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Title: Modern Painters, Volume IV (of V)
Author: Ruskin, John, 1819-1900
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcriber's note: A few typographical errors have been corrected: they
  are listed at the end of the text.

  Some section headings were originally constructed as side-notes. They
  were placed here at the head of their respective paragraphs, and moved
  to paragraph's start where given at paragraph's middle. See HTML
  version for the original headers placement.

  Bold passages are enclosed by the '+' sign.



[Illustration: THE KAPELLBRÜCKE, LUCERNE
               FROM A DRAWING BY
               RUSKIN]


          Library Edition

        THE COMPLETE WORKS
                OF

           JOHN RUSKIN

          MODERN PAINTERS


  VOLUME IV--OF MOUNTAIN BEAUTY

            /OF LEAF BEAUTY
  VOLUME V < OF CLOUD BEAUTY
            \OF IDEAS OF RELATION


  NATIONAL LIBRARY ASSOCIATION
  NEW YORK             CHICAGO


        MODERN PAINTERS.

          VOLUME IV.,
          CONTAINING
           PART V.,

      OF MOUNTAIN BEAUTY.


[Illustration: The Gates of the Hills.]



PREFACE.


I was in hopes that this volume might have gone its way without preface;
but as I look over the sheets, I find in them various fallings short of
old purposes which require a word of explanation.

Of which shortcomings, the chief is the want of reference to the
landscape of the Poussins and Salvator; my original intention having
been to give various examples of their mountain-drawing, that it might
be compared with Turner's. But the ten years intervening between the
commencement of this work and its continuation have taught me, among
other things, that Life is shorter and less availably divisible than I
had supposed: and I think now that its hours may be better employed than
in making facsimiles of bad work. It would have required the greatest
care, and prolonged labor, to give uncaricatured representations of
Salvator's painting, or of any other work depending on the free dashes
of the brush, so as neither to mend nor mar it. Perhaps in the next
volume I may give one or two examples associated with vegetation; but in
general, I shall be content with directing the reader's attention to the
facts in nature, and in Turner; leaving him to carry out for himself
whatever comparisons he may judge expedient.

I am afraid, also, that disappointment may be felt at not finding plates
of more complete subject illustrating these chapters on mountain beauty.
But the analysis into which I had to enter required the dissection of
drawings, rather than their complete presentation; while, also, on the
scale of any readable page, no effective presentation of large drawings
could be given. Even my vignette, the frontispiece to the third volume,
is partly spoiled by having too little white paper about it; and the
fiftieth plate, from Turner's Goldau, necessarily omits, owing to its
reduction, half the refinements of the foreground. It is quite waste of
time and cost to reduce Turner's drawings at all; and I therefore
consider these volumes only as _Guides_ to them, hoping hereafter to
illustrate some of the best on their own scale.

Several of the plates appear, in their present position, nearly
unnecessary; +14+ and +15+, for instance, in Vol. III. These are
illustrations of the chapters on the Firmament in the fifth volume; but
I should have had the plates disproportionately crowded at last, if I
had put all that it needed in that volume; and as these two bear
somewhat on various matters spoken of in the third, I placed them where
they are first alluded to. The frontispiece has chief reference to the
same chapters; but seemed, in its three divisions, properly introductory
to our whole subject. It is a simple sketch from nature, taken at sunset
from the hills near Como, some two miles up the eastern side of the lake
and about a thousand feet above it, looking towards Lugano. The sky is a
little too heavy for the advantage of the landscape below; but I am not
answerable for the sky. It was _there_.[A]

In the multitudinous letterings and references of this volume there may
possibly be one or two awkward errata; but not so many as to make it
necessary to delay the volume while I look it over again in search of
them. The reader will perhaps be kind enough to note at once that in
page 182, at the first line of the text, the words "general truth" refer
to the angle-measurements, not to the diagrams; which latter are given
merely for reference, and might cause some embarrassment if the
statement of measured accuracy were supposed to refer to them.

One or two graver misapprehensions I had it in my mind to warn the
reader against; but on the whole, as I have honestly tried to make the
book intelligible, I believe it will be found intelligible by any one
who thinks it worth a careful reading; and every day convinces me more
and more that no warnings can preserve from misunderstanding those who
have no desire to understand.

Denmark Hill, March, 1856.


FOOTNOTES

  [A] Persons unacquainted with hill scenery are apt to forget that
    the sky of the mountains is often close to the spectator. A black
    thundercloud may literally be dashing itself in his face, while the
    blue hills seen through its rents maybe thirty miles away. Generally
    speaking, we do not enough understand the nearness of many clouds,
    even in level countries, as compared with the land horizon. See also
    the close of § 12 in Chap. III of this volume.



TABLE OF CONTENTS.


PART V.

OF MOUNTAIN BEAUTY.


                                                                    PAGE

  CHAPTER  I.--Of the Turnerian Picturesque.                           1
     "    II.--Of Turnerian Topography.                               16
     "   III.--Of Turnerian Light.                                    34
     "    IV.--Of Turnerian Mystery: First, as Essential.             56
     "     V.--Of Turnerian Mystery: Secondly, Wilful.                68
     "    VI.--The Firmament.                                         82
     "   VII.--The Dry Land.                                          89
     "  VIII.--Of the Materials of Mountains: First, Compact
                  Crystallines.                                       99
     "    IX.--Of the Materials of Mountains: Secondly, Slaty
                  Crystallines.                                      113
     "     X.--Of the Materials of Mountains: Thirdly, Slaty
                  Coherents.                                         122
     "    XI.--Of the Materials of Mountains: Fourthly, Compact
                Coherents.                                           127
     "   XII.--Of the Sculpture of Mountains: First, the Lateral
                  Ranges.                                            137
     "  XIII.--Of the Sculpture of Mountains: Secondly, the Central
                  Peaks.                                             157
     "   XIV.--Resulting Forms: First, Aiguilles.                    173
     "    XV.--Resulting Forms: Second, Crests.                      195
     "   XVI.--Resulting Forms: Third, Precipices.                   228
     "  XVII.--Resulting Forms: Fourthly, Banks.                     262
     " XVIII.--Resulting Forms: Fifthly, Stones.                     301
     "   XIX.--The Mountain Gloom.                                   317
     "    XX.--The Mountain Glory.                                   344


  APPENDIX.


     I. Modern Grotesque.                                            385
    II. Rock Cleavage.                                               391
   III. Logical Education.                                           399



  LIST OF PLATES TO VOL. IV.


                                        Drawn by           Engraved by

  Frontispiece.
      The Gates of the Hills        _J. M. W. Turner_   J. COUSEN

  Plate                                                        Facing page

  18. The Transition from           _Ghirlandajo and
        Ghirlandajo to Claude       Claude_             J. H. LE KEUX    1
  19. The Picturesque of            _Stanfield and
        Windmills                   Turner_             J. H. LE KEUX    7
  20. The Pass of Faïdo.
        1. Simple Topography        _The Author_        THE AUTHOR      22
  21. The Pass of Faïdo
        2. Turnerian Topography     _J. M. W. Turner_   THE AUTHOR      24
  22. Turner's Earliest Nottingham  _J. M. W. Turner_   T. BOYS         29
  23. Turner's Latest Nottingham    _J. M. W. Turner_   T. BOYS         30
  24. The Towers of Fribourg        _The Author_        J. C. ARMYTAGE  32
  25. Things in General             _The Author_        J. H. LE KEUX   32
  26. The Law of Evanescence        _The Author_        R. P. CUFF      71
  27. The Aspen under Idealization  _Turner, etc._      J. COUSEN       76
  28. The Aspen Unidealized         _The Author_        J. C. ARMYTAGE  77
  29. Aiguille Structure            _The Author_        J. C. ARMYTAGE 160
  30. The Ideal of Aiguilles        _The Author, etc._  R. P. CUFF     177
  31. The Aiguille Blaitière        _The Author_        J. C. ARMYTAGE 185
  32. Aiguille-drawing              _Turner, etc._      J. H. LE KEUX  191
  33. Contours of Aiguille Bouchard _The Author_        R. P. CUFF     204
  34. Cleavage of Aiguille Bouchard _The Author_        THE AUTHOR     211
  35. Crests of La Côte and Taconay _The Author_        THE AUTHOR     212
  36. Crest of La Côte              _The Author_        T. LUPTON      213
  37. Crests of the Slaty
        Crystallines                _J. M. W. Turner_   THE AUTHOR     222
  38. The Cervin, from the East
        and North-east              _The Author_        J. C. ARMYTAGE 233
  39. The Cervin from the
        North-west                  _The Author_        J. C. ARMYTAGE 238
  40. The Mountains of Villeneuve   _The Author_        J. H. LE KEUX  246
  12. A. The Shores of Wharfe       _J. M. W. Turner_   THOS. LUPTON   251
  41. The Rocks of Arona            _The Author_        J. H. LE KEUX  255
  42. Leaf Curvature Magnolia and
        Laburnum                    _The Author_        R. P. CUFF     269
  43. Leaf Curvature Dead Laurel    _The Author_        R. P. CUFF     269
  44. Leaf Curvature Young Ivy      _The Author_        R. P. CUFF     269
  45. Débris Curvature              _The Author_        R. P. CUFF     285
  46. The Buttresses of an Alp      _The Author_        J. H. LE KEUX  286
  47. The Quarry of Carrara         _The Author_        J. H. LE KEUX  299
  48. Bank of Slaty Crystallines    _Daguerreotype_     J. C. ARMYTAGE 304
  49. Truth and Untruth of Stones   _Turner and Claude_ THOS. LUPTON   308
  50. Goldau                        _J. M. W. Turner_   J. COUSEN      312

[Illustration: 18. The Transition from Ghirlandajo to Claude.]



PART V.

OF MOUNTAIN BEAUTY.



CHAPTER I.

OF THE TURNERIAN PICTURESQUE.


§ 1. THE work which we proposed to ourselves, towards the close of the
last volume, as first to be undertaken in this, was the examination of
those peculiarities of system in which Turner either stood alone, even
in the modern school, or was a distinguished representative of modern,
as opposed to ancient practice.

And the most interesting of these subjects of inquiry, with which,
therefore, it may be best to begin, is the precise form under which he
has admitted into his work the modern feeling of the picturesque, which,
so far as it consists in a delight in ruin, is perhaps the most
suspicious and questionable of all the characters distinctively
belonging to our temper, and art.

It is especially so, because it never appears, even in the slightest
measure, until the days of the decline of art in the seventeenth
century. The love of neatness and precision, as opposed to all disorder,
maintains itself down to Raphael's childhood without the slightest
interference of any other feeling; and it is not until Claude's time,
and owing in great part to his influence, that the new feeling
distinctly establishes itself.

Plate +18+ shows the kind of modification which Claude used to make on
the towers and backgrounds of Ghirlandajo; the old Florentine giving his
idea of Pisa, with its leaning tower, with the utmost neatness and
precision, and handsome youth riding over neat bridges on beautiful
horses; Claude reducing the delicate towers and walls to unintelligible
ruin, the well built bridge to a rugged stone one, the handsome rider to
a weary traveller, and the perfectly drawn leafage to confusion of
copse-wood or forest.[1]

How far he was right in doing this; or how far the moderns are right in
carrying the principle to greater excess, and seeking always for
poverty-stricken rusticity or pensive ruin, we must now endeavor to
ascertain.

The essence of picturesque character has been already defined[2] to be a
sublimity not inherent in the nature of the thing, but caused by
something external to it; as the ruggedness of a cottage roof possesses
something of a mountain aspect, not belonging to the cottage as such.
And this sublimity may be either in mere external ruggedness, and other
visible character, or it may lie deeper, in an expression of sorrow and
old age, attributes which are both sublime; not a dominant expression,
but one mingled with such familiar and common characters as prevent the
object from becoming perfectly pathetic in its sorrow, or perfectly
venerable in its age.

§ 2. For instance, I cannot find words to express the intense pleasure I
have always in first finding myself, after some prolonged stay in
England, at the foot of the old tower of Calais church. The large
neglect, the noble unsightliness of it; the record of its years written
so visibly, yet without sign of weakness or decay; its stern wasteness
and gloom, eaten away by the Channel winds, and overgrown with the
bitter sea grasses; its slates and tiles all shaken and rent, and yet
not falling; its desert of brickwork full of bolts, and holes, and ugly
fissures, and yet strong, like a bare brown rock; its carelessness of
what any one thinks or feels about it, putting forth no claim, having no
beauty nor desirableness, pride nor grace; yet neither asking for pity;
not, as ruins are, useless and piteous, feebly or fondly garrulous of
better days; but useful still, going through its own daily work,--as
some old fisherman beaten grey by storm, yet drawing his daily nets: so
it stands, with no complaint about its past youth, in blanched and
meagre massiveness and serviceableness, gathering human souls together
underneath it; the sound of its bells for prayer still rolling through
its rents; and the grey peak of it seen far across the sea, principal of
the three that rise above the waste of surfy sand and hillocked
shore,--the lighthouse for life, and the belfry for labor, and this for
patience and praise.

§ 3. I cannot tell the half of the strange pleasures and thoughts that
come about me at the sight of that old tower; for, in some sort, it is
the epitome of all that makes the Continent of Europe interesting, as
opposed to new countries; and, above all, it completely expresses that
agedness in the midst of active life which binds the old and the new
into harmony. We, in England, have our new street, our new inn, our
green shaven lawn, and our piece of ruin emergent from it,--a mere
_specimen_ of the middle ages put on a bit of velvet carpet to be shown,
which, but for its size, might as well be on the museum shelf at once,
under cover. But, on the Continent, the links are unbroken between the
past and present, and in such use as they can serve for, the grey-headed
wrecks are suffered to stay with men; while, in unbroken line, the
generations of spared buildings are seen succeeding each in its place.
And thus in its largeness, in its permitted evidence of slow decline, in
its poverty, in its absence of all pretence, of all show and care for
outside aspect, that Calais tower has an infinite of symbolism in it,
all the more striking because usually seen in contrast with English
scenes expressive of feelings the exact reverse of these.

§ 4. And I am sorry to say that the opposition is most distinct in that
noble carelessness as to what people think of it. Once, on coming from
the Continent, almost the first inscription I saw in my native English
was this:

  +"TO LET, A GENTEEL HOUSE, UP THIS ROAD."+

And it struck me forcibly, for I had not come across the idea of
gentility, among the upper limestones of the Alps, for seven months; nor
do I think that the Continental nations in general _have_ the idea.
They would have advertised a "pretty" house or a "large" one, or a
"convenient" one; but they could not, by any use of the terms afforded
by their several languages, have got at the English "genteel." Consider,
a little, all the meanness that there is in that epithet, and then see,
when next you cross the Channel, how scornful of it that Calais spire
will look.

§ 5. Of which spire the largeness and age are also opposed exactly to
the chief appearances of modern England, as one feels them on first
returning to it; that marvellous smallness both of houses and scenery,
so that a ploughman in the valley has his head on a level with the tops
of all the hills in the neighborhood; and a house is organized into
complete establishment,--parlor, kitchen, and all, with a knocker to its
door, and a garret window to its roof, and a bow to its second story,[3]
on a scale of twelve feet wide by fifteen high, so that three such at
least would go into the granary of an ordinary Swiss cottage: and also
our serenity of perfection, our peace of conceit, everything being done
that vulgar minds can conceive as wanting to be done; the spirit of
well-principled housemaids everywhere, exerting itself for perpetual
propriety and renovation, so that nothing is old, but only
"old-fashioned," and contemporary, as it were, in date and
impressiveness only with last year's bonnets. Abroad, a building of the
eighth or tenth century stands ruinous in the open street; the children
play round it, the peasants heap their corn in it, the buildings of
yesterday nestle about it, and fit their new stones into its rents, and
tremble in sympathy as it trembles. No one wonders at it, or thinks of
it as separate, and of another time; we feel the ancient world to be a
real thing, and one with the new: antiquity is no dream; it is rather
the children playing about the old stones that are the dream. But all is
continuous; and the words, "from generation to generation,"
understandable there. Whereas here we have a living present, consisting
merely of what is "fashionable" and "old-fashioned;" and a past, of
which there are no vestiges; a past which peasant or citizen can no more
conceive; all equally far away; Queen Elizabeth as old as Queen
Boadicea, and both incredible. At Verona we look out of Can Grande's
window to his tomb; and if he does not stand beside us, we feel only
that he is in the grave instead of the chamber,--not that he is _old_,
but that he might have been beside us last night. But in England the
dead are dead to purpose. One cannot believe they ever were alive, or
anything else than what they are now--names in school-books.

§ 6. Then that spirit of trimness. The smooth paving-stones; the
scraped, hard, even, rutless roads; the neat gates and plates, and
essence of border and order, and spikiness and spruceness. Abroad, a
country-house has some confession of human weakness and human fates
about it. There are the old grand gates still, which the mob pressed
sore against at the Revolution, and the strained hinges have never gone
so well since; and the broken greyhound on the pillar--still
broken--better so; but the long avenue is gracefully pale with fresh
green, and the courtyard bright with orange-trees; the garden is a
little run to waste--since Mademoiselle was married nobody cares much
about it; and one range of apartments is shut up--nobody goes into them
since Madame died. But with us, let who will be married or die, we
neglect nothing. All is polished and precise again next morning; and
whether people are happy or miserable, poor or prosperous, still we
sweep the stairs of a Saturday.[4]

§ 7. Now, I have insisted long on this English character, because I want
the reader to understand thoroughly the opposite element of the noble
picturesque; its expression, namely, of _suffering_, of _poverty_, or
_decay_, nobly endured by unpretending strength of heart. Nor only
unpretending, but unconscious. If there be visible pensiveness in the
building, as in a ruined abbey, it becomes, or claims to become,
beautiful; but the picturesqueness is in the unconscious suffering,--the
look that an old laborer has, not knowing that there is anything
pathetic in his grey hair, and withered arms, and sunburnt breast; and
thus there are the two extremes, the consciousness of pathos in the
confessed ruin, which may or may not be beautiful, according to the kind
of it; and the entire denial of all human calamity and care, in the
swept proprieties and neatness of English modernism: and, between these,
there is the unconscious confession of the facts of distress and decay,
in by-words; the world's hard work being gone through all the while, and
no pity asked for, nor contempt feared. And this is the expression of
that Calais spire, and of all picturesque things, in so far as they have
mental or human expression at all.

§ 8. I say, in so far as they have mental expression, because their
merely outward delightfulness--that which makes them pleasant in
painting, or, in the literal sense, picturesque--is their actual variety
of color and form. A broken stone has necessarily more various forms in
it than a whole one; a bent roof has more various curves in it than a
straight one; every excrescence or cleft involves some additional
complexity of light and shade, and every stain of moss on eaves or wall
adds to the delightfulness of color. Hence, in a completely picturesque
object, as an old cottage or mill, there are introduced, by various
circumstances not essential to it, but, on the whole, generally somewhat
detrimental to it as cottage or mill, such elements of sublimity--complex
light and shade, varied color, undulatory form, and so on--as can
generally be found only in noble natural objects, woods, rocks, or
mountains. This sublimity, belonging in a parasitical manner to the
building, renders it, in the usual sense of the word, "picturesque."

[Illustration: 19. The Picturesque of Windmills.
               1. Pure Modern.    2. Turnerian.]

§ 9. Now, if this outward sublimity be sought for by the painter,
without any regard for the real nature of the thing, and without any
comprehension of the pathos of character hidden beneath, it forms the
low school of the surface-picturesque; that which fills ordinary
drawing-books and scrap-books, and employs, perhaps, the most popular
living landscape painters of France, England, and Germany. But if these
same outward characters be sought for in subordination to the inner
character of the object, every source of pleasurableness being refused
which is incompatible with that, while perfect sympathy is felt at the
same time with the object as to all that it tells of itself in those
sorrowful by-words, we have the school of true or noble picturesque;
still distinguished from the school of pure beauty and sublimity,
because, in its subjects, the pathos and sublimity are all _by the way_,
as in Calais old spire,--not inherent, as in a lovely tree or mountain;
while it is distinguished still more from the schools of the lower
picturesque by its tender sympathy, and its refusal of all sources of
pleasure inconsistent with the perfect nature of the thing to be
studied.

§ 10. The reader will only be convinced of the broad scope of this law
by careful thought, and comparison of picture with picture; but a single
example will make the principle of it clear to him.

On the whole, the first master of the lower picturesque, among our
living artists, is Clarkson Stanfield; his range of art being, indeed,
limited by his pursuit of this character. I take, therefore, a windmill,
forming the principal subject in his drawing of Brittany, near Dol
(engraved in the Coast Scenery), Fig. 1, Plate +19+, and beside it I
place a windmill, which forms also the principal subject in Turner's
study of the Lock, in the Liber Studiorum. At first sight I dare say the
reader may like Stanfield's best; and there is, indeed, a great deal
more in it to attract liking. Its roof is nearly as interesting in its
ruggedness as a piece of the stony peak of a mountain, with a châlet
built on its side; and it is exquisitely varied in swell and curve.
Turner's roof, on the contrary, is a plain, ugly gable,--a windmill
roof, and nothing more. Stanfield's sails are twisted into most
effective wrecks, as beautiful as pine bridges over Alpine streams; only
they do not look as if they had ever been serviceable windmill sails;
they are bent about in cross and awkward ways, as if they were warped or
cramped; and their timbers look heavier than necessary. Turner's sails
have no beauty about them like that of Alpine bridges; but they have the
exact switchy sway of the sail that is always straining against the
wind; and the timbers form clearly the lightest possible framework for
the canvas,--thus showing the essence of windmill sail. Then the clay
wall of Stanfield's mill is as beautiful as a piece of chalk cliff, all
worn into furrows by the rain, coated with mosses, and rooted to the
ground by a heap of crumbled stone, embroidered with grass and creeping
plants. But this is not a serviceable state for a windmill to be in. The
essence of a windmill, as distinguished from all other mills, is, that
it should turn round, and be a spinning thing, ready always to face the
wind; as light, therefore, as possible, and as vibratory; so that it is
in no wise good for it to approximate itself to the nature of chalk
cliffs.

Now observe how completely Turner has chosen his mill so as to mark this
great fact of windmill nature; how high he has set it; how slenderly he
has supported it; how he has built it all of wood; how he has bent the
lower planks so as to give the idea of the building lapping over the
pivot on which it rests inside; and how, finally, he has insisted on the
great leverage of the beam behind it, while Stanfield's lever looks more
like a prop than a thing to turn the roof with. And he has done all this
fearlessly, though none of these elements of form are pleasant ones in
themselves, but tend, on the whole, to give a somewhat mean and
spider-like look to the principal feature in his picture; and then,
finally, because he could not get the windmill dissected, and show us
the real heart and centre of the whole, behold, he has put a pair of old
millstones, _lying outside_, at the bottom of it. These--the first cause
and motive of all the fabric--laid at its foundation; and beside them
the cart which is to fulfil the end of the fabric's being, and take home
the sacks of flour.

§ 11. So far of what each painter chooses to draw. But do not fail also
to consider the spirit in which it is drawn. Observe, that though all
this ruin has befallen Stanfield's mill, Stanfield is not in the least
sorry for it. On the contrary, he is delighted, and evidently thinks it
the most fortunate thing possible. The owner is ruined, doubtless, or
dead; but his mill forms an admirable object in our view of Brittany. So
far from being grieved about it, we will make it our principal
light;--if it were a fruit-tree in spring-blossom, instead of a desolate
mill, we could not make it whiter or brighter; we illume our whole
picture with it, and exult over its every rent as a special treasure and
possession.

Not so Turner. _His_ mill is still serviceable; but, for all that, he
feels somewhat pensive about it. It is a poor property, and evidently
the owner of it has enough to do to get his own bread out from between
its stones. Moreover, there is a dim type of all melancholy human labor
in it,--catching the free winds, and setting them to turn grindstones.
It is poor work for the winds; better, indeed, than drowning sailors or
tearing down forests, but not their proper work of marshalling the
clouds, and bearing the wholesome rains to the place where they are
ordered to fall, and fanning the flowers and leaves when they are faint
with heat. Turning round a couple of stones, for the mere pulverization
of human food, is not noble work for the winds. So, also, of all low
labor to which one sets human souls. It is better than no labor; and, in
a still higher degree, better than destructive wandering of imagination;
but yet, that grinding in the darkness, for mere food's sake, must be
melancholy work enough for many a living creature. All men have felt it
so; and this grinding at the mill, whether it be breeze or soul that is
set to it, we cannot much rejoice in. Turner has no joy of his mill. It
shall be dark against the sky, yet proud, and on the hill-top; not
ashamed of its labor, and brightened from beyond, the golden clouds
stooping over it, and the calm summer sun going down behind, far away,
to his rest.

§ 12. Now in all this observe how the higher condition of art (for I
suppose the reader will feel, with me, that Turner's _is_ the highest)
depends upon largeness of sympathy. It is mainly because the one painter
has communion of heart with his subject, and the other only casts his
eyes upon it feelinglessly, that the work of the one is greater than
that of the other. And, as we think farther over the matter, we shall
see that this is indeed the eminent cause of the difference between the
lower picturesque and the higher. For, in a certain sense, the lower
picturesque ideal is eminently a _heartless_ one: the lover of it seems
to go forth into the world in a temper as merciless as its rocks. All
other men feel some regret at the sight of disorder and ruin. He alone
delights in both; it matters not of what. Fallen cottage--desolate
villa--deserted village--blasted heath--mouldering castle--to him, so
that they do but show jagged angles of stone and timber, all are sights
equally joyful. Poverty, and darkness, and guilt, bring in their several
contributions to his treasury of pleasant thoughts. The shattered
window, opening into black and ghastly rents of wall, the foul rag or
straw wisp stopping them, the dangerous roof, decrepit floor and stair,
ragged misery or wasting age of the inhabitants,--all these conduce,
each in due measure, to the fulness of his satisfaction. What is it to
him that the old man has passed his seventy years in helpless darkness
and untaught waste of soul? The old man has at last accomplished his
destiny, and filled the corner of a sketch, where something of an
unshapely nature was wanting. What is it to him that the people fester
in that feverish misery in the low quarter of the town, by the river?
Nay, it is much to him. What else were they made for? what could they
have done better? The black timbers, and the green water, and the
soaking wrecks of boats, and the torn remnants of clothes hung out to
dry in the sun;--truly the fever-struck creatures, whose lives have been
given for the production of these materials of effect, have not died in
vain.[5]

§ 13. Yet, for all this, I do not say the lover of the lower
picturesque is a monster in human form. He is by no means this, though
truly we might at first think so, if we came across him unawares, and
had not met with any such sort of person before. Generally speaking, he
is kind-hearted, innocent of evil, but not broad in thought; somewhat
selfish, and incapable of acute sympathy with others; gifted at the same
time with strong artistic instincts and capacities for the enjoyment of
varied form, and light, and shade, in pursuit of which enjoyment his
life is passed, as the lives of other men are, for the most part, in the
pursuit of what _they_ also like,--be it honor, or money, or indolent
pleasure,--very irrespective of the poor people living by the stagnant
canal. And, in some sort, the hunter of the picturesque is better than
many of these; inasmuch as he is simple-minded and capable of
unostentatious and economical delights, which, if not very helpful to
other people, are at all events utterly uninjurious, even to the victims
or subjects of his picturesque fancies; while to many others his work is
entertaining and useful. And, more than all this, even that delight
which he _seems_ to take in misery is not altogether unvirtuous. Through
all his enjoyment there runs a certain under current of tragical
passion,--a real vein of human sympathy;--it lies at the root of all
those strange morbid hauntings of his; a sad excitement, such as other
people feel at a tragedy, only less in degree, just enough, indeed, to
give a deeper tone to his pleasure, and to make him choose for his
subject the broken stones of a cottage wall, rather than of a roadside
bank, the picturesque beauty of form in each being supposed precisely
the same: and, together with this slight tragical feeling, there is also
a humble and romantic sympathy; a vague desire, in his own mind, to live
in cottages rather than in palaces; a joy in humble things, a
contentment and delight in makeshifts, a secret persuasion (in many
respects a true one) that there is in these ruined cottages a happiness
often quite as great as in kings' palaces, and a virtue and nearness to
God infinitely greater and holier than can commonly be found in any
other kind of place; so that the misery in which he exults is not, as he
sees it, misery, but nobleness,--"poor, and sick in body, and beloved by
the Gods."[6] And thus, being nowise sure that these things can be
mended at all, and very sure that he knows not how to mend them, and
also that the strange pleasure he feels in them _must_ have some good
reason in the nature of things, he yields to his destiny, enjoys his
dark canal without scruple, and mourns over every improvement in the
town, and every movement made by its sanitary commissioners, as a miser
would over a planned robbery of his chest; in all this being not only
innocent, but even respectable and admirable, compared with the kind of
person who has _no_ pleasure in sights of this kind, but only in fair
façades, trim gardens, and park palings, and who would thrust all
poverty and misery out of his way, collecting it into back alleys, or
sweeping it finally out of the world, so that the street might give
wider play for his chariot wheels, and the breeze less offence to his
nobility.

