel an interest in Nature; not only her laws, but her
beauty, became an object of enthusiastic study. By a very long
process of development the Hellenic feeling for Nature was reached
again in the Renaissance; but it always remained, despite its
sentimental and pantheistic elements, sensual, superficial, and
naive, in comparison with Christian feeling, which a warmer heart and
a mind trained in scholastic wisdom had rendered more profound and
abstract. Hence Nature was sometimes an object of attention in
detail, sometimes in mass.[2]

As we come to the first landscape painters and their birthplace in
the Netherlands, we see how steady and orderly is the development of
the human mind, and how factors that seem isolated are really links
in one chain.

In the Middle Ages, landscape was only background with more or less
fitness to the subject. By the fifteenth century it was richer in
detail, as we see in Pisanello and the Florentines Gozzoli and
Mantegna. The poetry of earth had been discovered; the gold grounds
gave way to field, wood, hill, and dale, and the blue behind the
heads became a dome of sky. In the sixteenth century, Giorgione
shewed the value of effects of light, and Correggio's backgrounds
were in harmony with his tender, cheerful scenes. Titian loved to
paint autumn; the sunny days of October with blue grapes, golden
oranges, and melons; and evening with deep harmonies of colour over
the sleeping earth. He was a great pioneer in the realm of landscape.
With Michael Angelo not a blade of grass grew; his problem was man
alone. Raphael's backgrounds, on the other hand, are life-like in
detail: his little birds could fly out of the picture, the stems of
his plants seem to curve and bend towards us, and we look deep into
the flower they hold out.[3]

In the German Renaissance too, the great masters limited themselves
to charming framework and ingenious arabesques for their Madonnas and
Holy Families. But, as Lübke says,[4] one soon sees that Dürer
depended on architecture for borders and backgrounds far less than
Holbein; he preferred landscape.

'The charm of this background is so great, the inwardness of German
feeling for Nature so strongly expressed in it, that it has a special
value of its own, and the master through it has become the father of
landscape painting.'[5]

This must be taken with a grain of salt; but, at all events, it is
true that Dürer combined 'keen and devoted study of Nature (in the
widest sense of the word) with a penetration which aimed at tracing
her facts up to their source.'[6] It is interesting to see how these
qualities overcame his theoretical views on Nature and art.[7]
Dürer's deep respect for Nature proved him a child of the new era.
Melanchthon relates that he often regretted that he had been too much
attracted in his younger days by variety and the fantastic, and had
only understood Nature's simple truth and beauty later in life.

His riper judgment preferred her to all other models. Nature, in his
remarks on the theory of art, includes the animate and the inanimate,
living creatures as well as scenery, and it is interesting to observe
that his admiration of her as a divine thing was due to deep
religious feeling. In his work on Proportion[8] he says:

'Certainly art is hidden in Nature, and he who is able to separate it
by force from Nature, he possesses it. Never imagine that you can or
will surpass Nature's achievements; human effort cannot compare with
the ability which her Creator has given her. Therefore no man can
ever make a picture which excels Nature's; and when, through much
copying, he has seized her spirit, it cannot be called original work,
it is rather something received and learnt, whose seeds grow and bear
fruit of their own kind. Thereby the gathered treasure of the heart,
and the new creature which takes shape and form there, comes to light
in the artist's work.'

Elsewhere Dürer says 'a good painter's mind is full of figures,' and
he repeatedly remarks upon the superabundant beauty of all living
things which human intelligence rarely succeeds in reproducing.

The first modern landscapes in which man was only accessory were
produced in the Netherlands. Quiet, absorbed musing on the external
world was characteristic of the nation; they studied the smallest and
most trifling objects with care, and set a high value on minutiæ.

The still-life work of their prime was only possible to such an
easy-going, life-loving people; the delightful animal pictures of
Paul Potter and Adrian van de Velde could only have been painted in
the land of Reineke Fuchs. Carrière says about these masters of genre
painting[9]: 'Through the emphasis laid upon single objects, they not
only revealed the national characteristics, but penetrated far into
the soul of Nature and mirrored their own feelings there, so
producing works of art of a kind unknown to antiquity. That divine
element, which the Greek saw in the human form, the Germanic race
divined in all the visible forms of Nature, and so felt at one with
them and able to reveal itself through them.

'Nature was studied more for her own sake than in her relation to
man, and scenery became no longer mere background, but the actual
object of the picture. Animals, and even men, whether bathing in the
river, lying under trees, or hunting in the forest, were nothing but
accessories; inorganic Nature was the essential element. The greatest
Dutch masters did not turn their attention to the extraordinary and
stupendous, the splendour of the high Alps or their horrible
crevasses, or sunny Italian mountains reflected in their lakes or
tropical luxuriance, but to common objects of everyday life. But
these they grasped with a precision and depth of feeling which gave
charm to the most trifling--it was the life of the universe divined
in its minutiæ. In its treatment of landscape their genre painting
displayed the very characteristics which had brought it into

The physical characters of the country favoured landscape painting
too. No doubt the moist atmosphere and its silvery sheen, which add
such freshness and brilliance to the colouring, influenced the
development of the colour sense, as much as the absence of sharp
contrasts in contour, the suggestive skies, and abundance of streams,
woods, meadows, and dales.

But it was in devotional pictures that the Netherlanders first tried
their wings; landscape and scenes from human life did not free
themselves permanently from religion and take independent place for
more than a century later. The fourteenth-century miniatures shew the
first signs of the northern feeling for Nature in illustrations of
the seasons in the calendar pictures of religious manuscripts.
Beginnings of landscape can be clearly seen in that threshold picture
of Netherland art, the altar-piece at Ghent by the brothers Van Eyck,
which was finished in 1432. It shews the most accurate observation:
all the plants, grasses, flowers, rose bushes, vines, and palms, are
correctly drawn; and the luxuriant valley in which the Christian
soldiers and the knights are riding, with its rocky walls covered by
undergrowth jutting stiffly forward, is very like the valley of the

One sees that the charm of landscape has dawned upon the painters.

Their skies are no longer golden, but blue, and flecked with
cloudlets and alive with birds; wood and meadow shine in sappy green;
fantastic rocks lie about, and the plains are bounded by low hills.
They are drinking deep draughts from a newly-opened spring, and they
can scarcely have enough of it. They would like to paint all the
leaves and fruit on the trees, all the flowers on the grass, even all
the dewdrops. The effect of distance too has been discovered, for
there are blue hill-tops beyond the nearer green ones, and a
foreground scene opens back on a distant plain (in the Ghent
altar-piece, the scene with the pilgrims); but they still possess
very few tones, and their overcrowded detail is almost all, from
foreground to furthest distance, painted in the same luminous strong
dark-green, as if in insatiable delight at the beauty of their own
colour. The progress made by Jan van Eyck in landscape was immense.

To the old masters Nature had been an unintelligible chaos of detail,
but beauty, through ecclesiastical tradition, an abstract attribute
of the Holy Family and the Saints, and they had used their best
powers of imagination in accordance with this view. Hence they placed
the Madonna upon a background of one colour, generally gilded. But
now the great discovery was made that Nature was a distinct entity, a
revelation and reflection of the divine in herself. And Jan van Eyck
introduced a great variety of landscapes behind his Madonnas. One
looks, for instance, through an open window to a wide stretch of
country with fields and fortresses, and towns with streets full of
people, all backed by mountains. And whether the scene itself, or
only its background, lies in the open, the landscape is of the
widest, enlivened by countless forms and adorned by splendid

Molanus, the savant of Löwen, proclaimed Dierick Bouts, born like his
predecessor Ouwater at Haarlem, to be the inventor of landscape
painting (claruit inventor in describendo rare); but the van Eycks
were certainly before him, though he increased the significance of
landscape painting and shewed knowledge of aerial perspective and
gradations of tone. Landscape was a distinct entity to him, and could
excite the mood that suited his subject, as, for instance, in the
side picture of the Last Supper, where the foreground is drawn with
such exactness that every plant and even the tiny creatures crawling
on the grass can be identified.

The scenery of Roger van der Weyden of Brabant--river valleys
surrounded by jagged rocks and mountains, isolated trees, and meadows
bright with sappy green--is clearly the result of direct Nature
study; it has a uniform transparent atmosphere, and a clear green
shimmer lies over the foreground and gradually passes into blue haze
further back.

His pupil, Memling, shews the same fine gradations of tone. The
composition of his richest picture, 'The Marriage of St Catherine,'
did not allow space for an unbroken landscape, but the lines of wood
and field converge to a vista in such a way that the general effect
is one of unity.

Joachim de Patenir, who appeared in 1515, was called a landscape
painter by his contemporaries, because he reduced his sacred figures
to a modest size, enlarged his landscape, and handled it with extreme
care. He was very far from grasping it as a whole, but his method was
synthetical; his river valleys, with masses of tree and bush and
romantic rocks, fantastic and picturesque, with fortresses on the
river banks, all shew this.

Kerry de Bles was like him, but less accurate; with all the rest of
the sixteenth-century painters of Brabant and Flanders, he did not
rise to the idea of landscape as a whole.

The most minute attention was given to the accurate painting of
single objects, especially plants; the Flemings caring more for
perfect truth to life, the Dutch for beauty. The Flemings generally
sought to improve their landscape by embellishing its lines, while
the Dutch gave its spirit, but adhered simply and strictly to Nature.
The landscapes of Peter Brueghel the elder, with their dancing
peasants surrounded by rocks, mills, groups of trees, are painful in
their thoroughness; and Jan Brueghel carried imitation of Nature so
far that his minutise required a magnifying-glass--it was veritable
miniature work. He introduced fruit and flower painting as a new
feature of art.

Rubens and Brueghel often painted on each other's canvas, Brueghel
supplying landscape backgrounds for Rubens' pictures, and Rubens the
figures for Brueghel's landscapes. Yet Rubens himself was the best
landscapist of the Flemish school. He was more than that. For
Brueghel and his followers, with all their patience and industry,
their blue-green landscape with imaginary trees, boundless distance
and endless detail, were very far from a true grasp of Nature. It was
Rubens and his school who really made landscape a legitimate
independent branch of art. They studied it in all its aspects, quiet
and homely, wild and romantic, some taking one and some the other:
Rubens himself, in his large way, grasping the whole without losing
sight of its parts. They all lifted the veil from Nature and saw her
as she was (Falke).

Brueghel put off the execution of a picture for which he had a
commission from winter to spring, that he might study the flowers for
it from Nature when they came out, and did not grudge a journey to
Brussels now and then to paint flowers not to be had at Antwerp.
There is a characteristic letter which he sent to the Archbishop of
Milan with a picture:

'I send your Reverence the picture with the flowers, which are all
painted from Nature. I have painted in as many as possible. I believe
so many rare and different flowers have never been painted before nor
so industriously. It will give a beautiful effect in winter; some of
the colours almost equal Nature. I have painted an ornament under the
flowers with artistic medallions and curiosities from the sea. I
leave it to your reverence to judge whether the flowers do not far
exceed gold and jewels in colour.'

He also painted landscapes in which people were only accessory, sunny
valleys with leafage, golden cornfields, meadows with rows of dancing
country folk or reapers in the wheat.

Rubens, though he felt the influence of southern light and sunshine
as much as his fellows who had been in Italy, took his backgrounds
from his native land, from parts round Antwerp, Mechlin, and
Brussels. Foliage, water, and undulating ground were indispensable to
him--were, to a certain extent, the actual bearers of the impression
he wished to convey.

Brueghel always kept a childlike attitude, delighting in details, and
proud of the clever brush which could carry imitation to the point of
deception. Rubens was the first to treat landscape in a bold
subjective way. He opened the book of Nature, so to speak, not to
spell out the words syllable by syllable, but to master her secret,
to descend into the depths of her soul, and then reflect what he
found there--in short, he fully understood the task of the landscape
painter. The fifty landscapes of his which we possess, contain the
whole scale from a state of idyllic repose to one of dramatic
excitement and tension. Take, for instance, the evening scene with
the rainbow in the Louvre, marvellous in its delicate gradations of
atmospheric tone, and the equally marvellous thunderstorm in the
Belvedere at Vienna, where a rain-cloud bursts under sulphur
lightning, and a mountain stream, swollen to a torrent and lashed by
the hurricane, carries all before it--trees, rocks, animals, and men.

In France, scarcely a flower had been seen in literature since the
Troubadour days, not even in the classical poetry of Corneille and
Racine. There were idyllic features in Fénelon's _Telemachus_, and
Ronsard borrowed motives from antiquity; but it was pastoral poetry
which blossomed luxuriantly here as in Italy and Spain.

Honoré d'Urfé's famous _Astrée_ was much translated; but both his
shepherds and his landscape were artificial, and the perfume of
courts and carpet knights was over the whole, with a certain trace of

The case was different with French painting. After the Netherlands,
it was France, by her mediæval illustrated manuscripts, who chiefly
aided in opening the world's eyes to landscape. Both the Poussins
penetrated below the surface of Nature. Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665)
painted serious stately subjects, such as a group of trees in the
foreground, a hill with a classic building in the middle, and a chain
of mountains in the distance, and laid more stress on drawing than
colour. There was greater life in the pictures of his brother-in-law,
Caspar Doughet, also called Poussin; his grass is more succulent, his
winds sigh in the trees, his storm bends the boughs and scatters the

It was Claude Lorraine (1600-1682) who brought the ideal style to its
perfection. He inspired the very elements with mind and feeling; his
valleys, woods, and seas were just a veil through which divinity was
visible. All that was ugly, painful, and confused was purified and
transfigured in his hands. There is no sadness or dejection in his
pictures, but a spirit of serene beauty, free from ostentation,
far-fetched contrast, or artificial glitter. Light breezes blow in
his splendid trees, golden light quivers through them, drawing the
eye to a bright misty horizon; we say with Uhland, 'The sky is
solemn, as if it would say "this is the day of the Lord."'

Artistic feeling for Nature became a worship with Claude Lorraine.

The Netherlands recorded all Nature's phases in noble emulation with
ever-increasing delight.

The poetry of air, cloudland, light, the cool freshness of morning,
the hazy sultriness of noon, the warm light of evening, it all lives
and moves in Cuyp's pictures and Wynant's, while Aart van der Meer
painted moonlight and winter snow, and Jan van Goyen the melancholy
of mist shot by sunlight. He, too--Jan van Goyen--was very clever in
producing effect with very small means, with a few trees reflected in
water, or a sand-heap--the art in which Ruysdael excelled all others.
The whole poetry of Nature--that secret magic which lies like a spell
over quiet wood, murmuring sea, still pool, and lonely pasture--took
form and colour under his hands; so little sufficed to enchant, to
rouse thought and feeling, and lead them whither he would. Northern
seriousness and sadness brood over most of his work; the dark trees
are overhung by heavy clouds and rain, mist and dusky shadows move
among his ruins. He had painted, says Carrière, the peace of woodland
solitude long before Tieck found the word for it.

Beechwoods reflected in a stream, misty cloud masses lighted by the
rising sun; he moves us with such things as with a morning hymn, and
his picture of a swollen torrent forcing its way between graves which
catch the last rays of the sun, while a cloud of rain shrouds the
ruins of a church in the background, is an elegy which has taken
shape and colour.

Ruysdael marks the culminating point of this period of development,
which had led from mere backgrounds and single traits of Nature--even
a flower stem or a blade of grass, up to elaborate compositions
imbued by a single motive, a single idea.

To conjure up with slight material a complete little world of its
own, and waken responsive feeling, is not this the secret of the
charm in the pictures of his school--in the wooded hill or peasant's
courtyard by Hobbema, the Norwegian mountain scene of Albert van
Everdingen, the dusky fig-trees, rugged crags, and foaming cataract,
or the half-sullen, half-smiling sea-pieces of Bakhuysen and Van der

All these great Netherlander far outstripped the poetry of their
time; it was a hundred years later before mountain and sea found
their painter in words, and a complete landscape picture was not born
in German poetry until the end of the eighteenth century.



Many decades passed before German feeling for Nature reached the
heights attained by the Italian Renaissance and the Netherland
landscapists. In the Middle Ages, Germany was engrossed with
ecclesiastical dogma--man's relation, not only to God, but to the one
saving Church--and had little interest for Science and Art; and the
great achievement of the fifteenth century, the Reformation, called
for word and deed to reckon with a thousand years of old traditions
and the slavery of intellectual despotism. The new time was born amid
bitter throes. The questions at issue--religious and ecclesiastical
questions concerned with the liberty of the Christian--were of the
most absorbing kind, and though Germany produced minds of individual
stamp such as she had never known before, characters of original and
marked physiognomy, it was no time for the quiet contemplation of
Nature. Mental life was stimulated by the new current of ideas and
new delight in life awakened: yet there is scarcely a trace of the
intense feeling for Nature which we have seen in Petrarch and Æneas

Largely as it was influenced by the Italian Renaissance, it is
certainly a mistake to reckon the Humanist movement in Germany, as
Geiger does,[1] as a 'merely imported culture, entirely lacking
independence.' The germ of this great movement towards mental freedom
was contained in the general trend of the time, which was striving to
free itself from the fetters of the Middle Ages in customs and
education as well as dogma. It was chiefly a polemical movement, a
fight between contentious savants. The writings of the Humanists at
this naively sensuous period were full of the joy of life and love of
pleasure; but scarcely any simple feeling for Nature can be found in
them, and there was neither poet nor poem fit to be compared with
Petrarch and his sonnets.

Natural philosophy, too, was proscribed by scholastic wisdom; the
real Aristotle was only gradually shelled out from under mediæval
accretions. The natural philosopher, Conrad Summenhart[2] (1450-1501)
was quite unable to disbelieve the foolish legend, that the
appearance of a comet foretold four certain events--heat, wind, war,
and the death of princes. At the same time, not being superstitious,
he held aloof from the crazy science of astrology and all the fraud
connected with it. Indeed, as an observer of Nature, and still more
as a follower and furtherer of the scholastic Aristotelian natural
philosophy, he shewed a leaning towards the theory of development,
for, according to him, the more highly organized structures proceed
from those of lower organization, and these again form the inorganic
under the influence of meteors and stars. The poet laureate Conrad
Celtes (_b_. 1459), a singer of love and composer of four books about
it, was a true poet. His incessant wandering, for he was always
moving from place to place, was due in part to love of Nature and of
novelty, but still more to a desire to spread his own fame. He lacked
the naivete and openness to impressions of the true child of Nature;
his songs in praise of spring, etc., scatter a colourless general
praise, which is evidently the result of arduous thought rather than
of direct impressions from without; and his many references to
ancient deities shew that he borrowed more than his phrases.

Though geography was then closely bound up with the writing of
history, as represented by Beatus Rhenanus (1485-1547) and Johann
Aventinus, and patriotism and the accounts of new lands led men to
wish to describe the beauties and advantages of their own, the
imposing discoveries across the seas did not make so forcible an
impression upon the German humanist as upon savants elsewhere,
especially in Italy and Spain. A mystico-theosophical feeling for
Nature, or rather a magical knowledge of her, flourished in Germany
at this time among the learned, both among Protestants and those who
were partially true to Catholicism. One of the strangest exponents of
such ideas was Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim of Cologne[3] (1535).
His system of the world abounded in such fantastic caprices as these:
everything depends on harmony and sympathy; when one of Nature's
strings is struck, the others sound with it: the analogical
correspondences are at the same time magical: symbolic relations
between natural objects are sympathetic also: a true love-bond exists
between the elm and vine: the sun bestows life on man; the moon,
growth; Mercury, imagination; Venus, love, etc. God is reflected in
the macrocosm, gives light in all directions through all creatures,
is adumbrated in man microcosmically, and so forth.

Among others, Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus Paracelsus
von Hohenheim (1541), ranked Nature and the Bible, like Agrippa, as
the best books about God and the only ones without falsehood.

'One must study the elements, follow Nature from land to land, since
each single country is only one leaf in the book of creation. The
eyes that find pleasure in this true experience are the true
professors, and more reliable than all learned writings.'

He held man to be less God's very image than a microcosmic copy of
Nature--the quintessence of the whole world. Other enthusiasts made
similar statements. Sebastian Frank of Donauwörth (1543) looked upon
the whole world as an open book and living Bible, in which to study
the power and art of God and learn His will: everything was His
image, all creatures are 'a reflection, imprint, and expression of
God, through knowledge of which man may come to know the true Mover
and Cause of all things.'

He shewed warm feeling for Nature in many similes and descriptions[4]--
in fact, much of his pithy drastic writing sounds pantheistic. But he
was very far from the standpoint of the great Italian philosophers,
Giordano Bruno and Campanella. Bruno, a poet as well as thinker,
distinguished Nature in her self-development--matter, soul, and
mind--as being stages and phases of the One.

  The material of all things issues from the original womb,
  For Nature works with a master hand in her own inner depths;
  She is art, alive and gifted with a splendid mind.
  Which fashions its own material, not that of others,
  And does not falter or doubt, but all by itself
  Lightly and surely, as fire burns and sparkles.
  Easily and widely, as light spreads everywhere,
  Never scattering its forces, but stable, quiet, and at one,
  Orders and disposes of everything together.

Campanella, even in a revolting prison, sang in praise of the wisdom
and love of God, and His image in Nature. He personified everything
in her; nothing was without feeling; the very movements of the stars
depended on sympathy and antipathy; harmony was the central soul of
all things.

The most extraordinary of all German thinkers was the King of
Mystics, Jacob Böhme. Theist and pantheist at once, his mind was a
ferment of different systems of thought. It is very difficult to
unriddle his _Aurora_, but love of Nature, as well as love of God, is
clear in its mystical utterances:

  God is the heart or source of Nature.
  Nature is the body of God.

'As man's mind rules his whole body in every vein and fills his whole
being, so the Holy Ghost fills all Nature, and is its heart and rules
in the good qualities of all things.'

'But now heaven is a delightful chamber of pleasure, in which are all
the powers, as in all Nature the sky is the heart of the waters.'

In another place he calls God the vital power in the tree of life,
the creatures His branches, and Nature the perfection and
self-begotten of God.

Nature's powers are explained as passion, will, and love, often in
lofty and beautiful comparisons:

'As earth always bears beautiful flowers, plants, and trees, as well
as metals and animate beings, and these finer, stronger, and more
beautiful at one time than another; and as one springs into being as
another dies, causing constant use and work, so it is in still
greater degree with the begetting of the holy mysteries[5] ...
creation is nothing else than a revelation of the all-pervading
superficial godhead ... and is like the music of many flutes combined
into one great harmony.'

But the most representative man, both of the fifteenth century and,
in a sense, of the German race, was Luther. That maxim of Goethe's
for teaching and ethics,' Cheerfulness is the mother of all virtues,
might well serve as a motto for Luther;

The two men had much in common.

The one, standing half in the Middle Ages, had to free himself from
mental slavery by strength of will and courage of belief.

The other, as the prophet of the nineteenth century, the incarnation
of the modern man, had to shake off the artificiality and weak
sentimentality of the eighteenth.

To both alike a healthy joy in existence was the root of being.
Luther was always open to the influence of Nature, and,
characteristically, the Psalter was his favourite book. 'Lord, how
manifold are Thy works, in wisdom hast Thou made them all!'

True to his German character, he could be profoundly sad; but his
disposition was delightfully cheerful and healthy, and we see from
his letters and table-talk, that after wife and child, it was in
'God's dear world' that he took the greatest pleasure. He could not
have enough of the wonders of creation, great or small. 'By God's
mercy we begin to see the splendour of His works and wonders in the
little flowers, as we consider how kind and almighty He is; therefore
we praise and thank Him. In His creatures we see the power of His
word--how great it is. In a peach stone, too, for hard as the shell
is, the very soft kernel within causes it to open at the right
time.'[6] Again, 'So God is present in all creatures, even the
smallest leaves and poppy seeds.'

All that he saw of Nature inspired him with confidence in the
fatherly goodness of God. He wrote, August 5th, 1530, to Chancellor

    I have lately seen two wonderful things: the first, looking from
    the window at the stars and God's whole beautiful sky dome, I saw
    never a pillar to support it, and yet it did not fall, and is
    still firm in its place. Now, there are some who search for such
    pillars and are very anxious to seize them and feel them, and
    because they cannot, fidget and tremble as if the skies would
    certainly fall ... the other, I also saw great thick clouds sweep
    over our heads, so heavy that they might be compared to a great
    sea, and yet I saw no ground on which they rested, and no vats in
    which they were contained, yet they did not fall on us, but
    greeted us with a frown and flew away. When they had gone, the
    rainbow lighted both the ground and the roof which had held them.

Luther often used very forcible images from Nature. 'It is only for
the sake of winter that we lie and rot in the earth; when our summer
comes, our grain will spring up--rain, sun, and wind prepare us for
it--that is, the Word, the Sacraments, and the Holy Ghost.'

His Bible was an orchard of all sorts of fruit trees; in the
introduction to the Psalter, he says of the thanksgiving psalms:
'There one looks into the hearts of the saints as into bright and
beautiful gardens--nay, as into heaven itself, where pure and happy
thoughts of God and His goodness are the lovely flowers.'

His description of heaven for his little son John is full of simple
reverent delight in Nature, quite free from platonic and mystical
speculation as to God's relation to His universe; and Protestant
divines kept this tone up to the following century, until the days of
rationalism and pietism.

Of such spontaneous hearty joy in Nature as this, the national songs
of a nation are always the medium. They were so now; for, while a
like feeling was nowhere else to be found, the Volkslieder expressed
the simple familiar relationship of the child of Nature to wood,
tree, and flower in touching words and a half-mythical,
half-allegorical tone which often revealed their old Germanic origin.

There is a fourteenth-century song, probably from the Lower Rhine,[7]
which suggests the poems of the eighth and ninth centuries, about a
great quarrel between Spring, crowned with flowers, and hoary-headed
Winter, in which one praises and the other blames the cuckoo for
announcing Spring.

In this song, Summer complains to mankind and other friends that a
mighty master is going to drive him away; this mighty master, Winter,
then takes up the word, and menaces Spring with the approach of
frost, who will slight and imprison him, and then kill him; ice and
hail agree with Winter, and storm, rain, snow, and bitter winds are
called his vassals, etc.

There are naive verses in praise of Spring and Summer:

  When that the breezes blow in May,
  And snow melts from the wood away,
  Blue violets lift their heads on high,
  And when the little wood-birds sing,
  And flow'rets from the ground up-spring,
  Then everybody's glad.

Others complaining of Winter, who must have leave of absence, and the
wrongs it has wrought are poured out to Summer. The little birds are
very human; the owlet complains:

        Poor little owlet me!
  I have to fly all alone through the wood to-night;
  The branch I want to perch on is broken,
  The leaves are all faded,
  My heart is full of grief.

The cuckoo is either praised for bringing good news, or made fun of
as the 'Gutzgauch.'

  A cuckoo will fly to his heart's treasure, etc.

The fable songs[8] of animal weddings are full of humour. The fox
makes arrangements for his wedding: 'Up with you now, little birds! I
am going to take a bride. The starling shall saddle the horses, for
he has a grey mantle; the beaver with the cap of marten fur must be
driver, the hare with his light foot shall be outrider; the
nightingale with his clear voice shall sing the songs, the magpie
with his steady hop must lead the dances,' etc.

The nightingale, with her rich tones, is beloved and honoured before
all the winged things; she is called 'the very dear nightingale,' and
addressed as a lady.

'Thou art a little woodbird, and flyest in and out the green wood;
fair Nightingale, thou little woodbird, thou shalt be my messenger.'

It is she who warns the girl against false love, or is the silent
witness of caresses.

There were a great many wishing songs: 'Were I a little bird and had
two wings, I would fly to thee,' or 'Were I a wild falcon, I would
take flight and fly down before a rich citizen's house--a little maid
is there,' etc. 'And were my love a brooklet cold, and sprang out of
a stone, little should I grieve if I were but a green wood; green is
the wood, the brooklet is cold, my love is shapely.' The betrayed
maiden cries: 'Would God I were a white swan! I would fly away over
mountain and deep valley o'er the wide sea, so that my father and
mother should not know where I was.'

Flowers were used symbolically in many ways; roses are always the
flowers of love. 'Pretty girls should be kissed, roses should be
gathered,' was a common saying; and 'Gather roses by night, for then
all the leaves are covered with cooling dew.' 'The roses are ready to
be gathered, so gather them to-day. He who does not gather in summer,
will not gather in winter.' There is tenderness in this: 'I only know
a little blue flower, the colour of the sky; it grows in the green
meadow, 'tis called forget-me-not.'

These are sadder:

  There is a lime tree in this valley,
  O God! what does it there?
  It will help me to grieve
  That I have no lover.

'Alas! you mountains and deep valleys, is this the last time I shall
see my beloved? Sun, moon, and the whole sky must grieve with me till
my death.'

Where lovers embrace, flowers spring out of the grass, roses and
other flowers and grasses laugh, the trees creak and birds sing;[9]
where lovers part, grass and leaves fade.[10]

Most touching of all is the idea, common to the national songs of all
nations, that out of the grave of two lovers, lilies and roses spring
up, or climbing plants, love thus outliving death.

We look in vain among the master singers of the fifteenth and
sixteenth centuries for such fresh heartfelt tones as these, although
honest Hans Sachs shews joy in Nature here and there; most charmingly
in the famous comparison of 'the Wittenberg Nightingale, which every
one hears everywhere now,' in praise of Luther:

'Wake up, the dawn is nigh! I hear a joyous nightingale singing in
the green hedge, it fills the hills and valleys with its voice. The
night is stooping to the west, the day is rising from the east, the
morning red is leaping from the clouds, the sun looks through. The
moon quenches her light; now she is pale and wan, but erewhile with
false glamours she dazzled all the sheep and turned them from their
pasture lands and pastor....'

Fischart too, in his quaint description of a voyage on the Rhine in
_Glückhaft Schiff_, shews little feeling for Nature; but in
_Simplicissimus_, on the other hand, that monument of literature
which reflected contemporary culture to a unique degree, it is very
marked; the more so since it appeared when Germany lay crushed by the
Thirty Years' War.

When the hero as a boy was driven from his village home and fled into
the forest, he came upon a hermit who took care of him, and waking at
midnight, he heard the old man sing:

  Come, nightingale, comfort of the night,
  Let your voice rise in a song of joy, come praise the Creator,
  While other birds are sound asleep and cannot sing!...
  The stars are shining in the sky in honour of God....
  My dearest little bird, we will not be the laziest of all
  And lie asleep; we will beguile the time with praise
  Till dawn refreshes the desolate woods.

_Simplicissimus_ goes on: 'During this song, methinks, it was as if
nightingale, owl, and echo had combined in song, and if ever I had
been able to hear the morning star, or to try to imitate the melody
on my bagpipe, I should have slipt away out of the hut to join in the
melody, so beautiful it seemed; but I was asleep.'

What was the general feeling for Nature in other countries during the
latter half of the seventeenth century? In Italy and Spain it had
assumed a form partly bucolic and idyllic, partly theosophically
mystical; Shakespeare's plays had brought sympathy to maturity in
England; the Netherlands had given birth to landscape painting, and
France had the splendid poetic landscapes of Claude Lorraine. But the
idealism thus reached soon degenerated into mannerism and
artificiality, the hatching of empty effect.

The aberrations of taste which found expression in the periwig style
of Louis XIV., and in the pigtails of the eighteenth century,
affected the feeling for Nature too. The histories of taste in
general, and of feeling for Nature, have this in common, that their
line of progress is not uniformly straightforward, but liable to
zigzags. This is best seen in reviewing the different civilized races
together. Moreover, new ideas, however forcible and original, even
epoch-making, do not win acceptance at once, but rather trickle
slowly through resisting layers; it is long before any new gain in
culture becomes the common property of the educated, and hence
opposite extremes are often found side by side--taste for what is
natural with taste for what is artificial. Garden style is always a
delicate test of feeling for Nature, shewing, as it does, whether we
respect her ways or wish to impose our own. The impulse towards the
modern French gardening came from Italy. Ancient and modern times
both had to do with it. At the Renaissance there was a return to
Pliny's style,[11] which the Cinque cento gardens copied. In this
style laurel and box-hedges were clipt, and marble statues placed
against them, 'to break the uniformity of the dark green with
pleasant silhouettes. One looks almost in vain for flowers and turf;
even trees were exiled to a special wilderness at the edge of the
garden; but the great ornament of the whole was never missing, the
wide view over sunny plains and dome-capt towns, or over the distant
shimmering sea, which had gladdened the eyes of Roman rulers in
classic days.'[12]

The old French garden as Maître Lenotre laid it out in Louis XIV.'s
time at Versailles, St Germain, and St Cloud, was architectural in
design, and directly connected, like Pliny's, with various parts of
the house, by open halls, pavilions, and colonnades. Every part of
it--from neat turf parterres bordered by box in front of the terrace,
designs worked out in flowers or coloured stones, and double rows of
orange spaliers, to groups of statues and fountains--belonged to one
symmetrical plan, the focus of which was the house, standing free
from trees, and visible from every point. Farther off, radiating
avenues led the eye in the same direction, and every little
intersecting alley, true to the same principle, ran to a definite
object--obelisk, temple, or what not. There was no lack of bowers,
giant shrubberies, and water-courses running canal-wise through the
park, but they all fell into straight lines; every path was ruled by
a ruler, the eye could follow it to its very end. Artifice was the
governing spirit. As Falke says: 'Nature dared not speak but only
supply material; she had to sacrifice her own inventive power to this
taste and this art. Hills and woods were only hindrances; the
straight lines of trees and hedges, with their medley of statues and
"cabinets de verdure," demanded level ground, and the landscape eye
of the period only tolerated woods as a finish to its cut and clipt

Trees and branches were not allowed to grow at their own sweet will;
they were cut into cubes, balls, pyramids, even into shapes of
animals, as the gardener's fancy or his principles decreed; cypresses
were made into pillars or hearts with the apex above or below; and
the art of topiary even achieved complete hunting scenes, with
hunters, stags, dogs, and hares in full chase on a hedge. Of such a
garden one could say with honest Claudius, ''Tis but a tailor's joke,
and shews the traces of the scissors; it has nothing of the great
heart of Nature.'

It was Nature in bondage: 'green architecture,' with all its parts,
walls, windows, roofs, galleries cut out of leafage, and theatres
with stage and wings in which silk and velvet marquises with
full-bottomed wigs and lace jabots, and ladies in hooped petticoats
and hair in towers, played at private theatricals.

Where water was available, water devices were added. And in the midst
of all this unnaturalness Greek mythology was introduced: the story
of Daphne and Apollo appeared in one alley, Meleager and Atalanta in
another, all Olympus was set in motion to fill up the walls and
niches. And the people were like their gardens both in dress and
manners; imposing style was everything.

Then came the Rococo period of Louis XV. The great periwig shrivelled
to a pigtail, and petty flourish took the place of Lenotre's

'The unnatural remained, the imposing disappeared and caprice took
its place,' says Falke. Coquetry too. All the artistic output of the
time bears this stamp, painting included. Watteau's scenery and
people were unnatural and affected--mere inventions to suit the
gallant _fêtes_. But he knew and loved Nature, though he saw her with
the intoxicated eye of a lover who forgets the individual but keeps a
glorified impression of her beauty, whereas Boucher's rosy-blue
landscapes look as if he had never seen their originals. His world
had nothing in common with Nature, and with reality only this, that
its sensuousness, gaiety, falsity, and coquetry were true to the
period. But in both Watteau and Boucher there was a faint glimmer of
the idyllic--witness the dash of melancholy in Watteau's brightest
pictures. Feeling for Nature was seeking its lost path--the path it
was to follow with such increased fervour.

German literature too, in the seventeenth century, stood under the
sign manual of the Pigtail and Periwig; it was baroque, stilted,
bombastic, affected, feeling and form alike were forced, not
spontaneous. Verses were turned out by machinery and glued together.
Martin Opitz,[14] the recognized leader and king of poets, had
travelled far, but there is no distinct feeling for Nature in his
poetry. His words to a mountain:

'Nature has so arranged pleasure here, that he who takes the trouble
to climb thee is repaid by delight,' scarcely admit the inference
that he understood the charm of distance in the modern sense. He took
warmer interest in the bucolic side of country life; rhyming about
the delightful places, dwellings of peace, with their myrtles,
mountains, valleys, stones, and flowers, where he longed to be; and
his _Spring Song_, an obvious imitation of the classics (Horace's
_Beatus ille_ was his model for _Zlatna_), has this conventional
contrast between his heart and Nature.

'The frosty ice must melt; snow cannot last any longer, Favonius; the
gentle breeze is on the, fields again. Seed is growing vigorously,
grass greening in all its splendour, trees are budding, flowers
growing ...thou, too my heart, put off thy grief.'

There is more nostalgia than feeling for Nature in this:

'Ye birches and tall limes, waste places, woods and fields, farewell
to you!

'My comfort and my better dwelling-place is elsewhere!'

But (and this Winter, strange to say, ignores) his pastorals have all
the sentimental elegiac style of the Pigtail period.

There had been German adaptations of foreign pastorals, such as
Montreux, _Schãferei von der schönen Juliana_, since 1595; Urfé's
_Astrée_ and Montemayor's _Diana_ appeared in 1619, and Sidney's
_Arcadia_ ten years later.

Opitz tried to widen the propaganda for this kind of poetry, and
hence wrote, not to mention little pastorals such as _Daphne,
Galatea, Corydon,_ and _Asteria_, his _Schãferei von der 'Nymphen

His references to Nature in this are as exaggerated as everything
else in the poem. He tells how he did not wake 'until night, the
mother of the stars, had gone mad, and the beautiful light of dawn
began to shew herself and everything with her....

'I sprang up and greeted the sweet rays of the sun, which looked down
from the tops of the mountains and seemed at the same time to comfort

He came to a spring 'which fell from a crag with charming murmur and
rustle,' cut a long poem in the fir bark, and conversed with three
shepherds on virtue, love, and travelling, till the nymph Hercynia
appeared and shewed him the source of the Silesian stream. One of the
shepherds, Buchner, was particularly enthusiastic about water: 'Kind
Nature, handmaid of the Highest, has shewn her best handiwork in sea,
river, and spring.'