§ 14. Therefore, even the love for the lower picturesque ought to be
cultivated with care, wherever it exists; not with any special view to
artistic, but to merely humane, education. It will never really or
seriously interfere with practical benevolence; on the contrary, it will
constantly lead, if associated with other benevolent principles, to a
truer sympathy with the poor, and better understanding of the right ways
of helping them; and, in the present stage of civilization, it is the
most important element of character, not directly moral, which can be
cultivated in youth; since it is mainly for the want of this feeling
that we destroy so many ancient monuments, in order to erect "handsome"
streets and shops instead, which might just as well have been erected
elsewhere, and whose effect on our minds, so far as they have any, is to
increase every disposition to frivolity, expense, and display.

These, and such other considerations not directly connected with our
subject, I shall, perhaps, be able to press farther at the close of my
work; meantime, we turn to the immediate question, of the distinction
between the lower and higher picturesque, and the artists who pursue
them.

§ 15. It is evident, from what has been advanced, that there is no
definite bar of separation between the two; but that the dignity of the
picturesque increases from lower to higher, in exact proportion to the
sympathy of the artist with his subject. And in like manner his own
greatness depends (other things being equal) on the extent of this
sympathy. If he rests content with narrow enjoyment of outward forms,
and light sensations of luxurious tragedy, and so goes on multiplying
his sketches of mere picturesque material, he necessarily settles down
into the ordinary "clever" artist, very good and respectable,
maintaining himself by his sketching and painting in an honorable way,
as by any other daily business, and in due time passing away from the
world without having, on the whole, done much for it. Such has been the
necessary, not very lamentable, destiny of a large number of men in
these days, whose gifts urged them to the practice of art, but who
possessing no breadth of mind, nor having met with masters capable of
concentrating what gifts they had towards nobler use, almost perforce
remained in their small picturesque circle; getting more and more
narrowed in range of sympathy as they fell more and more into the habit
of contemplating the one particular class of subjects that pleased them,
and recomposing them by rules of art.

I need not give instances of this class, we have very few painters who
belong to any other; I only pause for a moment to _except_ from it a man
too often confounded with the draughtsmen of the lower picturesque;--a
very great man, who, though partly by chance, and partly by choice,
limited in range of subject, possessed for that subject the profoundest
and noblest sympathy--Samuel Prout. His renderings of the character of
old buildings, such as that spire of Calais, are as perfect and as
heartfelt as I can conceive possible; nor do I suppose that any one else
will ever hereafter equal them.[7] His early works show that he
possessed a grasp of mind which could have entered into almost any kind
of landscape subject; that it was only chance--I do not know if
altogether evil chance--which fettered him to stones; and that in
reality he is to be numbered among the true masters of the nobler
picturesque.

§ 16. Of these, also, the ranks rise in worthiness, according to their
sympathy. In the noblest of them, that sympathy seems quite unlimited;
they enter with their whole heart into all nature; their love of grace
and beauty keeps them from delighting too much in shattered stones and
stunted trees, their kindness and compassion from dwelling by choice on
any kind of misery, their perfect humility from avoiding simplicity of
subject when it comes in their way, and their grasp of the highest
thoughts from seeking a lower sublimity in cottage walls and penthouse
roofs. And, whether it be home of English village thatched with straw
and walled with clay, or of Italian city vaulted with gold and roofed
with marble; whether it be stagnant stream under ragged willow, or
glancing fountain between arcades of laurel, all to them will bring
equal power of happiness, and equal field for thought.

§ 17. Turner is the only artist who hitherto has furnished the entire
_type_ of this perfection. The attainment of it in all respects is, of
course, impossible to man; but the complete type of such a mind has once
been seen in him, and, I think, existed also in Tintoret; though, as far
as I know, Tintoret has not left any work which indicates sympathy with
the _humor_ of the world. Paul Veronese, on the other hand, had sympathy
with its humor, but not with its deepest tragedy or horror. Rubens wants
the feeling for grace and mystery. And so, as we pass through the list
of great painters, we shall find in each of them some local narrowness.
Now, I do not, of course, mean to say that Turner has accomplished all
to which his sympathy prompted him; necessarily, the very breadth of
effort involved, in some directions, manifest failure; but he has shown,
in casual incidents, and by-ways, a range of _feeling_ which no other
painter, as far as I know, can equal. He cannot, for instance, draw
children at play as well as Mulready; but just glean out of his works
the evidence of his sympathy with children;--look at the girl putting
her bonnet on the dog, in the foreground of the Richmond, Yorkshire; the
juvenile tricks and "marine dabblers" of the Liber Studiorum; the boys
scrambling after their kites in the woods of the Greta and
Buckfastleigh; and the notable and most pathetic drawing of the Kirkby
Lonsdale churchyard, with the schoolboys making a fortress of their
larger books on the tombstone, to bombard with the more projectile
volumes; and passing from these to the intense horror and pathos of the
Rizpah, consider for yourself whether there was ever any other painter
who could strike such an octave. Whether there has been or not, in other
walks of art, this power of sympathy is unquestionably in landscape
unrivalled; and it will be one of our pleasantest future tasks to
analyze in his various drawing the character it always gives; a
character, indeed, more or less marked in all good work whatever, but to
which, being preeminent in him, I shall always hereafter give the name
of the "_Turnerian Picturesque_."


FOOTNOTES

  [1] Ghirlandajo is seen to the greatest possible disadvantage in
    this place, as I have been forced again to copy from Lasinio, who
    leaves out all the light and shade, and vulgarizes every form; but
    the points requiring notice here are sufficiently shown, and I will
    do Ghirlandajo more justice hereafter.

  [2] Seven Lamps of Architecture, chap. vi. § 12.

  [3] The principal street of Canterbury has some curious examples of
    this _tininess_.

  [4] This, however, is of course true only of insignificant duties,
    necessary for appearance' sake. Serious duties, necessary for
    kindness' sake, must be permitted in any domestic affliction, under
    pain of shocking the English public.

  [5] I extract from my private diary a passage bearing somewhat on
    the matter in hand:--

    "Amiens, 11th May, 18--. I had a happy walk here this afternoon,
    down among the branching currents of the Somme; it divides into five
    or six,--shallow, green, and not over-wholesome; some quite narrow
    and foul, running beneath clusters of fearful houses, reeling masses
    of rotten timber; and a few mere stumps of pollard willow sticking
    out of the banks of soft mud, only retained in shape of bank by
    being shored up with timbers; and boats like paper boats, nearly as
    thin at least, for the costermongers to paddle about in among the
    weeds, the water soaking through the lath bottoms, and floating the
    dead leaves from the vegetable-baskets with which they were loaded.
    Miserable little back yards, opening to the water, with steep stone
    steps down to it, and little platforms for the ducks; and separate
    duck staircases, composed of a sloping board with cross bits of wood
    leading to the ducks' doors, and sometimes a flower-pot or two on
    them, or even a flower,--one group, of wallflowers and geraniums,
    curiously vivid, being seen against the darkness of a dyer's back
    yard, who had been dyeing black all day, and all was black in his
    yard but the flowers, and they fiery and pure; the water by no means
    so, but still working its way steadily over the weeds, until it
    narrowed into a current strong enough to turn two or three
    mill-wheels, one working against the side of an old flamboyant
    Gothic church, whose richly traceried buttresses sloped into the
    filthy stream;--all exquisitely picturesque, and no less miserable.
    We delight in seeing the figures in these boats pushing them about
    the bits of blue water, in Prout's drawings; but as I looked to-day
    at the unhealthy face and melancholy mien of the man in the boat
    pushing his load of peats along the ditch, and of the people, men as
    well as women, who sat spinning gloomily at the cottage doors, I
    could not help feeling how many suffering persons must pay for my
    picturesque subject and happy walk."

  [6] Epitaph on Epictetus.

  [7] I believe when a thing is once _well done_ in this world, it
    never can be done _over again_.



CHAPTER II.

OF TURNERIAN TOPOGRAPHY.

§ 1. We saw, in the course of the last chapter, with what kind of
feeling an artist ought to regard the character of every object he
undertakes to paint. The next question is, what objects he _ought_ to
undertake to paint; how far he should be influenced by his feelings in
the choice of subjects; and how far he should permit himself to alter,
or, in the usual art language, improve, nature. For it has already been
stated (Vol. III. Chap. III. § 21.), that all great art must be
inventive; that is to say, its subject must be produced by the
imagination. If so, then great landscape art cannot be a mere copy of
any given scene; and we have now to inquire what else than this it may
be.

§ 2. If the reader will glance over that twenty-first, and the following
three paragraphs of the same chapter, he will see that we there divided
art generally into "historical" and "poetical," or the art of relating
facts simply, and facts imaginatively. Now, with respect to landscape,
the historical art is simple topography, and the imaginative art is what
I have in the heading of the present chapter called Turnerian
topography, and must in the course of it endeavor to explain.

Observe, however, at the outset, that, touching the duty or fitness of
altering nature at all, the quarrels which have so wofully divided the
world of art are caused only by want of understanding this simplest of
all canons,--"It is always wrong to draw what you don't see." This law
is inviolable. But then, some people see only things that exist, and
others see things that do not exist, or do not exist apparently. And if
they really _see_ these non-apparent things, they are quite right to
draw them; the only harm is when people try to draw non-apparent things,
who _don't_ see them, but think they can calculate or compose into
existence what is to them for evermore invisible. If some people really
see angels where others see only empty space, let them paint the angels;
only let not anybody else think _they_ can paint an angel, too, on any
calculated principles of the angelic.

§ 3. If, therefore, when we go to a place, we see nothing else than is
there, we are to paint nothing else, and to remain pure topographical or
historical landscape painters. If, going to the place, we see something
quite different from what is there, then we are to paint that--nay, we
_must_ paint that, whether we will or not; it being, for us, the only
reality we can get at. But let us beware of pretending to see this
unreality if we do not.

The simple observance of this rule would put an end to nearly all
disputes, and keep a large number of men in healthy work, who now
totally waste their lives; so that the most important question that an
artist can possibly have to determine for himself, is whether he has
invention or not. And this he can ascertain with ease. If visions of
unreal things present themselves to him with or without his own will,
praying to be painted, quite ungovernable in their coming or
going,--neither to be summoned if they do not choose to come, nor
banished if they do,--he has invention. If, on the contrary, he only
sees the commonly visible facts; and, should he not like them, and want
to alter them, finds that he must think of a _rule_ whereby to do so, he
has no invention. All the rules in the world will do him no good; and if
he tries to draw anything else than those materially visible facts, he
will pass his whole life in uselessness, and produce nothing but
scientific absurdities.

§ 4. Let him take his part at once, boldly, and be content. Pure history
and pure topography are most precious things; in many cases more useful
to the human race than high imaginative work; and assuredly it is
intended that a large majority of all who are employed in art should
never aim at anything higher. It is _only_ vanity, never love, nor any
other noble feeling, which prompts men to desert their allegiance to the
simple truth, in vain pursuit of the imaginative truth which has been
appointed to be for evermore sealed to them.

Nor let it be supposed that artists who possess minor degrees of
imaginative gift need be embarrassed by the doubtful sense of their own
powers. In general, when the imagination is at all noble, it is
irresistible, and therefore those who can at all resist it _ought_ to
resist it. Be a plain topographer if you possibly can; if Nature meant
you to be anything else, she will force you to it; but never try to be a
prophet; go on quietly with your hard camp-work, and the spirit will
come to you in the camp, as it did to Eldad and Medad, if you are
appointed to have it; but try above all things to be quickly perceptive
of the noble spirit in others, and to discern in an instant between its
true utterance and the diseased mimicries of it. In a general way,
remember it is a far better thing to find out other great men, than to
become one yourself: for you can but become _one_ at best, but you may
bring others to light in numbers.

§ 5. We have, therefore, to inquire what kind of changes these are,
which must be wrought by the imaginative painter on landscape, and by
whom they have been thus nobly wrought. First, for the better comfort of
the non-imaginative painter, be it observed, that it is not possible to
find a landscape, which, if painted precisely as it is, will not make an
impressive picture. No one knows, till he has tried, what strange beauty
and subtle composition is prepared to his hand by Nature, wherever she
is left to herself; and what deep feeling may be found in many of the
most homely scenes, even where man has interfered with those wild ways
of hers. But, beyond this, let him note that though historical
topography forbids _alteration_, it neither forbids sentiment nor
choice. So far from doing this, the proper choice of subject[8] is an
absolute duty to the topographical painter: he should first take care
that it is a subject intensely pleasing to himself, else he will never
paint it well; and then also, that it shall be one in some sort
pleasurable to the general public, else it is not worth painting at all;
and lastly, take care that it be instructive, as well as pleasurable to
the public, else it is not worth painting with care. I should
particularly insist at present on this careful choice of subject,
because the Pre-Raphaelites, taken as a body, have been culpably
negligent in this respect, not in humble honor of Nature, but in morbid
indulgence of their own impressions. They happen to find their fancies
caught by a bit of an oak hedge, or the weeds at the sides of a
duck-pond, because, perhaps, they remind them of a stanza of Tennyson;
and forthwith they sit down to sacrifice the most consummate skill, two
or three months of the best summer time available for out-door work
(equivalent to some seventieth or sixtieth of all their lives), and
nearly all their credit with the public, to this duck-pond delineation.
Now it is indeed quite right that they should see much to be loved in
the hedge, nor less in the ditch; but it is utterly and inexcusably
wrong that they should neglect the nobler scenery which is full of
majestic interest, or enchanted by historical association; so that, as
things go at present, we have all the commonalty that may be seen
whenever we choose, painted properly; but all of lovely and wonderful,
which we cannot see but at rare intervals, painted vilely: the castles
of the Rhine and Rhone made vignettes of for the annuals; and the
nettles and mushrooms, which were prepared by Nature eminently for
nettle porridge and fish sauce, immortalized by art as reverently as if
we were Egyptians, and they deities.

§ 6. Generally speaking, therefore, the duty of every painter at
present, who has not much invention, is to take subjects of which the
portraiture will be precious in after times; views of our abbeys and
cathedrals; distant views of cities, if possible chosen from some spot
in itself notable by association; perfect studies of the battle-fields
of Europe, of all houses of celebrated men, and places they loved, and,
of course, of the most lovely natural scenery. And, in doing all this,
it should be understood, primarily, whether the picture is topographical
or not: if topographical, then not a line is to be altered, not a stick
nor stone removed, not a color deepened, not a form improved; the
picture is to be, as far as possible, the reflection of the place in a
mirror; and the artist to consider himself only as a sensitive and
skilful reflector, taking care that no false impression is conveyed by
any error on his part which he might have avoided; so that it may be
for ever afterwards in the power of all men to lean on his work with
absolute trust, and to say: "So it was:--on such a day of June or July
of such a year, such a place looked like this; these weeds were growing
there, so tall and no taller; those stones were lying there, so many and
no more; that tower so rose against the sky, and that shadow so slept
upon the street."

§ 7. Nor let it be supposed that the doing of this would ever become
mechanical, or be found too easy, or exclude sentiment. As for its being
easy, those only think so who never tried it; composition being, in
fact, infinitely easier to a man who can compose, than imitation of this
high kind to even the most able imitator; nor would it exclude
sentiment, for, however sincerely we may try to paint all we see, this
_cannot_, as often aforesaid, be ever done: all that is possible is a
certain selection, and more or less wilful assertion, of one fact in
preference to another; which selection ought always to be made under the
influence of sentiment. Nor will such topography involve an entire
submission to ugly accidents interfering with the impressiveness of the
scene. I hope, as art is better understood, that our painters will get
into the habit of accompanying all their works with a written statement
of their own reasons for painting them, and the circumstances under
which they were done; and, if in this written document they state the
omissions they have made, they may make as many as they think proper.
For instance, it is not possible now to obtain a view of the head of the
Lake of Geneva without including the "Hôtel Biron"--an establishment
looking like a large cotton factory--just above the Castle of Chillon.
This building ought always to be omitted, and the reason for the
omission stated. So the beauty of the whole town of Lucerne, as seen
from the lake, is destroyed by the large new hotel for the English,
which ought, in like manner, to be ignored, and the houses behind it
drawn as if it were transparent.

§ 8. But if a painter has inventive power he is to treat his subject in
a totally different way; giving not the actual facts of it, but the
impression it made on his mind.

And now, once for all, let it be clearly understood that an "impression
on the mind" does not mean a piece of manufacture. The way in which most
artists proceed to "invent," as they call it, a picture, is this: they
choose their subject, for the most part, well, with a sufficient
quantity of towers, mountains, ruined cottages, and other materials, to
be generally interesting; then they fix on some object for a principal
light; behind this they put a dark cloud, or, in front of it, a dark
piece of foreground; then they repeat this light somewhere else in a
less degree, and connect the two lights together by some intermediate
ones. If they find any part of the foreground uninteresting they put a
group of figures into it; if any part of the distance, they put
something there from some other sketch; and proceed to inferior detail
in the same manner, taking care always to put white stones near black
ones, and purple colors near yellow ones, and angular forms near round
ones;--all being as simply a matter of recipe and practice as cookery;
like that, not by any means a thing easily done well, but still having
no reference whatever to "impressions on the mind."

§ 9. But the artist who has real invention sets to work in a totally
different way. First, he receives a true impression from the place
itself, and takes care to keep hold of that as his chief good; indeed,
he needs no care in the matter, for the distinction of his mind from
that of others consists in his instantly receiving such sensations
strongly, and being unable to lose them; and then he sets himself as far
as possible to reproduce that impression on the mind of the spectator of
his picture.

Now, observe, this impression on the mind never results from the mere
piece of scenery which can be included within the limits of the picture.
It depends on the temper into which the mind has been brought, both by
all the landscape round, and by what has been seen previously in the
course of the day; so that no particular spot upon which the painter's
glance may at any moment fall, is then to him what, if seen by itself,
it will be to the spectator far away; nor is it what it would be, even
to that spectator, if he had come to the reality through the steps which
Nature has appointed to be the preparation for it, instead of seeing it
isolated on an exhibition wall. For instance, on the descent of the St.
Gothard, towards Italy, just after passing through the narrow gorge
above Faïdo, the road emerges into a little breadth of valley, which is
entirely filled by fallen stones and débris, partly disgorged by the
Ticino as it leaps out of the narrower chasm, and partly brought down
by winter avalanches from a loose and decomposing mass of mountain on
the left. Beyond this first promontory is seen a considerably higher
range, but not an imposing one, which rises above the village of Faïdo.
The etching, Plate 20, is a topographical outline of the scene, with the
actual blocks of rock which happened to be lying in the bed of the
Ticino at the spot from which I chose to draw it. The masses of loose
débris (which, for any permanent purpose, I had no need to draw, as
their arrangement changes at every flood) I have not drawn, but only
those features of the landscape which happen to be of some continual
importance. Of which note, first, that the little three-windowed
building on the left is the remnant of a gallery built to protect the
road, which once went on that side, from the avalanches and stones that
come down the "couloir"[9] in the rock above. It is only a ruin, the
greater part having been by said avalanches swept away, and the old
road, of which a remnant is also seen on the extreme left, abandoned,
and carried now along the hillside on the right, partly sustained on
rough stone arches, and winding down, as seen in the sketch, to a weak
wooden bridge, which enables it to recover its old track past the
gallery. It seems formerly (but since the destruction of the gallery) to
have gone about a mile farther down the river on the right bank, and
then to have been carried across by a longer wooden bridge, of which
only the two abutments are seen in the sketch, the rest having been
swept away by the Ticino, and the new bridge erected near the spectator.

§ 10. There is nothing in this scene, taken by itself, particularly
interesting or impressive. The mountains are not elevated, nor
particularly fine in form, and the heaps of stones which encumber the
Ticino present nothing notable to the ordinary eye. But, in reality, the
place is approached through one of the narrowest and most sublime
ravines in the Alps, and after the traveller during the early part of
the day has been familiarized with the aspect of the highest peaks of
the Mont St. Gothard. Hence it speaks quite another language to him
from that in which it would address itself to an unprepared
spectator: the confused stones, which by themselves would be almost
without any claim upon his thoughts, become exponents of the fury of the
river by which he has journeyed all day long; the defile beyond, not in
itself narrow or terrible, is regarded nevertheless with awe, because it
is imagined to resemble the gorge that has just been traversed above;
and, although no very elevated mountains immediately overhang it, the
scene is felt to belong to, and arise in its essential characters out
of, the strength of those mightier mountains in the unseen north.

[Illustration: 20. Pass of Faïdo. (1st. Simple Topography.)]

§ 11. Any topographical delineation of the facts, therefore, must be
wholly incapable of arousing in the mind of the beholder those
sensations which would be caused by the facts themselves, seen in their
natural relations to others. And the aim of the great inventive
landscape painter must be to give the far higher and deeper truth of
mental vision, rather than that of the physical facts, and to reach a
representation which, though it may be totally useless to engineers or
geographers, and, when tried by rule and measure, totally unlike the
place, shall yet be capable of producing on the far-away beholder's mind
precisely the impression which the reality would have produced, and
putting his heart into the same state in which it would have been, had
he verily descended into the valley from the gorges of Airolo.

§ 12. Now observe; if in his attempt to do this the artist does not
understand the sacredness of the truth of _Impression_, and supposes
that, once quitting hold of his first thought, he may by Philosophy
compose something prettier than he saw, and mightier than he felt, it is
all over with him. Every such attempt at composition will be utterly
abortive, and end in something that is neither true nor fanciful;
something geographically useless, and intellectually absurd.

But if, holding fast his first thought, he finds other ideas insensibly
gathering to it, and, whether he will or not, modifying it into
something which is not so much the image of the place itself, as the
spirit of the place, let him yield to such fancies, and follow them
wherever they lead. For, though error on this side is very rare among us
in these days, it _is_ possible to check these finer thoughts by
mathematical accuracies, so as materially to impair the imaginative
faculty. I shall be able to explain this better after we have traced the
actual operation of Turner's mind on the scene under discussion.

§ 13. Turner was always from his youth fond of stones (we shall see
presently why). Whether large or small, loose or embedded, hewn into
cubes or worn into boulders, he loved them as much as William Hunt loves
pineapples and plums. So that this great litter of fallen stones, which
to any one else would have been simply disagreeable, was to Turner much
the same as if the whole valley had been filled with plums and
pineapples, and delighted him exceedingly, much more than even the gorge
of Dazio Grande just above. But that gorge had its effect upon him also,
and was still not well out of his head when the diligence stopped at the
bottom of the hill, just at that turn of the road on the right of the
bridge; which favorable opportunity Turner seized to make what he called
a "memorandum" of the place, composed of a few pencil scratches on a bit
of thin paper, that would roll up with others of the sort and go into
his pocket afterwards. These pencil scratches he put a few blots of
color upon (I suppose at Bellinzona the same evening, certainly _not_
upon the spot), and showed me this blotted sketch when he came home. I
asked him to make me a drawing of it, which he did, and casually told me
afterwards (a rare thing for him to do) that he liked the drawing he had
made. Of this drawing I have etched a reduced outline in Plate +21+.

§ 14. In which, primarily, observe that the whole place is altered in
scale, and brought up to the general majesty of the higher forms of the
Alps. It will be seen that, in my topographical sketch, there are a few
trees rooted in the rock on this side of the gallery, showing by
comparison, that it is not above four or five hundred feet high. These
trees Turner cuts away, and gives the rock a height of about a thousand
feet, so as to imply more power and danger in the avalanche coming down
the couloir.

Next, he raises, in a still greater degree, all the mountains beyond,
putting three or four ranges instead of one, but uniting them into a
single massy bank at their base, which he makes overhang the valley, and
thus reduces it nearly to such a chasm as that which he had just passed
through above, so as to unite the expression of this ravine with that
of the stony valley. A few trees, in the hollow of the glen, he feels to
be contrary in spirit to the stones, and fells them, as he did the
others; so also he feels the bridge in the foreground, by its
slenderness, to contradict the aspect of violence in the torrent; he
thinks the torrent and avalanches should have it all their own way
hereabouts; so he strikes down the nearer bridge, and restores the one
farther off, where the force of the stream may be supposed less. Next,
the bit of road on the right, above the bank, is not built on a wall,
nor on arches high enough to give the idea of an Alpine road in general;
so he makes the arches taller, and the bank steeper, introducing, as we
shall see presently, a reminiscence from the upper part of the pass.

[Illustration: 21. Pass of Faïdo. (2d. Turnerian Topography.)]

§ 15. I say he "_thinks_" this, and "introduces" that. But, strictly
speaking, he does not think at all. If he thought, he would instantly go
wrong; it is only the clumsy and uninventive artist who thinks. All
these changes come into his head involuntarily; an entirely imperative
dream, crying, "thus it must be," has taken possession of him; he can
see, and do, no otherwise than as the dream directs.

This is especially to be remembered with respect to the next
incident--the introduction of figures. Most persons to whom I have shown
the drawing, and who feel its general character, regret that there is
any living thing in it; they say it destroys the majesty of its
desolation. But the dream said not so to Turner. The dream insisted
particularly upon the great fact of its having come by the road. The
torrent was wild, the stones were wonderful; but the most wonderful
thing of all was how we ourselves, the dream and I, ever got here. By
our feet we could not--by the clouds we could not--by any ivory gates we
could not--in no other wise could we have come than by the coach road.
One of the great elements of sensation, all the day long, has been that
extraordinary road, and its goings on, and gettings about; here, under
avalanches of stones, and among insanities of torrents, and overhangings
of precipices, much tormented and driven to all manner of makeshifts and
coils to this side and the other, still the marvellous road persists in
going on, and that so smoothly and safely, that it is not merely great
diligences, going in a caravanish manner, with whole teams of horses,
that can traverse it, but little postchaises with small postboys, and a
pair of ponies. And the dream declared that the full essence and soul of
the scene, and consummation of all the wonderfulness of the torrents and
Alps, lay in a postchaise, with small ponies and postboy, which
accordingly it insisted upon Turner's inserting, whether he liked it or
not, at the turn of the road.

§ 16. Now, it will be observed by any one familiar with ordinary
principles of arrangement of form (on which principles I shall insist at
length in another place), that while the dream introduces these changes
bearing on the expression of the scene, it is also introducing other
changes, which appear to be made more or less in compliance with
received rules of composition,[10] rendering the masses broader, the
lines more continuous, and the curves more graceful. But the curious
part of the business is, that these changes seem not so much to be
wrought by imagining an entirely new condition of any feature, as by
_remembering_ something which will fit better in that place. For
instance, Turner felt the bank on the right ought to be made more solid
and rocky, in order to suggest firmer resistance to the stream, and he
turns it, as will be seen by comparing the etchings, into a kind of rock
buttress, to the wall, instead of a mere bank. Now, the buttress into
which he turns it is very nearly a facsimile of one which he had drawn
on that very St. Gothard road, far above, at the Devil's Bridge, at
least thirty years before, and which he had himself etched and engraved,
for the Liber Studiorum, although the plate was never published. Fig. 1
is a copy of the bit of the etching in question. Note how the wall winds
over it, and observe especially the peculiar depression in the middle of
its surface, and compare it in those parts generally with the features
introduced in the later composition. Of course, this might be set down
as a mere chance coincidence, but for the frequency of the cases in
which Turner can be shown to have done the same thing, and to have
introduced, after a lapse of many years, memories of something which,
however apparently small or unimportant, had struck him in his earlier
studies. These instances, when I can detect them, I shall point out as I
go on engraving his works; and I think they are numerous enough to
induce a doubt whether Turner's composition was not universally an
arrangement of remembrances, summoned just as they were wanted, and set
each in its fittest place. It is this very character which appears to
me to mark it as so distinctly an act of dream-vision; for in a dream
there is just this kind of confused remembrance of the forms of things
which we have seen long ago, associated by new and strange laws. That
common dreams are grotesque and disorderly, and Turner's dream natural
and orderly, does not, to my thinking, involve any necessary difference
in the real species of act of mind. I think I shall be able to show, in
the course of the following pages, or elsewhere, that whenever Turner
really tried to _compose_, and made modifications of his subjects on
principle, he did wrong, and spoiled them; and that he only did right in
a kind of passive obedience to his first vision, that vision being
composed primarily of the strong memory of the place itself which he had
to draw; and secondarily, of memories of other places (whether
recognized as such by himself or not I cannot tell), associated, in a
harmonious and helpful way, with the new central thought.