Fleming too, who already stood much higher as a lyrist and had
travelled widely, lacked the power of describing scenery, and must
needs call Oreads, Dryads, Castor and Pollux to his aid. He rarely
reached the simple purity of his fine sonnet _An Sich,_ or the
feeling in this: 'Dense wild wood, where even the Titan's brightest
rays give no light, pity my sufferings. In my sick soul 'tis as dark
as in thy black hollow.'

In this time of decline the hymns of the Evangelical Church (to which
Fleming contributed) were full of feeling, and brought the national
songs to mind as nothing else did.

A few lines of Paul Gerhardt's seem to me to out-weigh whole volumes
of contemporary rhymes--lines of such beauty as the _Evening Song_:

  Now all the woods are sleeping,
  And night and stillness creeping
  O'er field and city, man and beast;
  The last faint beam is going,
  The golden stars are glowing
  In yonder dark-blue deep.

And after him, and more like him than any one else, came Andreas

There was much rhyming about Nature in the poet schools of Hamburg,
Königsberg, and Nuremberg; but, for the most part, it was an idle
tinkle of words without feeling, empty artificial stuff with
high-flown titles, as in Philipp von Zesen's _Pleasure of Spring_,
and _Poetic Valley of Roses and Lilies_.

'Up, my thoughts, be glad of heart, in this joyous pleasant March;
ah! see spring is reviving, earth opens her treasury,' etc.

His romances were more noteworthy if not more interesting. He
certainly aimed high, striving for simplicity and clearness of
expressions in opposition to the Silesian poets, and hating foreign

His feeling for Nature was clear; he loved to take his reader into
the garden, and was enthusiastic about cool shady walks, beds of
tulips, birds' songs, and echoes. Idyllic pastoral life was the
fashion--people of distinction gave themselves up to country life and
wore shepherd costume--and he introduced a pastoral episode into his
romance, _Die adriatische Rosemund._[15]

Rosemund, whose father places arbitrary conditions in the way of her
marriage with Markhold, becomes a shepherdess.

    Not far off was a delightful spot where limes and alders made
    shade on hot summer days for the shepherds and shepherdesses who
    dwelt around. The shady trees, the meadows, and the streams which
    ran round it, and through it, made it look beautiful ... the
    celestial Rosemund had taken up her abode in a little shepherd
    hut on the slope of a little hill by a water-course, and shaded
    by some lime trees, in which the birds paid her homage morning
    and evening.... Such a place and such solitude refreshed the more
    than human Rosemund, and in such peace she was able to unravel
    her confused thoughts.

She thought continually of Markhold, and spent her time cutting his
name in the trees. The following description of a walk with her
sister Stillmuth and her lover Markhold, gives some idea of the
formal affected style of the time.

    The day was fine, the sky blue, the weather everywhere warm. The
    sun shone down on the globe with her pleasant lukewarm beams so
    pleasantly, that one scarcely cared to stay indoors. They went
    into the garden, where the roses had opened in the warmth of the
    sun, and first sat down by the stream, then went to the grottos,
    where Markhold particularly admired the shell decorations. When
    this charming party had had enough of both, they finally betook
    themselves to a leafy walk, where Rosemund introduced pleasant
    conversation on many topics. She talked first about the many
    colours of tulips, and remarked that even a painter could not
    produce a greater variety of tints nor finer pictures than these,

In describing physical beauty, he used comparisons from Nature; for
instance, in _Simson_[16]:

    The sun at its brightest never shone so brightly as her two eyes
    ... no flower at its best can shew such red as blooms in the
    meadow of her cheeks, no civet rose is so milk-white, no lily so
    delicate and spotless, no snow fresh-fallen and untrodden is so
    white, as the heaven of her brows, the stronghold of her mind.

H. Anselm von Ziegler und Klipphausen also waxes eloquent in his
famous _Asiatischen Banise_: 'The suns of her eyes played with
lightnings; her curly hair, like waves round her head, was somewhat
darker than white; her cheeks were a pleasant Paradise where rose and
lily bloomed together in beauty--yea, love itself seemed to pasture
there.' Elsewhere too this writer, so highly esteemed by the second
Silesian school of poets, indulged in showy description and inflated
rhetoric. Anton Ulrich von Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel tried more
elaborate descriptions of scenery; so that Chovelius says:

    The Duke's German character shews pleasantly in his delight in
    Nature. The story often takes one into woods and fields; already
    griefs and cares were carried to the running brook and mossy
    stone, and happy lovers listened to the nightingale.

His language is barely intelligible, but there is a pleasant breadth
about his drawing--for example, of the king's meadow and the grotto
in _Aramena_:

    Very cold crystal streams flowed through the fields and ran
    softly over the stony ground, making a pleasant murmur. Whilst
    the ear was thus contented, a distant landscape delighted the
    eye. No more delightful place, possessing all this at once, could
    have been found, etc.

    Looking through the numerous air-holes, the eye lost itself in a
    deep valley, surrounded by nothing but mountains, where the
    shepherds tended their flocks, and one heard their flutes
    multiplied by the echo in the most delightful way.

Mawkish shepherd play is mixed here with such verses as (Rahel):

    Thou, Chabras, thou art the dear stream, where Jacob's mouth gave
    me the first kiss. Thou, clear brook, often bearest away the
    passionate words of my son of Isaac ... on many a bit of wounded
    bark, the writing of my wounds is to be found.

The most insipid pastoral nonsense of the time was produced by the
Nuremberg poets, the Pegnitz shepherds Klaj and Harsdörfer. Their
strength lay in imitating the sounds of Nature, and they were much
admired. What is still more astonishing, Lohenstein's writings were
the model for thirty years, and it was the fashion for any one who
wrote more simply to apologize for being unable to reach the level of
so great a master! To us the bombast, artificiality, and hidden
sensuality of his poetry and Hoffmannswaldan's, are equally

What dreary, manufactured stuff this is from Lohenstein's _Praise of
Roses sung by the Sun_[17]:

  This is the queen of flowers and plants,
  The bride of heaven, world's treasure, child of stars!
  For whom love sighs, and I myself, the sun, do pant,
  Because her crown is golden, and her leaves are velvet,
  Her foot and stylus emerald, her brilliance shames the ruby.

  Other beings possess only single beauties,
  Nature has made the rose beautiful with all at once.
  She is ashamed, and blushes
  Because she sees all the other flowers stand ashamed before her.

In _Rose Love_ he finds the reflection of love in everything:

  In whom does not Love's spirit plant his flame?
  One sees the oil of love burn in the starry lamps,
  That pleasant light can nothing be but love,
  For which the dew from Phoebus' veil doth fall.
  Heaven loves the beauteous globe of earth,
  And gazes down on her by night with thousand eyes;
  While earth to please the heaven
  Doth clover, lilies, tulips in her green hair twine,
  The elm and vine stock intertwine,
  The ivy circles round the almond trees,
  And weeps salt tears when they are forced apart.
  And where the flowers burn with glow of Love,
  It is the rose that shews the brightest flame,
  For is the rose not of all flowers the queen,
  The wondrous beauty child of sun and earth?

Artificiality and bombast reached its highest pitch in these poets,
and feeling for Nature was entirely absent.



It is refreshing to find, side by side with these mummified
productions, the traces of a pure national poetry flowing clear as
ever, 'breaking forth from the very heart of the people, ever
renewing its youth, and not misled by the fashion of the day.'[1]

The traces prove that simple primitive love for Nature was not quite
dead. For instance, this of the Virgin Mary: 'Mary, she went across
the heath, grass and flowers wept for grief, she did not find her
son.' And the lines in which the youth forced into the cloister asks
Nature to lament with him: 'I greet you all, hill and dale, do not
drive me away--grass and foliage and all the green things in the wild
forest. O tree! lose your green ornaments, complain, die with
me--'tis your duty.'

Then the Spring greetings:

  Now we go into the wide, wide world,
  With joy and delight we go;
  The woods are dressing, the meadows greening,
  The flowers beginning to blow.
  Listen here! and look there! We can scarce trust our eyes,
  For the singing and soaring, the joy and life everywhere.


  What is sweeter than to wander in the early days of Spring
  From one place to another in sheer delight and glee;
  While the sun is shining brightly, and the birds exult around
  Fair Nightingale, the foremost of them all?

This has the pulse of true and naive feeling (the hunter is starting
for the hunt in the early morning):

  When I come into the forest, still and silent everywhere,
  There's a look of slumber in it, but the air is fresh and cool.
  Now Aurora paints the fir tops at their very tips with gold,
  And the little finch sits up there launching forth his song of praise,
  Thanking for the night that's over, for the day that's just awake
  Gently blows the breeze of morning, rocking in the topmost twigs,
  And it bends them down like children, like good children when they pray;
  And the dew is an oblation as it drops from their green hair.
  O what beauties in the forest he that we may see and know!
  One could melt away one's heart before its wonders manifold!

The sixth line in the original has a melody that reminds one of
Goethe's early work.

But even amidst the artificial poetry then in vogue, there were a few
side streams which turned away from the main current of the great
poet schools, from the unnaturalness and bombast affected especially
by the Silesians. As Winter says, even the satirists Moscherosch and
Logau were indirectly of use in paving the way for a healthier
condition, through their severe criticisms of the corruption of the
language; and Logau's one epigram on May, 'This month is a kiss which
heaven gives to earth, that she may be a bride now, a mother
by-and-by,' outweighs all Harsdörfer's and Zesen's poetry about

But even by the side of Opitz and Fleming there was at least one poet
of real feeling, Friedrich von Spee.[2] With all his mystic and
pietist Christianity, he kept an open eye for Nature. His poems are
full of disdain of the world and joy in Nature,[3] longings for death
and lamentations over sin; he delighted in personifications of
abstract ideas, childish playing with words and feelings, and
sentimental enthusiasm. But mawkish and canting as he was apt to be,
he often shewed a fine appreciation of detail. He was even--a rare
thing then--fascinated by the sea.

  Now rages and roars the wild, wild sea,
  Now in soft curves lies quietly;
  Sweetly the light of the sun's bright glow
  Mirrors itself in the water below.

  Sad winter's past--the stork is here,
  Birds are singing and nests appear;
  Bowery homes steal into the day,
  Flow'rets present their full array;
  Like little snakes and woods about,
  The streams go wandering in and out.

His motives, like his diminutives, are constantly recurring. He uses
many bold and poetic personifications; the sun 'combs her golden
hair,' the moon is a good shepherd who leads his sheep the stars
across the blue heath, blowing upon a soft pipe; the sun adorns
herself in spring with a crown and a girdle of roses, fills her
quiver with arrows, and sends her horses to gallop for miles across
the smooth sky; the wind flies about, stopping for breath from time
to time; shakes its wings and withdraws into its house when it is
tired; the brook of Cedron sits, leaning on a bucket in a hollow,
combing his bulrush hair, his shoulders covered by grass and water;
he sings a cradle song to his little brooks, or drives them before
him, etc.

But the most gifted poet of the set, and the most doughty opponent of
Lohenstein's bombast, was the unhappy Christian Guenther.[4]

He vents his feelings in verse because he must. There is a foretaste
of Goethe in his lyrics, poured put to free the soul from a burden,
and melodious as if by accident. As we turn over the leaves of his
book of songs, we find deep feeling for Nature mingled with his love
and sorrows.[5]

  Bethink you, flowers and trees and shades,
  Of the sweet evenings here with Flavia!
  'Twas here her head upon my shoulder pressed;
  Conceal, ye limes, what else I dare not say.
  'Twas here she clover threw and thyme at me,
  And here I filled her lap with freshest flowers.
  Ah! that was a good time!
  I care more for moon and starlight than the pleasantest of days,
  And with eyes and heart uplifted from my chamber often gaze
  With an awe that grows apace till it scarcely findeth space.

To his lady-love he writes:

  Here where I am writing now
  'Tis lonely, shady, cool, and green;
  And by the slender fig I hear
  The gentle wind blow towards Schweidnitz.
  And all the time most ardently
  I give it thousand kisses for thee.

And at Schweidnitz:

  A thousand greetings, bushes, fields, and trees,
  You know him well whose many rhymes
  And songs you've heard, whose kisses seen;
  Remember the joy of those fine summer nights.

To Eleanora:

  Spring is not far away. Walk in green solitude
  Between your alder rows, and think ...
  As in the oft-repeated lesson
  The young birds' cry shall bear my longing;
  And when the west wind plays with cheek and dress be sure
  He tells me of thy longing, and kisses thee a thousand times for me.

In a time of despair, he wrote:

  Storm, rage and tear! winds of misfortune, shew all your tyranny!
  Twist and split bark and twig,
  And break the tree of hope in two
  Stem and leaves are struck by this hail and thunder,
  The root remains till storm and rain have laid their wrath.


  The woods I'll wander through,
  From men I'll flee away,
  With lonely doves I'll coo,
  And with the wild things stay.
  When life's the prey of misery,
  And all my powers depart,
  A leafy grave will be
  Far kinder than thy heart.

True lyrist, he gave Nature her full right in his feelings, and found
comfort in return; but, as Goethe said of him, gifted but unsteady as
he was, 'He did not know how to restrain himself, and so his life and
poetry melted away.'

Among those who made use of better material than the Silesian poets,
H. Barthold Brockes stood first. Nature was his one and only subject;
but in this he was not original, he was influenced by England. While
France was dictating a taste like the baroque, and Germany
enthusiastically adopting it (every petty prince in the land copied
the gardens at Versailles, Schwetzingen more closely than the rest),
a revolution which affected all Europe was brought about by England.
The order of the following dates is significant: William Kent, the
famous garden artist, died in 1748, James Thomson in the same year,
Brockes a year earlier; and about the same time the imitations of
Robinson Crusoe sprang up like mushrooms.

We have considered Shakespeare's plays; English lyrists too of the
fifteenth and sixteenth centuries shewed deep feeling for Nature, and
invested scenery with their own feelings in a very delicate way.

G. Chaucer (1400) praises the nightingale s song in _From the Floure
and Leafe_:

        So was I with the song
  Thorow ravished, that till late and long
  Ne wist I in what place I was ne where; ...
  And at the last, I gan full well aspie
  Where she sat in a fresh grene laurer tree
  On the further side, even right by me,
  That gave so passing a delicious smell
  According to the eglentere full well....

        On the sote grass
  I sat me downe, for, as for mine entent,
  The birddes song was more convenient,
  And more pleasant to me by many fold
  Than meat or drink or any other thing.

Thomas Wyatt (1542) says of his lady-love:

  The rocks do not so cruelly
  Repulse the waves continually,
  As she my suit and affection
  So that I am past remedy.

Robert Southwell (1595), in _Love's Servile Lott_, compares love to

  May never was the month for love,
  For May is full of floures,
  But rather Aprill, wett by kinde,
  For love is full of showers....
  Like winter rose and summer yce,
  Her joyes are still untymelye;
  Before her hope, behind remorse,
  Fayre first, in fyne unseemely.

Edmund Spenser (1598) describes a garden in _The Faerie Queene_:

  There the most daintie Paradise on ground
  It selfe did offer to his sober eye,
  In which all pleasures plenteously abownd,
  And none does others' happinesse envye;
  The painted flowres, the trees upshooting hye,
  The dales for shade, the hilles for breathing space,
  The trembling groves, the christall running by,
  And, that which all fair workes doth most aggrace,
  The art which all that wrought appeared in no place.

Mountain scenery was seldom visited or described.

Michael Drayton (1731) wrote an ode on the Peak, in Derbyshire:

  Though on the utmost Peak
  A while we do remain,
  Amongst the mountains bleak
  Exposed to sleet and rain,
  No sport our hours shall break
  To exercise our vein.

It is clear that he preferred his comfort to everything, for he goes

  Yet many rivers clear
  Here glide in silver swathes,
  And what of all most dear
  Buxton's delicious baths,
  Strong ale and noble chear
  T' assuage breem winter's scathes.

Thomas Carew (1639) sings:

  Ask me no more where Jove bestows,
  When June is past, the fading rose,
  For in your beauties' orient deep
  These flowers, as in their causes, sleep.
  Ask me no more whither do stray
  The golden atoms of the day,
  For in pure love Heaven did prepare
  Those powders to enrich your hair.
  Ask me no more whither doth haste
  The nightingale, when May is past,
  For in your sweet dividing throat
  She winters and keeps warm her note.
  Ask me no more where these stars shine
  That downwards fall in dead of night,
  For in your eyes they sit, and there
  Fixed become, as in their sphere.
  Ask me no more if east or west
  The phoenix builds her spicy nest,
  For unto you at last she flies
  And in your fragrant bosom dies.

William Drummond (1746) avowed a taste which he knew to be very

  Thrice happy he, who by some shady grove,
  Far from the clamorous world, doth live his own
  Though solitary, who is not alone,
  But doth converse with that eternal love.
  O how more sweet is birds' harmonious moan
  Or the soft sobbings of the widow'd dove,
  Than those smooth whisp'rings near a prince's throne....
  O how more sweet is zephyr's wholesome breath
  And sighs perfum'd, which new-born flowers unfold.

Another sonnet, to a nightingale, says:

  Sweet bird, that sing'st away the early hours
  Of winters past or coming void of care,
  Well pleased with delights which present are,
  Fair seasons, budding sprays, sweet-smelling flowers;
  To rocks, to springs, to rills, from leafy bowers
  Thou thy Creator's goodness dost declare,
  And what dear gifts on thee He did not spare,
  A stain to human sense in sin that lowers,
  What soul can be so sick which by thy songs
  Attir'd in sweetness, sweetly is not driven
  Quite to forget earth's turmoils, spites, and wrongs?

He greets Spring:

  Sweet Spring, thou turn'st with all thy goodly train
  Thy head with flames, thy mantle bright with flowers;
  The zephyrs curl the green locks of the plain,
  The clouds for joy in pearls weep down their showers.

Robert Blair (1746) sings in _The Grave_:

      Oh, when my friend and I
  In some thick wood have wander'd heedless on,
  Hid from the vulgar eye, and sat us down
  Upon the sloping cowslip-cover'd bank,
  Where the pure limpid stream has slid along
  In grateful errors through the underwood,
  Sweet murmuring; methought the shrill-tongu'd
  Mended his song of love, the sooty blackbird
  Mellowed his pipe and soften'd every note,
  The eglantine smell'd sweeter and the rose
  Assum'd a dye more deep, whilst ev'ry flower
  Vied with its fellow plant in luxury
  Of dress. Oh! then the longest summer's day
  Seem'd too, too much in haste, still the full heart
  Had not imparted half; half was happiness
  Too exquisite to last--Of joys departed
  Not to return, how painful the remembrance!

The great painter of Nature among the poets was James Thomson. He was
not original, but followed Pope, who had lighted up the seasons in a
dry, dogmatic way in _Windsor Forest_, and pastoral poems, and after
the publication of his _Winter_ the taste of the day carried him on.
His deep and sentimental affection for Nature was mixed up with piety
and moralizing. He said in a letter to his friend Paterson:

    Retirement and Nature are more and more my passion every day; and
    now, even now, the charming time comes on; Heaven is just on the
    point, or rather in the very act, of giving earth a green gown.
    The voice of the nightingale is heard in our lane. You must know
    that I have enlarged my rural domain ... walled, no, no! paled in
    about as much as my garden consisted of before, so that the walk
    runs round the hedge, where you may figure me walking any time of
    day, and sometimes of the night.... May your health continue till
    you have scraped together enough to return home and live in some
    snug corner, as happy as the Corycius senex in Virgil's fourth
    Georgic, whom I recommend both to you and myself as a perfect
    model of the truest happy life.

It is a fact that Solitude and Nature became a passion with him. He
would wander about the country for weeks at a time, noting every
sight and sound, down to the smallest, and finding beauty and divine
goodness in all. His _Seasons_ were the result.

There is faithful portraiture in these landscapes in verse; some have
charm and delicacy, but, for the most part, they are only catalogues
of the external world, wholly lacking in links with the inner life.

Scene after scene is described without pause, or only interrupted by
sermonizing; it is as monotonous as a gallery of landscape paintings.

The human beings introduced are mere accessories, they do not live,
and the undercurrent of all is praise of the Highest. His
predilection is for still life in wood and field, but he does not
neglect grander scenery; his muse

  "Sees Caledonia, in romantic view:
  Her airy mountains, from the waving main
  Invested with a keen diffusive sky,
  Breathing the soul acute; her forests huge,
  Incult, robust, and tall, by Nature's hand
  Planted of old; her azure lakes between,
  Poured out extensive and of watery wealth
  Full; winding, deep and green, her fertile vales,
  With many a cool translucent brimming flood
  Washed lovely...."

And in _A Hymn_ we read:

  Ye headlong torrents rapid and profound,
  Ye softer floods that lead the humid maze
  Along the vale; and thou, majestic main,
  A secret world of wonders in thyself.

It is the lack of human life, the didactic tone, and the wearisome
detail which destroys interest in the _Seasons_--the lack of happy
moments of invention. Yet it had great influence on his
contemporaries in rousing love for Nature, and it contains many
beautiful passages. For example:

  Come, gentle Spring, ethereal mildness, come,
  And from the bosom of yon dropping cloud,
  While music wakes around, veiled in a shower
  Of shadowing roses, on our plains descend.

His most artistic poem is Winter:

  When from the pallid sky the sun descends
  With many a spot, that o'er his glaring orb
  Uncertain wanders, stained; red fiery streaks
  Begin to flush around. The reeling clouds
  Stagger with dizzy poise, as doubting yet
  Which master to obey; while rising slow,
  Blank in the leaden-coloured east, the moon
  Wears a wan circle round her blunted horns.
  Seen through the turbid fluctuating air,
  The stars obtuse emit a shivering ray;
  Or frequent seem to shoot, athwart the gloom,
  And long behind them trail the whitening blaze.
  Snatched in short eddies plays the withered leaf,
  And on the flood the dancing feather floats.
  With broadened nostrils to the sky upturned,
  The conscious heifer snuffs the stormy gale....
  Retiring from the downs, where all day long
  They picked their scanty fare, a blackening train
  Of clamorous rooks thick urge their weary flight
  And seek the closing shelter of the grove,
  Assiduous, in his bower, the wailing owl
  Plies his sad song. The cormorant on high
  Wheels from the deep, and screams along the land.
  Loud shrieks the soaring heron, and with wild wing
  The circling sea-fowl cleave the flaky skies.
  Ocean, unequal pressed, with broken tide
  And blind commotion heaves, while from the shore,
  Eat into caverns by the restless wave
  And forest-rustling mountains, comes a voice
  That solemn-sounding bids the world prepare.

The elaboration of detail in such painting is certain evidence, not
only of a keen, but an enthusiastic eye for Nature. As he says in

  Nature, great parent! whose unceasing hand
  Rolls round the seasons of the changeful year!
  How mighty, how majestic, are thy works!
  With what a pleasing dread they swell the soul
  That sees astonish'd, and astonish'd sings!

Brockes was directly influenced by Pope and Thomson, and translated
the _Seasons_, when he had finished his _Irdisches Vergnügen in
Gott_. This unwieldy work, insipid and prosaic as it is, was still a
literary achievement, thanks to the dignity of the subject and the
high seriousness of its aim, at a time when frivolity was the fashion
in poetry. Its long pious descriptions of natural phenomena have none
of the imposing flow of Thomson's strophes. It treats of fire in 138
verses of eight lines each, of air in 79, water in 78, earth in 74,
while flowers and fruit are dissected and analyzed at great length;
and all this rhymed botany and physics is loosely strung together,
but it shews a warm feeling for Nature of a moralizing and devotional
sort. He says himself[7] that he took up the study of poetry first as
an amusement, but later more seriously, and chose Nature as his
theme, not only because her beauty moved him, but as a means 'whereby
man might enjoy a permissible pleasure and be edified at the same

    So I resolved to sing the praises of the Creator to the best of
    my powers, and felt the more bound to do it, because I held that
    such great and almost inexcusable neglect and ingratitude was a
    wrong to the Creator, and unbecoming in Christendom. I therefore
    composed different pieces, chiefly in Spring, and tried my best
    to describe the beauties of Nature, in order, through my own
    pleasure, to rekindle the praise of the wise Creator in myself
    and others, and this led at last to the first part of my
    _Irdisches Vergnügen_. (1721.)

His evidence from animal and plant life for the teleological argument
is very laughable; take, for example, the often-quoted chamois:

    The fat is good for phthisis, the gall for the face, chamois
    flesh is good to eat, and its blood cures vertigo--the skin is no
    less useful. Doth not the love as well as the wisdom and
    almightiness of the Creator shine forth from this animal?

For the rest, the following lines from _Irdisches Vergnügen in Gott_
will serve to give an idea of his style; they certainly do honour to
his laborious attempt to miss none of the charms of the wood:

  Lately as I sat on the green grass
  Shaded by a lime tree, and read,
  I raised my eyes by chance and saw
  Different trees here and there, some far, some near,
  Some half, some all in light, and some in shade,
  Their boughs bowed down by leaves.
  I saw how beautifully both air and flowery mead
  Were crowned and adorned.
  To describe the green grace
  And the landscape it makes so sweet,
  And at the same time prolong my pleasure,
  I took pencil and paper
  And tried to describe the beautiful trees in rhyme,
  To the glory of God their Creator.
  Of all the beauty the world lays before our eyes,
  There certainly is none which does not pale
  Beside green boughs,
  Nothing to compare for pure beauty with a wood.
  The green roofing overhead
  Makes me feel young again;
  It hangs there, a living tapestry,
  To the glory of God and our delight....
  Beyond many trees that lay in shade
  I often saw one in full light;
  A human eye would scarce believe
  How sweetly twilight, light and darkness
  Meet side by side in leafy trees.
  Peering through the leaves with joy
  We notice, as we see the leaves
  Lighted from one side only,
  That we can almost see the sun
  Mixing gold with the tender green, etc.

and so on for another twenty lines.

Yet this rich Burgomaster of Hamburg, for all that he dealt chiefly
in rhymed prose, had his moments of rare elevation of thought and
mystical rapture about Nature; for instance, in the introduction to
_Ueber das Firmament_:

  As lately in the sapphire depths,
  Not bound by earth nor water, aim nor end,
  In the unplumbed aerial sea I gazed,
  And my absorbed glance, now here, now there,
  But ever deeper sank--horror came over me,
  My eye grew dizzy and my soul aghast.
  That infinite vast vault,
  True picture of Eternity,
  Since without birth or end
  From God alone it comes....
  It overwhelmed my soul.
  The mighty dome of deep dark light,
  Bright darkness without birth or bound,
  Swallowed the very world--burying thought.
  My being dwindled to an atom, to a nought;
  I lost myself,
  So suddenly it beat me down,
  And threatened with despair.
  But in that salutary nothingness, that blessed loss,
  All present God! in Thee--I found myself again.

While English poetry and its German imitations were shewing these
signs of reaction from the artificiality of the time, and science and
philosophy often lauded Nature to the skies, as, for instance,
Shaftesbury[8] (1671-1713), a return to Nature became the principle
of English garden-craft in the first half of the eighteenth
century.[9] The line of progress here, as in taste generally, did not
run straightforward, but fluctuated. From the geometric gardens of
Lenotre, England passed to the opposite extreme; in the full tide of
periwig and hoop petticoat, minuets, beauty-patches and rouge,
Addison and Pope were banishing everything that was not strictly
natural from the garden. Addison would even have everything grow wild
in its own way, and Pope wrote:

  To build, to plant, whatever you intend,
  To rear the column, or the arch to bend,
  To swell the terrace or to sink the grot,
  In all let Nature never be forgot.

William Kent made allowance for this idea; but, as a painter, and
looking at his native scenery with a painter's eye, he noted its
characteristic features--the gentle undulations, the freshness of the
green, the wealth of trees--and based his garden-craft on these.

The straight line was banished; in its place came wide spaces of lawn
and scattered groups of trees of different sorts--dark fir and alder
here, silver birch and grey poplar there; and flowery fields with
streams running through them stood out in relief against dark

Stiff walls, balustrades, terraces, statues, and so forth,
disappeared; the garden was not to contrast with the surrounding
landscape, but to merge into it--to be not Art, but a bit of Nature.
It was, in fact, to be a number of such bits, each distinct from the
rest--waterfall, sheltered sunny nook, dark wood, light glade. Kent
himself soon began to vary this mosaic of separate scenes by adding
ruins and pavilions; but it was Chambers the architect who developed
the idea of variety by his writings on the dwellings and manners of
the Chinese.[10]

The fundamental idea that the garden ought to be a sample of the
landscape was common both to Kent and the Chinese; but, as China is
far richer than England in varieties of scenery, her gardens included
mountains, rocks, swamps, and deserts, as well as sunny fields and
plains, while English gardens were comparatively monotonous. When the
fashion for the Chinese style came in, as unluckily it did just when
we were trying to oust the Rococo, so that one pigtail superseded the
other, variety was achieved by groups of buildings in all sorts of
styles. Stables, ice-houses, gardeners' cottages took the form of
pavilions, pagodas, kiosks, and temples.

Meanwhile, as a reaction against the Rococo, enthusiasm for Nature
increased, and feeling was set free from restraint by the growing
sentimentality. Richardson's novels fed the taste for the pleasures
of weeping sensibility, and garden-craft fell under its sway. In all
periods the insignificant and non-essential is unable to resist the
general stamp, if that only shews a little originality.

These gardens, with temples to friendship and love, melancholy,
virtue, re-union, and death, and so forth, were suitable backgrounds
for the sentimental scenes described in the English novels, and for
the idyllic poets and moonshine singers of Germany. Here it was the
fashion to wander, tenderly intertwined, shedding floods of tears and
exchanging kisses, and pausing at various places to read the
inscriptions which directed them what to feel. At one spot they were
to laugh, at another to weep, at a third to be fired with devotion.

Hermitages sprang up everywhere, with hermits, real or dummy. Any
good house near a wood, or in a shady position, was called a
hermitage, and dedicated to arcadian life, free from care and
ceremony. Classic and romantic styles competed for favour in
architecture; at one moment everything must needs be purely classic,
each temple Corinthian, Ionic, or Doric; at another Gothic, with the
ruins and fortresses of mediæval romance. And not only English
gardens, but those of Europe generally, though to a less degree,
passed through these stages of development, for no disease is so
infectious as fashion.

It was not till the end of the eighteenth century that a healthy
reaction set in in England, when Repton turned back to Kent's
fundamental principle and freed it from its unnatural excrescences,
with the formula: the garden should be an artistic representation of
the landscape, a work of art whose materials are provided by Nature
herself, whether grass, flowers, bushes, trees, water, or whatever it
may be that she has to offer. Thus began our modern landscape

In another region too, a change was brought about from the Rococo to
a more natural style. It is true that Nature plays no direct _rôle_
in _Robinson Crusoe_, and wins as little notice there as in its
numberless imitations; yet the book roused a longing for healthier,
more natural conditions in thousands of minds. It led the idyllic
tendency of the day back to its source, and by shewing all the
stages, from the raw state of Nature up to the culture of the
community, in the life of one man, it brought out the contrast
between the far-off age of innocence and the perverted present.

The German _Simplicissimus_ closed with a Robinsonade, in which the
hero, after long wandering, found rest and peace on an island in the
ocean of the world, alone with himself and Nature. The readers of
_Robinson Crusoe_ were in much the same position. Defoe was not only
a true artist, but a man of noble, patient character, and his romance
proved a healing medicine to many sick minds, pointing the way back
to Nature and a natural fife, and creating a longing for the lost
innocence of man.

Rousseau, who was also a zealous advocate of the English gardens, and
disgusted by the French Pigtail style, was more impressed by
_Robinson Crusoe_ than by any other book. It was the first book his
Emilia gave him, as a gospel of Nature and unspoilt taste.



This longing to return to the lost paradise of Nature gradually
produced a state of melancholy hyper-sensitiveness, an epidemic of
world pain, quite as unnatural as the Rococo.

The heart came into its rights again and laid claim to absolute
dominion in its kingdom, and regret that it had lain so long deprived
of its own, gave rise to a tearful pensiveness, which added zest to
restitution. It was convalescence, but followed at once by another
complaint. Feeling swung from one extreme to the other.

German feeling in the first half of the eighteenth century was
chiefly influenced, on the one hand, by Richardson's novels, which
left no room for Nature, and by the poetry of Young and Thomson; on
the other, by the pastoral idylls interspersed with anacreontic
love-passages, affected by the French. At first description and
moralizing preponderated.

In 1729 Haller's _Alps_ appeared. It had the merit of drawing the
eyes of Europe to Alpine beauty and the moral worth of the Swiss, but
shewed little eye for romantic scenery. It is full of descriptive
painting, but not of a kind that appeals: scene follows scene with
considerable pathos, especially in dealing with the people; but
landscape is looked at almost entirely from the moralizing or
utilitarian standpoint.

'Here, where the majestic Mount Gothard elevates its summit above the
clouds, and where the earth itself seems to approach the sun, Nature
has assembled in one spot all the choicest treasure of the globe. The
deserts of Libya, indeed, afford us greater novelties, and its sandy
plains are more fertile in monsters: but thou, favoured region, art
adorned with useful productions only, productions which can satisfy
all the wants of man. Even those heaps of ice, those frowning rocks
in appearance so sterile, contribute largely to the general good, for
they supply inexhaustible fountains to fertilize the land. What a
magnificent picture does Nature spread before the eye, when the sun,
gilding the top of the Alps, scatters the sea of vapours which
undulates below! Through the receding vale the theatre of a whole
world rises to the view! Rocks, valleys, lakes, mountains, and
forests fill the immeasurable space, and are lost in the wide
horizon. We take in at a single glance the confines of divers states,
nations of various characters, languages, and manners, till the eyes,
overcome by such extent of vision, drop their weary lids, and we ask
of the enchanted fancy a continuance of the scene.

'When the first emotion of astonishment has subsided, how delightful
is it to observe each several part which makes up this sublime whole!
That mass of hills, which presents its graceful declivity covered
with flocks of sheep whose bleatings resound through the meadows;
that large clear lake, which reflects from its level surface sunbeams
gently curved; those valleys, rich in verdure, which compose by their
various outlines points of perspective which contract in the distance
of the landscape! Here rises a bare steep mountain laden with the
accumulated snow of ages; its icy head rests among the clouds,
repelling the genial rays of the moon and the fervid heat of the
dog-star: there a chain of cultivated hills spreads before the
delighted eye; their green pastures are enlivened by flocks, and
their golden corn waves in the wind: yet climates so different as
those are only separated by a cool, narrow valley. Behold that
foaming torrent rushing from a perpendicular height! Its rapid waves
dash among the rocks, and shoot even beyond their limits. Divided by
the rapidity of its course and the depth of the abyss where it falls,
it changes into a grey moving veil; and, at length scattered into
humid atoms, it shines with the tints of the rainbow, and, suspended
over the valley, refreshes it with plenteous dew. The traveller
beholds with astonishment rivers flowing towards the sky, and issuing
from one cloud, hide themselves in the grey veil of another.

'Those desert places uncheered by the rays of the sun, those frozen
abysses deprived of all verdure, hide beneath their sterile sands
invaluable treasures, which defy the rigour of the seasons and all
the injuries of time! 'Tis in dark and marshy recesses, upon the damp
grottos, that crystal rocks are formed. Thus splendour is diffused
through their melancholy vaults, and their shadowy depths gutter with
the colours of the rainbow. O Nature, how various are thy operations,
how infinite thy fertility!'

We cannot agree with Frey[1] that 'these few strophes may serve as
sufficient proof that Haller's poetry is still, even among the mass
of Alpine poetry, unsurpassed for intense power of direct vision, and
easily makes one forget its partial lack of flexibility of diction.'

The truth is, flexibility is entirely lacking; but the lines do
express the taste for open-air life among the great sublimities and
with simple people. The poem is not romantic but idyllic, with a
touch of the elegiac. It is the same with the poem _On the Origin of
Evil_ (Book I.):

  On those still heights whence constant springs flow down,
  I paused within a copse, lured by the evening breeze;
  Wide country lay spread out beneath my feet,
  Bounded by its own size alone....
  Green woods covered the hills, through which the pale tints of the fields
  Shone pleasantly.
  Abundance and repose held sway far as the eye could reach....
  And yonder wood, what left it to desire
  With the red tints upon the half-bare beeches
  And the rich pine's green shade o'er whitened moss?
  While many a sun-ray through the interstices
  A quivering light upon the darkness shed,
  Blending in varying hues green night with golden day
  How pleasant is the quiet of the copse! ...
  Yea, all I see is given by Providence,
  The world itself is for its burgher's joy;
  Nature's inspired with the general weal,
  The highest goodness shews its trace in all.

Friedrich von Hagedorn, too, praises country pleasures in _The
Feeling of Spring_:

  Enamelled meadows! freshly decked in green,
  I sing your praises constantly;
  Nature and Spring have decked you out....
  Delightful quiet, stimulant of joy,
  How enviable thou art!

This idyllic taste for country life was common at the time,
especially among the so-called 'anacreontists.' Gleim, for instance,
in his _Praise of Country Life_: 'Thank God that I have fled from the
bustle of the world and am myself again under the open sky.'

And in _The Countryman_:

    How happy is he who, free from cares, ploughs his father's
    fields; every morning the sun shines on the grass in which he

And Joh. Friedrich von Cronegk:

    Fly from sordid cares and the proud tumult of cities ... here in
    the peaceful valley shy wisdom sports at ease, where the smiling
    Muse crowns herself with dewy roses.

With this idyllic tone it is not surprising to find the religious
feeling of many hymn writers; for instance, Gleim in _The Goodness of

    For whom did Thy goodness create the world so beautiful, O God?
    For whom are the flowers on hill and dale? ... Thou gavest us
    power to perceive the beauty.

And above all, honest Gellert:

    The skies, the globe, the seas, praise the eternal glory. O my
    Creator, when I consider Thy might and the wisdom of Thy ways....
    Sunshine and storm preach Thee, and the sands of the sea.

Ewald von Kleist excelled Haller as much as Haller had excelled

Julian Schmidt says[3]: 'Later on, descriptive poetry, like didactic,
fell into disgrace; but at that time this dwelling upon the minutiæ
of Nature served to enrich the imagination; Kleist's descriptions are
thoughtful and interesting.' It is easy to see that his longer poems
cost him much labour; they were not the pure songs of feeling that
gush out spontaneously like a spring from the rock. But in eloquence
and keenness of observation he excelled his contemporaries, although
he, too, followed the fashion of eighteenth-century literature, and
coquetted with Greek nymphs and deities, and the names of winds and

The tendency to depression, increased by his failure to adapt himself
to military life, made him incline more and more to solitude.