[Illustration: FIG. 1.]

§ 17. The kind of mental chemistry by which the dream summons and
associates its materials, I have already endeavored, not to explain, for
it is utterly inexplicable, but to illustrate, by a well-ascertained
though equally inexplicable fact in common chemistry. That illustration
(§ 8. of chapter on Imaginative Association, Vol. II.) I see more and
more ground to think correct. How far I could show that it held with all
great inventors, I know not, but with all those whom I have carefully
studied (Dante, Scott, Turner, and Tintoret) it seems to me to hold
absolutely; their imagination consisting, not in a voluntary production
of new images, but an involuntary remembrance, exactly at the right
moment, of something they had actually seen.

Imagine all that any of these men had seen or heard in the whole course
of their lives, laid up accurately in their memories as in vast
storehouses, extending, with the poets, even to the slightest
intonations of syllables heard in the beginning of their lives, and,
with the painters, down to the minute folds of drapery, and shapes of
loaves or stones; and over all this unindexed and immeasurable mass of
treasure, the imagination brooding and wandering, but dream-gifted, so
as to summon at any moment exactly such groups of ideas as shall justly
fit each other: this I conceive to be the real nature of the imaginative
mind, and this, I believe, it would be oftener explained to us as
being, by the men themselves who possess it, but that they have no idea
what the state of other persons' minds is in comparison; they suppose
every one remembers all that he has seen in the same way, and do not
understand how it happens that they alone can produce good drawings or
great thoughts.

[Illustration: Turner.                    T. Boys.
               22. Turner's Earliest "Nottingham."]

§ 18. Whether this be the case with all inventors or not, it was
assuredly the case with Turner to such an extent that he seems never to
have lost, or cared to disturb, the impression made upon him by any
scene,--even in his earliest youth. He never seems to have gone back to
a place to look at it again, but, as he gained power, to have painted
and repainted it as first seen, associating with it certain new thoughts
or new knowledge, but never shaking the central pillar of the old image.
Several instances of this have been already given in my pamphlet on
Pre-Raphaelitism; others will be noted in the course of our
investigation of his works; one, merely for the sake of illustration, I
will give here.

§ 19. Plate +22+ is an outline of a drawing of the town and castle of
Nottingham, made by Turner for Walker's Itinerant, and engraved in that
work. The engraving (from which this outline was made, as I could not
discover the drawing itself) was published on the 28th of February,
1795, a period at which Turner was still working in a very childish way;
and the whole design of this plate is curiously stiff and commonplace.
Note, especially, the two formal little figures under the sail.

In the year 1833, an engraving of Nottingham, from a drawing by Turner,
was published by Moon, Boys, and Graves, in the England and Wales
series. Turner certainly made none of the drawings for that series long
before they were wanted; and if, therefore, we suppose the drawing to
have been made so much as three years before the publication of the
plate, it will be setting the date of it as far back as is in the
slightest degree probable. We may assume therefore (and the conclusion
is sufficiently established, also, by the style of the execution), that
there was an interval of at least thirty-five years between the making
of those two drawings,--thirty-five years, in the course of which Turner
had become, from an unpractised and feeble draughtsman, the most
accomplished artist of his age, and had entirely changed his methods of
work and his habits of feeling.

§ 20. On the page opposite to the etching of the first, I have given an
etching of the last Nottingham. The one will be found to be merely the
amplification and adornment of the other. _Every incident_ is preserved;
even the men employed about the log of wood are there, only now removed
far away (beyond the lock on the right, between it and the town), and so
lost in mist that, though made out by color in the drawing, they cannot
be made clear in the outline etching. The canal bridge and even the
stiff mast are both retained; only another boat is added, and the sail
dropped upon the higher mast is hoisted on the lower one; and the
castle, to get rid of its formality, is moved a little to the left, so
as to hide one side. But, evidently, no new sketch has been made. The
painter has returned affectionately to his boyish impression, and worked
it out with his manly power.

§ 21. How far this manly power itself acted merely in the accumulation
of memories, remains, as I said, a question undetermined; but at all
events, Turner's mind is not more, in my estimation, distinguished above
others by its demonstrably arranging and ruling faculties, than by its
demonstrably retentive and submissive faculties; and the longer I
investigate it, the more this tenderness of perception and grasp of
memory seem to me the root of its greatness. So that I am more and more
convinced of what I had to state respecting the imagination, now many
years ago, viz., that its true force lies in its marvellous insight and
foresight--that it is, instead of a false and deceptive faculty, exactly
the most accurate and truth-telling faculty which the human mind
possesses; and all the more truth-telling, because, in _its_ work, the
vanity and individualism of the man himself are crushed, and he becomes
a mere instrument or mirror, used by a higher power for the reflection
to others of a truth which no effort of his could ever have ascertained;
so that all mathematical, and arithmetical, and generally scientific
truth, is, in comparison, truth of the husk and surface, hard and
shallow; and only the imaginative truth is precious. Hence, whenever we
want to know what are the chief facts of any case, it is better not to
go to political economists, nor to mathematicians, but to the great
poets; for I find they always see more of the matter than any one else:
and in like manner those who want to know the real facts of the world's
outside aspect, will find that they cannot trust maps, nor charts, nor
any manner of mensuration; the most important facts being always quite
immeasurable, and that (with only some occasional and trifling
inconvenience, if they form too definite anticipations as to the
position of a bridge here, or a road there) the Turnerian topography is
the only one to be trusted.

[Illustration: Turner.                  T. Boys.
               23. Turner's Latest "Nottingham."]

§ 22. One or two important corollaries may be drawn from these
principles, respecting the kind of fidelity which is to be exacted from
men who have no imaginative power. It has been stated, over and over
again, that it is not _possible_ to draw the whole of nature, as in a
mirror. Certain omissions must be made, and certain conventionalities
admitted, in all art. Now it ought to be the instinctive affection of
each painter which guides him to the omissions he is to make, or signs
he is to use; and his choice of this or the other fact for
representation, his insistence upon this or the other character in his
subject, as that which to him is impressive, constitutes, when it is
earnest and simple, part of the value of his work. This is the only
inspiration he is capable of, but it is a kind of inspiration still; and
although he may not have the memory or the associative power which would
enable him to compose a subject in the Turnerian manner, he may have
certain _affections_, perfectly expressible in his work, and of which he
ought to allow the influence to be seen.[11]

§ 23. And this may especially be permitted in rapid sketching of effects
or scenes which, either in their speedy passing away, or for want of
time, it is impossible to draw faithfully. Generally, if leisure permit,
the detailed drawing of the object will be grander than any "impression
on the mind" of an unimaginative person; but if leisure do not permit, a
rapid sketch, marking forcibly the points that strike him, may often
have considerable interest in its way. The other day I sketched the
towers of the Swiss Fribourg hastily from the Hôtel de Zahringen. It was
a misty morning with broken sunshine, and the towers were seen by
flickering light through broken clouds,--dark blue mist filling the
hollow of the valley behind them. I have engraved the sketch on the
opposite page, adding a few details, and exaggerating the exaggerations;
for in drawing from nature, even at speed, I am not in the habit of
exaggerating enough to illustrate what I mean. The next day, on a clear
and calm forenoon, I daguerreotyped the towers, with the result given on
the next plate (+25+ Fig. 2); and this unexaggerated statement, with its
details properly painted, would not only be the more right, but
infinitely the grander of the two. But the first sketch nevertheless
conveys, in some respects, a truer idea of Fribourg than any other, and
has, therefore, a certain use. For instance, the wall going up behind
the main tower is seen in my drawing to bend very distinctly, following
the different slopes of the hill. In the daguerreotype this bend is
hardly perceptible. And yet the notablest thing in the town of Fribourg
is, that all its walls have got flexible spines, and creep up and down
the precipices more in the manner of cats than walls; and there is a
general sense of height, strength and grace, about its belts of tower
and rampart, which clings even to every separate and less graceful piece
of them when seen on the spot; so that the hasty sketch, expressing
this, has a certain veracity wanting altogether in the daguerreotype.

Nay, sometimes, even in the most accurate and finished topography, a
slight exaggeration may be permitted; for many of the most important
facts in nature are so subtle, that they _must_ be slightly exaggerated,
in order to be made noticeable when they are translated into the
comparatively clumsy lines of even the best drawing,[12] and removed
from the associating circumstances which enhanced their influence, or
directed attention to them, in nature.

[Illustration: 24. The Towers of Fribourg.]

[Illustration: J. Ruskin           J. H. Le Keux.
               25. Things in general.]

§ 24. Still, in all these cases, the more unconscious the
draughtsman is of the changes he is making, the better. Love will
then do its own proper work; and the only true test of good or bad is,
ultimately, strength of affection. For it does not matter with what wise
purposes, or on what wise principles, the thing is drawn; if it be not
drawn for love of it, it will never be right; and if it _be_ drawn for
love of it, it will never be wrong--love's misrepresentation being truer
than the most mathematical presentation. And although all the reasonings
about right and wrong, through which we have been led in this chapter,
could never be brought to bear on the work at the moment of doing it,
yet this test of right holds always;--if the artist is in any wise
modifying or methodizing to exhibit himself and his dexterity, his work
will, in that precise degree, be abortive; and if he is working with
hearty love of the place, earnest desire to be faithful to it, and yet
an open heart for every fancy that Heaven sends him, in that precise
degree his work will be great and good.


FOOTNOTES

  [8] Observe, what was said in the second volume respecting the
    spirit of choice as evil, refers only to young students, and to that
    choice which assumes that any common subject is not good enough, nor
    interesting enough, to be studied. But, though all is good for
    study, and all is beautiful, some is better than the rest for the
    help and pleasure of others; and this it is our duty always to
    choose, if we have opportunity, being quite happy with what is
    within our reach, if we have not.

  [9] "Couloir" is a good untranslateable Savoyard word, for a place
    down which stones and water fall in storms; it is perhaps deserving
    of naturalization.

  [10] I have just said, § 12, that if, _quitting hold_ of this
    original impression, the artist tries to compose something prettier
    than he saw, it is all over with him; but, retaining the first
    impression, he will, nevertheless, if he has invention,
    instinctively modify many lines and parts of it--possibly all parts
    of it--for the better; sometimes making them individually more
    pictorial, sometimes preventing them from interfering with each
    other's beauty. For almost all natural landscapes are redundant
    treasures of more or less confused beauty, out of which the human
    instinct of invention can by just choice arrange, not a better
    treasure, but one more fitted to human sight and emotion, infinitely
    narrower, infinitely less lovely in detail, but having this great
    virtue, that there shall be absolutely nothing which does not
    contribute to the effect of the whole; whereas in the natural
    landscape there is a redundancy which impresses only as redundance,
    and often an occurrence of marring features; not of ugliness only,
    but of ugliness _in the wrong place_. Ugliness has its proper virtue
    and use; but ugliness occurring at the wrong time (as if the negro
    servant, instead of standing behind the king, in Tintoret's picture,
    were to thrust his head in front of the noble features of his
    master) is justly to be disliked and withdrawn.

    "Why, this," exclaims the idealist, "is what _I_ have always been
    saying, and _you_ have always been denying." No; I never denied
    this. But I denied that painters in general, when they spoke of
    improving Nature, knew what Nature was. Observe: before they dare as
    much as to _dream_ of arranging her, they must be able to paint her
    as she is; nor will the most skilful arrangement ever atone for the
    slightest wilful failure in truth of representation; and I am
    continually declaiming against arrangement, not because arrangement
    is wrong, but because our present painters have for the most part
    nothing to arrange. They cannot so much as paint a weed or a post
    accurately; and yet they pretend to improve the forests and
    mountains.

  [11] For instance, even in my topographical etching, Plate 20, I
    have given only a few lines of the thousands which existed in the
    scene. Those lines are what I considered the leading ones. Another
    person might have thought other lines the leading ones, and his
    representation might be equally true as far as it went; but which of
    our representations went furthest would depend on our relative
    degrees of knowledge and feeling about hills.

  [12] Or the best photograph. The question of the exact relation of
    value between photography and good topographical drawing, I hope to
    examine in another place.



CHAPTER III.

OF TURNERIAN LIGHT.


§ 1. Having in the preceding chapter seen the grounds on which to
explain and justify Turner's _choice_ of facts, we proceed to examine
finally those modes of _representing_ them introduced by him;--modes so
utterly at variance with the received doctrines on the subject of art,
as to cause his works to be regarded with contempt, or severe blame, by
all reputed judges, at the period of their first appearance. And,
chiefly, I must confirm and farther illustrate the general statements
made respecting light and shade in the chapters on Truth of Tone,[13]
and on Infinity,[14] deduced from the great fact (§ 5. chapter on Truth
of Tone) that "nature surpasses us in power of obtaining light as much
as the sun surpasses white paper." I found that this part of the book
was not well understood, because people in general have no idea how much
the sun _does_ surpass white paper. In order to know this practically,
let the reader take a piece of pure white drawing-paper, and place it in
the position in which a drawing is usually seen. This is, properly,
upright (all drawings being supposed to be made on vertical planes), as
a picture is seen on a room wall. Also, the usual place in which
paintings or drawings are seen is at some distance from a window, with a
gentle side light falling upon them, front lights being unfavorable to
nearly all drawing. Therefore the highest light an artist can ordinarily
command for his work is that of white paint, or paper, under a gentle
side light.[15] But if we wished to get as much light as possible, and
to place the artist under the most favorable circumstances, we should
take the drawing near the window. Put therefore your white paper
upright, and take it to the window. Let _ac_, _cd_, be two sides of
your room, with a window at _bb_. Under ordinary circumstances your
picture would be hung at _e_, or in some such position on the wall _cd_.
First, therefore, put your paper upright at _e_, and then bring it
gradually to the window, in the successive positions _f_, _g_, and
(opening the window) finally at _p_. You will notice that as you come
nearer the window the light gradually _increases_ on the paper; so that
in the position at _p_ it is far better lighted than it was at _e_. If,
however, the sun actually falls upon it at _p_, the experiment is
unfair, for the picture is not meant to be seen in sunshine, and your
object is to compare pure white paper, as ordinarily used, _with_
sunshine. So either take a time when the sun does not shine at all, or
does not shine in the window where the experiment is to be tried; or
else keep the paper so far within the window that the sun may not touch
it. Then the experiment is perfectly fair, and you will find that you
have the paper at _p_ in full, serene, pictorial light, of the best
kind, and highest attainable power.

[Illustration: FIG. 2.]

§ 2. Now, leaning a little over the window sill, bring the edge of the
paper at _p_ against the sky, rather low down on the horizon (I suppose
you choose a fine day for the experiment, that the sun is high, and the
sky clear blue, down to the horizon). The moment you bring your white
paper against the sky you will be startled to find this bright white
paper suddenly appear in shade. You will draw it back, thinking you have
changed its position. But no; the paper is not in shade. It is as bright
as ever it was; brighter than under ordinary circumstances it ever can
be. But, behold, the blue sky of the horizon is far brighter. The one is
indeed blue, and the other white, but the _white_ is _darkest_,[16] and
by a great deal. And you will, though perhaps not for the first time in
your life, perceive that though black is not easily proved to be white,
white, may, under certain circumstances, be very nearly proved black, or
at all events brown.

§ 3. When this fact is first show to them, the general feeling with most
people is, that, by being brought against the sky, the white paper is
somehow or other brought "into shade." But this is not so; the paper
remains exactly as it was; it is only compared with an actually brighter
hue, and looks darker by comparison. The circumstances are precisely
like those which affect our sensations of heat and cold. If, when by
chance we have one hand warm, and another cold, we feel, with each hand,
water warmed to an intermediate degree, we shall first declare the water
to be cold, and then to be warm; but the water has a definite heat
wholly independent of our sensations, and accurately ascertainable by a
thermometer. So it is with light and shade. Looking from the bright sky
to the white paper, we affirm the white paper to be "in shade,"--that
is, it produces on us a sensation of darkness, by comparison. But the
hue of the paper, and that of the sky, are just as fixed as temperatures
are; and the sky is actually a brighter thing than white paper, by a
certain number of degrees of light, scientifically determinable. In the
same way, every other color, or force of color, is a fixed thing, not
dependent on sensation, but numerically representable with as much
exactitude as a degree of heat by a thermometer. And of these hues, that
of open sky is one not producible by human art. The sky is not blue
_color_ merely,--it is blue _fire_, and cannot be painted.

§ 4. Next, observe, this blue fire has in it _white_ fire; that is, it
has white clouds, as much brighter than itself as _it_ is brighter than
the white paper. So, then, above this azure light, we have another
equally exalted step of white light. Supposing the value of the light of
the pure white paper represented by the number 10, then that of the blue
sky will be (approximately) about 20, and of the white clouds 30.

But look at the white clouds carefully, and it will be seen they are not
all of the same white; parts of them are quite grey compared with other
parts, and they are as full of passages of light and shade as if they
were of solid earth. Nevertheless, their most deeply shaded part is
that already so much lighter than the blue sky, which has brought us up
to our number 30, and all these high lights of white are some 10 degrees
above that, or, to white paper, as 40 to 10. And now if you look from
the blue sky and white clouds towards the sun, you will find that this
cloud white, which is four times as white as white paper, is quite dark
and lightless compared with those silver clouds that burn nearer the sun
itself, which you cannot gaze upon,--an infinite of brightness. How will
you estimate that?

And yet to express all this, we have but our poor white paper after all.
We must not talk too proudly of our "truths" of art; I am afraid we
shall have to let a good deal of black fallacy into it, at the best.

§ 5. Well, of the sun, and of the silver clouds, we will not talk for
the present. But this principal fact we have learned by our experiment
with the white paper, that, taken all in all, the calm sky, with such
light and shade as are in it, is brighter than the earth; brighter than
the whitest thing on earth which has not, at the moment of comparison,
heaven's own direct light on it. Which fact it is generally one of the
first objects of noble painters to render. I have already marked one
part of their aim in doing so, namely, the expression of infinity; but
the opposing of heavenly light to earth-darkness is another most
important one; and of all ways of rendering a picture generally
impressive (see especially § 12. of the chapter just referred to), this
is the simplest and surest. Make the sky calm and luminous, and raise
against it dark trees, mountains, or towers, or any other substantial
and terrestrial thing, in bold outline, and the mind accepts the
assertion of this great and solemn truth with thankfulness.

§ 6. But this may be done either nobly or basely, as any other solemn
truth may be asserted. It may be spoken with true feeling of all that it
means; or it may be declared, as a Turk declares that "God is great,"
when he means only that he himself is lazy. The "heaven is bright," of
many vulgar painters, has precisely the same amount of signification; it
means that they know nothing--will do nothing--are without
thought--without care--without passion. They will not walk the earth,
nor watch the ways of it, nor gather the flowers of it. They will sit
in the shade, and only assert that very perceptible, long-ascertained
fact, "heaven is bright." And as it may be _asserted_ basely, so it may
be _accepted_ basely. Many of our capacities for receiving noblest
emotion are abused, in mere idleness, for pleasure's sake, and people
take the excitement of a solemn sensation as they do that of a strong
drink. Thus the abandoned court of Louis XIV. had on fast days its
sacred concerts, doubtless entering in some degree into the religious
expression of the music, and thus idle and frivolous women at the
present day will weep at an oratorio. So the sublimest effects of
landscape may be sought through mere indolence; and even those who are
not ignorant, or dull, judge often erroneously of such effects of art,
because their very openness to all pleasant and sacred association
instantly colors whatever they see, so that, give them but the feeblest
shadow of a thing they love, they are instantly touched by it to the
heart, and mistake their own pleasurable feeling for the result of the
painter's power. Thus when, by spotting and splashing, such a painter as
Constable reminds them somewhat of wet grass and green leaves, forthwith
they fancy themselves in all the happiness of a meadow walk; and when
Gaspar Poussin throws out his yellow horizon with black hills, forthwith
they are touched as by the solemnity of a real Italian twilight,
altogether forgetting that wet grass and twilight do not constitute the
universe; and prevented by their joy at being pleasantly cool, or
gravely warm, from seeking any of those more precious truths which
cannot be caught by momentary sensation, but must be thoughtfully
pursued.

§ 7. I say "more precious," for the simple fact that the sky is brighter
than the earth is _not_ a precious truth unless the earth itself be
first understood. Despise the earth, or slander it; fix your eyes on its
gloom, and forget its loveliness; and we do not thank you for your
languid or despairing perception of brightness in heaven. But rise up
actively on the earth,--learn what there is in it, know its color and
form, and the full measure and make of it, and if _after that_ you can
say "heaven is bright," it will be a precious truth, but not till then.
Giovanni Bellini knows the earth well, paints it to the full, and to the
smallest fig-leaf and falling flower,--blue hill and white-walled
city,--glittering robe and golden hair; to each he will give its lustre
and loveliness; and then, so far as with his poor human lips he may
declare it, far beyond all these, he proclaims that "heaven is bright."
But Gaspar, and such other landscapists, painting all Nature's flowery
ground as one barrenness, and all her fair foliage as one blackness, and
all her exquisite forms as one bluntness; when, in this sluggard gloom
and sullen treachery of heart, they mutter their miserable attestation
to what others had long ago discerned for them,--the sky's
brightness,--we do not thank them; or thank them only in so far as, even
in uttering this last remnant of truth, they are more commendable than
those who have sunk from apathy to atheism, and declare, in their dark
and hopeless backgrounds, that heaven is NOT bright.

§ 8. Let us next ascertain what are the colors of the earth itself.

A mountain five or six miles off, in a sunny summer morning in
Switzerland, will commonly present itself in some such pitch of dark
force, as related to the sky, as that shown in Fig. 4. Plate +25+, while
the sky itself will still, if there are white clouds in it, tell as a
clear dark, throwing out those white clouds in vigorous relief of light;
yet, conduct the experiment of the white paper as already described, and
you will, in all probability, find that the darkest part of the
mountain--its most vigorous nook of almost black-looking shadow--_is
whiter than the paper_.

The figure given represents the _apparent_ color[17] of the top of the
Aiguille Bouchard (the mountain which is seen from the village of
Chamouni, on the other side of the Glacier des Bois), distant, by
Forbes's map, a furlong or two less than four miles in a direct line
from the point of observation. The observation was made on a warm sunny
morning, about eleven o'clock, the sky clear blue; the mountain seen
against it, its shadows grey purple, and its sunlit parts greenish. Then
the darkest part of the mountain was _lighter than pure white paper_,
held upright in full light at the window, parallel to the direction in
which the light entered. And it will thus generally be found impossible
to represent, in any of its _true_ colors, scenery distant more than two
or three miles, in full daylight. The deepest shadows are whiter than
white paper.

§ 9. As, however, we pass to nearer objects, true representation
gradually becomes possible;--to what degree is always of course
ascertainable accurately by the same mode of experiment. Bring the edge
of the paper against the thing to be drawn, and on that edge--as
precisely as a lady would match the colors of two pieces of a
dress--match the color of the landscape (with a little opaque white
mixed in the tints you use, so as to render it easy to lighten or darken
them). Take care not to imitate the tint as you believe it to be, but
accurately as it is; so that the colored edge of the paper shall not be
discernible from the color of the landscape. You will then find (if
before inexperienced) that shadows of trees, which you thought were dark
green or black, are pale violets and purples; that lights, which you
thought were green, are intensely yellow, brown, or golden, and most of
them far too bright to be matched at all. When you have got all the
imitable hues truly matched, sketch the masses of the landscape out
completely in those true and ascertained colors; and you will find, to
your amazement, that you have painted it in the colors of Turner,--in
those very colors which perhaps you have been laughing at all your
life,--the fact being that he, and he alone, of all men, _ever painted
Nature in her own colors_.

§ 10. "Well, but," you will answer, impatiently, "how is it, if they are
the true colors, that they look so unnatural?"

Because they are not shown in true contrast to the sky, and to other
high lights. Nature paints her shadows in pale purple, and then raises
her lights of heaven and sunshine to such height that the pale purple
becomes, by comparison, a vigorous dark. But poor Turner has no sun at
his command to oppose his pale colors. He follows Nature submissively as
far as he can; puts pale purple where she does, bright gold where she
does; and then when, on the summit of the slope of light, she opens her
wings and quits the earth altogether, burning into ineffable sunshine,
what can he do but sit helpless, stretching his hands towards her in
calm consent, as she leaves him and mocks at him!

§ 11. "Well," but you will farther ask, "is this right or wise? ought
not the contrast between the masses be given, rather than the actual
hues of a few parts of them, when the others are inimitable?"

Yes, if this _were_ possible, it ought to be done; but the true
contrasts can NEVER be given. The whole question is simply whether you
will be false at one side of the scale or at the other,--that is,
whether you will lose yourself in light or in darkness. This necessity
is easily expressible in numbers. Suppose the utmost light you wish to
imitate is that of serene, feebly lighted, clouds in ordinary sky (not
sun or stars, which it is, of course, impossible deceptively to imitate
in painting by any artifice). Then, suppose the degrees of shadow
between those clouds and Nature's utmost darkness accurately measured,
and divided into a hundred degrees (darkness being zero). Next we
measure our own scale, calling our utmost possible black, zero;[18] and
we shall be able to keep parallel with Nature, perhaps up to as far as
her 40 degrees; all above that being whiter than our white paper. Well,
with our power of contrast between zero and 40, we have to imitate her
contrasts between zero and 100. Now, if we want true contrasts, we can
first set our 40 to represent her 100, our 20 for her 80, and our zero
for her 60; everything below her 60 being lost in blackness. This is,
with certain modifications, Rembrandt's system. Or, secondly, we can put
zero for her zero, 20 for her 20, and 40 for her 40; everything above 40
being lost in _white_ness. This is, with certain modifications, Paul
Veronese's system. Or, finally, we can put our zero for her zero, and
our 40 for her 100; our 20 for her 50, our 30 for her 75, and our ten
for her 25, proportioning the intermediate contrasts accordingly. This
is, with certain modifications, Turner's system;[19] the modifications,
in each case, being the adoption, to a certain extent, of either of the
other systems. Thus, Turner inclines to Paul Veronese; liking, as far as
possible, to get his hues perfectly true up to a certain point,--that is
to say, to let his zero stand for Nature's zero, and his 10 for her 10,
and his 20 for her 20, and then to expand towards the light by quick but
cunning steps, putting 27 for 50, 30 for 70, and reserving some force
still for the last 90 to 100. So Rembrandt modifies his system on the
other side, putting his 40 for 100, his 30 for 90, his 20 for 80; then
going subtly downwards, 10 for 50, 5 for 30; nearly everything between
30 and zero being lost in gloom, yet so as still to reserve his zero for
zero. The systems expressed in tabular form will stand thus:--

  NATURE.    REMBRANDT.   TURNER.    VERONESE.

     0           0           0           0
    10           1          10          10
    20           3          20          20
    30           5          24          30
    40           7          26          32
    50          10          27          34
    60          13          28          36
    70          17          30          37
    80          20          32          38
    90          30          36          39
   100          40          40          40

§ 12. Now it is evident that in Rembrandt's system, while the
_contrasts_ are not more right than with Veronese, the _colors_ are all
wrong, from beginning to end. With Turner and Veronese, Nature's 10 is
their 10, and Nature's 20 their 20; enabling them to give pure truth up
to a certain point. But with Rembrandt _not one color_ is absolutely
true, from one side of the scale to the other; only the contrasts are
true at the top of the scale. Of course, this supposes Rembrandt's
system applied to a subject which shall try it to the utmost, such as
landscape. Rembrandt generally chose subjects in which the real colors
were very nearly imitable,--as single heads with dark backgrounds, in
which Nature's highest light was little above his own; her 40 being then
truly representable by his 40, his picture became nearly an absolute
truth. But his system is only right when applied to such subjects:
clearly, when we have the full scale of natural light to deal with,
Turner's and Veronese's convey the greatest sum of truth. But not the
most complete deception, for people are so much more easily and
instinctively impressed by force of light than truth of color, that they
instantly miss the relative power of the sky, and the upper tones; and
all the true local coloring looks strange to them, separated from its
adjuncts of high light; whereas, give them the true contrast of light,
and they will not observe the false local color. Thus all Gaspar
Poussin's and Salvator's pictures, and all effects obtained by leaving
high lights in the midst of exaggerated darkness, catch the eye, and are
received for true, while the pure truth of Veronese and Turner is
rejected as unnatural; only not so much in Veronese's case as in
Turner's, because Veronese confines himself to more imitable things, as
draperies, figures, and architecture, in which his exquisite truth at
the bottom of the scale tells on the eye at once; but Turner works a
good deal also (see the table) at the _top_ of the natural scale,
dealing with effects of sunlight and other phases of the upper colors,
more or less inimitable, and betraying therefore, more or less, the
artifices used to express them. It will be observed, also, that in order
to reserve some force for the top of his scale, Turner is obliged to
miss his gradations chiefly in middle tints (see the table), where the
feebleness is sure to be felt. His principal point for missing the
midmost gradations is almost always between the earth and sky; he draws
the earth truly as far as he can, to the horizon; then the sky as far as
he can, with his 30 to 40 part of the scale. They run together at the
horizon; and the spectator complains that there is no distinction
between earth and sky, or that the earth does not _look solid enough_.

§ 13. In the upper portions of the three pillars 5, 6, 7, Plate +25+,
are typically represented these three conditions of light and shade,
characteristic, 5, of Rembrandt, 6, of Turner, and 7, of Veronese. The
pillar to be drawn is supposed, in all the three cases, white; Rembrandt
represents it as white on its highest light; and, getting the true
gradations between this highest light and extreme dark, is reduced to
his zero, or black, for the dark side of the white object. This first
pillar also represents the system of Leonardo da Vinci. In the room of
the Louvre appropriated to Italian drawings is a study of a piece of
drapery by Leonardo. Its lights are touched with the finest white
chalk, and its shadows wrought, through exquisite gradations, to utter
blackness. The pillar 6 is drawn on the system of Turner; the high point
of light is still distinct: but even the darkest part of the shaft is
kept pale, and the gradations which give the roundness are wrought out
with the utmost possible delicacy. The third shaft is drawn on
Veronese's system. The light, though still focused, is more diffused
than with Turner; and a slight flatness results from the determination
that the fact of the shaft's being _white_ shall be discerned more
clearly even than that it is round; and that its darkest part shall
still be capable of brilliant relief, as a white mass, from other
objects round it.

§ 14. This resolution, on Veronese's part, is owing to the profound
respect for the _colors_ of objects which necessarily influenced him, as
the colorist at once the most brilliant and the most tender of all
painters of the elder schools; and it is necessary for us briefly to
note the way in which this greater or less respect for local color
influences the system of the three painters in light and shade.

Take the whitest piece of note-paper you can find, put a blot of ink
upon it, carry it into the sunshine, and hold it fully fronting the
sunshine, so as to make the paper look as dazzling as possible, but not
to let the wet blot of ink _shine_. You will then find the ink look
_intensely_ black,--blacker, in fact, than any where else, owing to its
vigorous contrast with the dazzling paper.

Remove the paper from the sunshine. The ink will not look so black.
Carry the paper gradually into the darkest part of the room, and the
contrast will as gradually appear to diminish; and, of course, in
darkness, the distinction between the black and the white vanishes. Wet
ink is as perfect a representative as is by any means attainable of a
perfectly dark color; that is, of one which absorbs all the light that
falls on it; and the nature of such a color is best understood by
considering it as a piece of portable night. Now, of course, the higher
you raise the daylight about this bit of night, the more vigorous is the
contrast between the two. And, therefore, as a general rule, the higher
you raise the light on any object with a pattern or stain upon it, the
more distinctly that pattern or stain is seen. But observe: the
distinction between the full black of ink, and full white of paper, is
the utmost reach of light and dark possible to art. Therefore, if this
contrast is to be represented truly, no deeper black can ever be given
in any shadow than that offered at once; as local color, in a full black
pattern, on the highest light. And, where color is the principal object
of the picture, that color must, at all events, be as right as possible
_where it is best seen_, i.e. in the lights. Hence the principle of Paul
Veronese, and of all the great Venetian colorists, is to use full black
for full black in high light, letting the shadow shift for itself as
best it may; and sometimes even putting the local black a little darker
in light than shadow, in order to give the more vigorous contrast noted
above. Let the pillars in Plate +25+ be supposed to have a black mosaic
pattern on the lower part of their shafts. Paul Veronese's general
practice will be, as at 7, having marked the rounding of the shaft as
well as he can in the white parts, to paint the pattern with one even
black over all, reinforcing it, if at all, a little in the _light_.

§ 15. Repeat the experiment on the note-paper with a red spot of carmine
instead of ink. You will now find that the contrast in the sunshine
appears about the same as in the shade--the red and white rising and
falling together, and dying away together into the darkness. The fact,
however, is, that the contrast does actually for some time increase
towards the light; for in utter darkness the distinction is not
visible--the red cannot be distinguished from the white; admit a little
light, and the contrast is feebly discernible; admit more, it is
distinctly discernible. But you cannot increase the contrast beyond a
certain point. From that point the red and white for some time rise very
nearly equally in light, or fall together very nearly equally in shade;
but the contrast will begin to _diminish_ in very high lights, for
strong sunlight has a tendency to exhibit particles of dust, or any
sparkling texture in the local color, and then to diminish its power; so
that in order to see local color well, a certain degree of shadow is
necessary: for instance, a very delicate complexion is not well seen in
the sun; and the veins of a marble pillar, or the colors of a picture,
can only be properly seen in comparative shade.

§ 16. I will not entangle the reader in the very subtle and curious
variations of the laws in this matter. The simple fact which is
_necessary_ for him to observe is, that the paler and purer the color,
the more the great Venetian colorists will reinforce it in the shadow,
and allow it to fall or rise in sympathy with the light; and those
especially whose object it is to represent sunshine, nearly always
reinforce their local colors somewhat in the shadows, and keep them both
fainter and feebler in the light, so that they thus approach a condition
of universal glow, the full color being used for the shadow, and a
delicate and somewhat subdued hue of it for the light. And this to the
eye is the loveliest possible condition of color. Perhaps few people
have ever asked themselves why they admire a rose so much more than all
other flowers. If they consider, they will find, first, that red is, in
a delicately gradated state, the loveliest of all pure colors; and
secondly, that in the rose there is _no shadow_, except what is composed
of color. All its shadows are fuller in color than its lights, owing to
the translucency and reflective power of its leaves.

The second shaft, 6, in which the local color is paler towards the
light, and reinforced in the shadow, will therefore represent the
Venetian system with respect to paler colors, and the system, for the
most part, even with respect to darker colors, of painters who attempt
to render effects of strong sunlight. Generally, therefore, it
represents the practice of Turner. The first shaft, 5, exhibits the
disadvantage of the practice of Rembrandt and Leonardo, in that they
cannot show the local color on the dark side, since, however energetic,
it must at last sink into their exaggerated darkness.

§ 17. Now, from all the preceding inquiry, the reader must perceive more
and more distinctly the great truth, that all forms of right art consist
in a certain _choice_ made between various classes of truths, a few only
being represented, and others necessarily excluded; and that the
excellence of each style depends first on its consistency with
itself,--the perfect fidelity, as far as possible, to the truths it has
chosen; and secondly, on the breadth of its harmony, or number of truths
it has been able to reconcile, and the consciousness with which the
truths refused are acknowledged, even though they may not be
represented. A great artist is just like a wise and hospitable man with
a small house: the large companies of truths, like guests, are waiting
his invitation; he wisely chooses from among this crowd the guests who
will be happiest with each other, making those whom he receives
thoroughly comfortable, and kindly remembering even those whom he
excludes; while the foolish host, trying to receive all, leaves a large
part of his company on the staircase, without even knowing who is there,
and destroys, by inconsistent fellowship, the pleasure of those who gain
entrance.

§ 18. But even those hosts who choose well will be farther distinguished
from each other by their choice of nobler or inferior companies; and we
find the greatest artists mainly divided into two groups,--those who
paint principally with respect to local color, headed by Paul Veronese,
Titian, and Turner; and those who paint principally with reference to
light and shade irrespective of color, headed by Leonardo da Vinci,
Rembrandt, and Raphael. The noblest members of each of these classes
introduce the element proper to the other class, in a subordinate way.
Paul Veronese introduces a subordinate light and shade, and Leonardo
introduces a subordinate local color. The main difference is, that with
Leonardo, Rembrandt, and Raphael, vast masses of the picture are lost in
comparatively colorless (dark, grey, or brown) shadow; these painters
_beginning_ with the _lights_, and going _down_ to blackness; but with
Veronese, Titian, and Turner, the whole picture is like the
rose,--glowing with color in the shadows, and rising into paler and more
delicate hues, or masses of whiteness, in the lights; they having
_begun_ with the _shadows_, and gone up _to_ whiteness.

§ 19. The colorists have in this respect one disadvantage, and three
advantages. The disadvantage is, that between their less violent hues,
it is not possible to draw all the forms which can be represented by the
exaggerated shadow of the chiaroscurists, and therefore a slight
tendency to flatness is always characteristic of the greater colorists,
as opposed to Leonardo or Rembrandt. When the form of some single object
is to be given, and its subtleties are to be rendered to the utmost, the
Leonardesque manner of drawing is often very noble. It is generally
adopted by Albert Durer in his engravings, and is very useful, when
employed by a thorough master, in many kinds of engraving;[20] but it is
an utterly false method of _study_, as we shall see presently.

§ 20. Of the three advantages possessed by the colorists over the
chiaroscurists, the first is, that they have in the greater portions of
their pictures _absolute_ truth, as shown above, § 12, while the
chiaroscurists have no absolute truth anywhere. With the colorists the
shadows are right; the lights untrue: but with the chiaroscurists lights
and shadows are both untrue. The second advantage is, that also the
_relations_ of color are broader and vaster with the colorists than the
chiaroscurists. Take, for example, that piece of drapery studied by
Leonardo, in the Louvre, with white lights and black shadows. Ask
yourself, first, whether the real drapery was black or white. If white,
then its high lights are rightly white; but its folds being black, it
could not _as a mass_ be distinguished from the black or dark objects in
its neighborhood. But the fact is, that a white cloth or handkerchief
always is distinguished in daylight, as a _whole white thing_, from all
that is colored about it: we see at once that there is a white piece of
stuff, and a red, or green, or grey one near it, as the case may be: and
this relation of the white object to other objects _not_ white, Leonardo
has wholly deprived himself of the power of expressing; while, if the
cloth were black or dark, much more has he erred by making its lights
white. In either case, he has missed the large relation of mass to mass,
for the sake of the small one of fold to fold. And this is more or less
the case with all chiaroscurists; with all painters, that is to say, who
endeavor in their studies of objects to get rid of the idea of color,
and give the abstract shade. They invariably exaggerate the shadows, not
with respect to the thing itself, but with respect to all around it; and
they exaggerate the lights also, by leaving pure white for the high
light of what in reality is grey, rose-colored, or, in some way, not
white.

§ 21. This method of study, being peculiarly characteristic of the Roman
and Florentine schools, and associated with very accurate knowledge of
form and expression, has gradually got to be thought by a large body of
artists the _grand_ way of study; an idea which has been fostered all
the more because it was an unnatural way, and therefore thought to be a
philosophical one. Almost the first idea of a child, or of a simple
person looking at anything, is, that it is a red, or a black, or a
green, or a white thing. Nay, say the artists; that is an
unphilosophical and barbarous view of the matter. Red and white are mere
vulgar appearances; look farther into the matter, and you will see such
and such wonderful other appearances. Abstract those, _they_ are the
heroic, epic, historic, and generally eligible appearances. And acting
on this grand principle, they draw flesh white, leaves white, ground
white, everything white in the light, and everything black in the
shade--and think themselves wise. But, the longer I live, the more
ground I see to hold in high honor a certain sort of childishness or
innocent susceptibility. Generally speaking, I find that when we first
look at a subject, we get a glimpse of some of the greatest truths about
it: as we look longer, our vanity, and false reasoning, and
half-knowledge, lead us into various wrong opinions; but as we look
longer still, we gradually return to our first impressions, only with a
full understanding of their mystical and innermost reasons; and of much
beyond and beside them, not then known to us, now added (partly as a
foundation, partly as a corollary) to what at first we felt or saw. It
is thus eminently in this matter of color. Lay your hand over the page
of this book,--any child or simple person looking at the hand and book,
would perceive, as the main fact of the matter, that a brownish pink
thing was laid over a white one. The grand artist comes and tells you
that your hand is not pink, and your paper is not white. He shades your
fingers and shades your book, and makes you see all manner of starting
veins, and projecting muscles, and black hollows, where before you saw
nothing but paper and fingers. But go a little farther, and you will get
more innocent again; you will find that, when "science has done its
worst, two and two still make four;" and that the main and most
important facts about your hand, so seen, are, after all, that it has
four fingers and a thumb--showing as brownish pink things on white
paper.

§ 22. I have also been more and more convinced, the more I think of it,
that in general _pride is at the bottom of all great mistakes_. All the
other passions do occasional good, but whenever pride puts in _its_
word, everything goes wrong, and what it might really be desirable to
do, quietly and innocently, it is mortally dangerous to do, proudly.
Thus, while it is very often good for the artist to make _studies_ of
things, for the sake of knowing their forms, with their high lights all
white, the moment he does this in a haughty way, and thinks himself
drawing in the great style, because he leaves high lights white, it is
all over with him; and half the degradation of art in modern times has
been owing to endeavors, much fostered by the metaphysical Germans, to
see things without color, as if color were a vulgar thing, the result
being, in most students, that they end by not being able to see anything
at all; whereas the true and perfect way of studying any object is
simply to look what its color is in high light, and put that safely
down, if possible; or, if you are making a chiaroscuro study, to take
the grey answering to that color, and cover the _whole_ object at once
with that grey, firmly resolving that no part of it shall be brighter
than that; then look for the darkest part of it, and if, as is probable,
its darkest part be still a great deal lighter than black, or than other
things about it, assume a given shade, as dark as, with due reference to
other things, you can have it, but no darker. Mark that for your extreme
dark on the object, and between those limits get as much drawing as you
can, by subtlety of gradation. That will tax your powers of drawing
indeed; and you will find this, which seems a childish and simple way of
going to work, requires verily a thousandfold more power to carry out
than all the pseudo-scientific abstractions that ever were invented.

§ 23. Nor can it long be doubted that it is also the most impressive way
to others; for the third great advantage possessed by the colorists is,
that the delightfulness of their picture, its sacredness, and general
nobleness, are increased exactly in proportion to the quantity of light
and of lovely color they can introduce in _the shadows_, as opposed to
the black and grey of the chiaroscurists. I have already, in the Stones
of Venice, vol. ii. chap. v., insisted upon the fact of the sacredness of
color, and its necessary connection with all pure and noble feeling. What
we have seen of the use of color by the poets will help to confirm this
truth; but perhaps I have not yet enough insisted on the simplest and
readiest to hand of all proofs,--the way, namely, in which God has
employed color in His creation as the unvarying accompaniment of all that
is purest, most innocent, and most precious; while for things precious
only in material uses, or dangerous, common colors are reserved. Consider
for a little while what sort of a world it would be if all flowers were
grey, all leaves black, and the sky _brown_. Imagine that, as completely
as may be, and consider whether you would think the world any whit more
sacred for being thus transfigured into the hues of the shadows in
Raphael's Transfiguration. Then observe how constantly innocent things
are bright in color; look at a dove's neck, and compare it with the grey
back of a viper; I have often heard talk of brilliantly colored serpents;
and I suppose there are such,--as there are gay poisons, like the
foxglove and kalmia--types of deceit; but all the venomous serpents I
have really _seen_ are grey, brick-red, or brown, variously mottled; and
the most awful serpent I have seen, the Egyptian asp, is precisely of the
color of gravel, or only a little greyer. So, again, the crocodile and
alligator are grey, but the innocent lizard green and beautiful. I do not
mean that the rule is invariable, otherwise it would be more convincing
than the lessons of the natural universe are intended ever to be; there
are beautiful colors on the leopard and tiger, and in the berries of the
night-shade; and there is nothing very notable in brilliancy of color
either in sheep or cattle (though, by the way, the velvet of a brown
bull's hide in the sun, or the tawny white of the Italian oxen, is, to my
mind, lovelier than any leopard's or tiger's skin); but take a wider view
of nature, and compare generally rainbows, sunrises, roses, violets,
butterflies, birds, gold-fish, rubies, opals, and corals, with
alligators, hippopotami, lions, wolves, bears, swine, sharks, slugs,
bones, fungi,[21] frogs, and corrupting, stinging, destroying things in
general, and you will feel then how the question stands between the
colorists and chiaroscurists,--which of them have nature and life on
their side, and which have sin and death.

§ 24. Finally: the ascertainment of the sanctity of color is not left to
human sagacity. It is distinctly stated in Scripture. I have before
alluded to the sacred chord of color (blue, purple, and scarlet, with
white and gold) as appointed in the Tabernacle; this chord is the fixed
base of all coloring with the workmen of every great age; the purple and
scarlet will be found constantly employed by noble painters, in various
unison, to the exclusion in general of pure crimson;--it is the harmony
described by Herodotus as used in the battlements of Ecbatana, and the
invariable base of all beautiful missal-painting; the mistake
continually made by modern restorers, in supposing the purple to be a
faded crimson, and substituting full crimson for it, being instantly
fatal to the whole work, as, indeed, the slightest modification of any
hue in a perfect color-harmony must always be.[22] In this chord the
scarlet is the powerful color, and is on the whole the most perfect
representation of abstract color which exists; blue being in a certain
degree associated with shade, yellow with light, and scarlet, as
absolute _color_, standing alone. Accordingly, we find it used, together
with cedar wood, hyssop, and running water, as an emblem of
purification, in Leviticus xiv. 4, and other places, and so used not
merely as the representative of the color of blood, since it was also to
be dipped in the actual blood of a living bird. So that the cedar wood
for its perfume, the hyssop for its searchingness, the water for its
cleansing, and the scarlet for its kindling or enlightening, are all
used as tokens of sanctification;[23] and it cannot be with any force
alleged, in opposition to this definite appointment, that scarlet is
used incidentally to illustrate the stain of sin,--"though thy sins be
as scarlet,"--any more than it could be received as a diminution of the
authority for using snow-whiteness as a type of purity, that Gehazi's
leprosy is described as being as "white as snow." An incidental image
has no authoritative meaning, but a stated ceremonial appointment has;
besides, we have the reversed image given distinctly in Prov. xxxi.:
"She is not afraid of the snow for her household, for all her household
are clothed with _scarlet_." And, again: "Ye daughters of Israel, weep
over Saul, who clothed you in scarlet, with other delights." So, also,
the arraying of the mystic Babylon in purple and scarlet may be
interpreted exactly as we choose; either, by those who think color
sensual, as an image of earthly pomp and guilt, or, by those who think
it sacred, as an image of assumed or pretended sanctity. It is possible
the two meanings may be blended, and the idea may be that the purple and
fine linen of Dives are worn in hypocritical semblance of the purple and
fine linen of the high priest, being, nevertheless, themselves, in all
cases typical of all beauty and purity. I hope, however, to be able some
day to enter farther into these questions with respect to the art of
illumination; meantime, the facts bearing on our immediate subject may
be briefly recapitulated. All men, completely organized and justly
tempered, enjoy color; it is meant for the perpetual comfort and delight
of the human heart; it is richly bestowed on the highest works of
creation, and the eminent sign and seal of perfection in them; being
associated with _life_ in the human body, with _light_ in the sky, with
_purity_ and hardness in the earth,--death, night, and pollution of all
kinds being colorless. And although if form and color be brought into
complete opposition,[24] so that it should be put to us as a matter of
stern choice whether we should have a work of art all of form, without
color (as an Albert Durer's engraving), or all of color, without form
(as an imitation of mother-of-pearl), form is beyond all comparison the
more precious of the two; and in explaining the essence of objects, form
is essential, and color more or less accidental (compare Chap. v. of the
first section of Vol. I.); yet if color be introduced at all, it is
necessary that, whatever else may be wrong, _that_ should be right; just
as, though the music of a song may not be so essential to its influence
as the meaning of the words, yet if the music be given at all, _it_ must
be right, or its discord will spoil the words; and it would be better,
of the two, that the words should be indistinct, than the notes false.
Hence, as I have said elsewhere, the business of a painter is to paint.
If he can color, he is a painter, though he can do nothing else; if he
cannot color, he is no painter, though he may do everything else. But it
is, in fact, impossible, if he can color, but that he should be able to
do more; for a faithful study of color will always give power over form,
though the most intense study of form will give no power over color. The
man who can see all the greys, and reds, and purples in a peach, will
paint the peach rightly round, and rightly altogether; but the man who
has only studied its roundness, may not see its purples and greys, and
if he does not, will never get it to look like a peach; so that great
power over color is always a sign of large general art-intellect.
Expression of the most subtle kind can be often reached by the slight
studies of caricaturists;[25] sometimes elaborated by the toil of the
dull, and sometimes by the sentiment of the feeble, but to color well
requires real talent and earnest study, and to color perfectly is the
rarest and most precious power an artist can possess. Every other gift
may be erroneously cultivated, but this will guide to all healthy,
natural, and forcible truth; the student may be led into folly by
philosophers, and into falsehood by purists; but he is always safe if he
holds the hand of a colorist.


FOOTNOTES

  [13] Part II. Sec. II. Chap I.

  [14] Part III. Sec. I. Chap. V.

  [15] Light from above is the same thing with reference to our
    present inquiry.

  [16] For which reason, I said in the Appendix to the third volume,
    that the expression "finite realization of infinity" was a
    considerably less rational one than "black realization of white."

  [17] The _color_, but not the form. I wanted the contour of the top
    of the Breven for reference in another place, and have therefore
    given it instead of that of the Bouchard, but in the proper depth of
    tint.

  [18] Even here we shall be defeated by Nature, her utmost darkness
    being deeper than ours. See Part II. Sec. II. Chap. I. § 4-7. etc.

  [19] When the clouds are brilliantly lighted, it may rather be, as
    stated in § 4. above, in the proportion of 160 to 40. I take the
    number 100 as more calculable.

  [20] It is often extremely difficult to distinguish properly between
    the Leonardesque manner, in which local color is denied altogether,
    and the Turneresque, in which local color at its highest point in
    the picture is merged in whiteness. Thus, Albert Durer's noble
    "Melancholia" is entirely Leonardesque; the leaves on her head, her
    flesh, her wings, her dress, the wolf, the wooden ball, and the
    rainbow, being all equally white on the high lights. But my drawing
    of leaves, facing page 120, Vol. III., is Turneresque; because,
    though I leave pure white to represent the pale green of leaves and
    grass in high light, I give definite increase of darkness to four of
    the bramble leaves, which, in reality, were purple, and leave a dark
    withered stalk nearly black, though it is in light, where it crosses
    the leaf in the centre. These distinctions could only be properly
    explained by a lengthy series of examples; which I hope to give some
    day or other, but have not space for here.

  [21] It is notable, however, that nearly all the poisonous agarics
    are scarlet or speckled, and wholesome ones brown or gray, as if to
    show us that things rising out of darkness and decay are always most
    deadly when they are well drest.

  [22] Hence the intense absurdity of endeavoring to "restore" the
    color of ancient buildings by the hands of ignorant colorists, as at
    the Crystal Palace.

  [23] The redeemed Rahab bound for a sign a _scarlet_ thread in the
    window. Compare Canticles iv. 3.

  [24] The inconsistency between perfections of color and form, which
    I have had to insist upon in other places, is exactly like that
    between articulation and harmony. We cannot have the richest harmony
    with the sharpest and most audible articulation of words: yet good
    singers will articulate clearly: and the perfect study of the
    science of music will conduct to a fine articulation; but the study
    of pronunciation will not conduct to, nor involve, that of harmony.
    So, also, though, as said farther on, _subtle_ expression can be got
    without color, perfect expression never can; for the color of the
    face is a part of its expression. How often has that scene between
    Francesca di Rimini and her lover been vainly attempted by
    sculptors, simply because they did not observe that the main note of
    expression in it was in the fair sheet-lightning--fading and flaming
    through the cloud of passion!

      Per più flate gli occhi ci sospinse
      Quella lettura, _e scolorocci il viso_.

    And, of course, in landscape, color is the principal source of
    expression. Take one melancholy chord from the close of Crabbe's
    Patron:

      "Cold grew the foggy morn; the day was brief,
       Loose on the cherry hung the crimson leaf.
       The dew dwelt ever on the herb; the woods
       Roared with strong blasts; with mighty showers, the floods
       All green was vanished, save of pine and yew
       That still displayed their melancholy hue;
       Save the green holly, with its berries red
       And the green moss that o'er the gravel spread."

  [25] See Appendix 1. Modern Grotesque.



CHAPTER IV.

OF TURNERIAN MYSTERY:--FIRST, AS ESSENTIAL.


§ 1. In the preceding chapters we have shown the nature of Turner's art;
first, as respected sympathy with his subject; next, as respected
fidelity in local detail; and thirdly, as respected principles of color.
We have now finally to confirm what in various places has been said
respecting his principles of _delineation_, or that mysterious and
apparently uncertain execution by which he is distinguished from most
other painters.

In Chap. III. § 17 of the preceding volume we concluded generally that
all great drawing was _distinct_ drawing; but with reference,
nevertheless, to a certain sort of indistinctness, necessary to the
highest art, and afterwards to be explained. And the inquiry into this
seeming contradiction has, I trust, been made somewhat more interesting
by what we saw respecting modern art in the fourth paragraph of Chap.
XVI., namely, that it was distinguished from old art eminently by
_in_distinctness, and by its idle omission of details for the sake of
general effect. Perhaps also, of all modern artists, Turner is the one
to whom most people would first look as the great representative of this
nineteenth century cloudiness, and "ingenious speaking concerning
smoke;" every one of his compositions being evidently dictated by a
delight in seeing only a part of things rather than the whole, and in
casting clouds and mist around them rather than unveiling them.

§ 2. And as the head of modern mystery, all the ranks of the best
ancient, and of even a very important and notable division of modern
authority, seem to be arrayed against him. As we saw in preceding
chapters, every great man was definite until the seventeenth century.
John Bellini, Leonardo, Angelico, Durer, Perugino, Raphael,--all of them
hated fog, and repudiated indignantly all manner of concealment. Clear,
calm, placid, perpetual vision, far and near; endless perspicuity of
space; unfatigued veracity of eternal light; perfectly accurate
delineation of every leaf on the trees, every flower in the fields,
every golden thread in the dresses of the figures, up to the highest
point of calm brilliancy which was penetrable to the eye, or possible to
the pencil,--these were their glory. On the other--the entirely
mysterious--side, we have only sullen and sombre Rembrandt; desperate
Salvator; filmy, futile Claude; occasionally some countenance from
Correggio and Titian, and a careless condescension or two from
Tintoret,[26]--not by any means a balanced weight of authority. Then,
even in modern times, putting Turner (who is at present the prisoner at
the bar) out of the question, we have, in landscape, Stanfield and
Harding as definers, against Copley Fielding and Robson on the side of
the clouds;[27] Mulready and Wilkie against Etty,--even Etty being not
so much misty in conception as vague in execution, and not, therefore,
quite legitimately to be claimed on the foggy side; while, finally, the
whole body of the Pre-Raphaelites--certainly the greatest men, taken as
a class, whom modern Europe has produced in concernment with the
arts--entirely agree with the elder religious painters, and do, to their
utmost, dwell in an element of light and declaration, in antagonism to
all mist and deception. Truly, the clouds seem to be getting much the
worst of it; and I feel, for the moment, as if nothing could be said for
them. However, having been myself long a cloud-worshipper, and passed
many hours of life in the pursuit of them from crag to crag, I must
consider what can possibly be submitted in their defence, and in
Turner's.

§ 3. The first and principal thing to be submitted is, that the clouds
_are there_. Whether we like them or not, it is a fact that by far the
largest spaces of the habitable world are full of them. That is Nature's
will in the matter; and whatever we may theoretically determine to be
expedient or beautiful, she has long ago determined what shall _be_. We
may declare that clear horizons and blue skies form the most exalted
scenery; but for all that, the bed of the river in the morning will
still be traced by its line of white mist, and the mountain peaks will
be seen at evening only in the rents between their blue fragments of
towering cloud. Thus it is, and that so constantly, that it is
impossible to become a faithful landscape painter without continually
getting involved in effects of this kind. We may, indeed, avoid them
systematically, but shall become narrow mannerists if we do.