_To Doris_ begins:

  Now spring doth warm the flakeless air,
  And in the brook the sky reflects her blue,
  Shepherds in fragrant flowers find delight ...
  The corn lifts high its golden head,
  And Zephyr moves in waves across the grain,
  Her robe the field embroiders; the young rush
  Adorns the border of each silver stream,
  Love seeks the green night of the forest shade,
  And air and sea and earth and heaven smile.

_Sighs for Rest_:

  O silver brook, my leisure's early soother,
  When wilt thou murmur lullabies again?
  When shall I trace thy sliding smooth and smoother,
  While kingfishers along thy reeds complain;
  Afar from thee with care and toil opprest,
  Thy image still can calm my troubled breast.

  O ye fair groves and odorous violet valleys,
  Girt with a garland blue of hills around,
  Thou quiet lake, where, when Aurora sallies,
  Her golden tresses seem to sweep the ground:
  Soft mossy turf, on which I wont to stray,
  For me no longer bloom thy flow'rets gay.
  As when the chilly nights of March arise
  And whirl the howling dust in eddies swift,
  The sunbeams wither in the dimmer skies,
  O'er the young ears the sand and pebbles drift:
  So the war rages, and the furious forces
  The air with smoke bespread, the field with corses.

  The vineyard bleeds, and trampled is the com,
  Orchards but heat the kettles of the camp....

  As when a lake which gushing rains invade
  Breaks down its dams, and fields are overflowed.
  So floods of fire across the region spread,
  And standing corn by crackling flames is mowed:
  Bellowing the cattle fly; the forests burn,
  And their own ashes the old stems in-urn.

  He too, who fain would live in purity,
  Feels nature treacherous, hears examples urge,
  As one who, falling overboard at sea,
  Beats with his arms and feet the buoyant surge,
  And climbs at length against some rocky brink,
  Only beneath exhausted strength to sink.

  My cheek bedewed with holy tears in vain,
  To love and heaven I vowed a spotless truth:
  Too soon the noble tear exhaled again,
  Example conquered, and the glow of youth
  To live as live one's comrades seems allowed;
  He who would be a man, must quit the crowd.

He, too, wrote with hymn-like swing in praise of the Creator: 'Great
is the Lord! the unnumbered heavens are the chambers of his fortress,
storm and thunder-clouds his chariot.'

The most famous of his poems, and the one most admired in his own
day, was _Spring_. This is full of love for Nature. It describes a
country walk after the muggy air of town, and conveys a vivid
impression of fresh germinating spring, though it is overlaid by
monotonous detail:

  Receive me, hallowed shades! Ye dwellings of sweet buss!
  Umbrageous arches full of sleeping dark delights ...
  Receive me! Fill my soul with longing and with rest ...
  And you, ye laughing fields,
  Valleys of roses, labyrinths of streams,
  I will inhale an ecstasy with your balsamic breath,
  And, lying in the shade, on strings of gold
  Sing your indwelling joys....
  On rosy clouds, with rose and tulip crowned,
  Spring has come down from heaven....
  The air grew softer, fields took varied hues,
  The shades were leafy, and soft notes awoke
  And flew and warbled round the wood in twilight greenery.
  Brooks took a silver tint, sweet odours filled the air,
  The early shepherd's pipe was heard by Echo in the dale....
  Most dear abode! Ah, were I but allowed
  Down in the shade by yon loquacious brook
  Henceforth to live! O sky! thou sea of love,
  Eternal spring of health, will not thy waters succour me?
  Must, my life's blossom wither, stifled by the weeds?

Johann Peter Uz, who was undervalued because of his sickly style,
wrote many little songs full of feeling for Nature, though within
narrow limits. Their titles shew the pastoral taste[4]:--_Spring_,
_Morning, Shepherd's Morning Song, The Muse with the Shepherds, The
Meadow in the Country, Vintage, Evening, May, The Rose, Summer and
Wine, Winter Night, Longing for Spring_, etc.

Many are fresh and full of warm feeling, especially the Spring Songs:

  See the blossoming of Spring!
  Will't not taste the joys it showers?
  Dost not feel its impulse thrill?
  Friends! away our cares we'll fling!
  In the joyous time of flowers,
  Love and Bacchus have their will.


  O forest, O green shady paths,
  Dear place of spring's display!
  My good luck from the thronging town
  Has brought me here away.

  O what a fresh breeze flows
  Down from the wooded hill,
  How pleasantly the west wind flies
  With rustling dewy wing
  Across the vale,
  Where all is green and blossoming.

The personification is more marked in this:

  Thou hast sent us the Spring in his gleaming robe
  With roses round his head. Smiling he comes, O God!
  The hours conduct him to his flowery throne
  Into the groves he enters and they bloom; fresh green is on the plain,
  The forest shade returns, the west wind lovingly unfurls
  Its dewy plumes, and happy birds begin to sing.
  The face of Nature Thou hast deckt with beauty that enchants,
  O Thou rich source of all the beautiful ...
  My heart is lifted up to Thee in purest love.

His feeling for Nature was warm enough, although most of his writing
was so artificial and tedious from much repetition of a few ideas,
that Kleist could write to Gleim[5]: 'The odes please me more the
more I read them. With a few exceptions, they have only one fault,
too many laurel woods; cut them down a little. Take away the marjoram
too, it is better in a good sausage than in a beautiful poem.'

Joh. Georg Jacobi also belonged to the circle of poets gathered round
Gleim; but in many respects he was above it. He imitated the French
style[6] far less than the others--than Hagedorn, for example; and
though the Anacreontic element was strong in him, he overcame it, and
aimed at pure lyrical feeling. From his Life, written by a devoted
friend, we see that he had all the sentimentality of the day,[7] but
with much that was healthy and amiable in addition, and he touched
Nature with peculiar freshness and genuineness.

In a poem to his brother, about the Saale valley near Halle, he

  Lie down in early spring on yon green moss,
  By yon still brook where heart with heart we spoke,
  My brother....
  Will't see the little garden and the pleasant heights above,
  So quiet and unspoilt? O friend, 'tis Nature speaks
  In distant wood, near plain and careless glade,
  Here on my little hill and in the clover....
  Dost hear the rustle of the streamlet through the wood?

Jacobi was one whose heart, as he said of Gleim, took a warm interest
in all that breathed, even a violet, and sought sympathy and
companionship in the whole range of creation.

This is from his _Morning Song_:

  See how the wood awakes, how from the lighted heights
  With the soft waving breeze
  The morning glory smiles in the fresh green....
  Here by the rippling brook and quivering flower,
  We catch Love's rustle as she gently sweeps
  Like Spring's own breath athwart the plains.

Another song is;

  Tell me, where's the violet fled.
  Late so gayly blowing.
  Springing 'neath fair Flora's tread,
  Choicest sweets bestowing?
  Swain, the vernal scene is o'er,
  And the violet blooms no more.

  Say, where hides the blushing rose,
  Pride of fragrant morning,
  Garland meet for beauty's brows,
  Hill and dale adorning?
  Gentle maid, the summer's fled,
  And the hapless rose is dead.

  Bear me then to yonder rill,
  Late so freely flowing,
  Watering many a daffodil
  On its margin glowing.
  Sun and wind exhaust its store,
  Yonder rivulet glides no more.

  Lead me to the bowery shade,
  Late with roses flaunting,
  Loved resort of youth and maid,
  Amorous ditties chanting.
  Hail and wind with fury shower,
  Leafless mourns the rifled bower!

  Say, where bides the village maid,
  Late yon cot adorning?
  Oft I've met her in the glade
  Fair and fresh as morning.
  Swain, how short is beauty's bloom,
  Seek her in her grassy tomb.

  Whither roves the tuneful swain
  Who, of rural pleasures,
  Rose and violet, rill and plain,
  Sang in deftest measures?
  Maiden, swift life's vision flies,
  Death has closed the poet's eyes.

_To Nature_ runs thus:

  Leaves are falling, mists are twining, and to winter sleep inclining
  Are the trees upon the plain,
  In the hush of stillness ere the snowflakes hide them,
  Friendly Nature, speak to me again!
  Thou art echo and reflection of our striving,
  Thou art painter of our hopes and of our fears,
  Thou art singer of our joys and of our sorrows,
  Of our consolations and our groans....

While feeling for Nature was all of this character, idyllic,
sensitive, sympathetic, but within very narrow bounds, and the poets
generally were wandering among Greek and Latin bucolics and playing
with Damon, Myrtil, Chloe, and Daphnis, Salomon Gessner made a
speciality of elegiac pastoral poetry. He was a better landscapist
than poet, and his drawings to illustrate his idylls were better than
the poems themselves. The forest, for instance, and the felling of
the tree, are well drawn; whereas the sickly sweet Rococo verse in
imitation of the French, and reminding one more of Longos than
Theocritus, is lifeless. His rhapsody about Nature is uncongenial to
modern readers, but his love was real.

The introduction 'to the Reader'[8] is characteristic:

    These Idylls are the fruits of some of my happiest hours; of
    those hours when imagination and tranquillity shed their sweetest
    influence over me, and, excluding all which belongs to the period
    in which we live, recalled all the charms and delights of the
    Golden Age. A noble and well-regulated mind dwells with pleasure
    on these images of calm tranquillity and uninterrupted happiness,
    and the scenes in which the poet delineates the simple beauties
    of uncorrupted nature are endeared to us by the resemblance we
    fancy we perceive in them to the most blissful moments that we
    nave ourselves enjoyed. Often do I fly from the city and seek the
    deepest solitudes; there, the beauties of the landscape soothe
    and console my heart, and gradually disperse those impressions of
    solicitude and disgust which accompanied me from the town;
    enraptured, I give up my whole soul to the contemplation of
    Nature, and feel, at such moments, richer than an Utopian
    monarch, and happier than a shepherd of the Golden Age.

This is a true picture of the time! Man knew that he was sick, and
fled from town and his fellows into solitude, there to dream himself
back to a happier past, and revel in the purity and innocence, the
healing breath, of forest and field.

The magic of moonlight began to be felt. Mirtilla

    perceived his old father slumbering in the moonbeams.... Mirtilla
    stood long contemplating him, and his eyes rested fondly on the
    old man except when he raised them toward heaven through the
    glistening leaves of the vine, and tears of filial love and joy
    bedewed his cheeks.... How beautiful! how beautiful is the
    landscape! How bright, how clear appears the deep blue of heaven
    through the broken clouds! They fly, they pass away, these
    towering clouds; but strew a shadow as they pass over the sunny
    landscape.... Oh, what joy overwhelms my soul! how beautiful, how
    excellent is all around, what an inexhaustible source of rapture!
    From the enlivening sun down to the little plant that his mild
    influence nourishes, all is wonderful! What rapture overpowers me
    when I stand on the high hill and look down on the wide-spread
    landscape beneath me, when I lay stretched along the grass and
    examine the various flowers and herbs and their little
    inhabitants; when at the midnight hour I contemplate the starry
    heavens!... Wrapt in each other's arms, let us contemplate the
    approach of morning, the bright glow of sunset, or the soft beams
    of moonlight; and as I press thee to my trembling heart, let us
    breathe out in broken accents our praises and thanksgivings. Ah!
    what inexpressible joy, when with such raptures are blended the
    transports of the tenderest love.

Many prosaic writings of a different kind shew how universally
feeling, in the middle of the eighteenth century, turned towards

The æsthetic writer Sulzer (1750) wrote _On the Beauty of Nature_.
Crugot's widely-read work of edification, _Christ in Solitude_
(1761), shewed the same point of view among the mystical and pietist
clergy; and Spalding's _Human Vocation_[9] (written with a warmth
that reminds one of Gessner) among the rationalists, whom he headed.
He says:

    Nature contains numberless pleasures, which, through my great
    sensitiveness, nourish my mind... I open eye and ear, and through
    these openings pleasures flow into my soul from a thousand sides:
    flowers painted by the hand of Nature, the rich music of the
    forest, the bright daylight which pours life and light all round
    me.... How indifferent, tasteless, and dead is all the fantastic
    glamour of artificial splendour and luxuriance in comparison with
    the living radiance of the real beautiful world of Nature, with
    the joyousness, repose, and admiration I feel before a meadow in
    blossom, a rustling stream, the pleasant awesomeness of night, or
    of the majesty of innumerable worlds. Even the commonest and most
    familiar things in Nature give me endless delight, when I feel
    them with a heart attuned to joy and admiration.... I lose
    myself, absorbed in delight, in the consideration of all this
    general beauty, of which I hold myself to be a not disfigured

Klopstock, the torch-bearer of Germany's greatest poets, owed much of
his power of the wing to religion. He introduced that new epoch in
the literature of his country which culminated in Goethe. As so often
happens in mental development, the reaction against prevailing
conditions and the advance to higher ones, in the middle of the
eighteenth century, led first of all to the opposite extreme--balance
was only reached by degrees. What chiefly made Klopstock a literary
reformer was the glowing enthusiasm and powerful imagination which
compelled the stiff poetic forms, clumsy as they were, to new rhythm
and melodious cadence. And although his style degenerated into
mannerism in the _Messias_, for the youthful impetus which had
carried his Pegasus over the clouds to the stars could not keep it
there without artificial aid, the immense value of his influence
remained. He is one of the most interesting representatives, not only
of his own, but of all similar periods of exaggerated feelings and
ideals. Despite his loftiness of thought and speech, and his seraphic
raptures, he was not without a full share of sensuous development,
and women's eyes, or a girl's rosy lips, would draw him away from the
finest view in the world.

A mind so intent upon the noble and beautiful was sure to be
enthusiastic about Nature; his correspondence is the best witness to
this, and at the same time throws side-lights upon the period.

It is difficult to-day to understand the influence which the
_Messias_ had upon its readers; even Friedenkende spent happy hours
reading it with pious tears of delight, and young and old were of the
same opinion.

There is a pretty letter from Gustchen Stolberg[10] to Klopstock,
which runs thus:

    25 _April_ 1776.

    In the garden. Yes, in the garden, dearest Klopstock! I have just
    been walking about, it was so beautiful: the little birds were
    singing, violets and other flowers wafted their fragrance to me,
    and I began thinking very warmly of all whom I dearly, dearly
    love, and so very soon came to my dear Klopstock, who certainly
    has no truer friend than I am, though perhaps others express it
    better ... Thanks, thanks, for your very delightful little
    letter--how dear to me I don't tell you--can't tell you.

C. F. Cramer was his enthusiastic panegyrist. It is not only what he
says of the private life and special taste of his adored friend which
is noteworthy, but the way in which he does it--the tone in which, as
a cultivated man of the day, he judged him. 'He will paint and paint
Nature. For this he must be acquainted with her. This is why he loves
her so well. This is why he strays by the brook and weeps. This is
why in spring he goes out into the fields of blossoms, and his eyes
run over with tears. All creation fills him with yearning and
delight. He goes from mountain to valley like a man in a dream. When
he sees a stream, he follows its course; when a hill, he must climb
it; when a river--oh! if only he could rush with it to the sea! A
rock--oh! to look down from its crags to the land below! A hawk
hovers over him--oh! to have its wings and fly so much nearer to the
stars! He stands for hours looking at a flower or moss, throws
himself down on the grass and decks his hat with ivy and cornflowers.
He goes by moonlight to visit the graves and think of death,
immortality, and eternal life. Nothing hinders his meditations. He
sees everything in relation to something else. Every visible object
has an invisible companion, so ardently, so entirely, so closely does
he feel it all.'

This, coming straight from life, tells us more than a volume of odes;
it contains the real feeling of the time, sensitive, dreamy, elegiac.

His friend goes on: 'He walks often and likes it, but generally looks
for sunny places; he goes very slowly, which is fatal for me, for I
run when I walk ... Often he stands still and silent, as if there
were knots which he could not untie (in his thoughts). And truly
there are unknown depths of feeling as well as thought.'

In another place: 'He went out and gloated over the great scene of
immeasurable Nature. Orion and the Pleiades moved over his head, the
dear moon was opposite. Looking intently into her friendly face, he
greeted her repeatedly: "Moon, Moon, friend of my thoughts; hurry not
away, dear Moon, but stay. What is thy name? Laura, Cynthia, Cyllene?
Or shall I call thee beautiful Betty of the Sky?" ... He loved
country walks; we made for lonely places, dark fearsome thickets,
lonely unfrequented paths, scrambled up all the hills, spied out
every bit of Nature, came to rest at last under a shady rock ...
Klopstock's life is one constant enjoyment. He gives himself up to
feeling, and revels in Nature's feast ... Winter is his favourite
time of year....[11] He preaches skating with the unction of a
missionary to the heathen, and not without working miracles, ... the
ice by moonlight is a feast of the Gods to him ... only one rule, we
do not leave the river till the moon has gone.' Klopstock described
this in his _Skating_:

  O youth, whose skill the ice-cothurn
  Drives glowing now, and now restrains,
  On city hearths let faggots burn,
  But come with me to crystal plains.
  The scene is filled with vapouring light,
  As when the winter morning's prime
  Looks on the lake. Above it night
  Scatters, like stars, the glittering rime.
  How still and white is all around!
  How rings the track with new sparr'd frost!
  Far off the metal's cymbal sound
  Betrays thee, for a moment lost ...

Cramer tells how Klopstock paid a long-remembered visit to Count
Bernstoff at Schloss Stintenburg:

    It has a most romantic situation in a bewitching part of
    Mecklenburg; 'tis surrounded by forest full of delightful gloom,
    and a large lake, with a charming little island in the centre,
    which wakes echoes. Klopstock is very fond of echoes, and is
    always trying to find them in his walks.

This illustrates the lines in _Stintenburg_:

           Isle of pious solitude,
  Loved playmate of the echo and the lake, etc.

but in this ode, as in so many of his, simple personal feeling gives
way to the stilted mannerism of the bard poetry.

He wrote of Soroe,[12] one of the loveliest places in the Island of
Zealand, as 'an uncommonly pleasant place'; where 'By a sacred tree,
on a raised grass plot two hundred paces from the great alley, and
from a view over the Friedensburg Lake towards a little wooded island
... Fanny appeared to him in the silver evening clouds over the

The day on which he composed _The Lake of Zurich_ was one of the
pleasantest in his life. Cramer says: 'He has often told me and still
tells, with youthful fervour, about those delightful days and this
excursion: the boat full of people, mostly young, all in good
spirits; charming girls, his wife Herzel, a lovely May morning.'

But, unlike St Preux, he 'seemed less impressed by our scenery than
by the beauty of our girls,[13] and his letters bear out the
remark.[14] Yet delight in Nature was always with him: Klopstock's
lofty morality pours forth all through it. Nature, love, fame, wine,
everything is looked at from an ennobling point of view.'

  Fair is the majesty of all thy works
  On the green earth, O Mother Nature fair!
  But fairer the glad face
  Enraptured with their view.
  Come from the vine banks of the glittering lake,
  Or--hast thou climbed the smiling skies anew--
  Come on the roseate tip
  Of evening's breezy wing,
  And teach my song with glee of youth to glow,
  Sweet joy, like thee--with glee of shouting youths,
  Or feeling Fanny's laugh.

  Behind us far already Uto lay.
  At whose feet Zurich in the quiet vale
  Feeds her free sons: behind--
  Receding vine-clad hills.
  Uncloud'd beamed the top of silver Alps,
  And warmer beat the heart of gazing youths,
  And warmer to their fair
  Companions spoke its glow.
  And Haller's Doris sang, the pride of song;
  And Hirzel's Daphne, dear to Kleist and Gleim;
  And we youths sang and felt
  As each were--Hagedorn.

  Soon the green meadow took us to the cool
  And shadowy forest, which becrowns the isle.
  Then cam'st thou, Joy; thou cam'st
  Down in full tide to us;
  Yes, goddess Joy, thyself; we felt, we clasp'd,
  Best sister of humanity, thyself,
  With thy dear innocence
  Accompanied, thyself.

  Sweet thy inspiring breath, O cheerful Spring;
  When the meads cradle thee, and their soft airs
  Into the hearts of youths
  And hearts of virgins glide,
  Thou makest feeling conqueror. Ah! through thee
  Fuller, more tremulous, heaves each blooming breast;
  With lips spell-freed by thee
  Young love unfaltering pleads.
  Fair gleams the wine, when to the social change
  Of thought, or heart-felt pleasure, it invites,
  And the 'Socratic' cup
  With dewy roses bound,
  Sheds through the bosom bliss, and wakes resolves,
  Such as the drunkard knows not--proud resolves
  Emboldening to despair
  Whate'er the sage disowns.

  Delightful thrills against the panting heart
  Fame's silver voice--and immortality
  Is a great thought....
  But sweeter, fairer, more delightful, 'tis
  On a friend's arm to know oneself a friend....
  O were ye here, who love me though afar ...
  How would we build us huts of friendship, here
  Together dwell for ever.

This is of Fredensborg on an August day:

  Here, too, did Nature tarry, when her hand
  Pour'd living beauty over dale and hill,
  And to adorn this pleasant land
  Long time she lingered and stood still....
  The lake how tranquil! From its level brim
  The shore swells gently, wooded o'er with green,
  And buries in its verdure dim
  The lustre of the summer e'en....

The inner and outer life are closely blended in _The Early Grave_:

  Welcome, O silver moon,
  Fair still companion of the night!
  Friend of the pensive, flee not soon;
  Thou stayest, and the clouds pass light.

  Young waking May alone
  Is fair as summer's night so still,
  When from his locks the dews drop down,
  And, rosy, he ascends the hill.

  Ye noble souls and true,
  Whose graves with sacred moss are strawn.
  Blest were I, might I see with you
  The glimmering night, the rosy dawn.

This is true lyric feeling, spontaneous, not forced. Many of his
odes, and parts of the _Messias_, shew great love for Nature. There
is a fine flight of imagination in _The Festival of Spring_:

    Not into the ocean of all the worlds would I plunge--not hover
    where the first created, the glad choirs of the sons of light,
    adore, deeply adore and sunk in ecstasy. Only around the drop on
    the bucket, only around the earth, would I hover and adore.
    Hallelujah! hallelujah! the drop on the bucket flowed also out of
    the hand of the Almighty.

    When out of the hand of the Almighty the greater earth flowed,
    when the streams of light rushed, and the seven stars began to
    be--then flowedst thou, drop, out of the hand of the Almighty.

    When a stream of light rushed, and our sun began to be, a
    cataract of waves of light poured, as adown the rock a
    storm-cloud, and girded Orion, then flowedst thou, drop, out of
    the hand of the Almighty. Who are the thousandfold thousands, who
    all the myriads that inhabit the drop?...

    But thou, worm of Spring, which, greenly golden, art fluttering
    beside me, thou livest and art, perhaps, ah! not immortal....

    The storm winds that carry the thunder, how they roar, how with
    loud waves they stream athwart the forest! Now they hush, slow
    wanders the black cloud....

    Ah! already rushes heaven and earth with the gracious rain; now
    is the earth refreshed....

    Behold Jehovah comes no longer in storm; in gentle pleasant
    murmurs comes Jehovah, and under him bends the bow of peace.

In another ode, _The Worlds_, he calls the stars 'drops of the

Again, in _Death_ he shews the sense of his own nothingness, in
presence of the overpowering greatness of the Creator:

  Ye starry hosts that glitter in the sky,
  How ye exalt me! Trancing is the sight
  Of all Thy glorious works, Most High.
  How lofty art Thou in Thy wondrous might;
  What joy to gaze upon these hosts, to one
  Who feels himself so little, God so great,
  Himself but dust, and the great God his own!
  Oh, when I die, such rapture on me wait!

As regards our subject, Klopstock performed this function--he tuned
the strings of feeling for Nature to a higher pitch, thereby
excelling all his contemporaries. His poetry always tended to
extravagance; but in thought, feeling, and language alike, he was
ahead of his time.

The idyllic was now cultivated with increased fervour, especially by
the Göttingen Brotherhood of Poets. The artificial and conventional
began to wane, and Nature's own voice was heard again. The songs of
Claudius were like a breath of spring.[15] His peasant songs have the
genuine ring; they are hail-fellow-well-met with Nature. Hebel is the
only modern poet like him.


  The lovely day-star's run its course....
  Come, mop my face, dear wife,
  And then dish up....
  The silvery moon will look down from his place
  And preside at our meal over dishes and grace.

He hated artificiality:

    Simple joy in Nature, free from artifice, gives as great a
    pleasure as an honest lover's kiss.

His _Cradle Song to be sung by Moonlight_ is delightful in its naive
humour (the moon was his special favourite):

  Sleep then, little one. Why dost thou weep?
  Moonlight so tender and quiet so deep,
  Quickly and easily cometh thy sleep.
  Fond of all little ones is the good moon;
  Girls most of all, but he even loves boys.
  Down from up there he sends beautiful toys....
  He's old as a raven, he goes everywhere;
  Even when father was young, he was there.

The pearl of his poems is the exquisite _Evening Song_:

  The moon hath risen on high,
  And in the clear dark sky
  The golden stars all brightly glow;
  And black and hushed the woods,
  While o'er the fields and floods
  The white mists hover to and fro.

  How still the earth, how calm!
  What dear and home-like charm
  From gentle twilight doth she borrow!
  Like to some quiet room,
  Where, wrapt in still soft gloom,
  We sleep away the daylight's sorrow.

Boie's _Evening Song_ is in the same key. None of the moonshine poets
of his day expressed night-fall like this:

            How still it is! How soft
            The breezes blow!
  The lime leaves lisp in whisper and echo answers low;
  Scarce audibly the rivulet running amid the flower
  With murmuring ripple laps the edge of yonder mystic bower.
  And ever darker grows the veil thou weavest o'er the land,
  And ever quieter the hush--a hush as of the grave....
  Listen! 'tis Night! she comes, unlighted by a star,
  And with the slow sweep of her heavy wing
  Awes and revives the timid earth.

Bürger sings in praise of idyllic comfort in _The Village_, and
Hoelty's mild enthusiasm, touched with melancholy, turned in the same

    My predilection is for rural poetry and melancholy enthusiasm;
    all I ask is a hut, a forest, a meadow with a spring in it, and a
    wife in my hut.

The beginning of his _Country Life_ shews that moralizing was still
in the air:

  Happy the man who has the town escaped!
  To him the whistling trees, the murmuring brooks,
  The shining pebbles preach
  Virtue's and wisdom's lore....
  The nightingale on him sings slumber down;
  The nightingale rewakes him, fluting sweet,
  When shines the lovely red
  Of morning through the trees.
  Then he admires Thee in the plain, O God!
  In the ascending pomp of dawning day,
  Thee in Thy glorious sun.
  The worm--the budding branch--
  Where coolness gushes in the waving branch
  Or o'er the flowers streams the fountain, rests,
  Inhales the breadth of prime
  The gentle airs of eve.
  His straw-decked thatch, where doves bask in the sun,
  And play, and hop, invites to sweeter rest
  Than golden halls of state
  Or beds of down afford.
  To him the plumy people
  Chatter and whistle on his
  And from his quiet hand
  Peck crumbs or peas or grains

His _Winter Song_ runs:

  Summer joys are o'er,
  Flow'rets bloom no more;
  Wintry joys are sweeping,
  Through the snow-drifts peeping;
  Cheerful evergreen
  Rarely now is seen.

  No more plumèd throng
  Charms the woods with song;
  Ice-bound trees are glittering,
  Merry snow-birds twittering,
  Fondly strive to cheer
  Scenes so cold and drear.

  Winter, still I see
  Many charms in thee,
  Love thy chilly greeting,
  Snow-storms fiercely beating,
  And the dear delights
  Of the long, long nights.

Hoeltz was the most sentimental of this group; Joh. Heinrich Voss was
more robust and cheerful. He put his strength into his longer poems;
the lyrics contain a great deal of nonsense. An extract from _Luise_
will shew his idyllic taste:

    Wandering thus through blue fields of flax and acres of barley,
    both paused on the hill-top, which commands such a view of the
    whole lake, crisped with the soft breath of the zephyr and
    sparkling in sunshine; fair were the forests of white barked
    birch beyond, and the fir-trees, lovely the village at the foot
    half hid by the wood. Lovely Luise had welcomed her parents and
    shewn them a green mound under an old beech tree, where the
    prospect was very inviting. 'There we propose,' said she,  to
    unpack and to spread the breakfast. Then we'll adjourn to the
    boat and be rowed for a time on the water,' etc.

We find the same taste, often expressed in a very original way, in
both the brothers Stolberg. In Christian Stolberg's _Elegy to
Hangwitz_, for instance, another poem has these lines:

  Thither, where 'mong the trees of life,
  Where in celestial bowers
  Under your fig-tree, bowed with fruit
  And warranting repose,
  Under your pine, inviting shady joy,
  Unchanging blooms
  Eternal Spring!

Friedrich Stolberg was a very prophet of Nature; in his ode _Nature_
he says:

  He who does not love Nature cannot be my friend.

His prayer may serve as the motto of his day:

  Holy Nature, heavenly fair,
  Lead me with thy parent care;
  In thy footsteps let me tread
  As a willing child is led.
  When with care and grief opprest,
  Soft I sink me on thy breast;
  On thy peaceful bosom laid,
  Grief shall cease, nor care invade.
  O congenial power divine,
  All my votive soul is thine.
  Lead me with thy parent care,
  Holy Nature, heavenly fair!

He, too, sang the moon; but Klopstock's influence seems to have
carried him to higher flights than his contemporaries. He wrote in
fine language of wild scenery, even sea and mountains, which had
played no part in German poetry before.


  Thou boundless, shining, glorious sea,
  With ecstasy I gaze on thee;
  Joy, joy to him whose early beam
  Kisses thy lip, bright ocean stream.
  Thanks for the thousand hours, old sea,
  Of sweet communion held with thee;
  Oft as I gazed, thy billowy roll
  Woke the deep feelings of my soul.

There are beautiful notes, reminding one of Goethe, in his
_Unsterbliche Jüngling, Ode to a Mountain Torrent_.

  Immortal youth!
  Thou streamest forth from rocky caves;
  No mortal saw
  The cradle of thy might,
  No ear has heard
  Thy infant stammering in the gushing Spring.
  How lovely art thou in thy silver locks!
  How dreadful thundering from the echoing crags!
  At thy approach
  The firwood quakes;
  Thou easiest down, with root and branch, the fir
  Thou seizest on the rock,
  And roll'st it scornful like a pebble on.
  Thee the sun clothes in dazzling beams of glory,
  And paints with colours of the heavenly bow
  The clouds that o'er thy dusky cataracts climb.
  Why hasten so to the cerulean sea?
  Is not the neighbourhood of heaven good?
  Not grand thy temple of encircling rocks?
  Not fair the forest hanging o'er thy bed?
  Hasten not so to the cerulean sea;
  Youth, thou art here,
  Strong as a god,
  Free as a god,
  Though yonder beckon treacherous calms below,
  The wavering lustre of the silent sea,
  Now softly silvered by the swimming moon,
  Now rosy golden in the western beam;
  Youth, what is silken rest,
  And what the smiling of the friendly moon,
  Or gold or purple of the evening sun,
  To him who feels himself in thraldom's bonds?
  Here thou canst wildly stream
  As bids thy heart;
  Below are masters, ever-changeful minds,
  Or the dead stillness of the servile main.
  Hasten not so to the cerulean sea;
  Youth, thou art here,
  Strong as a god,
  Free as a god.

Here we have, with all Klopstock's pathos, a love for the wild and
grandiose in Nature, almost unique in Germany, in this time of
idyllic sentimentality. But the discovery of the beauty of romantic
mountain scenery had been made by Rousseau some time before, for
Rousseau, too, was a typical forerunner, and his romances fell like a
bomb-shell among all the idyllic pastoral fiction of the day.



Rousseau was one of those rare men who bring about a complete change
in the culture of their time by their revolutionary originality. In
such beings the world's history, so to speak, begins again. Out of
touch with their own day, and opposed to its ruling taste and mode of
thought, they are a law unto themselves, and naturally tend to
measure all things by themselves, while their too great subjectivity
is apt to be increased by a morbid sophistry of passion and the
conviction of the prophet.

Of this type, unchecked by a broad sense of humanity, full of
subversive wilfulness, and not only untrained in moderation, but
degenerating into crass exaggeration, Rousseau was the first example.

Hellenism, the Roman Empire, the Renaissance, had only produced
forerunners. What in Petrarch was a tendency, became an established
condition in Rousseau: the acedia reached its climax. All that went
on in his mind was so much grit for his own mill, subject-matter for
his observation, and therefore of the greatest value to him. He lived
in introspection, a spectator of his own struggles, his own waverings
between an ideal of simple duty and the imperious demands of a
selfish and sensuous ego. His passion for Nature partially atoned for
his unamiable and doubtful character; he was false in many ways; but
that feeling rang true--it was the best part of him, and of that
'idealism of the heart' whose right of rule he asserted in an age of
artificiality and petty formalism. Those were no empty words in his
third letter to Malesherbes:

'Which time of my life do you suppose I recall most often and most
willingly in my dreams? Not the pleasures of youth; they were too
few, too much mixed with bitterness, and they are too far away now.
It is the time of my retreat, of my solitary walks--those fast-flying
delicious days that I passed all alone by myself, with my good and
simple Thérèse, my beloved dog, my old cat, with the wild birds and
the roes of the forest, with all Nature and her inconceivable Maker.

'When I got up early to go and watch the sunrise from my garden, when
I saw a fine day begin, my first wish was that neither letters nor
visitors might come to break its charm....

'Then I would seek out some wild place in the forest, some desert
spot where there was nothing to shew the hand of man, and so tell of
servitude and rule--some refuge which I could fancy I was the first
to discover, and where no importunate third party came between Nature
and me....

'The gold broom and the purple heather touched my heart; the majestic
trees that shaded me, the delicate shrubs around, the astonishing
variety of plants and flowers that I trod under foot, kept me
alternately admiring and observing.'

His writings shew that with him return to Nature was no mere theory,
but real earnest; they condemned the popular garden-craft and carpet
fashions, and set up in their place the rights of the heart, and free
enjoyment of Nature in her wild state, undisturbed by the hand of

It was Rousseau who first discovered that the Alps were beautiful.
But to see this fact in its true light, we must glance back at the
opinions of preceding periods.[1]

Though the Alpine countries were the arena of all sorts of
enterprise, warlike and peaceful, in the fifteenth century, most of
the interest excited by foreign parts was absorbed by the great
voyages of discovery; the Alps themselves were almost entirely
omitted from the maps.

To be just to the time, it must be conceded that security and comfort
in travelling are necessary preliminaries to our modern mountain
rapture, and in the Middle Ages these were non-existent. Roads and
inns were few; there was danger from robbers as well as weather, so
that the prevailing feelings on such journeys were misery and
anxiety, not pleasure. Knowledge of science, too, was only just
beginning; botany, geology, and geognosy were very slightly diffused;
glacier theories were undreamt of. The sight of a familiar scene near
the great snow-peaks roused men's admiration, because they were
surprised to find it there; this told especially in favour of the
idyllic mountain valleys.

Felix Fabri, the preacher monk of Ulm, visited the East in 1480 and
1483, and gave a lifelike description of his journeys through the
Alps in his second account. He said[2]:

'Although the Alps themselves seem dreadful and rigid from the cold
of the snow or the heat of the sun, and reach up to the clouds, the
valleys below them are pleasant, and as rich and fruitful in all
earthly delights as Paradise itself. Many people and animals inhabit
them, and almost every metal is dug out of the Alps, especially
silver. 'Mid such charms as these men live among the mountains, and
Nature blooms as if Venus, Bacchus, and Ceres reigned there. No one
who saw the Alps from afar would believe what a delicious Paradise is
to be found amid the eternal snow and mountains of perpetual winter
and never-melting ice.'

Very limited praise only extended to the valleys!

In the sixteenth century we have the records of those who crossed the
Alps with an army, such as Adam Reissner, the biographer of the
Frundsberg, and mention their 'awe' at sight of the valleys, and of
those who had travelled to Italy and the East, and congratulated
themselves that their troublesome wanderings through the Alps were
over. Savants were either very sparing of words about their travels,
or else made rugged verses which shewed no trace of mountain
inspiration. There were no outbursts of admiration at sight of the
great snow-peaks; 'horrible' and 'dreadful' were the current
epithets. The æsthetic sense was not sufficiently developed, and
discount as we will for the dangers and discomforts of the road, and,
as with the earlier travellers to the East, for some lack of power of
expression, the fact remains that mountains were not appreciated. The
prevalent notion of beautiful scenery was very narrow, and even among
cultured people only meant broad, level country.

B. Kiechel[3] (1585) was enthusiastic about 'the beautiful level
scenery' of Lichfeld, and found it difficult to breathe among the
Alps. Schickhart wrote: 'We were delighted to get away from the
horrible tedious mountains,' and has nothing to say of the Brenner
Pass except this poor joke: 'It did not burn us much, for what with
the ice and very deep snow and horribly cold wind, we found no heat.'
The most enthusiastic description is of the Lake of Como, by Paulus
Jovius (1552), praising Bellagio,'[4] In the seventeenth century
there was some admiration for the colossal proportions of the Alps,
but only as a foil to the much admired valleys.

J.J. Grasser wrote of Rhoetia[5]: 'There are marble masses
projecting, looking like walls and towers in imitation of all sorts
of wonderful architecture. The villages lie scattered in the valleys,
here and there the ground is most fruitful. There is luxuriance close
to barrenness, gracefulness close to dreadfulness, life close to
loneliness. The delight of the painter's eye is here, yet Nature
excels all the skill of art. The very ravines, tortuous foot-paths,
torrents, alternately raging and meagre, the arched bridges, waves on
the lakes, varied dress of the fields, the mighty trees, in short,
whatever heaven and earth grant to the sight, is an astonishment and
a pastime to the enraptured eye of the wanderer.'

But this pastime depended upon the contrast between the charming
valleys and the dreadful mountains.