§ 4. But not only is there a _partial_ and variable mystery thus caused
by clouds and vapors throughout great spaces of landscape; there is a
continual mystery caused throughout _all_ spaces, caused by the absolute
infinity of things. WE NEVER SEE ANYTHING CLEARLY. I stated this fact
partly in the chapter on Truth of Space, in the first volume, but not
with sufficient illustration, so that the reader might by that chapter
have been led to infer that the mystery spoken of belonged to some
special distance of the landscape, whereas the fact is, that everything
we look at, be it large or small, near or distant, has an equal quantity
of mystery in it; and the only question is, not how much mystery there
is, but at what part of the object mystification begins. We suppose we
see the ground under our feet clearly, but if we try to number its
grains of dust, we shall find that it is as full of confusion and
doubtful form as anything else; so that there is literally _no_ point of
clear sight, and there never can be. What we call seeing a thing
clearly, is only seeing enough of it to _make out what it is_; this
point of intelligibility varying in distance for different magnitudes
and kinds of things, while the appointed quantity of mystery remains
nearly the same for all. Thus: throwing an open book and an embroidered
handkerchief on a lawn, at a distance of half a mile we cannot tell
which is which; that is the point of mystery for the whole of those
things. They are then merely white spots of indistinct shape. We
approach them, and perceive that one is a book, the other a
handkerchief, but cannot read the one, nor trace the embroidery of the
other. The mystery has ceased to be in the whole things, and has gone
into their details. We go nearer, and can now read the text and trace
the embroidery, but cannot see the fibres of the paper, nor the threads
of the stuff. The mystery has gone into a third place. We take both up
and look closely at them; we see the watermark and the threads, but not
the hills and dales in the paper's surface, nor the fine fibres which
shoot off from every thread. The mystery has gone into a fourth place,
where it must stay, till we take a microscope, which will send it into a
fifth, sixth, hundredth, or thousandth place, according to the power we
use. When, therefore, we say, we see the book _clearly_, we mean only
that we know it is a book. When we say that we see the letters clearly,
we mean that we know what letters they are; and artists feel that they
are drawing objects at a convenient distance when they are so near them
as to know, and to be able in painting to show that they know, what the
objects are, in a tolerably complete manner; but this power does not
depend on any definite distance of the object, but on its size, kind,
and distance, together; so that a small thing in the foreground may be
precisely in the same _phase_ or place of mystery as a large thing far
away.

§ 5. The other day, as I was lying down to rest on the side of the hill
round which the Rhone sweeps in its main angle, opposite Martigny, and
looking carefully across the valley to the ridge of the hill which rises
above Martigny itself, then distant about four miles, a plantain
seed-vessel about an inch long, and a withered head of a scabious half
an inch broad, happened to be seen rising up, out of the grass near me,
across the outline of the distant hill, so as seemingly to set
themselves closely beside the large pines and chestnuts which fringed
that distant ridge. The plantain was eight yards from me, and the
scabious seven; and to my sight, at these distances, the plantain and
the far away pines were equally clear (it being a clear day, and the sun
stooping to the west). The pines, four miles off, showed their branches,
but I could not count them; and two or three young and old Spanish
chestnuts beside them showed their broken masses distinctly; but I could
not count those masses, only I knew the trees to be chestnuts by their
general look. The plantain and scabious in like manner I knew to be a
plantain and scabious by their general look. I saw the plantain
seed-vessel to be, somehow, rough, and that there were two little
projections at the bottom of the scabious head which I knew to mean the
leaves of the calyx; but I could no more count distinctly the seeds of
the plantain, or the group of leaves forming the calyx of the scabious,
than I could count the branches of the far-away pines.

§ 6. Under these circumstances, it is quite evident that neither the
pine nor plantain could have been rightly represented by a single dot or
stroke of color. Still less could they be represented by a definite
drawing, on a small scale, of a pine with all its branches clear, or of
a plantain with all its seeds clear. The round dot or long stroke would
represent nothing, and the clear delineation too much. They were not
mere dots of color which I saw on the hill, but something full of
essence of pine; out of which I could gather which were young and which
were old, and discern the distorted and crabbed pines from the
symmetrical and healthy pines; and feel how the evening sun was sending
its searching threads among their dark leaves;--assuredly they were more
than dots of color. And yet not one of their boughs or outlines could be
distinctly made out, or distinctly drawn. Therefore, if I had drawn
either a definite pine, or a dot, I should have been equally wrong, the
right lying in an inexplicable, almost inimitable, confusion between the
two.

§ 7. "But is this only the case with pines four miles away, and with
plantains eight yards?"

Not so. Everything in the field of sight is equally puzzling, and can
only be drawn rightly on the same difficult conditions. Try it fairly.
Take the commonest, closest, most familiar thing, and strive to draw it
verily as you see it. Be sure of this last fact, for otherwise you will
find yourself continually drawing, not what you _see_, but what you
_know_. The best practice to begin with is, sitting about three yards,
from a bookcase (not your own, so that you may _know_ none of the titles
of the books), to try to draw the books accurately, with the titles on
the backs, and patterns on the bindings, as you see them. You are not to
stir from your place to look what they are, but to draw them simply as
they appear, giving the perfect look of neat lettering; which,
nevertheless, must be (as you find it on most of the books) absolutely
illegible. Next try to draw a piece of patterned muslin or lace (of
which you do not know the pattern), a little way off, and rather in the
shade; and be sure you get all the grace and _look_ of the pattern
without going a step nearer to see what it is. Then try to draw a bank
of grass, with all its blades; or a bush, with all its leaves; and you
will soon begin to understand under what a universal law of obscurity we
live, and perceive that all _distinct_ drawing must be _bad_ drawing,
and that nothing can be right, till it is unintelligible.

§ 8. "How! and Pre-Raphaelitism and Durerism, and all that you have been
talking to us about for these five hundred pages!"

Well, it is all right; Pre-Raphaelitism is quite as unintelligible as
need be (I will answer for Durerism farther on). Examine your
Pre-Raphaelite painting well, and you will find it is the precise
fulfilment of these laws. You can make out your plantain head and your
pine, and see entirely what they are; but yet they are full of mystery,
and suggest more than you can see. So also with Turner, the true head of
Pre-Raphaelitism. You shall see the spots of the trout lying dead on the
rock in his foreground, but not count them. It is only the Germans and
the so-called masters of drawing and defining that are wrong, not the
Pre-Raphaelites.[28]

Not, that is to say, so far as it is _possible_ to be right. No human
skill can get the absolute truth in this matter; but a drawing by Turner
of a large scene, and by Holman Hunt of a small one, are as close to
truth as human eyes and hands can reach.

§ 9. "Well, but how of Veronese and all the firm, fearless draughtsmen
of days gone by?"

They are indeed firm and fearless, but they are all mysterious. Not one
great man of them, but he will puzzle you, if you look close, to know
what he means. Distinct enough, as to his general intent, indeed, just
as Nature is distinct in her general intent; but examine his touches,
and you will find in Veronese, in Titian, in Tintoret, in Correggio, and
in all the great _painters_, properly so called, a peculiar melting and
mystery about the pencilling, sometimes called softness, sometimes
freedom, sometimes breadth; but in reality a most subtle confusion of
colors and forms, obtained either by the apparently careless stroke of
the brush, or by careful retouching with tenderest labor; but always
obtained in one way or another: so that though, when compared with work
that has no meaning, all great work is _distinct_,--compared with work
that has narrow and stubborn meaning, all great work is _in_distinct;
and if we find, on examining any picture closely, that it is all clearly
to be made out, it cannot be, as painting, first-rate. There is no
exception to this rule. EXCELLENCE OF THE HIGHEST KIND, WITHOUT
OBSCURITY, CANNOT EXIST.

§ 10. "But you said that all authority was against Turner,--Titian's and
Veronese's, as well as that of the older painters."

Yes, as regards his choice of misty or foggy subject, it is so; but in
this matter of mere _execution_, all the great painters are with him,
though at first he seems to differ from them, on account of that choice
of foggy subject; and because, instead of painting things under
circumstances when their general character is to be discerned at once
(as Veronese paints human figures close to us and the size of life), he
is always painting things twenty and thirty miles away, reduced to
unintelligible and eccentric shades.

§ 11. "But how, then, of this foggy choice; can _that_ be right in
itself?"

That we will discuss in the next chapter: let us keep at present to the
question of execution.

"Keeping to that question, why is it that a photograph always looks
clear and sharp,--not at all like a Turner?"

Photographs never look entirely clear and sharp; but because clearness
is supposed a merit in them, they are usually taken from very clearly
marked and un-Turnerian subjects; and such results as are misty and
faint, though often precisely those which contain the most subtle
renderings of nature, are thrown away, and the clear ones only are
preserved. Those clear ones depend for much of their force on the faults
of the process. Photography either exaggerates shadows, or loses detail
in the lights, and, in many ways which I do not here pause to explain,
misses certain of the utmost subtleties of natural _effect_ (which are
often the things that Turner has chiefly aimed at,) while it renders
subtleties of _form_ which no human hand could achieve. But a delicately
taken photograph of a truly Turnerian subject, is far more like Turner
in the drawing than it is to the work of any other artist; though, in
the system of chiaroscuro, being entirely and necessarily
Rembrandtesque, the subtle mystery of the touch (Turnerism carried to an
infinitely wrought refinement) is not usually perceived.

§ 12. "But how of Van Eyck, and Albert Durer, and all the clear early
men?"

So far as they are _quite_ clear, they are imperfect, and knowingly
imperfect, if considered as painters of real appearances; but by means
of this very imperfection or conventionalism, they often give certain
facts which are more necessary to their purpose than these outward
appearances. For instance, in Fig. 2 of Plate 25, facing page 32, I
requested Mr. Le Keux to facsimile, as far as might be, the look of the
daguerreotype; and he has admirably done so. But if Albert Durer had
drawn the wall between those towers, he would have represented it with
all its facts distinctly revealed, as in Fig. 1; and in many respects
this clear statement is precious, though, so far as regards ocular
truth, it is not natural. A modern sketcher of the "bold" school would
represent the tower as in Fig. 3; that is to say, in a manner just as
trenchant and firm, and therefore ocularly false, as Durer's; but, in
all probability, which involved entireness of fallacy or ignorance as
to the wall facts; rendering the work nearly valueless; or valuable only
in color or composition; not as draughtsmanship.

Of this we shall have more to say presently, here we may rest satisfied
with the conclusion that to a perfectly great manner of painting, or to
entirely finished work, a certain degree of indistinctness is
indispensable. As all subjects have a mystery in _them_, so all drawing
must have a mystery in _it_; and from the nearest object to the most
distant, if we can quite make out what the artist would be at, there is
something wrong. The strokes of paint, examined closely, must be
confused, odd, incomprehensible; having neither beginning nor
end,--melting into each other, or straggling over each other, or going
wrong and coming right again, or fading away altogether; and if we can
make anything of them quite out, that part of the drawing is wrong, or
incomplete.

§ 13. Only, observe, the method by which the confusion is obtained may
vary considerably according to the distance and scale of the picture
itself; for very curious effects are produced upon all paintings by the
distance of the eye from them. One of these is the giving a certain
softness to all colors, so that hues which would look coarse or bald if
seen near, may sometimes safely be left, and are left, by the great
workmen in their large works, to be corrected by the kind of _bloom_
which the distance of thirty or forty feet sheds over them. I say,
"sometimes," because this optical effect is a very subtle one, and seems
to take place chiefly on certain colors, dead fresco colors especially;
also the practice of the great workmen is very different, and seems much
to be regulated by the time at their disposal. Tintoret's picture of
Paradise, with 500 figures in it, adapted to a supposed distance of from
fifty to a hundred feet, is yet colored so tenderly that the nearer it
is approached the better it looks; nor is it at all certain that the
color which is wrong near, will look right a little way off, or even a
great way off: I have never seen any of our Academy portraits made to
look like Titians by being hung above the line: still, distance _does_
produce a definite effect on pictorial color, and in general an
improving one. It also deepens the relative power of all strokes and
shadows. A touch of shade which, seen near, is all but invisible, and,
as far as effect on the picture is concerned, quite powerless, will be
found, a little way off, to tell as a definite shadow, and to have a
notable result on all that is near it; and so markedly is this the case,
that in all fine and first-rate drawing there are many passages in which
if we _see_ the touches we are putting on, we are doing too much; they
must be put on by the feeling of the hand only, and have their effect on
the eye when seen in unison, a little way off. This seems strange; but I
believe the reason of it is, that, seen at some distance, the parts of
the touch or touches are gathered together, and their relations truly
shown; while, seen near, they are scattered and confused. On a large
scale, and in common things, the phenomenon is of constant occurrence;
the "dirt bands" on a glacier, for instance, are not to be counted on
the glacier itself, and yet their appearance is truly stated by
Professor Forbes to be "_one of great importance_, though from the two
circumstances of being _best seen at a distance_, or considerable
height, and in a feeble or slanting light, it had very naturally been
overlooked both by myself and others, like what are called blind paths
over moors, visible at a distance, but lost when we stand upon
them."[29]

§ 14. Not only, however, does this take place in a picture very notably,
so that a group of touches will tell as a compact and intelligible mass,
a little way off, though confused when seen near; but also a dark touch
gains at a little distance in apparent _darkness_, a light touch in
apparent _light_, and a colored touch in apparent color, to a degree
inconceivable by an unpractised person; so that literally, a good
painter is obliged, working near his picture, to do in everything only
about half of what he wants, the rest being done by the distance. And if
the effect, at such distance, is to be of confusion, then sometimes seen
near, the work must be a confusion worse confounded, almost utterly
unintelligible; hence the amazement and blank wonder of the public at
some of the finest passages of Turner, which look like a mere
meaningless and disorderly work of chance; but, rightly understood, are
preparations for a given result, like the most subtle moves of a game of
chess, of which no bystander can for a long time see the intention, but
which are, in dim, underhand, wonderful way, bringing out their
foreseen and inevitable result.

§ 15. And, be it observed, no other means would have brought out that
result. Every distance and size of picture has its own proper method of
work; the artist will necessarily vary that method somewhat according to
circumstances and expectations: he may sometimes finish in a way fitted
for close observation, to please his patron, or catch the public eye;
and sometimes be tempted into such finish by his zeal, or betrayed into
it by forgetfulness, as I think Tintoret has been, slightly, in his
Paradise, above mentioned. But there never yet was a picture thoroughly
effective at a distance, which did not look more or less unintelligible
near. Things which in distant effect are folds of dress, seen near are
only two or three grains of golden color set there apparently by chance;
what far off is a solid limb; near is a grey shade with a misty outline,
so broken that it is not easy to find its boundary; and what far off may
perhaps be a man's face, near, is only a piece of thin brown color,
enclosed by a single flowing wave of a brush loaded with white, while
three brown touches across one edge of it, ten feet away, become a mouth
and eyes. The more subtle the power of the artist, the more curious the
difference will be between the apparent means and the effect produced;
and one of the most sublime feelings connected with art consists in the
perception of this very strangeness, and in a sympathy with the
foreseeing and foreordaining power of the artist. In Turner, Tintoret,
and Paul Veronese, the intenseness of perception, first, as to what is
to be done, and then, of the means of doing it, is so colossal, that I
always feel in the presence of their pictures just as other people would
in that of a supernatural being. Common talkers use the word "magic" of
a great painter's power without knowing what they mean by it. They mean
a great truth. That power _is_ magical; so magical, that, well
understood, no enchanter's work could be more miraculous or more
_appalling_; and though I am not often kept from saying things by
timidity, I should be afraid of offending the reader, if I were to
define to him accurately the kind and the degree of awe, with which I
have stood before Tintoret's Adoration of the Magi, at Venice, and
Veronese's Marriage in Cana, in the Louvre.

§ 16. It will now, I hope, be understood how easy it is for dull artists
to mistake the mystery of great masters for carelessness, and their
subtle concealment of intention for want of intention. For one person
who can perceive the delicacy, invention, and veracity of Tintoret or
Reynolds[30] there are thousands who can perceive the dash of the brush
and the confusion of the color. They suppose that the merit consists in
dash and confusion, and that they may easily rival Reynolds by being
unintelligible, and Tintoret by being impetuous. But I assure them, very
seriously, that obscurity is _not_ always admirable, nor impetuosity
always right; that disorder does not necessarily imply discretion, nor
haste, security. It is sometimes difficult to understand the words of a
deep thinker; but it is equally difficult to understand an idiot; and
young students will find it, on the whole, the best thing they can do to
strive to be _clear_;[31] not affectedly clear, but manfully and firmly.
Mean something, and say something, whenever you touch canvas; yield
neither to the affectation of precision nor of speed, and trust to time,
and your honest labor, to invest your work gradually, in such measure
and kind as your genius can reach, with the tenderness that comes of
love, and the mystery that comes of power.


FOOTNOTES

  [26] In the clouds around Mount Sinai, in the picture of the Golden
    Calf; the smoke turning into angels, in the Cenacolo in San Giorgio
    Maggiore; and several other such instances.

  [27] Stanfield I call a definer, as opposed to Copley Fielding,
    because, though, like all other moderns, he paints cloud and storm,
    he will generally paint all the masts and yards of a ship, rather
    than merely her black bows glooming through the foam; and all the
    rocks on a hill side, rather than the blue outline of the hill
    through the mist.

  [28] Compare, if at hand, my letter in the Times of the 5th of May,
    1854, on Hunt's Light of the World. I extract the passage bearing
    chiefly on the point in question.

    "As far as regards the technical qualities of Mr. Hunt's painting, I
    would only ask the spectator to observe this difference between true
    Pre-Raphaelite work and its imitations. The true work represents all
    objects exactly as they would appear in nature, in the position and
    at the distances which the arrangement of the picture supposes. The
    false work represents them with all their details, as if seen
    through a microscope. Examine closely the ivy on the door in Mr.
    Hunt's picture, and there will not be found in it a single clear
    outline. All is the most exquisite mystery of color; becoming
    reality at its due distance. In like manner, examine the small gems
    on the robe of the figure. Not one will be made out in form, and yet
    there is not one of all those minute points of green color, but it
    has two or three distinctly varied shades of green in it, giving its
    mysterious value and lustre. The spurious imitations of
    Pre-Raphaelite work represent the most minute leaves and other
    objects with sharp outlines, but with no variety of color, and with
    none of the concealment, none of the infinity of nature."

  [29] Travels through the Alps, chap. viii.

  [30] Reynolds is usually admired for his dash and speed. His true
    merit is in an ineffable subtlety combined with his speed. The
    tenderness of some of Reynolds' touches is quite beyond telling.

  [31] Especially in distinction of species of things. It may be
    doubtful whether in a great picture we are to represent the bloom
    upon a grape, but never doubtful that we are to paint a grape so as
    to be known from a cherry.



CHAPTER V.

OF TURNERIAN MYSTERY:--SECONDLY, WILFUL.


§ 1. In the preceding chapter we were concerned only with the mystery
necessary in all great art. We have yet to inquire into the nature of
that more special love of concealment in which Turner is the leading
representative of modern cloud-worship; causing Dr. Waagen sapiently to
remark that "he" had here succeeded in combining "a crude painted medley
with a general foggy appearance."[32]

As, for defence of his universal indistinctness, my appeal was in the
last chapter to universal fact, so, for defence of this special
indistinctness, my first appeal is in this chapter to special fact. An
English painter justifiably loves fog, because he is born in a foggy
country; as an Italian painter justifiably loves clearness, because he
is born in a comparatively clear country. I have heard a traveller
familiar with the East complain of the effect in a picture of Copley
Fielding's, that "it was such very bad weather." But it ought not to be
bad weather to the English. Our green country depends for its life on
those kindly rains and floating swirls of cloud; we ought, therefore, to
love them and to paint them.

§ 2. But there is no need to rest my defence on this narrow English
ground. The fact is, that though the climates of the South and East may
be _comparatively_ clear, they are no more absolutely clear than our own
northern air; and that wherever a landscape-painter is placed, if he
paints faithfully, he will have continually to paint effects of mist.
Intense clearness, whether in the North after or before rain, or in some
moments of twilight in the South, is always, as far as I am acquainted
with natural phenomena, a _notable_ thing. Mist of some sort, or
mirage, or confusion of light, or of cloud, are the general facts; the
distance may vary in different climates at which the effects of mist
begin, but they are always present; and therefore, in all probability it
is meant that we should enjoy them.

§ 3. Nor does it seem to me in any wise difficult to understand why they
should be thus appointed for enjoyment. In former parts of this work we
were able to trace a certain delightfulness in every visible feature of
natural things which was typical of any great spiritual truth; surely,
therefore, we need not wonder now, that mist and all its phenomena have
been made delightful to us, since our happiness as thinking beings must
depend on our being content to accept only partial knowledge, even in
those matters which chiefly concern us. If we insist upon perfect
intelligibility and complete declaration in every moral subject, we
shall instantly fall into misery of unbelief. Our whole happiness and
power of energetic action depend upon our being able to breathe and live
in the cloud; content to see it opening here and closing there;
rejoicing to catch, through the thinnest films of it, glimpses of stable
and substantial things; but yet perceiving a nobleness even in the
concealment, and rejoicing that the kindly veil is spread where the
untempered light might have scorched us, or the infinite clearness
wearied.

§ 4. And I believe that the resentment of this interference of the mist
is one of the forms of proud error which are too easily mistaken for
virtues. To be content in utter darkness and ignorance is indeed
unmanly, and therefore we think that to love light and seek knowledge
must always be right. Yet (as in all matters before observed,) wherever
_pride_ has any share in the work, even knowledge and light may be ill
pursued. Knowledge is good, and light is good, yet man perished in
seeking knowledge, and moths perished in seeking light; and if we, who
are crushed before the moth, will not accept such mystery as is needful
for us, we shall perish in like manner. But, accepted in humbleness, it
instantly becomes an element of pleasure; and I think that every rightly
constituted mind ought to rejoice, not so much in knowing anything
clearly, as in feeling that there is infinitely more which it cannot
know. None but proud or weak men would mourn over this, for we may
always know more if we choose, by working on; but the pleasure is, I
think, to humble people, in knowing that the journey is endless, the
treasure inexhaustible,--watching the cloud still march before them with
its summitless pillar, and being sure that, to the end of time and to
the length of eternity, the mysteries of its infinity will still open
farther and farther, their dimness being the sign and necessary adjunct
of their inexhaustibleness. I know there are an evil mystery and a
deathful dimness,--the mystery of the great Babylon--the dimness of the
sealed eye and soul; but do not let us confuse these with the glorious
mystery of the things which the angels "desire to look into," or with
the dimness which, even before the clear eye and open soul, still rests
on sealed pages of the eternal volume.

§ 5. And going down from this great truth to the lower truths which are
types of it in smaller matters, we shall find, that as soon as people
try honestly to see all they can of anything, they come to a point where
a noble dimness begins. They see more than others; but the consequence
of their seeing more is, that they feel they cannot see all; and the
more intense their perception, the more the crowd of things which they
_partly_ see will multiply upon them; and their delight may at last
principally consist in dwelling on this cloudy part of their prospect,
somewhat casting away or aside what to them has become comparatively
common, but is perhaps the sum and substance of all that other people
see in the thing, for the utmost subtleties and shadows and glancings of
it cannot be caught but by the most practised vision. And as a delicate
ear rejoices in the slighter and more modulated passages of sound which
to a blunt ear are utterly monotonous in their quietness, or
unintelligible in their complication, so, when the eye is exquisitely
keen and clear, it is fain to rest on grey films of shade, and wandering
rays of light, and intricacies of tender form, passing over hastily, as
unworthy or commonplace, what to a less educated sense appears the whole
of the subject.[33] In painting, this progress of the eye is marked
always by one consistent sign--its sensibility, namely, to effects of
_gradation_ in light and color, and habit of looking for them, rather
even than for the signs of the essence of the subject. It will, indeed,
see more of that essence than is seen by other eyes; and its choice of
the points to be seized upon will be always regulated by that special
sympathy which we have above examined as the motive of the Turnerian
picturesque; but yet, the more it is cultivated, the more of light and
color it will perceive, the less of substance.

[Illustration: J. Ruskin.     1   2   3   4
               26. The Law of Evanescence.]

§ 6. Thus, when the eye is quite uncultivated, it sees that a man is a
man, and a face is a face, but has no idea what shadows or lights fall
upon the form or features. Cultivate it to some degree of artistic
power, and it will then see shadows distinctly, but only the more
vigorous of them. Cultivate it still farther, and it will see light
within light, and shadow within shadow, and will continually refuse to
rest in what it had already discovered, that it may pursue what is more
removed and more subtle, until at last it comes to give its chief
attention and display its chief power on gradations which to an
untrained faculty are partly matters of indifference, and partly
imperceptible. That these subtle gradations have indeed become matters
of primal importance to it, may be ascertained by observing that they
are the things it will last part with, as the object retires into
distance; and that, though this distance may become so great as to
render the real nature of the object quite undiscernible, the gradations
of light upon it will not be lost.

§ 7. For instance, Fig. 1, on the opposite page, Plate 26, is a
tolerably faithful rendering of the look of a wall tower of a Swiss town
as it would be seen within some hundred yards of it. Fig. 2 is (as
nearly as I can render it) a facsimile of Turner's actual drawing of
this tower, at a presumed distance of about half a mile. It has far less
of intelligible delineation, either of windows, cornices, or tiles; but
intense care has still been given to get the pearly roundness of the
side, and the exact relations of all the tones of shade. And now, if
Turner wants to remove the tower still farther back, he will gradually
let the windows and stones all disappear together, before he will quit
his shadows and delicately centralized rays. At Fig. 3 the tower is
nearly gone, but the pearly roundness of it and principal lights of it
are there still. At Fig. 4 (Turner's ultimate condition in distance)
the essence of the thing is quite unintelligible; we cannot answer for
its being a tower at all. But the gradations of light are still there,
and as much pains have been taken to get them as in any of the other
instances. A vulgar artist would have kept something of the form of the
tower, expressing it by a few touches; and people would call it a clever
drawing. Turner lets the tower melt into air, but still he works half an
hour or so over those delicate last gradations, which perhaps not many
people in England besides himself can fully see, as not many people can
understand the final work of a great mathematician. I assume, of course,
in this example, that the tower, as it grows less and less distinct,
becomes part of the subject of a _larger_ picture. Fig. 1 represents
nearly what Turner's treatment of it would be if it were the principal
subject of a vignette; and Fig. 4 his treatment of it as an object in
the extreme distance of a large oil picture. If at the same supposed
distance it entered into a smaller drawing, so as to be much smaller in
size, he might get the gradations with less trouble, sometimes even by a
single sweep of the brush; but _some_ gradation would assuredly be
retained, though the tower were diminished to the height of one of the
long letters of this type.

§ 8. "But is Turner right in doing this?"

Yes. The truth is indeed so. If you watch any object as it fades in
distance, it will lose gradually its force, its intelligibility, its
anatomy, its whole comprehensible being; but it will _never_ lose its
gradation of light. Up to the last moment, what light is seen on it,
feebly glimmering and narrowed almost to a point or a line, is still
full of change. One part is brighter than another, and brighter with as
lovely and tender increase as it was when nearest to us; and at last,
though a white house ten miles away will be seen only as a small square
spot of light, its windows, doors, or roof, being as utterly invisible
as if they were not in existence, the gradation of its light will not be
lost; one part of the spot will be seen to be brighter than another.

§ 9. Is there not a deep meaning in this? We, in our daily looking at
the thing, think that its own make is the most important part of it.
Windows and porticos, eaves and cornices, how interesting and how useful
are they! Surely, the chief importance of the thing is in these. No; not
in these; but in the play of the light of heaven upon it. There is a
place and time when all those windows and porticos will be lost sight
of; when the only question becomes, "what light had it?" How much of
heaven was looking upon it? What were the broad relations of it, in
light and darkness, to the sky and earth, and all things around it? It
might have strange humors and ways of its own--many a rent in its wall,
and many a roughness on its roof; or it might have many attractivenesses
and noblenesses of its own--fair mouldings and gay ornaments; but the
time comes when all these are vain, and when the slight, wandering
warmth of heaven's sunshine which the building itself felt not, and not
one eye in a thousand saw, becomes all in all. I leave the reader to
follow out the analogies of this.

§ 10. "Well, but," it is still objected, "if this be so, why is it
necessary to insist, as you do always, upon the most minute and careful
renderings of form?"

Because, though these gradations of light are indeed, as an object dies
in distance, the only things it can retain, yet as it lives its active
life near us, those very gradations can only be seen properly by the
effect they have on its character. You can only show how the light
affects the object, by knowing thoroughly what the object is; and noble
mystery differs from ignoble, in being a veil thrown between us and
something definite, known, and substantial; but the ignoble mystery is a
veil cast before chaos, the studious concealment of Nothing.

§ 11. There is even a way in which the very definiteness of Turner's
knowledge adds to the mystery of his pictures. In the course of the
first volume I had several times occasion to insist on the singular
importance of cast shadows, and the chances of their sometimes gaining
supremacy in visibility over even the things that cast them. Now a cast
shadow is a much more curious thing than we usually suppose. The strange
shapes it gets into--the manner in which it stumbles over everything
that comes in its way, and frets itself into all manner of fantastic
schism, taking neither the shape of the thing that casts it, nor of that
it is cast upon, but an extraordinary, stretched, flattened, fractured,
ill-jointed anatomy of its own--cannot be imagined until one is actually
engaged in shadow-hunting. If any of these wayward umbræ are faithfully
remembered and set down by the painter, they nearly always have an
unaccountable look, quite different from anything one would have
invented or philosophically conjectured for a shadow; and it constantly
happens, in Turner's distances, that such strange pieces of broken
shade, accurately remembered, or accurately invented, as the case may
be, cause a condition of unintelligibility, quaint and embarrassing
almost in exact proportion to the amount of truth it contains.

§ 12. I believe the reader must now sufficiently perceive that the right
of being obscure is not one to be lightly claimed; it can only be
founded on long effort to be intelligible, and on the present power of
_being_ intelligible to the exact degree which the nature of the thing
admits. Nor shall we, I hope, any more have difficulty in understanding
how the noble mystery and the ignoble, though direct opposites, are yet
continually mistaken for each other--the last aping the first; and the
most wretched artists taking pride in work which is simply slurred,
slovenly, ignorant, empty, and insolent, as if it were nobly mysterious
(just as a drunkard who cannot articulate supposes himself oracular);
whereas the noble art-mystery, as all noble language-mystery, is reached
only by intense labor. Striving to speak with uttermost truth of
expression, weighing word against word, and wasting none, the great
speaker, or writer, toils first into perfect intelligibleness, then, as
he reaches to higher subject, and still more concentrated and wonderful
utterance, he becomes ambiguous--as Dante is ambiguous,--half a dozen
different meanings lightening out in separate rays from every word, and,
here and there, giving rise to much contention of critics as to what the
intended meaning actually was. But it is no drunkard's babble for all
that, and the men who think it so, at the third hour of the day, do not
highly honor _themselves_ in the thought.

§ 13. And now observe how perfectly the conclusions arrived at here
consist with those of the third chapter, and how easily we may
understand the meaning of that vast weight of authority which we found
at first ranged against the clouds, and strong in arms on the side of
intelligibility. Nearly all great men must, for the reasons above given,
be intelligible. Even, if they are to be the greatest, still they must
struggle through intelligibility to obscurity; if of the second class,
then the best thing they can do, all their lives through, is to be
intelligible. Therefore the enormous majority of all good and true men
will be _clear_ men; and the drunkards, sophists, and sensualists will,
for the most part, sink back into the fog-bank, and remain wrapt in
darkness, unintelligibility, and futility. Yet, here and there, once in
a couple of centuries, one man will rise past clearness, and become dark
with excess of light.

§ 14. "Well, then, you mean to say that the tendency of this age to
general cloudiness, as opposed to the old religious clearness of
painting, is one of degradation; but that Turner is this one man who has
risen _past_ clearness?"

Yes. With some modifications of the saying, I mean that; but those
modifications will take us a little time to express accurately.

For, first, it will not do to condemn every minor painter utterly, the
moment we see he is foggy. Copley Fielding, for instance, was a minor
painter; but his love of obscurity in rain clouds, and dew-mist on
downs, was genuine love, full of sweetness and happy aspiration; and, in
this way, a little of the light of the higher mystery is often caught by
the simplest men when they keep their hearts open.

§ 15. Neither will it be right to set down every painter for a great
man, the moment we find he is clear; for there is a hard and vulgar
intelligibility of nothingness, just as there is an ambiguity of
nothingness. And as often, in conversation, a man who speaks but badly
and indistinctly has, nevertheless, got much to say; and a man who
speaks boldly and plainly may yet say what is little worth hearing; so,
in painting, there are men who can express themselves but blunderingly,
and yet have much in them to express; and there are others who talk with
great precision, whose works are yet very impertinent and untrustworthy
assertions. Sir Joshua Reynolds is full of fogginess and shortcomings as
compared with either of the Caraccis; but yet one Sir Joshua is worth
all the Caraccis in Europe; and so, in our modern water-color societies,
there are many men who define clearly enough, all whose works, put
together, are not worth a careless blot by Cox or Barrett.

§ 16. Let me give one illustration more, which will be also of some
historical usefulness in marking the relations of the clear and obscure
schools.

We have seen, in our investigation of Greek landscape, Homer's intense
love of the aspen poplar. For once, in honor of Homer and the Greeks, I
will take an aspen for the subject of comparison, and glance at the
different modes in which it would have been, or was, represented from
the earliest to the present stage of landscape art.

The earliest manner which comes within our field of examination is that
of the thirteenth century. Fig. 1. Plate 27 is an aspen out of the wood
in which Absalom is slain, from a Psalter in my own possession,
executed, certainly, after the year 1250, and before 1272; the other
trees in the wood being, first, of course, the oak in which Absalom is
caught, and a sycamore. All these trees are somewhat more conventional
than is even usual at the period; though, for this reason, the more
characteristic as examples of earliest work. There is no great botanical
accuracy until some forty years later (at least in painting); so that I
cannot be quite sure, the leaf not being flat enough at the base, that
this tree is meant for an aspen: but it is so in all probability; and,
whether it be or not, serves well enough to mark the definiteness and
symmetry of the old art,--a symmetry which, be it always observed, is
NEVER formal or unbroken. This tree, though it looks formal enough,
branches unequally at the top of the stem. But the lowest figure in
Plate 7, Vol. III. is a better example from the MS. Sloane, 1975, Brit.
Mus. Every plant in that herbarium is drawn with some approach to
accuracy, in leaf, root, and flower; while yet all are subjected to the
sternest conventional arrangement; colored in almost any way that
pleases the draughtsman, and set on quaint grounds of barred color, like
bearings on shields;[34] one side of the plant always balancing the
other, but never without some transgression or escape from the law of
likeness, as in the heads of the cyclamen flower, and several other
parts of this design. It might seem at first, that the root was more
carelessly drawn than the rest, and uglier in color; but this is in pure
conscientiousness. The workman knew that a root was ugly and
earthy; he would not make it ornamental and delicate. He would sacrifice
his pleasant colors and graceful lines at once for the radical fact; and
rather spoil his page than flatter a fibre.

[Illustration:
      1. Ancient, or Giottesque.         4. Modern or Blottesque.
      2. Purist.                         5. Constablesque.
      3. Turneresque.                    6. Hardingesque.
               27. The Aspen, under Idealization.]

[Illustration: 28. Aspen, Unidealized.]

§ 17. Here, then, we have the first mediæval condition of art,
consisting in a fenced, but varied, symmetry; a perfect definiteness;
and a love of nature, more or less interfered with by conventionalism
and imperfect knowledge. Fig. 2 in Plate 27 represents the next
condition of mediæval art, in which the effort at imitation is
contending with the conventional type. This aspen is from the MS.
Cotton, Augustus, A. 5, from which I have already taken an example of
rocks to compare with Leonardo's. There can be no doubt here about the
species of the tree intended, as throughout the MS. its illuminator has
carefully distinguished the oak, the willow, and the aspen; and this
example, though so small (it is engraved of the actual size), is very
characteristic of the aspen ramification; and in one point, of
ramification in general, namely, the division of the tree into two
masses, each branching outwards, not across each other. Whenever a tree
divides at first into two or three nearly equal main branches, the
secondary branches always spring from the outside of the divided ones,
just as, when a tree grows under a rock or wall, it shoots away from it,
never towards it. The beautiful results of this arrangement we shall
trace in the next volume; meantime, in the next Plate (28) I have drawn
the main[35] ramifications of a real aspen, growing freely, but in a
sheltered place, as far as may be necessary to illustrate the point in
question.

§ 18. This example, Fig. 2 in Plate 27 is sufficiently characteristic of
the purist mediæval landscape, though there is somewhat more leaning to
naturalism than is usual at the period. The next example, Fig. 3, is
from Turner's vignette of St. Anne's Hill (Rogers's Poems, p. 214).
Turner almost always groups his trees, so that I have had difficulty in
finding one on a small scale and isolated, which would be characteristic
of him; nor is this one completely so, for I had no access to the
original vignette, it being, I believe, among the drawings that have
been kept from the public, now these four years, because the Chancery
lawyers do not choose to determine the meaning of Turner's perfectly
intelligible, though informal, will; and Mr. Goodall's engraving, which
I have copied, though right in many respects, is not representative of
the dotted touch by which Turner expressed the aspen foliage. I have
not, however, ventured to alter it, except only by adding the
extremities where they were hidden in the vignette by the trelliswork
above.

The principal difference between the Turnerian aspen and the purist
aspen is, it will be seen, in the expression of lightness and confusion
of foliage, and roundness of the tree as a mass; while the purist tree,
like the thirteenth century one, is still flat. All attempt at the
expression of individual leaves is now gone, the tree being too far off
to justify their delineation; but the direction of the light, and its
gradations, are carefully studied.

§ 19. Fig. 6 is a tolerable facsimile[36] of a little chalk sketch of
Harding's; quite inimitable in the quantity of life and truth obtained
by about a quarter of a minute's work; but beginning to show the faulty
vagueness and carelessness of modernism. The stems, though beautifully
free, are not thoroughly drawn or rounded; and in the mass of the tree,
though well formed, the tremulousness and transparency of leafage are
lost. Nor is it possible, by Harding's manner of drawing, to express
such ultimate truths; his execution, which, _in its way_, no one can at
all equal (the best chalk drawing of Calame and other foreign masters
being quite childish and feeble in comparison), is yet sternly limited
in its reach, being originally based on the assumption that nothing is
to be delicately drawn, and that the method is only good which insures
specious incompletion.

It will be observed, also, that there is a leaning first to one side,
then to the other, in Harding's aspen, which marks the wild
picturesqueness of modernism as opposed to the quiet but stiff dignity
of the purist (Fig. 2); Turner occupying exactly the intermediate place.

The next example (Fig. 5) is an aspen of Constable's, on the left in
the frontispiece to Mr. Leslie's life of him. Here we have arrived at
the point of total worthlessness, the tree being as flat as the old
purist one, but, besides, wholly false in ramification, idle, and
undefined in every respect; it being, however, just possible still to
discern what the tree is meant for, and therefore, the type of the worst
modernism not being completely established.

§ 20. Fig. 4 establishes this type, being the ordinary condition of tree
treatment in our blotted water-color drawings; the nature of the tree
being entirely lost sight of, and no accurate knowledge, of any kind,
possessed or communicated.

Thus, from the extreme of definiteness and light, in the thirteenth
century (the middle of the Dark Ages!), we pass to the extreme of
uncertainty and darkness, in the middle of the nineteenth century.

As, however, the definite mediæval work has some faults, so the
indefinite modern work has some virtues, its very uncertainty enabling
it to appeal pleasantly to the imagination (though in an inky manner, as
described above, Vol. III. Chap. x. § 10), and sometimes securing
qualities of color which could no otherwise be obtained. It ought,
however, if we would determine its true standing, to be compared, not
with the somewhat forced and narrow decision of the thirteenth century,
but with the perfect and well-informed decision of Albert Durer and his
fellow-workmen. For the proper representation of these there was no room
in this plate; so, in Plate 25, above, on each side of the
daguerreotyped towers of Fribourg, I have given, Fig. 1, a Dureresque,
and Fig. 3, a Blottesque, version of the intermediate wall. The latter
version may, perhaps, be felt to have some pleasantness in its apparent
ease; and it has a practical advantage, in its capability of being
executed in a quarter of a minute, while the Dureresque statement
_cannot_ be made in less than a quarter of an hour. But the latter
embraces not only as much as is worth the extra time, but even an
infinite of contents, beyond and above the other, for the other is in no
single place clear in its assertion of _any_thing; whereas the
Dureresque work, asserting clearly many most interesting facts about the
grass on the ledges, the bricks of the windows, and the growth of the
foliage, is forever a useful and trustworthy record; the other forever
an empty dream. If it is a beautiful dream, full of lovely color and
good composition, we will not quarrel with it; but it can never be so,
unless it is founded first on the Dureresque knowledge, and suggestive
of it, through all its own mystery or incompletion. So that by all
students the Dureresque is the manner to be first adopted, and calmly
continued as long as possible; and if their inventive instincts do not,
in after life, _force_ them to swifter or more cloudy execution,--if at
any time it becomes a matter of doubt with them how far to surrender
their gift of accuracy,--let them be assured that it is best always to
err on the side of clearness; to live in the illumination of the
thirteenth century rather than the mysticism of the nineteenth, and vow
themselves to the cloister rather than to lose themselves in the desert.

§ 21. I am afraid the reader must be tired of this matter; and yet there
is one question more which I must for a moment touch upon, in
conclusion, namely, the mystery of _clearness itself_. In an Italian
twilight, when, sixty or eighty miles away, the ridge of the Western
Alps rises in its dark and serrated blue against the crystalline
vermilion, there is still unsearchableness, but an unsearchableness
without cloud or concealment,--an infinite unknown, but no sense of any
veil or interference between us and it: we are separated from it not by
any anger or storm, not by any vain and fading vapor, but only by the
deep infinity of the thing itself. I find that the great religious
painters rejoiced in that kind of unknowableness, and in that only; and
I feel that even if they had had all the power to do so, still they
would not have put rosy mists and blue shadows behind their sacred
figures, but only the far-away sky and cloudless mountains. Probably the
right conclusion is that the clear and cloudy mysteries are alike noble;
but that the beauty of the wreaths of frost mist, folded over banks of
greensward deep in dew, and of the purple clouds of evening, and the
wreaths of fitful vapor gliding through groves of pine, and irised
around the pillars of waterfalls, is more or less typical of the kind of
joy which we should take in the imperfect knowledge granted to the
earthly life, while the serene and cloudless mysteries set forth that
belonging to the redeemed life. But of one thing I am well assured, that
so far as the clouds are regarded, not as concealing the truth of other
things, but as themselves true and separate creations, they are not
usually beheld by us with enough honor; we have too great veneration for
cloudlessness. My reasons for thinking this I will give in the next
chapter; here we have, I believe, examined as far as necessary, the
general principles on which Turner worked, and justified his adoption of
them so far as they contradicted preceding practice.

It remains for us to trace, with more observant patience, the ground
which was marked out in the first volume; and, whereas in that volume we
hastily compared the truth of Turner with that of preceding
landscapists, we shall now, as closely as possible, examine the range of
what he himself has done and felt, and the way in which it is likely to
influence the future acts and thoughts of men.

§ 22. And I shall attempt to do this, first, by examining what the real
effect of the things painted--clouds, or mountains, or whatever else
they may be--is, or ought to be, in general, on men's minds, showing the
grounds of their beauty or impressiveness as best I can; and then
examining how far Turner seems to have understood these reasons of
beauty, and how far his work interprets, or can take the place of
nature. But in doing this, I shall, for the sake of convenience, alter
the arrangement which I followed in the first volume; and instead of
examining the sky first, treat of it last; because, in many
illustrations which I must give of other things, I shall have to
introduce pieces of sky background which will all be useful for
reference when I can turn back to them from the end of the book, but
which I could not refer to in advance without anticipating all my other
illustrations. Nevertheless, some points which I have to note respecting
the meaning of the sky are so intimately connected with the subjects we
have just been examining, that I cannot properly defer their
consideration to another place; and I shall state them, therefore, in
the next chapter, afterwards proceeding, in the order I adopted in the
first volume, to examine the beauty of mountains, water, and vegetation.


FOOTNOTES

  [32] Art and Artists in England, vol. ii., p. 151. The other
    characteristics which Dr. Waagen discovers in Turner are, "such a
    looseness of treatment, such a total want of truth, as I never
    before met with."

  [33] And yet, all these intricacies will produce for it another
    whole; as simple and natural as the child's first conception of the
    thing; only more comprehensive. See above, Chap. III., § 21.

  [34] Compare Vol. III. Chap. XIV. § 13. Touching the exact degree in
    which ignorance or incapacity is mingled with wilful conventionalism
    in this drawing, we shall inquire in the chapters on Vegetation.

  [35] Only the _main_ lines: the outer sprays have had no pains taken
    with them, as I am going to put some leaves on them in next volume.

  [36] It is quite impossible to facsimile good free work. Both Turner
    and Harding suffer grievously in this plate.



CHAPTER VI.

THE FIRMAMENT.


§ 1. The task which we now enter upon, as explained in the close of the
preceding chapter, is the ascertaining as far as possible what the
proper effect of the natural beauty of different objects _ought_ to be
on the human mind, and the degree in which this nature of theirs, and
true influence, have been understood and transmitted by Turner.

I mean to begin with the mountains, for the sake of convenience in
illustration; but, in the proper order of thought, the clouds ought to
be considered first; and I think it will be well, in this intermediate
chapter, to bring to a close that line of reasoning by which we have
gradually, as I hope, strengthened the defences around the love of
mystery which distinguishes our modern art; and to show, on final and
conclusive authority, what noble things these clouds are, and with what
feeling it seems to be intended by their Creator that we should
contemplate them.

§ 2. The account given of the stages of Creation in the first chapter of
Genesis, is in every respect clear and intelligible to the simplest
reader, except in the statement of the work of the second day. I suppose
that this statement is passed over by careless readers without an
endeavor to understand it; and contemplated by simple and faithful
readers as a sublime mystery, which was not intended to be understood.
But there is no mystery in any other part of the chapter, and it seems
to me unjust to conclude that any was intended here.

And the passage ought to be peculiarly interesting to us, as being the
first in the Bible in which the _heavens_ are named, and the only one in
which the word "Heaven," all important as that word is to our
understanding of the most precious promises of Scripture, receives a
definite explanation.

Let us, therefore, see whether, by a little careful comparison of the
verse with other passages in which the word occurs, we may not be able
to arrive at as clear an understanding of this portion of the chapter as
of the rest.

§ 3. In the first place, the English word "Firmament" itself is obscure
and useless; because we never employ it but as a synonym of heaven; it
conveys no other distinct idea to us; and the verse, though from our
familiarity with it we imagine that it possesses meaning, has in reality
no more point or value than if it were written, "God said let there be a
something in the midst of the waters, and God called the something
Heaven."

But the marginal reading, "Expansion," has definite value; and the
statement that "God said, let there be an expansion in the midst of the
waters, and God called the expansion Heaven," has an apprehensible
meaning.

§ 4. Accepting this expression as the one intended, we have next to ask
what expansion there is, between two waters, describable by the term
Heaven. Milton adopts the term "expanse;"[37] but he understands it of
the whole volume of the air which surrounds the earth. Whereas, so far
as we can tell, there is no water beyond the air, in the fields of
space; and the whole expression of division of waters from waters is
thus rendered valueless.

§ 5. Now, with respect to this whole chapter, we must remember always
that it is intended for the instruction of all mankind, not for the
learned reader only; and that, therefore, the most simple and natural
interpretation is the likeliest in general to be the true one. An
unscientific reader knows little about the manner in which the volume of
the atmosphere surrounds the earth; but I imagine that he could hardly
glance at the sky when rain was falling in the distance, and see the
level line of the bases of the clouds from which the shower descended,
without being able to attach an instant and easy meaning to the words
"Expansion in the midst of the waters." And if, having once seized this
idea, he proceeded to examine it more accurately, he would perceive at
once, if he had ever noticed _anything_ of the nature of clouds, that
the level line of their bases did indeed most severely and stringently
divide "waters from waters," that is to say, divide water in its
collective and tangible state, from water in its divided and aerial
state; or the waters which _fall_ and _flow_, from those which _rise_
and _float_. Next, if we try this interpretation in the theological
sense of the word _Heaven_, and examine whether the clouds are spoken of
as God's dwelling place, we find God going before the Israelites in a
pillar of cloud; revealing Himself in a cloud on Sinai; appearing in a
cloud on the mercy seat, filling the Temple of Solomon with the cloud
when its dedication is accepted; appearing in a great cloud to Ezekiel;
ascending into a cloud before the eyes of the disciples on Mount Olivet;
and in like manner returning to Judgment. "Behold, he cometh with
clouds, and every eye shall see him." "Then shall they see the son of
man coming in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory."[38]
While farther, the "clouds" and "heavens" are used as interchangeable
words in those Psalms which most distinctly set forth the power of God:
"He bowed the heavens also, and came down; he made darkness pavilions
round about him, dark waters, and thick clouds of the skies." And,
again: "Thy mercy, oh Lord, is in the heavens, and thy faithfulness
reacheth unto the clouds." And, again: "His excellency is over Israel,
and his strength is in the clouds." Again: "The clouds poured out water,
the skies sent out a sound, the voice of thy thunder was in the heaven."
Again: "Clouds and darkness are round about him, righteousness and
judgment are the habitation of his throne; the heavens declare his
righteousness, and all the people see his glory."

§ 6. In all these passages the meaning is unmistakable, if they possess
definite meaning at all. We are too apt to take them merely for sublime
and vague imagery, and therefore gradually to lose the apprehension of
their life and power. The expression, "He bowed the Heavens," for
instance, is, I suppose, received by most readers as a magnificent
hyperbole, having reference to some peculiar and fearful manifestation
of God's power to the writer of the Psalm in which the words occur. But
the expression either has plain meaning, or it has _no_ meaning.
Understand by the term "Heavens" the compass of infinite space around
the earth, and the expression, "bowed the Heavens," however sublime, is
wholly without meaning; infinite space cannot be bent or bowed. But
understand by the "Heavens" the veil of clouds above the earth, and the
expression is neither hyperbolical nor obscure; it is pure, plain, and
accurate truth, and it describes God, not as revealing Himself in any
peculiar way to David, but doing what he is still doing before our own
eyes day by day. By accepting the words in their simple sense, we are
thus led to apprehend the immediate presence of the Deity, and His
purpose of manifesting Himself as near us whenever the storm-cloud
stoops upon its course; while by our vague and inaccurate acceptance of
the words we remove the idea of His presence far from us, into a region
which we can neither see nor know; and gradually, from the close
realization of a living God who "maketh the clouds his chariot," we
refine and explain ourselves into dim and distant suspicion of an
inactive God, inhabiting inconceivable places, and fading into the
multitudinous formalisms of the laws of Nature.

§ 7. All errors of this kind--and in the present day we are in constant
and grievous danger of falling into them--arise from the originally
mistaken idea that man can, "by searching, find out God--find out the
Almighty to perfection;" that is to say by help of courses of reasoning
and accumulations of science, apprehend the nature of the Deity in a
more exalted and more accurate manner than in a state of comparative
ignorance; whereas it is clearly necessary, from the beginning to the
end of time, that God's way of revealing Himself to His creatures should
be a _simple_ way, which _all_ those creatures may understand. Whether
taught or untaught, whether of mean capacity or enlarged, it is
necessary that communion with their Creator should be possible to all;
and the admission to such communion must be rested, not on their having
a knowledge of astronomy, but on their having a human soul. In order to
render this communion possible, the Deity has stooped from His throne,
and has not only, in the person of the Son, taken upon Him the veil of
our human _flesh_, but, in the person of the Father, taken upon Him the
veil of our human _thoughts_, and permitted us, by His own spoken
authority, to conceive Him simply and clearly as a loving Father and
Friend;--a being to be walked with and reasoned with; to be moved by our
entreaties, angered by our rebellion, alienated by our coldness, pleased
by our love, and glorified by our labor; and, finally, to be beheld in
immediate and active presence in all the powers and changes of creation.
This conception of God, which is the child's, is evidently the only one
which can be universal, and therefore the only one which _for us_ can be
true. The moment that, in our pride of heart, we refuse to accept the
condescension of the Almighty, and desire Him, instead of stooping to
hold our hands, to rise up before us into His glory,--we hoping that by
standing on a grain of dust or two of human knowledge higher than our
fellows, we may behold the Creator as He rises,--God takes us at our
word; He rises, into His own invisible and inconceivable majesty; He
goes forth upon the ways which are not our ways, and retires into the
thoughts which are not our thoughts; and we are left alone. And
presently we say in our vain hearts, "There is no God."

§ 8. I would desire, therefore, to receive God's account of His own
creation as under the ordinary limits of human knowledge and imagination
it would be received by a simply minded man; and finding that the
"heavens and the earth" are spoken of always as having something like
equal relation to each other ("thus the heavens and the earth were
finished, and all the host of them"), I reject at once all idea of the
term "Heavens" being intended to signify the infinity of space inhabited
by countless worlds; for between those infinite heavens and the particle
of sand, which not the earth only, but the sun itself, with all the
solar system, is in relation to them, no relation of equality or
comparison could be inferred. But I suppose the heavens to mean that
part of creation which holds equal companionship with our globe; I
understand the "rolling of those heavens together as a scroll" to be an
equal and relative destruction with the "melting of the elements in
fervent heat;"[39] and I understand the making the firmament to signify
that, so far as man is concerned, most magnificent ordinance of the
clouds;--the ordinance, that as the great plain of waters was formed on
the face of the earth, so also a plain of waters should be stretched
along the height of air, and the face of the cloud answer the face of
the ocean; and that this upper and heavenly plain should be of waters,
as it were, glorified in their nature, no longer quenching the fire, but
now bearing fire in their own bosoms; no longer murmuring only when the
winds raise them or rocks divide, but answering each other with their
own voices from pole to pole; no longer restrained by established
shores, and guided through unchanging channels, but going forth at their
pleasure like the armies of the angels, and choosing their encampments
upon the heights of the hills; no longer hurried downwards forever,
moving but to fall, nor lost in the lightless accumulation of the abyss,
but covering the east and west with the waving of their wings, and
robing the gloom of the farther infinite with a vesture of divers
colors, of which the threads are purple and scarlet, and the
embroideries flame.

§ 9. This, I believe, is the ordinance of the firmament; and it seems to
me that in the midst of the material nearness of these heavens God means
us to acknowledge His own immediate presence as visiting, judging, and
blessing us. "The earth shook, the heavens also dropped, at the presence
of God." "He doth set His bow in the cloud," and thus renews, in the
sound of every drooping swathe of rain, his promises of everlasting
love. "In them hath he set a _tabernacle_ for the sun;" whose burning
ball, which without the firmament would be seen as an intolerable and
scorching circle in the blackness of vacuity, is by that firmament
surrounded with gorgeous service, and tempered by mediatorial
ministries; by the firmament of clouds the golden pavement is spread for
his chariot wheels at morning; by the firmament of clouds the temple is
built for his presence to fill with light at noon; by the firmament of
clouds the purple veil is closed at evening round the sanctuary of his
rest; by the mists of the firmament his implacable light is divided, and
its separated fierceness appeased into the soft blue that fills the
depth of distance with its bloom, and the flush with which the mountains
burn as they drink the overflowing of the dayspring. And in this
tabernacling of the unendurable sun with men, through the shadows of the
firmament, God would seem to set forth the stooping of His own majesty
to men, upon the _throne_ of the firmament. As the Creator of all the
worlds, and the Inhabiter of eternity, we cannot behold Him; but, as the
Judge of the earth and the Preserver of men, those heavens are indeed
His dwelling-place. "Swear not, neither by heaven, for it is God's
throne; nor by the earth, for it is his footstool." And all those
passings to and fro of fruitful shower and grateful shade, and all those
visions of silver palaces built about the horizon, and voices of moaning
winds and threatening thunders, and glories of colored robe and cloven
ray, are but to deepen in our hearts the acceptance, and distinctness,
and dearness of the simple words, "Our Father which art in heaven."


FOOTNOTES

  [37]                        "God made
       The firmament, expanse of liquid, pure,
       Transparent, elemental air, diffused
       In circuit to the uttermost convex
       Of this great round."

         _Paradise Lost_, book vii.

  [38] The reader may refer to the following texts, which it is
    needless to quote: Exod. xiii. 21, xvi. 10, xix. 9, xxiv. 16, xxxiv.
    5, Levit. xvi. 2, Num. x. 34, Judges v. 4, 1 Kings viii. 10, Ezek.
    i. 4, Dan. vii. 13, Matt. xxiv. 30, 1 Thess. iv. 17, Rev. i. 7.

  [39] Compare also Job, xxxvi. 29, "The spreading of the clouds, and
    the noise of his _tabernacle_;" and xxxviii. 33, "Knowest thou the
    ordinances of heaven? canst thou set the dominion thereof in the
    earth? canst thou lift up thy voice to the clouds?"

    Observe that in the passage of Addison's well known hymn--

      "The spacious firmament on high,
       With all the blue ethereal sky,
       And spangled heavens, a shining frame,
       Their great Original proclaim"--

    the writer has clearly the true distinctions in his mind; he does
    not use his words, as we too often accept them, in vain tautology.
    By the _spacious_ firmament he means the clouds, using the word
    spacious to mark the true meaning of the Hebrew term: the blue
    _ethereal_ sky is the real air or ether, blue above the clouds; the
    heavens are the starry space, for which he uses this word, less
    accurately, indeed, than the others, but as the only one available
    for this meaning.



CHAPTER VII.