Joseph Furttenbach (1591) writing about the same district of Thusis,
described 'the little bridges, under which one hears the Rhine
flowing with a great roar, and sees what a horrible cruel wilderness
the place is.' In Conrad Gessner's _De admiratione Montium_ (1541)[6]
a passage occurs which shews that even in Switzerland itself in the
sixteenth century one voice was found to praise Alpine scenery in a
very different way, anticipating Rousseau. 'I have resolved that so
long as God grants me life I will climb some mountains every year, or
at least one mountain, partly to learn the mountain flora, partly to
strengthen my body and refresh my soul. What a pleasure it is to see
the monstrous mountain masses, and lift one's head among the clouds.
How it stimulates worship, to be surrounded by the snowy domes, which
the Great Architect of the world built up in one long day of
creation! How empty is the life, how mean the striving of those who
only crawl about on the earth for gain and home-baked pleasures! The
earthly paradise is closed to them.'

Yet, just as after Rousseau, and even in the nineteenth century,
travellers were to be found who thought the Alps 'dreadful' (I refer
to Chateaubriand's 'hideux'), so such praise as this found no echo in
its own day.

But with the eighteenth century came a change. Travelling no longer
subserved the one practical end of making acquaintance with the
occupations, the morals, the affairs generally, of other peoples; a
new scientific interest arose, geologists and physicists ventured to
explore the glaciers and regions of perpetual snow, and first
admiration, and then love, supplanted the old feeling of horror.

Modern methods began with Scheuchzer's (1672-1733) _Itinera Alpina_.
Every corner of the Alps was explored--the Splugen, Julier, Furka,
Gotthard, etc.--and glaciers, avalanches, ores, fossils, plants
examined. Haller, as his verses shew, was botanist as well as
theologian, historian, and poet; but he did not appreciate mountain

Brockes to some extent did. He described the Harz Mountains in the
Fourth Book of his _Earthly Pleasure in God (Irdisches Vergüngen in
Gott)_; and in his _Observations on the Blankenburg Marble_ he said:
'In many parts the rough mountain heights were monstrously beautiful,
their size delights and appals us'; and wound up a discussion of wild
scenery in contrast to cultivated with: 'Ponder this with joy and
reverence, my soul. The mountain heights wild and beautiful shew us a
picture of earthly disorder.'[7] It was very long before expressions
of horror and fear entirely disappeared from descriptions of the
Alps. In Richardson's _Sir Charles Grandison_ we read: 'We bid adieu
to France and found ourselves in Savoy, equally noted for its poverty
and rocky mountains. We had left behind us a blooming Spring, which
enlivened with its verdure the trees and hedges on the road we
passed, and the meadows already smiled with flowers.... Every object
which here presents itself is excessively miserable.' Savoy is 'one
of the worst countries under Heaven.'

Addison,[8] on the other hand, wrote of the Alps from Ripaille: 'It
was the pleasantest voyage in the world to follow the windings of
this river Inn through such a variety of pleasing scenes as the
course of it naturally led us. We had sometimes on each side of us a
vast extent of naked rocks and mountains, broken into a thousand
irregular steps and precipices ... but, as the materials of a fine
landscape are not always the most profitable to the owner of them, we
met with but little corn or pasturage,' etc. Lady Mary Wortley[9]
Montagu wrote from Lyons, Sept. 25, 1718: 'The prodigious aspect of
mountains covered with eternal snow, clouds hanging far below our
feet, and the vast cascades tumbling down the rocks with a confused
roaring, would have been solemnly entertaining to me, if I had
suffered less from the extreme cold that reigns here.'

On the whole, Switzerland was little known at the beginning of the
eighteenth century. Many travellers still measured the value of
scenery entirely by fertility, like Keyssler,[10] who praised
garden-like level country such as that round Mantua, in contrast to
the useless wild Tyrolese mountains and the woods of Westphalia; and
Lüneburg or Moser,[11] who observed ironically to Abbt (1763), after
reading _Emilia_ and _La Nouvelle Héloise_: 'The far-famed Alps,
about which so much fuss has been made.'

Rousseau was the real exponent of rapture for the high Alps and
romantic scenery in general. Isolated voices had expressed some
feeling before him, but it was he who deliberately proclaimed it, and
gave romantic scenery the first place among the beauties of Nature.
He did not, as so many would have it--Du Bois Reymond, for
example--discover our modern feeling for Nature; the great men of the
Renaissance, even the Hellenic poets, fore-ran him; but he directed
it, with feeling itself in general, into new channels.[12]

In French literature he stood alone; the descriptions of landscape
before him were either borrowed blossoms of antiquity or sentimental
and erotic pastorals. He opened up again for his country the taste
for wood and field, sunshine and moonlight, for the idyllic, and,
above all, for the sublime, which had been lost under artificiality
and false taste.

The primitive freshness, the genuine ring of his enthusiasm for
country life, was worth all the laboured pastorals and fables of
previous periods of literature.

His _Confessions_ opened not only the eyes of France, but the heart.

A Swiss by birth, and living in one of the most beautiful parts of
Europe, Rousseau was devotedly fond of his home on the Lake of
Geneva. As a boy he loved to leave the city and rove in the country.

He describes how once on a Sunday in 1728 he wandered about,
forgetting the time. 'Before me were fields, trees, flowers; the
beautiful lake, the hill country, and high mountains unfolded
themselves majestically before my eyes. I gloated over the beautiful
spectacle while the sun was setting. At last, too late, I saw that
the city gates were shut.'

From that time on he felt more drawn to Nature than to men. In the
Fourth Book of the _Confessions_ he says, speaking of 1732:

'A view of the Lake of Geneva and its beautiful banks has had even in
my idea a particular attraction that I cannot describe, not arising
merely from the beauty of the prospect, but something, I know not
what, more interesting which affects and softens me. 'Every time I
have approached the Vaudois country, I have experienced an impression
composed of the remembrance of Mademoiselle de Warens, who was born
there; of my father, who lived there; of Mademoiselle de Wulson, who
had been my first love; and of several pleasant journeys I had made
there in my childhood, mingled with some nameless charm, more
powerfully attractive than all the rest. When that ardent desire for
a life of happiness and tranquillity (which ever follows me, and for
which I was born) inflames my mind, 'tis ever to the country of Vaud,
near the lake, on those charming plains, that imagination leads me.
An orchard on the banks of that lake, and no other, is absolutely
necessary; a firm friend, an amiable woman, a cow, and a little boat;
nor could I enjoy perfect happiness on earth without these
concomitants.... On my way to Vevey I gave myself up to the soft
melancholy ... I sighed and wept like a child.'

He clung to Nature, and most of all when surrounded by human beings;
a morbid impulse to flee from them was always present as a negative
element in the background of his love for her. His Fifth Reverie, the
most beautiful one, shews this.

He had gone to the Peter Island on the Lake of Bienne. So far as he
knew, no other traveller had paid any attention to the place; but
that did not disturb his confidence in his own taste.

'The shores of the Lake of Bienne are wilder and more romantic than
those of the Lake of Geneva, because the rocks and woods come nearer
to the water; but they are not less radiant. With less cultivation
and fewer vineyards, towns, and houses, there are more green fields
and shady sheltered spots, more contrasts and irregularities. As
there are no good carriage roads on these happy shores, the district
is little frequented by travellers; but it is interesting for the
solitary contemplation of those who like to intoxicate themselves at
their leisure with Nature's charms, and to retire into a silence
unbroken by any sound but the eagle's cry, the intermittent warbling
of birds, and the roar of torrents falling from the mountains,'

Here he had a delightful Robinson Crusoe existence. The only other
human beings were the Bernese manager with his family and labourers.
He counted his two months among the happiest of his life, and would
have liked to stay for ever. True to his character, he proceeded to
analyze the charm of the episode, and decided that it was made up of
the _dolce far niente_, solitude, absence of books and writing
materials, dealing with simple folk, healthy movement in the open
air, field labour, and, above all, intercourse with Nature, both in
admiring and studying her. He was seized with a passion for
botanizing, and planned a comprehensive Flora Petrinsularis, dividing
the whole island into quarters, so that no part might escape notice.

'There is nothing more strange than the ravishment, the ecstasy, I
felt at each observation I made upon vegetable structure and

'I would go by myself, throw myself into a boat when the water was
calm, and row to the middle of the lake, and then, lying full-length
in the boat with my eyes to the sky, I would let myself drift,
sometimes for hours, lost in a thousand confused but delicious
reveries.... Often when the sunset reminded me that it was time to
return, I found myself so far from the island that I was forced to
pull with all my strength to get back before night-fall. At other
times, instead of wandering about the lake, I amused myself by
skirting the green shores of the island where the limpid water and
cool shade often invited to a bathe.... When the lake was too rough
for rowing, I would spend the afternoon scouring the island,
botanizing right and left. I often sat down to dream at leisure in
sunny, lonely nooks, or on the terraces and hillocks, to gaze at the
superb ravishing panorama of the lake and its shores--one side
crowned by near mountains, the other spread out in rich and fertile
plains, across which the eye looked to the more distant boundary of
blue mountains.... When evening fell, I came down from the higher
parts of the mountains and sat by the shore in some hidden spot, and
there the sound of the waves and the movements of the water, making
me oblivious of all other distraction, would plunge me into delicious
reverie. The ebb and flow of the water, and the sound of it,
restrained and yet swelling at intervals, by striking eye and ear
without ceasing, came to the aid of those inner movements of the mind
which reverie destroys, and sufficed to make me pleasantly conscious
of existence without the trouble of thinking.... There is nothing
actual in all this to which the heart can attach itself; even in our
most intense enjoyment there is scarcely a moment of which the heart
can truly say "I should like it to stay for ever."'

One thinks of Faust: 'O moment! tarry awhile, thou art so fair!'

However, at the close of the Reverie he admits that he has often had
such moments--moments free from all earthly passion--on the lake and
on the island. His feeling was increased by botanical knowledge, and
later on in life the world of trees and plants became his one safe
refuge when pursued by delusions of persecution.

The Seventh Reverie has a touching account of his pleasure in botany,
of the effect of 'earth in her wedding-dress, the only scene in the
world of which eyes and heart never weary,' the intoxicating sense
that he was part of a great system in which individual detail
disappears, and he only sees and hears the whole.

'Shunning men, seeking solitude, no longer dreaming, still less
thinking, I began to concern myself with all my surroundings, giving
the preference to my favourites...brilliant flowers, emerald meadows,
fresh shade, streams, thickets, green turf, these purified my
imagination.... Attracted by the pleasant objects around, I note
them, study them, and finally learn to classify them, and so become
at one stroke as much of a botanist as one need be when one only
studies Nature to find ever new reasons for loving her.

'The plants seem sown in profusion over the earth like the stars in
the sky, to invite man, through pleasure and curiosity, to study
them; but the stars are far off; they require preliminary knowledge
... while plants grow under our very feet--lie, so to speak, in our
very hands.'

He had a peaceful sense of being free from his enemies when
he was pursuing his botany in the woods. He described one
never-to-be-forgotten ramble when he lost himself in a dense thicket
close to a dizzy precipice, where, save for some rare birds, he was
quite alone. He was just feeling the pride of a Columbus in the
discovery of new ground, when his eye fell upon a manufactory not far
off. His first feeling was a flash of delight at finding himself
again among men; but this gave way to the more lasting and painful
one, that even among the Alps there was no escape from his

Years later, when he knew that he would never revisit the spot, the
leaves in his herbarium would carry him back to it in memory.

So strong a personal attachment to Nature, solitude, and retirement
had not been known before; but it was thrown into this high relief by
the morbid dread of man and hatred of culture, which formed a
constant dark background to his mind. It was a state of mind which
naturally led to intense dislike of formal French gardens and open
admiration of the English park. He rejected all the garnish of
garden-craft, even grafted roses and fruit trees, and only admitted
indigenous plants which grew outdoors.[13] It is greatly due to his
feeling for English Park style that a healthier garden-craft gained
ground in Germany as well as France. The foremost maxim of his
philosophy and teaching, that everything is good as it comes from the
bosom of mother Nature, or rather from the hand of God, and that man
and his culture are responsible for all the evil, worked out in his
attitude towards Nature.

He placed her upon a pedestal, worshipping her, and the Creator
through her, and this made him the first to recognize the fact that
study of Nature, especially of botany, should be an important factor
in the education of children.

His _Confessions_, the truest photographs of a human character in
existence, shew at once the keenest introspection and intense love
for Nature. No one before Rousseau had been so aware of his own
individuality--that is, of himself, as a being--who in this
particular state only exists once, and has therefore not only
relative but absolute value. He gave this peculiarity its full value,
studying it as a thing outside himself, of which every detail was
important, watching with great interest his own change of moods, the
fluctuations of that double self which now lifted him to the ideal,
now cast him down to the lowest and commonest. His relation to Nature
was the best thing about him, and when he was happy, as he was for
the first time in the society of Mademoiselle de Warens, Nature
seemed lovelier than ever.

The scattered passages about Nature in the _Confessions_ have a
youthful freshness:

'The appearance of Aurora seemed so delightful one morning, that,
putting on my clothes, I hastened into the country to see the rising
of the sun. I enjoyed that pleasure to its utmost extent. It was one
week after midsummer: the earth was covered with verdure and flowers;
the nightingales, whose soft warblings were almost over, seemed to
vie with each other, and, in concert with birds of various kinds, to
bid adieu to spring and hail the approach of a beautiful summer's

He loved rambling over hill and dale, even by night; thus, when he
was at Lyons:

'It had been a very hot day, the evening was delightful, the dew
moistened the parched grass, no wind was stirring; the air was fresh
without chilliness, the setting sun had tinged the clouds with a
beautiful crimson, which was again reflected by the water, and the
trees bordering the terrace were filled with nightingales that were
constantly answering each other's songs. I walked along in a kind of
ecstasy, surrendering my heart and senses to the enjoyment of so many
delights, and sighing only from regret at enjoying them alone.
Absorbed in this pleasing reverie, I lengthened my walk till it grew
very late, without perceiving I was tired. At length I threw myself
on the steps of a kind of niche in a terrace wall. How charming was
that couch! The trees formed a stately canopy, a nightingale sat
directly over me, and with his soft notes lulled me to rest. How
delicious my repose! my awakening more so. It was broad day; on
opening my eyes, I saw the water, the verdure, and an adorable
landscape before me.'

At the end of the Fourth Book he states his idea of beautiful

'I love to walk at my ease and stop at leisure ... travelling on foot
in a fine country with fine weather ... and having an agreeable
object to terminate my journey. It is already understood what I mean
by a fine country; never can a flat one, though ever so beautiful,
appear such to my eyes. I must have torrents, fir trees, black woods,
mountains to climb or descend, and rugged roads with precipices on
either side to alarm me. I experienced this pleasure to its utmost
extent as I approached Chambéry, not far from a mountain road called
the Pas d'Échelle. Above the main road, hewn through the solid rock,
a small river runs and rushes into fearful chasms, which it appears
to have been millions of ages in forming. The road has been hedged by
a parapet to prevent accidents, and I was thus enabled to contemplate
the whole descent and gain vertigoes at pleasure, for a great part of
my amusement in these steep rocks lies in their causing a giddiness
and swimming in my head, which I am particularly fond of, provided I
am in safety. Leaning therefore on the parapet, I remained whole
hours, catching from time to time a glance of the froth and blue
water whose rushing caught my ear, mingled with the cries of ravens
and other birds of prey that flew from rock to rock and bush to bush
at 600 feet below me.'

His preference was for the wild and sublime, and he was glad that
this was not a popular taste; but he could write glowing descriptions
of more idyllic scenery and of village life.

He said of a day at the Charmettes, a property near Chambéry, with
his beloved friend Madame de Warens, at the end of 1736:

'I arose with the sun and was happy; I walked and was happy; I saw
Madame de Warens and was happy; I quitted her and still was happy.
Whether I rambled through the woods, over the hills, or strolled
along the valley; read, was idle, worked in the garden, or gathered
fruits, happiness continually accompanied me.'

He offered his morning prayer from a hill-top, and in the evening,
before he left, stooped to kiss the ground and the trees, gazing till
they were out of sight at the places where he had been so happy.

At the Hermitage with Thérèse there was a similar idyll.

The most epoch--making event in European feeling for Nature was the
appearance of _La Nouvelle Héloise_ (1761). The book overflows with
Rousseau's raptures about the Lake of Geneva. St Preux says:

'The nearer I drew to Switzerland, the greater were my emotions. That
instant in which I discovered the Lake of Geneva from the heights of
Jura, was a moment of ecstasy and rapture. The sight of my country,
my beloved country, where a deluge of pleasure had overflowed my
heart; the pure and wholesome air of the Alps, the gentle breeze of
the country, more sweet than the perfumes of the East; that rich and
fertile spot, that unrivalled landscape, the most beautiful that ever
struck the eye of man, that delightful abode, to which I found
nothing comparable in the vast tour of the globe; the mildness of the
season, the serenity of the climate, a thousand pleasing
recollections which recalled to my mind the pleasures I had
enjoyed;--all these circumstances together threw me into a kind of
transport which I cannot describe, and seemed to collect the
enjoyment of my whole life into one happy moment.'

_La Nouvelle Héloise_ shewed the world three things in quite a new
light: the inner consciousness which was determined to give feeling
its rights again, though well aware that 'a feeling heart is an
unhappy gift from heaven'; the taste for solitude, 'all noble
passions are formed in solitude'; and closely bound up with these,
the love of romantic scenery, which it described for the first time
in glowing language.

Such expressions as these of St Preux were unheard of at that time:
'I shall do my best to be free quickly, and able to wander at my ease
in the wild places that to my mind make the charm of this country.'
'I am of opinion that this unfrequented country deserves the
attention of speculative curiosity, and that it wants nothing to
excite admiration but a skilful spectator'; and 'Nature seems
desirous of hiding her real charms from the sight of men, because
they are too little sensible of them, and disfigure them when within
their reach; she flies from public places; it is on the tops of
mountains, in the midst of forests, on desert islands, that she
displays her most affecting charms.'

Rousseau certainly announced his views with all the fervour of a
prophet proclaiming a newly-discovered truth. The sketch St Preux
gives of the country that 'deserved a year's study,' in the
twenty-third letter to Julia, is very poetic. He is ascending a rocky
path when a new view breaks upon him:

    One moment I beheld stupendous rocks hanging ruinous over my
    head; the next, I was enveloped in a drizzling cloud, which arose
    from a vast cascade that, dashing, thundered against the rocks
    below my feet. On one side a perpetual torrent opened to my view
    a yawning abyss, which my eyes could hardly fathom with safety;
    sometimes I was lost in the obscurity of a hanging wood, and then
    was greatly astonished with the sudden opening of a flowery

He was always charmed by 'a surprising mixture of wild and cultivated

    Here Nature seems to have a singular pleasure in acting
    contradictory to herself, so different does she appear in the
    same place in different aspects. Towards the east, the flowers of
    spring; to the south, the flowers of autumn; and northwards, the
    ice of winter. Add to that the illusions of vision, the tops of
    the mountains variously illumined, the harmonious mixture of
    light and shade....

After climbing, he reflects:

    Upon the top of mountains, the air being subtle and pure, we
    respire with greater freedom, our bodies are more active, our
    minds more serene, our pleasures less ardent, and our passions
    much more moderate. Our meditations acquire a degree of sublimity
    from the grandeur of the objects around us. It seems as if, being
    lifted above all human society, we had left every low terrestrial
    sentiment behind.

He can find no words to express 'the amazing variety, magnitude, and
beauty of a thousand stupendous objects, the pleasure of gazing at an
entire new scene ... and beholding, as it were, another Nature and a
new world.'

Earlier in the year he wrote his letters to Julia upon a block of
stone in his favourite wild spot, and the wintry landscape harmonized
with his feelings:

    I run to and fro, climb the rocks and explore my whole district,
    and find everything as horrible without as I experienced it
    within. There is no longer any verdure to be seen, the grass is
    yellow and withered, the trees are stripped of their foliage, and
    the north-east blast heaps snow and ice around me. In short, the
    whole face of Nature appears as decayed to my outward senses as I
    myself from within am dead to hope and joy.

Julia, too, is enthusiastic about places, where 'no vestiges are seen
of human toil, no appearance of studied and laborious art; every
object presents only a view of the tender care of Nature, our common

When St Preux knows that she returns his love, his sympathy for
Nature overflows:

    I find the country more delightful, the verdure fresher and
    livelier, the air more temperate, and the sky more serene than
    ever I did before; even the feathered songsters seem to tune
    their tender throats with more harmony and pleasure; the
    murmuring rills invite to love-inspiring dalliance, while the
    blossoms of the vine regale me from afar with the choicest
    perfumes ... let us animate all Nature, which is absolutely dead
    without the genial warmth of love.

St Preux escorts his old love to the Meillerie, and it was with his
description of this that Rousseau unrolled the full charm of mountain
scenery, and opened the eyes of his readers to see it.

They were climbing a mountain top on the Savoy side of the lake:

    This solitary spot formed a wild and desert nook, but full of
    those sorts of beauties which are only agreeable to susceptible
    minds, and appear horrible to others. A torrent, occasioned by
    the melting of the snow, rolled in a muddy stream within twenty
    paces of us, and carried dust, sand, and stones along with it,
    not without considerable noise. Behind us, a chain of
    inaccessible rocks divided the place where we stood from that
    part of the Alps which they call the Ice house.... Forests of
    gloomy fir trees afforded us a melancholy shade on the right,
    while on the left was a large wood of oak, beyond which the
    torrent issued; and beneath, that vast body of water which the
    lake forms in the bay of the Alps, parted us from the rich coast
    of the Pays de Vaud, crowning the whole landscape with the top of
    the majestic Jura.

Rousseau's influence upon feeling in general, and feeling for Nature
in particular, was an extraordinary one, widening and deepening at

By his strong personal impulse he impelled it into more natural
paths, and at the same time he discovered the power of the mountains.

He brought to flower the germ which had lain dormant in Hellenism and
the Renaissance; and although his readers imbibed a sickly strain of
morbid sentimentality with this passion for the new region of
feeling, the total effect of his individuality and his idealism was
to intensify their love for Nature. His feelings woke the liveliest
echo, and it was not France alone who profited by the lessons he

He was no mountaineer himself, but he pointed out the way, and others
soon followed it. Saussure began his climbing in 1760, exploring the
Alps with the indomitable spirit of the discoverer and the
scientist's craving for truth. He ascended Mont Blanc in 1787, and
only too soon the valleys of Chamounix filled with tourists and
speculators. One of the first results of Rousseau's imposing
descriptions of scenery was to rouse the most ardent of French
romance writers, Bernardin de St Pierre; and his writings, especially
his beautiful pictures of the Ile de France, followed hard in the
wake of _La Nouvelle Héloise_.

In _Paul and Virginia_ vivid descriptions of Nature were interwoven
with an idyllic Robinson Crusoe romance:

    Within this enclosure reigns the most profound silence. The
    waters, the air, all the elements are at peace. Scarcely does the
    echo repeat the whispers of the palm trees spreading their broad
    leaves, the long points of which are gently agitated by the
    winds. A soft light illumines the bottom of this deep valley, on
    which the sun shines only at noon. But even at break of day the
    rays of light are thrown on the surrounding rocks, and their
    sharp peaks, rising above the shadows of the mountain, appear
    like tints of gold and purple gleaming upon the azure sky.

Like Rousseau, St Pierre held that 'to take refuge in the wildest and
most desert places is an instinct common to all feeling and suffering
beings, as if rocks were ramparts against misfortune, and Nature's
calm could appease the sorrows of the soul'[14]; but he differed in
caring for Nature far more for her own sake, and not in opposition to
culture and a detested world. He wrote too, not as a philosopher
proclaiming a new gospel, but as a poet[15]; the poetry of Nature had
been revealed to French literature.

St Pierre drew the beauty of the tropics in a poem, and George
Forster's _Voyage round the World_[16] shewed how quickly Rousseau's
influence told upon travels. It was a far cry from the Crusaders and
discoverers to the highly-cultured Forster, alive to everything that
was good and beautiful, and able to express it. He was the first to
describe countries and peoples from both the scientific and artistic
standpoint--a style of writing which Humboldt perfected, and some
later writers, Haeckel, for example, in _Indischen Briefen_, have
carried on with success.

To quote Forster:

    The town of Santa Cruz in Madeira was abreast of us at six in the
    afternoon. The mountains are here intersected by numerous deep
    glens and valleys. On the sloping ground we observed several
    country houses pleasantly situated amidst surrounding vineyards
    and lofty cypresses, which gave the country altogether a romantic
    appearance. Early on the 29th we were agreeably surprised with
    the picturesque appearance of the city of Funchal....

In October 1772, off South Africa:

    The night was scarcely begun when the water all round us afforded
    the most grand and astonishing sight that can be imagined. As far
    as we could see, the whole ocean seemed to be in a blaze. Every
    breaking wave had its summit illuminated by a light similar to
    that of phosphorus, and the sides of the vessel, coming in
    contact with the sea, were strongly marked by a luminous line....
    There was a singularity and a grandeur in the display of this
    phenomenon which could not fail of giving occupation to the mind,
    and striking it with a reverential awe, due to omnipotence.

    The ocean was covered to a great extent with myriads of
    animalcules; these little beings, organized, alive, endowed with
    locomotive power, a quality of shining whenever they please, of
    illuminating every body with which they come in contact ... all
    these ideas crowded upon us, and bade us admire the Creator, even
    in His minutest works.... I hope I shall not have formed too
    favourable an opinion of my readers, if I expect that the
    generality will sympathize with me in these feelings.

In Dusky Bay:

    We glided along by insensible degrees, wafted by light airs past
    numerous rocky islands, each of which was covered with wood and
    shrubberies, where numerous evergreens were sweetly contrasted
    and mingled with the various shades of autumnal yellow. Flocks of
    aquatic birds enlivened the rocky shores, and the whole country
    resounded with the wild notes of the feathered tribe.... The view
    of rude sceneries in the style of Rosa, of antediluvian forests
    which clothed the rock, and of numerous rills of water which
    everywhere rolled down the steep declivity, altogether conspired
    to complete our joy.

Cascade Cove in New Zealand:

    This waterfall at a distance of a mile and a half seems to be but
    inconsiderable on account of its great elevation; but, after
    climbing about 200 yards upwards, we ... found a view of great
    beauty and grandeur before us. The first object which strikes the
    beholder is a clear column of water eight or ten yards in
    circumference, which is projected with great impetuosity from the
    perpendicular rock at the height of 100 yards. Nearly at the
    fourth part of the whole height this column meeting a part of the
    same rock, which now acquires a little inclination, spreads on
    its broad back into a limpid sheet of about twenty-five yards in
    width. Here its surface is curled, and dashes upon every little
    eminence in its rapid descent, till it is all collected in a fine
    basin about sixty yards in circuit, included on three sides by
    the natural walls of the rocky chasm, and in front by huge masses
    of stone irregularly piled above each other. Between them the
    stream finds its way, and runs foaming with the greatest rapidity
    along the slope of the hill to the sea. The whole neighbourhood
    of the cascade ... is filled with a steam or watery vapour.... We
    ... were struck with the sight of a most beautiful rainbow of a
    perfectly circular form, produced by the meridian rays of the sun
    refracted in the vapour of the cascade.

    The scenery on the left consists of steep brown rocks fringed on
    the summits with overhanging shrubs and trees; the enchanting
    melody of various birds resounded on all sides, and completed the
    beauty of this wild and romantic spot.

He described: 'A waterspout, a phenomenon which carried so much
terrific majesty in it, and connected, as it were, the sea with the
clouds, made our oldest mariners uneasy and at a loss how to behave.'

He begins his diary of August 1773 with O'Taheite:

    It was one of those beautiful mornings which the poets of all
    nations have attempted to describe, when we saw the isle of
    O'Taheite within two miles before us. The east wind, which had
    carried us so far, was entirely vanished, and a faint breeze only
    wafted a delicious perfume from the land, and curled the surface
    of the sea. The mountains, clothed with forests, rose majestic in
    various spiry forms, on which we already perceived the light of
    the rising sun ... everything seemed as yet asleep; the morning
    scarce dawned, and a peaceful shade still rested on the

    This spot was one of the most beautiful I had ever seen, and
    could not fail of bringing to remembrance the most fanciful
    descriptions of poets, which it eclipsed in beauty; we had a
    prospect of the plain below us, and of the sea beyond it. In the
    shade of trees, whose branches hung over the water, we enjoyed a
    pleasant gale, which softened the heat of the day; and, amidst
    the solemn uniform noise of the waterfall, which was but seldom
    interrupted by the whistling of birds, we sat down....

    We could have been well pleased to have passed the whole day in
    this retirement ... however, feasting our eyes once more with the
    romantic scenery, we returned to the plain.

It was such descriptions as these which stimulated Humboldt. There is
a breath of poetry in his writings; his _Views of Nature_ and
_Cosmos_ give ample proof that love of Nature and knowledge of Nature
can condition and deepen each other.

It is not surprising that in the flood of scientific 'Travels' which
followed, especially in imitation of Forster, there were some that
laid claim to a wonderful grade of feeling. For example, the
description of a day at the Equator by von Spix and v. Martius in
their Travels in Brazil in 1817 to 1820:

    In these seas the sun rises from the ocean with great splendour,
    and gilds the clouds accumulated in the horizon, which in grand
    and various groups seem to present to the eye of the spectator
    continents with high mountains and valleys, with volcanoes and
    seas, mythological and other strange creations of fancy.

    The lamp of day gradually rises in the transparent blue sky; the
    damp grey fogs subside; the sea is calm or gently rises and
    falls, with a surface smooth as a mirror, in a regular motion. At
    noon a pale, faintly shining cloud rises, the herald of a sudden
    tempest, which at once disturbs the tranquillity of the sea.
    Thunder and lightning seem as if they would split our planet; but
    a heavy rain of a salt taste, pouring down in the midst of
    roaring whirlwinds, puts an end to the raging of the elements,
    and several semi-circular rainbows, extended over the ocean like
    gay triumphal arches, announce the peaceful termination of the
    great natural phenomenon. As soon as the air and sea have
    recovered their equilibrium, the sky again shews its transparent
    azure.... As the sun gradually sinks in the clouded horizon, the
    sea and sky assume a new dress, which is beyond description
    sublime and magnificent. The most brilliant red, yellow, violet,
    in infinite shades and contrasts, are poured out in profusion
    over the azure of the firmament, and are reflected in still gayer
    variety from the surface of the water. The day departs amid
    continued lightning on the dusky horizon, while the moon in
    silent majesty rises from the unbounded ocean into the cloudless
    upper regions. Variable winds cool the atmosphere; numerous
    falling stars, coming particularly from the south, shed a magic
    light; the dark-blue firmament, reflected with the constellations
    on the untroubled bosom of the water, represents the image of the
    wholly starry hemisphere; and the ocean, agitated even by the
    faintest breeze of the night, is changed into a sea of waving
    fire.... The variety of the light and foliage of the trees, which
    is seen in the forests, on the slopes of the mountains: the
    blending of the most diverse colours, and the dark azure and
    transparency of the sky, impart to the landscapes of the tropical
    countries a charm to which even the pencil of a Salvator Rosa and
    a Claude cannot do justice....

    Except at noon, when all living creatures in the torrid zone seek
    shade and repose, and when a solemn silence is diffused over the
    scene, illumined by the dazzling beams of the sun, every hour of
    the day calls into action another race of animals.... When the
    sun goes down, most of the animals retire to rest ... myriads of
    luminous beetles now begin to fly about like _ignes fatui_, and
    the blood-sucking bats hover like phantoms in the profound
    darkness of the night.... The traveller does not here meet with
    the impressions of those sublime and rugged high Alps of Europe,
    nor, on the other hand, those of a meaner nature; but the
    character of these landscapes combines grandeur with simplicity
    and softness....

    He who has not personally experienced the enchantment of tranquil
    moonlight nights in these happy latitudes can never be inspired,
    even by the most faithful description, with those feelings which
    scenes of such wondrous beauty excite in the mind of the

    A delicate transparent mist hangs over the country, the moon
    shines brightly amid heavy and singularly grouped clouds, the
    outlines of the objects illuminated by it are clear and well
    defined, while a magic twilight seems to remove from the eye
    those which are in shade. Scarce a breath of air is stirring, and
    the neighbouring mimosas, that have folded up their leaves to
    sleep, stand motionless beside the dark crowns of the manga, the
    jaca, and the ethereal jambos; or sometimes a sudden wind arises
    and the juiceless leaves of the acaju rustle, the richly flowered
    grumijama and pitanga let drop a fragrant shower of snow-white
    blossoms; the crowns of the majestic palms wave slowly over the
    silent roof which they overshade, like a symbol of peace and

    Shrill cries of the cicada, the grasshopper, and tree frog make
    an incessant hum, and produce by their monotony a pleasing
    melancholy.... Every half-hour different balsamic odours fill the
    air, and other flowers alternately unfold their leaves to the
    night.... While the silent vegetable world, illuminated by scores
    of fireflies as by a thousand moving stars, charms the night by
    its delicate effluvia, brilliant lightnings play incessantly on
    the horizon, and elevate the mind in joyful admiration to the
    stars, which, glowing in solemn silence in the firmament above
    the continent and ocean, fill the soul with a presentiment of
    still sublimer wonders.

Travels by sea were described at much greater length and with much
more effusion than travels by land; one might infer from the silence
of the people who moved about in Europe in the eighteenth century,
that no love of Nature existed. The extreme discomfort of the road up
to a hundred years ago may account for this silence within Germany.

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu wrote in 1716 of Saxon Switzerland:

    We passed by moonshine the frightful precipices that divide
    Bohemia from Saxony, at the bottom of which runs the river Elbe
    ... in many places the road is so narrow that I could not discern
    an inch of space between the wheels and the precipice....

and her husband declared that

    he had passed the Alps five times in different places, without
    having gone a road so dangerous.

Scherr relates that in the late autumn of 1721 a citizen of
Schwabisch-Gmünd travelled to Ellwangen, a distance of eight hours'

Before starting, he had a mass performed in St John's Church 'for the
safe conclusion of the coming journey.' He set off one Monday with
his wife and a maid in a two-horse vehicle called a small tilt waggon
(_Planwägelchen_), but in less than an hour the wheels stuck in mud,
and the whole party had to get out and push the carriage, up to their
knees in filth. In the middle of the village of Boebingen the driver
inadvertently drove the front left wheel into a manure hole, the
carriage was overturned, and the lady of the party had her nose and
cheek badly grazed by the iron hoops.

From Moeggelingen to Aalen they were obliged to use three horses, and
yet it took fully six hours, so that they were obliged to spend the
night there. Next morning they set off early, and reached the village
of Hofen by mid-day without accidents. Here for a time the travelling
ceased, for a hundred paces beyond the village the carriage fell into
a puddle, and they were all terribly soiled; the maid's right
shoulder was dislocated, and the manservant's hand injured. The axle
of one of the wheels was broken, and a horse completely lamed in the
left forefoot. They had to put up a second time for the night, leave
horses, carriage, man, and maid in Hofen, and hire a rack waggon, in
which at last, pitifully shaken, they reached the gates of Ellwangen
on Wednesday at vesper bells.

When Eva König, Lessing's _fiancée_, was on her way from Brunswick to
Nuremberg in 1772, she wrote to him from Rattelsdorf (two miles north
of Bamberg), on February 28th, as follows:

    You will certainly never in your life have heard of a village
    called Rattelsdorf? We have been in it already twenty-four hours,
    and who knows if we shall not have to stay four times as long! It
    depends on the Maine, whether it falls or not; as it is now, one
    could not cross it, even if one dared to. I have never in my life
    met with so many hindrances, so many dangers and hardships, as on
    this journey. I can hardly think of any misfortunes which we have
    not already had.

She goes on to describe that in thirty-eight hours two axles and two
poles had been broken, the horses had bolted with them, one horse had
fallen and died, and so on; on March 2nd they were still prisoners in
the wretched village.

In 1750 a day's journey was still reckoned at five miles, two hours
to the mile; and when in July 1750 Klopstock travelled with Gleim
from Halberstadt to Magdeburg in a light carriage drawn by four
horses, at the rate of six miles in six hours, he thought this speed
remarkable enough to merit comparison with the racing in the Olympian
games. People of any pretensions shunned the discomforts of
travelling on foot--the bad roads, the insecurity, the dirty inns,
and the rough treatment in them; to walk abroad in good clothes and
admire the scenery was an unknown thing. (G. Freytag.)

It was only after the widening of thoroughfares, the invention of
steamboats (the first was on the Weser 1827) and railways (1835),
that travelling became commoner and more popular, and feeling for
Nature was thereby increased.

After the Swiss Alps had been discovered for them, people began to
feel interest in their native mountains; Zimmermann led the way with
his observations on a journey in the Harz 1775, and Gatterer in 1785
published _A Guide to Travelling in the Harz_ in five volumes.

In 1806 appeared Nicolas's _Guide to Switzerland_, in 1777 J.T.
Volkmar's _Journey to the Riesengebirge_, and before long each little
country and province, be it Weimar, Mecklenburg, or the Mark, had
discovered a Switzerland within its own boundaries, with mountains as
much like the Swiss Alps as a charming little girl is like a giant.

It was the opening of men's eyes to the charms of romantic scenery at

The Isle of Rügen too, Swedish at that time, with its striking
contrasts of deep blue bays and inlets, chalk rocks and beech woods,
came into fashion with lovers of Nature, especially after the road
from Sagard to Stubbenkamer had been improved[17]--so much so, in
fact, that in 1805 Grümbke was complaining that many people only went
there to feast, not to enjoy the scene:

    You know I am no foe to pleasure, and appreciate my food and
    drink after physical exertion as much as any one; but it is
    desecration to make that the main object here. In this dreadfully
    beautiful wilderness, under these green corridors of beeches, on
    the battlements of this great dazzling temple, before this huge
    azure mirror of the sea, only high and serious thoughts should
    find a place--the whole scene, stamped as it is with majesty and
    mystery, seems designed to attract the mind to the hidden life of
    the unending world around it. For this, solitude and rest are
    necessary conditions, hence one must visit Stubbenkamer either
    alone or with intimate and congenial friends.