THE DRY LAND.


§ 1. Having thus arrived at some apprehension of the true meaning and
noble offices of the clouds, we leave farther inquiry into their aspects
to another time, and follow the fixed arrangement of our subject; first,
to the crests of the mountains. Of these also, having seen in our review
of ancient and modern landscape various strange differences in the way
men looked upon them, it will be well in the outset to ascertain, as far
as may be, the true meaning and office.

The words which marked for us the purpose of the clouds are followed
immediately by those notable ones:--

"And God said, Let the waters which are under the heaven be gathered
together unto one place, and let the dry land appear."

We do not, perhaps, often enough consider the deep significance of this
sentence. We are too apt to receive it as the description of an event
vaster only in its extent, not in its nature, than the compelling the
Red Sea to draw back, that Israel might pass by. We imagine the Deity in
like manner rolling the waves of the greater ocean together on a heap,
and setting bars and doors to them eternally.

But there is a far deeper meaning than this in the solemn words of
Genesis, and in the correspondent verse of the Psalm, "His hands
prepared the dry land." Up to that moment the earth had been _void_, for
it had been _without form_. The command that the waters should be
gathered was the command that the earth should be _sculptured_. The sea
was not driven to his place in suddenly restrained rebellion, but
withdrawn to his place in perfect and patient obedience. The dry land
appeared, not in level sands, forsaken by the surges, which those surges
might again claim for their own; but in range beyond range of swelling
hill and iron rock, for ever to claim kindred with the firmament, and be
companioned by the clouds of heaven.

§ 2. What space of time was in reality occupied by the "day" of Genesis,
is not, at present, of any importance for us to consider. By what
furnaces of fire the adamant was melted, and by what wheels of
earthquake it was torn, and by what teeth of glacier and weight of
sea-waves it was engraven and finished into its perfect form, we may
perhaps hereafter endeavor to conjecture; but here, as in few words the
work is summed by the historian, so in few broad thoughts it should be
comprehended by us; and as we read the mighty sentence, "Let the dry
land appear," we should try to follow the finger of God, as it engraved
upon the stone tables of the earth the letters and the law of its
everlasting form; as, gulf by gulf, the channels of the deep were
ploughed; and cape by cape, the lines were traced, with Divine
foreknowledge, of the shores that were to limit the nations; and chain
by chain, the mountain walls were lengthened forth, and their
foundations fastened for ever; and the compass was set upon the face of
the depth, and the fields, and the highest part of the dust of the world
were made; and the right hand of Christ first strewed the snow on
Lebanon, and smoothed the slopes of Calvary.

§ 3. It is not, I repeat, always needful, in many respects it is not
possible, to conjecture the manner, or the time, in which this work was
done; but it is deeply necessary for all men to consider the
magnificence of the accomplished purpose, and the depth of the wisdom
and love which are manifested in the ordinances of the hills. For
observe, in order to bring the world into the form which it now bears,
it was not mere _sculpture_ that was needed; the mountains could not
stand for a day unless they were formed of materials altogether
different from those which constitute the lower hills, and the surfaces
of the valleys. A harder substance had to be prepared for every mountain
chain; yet not so hard but that it might be capable of crumbling down
into earth fit to nourish the alpine forest and the alpine flower; not
so hard but that, in the midst of the utmost majesty of its enthroned
strength, there should be seen on it the seal of death, and the writing
of the same sentence that had gone forth against the human frame, "Dust
thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return."[40] And with this
perishable substance the most majestic forms were to be framed that were
consistent with the safety of man; and the peak was to be lifted, and
the cliff rent, as high and as steeply as was possible, in order yet to
permit the shepherd to feed his flocks upon the slope, and the cottage
to nestle beneath their shadow.

§ 4. And observe, two distinct ends were to be accomplished in the doing
this. It was, indeed, absolutely necessary that such eminences should be
created, in order to fit the earth in any wise for human habitation; for
without mountains the air could not be purified, nor the flowing of the
rivers sustained, and the earth must have become for the most part
desert plain, or stagnant marsh. But the feeding of the rivers and the
purifying of the winds are the least of the services appointed to the
hills. To fill the thirst of the human heart for the beauty of God's
working,--to startle its lethargy with the deep and pure agitation of
astonishment,--are their higher missions. They are as a great and noble
architecture; first giving shelter, comfort, and rest; and covered also
with mighty sculpture and painted legend. It is impossible to examine in
their connected system the features of even the most ordinary mountain
scenery, without concluding that it has been prepared in order to unite
as far as possible, and in the closest compass, every means of
delighting and sanctifying the heart of man. "As far as _possible_;"
that is, as far as is consistent with the fulfilment of the sentence of
condemnation on the whole earth. Death must be upon the hills; and the
cruelty of the tempests smite them, and the briar and thorn spring up
upon them: but they so smite, as to bring their rocks into the fairest
forms; and so spring, as to make the very desert blossom as the rose.
Even among our own hills of Scotland and Cumberland, though often too
barren to be perfectly beautiful, and always too low to be perfectly
sublime, it is strange how many deep sources of delight are gathered
into the compass of their glens and vales; and how, down to the most
secret cluster of their far-away flowers, and the idlest leap of their
straying streamlets, the whole heart of Nature seems thirsting to give,
and still to give, shedding forth her everlasting beneficence with a
profusion so patient, so passionate, that our utmost observance and
thankfulness are but, at last, neglect of her nobleness, and apathy to
her love. But among the true mountains of the greater orders the Divine
purpose of appeal at once to all the faculties of the human spirit
becomes still more manifest. Inferior hills ordinarily interrupt, in
some degree, the richness of the valleys at their feet; the grey downs
of Southern England, and treeless coteaux of Central France, and grey
swells of Scottish moor, whatever peculiar charm they may possess in
themselves, are at least destitute of those which belong to the woods
and fields of the lowlands. But the great mountains _lift_ the lowlands
_on their sides_. Let the reader imagine, first, the appearance of the
most varied plain of some richly cultivated country; let him imagine it
dark with graceful woods, and soft with deepest pastures; let him fill
the space of it, to the utmost horizon, with innumerable and changeful
incidents of scenery and life; leading pleasant streamlets through its
meadows, strewing clusters of cottages beside their banks, tracing sweet
footpaths through its avenues, and animating its fields with happy
flocks, and slow wandering spots of cattle; and when he has wearied
himself with endless imagining, and left no space without some
loveliness of its own, let him conceive all this great plain, with its
infinite treasures of natural beauty and happy human life, gathered up
in God's hands from one edge of the horizon to the other like a woven
garment; and shaken into deep, falling folds, as the robes droop from a
king's shoulders; all its bright rivers leaping into cataracts along the
hollows of its fall, and all its forests rearing themselves aslant
against its slopes, as a rider rears himself back when his horse
plunges; and all its villages nestling themselves into the new windings
of its glens; and all its pastures thrown into steep waves of
greensward, dashed with dew along the edges of their folds, and sweeping
down into endless slopes, with a cloud here and there lying quietly,
half on the grass, half in the air; and he will have as yet, in all this
lifted world, only the foundation of one of the great Alps. And whatever
is lovely in the lowland scenery becomes lovelier in this change: the
trees which grew heavily and stiffly from the level line of plain
assume strange curves of strength and grace as they bend themselves
against the mountain side; they breathe more freely, and toss their
branches more carelessly as each climbs higher, looking to the clear
light above the topmost leaves of its brother tree: the flowers which on
the arable plain fell before the plough, now find out for themselves
unapproachable places, where year by year they gather into happier
fellowship, and fear no evil; and the streams which in the level land
crept in dark eddies by unwholesome banks, now move in showers of
silver, and are clothed with rainbows, and bring health and life
wherever the glance of their waves can reach.

§ 5. And although this beauty seems at first, in its wildness,
inconsistent with the service of man, it is, in fact, more necessary to
his happy existence than all the level and easily subdued land which he
rejoices to possess. It seems almost an insult to the reader's
intelligence to ask him to dwell (as if they could be doubted) on the
_uses_ of the hills; and yet so little, until lately, have those uses
been understood, that, in the seventeenth century, one of the most
enlightened of the religious men of his day (Fleming), himself a native
of a mountain country, casting about for some reason to explain to
himself the existence of mountains, and prove their harmony with the
general perfectness of the providential government of creation, can
light upon this reason only, "They are inhabited by the beasts."


  First use of mountains. To give motion to water.

§ 6. It may not, therefore, even at this day, be altogether profitless
or unnecessary to review briefly the nature of the three great offices
which mountain ranges are appointed to fulfil, in order to preserve the
health and increase the happiness of mankind. Their first use is of
course to give motion to water. Every fountain and river, from the
inch-deep streamlet that crosses the village lane in trembling
clearness, to the massy and silent march of the everlasting multitude of
waters in Amazon or Ganges, owe their play, and purity, and power, to
the ordained elevations of the earth. Gentle or steep, extended or
abrupt, some determined slope of the earth's surface is of course
necessary, before any wave can so much as overtake one sedge in its
pilgrimage; and how seldom do we enough consider, as we walk beside the
margins of our pleasant brooks, how beautiful and wonderful is that
ordinance, of which every blade of grass that waves in their clear water
is a perpetual sign; that the dew and rain fallen on the face of the
earth shall find no resting-place; shall find, on the contrary, fixed
channels traced for them, from the ravines of the central crests down
which they roar in sudden ranks of foam, to the dark hollows beneath the
banks of lowland pasture, round which they must circle slowly among the
stems and beneath the leaves of the lilies; paths prepared for them, by
which, at some appointed rate of journey, they must evermore descend,
sometimes slow and sometimes swift, but never pausing; the daily portion
of the earth they have to glide over marked for them at each successive
sunrise, the place which has known them knowing them no more, and the
gateways of guarding mountains opened for them in cleft and chasm, none
letting them in their pilgrimage; and, from far off, the great heart of
the sea calling them to itself! Deep calleth unto deep. I know not which
of the two is the more wonderful,--that calm, gradated, invisible slope
of the champaign land, which gives motion to the stream; or that passage
cloven for it through the ranks of hill, which, necessary for the health
of the land immediately around them, would yet, unless so supernaturally
divided, have fatally intercepted the flow of the waters from far-off
countries. When did the great spirit of the river first knock at those
adamantine gates? When did the porter open to it, and cast his keys away
for ever, lapped in whirling sand? I am not satisfied--no one should be
satisfied--with that vague answer,--the river cut its way. Not so. The
river _found_ its way. I do not see that rivers, in their own strength,
can do much in cutting their way; they are nearly as apt to choke their
channels up, as to carve them out. Only give a river some little sudden
power in a valley, and see how it will use it. Cut itself a bed? Not so,
by any means, but fill up its bed, and look for another, in a wild,
dissatisfied, inconsistent manner. Any way, rather than the old one,
will better please it; and even if it is banked up and forced to keep to
the old one, it will not deepen, but do all it can to raise it, and leap
out of it. And although, wherever water has a steep fail, it will
swiftly cut itself a bed deep into the rock or ground, it will not, when
the rock is hard, cut a wider channel than it actually needs; so that
if the existing river beds, through ranges of mountain, had in reality
been cut by the streams, they would be found, wherever the rocks are
hard, only in the form of narrow and profound ravines,--like the
well-known channel of the Niagara, below the fall; not in that of
extended valleys. And the actual work of true mountain rivers, though
often much greater in proportion to their body of water than that of the
Niagara, is quite insignificant when compared with the area and depth of
the valleys through which they flow; so that, although in many cases it
appears that those larger valleys have been excavated at earlier periods
by more powerful streams, or by the existing stream in a more powerful
condition, still the great fact remains always equally plain, and
equally admirable, that, whatever the nature and duration of the
agencies employed, the earth was so shaped at first as to direct the
currents of its rivers in the manner most healthy and convenient for
man. The valley of the Rhone may, though it is not likely, have been in
great part excavated in early time by torrents a thousand times larger
than the Rhone; but it could not have been excavated at all, unless the
mountains had been thrown at first into two chains, between which the
torrents were set to work in a given direction. And it is easy to
conceive how, under any less beneficent dispositions of their masses of
hill, the continents of the earth might either have been covered with
enormous lakes, as parts of North America actually are covered; or have
become wildernesses of pestiferous marsh; or lifeless plains, upon which
the water would have dried as it fell, leaving them for great part of
the year desert. Such districts do exist, and exist in vastness: the
_whole_ earth is not prepared for the habitation of man; only certain
small portions are prepared for him,--the houses, as it were, of the
human race, from which they are to look abroad upon the rest of the
world, not to wonder or complain that it is not all house, but to be
grateful for the kindness of the admirable building, in the house
itself, as compared with the rest. It would be as absurd to think it an
evil that all the world is not fit for us to inhabit, as to think it an
evil that the globe is no larger than it is. As much as we shall ever
need is evidently assigned to us for our dwelling-place; the rest,
covered with rolling waves or drifting sands, fretted with ice or
crested with fire, is set before us for contemplation in an
uninhabitable magnificence; and that part which we are enabled to
inhabit owes its fitness for human life chiefly to its mountain ranges,
which, throwing the superfluous rain off as it falls, collect it in
streams or lakes, and guide it into given places, and in given
directions; so that men can build their cities in the midst of fields
which they know will be always fertile, and establish the lines of their
commerce upon streams which will not fail.

§ 7. Nor is this giving of motion to water to be considered as confined
only to the surface of the earth. A no less important function of the
hills is in directing the flow of the fountains and springs, from
subterranean reservoirs. There is no miraculous springing up of water
out of the ground at our feet; but every fountain and well is supplied
from a reservoir among the hills, so placed as to involve some slight
fall or pressure, enough to secure the constant flowing of the stream.
And the incalculable blessing of the power given to us in most valleys,
of reaching by excavation some point whence the water will rise to the
surface of the ground in perennial flow, is entirely owing to the
concave disposition of the beds of clay or rock raised from beneath the
bosom of the valley into ranks of enclosing hills.


  Second use. To give motion to air.

§ 8. The second great use of mountains is to maintain a constant change
in the currents and nature of the _air_. Such change would, of course,
have been partly caused by differences in soils and vegetation, even if
the earth had been level; but to a far less extent than it is now by the
chains of hills, which exposing on one side their masses of rock to the
full heat of the sun (increased by the angle at which the rays strike on
the slope), and on the other casting a soft shadow for leagues over the
plains at their feet, divide the earth not only into districts, but into
climates, and cause perpetual currents of air to traverse their passes,
and ascend or descend their ravines, altering both the temperature and
nature of the air as it passes, in a thousand different ways; moistening
it with the spray of their waterfalls, sucking it down and beating it
hither and thither in the pools of their torrents, closing it within
clefts and caves, where the sunbeams never reach, till it is as cold as
November mists, then sending it forth again to breathe softly across the
slopes of velvet fields, or to be scorched among sunburnt shales and
grassless crags; then drawing it back in moaning swirls through clefts
of ice, and up into dewy wreaths above the snow-fields; then piercing it
with strange electric darts and flashes of mountain fire, and tossing it
high in fantastic storm-cloud, as the dried grass is tossed by the
mower, only suffering it to depart at last, when chastened and pure, to
refresh the faded air of the far-off plains.


  Third use. To give change to the ground.

§ 9. The third great use of mountains is to cause perpetual change in
the _soils_ of the earth. Without such provisions the ground under
cultivation would in a series of years become exhausted and require to
be upturned laboriously by the hand of man. But the elevations of the
earth's surface provide for it a perpetual renovation. The higher
mountains suffer their summits to be broken into fragments and to be
cast down in sheets of massy rock, full, as we shall see presently, of
every substance necessary for the nourishment of plants: these fallen
fragments are again broken by frost, and ground by torrents, into
various conditions of sand and clay--materials which are distributed
perpetually by the streams farther and farther from the mountain's base.
Every shower which swells the rivulets enables their waters to carry
certain portions of earth into new positions, and exposes new banks of
ground to be mined in their turn. That turbid foaming of the angry
water,--that tearing down of bank and rock along the flanks of its
fury,--are no disturbances of the kind course of nature; they are
beneficent operations of laws necessary to the existence of man and to
the beauty of the earth. The process is continued more gently, but not
less effectively, over all the surface of the lower undulating country;
and each filtering thread of summer rain which trickles through the
short turf of the uplands is bearing its own appointed burden of earth
to be thrown down on some new natural garden in the dingles below.

And it is not, in reality, a degrading, but a true, large, and ennobling
view of the mountain ranges of the world, if we compare them to heaps of
fertile and fresh earth, laid up by a prudent gardener beside his garden
beds, whence, at intervals, he casts on them some scattering of new and
virgin ground. That which we so often lament as convulsion or
destruction is nothing else than the momentary shaking of the dust from
the spade. The winter floods, which inflict a temporary devastation,
bear with them the elements of succeeding fertility; the fruitful field
is covered with sand and shingle in momentary judgment, but in enduring
mercy; and the great river, which chokes its mouth with marsh, and
tosses terror along its shore, is but scattering the seeds of the
harvests of futurity, and preparing the seats of unborn generations.

§ 10. I have not spoken of the local and peculiar utilities of
mountains: I do not count the benefit of the supply of summer streams
from the moors of the higher ranges,--of the various medicinal plants
which are nested among their rocks,--of the delicate pasturage which
they furnish for cattle,[41]--of the forests in which they bear timber
for shipping,--the stones they supply for building, or the ores of metal
which they collect into spots open to discovery, and easy for working.
All these benefits are of a secondary or a limited nature. But the three
great functions which I have just described,--those of giving motion and
change to water, air, and earth,--are indispensable to human existence;
they are operations to be regarded with as full a depth of gratitude as
the laws which bid the tree bear fruit, or the seed multiply itself in
the earth. And thus those desolate and threatening ranges of dark
mountain, which, in nearly all ages of the world, men have looked upon
with aversion or with terror, and shrunk back from as if they were
haunted by perpetual images of death, are, in reality, sources of life
and happiness far fuller and more beneficent than all the bright
fruitfulness of the plain. The valleys only feed; the mountains feed,
and guard, and strengthen us. We take our idea of fearfulness and
sublimity alternately from the mountains and the sea; but we associate
them unjustly. The sea wave, with all its beneficence, is yet devouring
and terrible; but the silent wave of the blue mountain is lifted towards
heaven in a stillness of perpetual mercy; and the one surge,
unfathomable in its darkness, the other, unshaken in its faithfulness,
for ever bear the seal of their appointed symbol:

  "Thy _righteousness_ is like the great mountains:
   Thy _judgments_ are a great deep."


FOOTNOTES

  [40] "Surely the mountain falling cometh to nought, and the rock is
    removed out of his place. The waters wear the stones: thou washest
    away the things which grow out of the dust of the earth; and thou
    destroyest the hope of man."--_Job_, xiv. 18, 19.

  [41] The _highest_ pasturages (at least so say the Savoyards) being
    always the best and richest.



CHAPTER VIII.

OF THE MATERIALS OF MOUNTAINS:--FIRST, COMPACT CRYSTALLINES.


§ 1. In the early days of geological science, the substances which
composed the crust of the earth, as far as it could be examined, were
supposed to be referable to three distinct classes: the first consisting
of rocks which not only supported all the rest, but from which all the
rest were derived, therefore called "Primary;" the second class
consisting of rocks formed of the broken fragments or altered substance
of the primary ones, therefore called "Secondary;" and, thirdly, rocks
or earthy deposits formed by the ruins and detritus of both primary and
secondary rocks, called, therefore, "Tertiary." This classification was
always, in some degree, uncertain; and has been lately superseded by
more complicated systems, founded on the character of the fossils
contained in the various deposits, and on the circumstances of position,
by which their relative ages are more accurately ascertainable. But the
original rude classification, though of little, if any, use for
scientific purposes, was based on certain broad and conspicuous
phenomena, which it brought clearly before the popular mind. In this way
it may still be serviceable, and ought, I think, to be permitted to
retain its place, as an introduction to systems more defined and
authoritative.

§ 2. For the fact is, that in approaching any large mountain range, the
ground over which the spectator passes, if he examine it with any
intelligence, will almost always arrange itself in his mind under three
great heads. There will be, first, the ground of the plains or valleys
he is about to quit, composed of sand, clay, gravel, rolled stones, and
variously mingled soils; which, if he has any opportunity,--at the banks
of a stream, or the sides of a railway cutting,--to examine to any
depth, he will find arranged in beds exactly resembling those of modern
sand-banks or sea-beaches, and appearing to have been formed under such
natural laws as are in operation daily around us. At the outskirts of
the hill district, he may, perhaps, find considerable eminences, formed
of these beds of loose gravel and sand; but, as he enters into it
farther, he will soon discover the hills to be composed of some harder
substance, properly deserving the name of rock, sustaining itself in
picturesque forms, and appearing, at first, to owe both its hardness and
its outlines to the action of laws such as do not hold at the present
day. He can easily explain the nature, and account for the distribution,
of the banks which overhang the lowland road, or of the dark earthy
deposits which enrich the lowland pasture; but he cannot so distinctly
imagine how the limestone hills of Derbyshire and Yorkshire were
hardened into their stubborn whiteness, or raised into their cavernous
cliffs. Still, if he carefully examines the substance of these more
noble rocks, he will, in nine cases out of ten, discover them to be
composed of fine calcareous dust, or closely united particles of sand;
and will be ready to accept as possible, or even probable, the
suggestion of their having been formed, by slow deposit, at the bottom
of deep lakes and ancient seas, under such laws of Nature as are still
in operation.

§ 3. But, as he advances yet farther into the hill district, he finds
the rocks around him assuming a gloomier and more majestic condition.
Their tint darkens; their outlines become wild and irregular; and
whereas before they had only appeared at the roadside in narrow ledges
among the turf, or glanced out from among the thickets above the brooks
in white walls and fantastic towers, they now rear themselves up in
solemn and shattered masses far and near; softened, indeed, with strange
harmony of clouded colors, but possessing the whole scene with their
iron spirit; and rising, in all probability, into eminences as much
prouder in actual elevation than those of the intermediate rocks, as
more powerful in their influence over every minor feature of the
landscape.

§ 4. And when the traveller proceeds to observe closely the materials of
which these noble ranges are composed, he finds also a complete change
in their internal structure. They are no longer formed of delicate sand
or dust--each particle of that dust the same as every other, and the
whole mass depending for its hardness merely on their closely cemented
unity; but they are now formed of several distinct substances, visibly
unlike each other; and not _pressed_ but _crystallized_ into one
mass,--crystallized into a unity far more perfect than that of the dusty
limestone, but yet without the least mingling of their several natures
with each other. Such a rock, freshly broken, has a spotty, granulated,
and, in almost all instances, sparkling, appearance; it requires a much
harder blow to break it than the limestone or sandstone; but, when once
thoroughly shattered, it is easy to separate from each other the various
substances of which it is composed, and to examine them in their
individual grains or crystals; of which each variety will be found to
have a different degree of hardness, a different shade of color, and a
different character of form.

But this examination will not enable the observer to comprehend the
method either of their formation or aggregation, at least by any process
such as he now sees taking place around him; he will at once be driven
to admit that some strange and powerful operation has taken place upon
these rocks, different from any of which he is at present cognizant; and
farther inquiry will probably induce him to admit, as more than
probable, the supposition that their structure is in great part owing to
the action of enormous heat prolonged for indefinite periods.

§ 5. Now, although these three great groups of rocks do indeed often
pass into each other by imperceptible gradations, and although their
peculiar aspect is never a severe indication of their relative ages, yet
their characters are for the most part so defined as to make a strong
impression on the mind of an ordinary observer, and their age is also
for the most part approximately indicated by their degrees of hardness,
and crystalline aspect. It does, indeed, sometimes happen that a soft
and slimy clay will pass into a rock like Aberdeen granite by
transitions so subtle that no point of separation can be determined; and
it very often happens that rocks like Aberdeen granite are of more
recent formation than certain beds of sandstone and limestone. But, in
spite of all these uncertainties and exceptions, I believe that unless
actual pains be taken to efface from the mind its natural impressions,
the idea of three great classes of rocks and earth will maintain its
ground in the thoughts of the general observer; that whether he desire
it or not, he will find himself throwing the soft and loose clays and
sands together under one head; placing the hard rocks, of a dull,
compact, homogeneous substance, under another head; and the hardest
rocks, of a crystalline, glittering, and various substance, under a
third head; and having done this, he will also find that, with certain
easily admissible exceptions, these three classes of rocks are, in every
district which he examines, of three different ages; that the softest
are the youngest, the hard and homogeneous ones are older, and the
crystalline are the oldest; and he will, perhaps, in the end, find it a
somewhat inconvenient piece of respect to the complexity and accuracy of
modern geological science, if he refuse to the three classes, thus
defined in his imagination, their ancient title of Tertiary, Secondary,
and Primary.

§ 6. But however this may be, there is one lesson evidently intended to
be taught by the different characters of these rocks, which we must not
allow to escape us. We have to observe, first, the state of perfect
powerlessness, and loss of all beauty, exhibited in those beds of earth
in which the separated pieces or particles are entirely independent of
each other, more especially in the gravel whose pebbles have all been
_rolled into one shape_: secondly, the greater degree of permanence,
power, and beauty possessed by the rocks whose component atoms have some
affection and attraction for each other, though all of one kind; and
lastly, the utmost form and highest beauty of the rocks in which the
several atoms have all _different shapes_, _characters_, and _offices_;
but are inseparably united by some fiery process which has purified them
all.

It can hardly be necessary to point out how these natural ordinances
seem intended to teach us the great truths which are the basis of all
political science; how the polishing friction which separates, the
affection which binds, and the affliction that fuses and confirms, are
accurately symbolized by the processes to which the several ranks of
hills appear to owe their present aspect; and how, even if the knowledge
of those processes be denied to us, that present aspect may in itself
seem no imperfect image of the various states of mankind: first, that
which is powerless through total disorganization; secondly, that which,
though united, and in some degree powerful, is yet incapable of great
effort or result, owing to the too great similarity and confusion of
offices, both in ranks and individuals; and finally, the perfect state
of brotherhood and strength in which each character is clearly
distinguished, separately perfected, and employed in its proper place
and office.

§ 7. I shall not, however, so oppose myself to the views of our leading
geologists as to retain here the names of Primary, Secondary, and
Tertiary rocks. But as I wish the reader to keep the ideas of the three
classes clearly in his mind, I will ask his leave to give them names
which involve no theory, and can be liable, therefore, to no great
objections. We will call the hard, and (generally) central, masses
Crystalline Rocks, because they almost always present an appearance of
crystallization. The less hard substances, which appear compact and
homogeneous, we will call Coherent Rocks, and for the scattered débris
we will use the general term Diluvium.

§ 8. All these substances agree in one character, that of being more or
less soft and destructible. One material, indeed, which enters largely
into the composition of most of them, flint, is harder than iron; but
even this, their chief source of strength, is easily broken by a sudden
blow; and it is so combined in the large rocks with softer substances,
that time and the violence of the weather invariably produce certain
destructive effects on their masses. Some of them become soft, and
moulder away; others break, little by little, into angular fragments or
slaty sheets; but all yield in some way or other; and the problem to be
solved in every mountain range appears to be, that under these
conditions of decay, the cliffs and peaks may be raised as high, and
thrown into as noble forms, as is possible, consistently with an
effective, though not perfect permanence, and a general, though not
absolute security.

§ 9. Perfect permanence and absolute security were evidently in nowise
intended.[42] It would have been as easy for the Creator to have made
mountains of steel as of granite, of adamant as of lime; but this was
clearly no part of the Divine counsels: mountains were to be
destructible and frail; to melt under the soft lambency of the
streamlet; to shiver before the subtle wedge of the frost; to wither
with untraceable decay in their own substance; and yet, under all these
conditions of destruction, to be maintained in magnificent eminence
before the eyes of men.

Nor is it in any wise difficult for us to perceive the beneficent
reasons for this appointed frailness of the mountains. They appear to be
threefold: the first, and the most important, that successive soils
might be supplied to the plains, in the manner explained in the last
chapter, and that men might be furnished with a material for their works
of architecture and sculpture, at once soft enough to be subdued, and
hard enough to be preserved; the second, that some sense of danger might
always be connected with the most precipitous forms, and thus increase
their sublimity; and the third, that a subject of perpetual interest
might be opened to the human mind in observing the changes of form
brought about by time on these monuments of creation.

In order, therefore, to understand the method in which these various
substances break, so as to produce the forms which are of chief
importance in landscape, as well as the exquisite adaptation of all
their qualities to the service of men, it will be well that I should
take some note of them in their order; not with any mineralogical
accuracy, but with care enough to enable me hereafter to explain,
without obscurity, any phenomena dependent upon such peculiarities of
substance.