The eighteenth century, so proudly distinguished as the century of
Frederic the Great and Maria Theresa, Kant and Lessing, Rousseau and
Voltaire, the age of enlightenment, and, above all, of the
Revolution, was the most sentimental period in history. Its feeling
for Nature bore the same stamp. Many of the Anacreontists and
Göttingen poets, as well as Klopstock, shewed genuine enthusiasm; but
their horizon was narrow, and though F. Stolberg sang of the sea and
his native mountains, most of them only rang the changes on moonlight
and starlight, pastoral idylls, the joys of spring, and winter
excursions on the ice. Even Rousseau, the prophet of high mountains,
was the child of the same sentimental, self-adoring time; a morbid
strain, call it misanthropy, melancholy, what you will, underlay all
his passion for Nature. It was Goethe who dissolved the spell which
lay over the world, and, although born into the days of beautiful
souls, moonshine poets, seraphic heaven stormers, pastoral poems, and
_La Nouvelle Héloise_, ennobled and purified the tone of the day and
freed it from convention!

It was by dint of his genius for expression, the gift of finding the
one right word, that he became the world's greatest lyrist: what he
felt became a poem, what he saw a picture.

To see and to fashion into poetry were one with him, whereas his
predecessors had called out the whole artillery of Olympus--nymphs,
Oreads, Chloe, Phyllis, Damon, Aurora, Echo, and Zephyr--even the
still heavier ordnance of the old Teutonic gods and half-gods, only
to repeat stereotyped ideas, and produce descriptions of scenery,
without lyric thought and feeling.

But Goethe's genius passed through very evident stages of
development, and found forerunners in Lessing and Herder.

Lessing's mind was didactic and critical, not lyric, so that his
importance here is a negative one. In laying down the limits of
poetry and painting in _Laocoon_, he attacked the error of his day
which used poetry for pictures, debasing it to mere descriptions of
seasons, places, plants, etc.

He was dealing with fundamental principles when he said:

    Simonides called painting dumb poetry, and poetry speaking
    painting; but ... many modern critics have drawn the crudest
    conclusions possible from this agreement between painting and
    poetry. At one time they confine poetry within the narrow limits
    of painting, and at another allow painting to fill the whole wide
    sphere of poetry.... This fault-finding criticism has partially
    misled the virtuosos themselves. In poetry a fondness for
    description, and in painting a fancy for allegory, has arisen
    from the desire to make the one a speaking picture without really
    knowing what it can and ought to paint, and the other a dumb poem
    without having considered in how far painting can express
    universal ideas without abandoning its proper sphere and
    degenerating into an arbitrary method of writing.... Since the
    artist can use but a single moment of ever-changing Nature, and
    the painter must further confine his study of this one moment to
    a single point of view, while their works are made not simply to
    be looked at, but to be contemplated long and often, evidently
    the most fruitful moment and the most fruitful aspect must be
    chosen. Now that only is fruitful which allows free play to the
    imagination. The more we see, the more we must be able to
    imagine; and the more we imagine, the more we must think we see.

And against descriptive poetry he said:

    When a poetaster, says Horace, can do nothing else, he falls to
    describing a grove, an altar, a brook winding through pleasant
    meadows, a rushing river, or a rainbow. Pope expressly enjoined
    upon every one who would not prove himself unworthy the name of
    poet, to abandon as early as possible this fondness for
    description. A merely descriptive poem he declared to be a feast
    made up of sauces.

Acute as his distinction was between poetry as the representative art
of actions in time, and painting as the representative art of bodies
in space, he did not give due value to lyric feeling or landscape
painting.[1] They belong to a region in which his sharp, critical
acumen was not at home.

But his discussions established the position that external objects of
any sort, including Nature in all her various shapes, are not proper
subjects for poetry when taken as Thomson, Brockes, and Haller took
them, by themselves alone, but must first be imbued with human
feeling. And the same holds good of landscape painting. Goethe's
lyrics are the most perfect examples of this blending of the outer
and inner world.

Lessing's criticisms had a salutary, emancipating effect upon
prevalent taste; but a more positive influence came into play through
Herder's warm predilection for the popular songs, which had been so
long neglected, and for all that rises, as in the Psalms, Homer,
Shakespeare, Ossian, from primitive sources of feeling, and finds
spontaneous expression in poetry. The effect of his pioneering was
marked, especially upon Goethe. Herder understood the revulsion of
feeling from the unnatural restraint of the Pigtail period, and while
holding up the mirror to his own day, he at the same time led its
taste and the expression of it towards what was simple and natural,
by disclosing the treasures which lay hidden in the poetry of the
people. The lyric was freed from the artificiality and convention
which had so long ruled it, and although he did not carry out his
plan of a history of poetry, his collections and his profound remarks
upon them were of great service, sowing a seed that bore fruit in
succeeding days.

The popular songs to him were children of the same mother as the
plants and flowers. 'All the songs of such unlettered folk,'[2] he
said, 'weave a living world around existing objects, actions, and
events. How rich and manifold they all become! And the eye can
actually see them, the mind realize them; they are set in motion. The
different parts of the song are no more connected together than the
trees and bushes in a wood, the rocks in a desert, or the scenes
depicted.' In another place[3] he put the history of feeling for
Nature very tersely: 'There is no doubt that the spirit of man is
made gentler by studying Nature. What did the classics aim at in
their Georgics, but under various shapes to make man more humane and
raise him gradually to order, industry, and prosperity, and to the
power to observe Nature?...' Hence, when poetry revived in the Middle
Ages, she soon recollected the true land of her birth among the
plants and flowers. The Provencal and the romantic poets loved the
same descriptions. Spenser, for instance, has charming stanzas about
beautiful wilds with their streams and flowers; Cowley's six books on
plants, vegetables, and trees are written with extraordinary
affection and a superfluity of imagination; and of our old Brockes,
Gessner says: 'He observed Nature's many beauties down to their
finest minutiæ, the smallest things move his tender feelings; a
dewdrop on a blade of grass in the sunshine inspires him. His scenes
are often too laboured, too wide in scope, but still his poems are a
storehouse of pictures direct from Nature. Haller's _Alps_, Kleist's
poems and Gessner's, Thomson's _Seasons_, speak for themselves.'

He delighted in Shaftesbury's praises of Nature as the good and
beautiful in the _Moralists_, and translated it[4]; in fact, in
Herder we have already an æsthetic cult of the beauties of Nature.

After the moral disquisitions of Pope, Addison, Shaftesbury, etc.,
Nature's influence on man, moral and æsthetic, became, as we have
already seen, a favourite theme in Germany too, both in pious and
rationalistic circles[5]; but there are few traces of any æsthetic

The most important one was Kant's, in his _Observations on the
Beautiful and Sublime_ in 1764. He distinguished, in the finer
feeling for Nature, a feeling for the sublime and a feeling for the

    Both touch us pleasantly, but in different ways. The sight of a
    mountain with a snowy peak reaching above the clouds, the account
    of a storm ... these excite pleasure, but mixed with awe; while
    flowery meadows, valleys with winding streams and covered by
    browsing herds, a description of Elysium ... also cause pleasant
    feelings, but of a gay and radiant kind. To appreciate the first
    sensations adequately, we must have a feeling for the sublime; to
    appreciate the second, a feeling for the beautiful.

He mentioned tall oaks, lonely shades in consecrated groves, and
night-time, as sublime; day, beds of flowers, low hedges, and trees
cut into shapes, as beautiful.

    Minds which possess the feeling for the sublime are inclined to
    lofty thoughts of friendship, scorn of the world, eternity, by
    the quiet stillness of a summer evening, when the twinkling
    starlight breaks the darkness. The light of day impels to
    activity and cheerfulness. The sublime soothes, the beautiful

He goes on to subdivide the sublime:

    This feeling is sometimes accompanied by horror or by dejection,
    sometimes merely by quiet admiration, at other times by a sense
    of wide-spread beauty. I will call the first the terrible, the
    second the noble, the third the splendid sublime.

    Profound solitude is sublime, but in a terrible way. This is why
    great deserts, like the Desert of Gamo in Tartary, have always
    been the supposed abode of fearful shades, hobgoblins, and
    ghostly spectres. The sublime is always great and simple; the
    beautiful may be small, elaborate, and ornamental.

He tried, too, to define the romantic in Nature, though very vaguely:

    The dreadful variety of the sublime, when quite unnatural, is
    adventurous. When sublimity or beauty is excessive, it is called

In his _Kalligone_, which appeared in 1800, Herder quoted Kant in
making one of the characters say, 'One calls day beautiful, night
sublime,' and tried to carry the idea a step further; 'The sublime
and beautiful are not opposed to each other, but stem and boughs of a
tree whose top is the most sublimely beautiful of all,' that is the
romantic. In the same book he attempted to analyze his impressions of
Nature, calling a rugged place odious, an insignificant one without
character tedious. 'In the presence of great mountains,' he says,
'the spirit is filled with bold aspirations, whereas in gentle
valleys it lies quiet.' Harmony in variety was his ideal, like the
sea in storm and calm. 'An ocean of beautiful forms in rest and

And in reference to the contrast between a place made 'dreadful and
horrible' by a torrent dashing over rocks and a quiet and charming
valley, he said: 'These changes follow unalterable laws, which are
recognized by our minds, and in harmony with our feelings.' He saw
the same order in variety among plants, from the highest to the
lowest, from palm tree to moss. In the second part of the book he
gave an enthusiastic description of the sublime in sky and sea.

His beautiful words on the inspiration of Nature shew his insight
into her relation to the poet soul of the people:

    Everything in Nature must be inspired by life, or it does not
    move me, I do not feel it. The cooling zephyr and the morning
    sunbeam, the wind blowing through the trees, and the fragrant
    carpet of flowers, must cool, warm, pervade us--then we feel
    Nature. The poet does not say he feels her, unless he feels her
    intensely, living, palpitating and pervading him, like the wild
    Nature of Ossian, or the soft luxuriant Nature of Theocritus and
    the Orientals. In Nature, the more varieties the better; for
    instance, in a beautiful country I rustle with the wind and
    become alive (and give life--inspire), I inhale fragrance and
    exhale it with the flowers; I dissolve in water; I float in the
    blue sky; I feel all these feelings.

Herder touched the lyre himself with a skilful hand. Thought
predominated with him, but he could make Nature live in his song.[7]
'I greet thee, thou wing of heaven,' he sang to the lark; and to the
rainbow, 'Beautiful child of the sun, picture and hope over dark
clouds ... hopes are colours, are broken sun-rays and the children of
tears, truth is the sun.'

In _By the Sea at Naples_ he wrote:

  A-weary of the summer's fiery brand,
  I sat me down beside the cooling sea,
  Where the waves heaving, rolled and kissed the strand
  Of the grey shore, ...
  And over me, high over in the air,
  Of the blue skyey vault, rustled the tree ...
  Queen of all trees, slender and beautiful,
  The pine tree, lifting me to golden dreams.

In _Recollections of Naples_:

  Yes! they are gone, those happy, happy hours
  Joyous but short, by Posilippo's bay!
  Sweet dream of sea and lake, of rock and hill,
  Grotto and island, and the mirrored sun
  In the blue water--thou hast passed away!


  When the glow of evening softly fades
  From the still sea, and with her gleaming host
  The moon ascends the sky.

_Night_ is very poetic:

             And comest thou again,
  Thou Mother of the stars and heavenly thoughts?
  Divine and quiet Mother, comest thou?
  The earth awaits thee, from thy chalice cup
  But one drop of thy heavenly dew to quaff,
  Her flowers bend low their heads;
  And with them, satiate with vision, droops
  My overcharged soul....
  O starry goddess with the crown of gold,
  Upon whose wide-spread sable mantle gleam
  A thousand worlds ...
  Silence divine, that filleth all the world,
  Flowing so softly to the eternal shores
  Of an eternal universe....

And in _St John's Night_, he exclaims:

  Infinite, ah! inexhaustible art thou, Mother Nature!

Like the rest, Herder suffered from the over-sensitiveness of his
day. His correspondence with his _fiancée_ shews this[8]; one sees
Rousseau's influence:

    My pleasantest hours are when, quite alone, I walk in a charming
    wood close to Bückeburg, or lie upon a wall in the shade of my
    garden, or lastly, for we have had capital moonlight for three
    nights, and the last was the best of all, when I enjoy these
    hours of sweetly sleeping night with all the songs of the

    I reckon no hours more delightful than those of green solitude. I
    live so romantically alone, and among woods and churches, as only
    poets, lovers, and philosophers can live.

And his _fiancée_ wrote:

    'Tis all joy within and around me since I have known thee, my
    best beloved: every plant and flower, everything in Nature, seems
    beautiful to me.


    I went early to my little room; the moon was quite covered by
    clouds, and the night so melancholy from the croaking of the
    frogs, that I could not leave the window for a long time: my
    whole soul was dark and cloudy; I thought of thee, my dear one,
    and that thought, that sigh, reduced me to tears.


    Do you like the ears of wheat so much? I never pass a cornfield
    without stroking them.

Goethe focussed all the rays of feeling for Nature which had found
lyrical expression before him, and purged taste, beginning with his
own, of its unnatural and sickly elements. So he became the
liberating genius of modern culture. Not only did German lyric poetry
reach its climax in him; but he was the most accurate, individual,
and universal interpreter of German feeling for Nature.

His wide original mind kept open house for the most diverse elements
of feeling, and exercised an ennobling control upon each and all at
will; Homer's naivete, Shakespeare's sympathy, Rousseau's enthusiasm,
even Ossian's melancholy, found room there.

While most love lyrics of his day were false in feeling, mere raving
extravagances, and therefore poor in those metaphors and comparisons
which prove sympathy between Nature and the inner life, it could be
said of him that 'Nature wished to know what she looked like, and so
she created Goethe.' He was the microcosm in which the macrocosm of
modern times was reflected.

He was more modern and universal than any of his predecessors, and
his insight into Nature and love for her have been rarely equalled in
later days. He did not live, like so many of the elegiac and idyllic
poets of the eighteenth century, a mere dream-life of the
imagination: Goethe stood firmly rooted among the actualities; from
boyhood up, as he said in _Wahrheit und Dichtung_, he had 'a warm
feeling for all objective things.'

No poet, Klopstock not excepted, was richer in verbal invention, and
many of the phrases and epithets which he coined form in themselves
very striking evidence (which is lost in translation) of his close
and original observation of Nature.

He has many beautiful comparisons to Nature:

His lady-love is 'brightly beautiful as morning clouds on yonder

'I was wont to look at thee as one looks at the stars and moon,
delighting in thee without the most distant wish in my quiet breast
to possess thee.'

'I give kisses as the spring gives flowers.'

'My feeling for thee was like seed, which germinates slowly in
winter, but ripens quickly in summer.'

The stars move 'with flower feet.'

The graces are 'pure as the heart of the waters, as the marrow of

A delicate poem is a rainbow only existing against a dark ground.

In _Stella_:

    Thou dost not feel what heavenly dew to the thirsty it is, to
    return to thy breast from the sandy desert world.

    I felt free in soul, free as a spring morning.

In _Faust_:

    The cataract bursting through the rocks is the image of human
    effort; its coloured reflection the image of life.

When Werther feels himself trembling between existence and
non-existence, everything around him sinking away, and the world
perishing with him:

    The past flashes like lightning over the dark abyss of the

These are among his still more numerous metaphors:

A sea of folly, an ocean of fragrance, the waves of battle, the
stream of genius, the tiger claw of despair, the sun-ray of the past.
Iphigenia says to Orestes:

    O let the pure breath of love blow lightly on thy heart's flame
    and cool it.

and Eleonora complains about Tasso:

    Let him go! But what twilight falls round me now! Formerly the
    stream carried us along upon the light waves without a rudder.

In Goethe we see very clearly how the inner life, under the pressure
of its own intensity, will, so to speak, overflow into the outer
world, making that live in its turn; and how this is especially the
case when the amorous passion is present to add its impetus to
feeling, and attribute its own fervour to all around.

_May Song_, _On the Lake_, _Ganymede_, are instances of this.


      Oh, what a glow
      Around me in morning's
      Blaze thou diffusest,
      Beautiful spring!
  With the rapture of love but intenser,
  Intenser and deeper and sweeter,
  Nestles and creeps to my heart
      The sensation divine
      Of thy fervour eternal,
      Oh, thou unspeakably fair!

Beautiful personifications abound:

The sun is proudly throned in heaven.

The glowing sun gazes at the rugged peak or charms it with fiery

Or bathes like the moon in the ocean.

The parting glance of Mother Sun broods on the grapes.

'Morning came frightening away light sleep with its footsteps.'

'The young day arose with delight.'

The moon: 'Thou spreadest thy glance soothingly over my abode.'

On a cloudy night: 'Evening already rocked earth, and night hung on
the mountains; from a hill of clouds the moon looked mournfully out
of the mist.'

'The lofty stars turn their clear eyes down to me.'

Even the rock lives: 'The hard rock opens its bosom, not envying
earth its deep springs.'

The stream: 'Thou hurriest on with joyful light mood; see the rock
spring bright with the glance of the stars, yet no shady valley, no
flowers make him tarry ... his course winds downwards to the plain,
then he scatters in delightful spray, in cloud waves ... foams
gloomily to the abyss.'

  With gradual step from out the far-off grey,
  Self-heralded draws on the storm.
  Birds on the wing fly low across the water, weighted down,
  And seamen hasten to reef in the sail
  Before its stubborn wrath.

His flowers are alive:

  The beauteous snowdrops
  Droop o'er the plain,
  The crocus opens
  Its glowing bud ...
  With saucy gesture
  Primroses flare,
  And roguish violets
  Hidden with care.

But these are only examples. To obtain a clear idea of Goethe's
attitude, we must take a more general survey of his work, for his
poetic relationship to Nature, like his mental development in
general, passed through various stages of growth. That it was a warm
one even in youth is shewn by the letter in 1766 from Leipzig[9]:

    You live contented in M. I even so here. Lonely, lonely,
    altogether lonely. Dearest Riese, this loneliness has impressed
    my soul with a certain sadness.

  This solitary joy is mine,
  When far apart from all mankind,
  By shady brook-side to recline.
  And keep my loved ones in my mind....

He goes on with these lines:

  Then is my heart with sorrow filled,
  Sad is mine eye.
  The flooded brook now rages by,
  That heretofore so gently rilled.
  No bird sings in the bushes now,
  The tree so green is dry,
  The zephyr which on me did blow
  So cheering, now storms northerly,
  And scattered blossoms bears on high.

He was already in full sympathy with Nature. A few of his earlier
poems[10] shew prevalent taste, the allusions to Zephyr and Lima, for
instance, in _Night_; but they are followed by lines which are all
his own.

He had an incomparable way of striking the chords of love and Nature

Where his lady-love dwells, 'there is love, and goodness is Nature.'
He thinks of her

  When the bright sunlight shimmers
       Across the sea,
  When the clear fountain in the moonbeam glimmers.

  Thou art seductive and charming; flowers,
  Sun, moon, and stars only worship thee.

There is passionate feeling for Nature in the _May Song_ of his
Sesenheimer period:

  How gloriously gleameth
  All Nature to me!
  How bright the sun beameth,
  How fresh is the lea!
  White blossoms are bursting
  The thickets among,
  And all the gay greenwood
  Is ringing with song!
  There's radiance and rapture
  That nought can destroy,
  Oh earth, in thy sunshine,
  Oh heart, in thy joy.
  Oh love! thou enchanter
  So golden and bright,
  Like the red clouds of morning
  That rest on yon height,
  It is them that art clothing
  The fields and the bowers,
  And everywhere breathing
  The incense of flowers.

Looking back in old age to those happy days of youth, he saw in
memory not only Frederica but the scenery around her. He said
(_Wahrheit und Dichtung_): 'Her figure never looked more charming
than when she was moving along a raised footpath; the charm of her
bearing seemed to vie with the flowering ground, and the
indestructible cheerfulness of her face with the blue sky.' In Alsace
he wrote:

    One has only to abandon oneself to the present in order to enjoy
    the charms of the sky, the glow of the rich earth, the mild
    evenings, the warm nights, at the side of one's love, or near

and one of the poems to Frederica says:

  The world lies round me buried deep in mist, but
  In one glance of thine lies sunshine and happiness.

There is a strong pulse of life--life that overflows into Nature--in
_The Departure_:

  To horse! Away, o'er hill and steep,
  Into the saddle blithe I spring;
  The eve was cradling earth to sleep,
  And night upon the mountains hung.
  With robes of mist around him set,
  The oak like some huge giant stood,
  While, with its hundred eyes of jet,
  Peer'd darkness from the tangled wood.
  Amid a bank of clouds the moon
  A sad and troubled glimmer shed;
  The wind its chilly wings unclosed,
  And whistled wildly round my head.
  Night framed a thousand phantoms dire,
  Yet did I never droop nor start;
  Within my veins what living fire!
  What quenchless glow within my heart!

And very like it, though in a minor key, is the Elegy which begins,
'A tender, youthful trouble.'

He tells in _Wahrheit und Dichtung_ how he found comfort for his love
troubles in Frankfort:

    They were accustomed to call me, on account of wandering about
    the district, the 'wanderer.' In producing that calm for the
    mind, which I felt under the open sky, in the valleys, on the
    heights, in the fields, and in the woods, the situation of
    Frankfort was serviceable.... On the setting in of winter a new
    world was revealed to us, since I at once determined to skate....
    For this new joyous activity we were also indebted to Klopstock,
    to his enthusiasm for this happy species of motion.... To pass a
    splendid Sunday thus on the ice did not satisfy us, we continued
    in movement late into the night.... The full moon rising from the
    clouds, over the wide nocturnal meadows which were frozen into
    fields of ice, the night breeze which rustled towards us on our
    course, the solemn thunder of the ice which sunk as the water
    decreased, the strange echo of our own movements, rendered the
    scenes of Ossian just present to our minds.

His attachment, to Lotte, stirred far deeper feelings than the
earlier ones to Frederica and Lilli:

    (If I, my own dear Lilli, loved thee not, How should I joy to
    view this scene so fair! And yet if I, sweet Lilli, loved thee
    not, Should I be happy here or anywhere?)

and drew him correspondingly nearer to Nature.

There is no book in any language which so lives and moves and has its
being in Nature as _Werther_.[11] In _Wahrheit und Dichtung_ Goethe
said of the 'strange element' in which _Werther_ was designed and

    I sought to free myself internally from all that was foreign to
    me, to regard the external with love, and to allow all beings,
    from man downwards, as low as they were comprehensible, to act
    upon me, each after its own kind. Thus arose a wonderful affinity
    with the single objects of Nature, and a hearty concord, a
    harmony with the whole, so that every change, whether of place or
    region, or of the times of the day and year, or whatever else
    could happen, affected me in the deepest manner. The glance of
    the painter associated itself with that of the poet; the
    beautiful rural landscape, animated by the pleasant river,
    increased my love of solitude and favoured my silent observations
    as they extended on all sides.

The strong influence of _La Nouvelle Héloise_ upon _Werther_ was very
evident, but there was a marked difference between Goethe's feeling
for Nature and Rousseau's. Rousseau had the painter's eye, but not
the keen poetic vision.

Goethe's romances are pervaded by the penetrating quality peculiar to
his nation, and by virtue of which in _Werther_, the outer world, the
scenery, was not used as framework, but was always interwoven with
the hero's mood. The contrast between culture and Nature is always
marked in Rousseau, and his religion was deism; Goethe resolves
Nature into feeling, and his religion was a growing pantheism. As a
work of art, _Werther_ is excellent, _La Nouvelle Héloise_ is not.
Goethe used his hero's bearing towards Nature with marvellous effect
to indicate the turns and changes of his moods, just as he indicated
the threatening calamity and the growing apprehension of it by
skilful stress laid upon some of her little traits--a faculty which
only Theodore Storm among later poets has caught from him.

The growth of amorous passion is portrayed as an elementary force,
and the revolutionary element in the book really consists in the
strength of this passion and the assertion of its natural rights.
Everything artificial, forced, conventional, in thought, act, and
feeling--and what at that time was not?--was repugnant to Werther;
what he liked most of all was the simplicity of children and
uneducated people.

    Nothing distresses me more than to see men torment each other;
    particularly when in the flower of their age, in the very season
    of pleasure, they waste their few short days of sunshine in
    quarrels and disputes, and only perceive their error when it is
    too late to repair it.

To such intense sympathy as this, all that had been sung ere now by
German poets had to give place. Nature, which hitherto had played no
_rôle_ at all in fiction, not even among the English, was Werther's
truest and most intimate friend.

Werther is sensitive and sentimental, though in a single-hearted way,
with a sentimentality that reminds us more and more, as the story
proceeds, of the gloomy tone of Ossian and Young. He is a thoroughly
original character, who feels that he is right so to be; and although
he falls a prey to his melancholy, yet there is much more force and
thought in his outpourings than in all the moonshine tirades that
preceded him. It is the work of a true poet, in the best days of a
brilliant youth.

Werther, like Rousseau, was happiest in solitude. Solitude, in the
'place like paradise,' was precious balm to his feeling heart, which
he considers 'like a sick child'; and the 'warm heavenly imagination
of the heart' illuminates Nature round him--his 'favourite valley,'
the 'sweet spring morning,' Nature's 'unspeakable beauty.' He was
absorbed in artistic feeling, though he could not draw; 'I could not
draw them, not a stroke, and have never been a greater artist than at
that moment.' His power lay in imbuing his whole subject with
feeling; he felt the heart of Nature beating, and its echo in his own

    When the lovely valley teems with vapour around me, and the
    meridian sun strikes the upper surface of the impenetrable
    foliage of my trees, and but a few stray gleams steal into the
    inner sanctuary, then I throw myself down in the tall grass by
    the trickling stream; and as I lie close to the earth, a thousand
    unknown plants discover themselves to me. When I hear the buzz of
    the little world among the stalks, and grow familiar with the
    countless indescribable forms of the insects and flies, then I
    feel the presence of the Almighty who formed us in His own image,
    and the breath of that universal love which bears and sustains
    us, as it floats around us in an eternity of bliss; and then, my
    friend, when darkness overspreads my eyes, and heaven and earth
    seem to dwell in my soul and absorb its power, like the idea of a
    beloved mistress, then I often long and think: O that you could
    describe these conceptions, that you could impress upon paper all
    that lives so full and warm within you, that it might be the
    mirror of your soul, as your soul is the mirror of the infinite

    O! my friend! but it is too much for my strength. I sink under
    the weight of the grandeur of these visions.

Werther could not express all his love for Nature, but the secret of
it lay in the power to bring his own world of thought and feeling
into communion with her, and so give her speech. He divined something
immortal in her akin to himself. 'The true feeling of Nature,' he
said, 'is love.' He poured 'the stream of his genius' over her, and
she became 'dear and familiar' to him.... The simple homely scenery
delighted him--the valley, the brook, the fine walnut trees.

    When I go out at sunrise in the morning to Walheim, and with my
    own hands gather the peas in the garden, which are to serve for
    my dinner; when I sit down to shell them and read my Homer during
    the intervals, and then, selecting a saucepan from the kitchen,
    fetch my own butter, put my mess on the fire, cover it up....
    Nothing fills me with a more pure and genuine sense of happiness
    than those traits of patriarchal life, which, thank heaven, I can
    imitate without affectation.

With the growth of his love-passion his feeling for Nature increased;
on July 24th he wrote:

    I never felt happier, I never understood Nature better, even down
    to the veriest stem or smallest blade of grass.

Then Albert came on the scene, and love became a torment, and Nature
a tormentor:

    _August_ 18.--Must it ever be thus, that the source of our
    happiness must also be the fountain of our misery? The full and
    ardent sentiment which animated my heart with the love of Nature,
    overwhelming me with a torrent of delight, and which brought all
    paradise before me, has now become an insupportable torment, a
    demon which perpetually pursues and harasses me. When in bye-gone
    days I gazed from these rocks upon yonder mountains across the
    river and upon the green flowery valley before me, and saw all
    nature budding and bursting around--the hills clothed from foot
    to peak with tall thick forest trees, the valleys in all their
    varied windings shaded with the loveliest woods, and the soft
    river gliding along amongst the lisping reeds, mirroring the
    beautiful clouds which the soft evening breeze wafted across the
    sky--when I heard the groves about me melodious with the music of
    birds, and saw the million swarms of insects dancing in the last
    golden beams of the sun, whose setting rays awoke the humming
    beetles from their grassy beds, whilst the subdued tumult around
    directed my attention to the ground, and I there observed the
    arid rock compelled to yield nutriment to the dry moss, whilst
    the heath flourished upon the barren sands below me--all this
    displayed to me the inner warmth which animates all Nature, and
    filled and glowed within my heart. I felt myself exalted by this
    overflowing fulness to the perception of the Godhead, and the
    glorious forms of an infinite universe became visible to my
    soul.... From the inaccessible mountains across the desert, which
    no mortal foot has trod, far as the confines of the unknown
    ocean, breathes the spirit of the eternal Creator, and every atom
    to which He has given existence finds favour in His sight. Ah!
    how often at that time has the flight of a bird soaring above my
    head inspired me with the desire of being transported to the
    shores of the immeasurable waters, there to quaff the pleasure of
    life from the foaming goblet of the infinite, and to partake, if
    but for a moment, even with the confined powers of my soul, the
    beatitude of the Creator, who accomplishes all things in himself
    and through himself.... It is as if a curtain had been drawn from
    before my eyes.... My heart is wasted by the thought of that
    destructive power which lies concealed in every part of universal
    nature--Nature has formed nothing that does not consume itself
    and every object near it; so that, surrounded by earth, and air,
    and all the active powers, I wander on my way with aching heart,
    and the universe is to me a fearful monster, for ever devouring
    its own offspring.... If in such moments I find no sympathy ... I
    either wander through the country, climb some precipitous cliff,
    or force a path through the trackless thicket, where I am
    lacerated and torn by thorns and briars, and thence I find

Then, as he was going away, he felt how sympathetic the place had
been to him:

    I was walking up and down the very avenue which was so dear to
    me--a secret sympathy had frequently drawn me thither....

the moon rose from behind a hill, increasing his melancholy, and
Charlotte put his feeling into words, saying (like Klopstock):

    _September_ 10.--Whenever I walk by moonlight, it brings to my
    remembrance all my beloved and departed friends, and I am filled
    with thoughts of death and futurity.

Even in his misery he realises the [Greek: charisgoôn] of Euripides,
Petrarch's _dolendi voluptas_--the _Wonne der Wehmuth_.

On September 4th he wrote:

    It is even so! As Nature puts on her autumn tints, it becomes
    autumn with me and around me. My leaves are sere and yellow, and
    the neighbouring trees are divested of their foliage.

It was due to this autumn feeling that he could say:

    Ossian has superseded Homer in my heart. To what a world does the
    illustrious bard carry me! To wander over pathless wilds,
    surrounded by impetuous whirlwinds, where, by the feeble light of
    the moon, we see the spirits of our ancestors; to hear from the
    mountain tops, 'mid the roar of torrents, their plaintive sounds
    issuing from deep caverns.... And this heart is now dead; no
    sentiment can revive it. My eyes are dry, and my senses, no more
    refreshed by the influence of soft tears, wither and consume my
    brain. I suffer much, for I have lost the only charm of life,
    that active sacred power which created worlds around me, and it
    is no more. When I look from my window at the distant hills and
    behold the morning sun breaking through the mists and
    illuminating the country round it which is still wrapt in
    silence, whilst the soft stream winds gently through the willows
    which have shed their leaves; when glorious Nature displays all
    her beauties before me, and her wondrous prospects are
    ineffectual to attract one tear of joy from my withered heart....

On November 30th he wrote: 'About dinner-time I went to walk by the
river side, for I had no appetite,' and goes on in the tone of

    Everything around me seemed gloomy: a cold and damp easterly wind
    blew from the mountains, and black heavy clouds spread over the

and in the dreadful night of the flood:

    Upon the stroke of twelve I hastened forth. I beheld a fearful
    sight. The foaming torrents rolled from the mountains in the
    moonlight; fields and meadows, trees and hedges, were confounded
    together, and the entire valley was converted into a deep lake
    which was agitated by the roaring wind. And when the moon shone
    forth and tinged the black clouds with silver, and the impetuous
    torrent at my feet foamed and resounded with awful and grand
    impetuosity, I was overcome by a mingled sensation of awe and
    delight. With extended arms I looked down into the yawning abyss,
    and cried 'Plunge!' For a moment my senses forsook me, in the
    intense delight of ending my sorrows and my sufferings by a
    plunge into that gulf.

To his farewell letter he adds:

    Yes, Nature! put on mourning. Your child, your friend, your
    lover, draws near his end.

The genuine poetic pantheism, which, for all his melancholy and
sentimentality, was the spring of Werther's feeling, is seen in
loftier and more comprehensive form in the first part of _Faust_,
when Faust opens the book and sees the sign of macrocosmos:

  How all things live and work, and ever blending,
  Weave one vast whole from Being's ample range!
  How powers celestial, rising and descending,
  Their golden buckets ceaseless interchange.
  Their flight on rapture-breathing pinions winging,
  From heaven to earth their genial influence bringing,
  Through the wide whole their chimes melodious ringing.

And the Earth spirit says:

  In the currents of life, in action's storm,
  I float and I wave
  With billowy motion,--
  Birth and the grave
  A limitless ocean.

Not only of knowledge of, but of feeling for, Nature, it is said:

  Inscrutable in broadest light,
  To be unveiled by force she doth refuse.

But Faust is in deep sympathy with her; witness:

  Thou full-orbed moon! Would thou wert gazing now
  For the last time upon my troubled brow!


  Loos'd from their icy fetters, streams and rills
  In spring's effusive, quick'ning mildness flow,
  Hope's budding promise every valley fills.
  And winter, spent with age, and powerless now,
  Draws off his forces to the savage hills.

and the idyllic evening mood, which gives way to a burst of longing:

  In the rich sunset see how brightly glow
  Yon cottage homes girt round with verdant green.
  Slow sinks the orb, the day is now no more;
  Yonder he hastens to diffuse new light.
  Oh! for a pinion from the earth to soar,
  And after, ever after him to strive!
  Then should I see the world outspread below,
  Illumined by the deathless evening beams,
  The vales reposing, every height aglow,
  The silver brooklets meeting golden streams....
  Alas! that when on Spirit wing we rise,
  No wing material lifts our mortal clay.
  But 'tis our inborn impulse, deep and strong,
  To rush aloft, to struggle still towards heaven,
  When far above us pours its thrilling song
  The skylark lost amid the purple even,
  When on extended pinion sweeps amain
  The lordly eagle o'er the pine-crowned height.
  And when, still striving towards its home, the crane
  O'er moor and ocean wings its onward flight.

But the most complete expression of Goethe's attitude, not only in
the period of _Werther_ and the first part of _Faust_, but generally,
is contained in the _Monologue_, which was probably written not
earlier than the spring of 1788:

  Spirit sublime! Thou gav'st me, gav'st me all
  For which I prayed. Not vainly hast thou turn'd
  To me thy countenance in flaming fire;
  Thou gav'st me glorious Nature for my realm,
  And also power to feel her and enjoy;
  Not merely with a cold and wond'ring glance,
  Thou didst permit me in her depths profound,
  As in the bosom of a friend, to gaze;
  Before me thou dost lead her living tribes,
  And dost in silent grove, in air and stream,
  Teach me to know my kindred....

His feeling was not admiration alone, nor reverence alone, but the
sympathy of _Childe Harold_:

  Are not the mountains, waves, and skies a part
  Of me and of my soul, as I of them?
  Is not the love of these deep in my heart
  With a pure passion? Should I not contemn
  All objects, if compared with these?

and the very confession of faith of such poetic pantheism is in
Faust's words:

  Him who dare name,
  And yet proclaim,
  Yes, I believe?...
  The All-embracer,
  Doth he not embrace, sustain
  Thee, me, himself?
  Lifts not the heaven its dome above?
  Doth not the firm-set earth beneath us rise?
  And beaming tenderly with looks of love,
  Climb not the everlasting stars on high?

The poems which date directly after the Wetzlar period are full of
this sympathetic pantheistic love for Nature--_Mahomet's Song_, for
example, with its splendid comparison of pioneering genius to a
mountain torrent:

  Ho! the spring that bursts
  From the mountain height
  Joyous and bright,
  As the gleam of a star....
  Down in the vale below
  Flowers bud beneath his tread ...
  And woo him with fond eyes.
  And the streamlets of the mountains
  Shout to him, and cry out 'Brother'!
  Brother! take thy brothers with thee,
  With thee to thine ancient father,
  To the eternal Ocean,
  Who with outstretch'd arms awaits us....
  And so beareth he his brothers
  To their primal sire expectant,
  All his bosom throbbing, heaving,
  With a wild, tumultuous joy.

We see the same pathos--the pathos of Pindar and the Psalms--in the

  Like water is the soul of man,
  From heaven it comes, to heaven it goes,
  And back again to earth in ceaseless change.

in the incomparable _Wanderer_, in _Wanderer's Storm Song,_ and,
above all, in _Ganymede_, already given, of which Loeper remarks:

    The poem is, as it were, a rendering of that letter (Werther's of
    May 10th) in rhythm. The underlying pantheism had already shewn
    itself in the _Wanderer's Storm Song_. It was not the delight in
    God of a Brockes, not the adoration of a Klopstock, not sesthetic
    enjoyment of Nature, not, as in later years, scientific interest;
    it was rather a being absorbed in, identified with, Nature, a
    sympathy carried so far that the very ego was surrendered to the

On the Lake of Zurich he wrote, June 15th, 1775:

  And here I drink new blood, fresh food,
  From world so free, so blest;
  How sweet is Nature and how good,
  Who holds me to her breast.

and Elmire sings in _Ermin and Elmire_:

  From thee, O Nature, with deep breath
  I drink in painful pleasure.

One of the gems among his Nature poems is _Autumn Feelings_ (it was
the autumn of his love for Lilli):

  Flourish greener as ye clamber,
  O ye leaves, to seek my chamber;
  Up the trellised vine on high
  May ye swell, twin-berries tender,
  Juicier far, and with more splendour
  Ripen, and more speedily.
  O'er ye broods the sun at even,
  As he sinks to rest, and heaven
  Softly breathes into your ear
  All its fertilizing fulness,
  While the moon's refreshing coolness,
  Magic-laden, hovers near.
  And alas! ye're watered ever
  By a stream of tears that rill
  From mine eyes--tears ceasing never,
  Tears of love that nought can still.

The lyrical effect here depends upon the blending of a single
impression of Nature with the passing mood--an occasional poem rare
even for Goethe.

In a letter to Frau von Stein he admitted that he was greatly
influenced by Nature:

    I have slept well and am quite awake, only a quiet sadness lies
    upon my soul.... The weather agrees exactly with my state of
    mind, and I begin to believe that it is the weather around me
    which has the most immediate effect upon me, and the great world
    thrills my little one with her own mood.

Again, _To the Moon_, in the spring 1778, expresses perfect communion
between Nature and feeling:

  Flooded are the brakes and dells
  With thy phantom light,
  And my soul receives the spell
  Of thy mystic night.
  To the meadow dost thou send
  Something of thy grace,
  Like the kind eye of a friend
  Beaming on my face.
  Echoes of departed times
  Vibrate in mine ear,
  Joyous, sad, like spirit chimes,
  As I wander here.
  Flow, flow on, thou little brook,
  Ever onward go!
  Trusted heart and tender look
  Left me even so!
  Richer treasure earth has none
  Than I once possessed--
  Ah! so rich, that when 'twas gone
  Worthless was the rest.
  Little brook! adown the vale
  Rush and take my song:
  Give it passion, give it wail,
  As thou leap'st along!
  Sound it in the winter night
  When thy streams are full,
  Murmur it when skies are bright
  Mirror'd in the pool.
  Happiest he of all created
  Who the world can shun,
  Not in hate, and yet unhated,
  Sharing thought with none,
  Save one faithful friend, revealing
  To his kindly ear
  Thoughts like these, which o'er me stealing,
  Make the night so drear.

In January 1778, he wrote to Frau von Stein about the fate of the
unhappy Chr. von Lassberg, who had drowned himself in the Ilm:

    This inviting grief has something dangerously attractive about
    it, like the water itself; and the reflections of the stars,
    which gleam from above and below at once, are alluring.

To the same year belongs _The Fisher_, which gave such melodious
voice to the magic effect of a shimmering expanse of water, 'the
moist yet radiant blue,' upon the mood; just as, later on, _The
Erlking_, with the grey of an autumn evening woven ghostlike round
tree and shrub, made the mind thrill with foreboding.

Goethe was always an industrious traveller. In his seventieth year he
went to Frankfort, Strassburg, the Rhine, Thuringia, and the Harz
Mountains (Harzreise, 1777): 'We went up to the peaks, and down to
the depths of the earth, and hammered at all the rocks.' His love for
Nature increased with his science; but, at the same time, poetic
expression of it took a more objective form; the passionate
vehemence, the really revolutionary attitude of the _Werther_ period,
gave way to one equally spiritual and intellectual, but more

This transition is clearly seen in the Swiss letters. In his first
Swiss travels, 1775, he was only just free from _Werther_, and his
mind was too agitated for quiet observation:

  Hasten thee, Kronos!...
  Over stock and stone let thy trot
  Into life straightway lead....
  Wide, high, glorious the view
  Gazing round upon life,
  While from mount unto mount
  Hovers the spirit eterne,
  Life eternal foreboding....

Far more significant and ripe--in fact, mature--are the letters in
1779, shewing, as they do, the attitude of a man of profound mind, in
the prime of his life and time. He was the first German poet to fall
under the spell of the mountains--the strongest spell, as he held,
which Nature wields in our latitudes. 'These sublime, incomparable
scenes will remain for ever in my mind'; and of one view in
particular, over the mountains of Savoy and Valais, the Lake of
Geneva, and Mont Blanc, he said: 'The view was so great, man's eye
could not grasp it.'

He wrote of his feelings with perfect openness to Frau von Stein, and
these letters extended farther back than those from Switzerland, and
were partly mixed with them.

From Selz:

    An uncommonly fine day, a happy country--still all green, only
    here and there a yellow beech or oak leaf. Meadows still in their
    silver beauty--a soft welcome breeze everywhere. Grapes improving
    with every step and every day. Every peasant's house has a vine
    up to the roof, and every courtyard a great overhanging arbour.
    The air of heaven soft, warm, and moist. The Rhine and the clear
    mountains near at hand, the changing woods, meadows, fields like
    gardens, do men good, and give me a kind of comfort which I have
    long lacked.

The pen remains as ever the pen of a poet, but he looks at
Switzerland now with a mature, settled taste, analyzing his
impressions, and studying mountains, glaciers, boulders,

Of the Staubbach Fall, near Lauterbrunnen (Oct. 9th, 1779):

    The clouds broke in the upper air, and the blue sky came through.
    Clouds clung to the steep sides of the rocks; even the top where
    the Staubbach falls over, was lightly covered. It was a very
    noble sight ... then the clouds came down into the valley and
    covered all the foreground. The great wall over which the water
    falls, still stood out on the right. Night came on.... In the
    Munsterthal, through which we came, everything was lofty, but
    more within the mind's power of comprehension than these. In
    comparison with the immensities, one is, and must remain, too

And after visiting the Berne glacier from Thun (Oct. 14):

    It is difficult to write after all this ... the first glance from
    the mountain is striking, the district is surprisingly extensive
    and pleasant ... the road indescribably beautiful ... the view
    from the Lake of Brienz towards the snow mountains at sunset is

More eloquent is the letter of October 3rd, from the Munsterthal:

    The passage through this defile roused in me a grand but calm
    emotion. The sublime produces a beautiful calmness in the soul,
    which, entirely possessed by it, feels as great as it ever can
    feel. How glorious is such a pure feeling, when it rises to the
    very highest without overflowing. My eye and my soul were both
    able to take in the objects before me, and as I was preoccupied
    by nothing, and had no false tastes to counteract their
    impression, they had on me their full and natural effect. When we
    compare such a feeling with that we are sensible of, when we
    laboriously harass ourselves with some trifle, and strain every
    nerve to gain as much as possible for it, and, as it were, to
    patch it out, striving to furnish joy and aliment to the mind
    from its own creation; we then feel sensibly what a poor
    expedient, after all, the latter is....

    When we see such objects as these for the first time, the
    unaccustomed soul has to expand itself, and this gives rise to a
    sort of painful joy, an overflowing of emotion which agitates the
    mind and draws from us the most delicious tears.... If only
    destiny had bidden me to dwell in the midst of some grand
    scenery, then would I every morning have imbibed greatness from
    its grandeur, as from a lonely valley I would extract patience
    and repose.

    One guesses in the dark about the origin and existence of these
    singular forms.... These masses must have been formed grandly and
    simply by aggregation. Whatever revolutions may subsequently have
    up-heaved, rent, and divided them ... the idea of such nightly
    commotions gives one a deep feeling of the eternal stability of
    the masses.... One feels deeply convinced that here there is
    nothing accidental, that here there is working an eternal law
    which, however slowly, yet surely governs the universe.

By the Lake of Geneva, where he thought of Rousseau, he went up the

    The whole of the Pays de Vaux and de Gex lay like a plan before
    us ... we kept watching the mist, which gradually retired ... one
    by one we distinctly saw Lausanne ... Vevey.... There are no
    words to express the beauty and grandeur of this view ... the
    line of glittering glaciers was continually drawing the eye back
    again to the mountains.

From Cluse he wrote:

    The air was as warm as it usually is at the beginning of
    September, and the country we travelled through beautiful. Many
    of the trees still green; most of them had assumed a
    brownish-yellow tint, but only a few were quite bare. The crops
    were rich and verdant, the mountains caught from the red sunset a
    rosy hue blended with violet, and all these rich tints were
    combined with grand, beautiful, and agreeable forms of the

At Chamouni, about effects of light:

    Here too again it seemed to us as if the sun had first of all
    attracted the light mists which evaporated from the tops of the
    glaciers, and then a gentle breeze had, as it were, combed the
    fine vapours like a fleece of foam over the atmosphere. I never
    remember at home, even in the height of summer, to have seen any
    so transparent, for here it was a perfect web of light.

At the Col de Baume:

    Whilst I am writing, a remarkable phenomenon is passing along the
    sky. The mists, which are shifting about and breaking in some
    places, allow you through their openings, as through skylights,
    to catch a glimpse of the blue sky, while at the same time the
    mountain peaks, rising above our roofs of vapour, are illuminated
    by the sun's rays....

At Leukertad, at the foot of the Gemmi, he wrote (Nov. 9th):

    The clouds which gather here in this valley, at one time
    completely hiding the immense rocks and absorbing them in a waste
    impenetrable gloom, or at another letting a part of them be seen
    like huge spectres, give to the people a cast of melancholy. In
    the midst of such natural phenomena, the people are full of
    presentiments and forebodings ... and the eternal and intrinsic
    energy of his (man's) nature feels itself at every nerve moved to
    forebode and to indulge in presentiments.

On the way across the Rhine glacier to the Furka, he felt the
half-suggestive, half-distressing sense of mountain loneliness:

    It was a strange sight ... in the most desolate region of the
    world, in a boundless monotonous wilderness of mountains
    enveloped in snow, where for three leagues before and behind you
    would not expect to meet a living soul, while on both sides you
    had the deep hollows of a web of mountains, you might see a line
    of men wending their way, treading each in the deep footsteps of
    the one before him, and where, in the whole of the wide expanse
    thus smoothed over, the eye could discern nothing but the track
    they left behind them. The hollows, as we left them, lay behind
    us grey and boundless in the mist. The changing clouds
    continually passed over the pale disc of the sun, and spread over
    the whole scene a perpetually moving veil.

He sums up the impressions made on him with:

    The perception of such a long chain of Nature's wonders, excites
    within me a secret and inexpressible feeling of enjoyment.

The most profound change in his mental life was brought about by his
visit to Italy, 1786-87. The poetic expression of this refining
process, this striving towards the classic ideal, towards Sophrosyne,
was _Iphigenia_.

Its effect upon his feeling for Nature appeared in a more
matter-of-fact tone; the man of feeling gave way to the scientific

He had, as he said (Oct. 30th, 1887), lately 'acquired the habit of
looking only at things, and not, as formerly, seeing with and in the
things what actually was not there.'

He no longer imputed his feelings to Nature, and studied her
influence on himself, but looked at her with impersonal interest.
Weather, cloud, mountain formation, the species of stone, landscape,
and social themes, were all treated almost systematically as so much
diary memoranda for future use. There was no artistic treatment in
such jottings; meteorology, botany, and geology weighed too heavily.

The question, 'Is a place beautiful?' paled beside 'Is its soil
clay?' 'Are its rocks quartz, chalk, or mica schist?' The problem of
the archetypal plant was more absorbing than the finest groups of
trees. The years of practical life at Weimar, and, above all, the
ever-growing interest in science, were the chief factors in this
change, which led him, as he said in his _Treatise on Granite_,

    from observation and description of the human heart, that part of
    creation which is the most youthful, varied, unstable, and
    destructible, to observation of that Son of Nature, which is the
    oldest, deepest, most stable, most indestructible.

The enthusiastic subjective realism of stormy youth was replaced by
the measured objective realism of ripe manhood. Hence the difference
between his letters from Switzerland and those from Italy, where this
inner metamorphosis was completed; as he said, 'Between Weimar and
Palermo I have had many changes.'

For all that, he revelled in the beauty of Italy. As he once said:

    It is natural to me to revere the great and beautiful willingly
    and with pleasure; and to develop this predisposition day by day
    and hour by hour by means of such glorious objects, is the most
    delightful feeling.

The sea made a great impression upon him:

    I set out for the Lido...landed, and walked straight across the
    isthmus. I heard a loud hollow murmur--it was the sea! I soon saw
    it; it crested high against the shore as it retired, it was about
    noon and time of ebb. I have then at last seen the sea with my
    own eyes, and followed it on its beautiful bed, just as it
    quitted it.

But further on he only remarks: 'The sea is a great sight.'
Elsewhere, too, it is only noticed very shortly.

Rome stimulated his mind to increased productiveness, and, partly for
this reason, he could not assimilate all the new impressions which
poured in upon him from without, from ruins, paintings, churches,
palaces, the life of the people. He drew a great deal too; from
Frascati he wrote (Nov. 15th, 1786):

    The country around is very pleasant; the village lies on the side
    of a hill, or rather of a mountain, and at every step the
    draughtsman comes upon the most glorious objects. The prospect is
    unbounded. Rome lies before you, and beyond it on the right is
    the sea, the mountains of Tivoli, and so on.

In Rome itself (Feb. 2nd, 1787):

    Of the beauty of a walk through Rome by moonlight it is
    impossible to form a conception without having witnessed it.

During Carnival (Feb. 21st):

    The sky, so infinitely fine and clear, looked down nobly and
    innocently upon the mummeries.

In the voyage to Sicily:

    At noon we went on board; the weather being extremely fine, we
    enjoyed the most glorious of views. The corvette lay at anchor
    near to the Mole. With an unclouded sun the atmosphere was hazy,
    giving to the rocky walls of Sorrento, which were in the shade, a
    tint of most beautiful blue. Naples with its living multitudes
    lay in full sunshine, and glittered brilliantly with countless

and on April 1st:

    With a cloudy sky, a bright but broken moonlight, the reflection
    on the sea was infinitely beautiful.

At first, Italy, and especially Rome, felt strange to him, in
scenery, sky, contour, and colour. It was only by degrees that he
felt at home there.

He refers to this during his second visit to Rome in a notable
remark, which aptly expresses the faculty of apperception--the link
between us and the unfamiliar, which enables mental growth.

June 16th, 1787:

    One remark more! Now for the first time do the trees, the rocks,
    nay, Rome itself, grow dear to me; hitherto I have always felt
    them as foreign, though, on the other hand, I took pleasure in
    minor subjects having some resemblance to those I saw in youth.

On August 18th, 1787, he wrote:

    Yesterday before sunrise I drove to Acqua Acetosa. Verily, one
    might well lose his senses in contemplating the clearness, the
    manifoldness, the dewy transparency, the heavenly hue of the
    landscape, especially in the distance.

In October, when he heard of the engagement of a beautiful Milanese
lady with whom he had fallen in love:

    I again turned me instantly to Nature, as a subject for
    landscapes, a field I had been meanwhile neglecting, and
    endeavoured to copy her in this respect with the utmost fidelity.
    I was, however, more successful in mastering her with my eyes....
    All the sensual fulness which that region offers us in rocks and
    trees, in acclivities and declivities, in peaceful lakes and
    lively streams, all this was grasped by my eye more
    appreciatively, if possible, than ever before, and I could hardly
    resent the wound which had to such degree sharpened my inward and
    outward sense.

On leaving Rome, he wrote:

    Three nights before, the full moon shone in the clearest heaven,
    and the enchantment shed over the vast town, though often felt
    before, was never felt so keenly as now. The great masses of
    light, clear as in mild daylight, the contrast of deep shades,
    occasionally relieved by reflexions dimly portraying details, all
    this transported us as if into another, a simpler and a greater,

The later diaries on his travels are sketchy throughout, and more
laconic and objective: for example, at Schaffhausen (Sept. 18th):

    Went out early, 7.30, to see the Falls of the Rhine; colour of
    water, green--causes of this, the heights covered by mist--the
    depths clear, and we saw the castle of Laufen half in mist;
    thought of Ossian. Love mist when moved by deep feeling.

At Brunnen:

    Green of the lake, steep banks, small size of boatman in
    comparison to the enormous masses of rock. One saw precipices
    grown over by trees, summits covered by clouds. Sunshine over the
    scene, one felt the formless greatness of Nature.

He was conscious of the great change in himself since his last visit
there, and wrote to Schiller (Oct. 14th, 1797):

    I remember the effect these things had upon me twenty years ago.
    The total impression remained with me, but the details faded, and
    I had a wonderful longing to repeat the whole experience and
    correct my impressions. I had become another man, and therefore
    it must needs appear different to me.

In later years he travelled a great deal in the Harz Mountains, to
Carlsbad, Toplitz, the Maine, Marienbad, etc. After the death of his
great friends, Schiller and Carl August, he was more and more lonely,
and his whole outlook, with increasing years, grew more impersonal,
his attitude to Nature more abstract and scientific; the archetypal
plant was superseded by the theory of colours. But he kept fresh eyes
for natural beauty into ripe age; witness this letter from
Heidelberg, May 4th, 1808, to Frau von Stein:

    Yesterday evening, after finishing my work, I went alone to the
    castle, and first scrambled about among the ruins, and then
    betook myself to the great balcony from which one can overlook
    the whole country. It was one of the loveliest of May evenings
    and of sunsets. No! I have really never seen such a fine view!
    Just imagine! One looked into the beautiful though narrow Neckar
    valley, covered on both sides with woods and vineyards and fruit
    trees just coming into flower. Further off the valley widened,
    and one saw the setting sun reflected in the Rhine as it flowed
    majestically through most beautiful country. On its further side
    the horizon was bounded by the Vosges mountains, lit up by the
    sun as if by a fire. The whole country was covered with fresh
    green, and close to me were the enormous ruins of the old castle,
    half in light and half in shade. You can easily fancy how it
    fascinated me. I stood lost in the view quite half an hour, till
    the rising moon woke me from my dreams.

Goethe's true lyrical period was in the seventies, before his Italian
journeys; during and after that time he wrote more dramatic and epic
poetry, with ballads and the more narrative kind of epic. In sending
_Der Jüngling und der Mühlbach_ to Schiller from Switzerland in 1797,
he wrote: 'I have discovered splendid material for idylls and
elegies, and whatever that sort of poetry is called.'

Nature lyrics were few during his Italian travels, as in the journey
to Sicily, 1787; among them were _Calm at Sea_:

  Silence deep rules o'er the waters,
  Calmly slumbering lies the main.

and _Prosperous Voyage_:

  The mist is fast clearing,
  And radiant is heaven,
  Whilst Æolus loosens
  Our anguish-fraught bond.

The most perfect of all such short poems was the _Evening Song_,
written one September night of 1783 on the Gickelhahn, near Ilmenau.
He was writing at the same time to Frau von Stein: 'The sky is
perfectly clear, and I am going out to enjoy the sunset. The view is
great and simple--the sun down.'

      Every tree top is at peace.
      E'en the rustling woods do cease
      Every sound;
      The small birds sleep on every bough.
      Wait but a moment--soon wilt thou
      Sleep in peace.

    The hush of evening, the stilling of desire in the silence of the
    wood, the beautiful resolution of all discords in Nature's
    perfect concord, the naive and splendid pantheism of a soul which
    feels itself at one with the world--all this is not expressed in
    so many words in the _Night Song_; but it is all there, like the
    united voicesin a great symphony.                  (SCHURÉ.)

The lines are full of that pantheism which not only brings subject
and object, Mind and Nature, into symbolic relationship, but works
them into one tissue. Taken alone with _The Fisher_ and _To the
Moon_, it would suffice to give him the first place as a poet of

He was not only the greatest poet, but the greatest and most
universal thinker of modern times. With him feeling and knowledge
worked together, the one reaching its climax in the lyrics of his
younger days, the other gradually moderating the fervour of passion,
and, with the more objective outlook of age, laying greater stress
upon science. His feeling for Nature, which followed an unbroken
course, like his mental development generally, stands alone as a type
of perfectly modern feeling, and yet no one, despite the many
intervening centuries, stood so near both to Homer and to
Shakespeare, and in philosophy to Spinoza.

But because with Goethe poetry and philosophy were one, his pantheism
is full of life and poetic vision, whilst that of the wise man of
Amsterdam is severely mathematical and abstract. And the postulate of
this pantheism was sympathy, harmony between Nature and the inner
life. He felt himself a part of the power which upholds and
encompasses the world. Nature became his God, love of her his
religion. In his youth, in the period of _Werther, Ganymede_, and the
first part of _Faust_, this pantheism was a nameless, unquenchable
aspiration towards the divine--for wings to reach, like the rays of
light, to unmeasured heights; as he said in the Swiss mountains,
'Into the limitless spaces of the air, to soar over abysses, and let
him down upon inaccessible rocks.'

After the Italian journeys science took the lead, the student of
Nature supplanted the lover, even his symbolism took a more abstract
and realistic form. But he never, even in old age, lost his love for
the beauties of Nature, and, holding to Spinoza's fundamental ideas
of the unchangeableness and eternity of Nature's laws, and the
oneness of the Cosmos, he sought to think it out and base it upon
scientific grounds, through the unbroken succession of animal and
vegetable forms of life, the uniform 'formation and transformation of
all organic Nature.' He wrote to Frau von Stein: 'I cannot express to
you how legible the book of Nature is growing to me; my long spelling
out has helped me. It takes effect now all of a sudden; my quiet
delight is inexpressible; I find much that is new, but nothing that
is unexpected--everything fits in and conforms, because I have no
system, and care for nothing but truth for its own sake. Soon
everything about living things will be clear to me.'[13]

Poetic and scientific intuition were simultaneous with him, and their
common bond was pantheism. This pantheism marked an epoch in the
history of feeling. For Goethe not only transformed the unreal
feeling of his day into real, described scenery, and inspired it with
human feeling, and deciphered the beauty of the Alps, as no one else
had done, Rousseau not excepted; but he also brought knowledge of
Nature into harmony with feeling for her, and with his wonderfully
receptive and constructive mind so studied the earlier centuries,
that he gathered out all that was valuable in their feeling.

As Goethe in Germany, so Byron in England led the feeling for Nature
into new paths by his demoniac genius and glowing pantheism. Milton's
great imagination was too puritan, too biblical, to allow her
independent importance; he only assigned her a _rôle_ in relation to
the Deity. In fiction, too, she had no place; but, on the other hand,
we find her in such melancholy, sentimental outpourings as Young's
_Night Thoughts_:

  Night, sable Goddess! from her ebon throne
  In rayless majesty now stretches forth
  Her leaden sceptre o'er a slumb'ring world...
  Creation sleeps. 'Tis as the gen'ral pulse
  Of life stood still, and Nature made a pause;
  An awful pause, prophetic of her end...etc.

There is a wealth of imagery and comparison amid Ossian's melancholy
and mourning; clouds and mist are the very shadows of his struggling
heroes. For instance:

    His spear is a blasted pine, his shield the rising moon. He sat
    on the shore like a cloud of mist on the rising hill.

    Thou art snow on the heath; thy hair is the mist of Cromla, when
    it curls on the hill, when it shines to the beam of the west. Thy
    breasts are two smooth rocks seen from Branno of streams.

    As the troubled noise of the ocean when roll the waves on high;
    as the last peal of the thunder of heaven, such is the noise of

    As autumn's dark storms pour from two echoing hills, towards each
    other approached the heroes.

    The clouds of night came rolling down, Darkness rests on the
    steeps of Cromla. The stars of the north arise over the rolling
    of Erin's waves; they shew their heads of fire through the flying
    mist of heaven. A distant wind roars in the wood. Silent and dark
    is the plain of death.

Wordsworth's influence turned in another direction. His real taste
was pastoral, and he preached freer intercourse with Nature, glossing
his ideas rather artificially with a theism, through which one reads
true love of her, and an undeniable, though hidden, pantheism.

In _The Influence of Natural Objects_ he described how a life spent
with Nature had early purified him from passion:

  Nor was this fellowship vouchsafed to me
  With stinted kindness. In November days,
  When vapours, rolling down the valleys, made
  A lonely scene more lonesome, among woods
  At noon, and 'mid the calm of summer nights,
  When by the margin of the trembling lake
  Beneath the gloomy hills, I homeward went
  In solitude, such intercourse was mine.
  'Twas mine among the fields both day and night,
  And by the waters all the summer long,
  And in the frosty season, when the sun
  Was set, and visible for many a mile,
  The cottage windows through the twilight blazed,
  I heeded not the summons....

Like Klopstock, he delighted in sledging

      while the stars
  Eastward were sparkling bright, and in the west
  The orange sky of evening died away.

Far more characteristic of the man is the confession in _Tintern

  Nature then
  (The coarser pleasures of my boyish days
  And their glad animal movements all gone by)
  To me was all in all. I cannot paint
  What then I was. The sounding cataract
  Haunted me like a passion; the tall rock,
  The mountain, and the deep and gloomy wood,
  The colours and their forms, were then to me
  An appetite, a feeling and a love
  That had no need of a remoter charm
  By thought supplied, or any interest
  Unborrow'd from the eye.

Beautiful notes, to be struck again more forcibly by the frank
pantheism of Byron.

What Scott had been doing for Scotland,[14] and Moore for Ireland,
Wordsworth, with still greater fidelity to truth, tried to do for
England and her people; in contrast to Byron and Shelley, who forsook
home to range more widely, or Southey, whose _Thalaba_ begins with an
imposing description of night in the desert:

      How beautiful is night!
  A dewy freshness fills the silent air,
  No mist obscures, nor cloud, nor speck, nor stain
  Breaks the serene of heaven;
  In full-orb'd glory yonder Moon divine
  Rolls through the dark blue depths.
  Beneath her steady ray
  The desert-circle spreads
  Like the round ocean, girdled with the sky.
  How beautiful is night!

But all that previous English poets had done seemed harmless and
innocent in comparison with Byron's revolutionary poetry. Prophecy in
Rousseau became poetry in Byron.

There was much common ground between these two passionate aspiring
spirits, who never attained to Goethe's serenity. Both were
melancholy, and fled from their fellows; both strove for perfect
liberty and unlimited self-assertion; both felt with the wild and
uproarious side of Nature, and found idyllic scenes marred by
thoughts of mankind.

Byron's turbulence never subsided; and his love for Nature,
passionate and comprehensive as it was, was always 'sickled o'er'
with misanthropy and pessimism, with the 'world-pain.'

He turned to her first through disdain of his kind and love of
introspection, and later on, when he was spurned by the London world
which had been at his feet, and disdain grew into hatred and disgust,
from a wish to be alone. But, as Boettger says:

    Though this heart, in which the whole universe is reflected, is a
    sick one, it has immeasurable depths, and an intensified spirit
    life which draws everything under its sway and inspires it,
    feeling and observing everything only as part of itself.

The basis of Byron's feeling for Nature was a revolutionary
one--elementary passion. The genius which threw off stanza after
stanza steeped in melody, was coupled with an unprecedented
subjectivity and individualism. When the first part of _Childe
Harold_ came out, dull London society was bewitched by the music and
novelty of this enthusiastic lyric of Nature, with its incomparable
interweaving of scenery and feeling:

  The sails were fill'd, and fair the light winds blew,
  As glad to waft him from his native home....
  But when the sun was sinking in the sea,
  He seized his harp...
  Adieu, adieu! my native shore
  Fades o'er the waters blue;
  The night winds sigh, the breakers roar,
  And shrieks the wild sea-mew;
  Yon sun that sets upon the sea
  We follow in his flight;
  Farewell awhile to him and thee,
  My native land, good-night!

He says of the beauty of Lusitania:

  Oh Christ! it is a goodly sight to see
  What Heaven hath done for this delicious land.
  What fruits of fragrance blush on every tree!
  What goodly prospects o'er the hills expand!...
  The horrid crags, by toppling convent crown'd,
  The cork trees hoar that clothe the shaggy steep,
  The mountain moss, by scorching skies imbrown'd,
  The sunken glen, whose sunless shrubs must weep.
  The tender azure of the unruffled deep,
  The orange tints that gild the greenest bough,
  The torrents that from cliff to valley leap,
  The vine on high, the willow branch below,
  Mix'd in one mighty scene, with varied beauty glow.

Yet his spirit drives him away, 'more restless than the swallow in
the skies.'

The charm of the idyllic is in the lines:

  But these between, a silver streamlet glides....
  Here leans the idle shepherd on his crook,
  And vacant on the rippling waves doth look,
  That peaceful still 'twixt bitterest foemen flow.

The beauty of the sea and night in this:

  The moon is up; by Heaven a lovely eve!
  Long streams of light o'er dancing waves expand....
  How softly on the Spanish shore she plays,
  Disclosing rock, and slope, and forest brown

  Bending o'er the vessel's laving side
  To gaze on Dian's wave-reflected sphere.

He reflects that:

  To sit on rocks, to muse o'er flood and fell,
  To slowly trace the forest's shady scene....
  To climb the trackless mountain all unseen
  With the wild flock that never needs a fold,
  Alone o'er steeps and foaming falls to lean,--
  This is not solitude; 'tis but to hold
  Converse with Nature's charms, and view her stores unroll'd.
  But 'midst the crowd, the hum, the shock of men,
  To hear, to see, to feel, and to possess,
  And roam along, the world's tired denizen,
  With none who bless us, none whom we can bless ...
  This is to be alone--this, this is solitude.

His preference for wild scenery shews here:

  Dear Nature is the kindest mother still,
  Though always changing, in her aspect mild;
  From her bare bosom let me take my fill,
  Her never-wean'd, though not her favour'd child.
  O she is fairest in her features wild,
  Where nothing polish'd dares pollute her path;
  To me by day or night she ever smiled,
  Though I have mark'd her when none other hath,
  And sought her more and more, and loved her best in wrath.

He observes everything--now 'the billows' melancholy flow' under the
bows of the ship, now the whole scene at Zitza:

  Where'er we gaze, around, above, below,
  What rainbow tints, what magic charms are found!
  Rock, river, forest, mountain, all abound,
  And bluest skies that harmonize the whole;
  Beneath, the distant torrent's rushing sound
  Tells where the volumed cataract doth roll
  Between those hanging rocks, that shock yet please the soul.

This is full of poetic vision:

  Where lone Utraikey forms its circling cove,
  And weary waves retire to gleam at rest,
  How brown the foliage of the green hill's grove,
  Nodding at midnight o'er the calm bay's breast,
  As winds come lightly whispering from the west,
  Kissing, not ruffling, the blue deep's serene;--
  Here Harold was received a welcome guest;
  Nor did he pass unmoved the gentle scene,
  For many a job could he from Night's soft presence glean.

Feeling himself 'the most unfit of men to herd with man,' he is happy
only with Nature:

  Once more upon the waters! yet once more!
  And the waves bound beneath me as a steed
  That knows his rider. Welcome to the roar!
  Swift be their guidance, wheresoe'er it lead.

  Where rose the mountains, there to him were friends;
  Where rolled the ocean, thereon was his home;
  Where a blue sky and glowing clime extends,
  He had the passion and the power to roam;
  The desert, forest, cavern, breaker's foam,
  Were unto him companionship; they spake
  A mutual language, clearer than the tome
  Of his land's tongue, which he would oft forsake
  For Nature's pages glass'd by sunbeams on the lake.


  I live not in myself, but I become
  Portion of that around me, and to me
  High mountains are a feeling, but the hum
  Of human cities torture; I can see
  Nothing to loathe in Nature save to be
  A link reluctant in a fleshly chain,
  Class'd among creatures, when the soul can flee,
  And with the sky, the peak, the heaving plain
  Of ocean, or the stars, mingle, and not in vain.

  Are not the mountains, waves, and skies a part
  Of me and of my soul, as I of them?
  Is not the love of these deep in my heart
  With a pure passion? Should I not contemn
  All objects, if compared with these?

Love of Nature was a passion with him, and when he looked

  Upon the peopled desert past
  As on a place of agony and strife,

mountains gave him a sense of freedom.

He praised the Rhine:

  Where Nature, nor too sombre nor too gay,
  Wild but not rude, awful yet not austere,
  Is to the mellow earth as autumn to the year.

and far more the Alps:

      Above me are the Alps,
  The palaces of Nature, whose vast walls
  Have pinnacled in clouds their snowy scalps,
  And throned eternity in icy halls
  Of cold sublimity, where forms and falls
  The avalanche, the thunderbolt of snow!
  All that expands the spirit, yet appals,
  Gather around these summits, as to shew
  How Earth may pierce to Heaven, yet leave vain man below.

On the Lake of Geneva:

  Ye stars which are the poetry of heaven...
  All heaven and earth are still--though not in sleep,
  But breathless, as we grow when feeling most;
  And silent, as we stand in thoughts too deep.
  All heaven and earth are still: from the high host
  Of stars, to the lull'd lake and mountain coast,
  All is concenter'd in a life intense,
  Where not a beam, nor air, nor leaf is lost,
  But hath a part of being, and a sense
  Of that which is of all Creator and defence.

  And this is in the night. Most glorious night,
  Thou wert not sent for slumber; let me be
  A sharer in thy fierce and far delight,
  A portion of the tempest and of thee!
  How the lit lake shines, a phosphoric sea,
  And the big rain comes dancing to the earth!
  And now again 'tis black--and now, the glee
  Of the loud hills shakes with its mountain mirth,
  As if they did rejoice o'er a young earthquake's birth.
  But where of ye, oh tempests, is the goal?
  Are ye like those within the human breast?
  Or do ye find, at length, like eagles, some high nest?

  The morn is up again, the dewy morn
  With breath all incense, and with cheek all bloom,
  Laughing the clouds away with playful scorn,
  And living as if earth contained no tomb.

In Clarens:

  Clarens! sweet Clarens, birthplace of deep Love,
  Thine air is the young breath of passionate thought,
  Thy trees take root in Love; the snows above
  The very glaciers have his colours caught,
  And sunset into rose-hues sees them wrought
  By rays which sleep there lovingly; the rocks,
  The permanent crags, tell here of Love.


  Ever and anon of griefs subdued
  There comes a token like a scorpion's sting,
  Scarce seen, but with fresh bitterness imbued;
  And slight withal may be the things which bring
  Back on the heart the weight which it would fling
  Aside for ever; it may be a sound,
  A tone of music, summer's eve or spring,
  A flower, the wind, the ocean, which shall wound,
  Striking the electric chain with which we are darkly bound.

The unrest and torment of his own heart he finds reflected in Nature:

  The roar of waters! from the headlong height
  Velino cleaves the wave-worn precipice;
  The fall of waters! rapid as the light
  The flashing mass foams, shaking the abyss;
  The hell of waters! where they howl and hiss,
  And boil in endless torture; while the sweat
  Of their great agony, wrung out from this
  Their Phlegethon, curls round the rocks of jet
  That gird the gulf around, in pitiless horror set,
  And mounts in spray the skies, and thence again
  Returns in an unceasing shower, which round
  With its unemptied cloud of gentle rain
  Is an eternal April to the ground,
  Making it all one emerald; how profound
  The gulf, and how the giant element
  From rock to rock leaps with delirious bound,
  Crushing the cliffs, which downward, worn and rent
  With his fierce footsteps, yields in chasms a fearful rent....
  Horribly beautiful! but, on the verge
  From side to side, beneath the glittering morn,
  An Iris sits amidst the infernal surge,
  Like Hope upon a deathbed.

The 'enormous skeleton' of Rome impresses him most by moonlight:

  When the rising moon begins to climb
  Its topmost arch, and gently pauses there;
  When the stars twinkle through the loops of time,
  And the low night breeze waves along the air!

Underlying all his varying moods is this note:

  There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
  There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
  There is society, where none intrudes,
  By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
  I love not man the less, but Nature more,
  From these our interviews, in which I steal
  From all I may be, or have been before,
  To mingle with the Universe and feel
  What I can ne'er express, yet cannot all conceal.

The sea, the sky with its stars and clouds, and the mountains, are
his passion:

  Roll on, thou deep and dark blue Ocean--roll!
  Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain;
  Man marks the earth with ruin--his control
  Stops with the shore; upon the watery plain
  The wrecks are all thy deed, nor doth remain
  A shadow of man's ravage, save his own,
  When, for a moment, like a drop of rain
  He sinks into thy depths with bubbling groan,
  Without a grave, unknell'd, uncoffin'd, and unknown.
                                  (_Childe Harold_.)

  The day at last has broken. What a night
  Hath usher'd it! How beautiful in heaven!
  Though varied with a transitory storm,
  More beautiful in that variety!...
               And can the sun so rise,
  So bright, so rolling back the clouds into
  Vapours more lovely than the unclouded sky,
  With golden pinnacles and snowy mountains,
  And billows purpler than the ocean's, making
  In heaven a glorious mockery of the earth.

He had loved the Scotch Highlands in youth:

  Amidst Nature's native scenes,
  Loved to the last, whatever intervenes
  Between us and our childhood's sympathy
  Which still reverts to what first caught the eye.
  He who first met the Highlands' swelling blue
  Will love each peak that shews a kindred hue,
  Hail in each crag a friend's familiar face,
  And clasp the mountain in his mind's embrace.
                                (_The Island_.)

and in _The Island_ he says:

  How often we forget all time, when lone,
  Admiring Nature's universal throne,
  Her woods, her wilds, her waters, the intense
  Reply of hers to our intelligence!
  Live not the stars and mountains? Are the waves
  Without a spirit? Are the dropping cares
  Without a feeling in their silent tears?
  No, no; they woo and clasp us to their spheres,
  Dissolve this clog and clod of clay before
  Its hour, and merge our soul in the great shore.
                                 (_The Island_.)

Byron's feeling was thus, like Goethe's in _Werther_ and _Faust_, a
pantheistic sympathy. But there was this great difference between
them--Goethe's mind passed through its period of storm and stress,
and attained a serene and ripe vision; Byron's never did. Melancholy
and misanthropy always mingled with his feelings; he was, in fact,
the father of our modern 'world-pain.'

Still more like a brilliant meteor that flashes and is gone was
Shelley, the most highly strung of all modern lyrists. With him, too,
love of Nature amounted to a passion; but it was with her remote
aerial forms that he was most at home. His imagination, a cosmic one,
revelling among the spheres, was like Byron's in its preference for
the great, wide, and distant; but unlike his in giving first place to
the serene and passionless. As Brandes says: 'In this familiarity
with the great forms and movements of Nature, Shelley is like Byron;
but like him as a fair genius is like a dark one, as Ariel is like
the flame-bringing angel of the morning star.'

We see his love for the sea, especially at rest, in the 'Stanzas
written in dejection near Naples,' which contain the beautiful line
which proved so prophetic of his death:

  The sun is warm, the sky is clear,
  The waves are dancing fast and bright;
  Blue isles and snowy mountains wear
  The purple noon's transparent might....
  I see the deep's untrampled floor
  With green and purple sea-weeds strewn;
  I see the waves upon the shore
  Like light dissolved, in star showers thrown....
  Yet now despair itself is mild,
  Even as the winds and waters are;
  I could lie down like a tired child
  And weep away the life of care
  Which I have borne, and yet must bear,--
  Till death like sleep might steal on me,
  And I might feel in the warm air
  My cheek grow cold, and hear the sea
  Breathe o'er my dying brain its last monotony.

In his _Essay on Love_, speaking of the irresistible longing for
sympathy, he says:

    In solitude, or in that deserted state when we are surrounded by
    human beings, and yet they sympathize not with us, we love the
    flowers, the grass, and the water and the sky. In the motion of
    the very leaves of spring, in the blue air, there is then found a
    secret correspondence with our heart. There is eloquence in the
    tongueless wind, and a melody in the flowing brooks and the
    rustling of the reeds beside them, which, by their inconceivable
    relation to something within the soul, awaken the spirits to a
    dance of breathless rapture, and bring tears of mysterious
    tenderness to the eyes, like the voice of one beloved singing to
    you alone.

As Brandes says: 'His pulses beat in secret sympathy with Nature's.
He called plants and animals his dear sisters and brothers, and the
words which his wife inscribed upon his tombstone in Rome, "cor
cordium," are true of his relation to Nature also.'

_The Cloud_, with its marvellously vivid personification, is a
perfect example of his genius.

It gives the measure of his unlikeness to the more homekeeping
imaginations of his contemporaries Wordsworth, Coleridge, Burns, and
Moore; and at the same time to Byron, for here there are no morbid
reflections; the poem is pervaded by a naive, childlike tone, such as
one hears in the old mythologies.

_The Cloud_:

  I bring fresh showers for the thirsting flowers
  From the seas and the streams;
  I bear light shade for the leaves when laid
  In their noonday dreams.
  From my wings are shaken the dews that waken
  The sweet buds every one,
  When rocked to rest on their Mother's breast
  As she dances about the sun.
  I wield the flail of the lashing hail,
  And whiten the green plains under;
  And then again I dissolve it in rain,
  And laugh as I pass in thunder.

  I sift the snow on the mountains below,
  And their great pines groan aghast,
  And all the night 'tis my pillow white
  While I sleep in the arms of the Blast....
  From cape to cape, with a bridge-like shape,
  Over a torrent sea,
  Sunbeam-proof, I hang like a roof,
  The mountains its columns be.
  The triumphal arch through which I march,
  With hurricane, fire, and snow,
  When the Powers of the air are chained to my chair,
  Is the million-coloured bow;
  The Sphere-fire above its soft colours wove
  While the moist earth was laughing below.
  I am the daughter of Earth and Water,
  And the nursling of the Sky.

As Brandes puts it; When the cloud sings thus of the moon:

  That orbed maiden with white fire laden,
  Whom Mortals call the Moon,
  Glides glimmering o'er my fleece-like floor
  By the midnight breezes strewn;
  And wherever the beat of her unseen feet,
  Which only the angels hear,
  May have broken the woof of my tent's thin roof,
  The Stars peep behind her and peer.

or of--

  The sanguine Sunrise, with his meteor eyes,

the reader is carried back, by dint of the virgin freshness of the
poet's imagination, to the time when the phenomena of Nature were
first moulded into mythology.

This kinship to the myth is very clear in the finest of all his
poems, the _Ode to the West Wind_, when the poet says to the wind:

  O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn's being,...
  Thou on whose stream, 'mid the steep sky's commotion,
  Loose clouds like earth's decaying leaves are shed.
  Shook from the tangled boughs of heaven and ocean.
  Angels of rain and lightning, there are spread
  On the blue surface of thine airy surge,
  Like the bright hair uplifted from the head
  Of some fierce Mænad, even from the dim verge
  Of the horizon to the zenith's height,
  The locks of the approaching storm.

He calls the wind the 'breath of Autumn's being,' the one

  Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed
  The winged seeds.

And cries to it:

  If I were a dead leaf thou mightest bear;
  If I were a swift cloud to fly with thee;
  A wave to pant beneath thy power and share
  The impulse of thy strength, only less free
  Than thou, O uncontrollable!...
  0 lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud!
  I fall upon the thorns of life, I bleed!
  A heavy weight of hours has chained and bowed
  One too like thee, tameless, and swift, and proud.
  Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is;
  What if my leaves are falling like its own?
  The tumult of thy mighty harmonies
  Will take from both a deep autumnal tone,
  Sweet though in sadness. Be thou, Spirit fierce,
  My spirit. Be thou me, impetuous one!
  Drive my dead thoughts over the universe,
  Like withered leaves, to quicken a new birth;
  And by the incantation of this verse,
  Scatter, as from an unextinguished hearth
  Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind!
  Be through my lips to unawakened earth
  The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind,
  If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?

His poems are full of this power of inspiring all the elements with
life, breathing his own feeling into them, and divining love and
sympathy in them; for instance:

  The fountains mingle with the river,
  And the river with the ocean;
  The winds of heaven mix for ever
  With a sweet emotion....
  See the mountains kiss high heaven,
  And the waves clasp one another...
  And the sunlight clasps the earth,
  And the moonbeams kiss the sea.


  I love all thou lovest,
  Spirit of Delight;
  The fresh earth in new leaves dressed,
  And the starry night,
  Autumn evening and the morn
  When the golden mists are born.
  I love snow and all the forms
  Of the radiant frost;
  I love waves and winds and storms--
  Everything almost
  Which is Nature's, and may be
  Untainted by man's misery.

To Goethe, Byron, and Shelley, this pantheism, universal love,
sympathy with Nature in all her forms, was the base of feeling; but
both of England's greatest lyrists, dying young, failed to attain
perfect harmony of thought and feeling. There always remained a
bitter ingredient in their poetry.

Let us now turn to France.


Rousseau discovered the beauty of scenery for France; St Pierre
portrayed it poetically, not only in _Paul and Virginia_, but in
_Chaumiére Indienne_ and _Etudes de la Nature_. The science which
these two writers lacked, Buffon possessed in a high degree; but he
had not the power to delineate Nature and feeling in combination: he
lacked insight into the hidden analogies between the movements of the
mind and the phenomena of the outer world. Chateaubriand, on the
contrary, had this faculty to its full modern extent. It is true that
his ego was constantly to the fore, even in dealing with Nature, but
his landscapes were full of sympathetic feeling. He had Rousseau's
melancholy and unrest, and cared nothing for those 'oppressive
masses,' mountains, except as backgrounds; but he was enthusiastic
about the scenery which he saw in America, the virgin forests, and
the Mississippi--above all, about the sea. His Réné, that life-like
figure, half-passionate, half-_blasé_, measuring everything by
himself, and flung hither and thither by the waves of passion, shewed
a lover's devotion to the sea and to Nature generally.[15] 'It was
not God whom I contemplated on the waves in the magnificence of His
works: I saw an unknown woman, and the miracle of his smile, the
beauties of the sky, seemed to me disclosed by her breath. I would
have bartered eternity for one of her caresses. I pictured her to
myself as throbbing behind this veil of the universe which hid her
from my eyes. Oh! why was it not in my power to rend the veil and
press the idealized woman to my heart, to spend myself on her bosom
with the love which is the source of my inspiration, my despair, and
my life?'

In subjectivity and dreaminess both Chateaubriand and Lamartine were
like the German romanticists, but their fundamental note was theism,
not pantheism. The storm of the French Revolution, which made radical
changes in religion, as in all other things, was followed by a
reaction. Christianity acquired new power and inwardness, and Nature
was unceasingly praised as the mirror of the divine idea of creation.

In his _Génie du Christianisme_, Chateaubriand said:

    The true God, in entering into His Works, has given his immensity
    to Nature... there is an instinct in man, which puts him in
    communication with the scenes of Nature.

Lamartine was a sentimental dreamer of dreams, a thinker of lofty
thoughts which lost themselves in the inexpressible. His
_Meditations_ shew his ardent though sad worship of Nature; his love
of evening, moonlight, and starlight. For instance, _L'Isolement_:

  Ici gronde le fleuve aux vagues écumantes,
  Il serpente et s'enfonce en un lointain obscur:
  Là le lac immobile étend ses eaux dormantes
  Oò l'étoile du soir se lève dans l'azur.
  An sommet de ces monts couronnés de bois sombres,
  Le crépuscule encore jette un dernier rayon;
  Et le char vaporeux de la reine des ombres
  Monte et blanchit déjà les bords de l'horizon.

_Le Soir_:

  Le soir ramène le silence....
  Venus se lève à l'horizon;
  A mes pieds l'étoile amoureuse
  De sa lueur mystérieuse
  Blanchit les tapis de gazon.
  De ce hêtre au feuillage sombre
  J'entends frissonner les rameaux;
  On dirait autour des tombeaux
  Qu'on entend voltiger une ombre,
  Tout-à-coup, détaché des cieux,
  Un rayon de l'astre nocturne,
  Glissant sur mon front taciturne,
  Vient mollement toucher mes yeux.
  Doux reflet d'un globe de flamme
  Charmant rayon, que me veux-tu?
  Viens-tu dans mon sein abattu
  Porter la lumière à mon âme?
  Descends-tu pour me révéler
  Des mondes le divin mystére,
  Ces secrets cachés dans la sphère
  Où le jour va te rappeler?

In the thought of happy past hours, he questions the lake:

  Un soir, t'en souvient-il, nous voguions en silence;
  On n'entendait au loin, sur l'onde et sous les cieux,
  Que le bruit des rameurs qui frappaient en cadence
  Tes flots harmonieux.
  O lac! rochers muets! grottes! forêt obscure!
  Vous que le temps épargne ou qu'il peut rajeunir
  Gardez de cette nuit, gardez, belle nature,
  Au moins le souvenir!...
  Que le vent qui gémit, le roseau qui soupire
  Que les parfums légers de ton air embaumé,
  Que tout ce qu'on entend, l'on voit, ou l'on respire,
  Tout dise: 'ils out aimés!

_La Prière_ has:

  Le roi brillant du jour, se couchant dans sa gloire,
  Descend avec lenteur de son char de victoire;
  Le nuage éclatant qui le cache à nos yeux
  Conserve en sillons d'or sa trace dans les cieux,
  Et d'un reflet de pourpre inonde l'étendue.
  Comme une lampe d'or dans l'azur suspendue,
  La lune se balance aux bords de l'horizon;
  Ses rayons affaiblis dorment sur le gazon,
  Et le voile des nuits sur les monts se déplie.
  C'est l'heure, où la nature, un moment recueillie,
  Entre la nuit qui touche et le jour qui s'enfuit
  S'élève au créateur du jour et de la nuit,
  Et semble offrir à Dieu dans son brillant langage,
  De la création le magnifique hommage.
  Voilà le sacrifice immense, universelle!
  L'univers est le temple, et la terre est l'autel;
  Les cieux en sont le dôme et ses astres sans nombre,
  Ces feux demi-voilés, pâle ornement de l'ombre,
  Dans la voûte d'azur avec ordre semés,
  Sont les sacrés flambeaux pour ce temple allumés...
  Mais ce temple est sans voix...

  ...Mon coeur seul parle dans ce silence--
  La voix de l'univers c'est mon intelligence.
  Sur les rayons du soir, sur les ailes du vent,
  Elle s'élève à Dieu...

_Le Golfe de Baia_:

  Vois-tu comme le flot paisible
  Sur le rivage vient mourir?
  Mais déjà l'ombre plus épaisse
  Tombe et brunit les vastes mers;
  Le bord s'efface, le bruit cesse,
  Le silence occupe les airs.
  C'est l'heure où la Mélancholie
  S'assied pensive et recueillie
  Aux bords silencieux des mers.

The decay of autumn corresponds to his own dolorous feelings:

  Oui, dans ces jours d'automne où la nature expire,
  A ses regards voilés je trouve plus d'attraits;
  C'est l'adieu d'un ami, c'est le dernier sourire
  Des lèvres que la mort va fermer pour jamais.

This is from _Ischia_:

  Le Soleil va porter le jour à d'autres mondes;
  Dans l'horizon désert Phébé monte sans bruit,
  Et jette, en pénétrant les ténébres profondes,
  Un voile transparent sur le front de la nuit.
  Voyez du haut des monts ses clartés ondoyantes
  Comme un fleuve de flamme inonder les coteaux,
  Dormir dans les vallons on glisser sur les pentes,
  Ou rejaillir au loin du sein brillant des eaux....
  Doux comme le soupir d'un enfant qui sommeille,
  Un son vague et plaintif se répand dans les airs....
  Mortel! ouvre ton âme à ces torrents de vie,
  Reçois par tous les sens les charmes de la nuit....

He sees the transitoriness of all earthly things reflected in Nature:

  L'onde qui baise ce rivage,
  De quoi se plaint-elle à ses bords?
  Pourquoi le roseau sur la plage, pourquoi le ruisseau sous l'ombrage,
  Rendent-ils de tristes accords?
  De quoi gémit la tourterelle? Tout naist, tout paise.

Such a depth of sympathy and dreamy dolorous reverie was new to
France, but Rousseau had broken the ice, and henceforward feeling
flowed freely. To Lamartine the theist, as to the pantheists Goethe,
Shelley, and Byron, Nature was a friend and lover.

Victor Hugo was of the same mind, but his poetry is clearer and more
plastic than Lamartine's. We quote from his finest poems, the
_Feuilles d'Automne_. He was a true lyrist, familiar both with the
external life of Nature and the inner life of man. His beautiful 'Ce
qu'on entend sur la montagne' has the spirit of _Faust_. He imagines
himself upon a mountain top, with earth on one side, the sea on the
other; and there he hears two voices unlike any ever heard before:

  L'une venait des mers, chant de gloire! hymne heureux!
  C'était la voix des flots qui se parlaient entre eux....
  Or, comme je l'ai dit, l'Océan magnifique
  Epandait une voix joyeuse et pacifique
  Chantant comme la harpe aux temples de Sion,
  Et louait la beauté de la création.

while from the other voice:

  Pleurs et cris! L'injure, l'anatheme....
  C'était la terre et l'homme qui pleuraient!...
  L'une disait, Nature! et l'autre, Humanité!

The personifications in this poem are beautiful. He, too, like
Lamartine, loves sea and stars most of all. These verses from _Les
Orientales_ remind one of St Augustine:

  J'étais seul près des flots par une nuit d'étoiles,
  Pas un nuage aux cieux; sur les mers pas de voiles,
  Et les bois et les monts et toute la nature
  Semblaient interroger dans confus murmure
  Les flots des mers, les feux du ciel.
  Et les étoiles d'or, légions infinies,
  A voix haute, à voix basse, avec mille harmonies
  Disaient en inclinant leurs couronnes de feu,
  Et les flots bleus, que rien gouverne et n'arrête,
  Disaient en recourbant l'écume de leur crête:
  C'est le Seigneur Dieu, le Seigneur Dieu!

  Parfois lorsque tout dort, je m'assieds plein de joie
  Sous le dôme étoilé qui sur nos fronts flamboie;
  J'écoute si d'en haut il tombe quelque bruit;
  Et l'heure vainement me frappe de son aile
  Quand je contemple ému cette fête eternelle
  Que le ciel rayonnant donne au monde la nuit!
  Souvent alors j'ai cru que ces soleils de flamme
  Dans ce monde endormi n'échauffaient que mon âme;
  Qu'à les comprendre seul j'étais prédestiné;
  Que j'étais, moi, vaine ombre obscure et taciturne,
  Le roi mystérieuse de la pompe nocturne;
  Que le ciel pour moi seul s'était illuminé!

The necessary condition of delight in Nature is very strikingly

  Si vous avez en vous, vivantes et pressées,
  Un monde intérieur d'images, de pensées,
  De sentimens, d'amour, d'ardente passion
  Pour féconder ce monde, échangez-le sans cesse
  Avec l'autre univers visible qui vous presse!
  Mêlez toute votre âme à la création....
  Que sous nos doigts puissans exhale la nature,
  Cette immense clavier!

His lyrics are rich in fine scenes from Nature, unrolled in cold but
stately periods, and the poetic intuition which always divines the
spirit life brought him near to that pantheism which we find in all
the greatest English and German poets of his time,[16] and which lay,
too, at the root of German romanticism.


Schiller did not possess the intrinsically lyrical genius of Goethe;
his strength lay, not in song, but drama, and in a didactic form of
epic--the song not of feeling, but of thought.

Descriptions of Nature occur here and there in his epics and dramas;
but his feeling for her was chiefly theoretic. Like his
contemporaries, he passed through a sentimental period; _Evening_
shews this, and _Melancholy, to Laura_:

  Laura, a sunrise seems to break
  Where'er thy happy looks may glow....
  Thy soul--a crystal river passing,
  Silver clear and sunbeam glassing,
  Mays into blossom sad autumn by thee:
  Night and desert, if they spy thee,
  To gardens laugh--with daylight shine,
  Lit by those happy smiles of thine!

With such ecstatic extravagances contrast the excellent descriptions
of Nature full of objective life in his longer poems--for instance,
the tumult of Charybdis and the unceasing rain in _The Diver_,
evening in _The Hostage_, and landscape in _William Tell_ and _The
Walk_. In the last, as Julian Schmidt says, the ever varying scenery
is made a 'frame for a kind of phenomenology of mankind.'

    Flowers of all hue are struggling into glow
  Along the blooming fields; yet their sweet strife
  Melts into one harmonious concord. Lo!
  The path allures me through the pastoral green
  And the wide world of fields! The labouring bee
  Hums round me, and on hesitating wing
  O'er beds of purple clover, quiveringly
  Hovers the butterfly. Save these, all life
  Sleeps in the glowing sunlight's steady sheen--
  E'en from the west no breeze the lull'd airs bring.
  Hark! in the calm aloft I hear the skylark sing.
  The thicket rustles near, the alders bow
  Down their green coronals, and as I pass,
  Waves in the rising wind the silvering grass;
  Come! day's ambrosial night! receive me now
  Beneath the roof by shadowy beeches made
  Cool-breathing, etc.

Schiller's interest in Nature was more a matter of reflection than
direct observation; its real tendency was philosophical and ethical.
He called Nature naive (he included naturalness in Nature); those who
seek her, sentimental; but he overlooked (as we saw in an earlier
chapter) the fact that antiquity did not always remain naive, and
that not all moderns are sentimental.

As Rousseau's pupil he drew a sharp distinction between Nature and
Art, and felt happy in solitude where 'man with his torment does not
come,' lying, as he says in _The Bride of Messina_, like a child on
the bosom of Nature.

In Schiller's sense of the word, perhaps no poet has been more
sentimental about Nature than Jean Paul.

He was the humorous and satirical idyllist _par excellence_, and laid
the scenes of his romances in idyllic surroundings, using the
trifling events of daily life to wonderful purpose. There is an
almost oriental splendour in his pages, with their audacious
metaphors and mixture of ideas. With the exception of Lake Maggiore
in _Titan_, he gives no set descriptions of landscape; but all his
references to it, all his sunrises and sunsets, are saturated with
the temperament of his characters, and they revel in feeling. They
all love Nature, and wander indefatigably about their own
countryside, finding the reflection of their feelings in her. There
is a constant interweaving of the human soul and the universe;
therein lies his pantheistic trait. 'To each man,' he said,[17]
'Nature appears different, and the only question is, which is the
most beautiful? Nature is for ever becoming flesh for mankind; outer
Nature takes a different form in each mind.' Certainly the nature of
Jean Paul was different from the Nature of other mortals. Was she
more beautiful? He wrote of her in his usual baroque style, with a
wealth of thought and feeling, and everywhere the sparkle of genius;
but it is all presented in the strangest motley, as exaggerated and
unenjoyable as can be. For example, from _Siebenkâs_:

    I appeared again then on the last evening of the year 1794, on
    the red waves of which so many bodies, bled to death, were borne
    away to the ocean of eternity.

    To the butterfly--proboscis of Siebenkäs, enough honey--cells
    were still open in every blue thistle-blossom of destiny.

    When they had passed the gate--that is to say, the
    un-Palmyra-like ruins of it--the crystal reflecting grotto of the
    August night stood open and shining above the dark green earth,
    and the ocean-calm of Nature stayed the wild storm of the human
    heart. Night was drawing and closing her curtain (a sky full of
    silent suns, not a breath of breeze moving in it) up above the
    world, and down beneath it the reaped corn stood in the sheaves
    without a rustle. The cricket with his one constant song, and a
    poor old man gathering snails for the snail pits, seemed to be
    the only things that dwelt in the far-reaching darkness.

When it was autumn in his heart:

    Above the meadows, where all the flowers were withered and dead;
    above the fields, where the corn ears waved no more, floated dim
    phantom forms, all pale and wan, faint pictures of the past. Over
    the grand eternal woods and hills a biting mist was draped in
    clinging folds, as if all Nature, trembling into dust, must
    vanish in its wreaths.... But one bright thought pierced these
    dark fogs of Nature and the soul, turning them to a white
    gleaming mist, a dew all glittering with rainbow colours, and
    gently lighting upon flowers.

When his married life grew more unhappy, in December:

    The heart of our sorrowful Firmian grew sadder yet, as he stood
    upon this cold, burnt-out hearth-place of Nature.

and in spring

    it seemed to him as if his life dwelt, not in a bodily heart, but
    in some warm and tender tear, as if his heavy-laden soul were
    expanding and breaking away through some chink in its prison, and
    melting into a tone of music, a blue ether wave.

And _Titan_ expresses that inner enfranchisement which Nature bestows
upon us:

    Exalted Nature! when we see and love thee, we love our fellow-men
    more warmly, and when we must pity or forget them, thou still
    remainest with us, reposing before the moist eye like a verdant
    chain of mountains in the evening red. Ah! before the soul in
    whose sight the morning dew of its ideals has faded to a cold,
    grey drizzle ... thou remainest, quickening Nature, with thy
    flowers and mountains and cataracts, a faithful comforter; and
    the bleeding son of the gods, cold and speechless, dashes the
    drop of anguish from his eyes, that they may rest, far and clear,
    on thy volcanoes, and on thy springs and on thy suns.

This is sunset in his abstruse artistic handling:

    The sun sinks, and the earth closes her great eye like that of a
    dying god. Then smoke the hills like altars; out of every wood
    ascends a chorus; the veils of day, the shadows, float around the
    enkindled transparent tree-tops, and fall upon the gay, gem-like
    flowers. And the burnished gold of the west throws back a dead
    gold on the east, and tinges with rosy light the hovering breast
    of the tremulous lark--the evening bell of Nature.

And this sunrise:

    The flame of the sun now shot up ever nearer to the kindled
    morning clouds; at length in the heavens, in the brooks and
    ponds, and in the blooming cups of dew, a hundred suns rose
    together, while a thousand colours floated over the earth, and
    one pure dazzling white broke from the sky. It seemed as if an
    almighty earthquake had forced up from the ocean, yet dripping, a
    new-created blooming plain, stretching out beyond the bounds of
    vision, with all its young instincts and powers; the fire of
    earth glowed beneath the roots of the immense hanging garden, and
    the fire of heaven poured down its flames and burnt the colours
    into the mountain summits and the flowers. Between the porcelain
    towers of white mountains the coloured blooming heights stood as
    thrones of the Fruit-Goddess; over the far-spread camp of
    pleasure blossom-cups and sultry drops were pitched here and
    there like peopled tents; the ground was inlaid with swarming
    nurseries of grasses and little hearts, and one heart detached
    itself after another with wings, or fins, or feelers, from the
    hot breeding-cell of Nature, and hummed and sucked and smacked
    its little lips, and sung: and for every little proboscis some
    blossom-cup of; joy was already open. The darling child of the
    infinite mother, man, alone stood with bright joyful eyes upon
    the market-place of the living city of the sun, full of
    brilliance and noise, and gazed, delighted, around him into all
    its countless streets; but his eternal mother rested veiled in
    immensity, and only by the warmth which went to his heart did he
    feel that he was lying upon hers.

For very overflow of thought and imagery and ecstasy of feeling, Jean
Paul never achieved a balanced beauty of expression.

The ideal classic standard which Winckelmann and Lessing had laid
down--simple and plastic, calm because objective, crystal-clear in
thought and expression--and which Goethe and Schiller had sought to
realize and imbue with modern ideas, was too strictly limited for the
Romanticists. Hyperion's words expressed their taste more accurately:
'O, man is a god when he dreams, a beggar when he thinks!' and they
laid stress upon restless movement, fantastic, highly-coloured
effects, a crass subjectivity, a reckless licence of the imagination.

Actual and visible things were disregarded; they did not accord with
this claim for infinity and the nebulous, for exploring the secret
depths of the soul.

It was perhaps a necessary reaction from Goethe's classicism; but it
passed like a bad dream, after tending, thanks to its heterogeneous
elements, now to the mediæval period, now to that of Storm and
Stress, and now to Goethe, Herder, and Winckelmann. It certainly
contained germs of good, which have grown and flourished in our own

In keeping with its whole character, the Romantic feeling for Nature
was subjective and fantastic to excess, mystically enthusiastic,
often with a dreamy symbolism at once deep and naive; its inmost core
was pantheistic, with a pantheism shading off imperceptibly into

After _Werther_, there is perhaps no work of modern fiction in which
Nature plays so artistic a part as in Holderlin's _Hyperion_.

Embittered by life's failure to realize his ideals, he cries: 'But
thou art still visible, sun in the sky! Thou art still green, sacred
earth! The streams still rush to the sea, and shady trees rustle at
noon. The spring's song of joy sings my mortal thoughts to sleep. The
abundance of the universe nourishes and satiates my famished being to

This mystical pantheism could not be more clearly expressed than

    O blessed Nature! I know not how it happens when I lift my eyes
    to your beauty; but all the joy of the sky is in the tears which
    I shed before you--a lover before the lady of his love. When the
    soft waves of the air play round my breast, my whole being is
    speechless and listens. Absorbed in the blue expanse, I often
    look up to the ether and down to the holy sea; and it seems as if
    a kindred spirit opened its arms to me, as if the pain of
    loneliness were lost in the divine life. To be one with all that
    lives, in blessed self-forgetfulness to return to the All of
    Nature, that is the height of thought and bliss--the sacred
    mountain height, the place of eternal rest, where noon loses its
    sultriness and thunder its voice, and the rough sea is like the
    waves in a field of wheat.

To such feeling as this the actualities are but fetters, hindering

'O, if great Nature be the daughter of a father, is the daughter's
heart not his heart? Is not he her deepest feeling? But have I found
it? Do I know it?'

He tries to discern the 'soul of Nature,' hears 'the melody of
morning light begin with soft notes.' He says to the flower, 'You are
my sister,' and to the springs, 'We are of one race': he finds
symbolic resemblance between his heart and all the days and seasons:
he feels the beauty of the 'land like paradise,' while scarcely ever,
except in the poem _Heidelberg_, giving a clear sketch of scenery. A
number of fine comparisons from Nature are scattered through his
writings [18]:

  The caresses of the charming breezes.

  She light, clear, flattering sea.

  Sacred air, the sister of the mind which moves and
  lives in us with fiery force, present everywhere immortal.

  Earth, 'one of the flowers of the sky.'

  Heaven, 'the unending garden of life.'

  Beauty, that 'which is one and all.'

He describes his love in a mystical form:

    We were but one flower, and our souls lived in each other as
    flowers do, when they love and hide their joy within a closed
    calyx.... The clear starry night had now become my element, for
    the beautiful life of my love grew in the stillness as in the
    depths of earth gold grows mysteriously.

He delights 'thus to drink the joy of the world out of one cup with
the lady of his love.'

'Yea, man is a sun, seeing all and transfiguring all when he loves;
and when he does not love, he is like a dark dwelling in which a
little smelly lamp is burning.' All this is soft and feminine, but it
has real poetic charm.

Beautiful too, though sad and gloomy, is his _Song of Fate_:

    Nowhere may man abide,
  But painfully from hour to hour
  He stumbles blindly on to the unknown,
  As water falls from rock to rock
    The long year through.

His pantheism finds expression in the odes--in _To Nature_, for

  Since my heart turneth upward to the sun
    As one that hears her voice,
  Hailing the stars as brothers, and the spring
    As melody divine;
  Since in the breath that stirs the wood thy soul,
    The soul of joy, doth move
  On the still waters of my heart--therefore,
    O Nature! these are golden days to me!

Tieck, too, was keenly alive to Nature. Spring[19]:

  Look all around thee how the spring advances!
  New life is playing through the gay green trees!
  See how in yonder bower the light leaf dances
  To the bird's tread and to the quivering breeze!
  How every blossom in the sunlight glances!
  The winter frost to his dark cavern flees,
  And earth, warm wakened, feels through every vein
  The kindling influence of the vernal rain.
  Now silvery streamlets, from the mountain stealing,
  Dance joyously the verdant vales along;
  Cold fear no more the songster's tongue is sealing,
  Down in the thick dark grove is heard his song.
  And all their bright and lovely hues revealing,
  A thousand plants the field and forest throng;
  Light comes upon the earth in radiant showers,
  And mingling rainbows play among the flowers.

All his writings seem intoxicated with Nature. The hero of his novel
_William Lovell_, scamp though he is, a man of criminal egotism whose
only law is licence, is deeply in love with Nature.

He wrote from Florence:

    Nature refreshes my soul with her endless beauty. I am often full
    of enthusiasm at the thousand charms of Nature and Art ... at
    last my longing to travel to wonderful distant places is
    satisfied. Even as a child, when I stood outside my father's
    country-house, and gazed at the distant mountains and discovered
    a windmill on the very line of the horizon, it seemed to beckon
    me as it turned, my blood pulsed more quickly, my mind flew to
    distant regions, a strange longing often filled my eyes with

    Often it seems to me as if the enigma in ourselves were about to
    be unriddled, as if we were suddenly to see the transformation of
    all our feelings and strange experiences. Night surrounded me
    with a hundred terrors, the transparent moonlight sky was like a
    crystal dome overhead--in this world the most unusual feelings
    were as shadows.

'Franz Sternbald' had the same intoxicated feeling for Nature:

    I should like to fill the whole world with songs of love, to move
    moonrise and sunrise to echo back my joys and sorrows; and trees,
    twigs, leaves, grasses to catch the melody and all repeat my
    music with a thousand tongues.[20]

To the Romantic School, Music and Nature were a passion; they longed
to resolve all their feelings, like Byron, at one flash, into music.
'For thought is too distant.' Night and the forest, moonlight and
starlight, were in all their songs.

There is a background of landscape all through _Franz Sternbald's

In the novels of the eighteenth century landscape had had no place;
Hermes once gave a few lines to sunset, but excused it as an
extravagance, and begged readers and critics not to think that he
only wanted to fill up the page.

Rousseau altered this; Sophie la Roche, in her _Freundschaftlichen
Frauenzimmerbriefen_, introduced ruins, moonlight scenery, hills,
vales, and flowering hedges, etc., into scenes of thought and
feeling; and most of all, Goethe in _Werther_ tunes scenery and soul
to one key. In his later romances he avoided descriptions of scenery.
Jean Paul, like Tieck in _Franz Sternbald_, never spares us one
sunset or sunrise. Some of Tieck's concise descriptions are very
telling, like Theodore Storm's at the present day:

    Rosy light quivered on the blades of grass, and morning moved in
    waves along them.

    The redder the evening grew, the heavier became his dreams; the
    darkened trees, the shadows lengthening across the fields, the
    smoke from the roofs of a little village, and the stars coming
    into view one by one in the sky--all this moved him deeply, moved
    him to a wistful compassion for himself.

As Franz wanders about the wood:

    He observes the trees reflected in a neighbouring pond. He had
    never looked at landscape with this pleasure, it had never been
    given to him to discern the various colours and their shadows,
    the charm of the stillness, the effect of the foliage, as now in
    the clear water. Till now he had never drawn a landscape, only
    looked at it as a necessary adjunct to many historical pictures,
    had never felt that lifeless Nature could herself compose
    something whole and complete in itself, and so worthy to be

Tieck's shorter stories, fairy tales and others, shew taste for the
mysterious and indefinite aspects of Nature--reflections in water,
rays of light, cloud forms:

    They became to him the most fitting characters in which to record
    that indefinite inexpressible feeling which gave its special
    colour to his spiritual life.[21]

The pantheism of Boehme, with whom he was closely associated, always
attracted him, and in Jena he came under the influence of Steffens,
and also of Schelling, whose philosophy of Nature called Nature a
mysterious poem, a dreaming mind. This mind it became the chief aim
of Novalis, as well as Tieck, to decipher.

From simple descriptions of Nature he went on to read mystic meanings
into her, seeking, psychologically in his novels and mystically in
his fairy tales, to fathom the connection between natural phenomena
and elementary human feeling. _Blond Egbert_ was the earliest example
of this:

    Night looked sullenly through the windows, and the trees without
    rustled in the wet cold ... the moon looked fitfully through
    breaks in the driving clouds.[22]

In the same book Bertha describes the horror of loneliness, the vague
longings, and then the overwhelming delight in new impressions, which
seized her when she fled from home as a child and lost herself among
the mountains.

_The Runenberg_ gives in a very powerful way the idea of the weird
fascination which the subterranean powers were supposed to exert over
men, alluring and befooling them, and rousing their thirst for gold.

The demoniacal elements in mountain scenery, its crags and abysses,
are contrasted with idyllic plains. The tale is sprinkled over with
descriptions of Nature, which give it a fairy-like effect.[23]

The most extraordinary product of this School was Novalis. With him
everything resolved itself into presentiment, twilight, night, into
vague longings for a vague distant goal, which he expressed by the
search for 'the blue flower.' This is from _Heinrich von

'The cheerful pageant of the glorious evening rocked him in soft
imaginings; the flower of his heart was visible now and then as by
sheet lightning.' He looked at Nature with the mystic's eye, and
described her fantastically:

    I am never tired of looking minutely at the different plants.
    Growing plants are the direct language of the earth; each new
    leaf, each remarkable flower, is a mystery which projects itself,
    and because it cannot move with love and longing, nor attain to
    words, is a dumb, quiet plant. When in solitude one finds such a
    flower, does it not seem as if all around it were brightened,
    and, best of all, do not the little feathered notes around it
    remain near? One could weep for joy, and there, far from the
    world, stick hands and feet into the earth, to take root, and
    never more leave so delightful a spot. This green mysterious
    carpet of love is drawn over the whole earth.

It is not surprising that night should attract this unnaturally
excited imagination most of all:

    Sacred, inexpressible, mysterious Night, delicious balsam drops
    from thy hands, from the poppy sheaf; thou upliftest the heavy
    wings of the Spirit.[24]

Night and death are delight and bliss.

The fairy-like tale of _Hyacinth and Little Rose,_ with its charming
personifications, is refreshing after all this:

    The violet told the strawberry in confidence, she told her friend
    the gooseberry, who never ceased to jeer when Hyacinth went, so
    the whole garden and wood soon knew it, and when Hyacinth went
    out, voices from all sides cried out, 'Little Rose is my
    favourite.' When he goes into the wide world to find the land of
    Isis, he asks the way of the animals, and of springs, rocks, and
    trees, and the flowers smile at him, the springs offer him a
    fresh drink, and there is wonderful music when he comes home. 'O
    that men could understand the music of Nature!' cries the
    listener in the tale. Then follows a description of 'the sweet
    passion for the being of Nature and her enchanting raptures,' and
    the charm of the poetic imagination which finds 'a great sympathy
    with man's heart' in all the external world. For example, in the
    breath of wind, which 'with a thousand dark and dolorous notes
    seems to dissolve one's quiet grief into one deep melodious sigh
    of all Nature.'

    'And am I myself other than the stream when I gaze gloomily down
    into its waters and lose my thoughts in its flow?' And in ecstasy
    the youth exclaims: 'Whose heart does not leap for joy, when he
    feels Nature's innermost life in its fulness, when that powerful
    feeling, for which language has no other name than love and
    bliss, spreads like a vapour through his being, and he sinks,
    palpitating, on the dark alluring breast of Nature, and his poor
    self is lost in the overwhelming waves of joy?'[25]

Here we have the key to the romantic feeling for Nature--communion of
the soul with Nature in a twilight mood of dreamy absorption.

Yet amidst all this, real delight in romantic scenery was not quite
lacking: witness Hulsen's[26] _Observations on Nature on a Journey
through Switzerland_; and the genuine lyric of Nature, untainted by
mystic and sickly influences, was still to be heard, as in
Eichendorff's beautiful songs and his _Tautgenichts_.

The Romantic School, in fact, far as it erred from the path, did
enlarge the life of feeling generally, and with that, feeling for
Nature, and modern literature is still bound to it by a thousand

Our modern rapture has thus been reached by a path which, with many
deviations in its course, has come to us from a remote past, and is
still carrying us farther forward.

Its present intensity is due to the growth of science, for although
feeling has become more realistic and matter-of-fact in these days of
electricity and the microscope, love for Nature has increased with
knowledge. Science has even become the investigator of religion, and
the pantheistic tendency of the great poets has passed into us,
either in the idea of an all-present God, or in that of organic force
working through matter--the indestructible active principle of life
in the region of the visible. Our explorers combine enthusiasm for
Nature with their tireless search for truth--for example, Humboldt,
Haeckel, and Paul Güssfeldt; and though, as the shadow side to this
light, travelling and admiration of Nature have become a fashion, yet
who nowadays can watch a great sunset or a storm over the sea, and
remain insensible to the impression?

Landscape painting and poetry shew the same deviations from the
straight line of development as in earlier times. Our garden craft,
like our architecture, is eclectic; but the English park style is
still the most adequate expression of prevalent taste: spaces of turf
with tree groups, a view over land or sea, gradual change from garden
to field; to which has been added a wider cultivation of foreign
plants. In landscape painting the zigzag course is very marked:
landscapes such as Bocklin's, entirely projected by the imagination
and corresponding to nothing on earth, hang together in our galleries
with the most faithful studies from Nature. It is the same with
literature. In fiction, novels which perpetuate the sentimental
rhapsodies of an early period, and open their chapters with forced
descriptions of landscape, stand side by side with the masterly work
of great writers--for example, Spielhagen, Wilhelmine von Hillern,
and Theodore Storm.

In poetry, the lyric of Nature is inexhaustible. Heine, the greatest
lyrist after Goethe, though his poetry has, like the Nixie, an
enchantingly fair body with a fish's tail, wrote in the _Travels in
the Harz_: 'How infinitely blissful is the feeling when the outer
world of phenomena blends and harmonizes with the inner world of
feeling; when green trees, thoughts, birds' songs, sweet melancholy,
the azure of heaven, memory, and the perfume of flowers, run together
and form the loveliest of arabesques.'

But his delight in Nature was spoilt by irony and straining after
effect--for example, in _The Fig Tree_; and although _The Lotos
Flower_ is a gem, and the _North Sea Pictures_ shew the fine eye of a
poet who, like Byron and Shelley, can create myths, his
personifications as a whole are affected, and his personal feeling is
forced upon Nature for the sake of a witty effect.

Every element of Nature has found skilled interpreters both in poetry
and painting, and technical facility and truth of representation now
stand on one level with the appreciation of her charms.



[Footnote 1: _Kritische Gänge_. Comp. Vischer, _Ueber den optischen
Formsinn,_ and Carl du Prel, _Psychologie der Lyrik_.]

[Footnote 2: As in elegy _Ghatarkarparam_.]

[Footnote 3: Comp. Humboldt, _Cosmos_. Schnaase, _Geschichte der
bildenden Künste_.]

[Footnote 4: See _Die Entwickelung des Naturgefühls bei den Griechen
und Römern_, Biese.]


[Footnote 1: Lucos ac nemora consecrant deorumque nominibus adpellant
secretum illud, quod sola reverentia vident, Tac. Germ. Comp. Grimm,
_Deutsche Mythologie_.]

[Footnote 2: Grimm. Simrock, _Handbuch der Mythologie_.]

[Footnote 3: Grimm.]

[Footnote 4: Grimm.]

[Footnote 5: Grimm.]

[Footnote 6: _Geschichte der bildenden Künste_. Comp. Grimm,
_Deutsche Rechtsaltertümer_.]

[Footnote 7: Grimm.]

[Footnote 8: Carrière, _Die Poesie_.]


[Footnote 1: Clement of Rome, i _Cor._ 19, 20. Zoeckler, _Geschichte
der Beziehungen zwischen Theologie und Naturwissenschaft_.]

[Footnote 2: Comp. _Vita S. Basilii_.]

[Footnote 3: _Basilii opera omnia_. Parisus, 1730.]

[Footnote 4: _Cosmos_.]

[Footnote 5: Biese, _Die Entwickelung des Naturgefühls bei den
Griechen und Römern_.]

[Footnote 6: _Mélanges philosophiques, historiques, et littéraires_.]

[Footnote 7: _Homily_ 4.]

[Footnote 8: _Homily_ 6.]

[Footnote 9: Biese, _Die Entwickelung des Naturgefühls bei den
Griechen und Römern_.

'In spring the Cydmian apple trees give blossom watered by river
streams in the hallowed garden of the nymphs; in spring the buds grow
and swell beneath the leafy shadow of the vine branch. But my heart
knoweth no season of respite; nay, like the Thracian blast that
rageth with its lightning, so doth it bear down from Aphrodite's
side, dark and fearless, with scorching frenzy in its train, and from
its depths shaketh my heart with might.']

[Footnote 10: Comp. Biese, _op. cit._]

[Footnote 11: _Deutsche Rundschau_, 1879.]

[Footnote 12: Comp. Biese, _op. cit._]

[Footnote 13: Chrysostom was not only utilitarian, but praised and
enjoyed the world's beauty. From the fifth to third century, Greek
progress in feeling for Nature can be traced from unconscious to
conscious pleasure in her beauty.]

[Footnote 14: _De Mortalitate_, cap. 4.]

[Footnote 15: _Geschichte der christlich-lateinischen Literatur_.]

[Footnote 16: When one thinks of Sappho, Simonides, Theocritus,
Meleager, Catullus, Ovid, and Horace, it cannot be denied that this
is true of Greek and Roman lyric.]

[Footnote 17: As in the Homeric time, when each sphere of Nature was
held to be subject to and under the influence of its special deity.
But it cannot be admitted that metaphor was freer and bolder in the
hymns; on the contrary, it was very limited and monotonous.]

[Footnote 18: In _Cathemerinon_.]

[Footnote 19: Comp. fragrant gardens of Paradise, Hymn 3.

In Hamartigenia he says that the evil and ugly in Nature originates
in the devil.]

[Footnote 20: Ebert.]

[Footnote 21: The Robinsonade of the hermit Bonosus upon a rocky
island is interesting.]

[Footnote 22: Comp. Biese, _op. cit._]

[Footnote 23: Comp. _ad Paulinum_, epist. 19, _Monum. German._ v. 2.]

[Footnote 24: _Carm. nat. 7._]

[Footnote 25: _Ep._ xi.]

[Footnote 26: _Migne Patrol_ 60.]

[Footnote 27: _Migne Patrol_ 59.]

[Footnote 28: Ebert.]

[Footnote 29: Comp. Biese, _op. cit._]

[Footnote 30: Comp. Biese, _op. cit._]

[Footnote 31: _Migne Patrol_ 58.]

[Footnote 32: _Carm._ lib. i.]

[Footnote 33: _Amoenitas loci_: Variorum libri Lugduni, 1677.]

[Footnote 34: _Monum. Germ._, 4th ed., Leo, lib. viii.]

[Footnote 35: _Deutsche Rundschau_, 1882.]

[Footnote 36: _Monum. German Histor., poet. lat. medii ævi_, I.
Berlin 1881, ed. Dümmler.  Alcuin, _Carmen_ 23.]

[Footnote 37: Zoeckler, _Geschichte der Beziehungen zwischen
Theologie und Naturwissenschaft_. 'On rocky crags by the sea, on
shores fringed by oak or beech woods, in the shady depths of forests,
on towering mountain tops, or on the banks of great rivers, one sees
the ruins or the still inhabited buildings which once served as the
dwellings of the monks who, with the cross as their only weapon, were
the pioneers of our modern culture. Their flight from the life of
traffic and bustle in the larger towns was by no means a flight from
the beauties of Nature.' The last statement is only partly true. In
the prime of the monastic era the beauties of Nature were held to be
a snare of the devil. Still, in choosing a site, beauty of position
was constantly referred to as an auxiliary motive. 'Bernhard loved
the valley,' 'but Bernhard chose mountains,' are significant

[Footnote 38: Comp. Grimm, _Deutsche Mythologie_, on the old Germanic
idea of a conflict between winter and spring.]

[Footnote 39: Dümmler, vi. _Carolus et Leo papa._]

[Footnote 40: Walahfridi Strabi, _De cultura hortorum_.]

[Footnote 41: Comp. H. von Eichen, _Geschichte und System der
mittelalterlichen Weltanschauung_. Stuttg. Cotta, 1887.]


[Footnote 1: Prutz, _Geschichte der Kreuzzüge_. Berlin, 1883.]

[Footnote 2: Allatius, _Symmicta_. Coeln, 1653.]

[Footnote 3: _Deutsche Pilgerreisen nach dem heiligen Lande_,
Roehricht und Meissner. Berlin, 1880.]

[Footnote 4: For excellent bibliographical evidence see _Die
geographische Kenntnis der Alpen im Mittelalter_ in supplement to
_Münchner Allgem. Zeitung_, January 1885.]

[Footnote 5: Comp. Oehlmann, _Die Alpenpässe im Mittelalter, Jahrbuch
für Schweizer_.]

[Footnote 6: Biese, _op. cit._]

[Footnote 7: Fr. Diez, _Leben und Werke der Troubadours_. Zwickau,

[Footnote 8: _Des Minnesangs Frühling_, von Lachmann-Haupt.]

[Footnote 9: _Geschichte der Malerei._ Woermann und Wottmann.]

[Footnote 10: 'Detailed study of Nature had begun; but the attempt to
blend the separate elements into a background landscape in
perspective betrayed the insecurity and constraint of dilettante work
at every point.' Ludwig Kämmerer on the period before Van Eyck in
_Die Landschaft in der deutschen Kunst bis zum Tode Albrecht Dürers_.
Leipzig, 1880]


[Footnote 1: _Die Kultur der Renaissance in Italien._]

[Footnote 2: _Untersuchungen über die kampanische Wandmalerei._
Leipzig, 1873.]

[Footnote 3: Comp. Schnaase, _op. cit._]

[Footnote 4: _Argon_, ii. 219; iii. 260, 298. Comp. Cic. _ad Att._,
iv. 18, 3.]

[Footnote 5: _Renaissance und Humanismus in Italien und Deutschland._
Berlin, 1882. (Oncken, _Allgemeine Geschichte in Einzeldarstettungen_,
ii. 8.)]

[Footnote 6: _Itinerar. syr._, Burckhardt ii.]

[Footnote 7: _Loci specie percussus_, Burckhardt i.]

[Footnote 8: In his paper 'Kulturgeschichte und Naturwissenschaft'
(_Deutsche Rundschau_, vol. xiii.), which is full both of original
ideas and of exaggerated summary opinions, Du Bois Reymond fails to
do justice to this, and altogether misjudges Petrarch's feeling for
Nature. After giving this letter in proof of mediæval feeling, he
goes on to say: 'Full of shame and remorse, he descends the mountain
without another word. The poor fellow had given himself up to
innocent enjoyment for a moment, without thinking of the welfare of
his soul, and instead of gloomy introspection, had looked into the
enticing outer world. Western humanity was so morbid at that time,
that the consciousness of having done this was enough to cause
painful inner conflict to a man like Petrarch--a man of refined
feeling, and scientific, though not a deep thinker.' Even granting
this, which is too tragically put, the world was on the very eve of
freeing itself from this position, and Petrarch serves as a witness
to the change.]

[Footnote 9: Comp., too, _De Genealogia Deorum_, xv., in which he
says of trees, meadows, brooks, flocks and herds, cottages, etc.,
that these things 'animum mulcent,' their effect is 'mentem in se

[Footnote 10: Comp. Voigt, _Enea Silvio de' Piccolomini als Papst
Pius II. und sein Zeitalter_.]

[Footnote 11: Comp. Geiger and Ad. Wolff, _Die Klassiker aller Zeiten
und Nationen_.]

[Footnote 12: Quando mira la terra ornata e bella. Rime di V.

[Footnote 13: Ombrosa selva che il mio duolo ascolti.]


[Footnote 1: Ruge, _Geschichte des Zeitalters der Entdeckungen._
Berlin, 1881. (_Allgem. Geschichte in Einzeldarstellungen_, von
Oncken.)  _Die neu Welt der Landschaften_, etc. Strasburg, 1534.]

[Footnote 2: _De rebus oceanicis et novo orbi Decades tres Petri
Martyris at Angleria Mediolanensis, Coloniæ_, 1574.]

[Footnote 3: _Il viaggio di Giovan Leone e Le Navagazioni, di Aloise
da Mosto. di Pietro, di Cintra. di Anxone, di un Piloto Portuguese e
di Vasco di Gama quali si leggono nella raccolta di Giovambattista
Ramusio._ Venezia, 1837.]

[Footnote 4: For example, this from Ramusio: 'And the coast is all
low land, full of most beautiful and very tall trees, which are
evergreen, as the leaves do not wither as do those in our country,
but a new leaf appears before the other is cast off: the trees extend
right down into the marshy tract of shore, and look as if flourishing
on the sea. The coast is a most glorious sight, and in my opinion,
though I have cruised about in many parts both in the East and in the
West, I have never seen any coast which surpassed this in beauty. It
is everywhere washed by many rivers, and small streams of little
importance, as big ships will not be able to enter them.]

[Footnote 5: Ideler, _Examen critique_. Cosmos.]

[Footnote 6: _Coleccion de los viajes y decubrimientos que hicieron
por mar los espanoles desde fines del siglo XV. con varios documentos
ineditos ... co-ordinata e illustrada por Don Martin Fernandez de
Navarrete._ Madrid, 1858.]

[Footnote 7: _Geschichte des Zeitalters der Entdeckungen._]

[Footnote 8: As he lay sick and despairing off Belem, an unknown
voice said to him compassionately: 'O fool! and slow to believe and
serve thy God.... He gave thee the keys of those barriers of the
ocean sea which were closed with such mighty chains, and thou wast
obeyed through many lands, and hast gained an honourable fame
throughout Christendom.' In a letter to the King and Queen of Spain
in fourth voyage.]

[Footnote 9: Humboldt.]

[Footnote 10: Biese, _op. cit._]

[Footnote 11: Zoeckler, _Geschichte der Beziehungen zwischen
Theologie und Naturwissenschaft_.]

[Footnote 12: F. Hammerich, _St Birgitta._]

[Footnote 13: Zoeckler, _op. cit._]

[Footnote 14: Comp. Wilkens' _Fray Luis de Leon_. Halle, 1866.]

[Footnote 15: Comp. Wilkens' _Fray Luis de Leon_. Halle, 1866.]

[Footnote 16: Comp. Wilkens' _Fray Luis de Leon_. Halle, 1866.]

[Footnote 17: Comp. Wilkens' _Fray Luis de Leon_. Halle, 1866.]

[Footnote 18: Humboldt.]

[Footnote 19: Comp. Carrière, _Die Poesie_.]

[Footnote 20: Zoeckler, in Herzog's _Real-Encykl._, xxi., refers to
'Le Solitaire des Indes ou la Vie de Gregoire Lopez.' Goerres, _Die
christliche Mystik_; S. Arnold, _Leben der Gläubigen_; French, _Life
of St Teresa_.]


[Footnote 1: In _Shakespeare Studien_, chap. 4, Hense treats
Shakespeare's attitude towards Nature very suggestively; but I have
gone my own way.]

[Footnote 2: _Hamlet_, i. 3: 'The canker galls the infants of the
spring too oft before their buttons be disclosed.' Comp. i. 1; _Romeo
and Juliet_, i. 1; _Henry VI._, part 2, iii. 1; _Tempest_, i. 2.]

[Footnote 3: Comp. Henkel, _Das Goethe'sche Gleichnis_; _Henry IV._,
2nd pt., iv. 4; _Richard II._, i. i; _Othello_, iii. 3, and v. 2;
_Cymbeline_, ii. 4; _King John_, ii. 2; _Hamlet_, iii. 1; _Tempest_,
iv. 2.]

[Footnote 4: See Hense for bucolic idyllic traits.]

[Footnote 5: _Poetische Personifikation in griechischen Dichtungen._]


[Footnote 1: Comp. Woermann, _Ueber den landschaftlichen Natursinn
der Griechen und Römer, Vorstudien zu einer Arckäologie der
Landschaftsmalerei_. München, 1871.]

[Footnote 2: Comp. Schnaase, _Geschichte der bildenden Künste im 15
Jahrhundert_, edited by Lübke. Stuttgart, 1879.]

[Footnote 3: Falke, _Geschichte des modernen Geschmacks_. Leipzig,

[Footnote 4: _Geschichte der deutschen Renaissance_. Stuttgart,

[Footnote 5: Comp. also Kaemmerer, _op. cit._]

[Footnote 6: Lûbke, _op. cit._]

[Footnote 7: Lûbke refers to A. von Zahn's searching work, _Durer's
Kunstlehre und sein Verhältnis zur Renaissance_. Leipzig, 1866.]

[Footnote 8: Proportion III., B.T. iii. b. Nuremberg, 1528.]

[Footnote 9: _Op. cit._]

[Footnote 10: In what follows, I have borrowed largely from
Rosenberg's interesting writings (_Greuzboten_, Nos. 43 and 44,
1884-85), and still more from Schnaase, Falke, and Carrière, as I
myself only know the masters represented at Berlin and Munich.]

[Footnote 11: Kaemmerer, _op. cit._]

[Footnote 12: Kaemmerer, _op. cit._]


[Footnote 1: _Renaissance und Humanismus in Italien und

[Footnote 2: _Renaissance und Humanismus in Italien und

[Footnote 3: Zoeckler.]

[Footnote 4: Comp. Hase, _Sebastian Frank von Woerd der

[Footnote 5: Comp. Hubert, _Kleine Schriften_.]

[Footnote 6: Zoeckler, etc.]

[Footnote 7: Comp. Uhland, _Schriften zur Geschichte der Dichtung und
Sage_. Alte hoch und nieder deutsche Volkslieder, where plants, ivy,
holly, box, and willow, represent summer and winter.]

[Footnote 8: Uhland.]

[Footnote 9: Uhland.]

[Footnote 10: Wunderhorn.]

[Footnote 11: Biese, _op. cit._]

[Footnote 12: Fred Cohn, '_Die Gärten in alter und neuer Zeit,' D.
Rundschau_ 18, 1879. In Italy in the sixteenth century there was a
change to this extent, that greenery was no longer clipt, but allowed
to grow naturally, and the garden represented the transition from
palace to landscape, from bare architectural forms to the free
creations of Nature. The passion for flowers--the art of the pleasure
garden, flourished in Holland and Germany. (Falke.)]

[Footnote 13: W.H. Riehl states (_Kulturstudien aus drei
Jahrhunderten_) that Berlin, Augsburg, Leipzig, Darmstadt, and
Mannheim were described in the seventeenth century as having 'very
fine and delightful positions'; and the finest parts of the Black
Forest, Harz and Thuringian mountains as 'very desolate,' deserted,
and monotonous, or, at best, as not particularly pleasant scenery. If
only a region were flat and treeless, a delicious landscape could be
charmed out of it. Welcker, Court physician at Hesse Cassel,
describing Schlangenbad in 1721, said that it lay in a desolate,
unpleasing district, where nothing grew but foliage and grass, but
that through ingenious planting of clipt trees in lines and cross
lines, some sort of artistic effect had been produced. Clearly the
principles of French garden-craft had become a widely accepted dogma
of taste. Riehl contrasts the periwig period with the mediæval, and
concludes that the mediæval backgrounds of pictures implied feeling
for the wild and romantic. He says: 'In the Middle Ages the painters
chose romantic jagged forms of mountains and rocks for backgrounds,
hence the wild, bare, and arid counted as a prototype of beautiful
scenery, while some centuries later such forms were held to be too
rustic and irregular for beauty.' One cannot entirely agree with
this. He weakens it himself in what follows. 'It was not a real scene
which rose Alp-like before their mind's eye, but an imaginary and
sacred one; their fantastic, romantic ideal called for rough and
rugged environment': and adds, arguing in a circle, 'Their minds
passed then to real portraiture of Nature, and decided the landscape
eye of the period.' My own opinion is that the loftiness of the
'heroic' mountain backgrounds seemed suitable for the sacred subjects
which loomed so large and sublime in their own minds, and that these
backgrounds did not reveal their ideal of landscape beauty, nor 'a
romantic feeling for Nature,' nor 'a taste for the romantic,' nor yet
a wondrous change of view in the periwig period.]

[Footnote 14: In his _Harburg Program_ of 1883 _(Beiträge zur
Geschichte des Naturgefühls_), after an incomplete survey of ancient
and modern writings on the subject, Winter sketches the development
of modern feeling for Nature in Germany from Opitz to 1770, as shewn
in the literature of that period, basing his information chiefly upon
Goedeke's _Deutsche Dichtung._]

[Footnote 15: Comp. Chovelius _Die bedeutendsten deutschen Romanz des
17 Jahrhunderts_. Leipzig, 1866.]

[Footnote 16: Chovelius.]

[Footnote 17: Daniel Lohenstein's _Blumen_. Breslau, 1689.]


[Footnote 1: Freiherr von Ditfurth, _Deutsche Volks und
Gesellschaftslieder des 17 und 18 Jahrhunderts_, 1872.]

[Footnote 2: Goedeke-Tittmannschen Sammlung, xiii.,

[Footnote 3: _Geschichte der deutschen Litteratur_.]

[Footnote 4: Tittmann's _Deutsche Dichter des 17 Jahrhunderts_, vol.

[Footnote 5: Comp., too, iv. 5: 'Die ihr alles hört und saget, Luft
and Forst und Meer durchjaget; Echo, Sonne, Mond, und Wind, Sagt mir
doch, wo steckt mein Kind?'

21. 'Den sanften West bewegt mein Klagen, Es rauscht der Bach den
Seufzern nach Aus Mitleid meiner Plagen; Die Vögel schweigen, Um nur
zu zeigen Dass diese schöne Tyrannei Auch Tieren überlegen sei.'
_Abendlied_ contains beautiful personifications: 'Der Feierabend ist
gemacht, Die Arbeit schläft, der Traum erwacht, Die Sonne führt die
Pferde trinken; Der Erdkreis wandert zu der Ruh, Die Nacht drückt ihm
die Augen zu, Die schon dem süssen Schlafe winken.']

[Footnote 6: Hettner, _Litteraturgeschichte des 18 Jahrhunderts_.]

[Footnote 7: Lappenberg in _Zeitschrift für Hamburgische Geschichte_,
ii. Hettner, _op. cit._]

[Footnote 8: 'Ye fields and woods, my refuge from the toilsome world
of business, receive me in your quiet sanctuaries and favour my
Retreat and thoughtful Solitude. Ye verdant plains, how gladly I
salute ye! Hail all ye blissful Mansions! Known Seats! Delightful
Prospects! Majestick Beautys of this earth, and all ye rural Powers
and Graces! Bless'd be ye chaste Abodes of happiest Mortals who here
in peaceful Innocence enjoy a Life unenvy'd, the Divine, whilst with
its bless'd Tranquility it affords a happy Leisure and Retreat for
Man, who, made for contemplation and to search his own and other
natures, may here best meditate the cause of Things, and, plac'd
amidst the various scenes of Nature, may nearer view her Works. O
glorious Nature! supremely fair and sovereignly good! All-loving and
All-lovely All-Divine! Whose looks are so becoming, and of such
infinite grace, whose study brings such Wisdom, and whose
contemplation such Delight.... Since by thee (O Sovereign mind!) I
have been form'd such as I am, intelligent and rational; since the
peculiar Dignity of my Nature is to know and contemplate Thee; permit
that with due freedom I exert those Facultys with which thou hast
adorn'd me. Bear with my ventrous and bold approach. And since not
vain Curiosity, nor fond Conceit, nor Love of aught save Thee alone,
inspires me with such thoughts as these, be thou my Assistant, and
guide me in this Pursuit; whilst I venture thus to tread the
Labyrinth of wide Nature, and endeavour to trace thee in thy Works.']

[Footnote 9: Comp. Jacob von Falke, '_Der englische Garten_' (_Nord
und Süd_, Nov. 1884), and his _Geschichte des modernen Geschmacks_.]

[Footnote 10: _Dessins des édifices, meubles, habits, machines, et
utensils des Chinois_, 1757.]


[Footnote 1: '_Die Alpen im Lichte verschiedener Zeitalter_,'
_Sammlung wissenschaftlicher Vorträge_, Virchow und Holtzendorff.
Berlin, 1877.]

[Footnote 2:

  Geschäfte Zwang und Grillen Entweihn nicht diese Trift;
  Ich finde hier im Stillen Des Unmuts Gegengift.
  Es webet, wallt, und spielet, Das Laub um jeden Strauch,
  Und jede Staude fühlet Des lauen Zephyrs Hauch.
  Was mir vor Augen schwebet Gefällt und hüpft und singt,
  Und alles, alles lebet, Und alles scheint verjüngt.
  Ihr Thäler und ihr Höhen Die Lust und Sommer schmückt!
  Euch ungestört zu sehen, Ist, was mein Herz erquickt.
  Die Reizung freier Felder Beschämt der Gärten Pracht,
  Und in die offnen Wälder Wird ohne Zwang gelacht....
  In jährlich neuen Schätzen zeigt sich des Landmanns Glück,
  Und Freiheit und Ergötzen Erheitern seinen Blick....
  Ihm prangt die fette Weide Und die betante Flur;
  Ihm grünet Lust und Freude Ihm malet die Natur.']

[Footnote 3: _Litteratur geschichte_.]

[Footnote 4: _Sämtliche poetische Werke_, J.P. Uz. Leipzig, 1786.]

[Footnote 5: _Sämtliche Werke_. Berlin, 1803.]

[Footnote 6: _Sämtliche Werke_, J.G. Jacobi, vol. viii. Zurich,

[Footnote 7: He said of his garden at Freiburg, which was laid out in
terraces on a slope, that all that Flora and Pomona could offer was
gathered there. It had a special Poet's Corner on a hillock under a
poplar, where a moss-covered seat was laid for him upon some
limestone rock-work; white and yellow jasmine grew round, and laurels
and myrtles hung down over his head. Here he would rest when he
walked in the sun; on his left was a mossy Ara, a little artificial
stone altar on which he laid his book, and from here he could gaze
across the visible bit of the distant Rhine to the Vosges, and give
himself up undisturbed to his thoughts.]

[Footnote 8: Gessners _Schriften_. Zurich, 1770.]

[Footnote 9: Spalding, _Die Bestimmung des Menschen_. Leipzig, 1768.]

[Footnote 10: Klopstock's _Briefe_. Brunswick, 1867.]

[Footnote 11: Comp. _Odes_, 'Die Kunst Tialfs' and 'Winterfreuden.']

[Footnote 12: _Briefe_.]

[Footnote 13: Julian Schmidt.]

[Footnote 14: Comp. his letters from Switzerland, which contain
nothing particular about the scenery, although he crossed the Lake of
Zurich, and 'a wicked mountain' to the Lake of Zug and Lucerne.]

[Footnote 15: Claudius, who, at a time when the lyric both of poetry
and music was lost in Germany in conventional tea and coffee songs,
was the first to rediscover the direct expression of feeling--that
is, Nature feeling. (Storm's _Hausbuch_.)]


[Footnote 1: I have obtained much information and suggestion from
'_Ueber die geographische Kenntnis der Alpen im Mittelalter_,' and
'_Ueber die Alpine Reiselitteratur in fruherer Zeit_,' in _Allgem.
Zeitung_. Jan. 11, 1885, and Sept. 1885, respectively.]

[Footnote 2: _Evagatorium 3, Bibliothek d. litterar. Vereins_.
Stuttgart, 1849.]

[Footnote 3: _Bibliothek des litterar. Vereins_. Stuttgart, 1886.]

[Footnote 4: _Descriptio Larii lacus_. Milan, 1558.]

[Footnote 5: _Itinerarium Basil_. 1624.]

[Footnote 6: Osenbrüggen, _Wanderungen in der Schweiz_, 1867;
_Entwickelungsgeschichte des Schweizreisens_; Friedländer, _Ueber die
Entstehung und Entwickelung_.]

[Footnote 7: Comp. Erich Schmidt, _Richardson, Rousseau, and Goethe_.
Jena, 1875.]

[Footnote 8: Remarks on several parts of Italy. London, 1761.]

[Footnote 9: Letters of Lady M. Wortley Montagu, Sept. 25, 1718.]

[Footnote 10: Friedländer, _op. cit._]

[Footnote 11: Schmidt. Moser's description of a sensitive soul in
_Patriotischen Phantasien_ is most amusing.]

[Footnote 12: Laprade adduces little of importance in his book _Le
Sentiment de la Nature_ (2nd edition), the first volume of which I
have dealt with elsewhere. I have little in common with Laprade,
although he is the only writer who has treated the subject
comprehensively and historically. His standpoint is that of Catholic
theology; he never separates feeling for Nature from religion, and is
severe upon unbelievers. The book is well written, and in parts
clever, but only touches the surface and misses much. His position is
thus laid down: 'Le vrai sentiment de la Nature, le seul poétique, le
seul fécond et puissant, le seul innocent de tout danger, est celui
qui ne sépare jamais l'idée des choses visibles de la pensée de
Dieu.' He accounts for the lack of any important expressions of
feeling for Nature in French classics with: 'Le génie de la France
est le génie de l'action.' and 'L'âme humaine est le but de la
poésie.' He recognizes that even with Fénélon 'la Nature reste à ses
yeux comme une simple décoration du drame que l'homme y joue, le
poëte en lui ne la regarde jamais à travers les yeux du mystique.' Of
the treatment of Nature in La Fontaine's Fables, he says: 'Ce n'est
pas peindre la Nature, c'est l'abolir'; and draws this conclusion:
'Le sentiment de l'infini est absent de la poésie du dix-septième
siècle aussi bien que le sentiment de la Nature'; and again:
'L'esprit général du dix-huitième siècle est la négation même de la
poésie ... l'amour de la Nature n'était guerre autre chose qu'une
haine déguisée et une déclaration de guerre a la société et a la
réligion. Il n'y a pai trace du sentiment légitime et profond qui
attire l'artiste et le poëte vers les splendeurs de la création,
révélatrices du monde invisible. Ne demandez pas an dix-huitème
siècle la poésie de la Nature, pas plus que celle du coeur.' Buffon
shews 'l'état poétique des sciences de la Nature,' but his brilliant
prose painting lacks 'la présence de Dieu, la révélation de l'infini
les harmonies de l'âme et de la Nature n'existent pas pour Buffon....
plus de la rhétorique que de vrai sentiment de la Nature.']

[Footnote 13: Comp. the garden of Elysium in _La Nouvelle Héloise:_
Where the gardener's hand is nowhere to be discerned, nothing
contradicts the idea of a desert island, and I cannot perceive any
footsteps of men ... you see nothing here in an exact row, nothing
level, Nature plants nothing by the ruler.']

[Footnote 14: _OEuvres de Jacques Bernardin Henri de Saint Pierre_.]

[Footnote 15: 'B. de S. Pierre a plus que Rousseau les facultés
propres du paysagiste, l'amour même du pittoresque, la vive curiosité
des sites, des animaux, et des plants, la couleur et une certaine
magie spéciale du pinceau,' Laprade adds the reproof: 'Sa pensée
réligieuse est au-dessous de son talent d'artiste et en abaisse le

[Footnote 16: _Voyage round the World_, 1772-1775.]

[Footnote 17: Paul Lemnius, 1597, _Landes Rugiae_; Kosegarten,
1777-1779; Rellstab, 1799, _Ausflucht noch der Insel Rügen;_ Navest,
1800, _Wanderungen durch die Insel Rügen_; Grümbke, 1805; _Indigena,
Streifzüge durch das Rügenland_. J.P. Hackert in 1762, and K. D.
Friedrichs in 1792, painted the scenery. Comp. E. Boll, _Die Inset
Rügen_, 1858.]


[Footnote 1: Comp. Gottschall, _Poetik_. Breslau, 1853.]

[Footnote 2: _Ueber Ossian und die Lieder alter Völker_, Sämtliche
_Werke_, Teil 7.]

[Footnote 3: _Op. cit._, Teil 15.]

[Footnote 4: _Zur Philosophie und Gesehichte,_ 2 Teil.]

[Footnote 5: J.G. Sulzer's _Unterredungen über die Schönheit der
Nätur nebst desselben moralischen Betrachtungen über besondere
Gegenstände der Naturlehre_ is typical. Charites describes his
conversion to the love of Nature by his friend Eukrates. Eukrates
woke him at dawn and led him to a hill close by, as the sun rose. The
fresh air, the birds' songs, and the wide landscape move him, and
Eukrates points out that the love of Nature is the 'most natural of
pleasures,' making the labourer so happy that he forgets servitude
and misery, and sings at his work. 'This pleasure is always new to
us, and the heart, provided it be not possessed by vanity or stormy
passions, lies always open to it. Do you not know that they who are
in trouble, and, above all, they who are in love, find their chief
relief here? Is not a sick man better cheered by sunshine than by any
other refreshment?' Then he points out Nature's harmonies and changes
of colour, and warns Charites to avoid the storms of the passions.
'Yonder brook is a picture of our soul; so long as it runs quietly
between its banks, the water is clear and grass and flowers border
it; but when it swells and flows tumultuously, all this ornament is
torn away, and it becomes turbid. To delight in Nature the mind must
be free.... She is a sanctity only approached by pure souls.... As
only the quiet stream shews the sky and the objects around, so it is
only on quiet souls that Nature's pictures are painted; ruffled water
reflects nothing.' He waxes eloquent about birds' songs, flowers, and
brooks, and wanders by the hour in the woods, 'all his senses open to
Nature's impressions,' which are 'rays from that source of all
beauty, the sight of which will one day bless the soul.' His friend
is soon convinced that Nature cannot be overpraised, and that her art
is endlessly great.]

[Footnote 6: _Vorn Gefühl des Schönen und Physiologie überhaupt._

[Footnote 7: Comp. _Das Fluchtigste_. 'Tadle nicht der Nachtigallen,
Bald verhallend süsses Lied,' oder 'Nichts verliert sich,' etc.]

[Footnote 8: Herder's _Nachlass_, Düntzer und F.G. von Herder, 1857.]

[Footnote 9: Bernay's _Der junge Goethe_.]

[Footnote 10: _Die Sprödde, Die Bekehrte, März, Lust und Qual, Luna,

[Footnote 11: Laprade is all admiration for the 'incomparable artiste
et poëte inspiré du sentiment de la Nature, c'est qu'il excelle à
peindre le monde extérieur et le coeur humain l'un par l'autre, qu'il
mêle les images de l'univers visible à l'expression des sentiments
intimes, de manière à n'en former qu'un seul tissu.... Tous les
éléments d'un objet d'une situation apparaissent à la fois, et dans
leur harmonie, essentielle à cet incomparable esprit.' He is
astonished at the symbolism in _Werthtr_: 'Chaque lettre répond à la
saison ou elle est écrite.... l'idee et l'image s'identifient dans un
fait suprême, dans un cri; il se fait entre l'émotion intime et
l'impression du dehors une sorte de fusion.' And despite Goethe's
Greek paganism and pantheism, he declares: 'Le nom de Goethe marque
une de ces grandes dates, une de ces grandes révolutions de la
poésie--la plus grande, nous le croyons, depuis Homer.' ... 'Goethe
est la plus haut expression poétique des tendances de notre siècle
vers le monde extérieur et la philosophie de la Nature.']

[Footnote 12: Comp. _Tagebucher und Briefe Goethe's aus Italien an
Frau von Stein und Herder_. E. Schmidt, Weimar, 1886.]

[Footnote 13: Julian Schmidt.]

[Footnote 14: _The Lady of the Lake_ breathes a delightful freshness,
the very spirit of mountain and wood, free alike from the moral
preaching of Wordsworth, and from the storms of passion.]

[Footnote 15: Laprade.]

[Footnote 16: 'Sa formule réligieuse, c'est une question; sa pensée,
c'est le doute ... l'artiste divinise chaque détail. Son panthéisme
ne s'applique pas seulement à l'ensemble des choses; Dieu tout entier
est réellement présent poor lui dans chaque fragment de matière dans
le plus immonde animal ... c'est une réligion aussi vieille que
l'humanité décline; cela s'appelle purement et simplement le
fétichisme.' (Laprade.)]

[Footnote 17: _Vorschule der Æsthetik_. Compare 'With every genius a
new Nature is created for us in the further unveiling of the old.' 2
Aufi. _Berlin Reimer_, 1827.]

[Footnote 18: 'Like a lily softly swaying in the hushed air, so my
being moves in its elements, in the charming dream of her.' 'Our
souls rush forward in colossal plans, like exulting streams rushing
perpetually through mountain and forest.' 'If the old mute rock of
Fate did not stand opposing them, the waves of the heart would never
foam so beautifully and become mind.' 'There is a night in the soul
which no gleam of starlight, not even dry wood, illuminates,' etc.]

[Footnote 19: Comp. Tieck's _Biographie von Koepke_. Brandes.]

[Footnote 20: _Franz Sternbald_, I. Berlin, 1798.]

[Footnote 21: Haym, _Die romantische Schule_. Berlin, 1870.]

[Footnote 22: _Phantasus_, i. Berlin, 1812.]

[Footnote 23: 'A young hunter was sitting in the heart of the
mountains in a thoughtful mood beside his fowling-piece, while the
noise of the water and the woods was sounding through the solitude
... it grew darker ... the birds of night began to shoot with fitful
wing along their mazy courses ... unthinkingly he pulled a straggling
root from the earth, and on the instant heard with affright a stifled
moan underground, which winded downwards in doleful tones, and died
plaintively away in the deep distance. The sound went through his
inmost heart; it seized him as if he had unwittingly touched the
wound, of which the dying frame of Nature was expiring in its agony.'

[Footnote 24: _Hymnen an die Nacht_.]

[Footnote 25: In _Die Lehrlinge von Sais_.]

[Footnote 26: _Athenäum_, iii., 1800.]


Agrippa v. Nettesheim
Alberti, Leon
Anno v. Coeln
Apollonios Rhodios
Apollonius Sidonius
Aquinus, Thomas
Aribert v. Mailand

Baccioli, Lucca
Beauvais, V. v.
v. Bern
Bernhard v. Clairvaux
Bernhard v. Hildesheim
Bernhard v. Ventadour
Bertran de Born
de Bles
Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel, A. v.
Brueghel, Peter and Jan
Burkhard v. Monte Sion

Clement of Rome
v. Clugny, Abbé M.
Colonna, Vittoria

Dionisius da B.S. Sepolchro
du Bois-Reymond

v. Eichendorff
Eist, Deitmar v.
Epiphanius, M.H.
Everdingen, A. v.
v. Eyck

Francis of Assisi
Frank, Sebastian
Frederic the Great

Gerhard, Paul
Gessner, Conrad
Gessner, Salomon
Gottfried v. Strassburg
Gregory Nazianzen
Gregory of Nyssa
Gregory of Tours
Guarini, G.
Günther, Christian
Günther d. Liguriner
Guotenberg, U. v.

Hillern, W. v.
Hugo v. St. Victor
Hugo, Victor


Jacob v. Bern
Jacobi, Joh. G.

Kleist, E. v.
König, Eva

Leon, Luis de
Leonardo da Vinci
Lorraine, Claude
Louis XIV.
Louis XV.
Ludwig zu Nassau
Luis de Leon

Mareuil, A. v.
Maria Theresa
v. Martius
Medici, Lorenzo de
Meer, Aart v. d.
Michael Angelo
Minucius Felix
Morungen, H. v.

Mosto, A. da

Navarrete, F. de
Nettesheim, C.A. v.


Paul, Jean,
Paul, St
Paulinus of Nola
Peter Martyr
Philip of Macedon
Pico della Mirandola
Pierre, B. de St
Pius II. (Enea Silvio),
Polo, Marco
Potter, Paul

Rickel, D. v.
Roche, Sophie la

Sabiende, R. v.
Sachs, Hans
v. Schachten
Scipio Africanus
Storm, Th.

Teresa v. Avila
Toscanelli, Paolo

Uz, Joh. P.

Vasco da Gama
Velde, Adrian v. d.
Veldegge, H. v.
Vives, Luis

Walther v. d. Vogelweide
Weyden, Roger v. d.
William of Tours
Wolfram v. Eschenbach


Zesen, P. v.
Ziegler, A. v.
Zweibrücken, A. v.

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