  1. CRYSTALLINE ROCKS.

§ 10. 1st. CRYSTALLINE ROCKS.--In saying, above, that the hardest rocks
generally presented an appearance of "crystallization," I meant a
glittering or granulated look, somewhat like that of a coarse piece of
freshly broken loaf sugar.


  Are always Compound.

But this appearance may also exist in rocks of uniform and softer
substance, such as statuary marble, of which freshly broken pieces, put
into a sugar-basin, cannot be distinguished by the eye from the real
sugar. Such rocks are truly crystalline in structure; but the group to
which I wish to limit the term "crystalline," is not only thus
granulated and glittering, but is always composed of at least two,
usually three or four, substances, intimately mingled with each other in
the form of small grains or crystals, and giving the rock a more or less
speckled or mottled look, according to the size of the crystals and
their variety of color. It is a law of nature, that whenever rocks are
to be employed on hard service, and for great purposes, they shall be
thus composed. And there appear to be two distinct providential reasons
for this.

§ 11. The first, that these crystalline rocks being, as we saw above,
generally the oldest and highest, it is from them that other soils of
various kinds must be derived; and they were therefore made a kind of
storehouse, from which, wherever they were found, all kinds of treasures
could be developed necessary for the service of man and other living
creatures. Thus the granite of Mont Blanc is a crystalline rock composed
of four substances; and in these four substances are contained the
elements of nearly all kinds of sandstone and clay, together with
potash, magnesia, and the metals of iron and manganese. Wherever the
smallest portion of this rock occurs, a certain quantity of each of
these substances may be derived from it, and the plants and animals
which require them sustained in health.

The second reason appears to be that rocks composed in this manner are
capable of more interesting variety in form than any others; and as they
were continually to be exposed to sight in the high ranges, they were so
prepared as to be always as interesting and beautiful as possible.


  And divisible into two classes, Compact Crystallines and Slaty
      Crystallines.

§ 12. These crystalline or spotted rocks we must again separate into two
great classes, according to the arrangement, in them, of the particles
of a substance called mica. It is not present in all of them; but when
it occurs, it is usually in large quantities, and a notable source of
character. It varies in color, occurring white, brown, green, red, and
black; and in aspect, from shining plates to small dark grains, even
these grains being seen, under a magnifier, to be composed of little
plates, like pieces of exceedingly thin glass; but with this great
difference from glass, that, whether large or small, the plates will not
easily break _across_, but are elastic, and capable of being bent into a
considerable curve; only if pressed with a knife upon the edge, they
will separate into any number of thinner plates, more and more elastic
and flexible according to their thinness, and these again into others
still finer; there seeming to be no limit to the possible subdivision
but the coarseness of the instrument employed.

[Illustration: FIG. 3.]

§ 13. Now, when these crystals or grains, represented by the black spots
and lines in Fig. 3, lie as they do at _a_ in that figure, in all
directions, cast hither and thither among the other materials of the
stone,--sometimes on their faces, sometimes on their sides, sometimes on
their edges,--they give the rock an irregularly granulated appearance
and structure, so that it will break with equal ease in any direction;
but if these crystals lie all one way, with their sides parallel, as at
_b_, they give the rock a striped or slaty look, and it will most
readily break in the direction in which they lie, separating itself into
folia or plates, more or less distinctly according to the quantity of
mica in its mass. In the example Fig. 4, a piece of rock from the top of
Mont Breven, there are very few of them, and the material with which
they are surrounded is so hard and compact that the whole mass breaks
irregularly, like a solid flint, beneath the hammer; but the plates of
mica nevertheless influence the fracture on a large scale, and occasion,
as we shall see hereafter, the peculiar form of the precipice at the
summit of the mountain.[43]

The rocks which are destitute of mica, or in which the mica lies
irregularly, or in which it is altogether absent, I shall call Compact
Crystallines. The rocks in which the mica lies regularly I shall call
Slaty Crystallines.

[Illustration: FIG. 4.]


  COMPACT CRYSTALLINES.

§ 14. 1st. Compact Crystallines.--Under this head are embraced the large
group of the granites, syenites, and porphyries,--rocks which all agree
in the following particulars:--


  Their first characteristic. _Speckledness._

A. Variety of color.--The method of their composition out of different
substances necessitates their being all more or less spotted or dashed
with various colors; there being generally a prevalent ground color,
with other subordinate hues broken over it, forming, for the most part,
tones of silver grey, of warm but subdued red, or purple. Now, there is
in this a very marvellous provision for the beauty of the central
ranges. Other rocks, placed lower among the hills, receive color upon
their surfaces from all kinds of minute vegetation; but these higher and
more exposed rocks are liable to be in many parts barren; and the wild
forms into which they are thrown necessitate their being often freshly
broken, so as to bring their pure color, untempered in anywise, frankly
into sight. Hence it is appointed that this color shall not be raw or
monotonous, but composed--as all beautiful color must be composed--by
mingling of many hues in one. Not that there is any aim at _attractive_
beauty in these rocks; they are intended to constitute solemn and
desolate scenes; and there is nothing delicately or variously disposed
in their colors. Such beauty would have been inconsistent with their
expression of power and terror, and it is reserved for the marbles and
other rocks of inferior office. But their color is grave and perfect;
closely resembling, in many cases, the sort of hue reached by
cross-chequering in the ground of fourteenth-century manuscripts, and
peculiarly calculated for distant effects of light; being, for the most
part, slightly warm in tone, so as to receive with full advantage the
red and orange rays of sunlight. This warmth is almost always farther
aided by a glowing orange color, derived from the decomposition of the
iron which, though in small quantity, usually is an essential element in
them: the orange hue forms itself in unequal veins and spots upon the
surfaces which have been long exposed, more or less darkening them; and
a very minute black lichen,--so minute as to look almost like spots of
dark paint,--a little opposed and warmed by the golden Lichen
geographicus, still farther subdues the paler hues of the highest
granite rocks. Now, when a surface of this kind is removed to a distance
of four or five miles, and seen under warm light through soft air, the
orange becomes russet, more or less inclining to pure red, according to
the power of the rays: but the black of the lichen becomes pure dark
blue; and the result of their combination is that peculiar reddish
purple which is so strikingly the characteristic of the rocks of the
higher Alps. Most of the travellers who have seen the Valley of Chamouni
carry away a strong impression that its upper precipices are of red
rock. But they are, without exception, of a whitish grey, toned and
raised by this united operation of the iron, the lichen, and the light.

§ 15. I have never had an opportunity of studying the effects of these
tones upon rocks of porphyry; but the beautiful color of that rock in
its interior substance has rendered it one of the favorite materials of
the architects of all ages, in their most costly work. Not that all
porphyry is purple; there are green and white porphyries, as there are
yellow and white roses; but the first idea of a porphyry rock is that it
shall be purple,--just as the first idea of a rose is that it shall be
red. The purple inclines always towards russet[44] rather than blue, and
is subdued by small spots of grey or white. This speckled character,
common to all the crystalline rocks, fits them, in art, for large and
majestic work; it unfits them for delicate sculpture; and their second
universal characteristic is altogether in harmony with this consequence
of their first.


  Their second characteristic. _Toughness._

§ 16. This second characteristic is a tough hardness, not a brittle
hardness, like that of glass or flint, which will splinter violently at
a blow in the most unexpected directions; but a grave hardness, which
will bear many blows before it yields, and when it is forced to yield at
last, will do so, as it were, in a serious and thoughtful way; not
spitefully, nor uselessly, nor irregularly, but in the direction in
which it is wanted, and where the force of the blow is directed--there,
and there only. A flint which receives a shock stronger than it can
bear, gives up everything at once, and flies into a quantity of pieces,
each piece full of flaws. But a piece of granite seems to say to itself,
very solemnly: "If these people are resolved to split me into two
pieces, that is no reason why I should split myself into three. I will
keep together as well as I can, and as long as I can; and if I must fall
to dust at last, it shall be slowly and honorably; not in a fit of
fury." The importance of this character, in fitting the rock for human
uses, cannot be exaggerated: it is essential to such uses that it should
be hard, for otherwise it could not bear enormous weights without being
crushed; and if, in addition to this hardness, it had been brittle, like
glass, it could not have been employed except in the rudest way, as
flints are in Kentish walls. But now it is possible to cut a block of
granite out of its quarry to exactly the size we want; and that with
perfect ease, without gunpowder, or any help but that of a few small
iron wedges, a chisel, and a heavy hammer. A single workman can detach a
mass fifteen or twenty feet long, by merely drilling a row of holes, a
couple of inches deep, and three or four inches apart, along the
surface, in the direction in which he wishes to split the rock, and then
inserting wedges into each of these holes, and striking them,
consecutively, with small, light, repeated blows along the whole row.
The granite rends, at last, along the line, quite evenly, requiring very
little chiselling afterwards to give the block a smooth face.

§ 17. This after-chiselling, however, is necessarily tedious work, and
therefore that condition of speckled color, which is beautiful if
exhibited in broad masses, but offensive in delicate forms, exactly
falls in with the conditions of _possible_ sculpture. Not only is it
more laborious to carve granite delicately, than a softer rock; but it
is physically impossible to bring it into certain refinements of form.
It cannot be scraped and touched into contours, as marble can; it must
be struck hard, or it will not yield at all; and to strike a delicate
and detached form hard, is to break it. The detached fingers of a
delicate hand, for instance, cannot, as far as I know, be cut in
granite. The smallest portion could not be removed from them without a
strength of blow which would break off the finger. Hence the sculptor of
granite is forced to confine himself to, and to seek for, certain types
of form capable of expression in his material; he is naturally driven to
make his figures simple in surface, and colossal in size, that they may
bear his blows; and this simplicity and magnitude are exactly the
characters necessary to show the granitic or porphyritic color to the
best advantage. And thus we are guided, almost forced, by the laws of
nature, to do right in art. Had granite been white, and marble speckled
(and why should this not have been, but by the definite Divine
appointment for the good of man?), the huge figures of the Egyptian
would have been as oppressive to the sight as cliffs of snow, and the
Venus de Medicis would have looked like some exquisitely graceful
species of frog.


  Their third characteristic. _Purity in decomposition._

§ 18. The third universal characteristic of these rocks is their
decomposition into the purest sand and clay. Some of them decompose
spontaneously, though slowly, on exposure to weather; the greater number
only after being mechanically pulverized; but the sand and clay to which
by one or the other process they are reducible, are both remarkable for
their purity. The clay is the finest and best that can be found for
porcelain; the sand often of the purest white, always lustrous and
bright in its particles. The result of this law is a peculiar aspect of
purity in the landscape composed of such rocks. It cannot become muddy,
or foul, or unwholesome. The streams which descend through it may indeed
be opaque, and as white as cream with the churned substance of the
granite; but their water, after this substance has been thrown down, is
good and pure, and their shores are not slimy or treacherous, but of
pebbles, or of firm and sparkling sand. The quiet streams, springs, and
lakes are always of exquisite clearness, and the sea which washes a
granite coast is as unsullied as a flawless emerald. It is remarkable to
what extent this intense purity in the country seems to influence the
character of its inhabitants. It is almost impossible to make a cottage
built in a granite country look absolutely miserable. Rough it may
be,--neglected, cold, full of aspect of hardship,--but it never can look
_foul_; no matter how carelessly, how indolently, its inhabitants may
live, the water at their doors will not stagnate, the soil beneath their
feet will not allow itself to be trodden into slime, the timbers of
their fences will not rot, they cannot so much as dirty their faces or
hands if they try; do the worst they can, there will still be a feeling
of firm ground under them, and pure air about them, and an inherent
wholesomeness in their abodes which it will need the misery of years to
conquer. And, as far as I remember, the inhabitants of granite countries
have always a force and healthiness of character, more or less abated
or modified, of course, according to the other circumstances of their
life, but still definitely belonging to them, as distinguished from the
inhabitants of the less pure districts of the hills.

These, then, are the principal characters of the compact crystallines,
regarded in their minor or detached masses. Of the peculiar forms which
they assume we shall have to speak presently; meantime, retaining these
general ideas touching their nature and substance, let us proceed to
examine, in the same point of view, the neighboring group of slaty
crystallines.


FOOTNOTES

  [42] I am well aware that to the minds of many persons nothing bears
    a greater appearance of presumption than any attempt at reasoning
    respecting the purposes of the Divine Being; and that in many cases
    it would be thought more consistent with the modesty of humanity to
    limit its endeavor to the ascertaining of physical causes than to
    form conjectures respecting Divine intentions. But I believe this
    feeling to be false and dangerous. Wisdom can only be demonstrated
    in its ends, and goodness only perceived in its motives. He who in a
    morbid modesty supposes that he is incapable of apprehending any of
    the purposes of God, renders himself also incapable of witnessing
    his wisdom; and he who supposes that favors may be bestowed without
    intention, will soon learn to receive them without gratitude.

  [43] See Appendix 2. Slaty Cleavage.

  [44] As we had to complain of Dante for not enough noticing the
    colors of rocks in wild nature, let us do him the justice to refer
    to his noble symbolic use of their colors when seen in the hewn
    block.

      "The lowest stair was marble white, so smooth
       And polished that therein my mirrored form
       Distinct I saw. The next of hue more dark
       Than sablest grain, a rough and singed block,
       Cracked lengthwise and across. The third, that lay
       Massy above, seemed porphyry, that flamed
       Red as the life-blood spouting from a vein."

    This stair is at the gate of Purgatory. The white step means
    sincerity of conscience; the black, contrition; the purple (I
    believe), pardon by the Atonement.



CHAPTER IX.

OF THE MATERIALS OF MOUNTAINS:--SECONDLY, SLATY CRYSTALLINES.


§ 1. It will be remembered that we said in the last chapter (§ 4) that
one of the notable characters of the whole group of the crystallines was
the incomprehensibility of the processes which have brought them to
their actual state. This however is more peculiarly true of the slaty
crystallines. It is perfectly possible, by many processes of chemistry,
to produce masses of irregular crystals which, though not of the
substance of granite, are very like it in their mode of arrangement.
But, as far as I am aware, it is impossible to produce artificially
anything resembling the structure of the slaty crystallines. And the
more I have examined the rocks themselves, the more I have felt at once
the difficulty of explaining the method of their formation, and the
growing interest of inquiries respecting that method. The facts (and I
can venture to give nothing more than facts) are briefly these:--

§ 2. The mineral called mica, described in the course of the last
chapter, is closely connected with another, differing from it in
containing a considerable quantity of magnesia. This associated mineral,
called chlorite, is of a dull greenish color, and opaque, while the mica
is, in thin plates, more or less translucent; and the chlorite is apt to
occur more in the form of a green earth, or green dust, than of finely
divided plates. The original quantity of magnesia in the rock determines
how far the mica shall give place to chlorite; and in the intermediate
conditions of rock we find a black and nearly opaque mica, containing a
good deal of magnesia, together with a chlorite, which at first seems
mixed with small plates of true mica, or is itself formed of minute
plates or spangles, and then, as the quantity of magnesia increases,
assumes its proper form of a dark green earth.

§ 3. By this appointment there is obtained a series of materials by
which the appearance of the rock may be varied to almost any extent.
From plates of brilliant white mica half a foot broad, flashing in the
sun like panes of glass, to a minute film of dark green dust hardly
traceable by the eye, an infinite range of conditions is found in the
different groups of rocks; but always under this general law, that, for
the most part, the compact crystallines present the purest and boldest
plates of mica; and the tendency to pass into slaty crystallines is
commonly accompanied by the change of the whiteness of the mica to a
dark or black color, indicating (I believe) the presence of magnesia,
and by the gradual intermingling with it of chloritic earth; or else of
a cognate mineral (differing from chlorite in containing a quantity of
lime) called hornblende.

[Illustration: FIG. 5.]

Such, at least, is eminently the case in the Alps; and in the account I
have to give of their slaty crystallines, it must be understood that in
using the word "mica" generally, I mean the more obscure conditions of
the mineral, associated with chlorite and hornblende.

§ 4. Now it is quite easy to understand how, in the compact
crystallines, the various elements of the rock, separating from each
other as they congealed from their fluid state, whether of watery
solution or fiery fusion, might arrange themselves in irregular grains
as at _a_ in Fig. 3, p. 106. Such an arrangement constantly takes place
before our eyes in volcanic rocks as they cool. But it is not at all
easy to understand how the white, hard, and comparatively heavy
substances should throw themselves into knots and bands in one definite
direction, and the delicate films of mica should undulate about and
between them, as in Fig. 5 on page 114, like rivers among islands,
pursuing, however, on the whole, a straight course across the mass of
rock. If it could be shown that such pieces of stone had been formed in
the horizontal position in which I have drawn the one in the figure, the
structure would be somewhat intelligible as the result of settlement.
But, on the contrary, the lines of such foliated rocks hardly ever are
horizontal; neither can distinct evidence be found of their at any time
having been so. The evidence, on the contrary, is often strongly in
favor of their having been formed in the highly inclined directions in
which they now occur, such as that of the piece in Fig. 7, p. 117.[45]

[Illustration: FIG. 6.]

§ 5. Such, however, is the simple fact, that when the compact pact
crystallines are about to pass into slaty crystallines, their mica
throws itself into these bands and zones, undulating around knots of the
other substances which compose the rock. Gradually the knots diminish in
size, the mica becomes more abundant and more definite in direction, and
at last the mass, when broken across the beds, assumes the appearance of
Fig. 6 on the last page.[46] Now it will be noticed that, in the lines
of that figure, no less than in Fig. 5, though more delicately, there is
a subdued, but continual expression of _undulation_. This character
belongs, more or less, to nearly the whole mass of slaty crystalline
rocks; it is one of exquisite beauty, and of the highest importance to
their picturesque forms. It is also one of as great mysteriousness as
beauty. For these two figures are selected from crystallines whose beds
are remarkably straight; in the greater number the undulation becomes
far more violent, and, in many, passes into absolute contortion. Fig. 7
is a piece of a slaty crystalline, rich in mica, from the Valley of St.
Nicolas, below Zermatt. The rock from which it was broken was thrown
into coils three or four feet across: the fragment, which is drawn of
the real size, was at one of the turns, and came away like a thick
portion of a crumpled quire of paper from the other sheets.[47]

[Illustration: FIG. 7.]


  Typical character of Slaty Crystallines.

§ 6. I might devote half a volume to a description of the fantastic and
incomprehensible arrangement of these rocks and their veins; but all
that is necessary for the general reader to know or remember, is this
broad fact of the _undulation_ of their whole substance. For there is
something, it seems to me, inexpressibly marvellous in this phenomenon,
largely looked at. It is to be remembered that these are the rocks
which, on the average, will be oftenest observed, and with the greatest
interest, by the human race. The central granites are too far removed,
the lower rocks too common, to be carefully studied; these slaty
crystallines form the noblest hills that are easily accessible, and seem
to be thus calculated especially to attract observation, and reward it.
Well, we begin to examine them; and first, we find a notable hardness in
them, and a thorough boldness of general character, which make us regard
them as very types of perfect rocks. They have nothing of the look of
dried earth about them, nothing petty or limited in the display of their
bulk. Where they are, they seem to form the world; no mere bank of a
river here, or of a lane there, peeping out among the hedges or forests:
but from the lowest valley to the highest clouds, all is theirs--one
adamantine dominion and rigid authority of rock. We yield ourselves to
the impression of their eternal, unconquerable stubbornness of strength;
their mass seems the least yielding, least to be softened, or in anywise
dealt with by external force, of all earthly substance. And, behold, as
we look farther into it, it is all touched and troubled, like waves by a
summer breeze; rippled, far more delicately than seas or lakes are
rippled; _they_ only undulate along their surfaces--this rock trembles
through its every fibre, like the chords of an Eolian harp--like the
stillest air of spring with the echoes of a child's voice. Into the
heart of all those great mountains, through every tossing of their
boundless crests, and deep beneath all their unfathomable defiles, flows
that strange quivering of their substance. Other and weaker things seem
to express their subjection to an Infinite power only by momentary
terrors: as the weeds bow down before the feverish wind, and the sound
of the going in the tops of the taller trees passes on before the
clouds, and the fitful opening of pale spaces on the dark water as if
some invisible hand were casting dust abroad upon it, gives warning of
the anger that is to come, we may well imagine that there is indeed a
fear passing upon the grass, and leaves, and waters, at the presence of
some great spirit commissioned to let the tempest loose; but the terror
passes, and their sweet rest is perpetually restored to the pastures and
the waves. Not so to the mountains. They, which at first seem
strengthened beyond the dread of any violence or change, are yet also
ordained to bear upon them the symbol of a perpetual Fear: the tremor
which fades from the soft lake and gliding river is sealed, to all
eternity, upon the rock; and while things that pass visibly from birth
to death may sometimes forget their feebleness, the mountains are made
to possess a perpetual memorial of their infancy,--that infancy which
the prophet saw in his vision: "I beheld the earth, and lo, it was
without form and void, and the heavens, and they had no light. I beheld
the mountains, and lo, they _trembled_; and all the hills _moved
lightly_."


  Serviceable characters of the Slaty Crystallines.

  1. Fitness for building with.

§ 7. Thus far may we trace the apparent typical signification of the
structure of those noble rocks. The material uses of this structure are
not less important. These substances of the higher mountains, it is
always to be remembered, were to be so hard as to enable them to be
raised into, and remain in, the most magnificent forms; and this
hardness renders it a matter of great difficulty for the peasant to
break them into such masses as are required for his daily purposes. He
is compelled in general to gather the fragments which are to form the
walls of his house or his garden from the ruins into which the mountain
suffers its ridges to be naturally broken; and if these pieces were
absolutely irregular in shape, it would be a matter of much labor and
skill to build securely with them. But the flattened arrangement of the
layers of mica always causes the rock to break into flattish fragments,
requiring hardly any pains in the placing them so as to lie securely in
a wall, and furnishing light, broad, and unflawed pieces to serve for
slates upon the roof; for fences, when set edgeways into the ground; or
for pavements, when laid flat.


  2. Stability in débris.

§ 8. Farther: whenever rocks break into utterly irregular fragments, the
masses of débris which they form are not only excessively difficult to
walk over, but the pieces touch each other in so few points, and suffer
the water to run so easily and so far through their cavities, that it
takes a long series of years to enable them either to settle themselves
firmly, or receive the smallest covering of vegetation. Where the
substance of the stone is soft, it may soon be worn down, so that the
irregular form is of less consequence. But in the hard crystallines,
unless they had a tendency to break into flattish fragments, their ruin
would remain for centuries in impassable desolation. The flat shape of
the separate pieces prevents this; it permits--almost necessitates--their
fitting into and over each other in a tolerably close mass, and thus they
become comparatively easy to the foot, less permeable to water, and
therefore retentive both of surface moisture and of the seeds of
vegetation.


  3. Security on declivities.

§ 9. There is another result of nearly equal importance as far as
regards the habitableness of the hills. When stones are thrown together
in rounded or massy blocks, like a heap of hazel nuts, small force will
sometimes disturb their balance; and when once set in motion, a
square-built and heavy fragment will thunder down even a slightly
sloping declivity, with an impetus as unlikely to be arrested as fatal
in its increase. But when stones lie flatly, as dead leaves lie, it is
not easy to tilt any one of them upon its edge, so as to set it in
motion; and when once moved, it will nearly always slide, not roll, and
be stopped by the first obstacle it encounters, catching against it by
the edge, or striking into the turf where first it falls, like a
hatchet. Were it not for the merciful ordinance that the slaty
crystallines should break into thin and flattish fragments, the frequent
falls of stones from the hill sides would render many spots among the
greater mountain chains utterly uninhabitable, which are now
comparatively secure.


  4. Tendency to form the loveliest scenery.

§ 10. Of the picturesque aspects which this mode of cleavage produces in
the mountains, and in the stones of the foreground, we shall have to
speak presently; with regard to the uses of the materials it is only
necessary to note farther that these slaty rocks are of course, by their
wilful way of breaking, rendered unfit for sculpture, and for nearly all
purposes of art; the properties which render them convenient for the
peasant in building his cottage, making them unavailable for the
architecture of more elaborate edifices. One very great advantage is
thus secured for the scenery they compose, namely, that it is rarely
broken by quarries. A single quarry will often spoil a whole Alpine
landscape; the effect of the lovely bay of the Lago Maggiore, for
instance, in which lie the Borromean Islands, is, in great part,
destroyed by the scar caused by a quarry of pink granite on its western
shore; and the valley of Chamouni itself has lost some of its loveliest
rock scenery in consequence of the unfortunate discovery that the
boulders which had fallen from its higher pinnacles, and were lying in
massy heaps among its pines, were available for stone lintels and
door-posts in the building of its new inns. But the slaty crystallines,
though sometimes containing valuable mines, are hardly ever quarried for
stone; and the scenes they compose retain, in general, little disturbed
by man, their aspect of melancholy power, or simple and noble peace. The
color of their own mass, when freshly broken, is nearly the same as that
of the compact crystallines; but it is far more varied by veins and
zones of included minerals, and contains usually more iron, which gives
a rich brown or golden color to their exposed sides, so that the
coloring of these rocks is the most glowing to be found in the mountain
world. They form also soil for vegetation more quickly, and of a more
fruitful kind than the granites, and appear, on the whole, intended to
unite every character of grandeur and of beauty, and to constitute the
loveliest as well as the noblest scenes which the earth ever unfolds to
the eyes of men.


FOOTNOTES

  [45] See again Appendix 2. Slaty Cleavage.

  [46] This is a piece of the gneiss of the Montanvert, near the
    Châlets of Blaitière dessous.

  [47] "Some idea may be formed of the nature of these incurvations by
    supposing the gneiss beds to have been in a plastic state, either
    from the action of heat or of some other unknown cause, and, while
    in this state, to have been subjected to pressure at the two
    extremities, or in some other parts, according to the nature of the
    curvatures. But even this hypothesis (though the best that has been
    thought of) will scarcely enable us to explain all the contortions
    which not merely the beds of gneiss, but likewise of mica slate and
    clay slate, and even greywacke slate, exhibit. There is a bed of
    clay slate near the ferry to Kerrera, a few miles south of Oban, in
    Argyleshire. This bed has been partly wasted away by the sea, and
    its structure exposed to view. It contains a central cylindrical
    nucleus of unknown length (but certainly considerable), round which
    six beds of clay slate are wrapt, the one within the other, so as to
    form six concentric cylinders. Now, however plastic the clay slate
    may have been, there is no kind of pressure which will account for
    this structure; the central cylinder would have required to have
    been rolled six times in succession (allowing an interval for
    solidification between each) in the plastic clay slate."--_Outlines
    of Mineralogy, Geology, &c._, by Thomas Thomson, M.D.



CHAPTER X.

OF THE MATERIALS OF MOUNTAINS:--THIRDLY, SLATY COHERENTS.


§ 1. It will be remembered that we resolved to give generally the term
"coherent" to those rocks which appeared to be composed of one compact
substance, not of several materials. But, as in all the arrangements of
Nature we find that her several classes pass into each other by
imperceptible gradations, and that there is no ruling of red lines
between one and the other, we need not suppose that we shall find any
plainly distinguishable limit between the crystalline and coherent
rocks. Sometimes, indeed, a very distinctly marked crystalline will be
joined by a coherent rock so sharply and neatly that it is possible to
break off specimens, no larger than a walnut, containing portions of
each; but far more frequently the transition from one to the other is
effected gradually; or, if not, there exist, at any rate, in other
places intervening, a series of rocks which possess an imperfectly
crystalline character, passing down into that of simple coherence. This
transition is usually effected through the different kinds of slate; the
slaty crystallines becoming more and more fine in texture, until at last
they appear composed of nothing but very fine mica or chlorite; and this
mass of micaceous substance becomes more and more compact and silky in
texture, losing its magnesia, and containing more of the earth which
forms the substance of clay, until at last it assumes the familiar
appearance of roofing-slate, the noblest example of the coherent rocks.
I call it the noblest, as being the nearest to the crystallines, and
possessing much in common with them. Connected with this well-known
substance are enormous masses of other rocks, more or less resembling it
in character, of which the following are universal characteristics.


  Characteristics of Slaty Coherents.

  1. Softness of texture.

  2. Lamination of structure.

§ 2. First. They nearly always, as just said, contain more of the earth,
which is the basis of clay, than the crystalline rocks; and they can be
scratched or crushed with much greater facility. The point of a knife
will trace a continuous powdery streak upon most of the coherent rocks;
while it will be quite powerless against a large portion of the granular
knots in the crystallines. Besides this actual softness of substance,
the slaty coherents are capable of very fine division into flakes, not
irregularly and contortedly, like the crystallines, but straightly, so
as to leave a silky lustre on the sides of the fragments, as in roofing
slate; and separating with great ease, yielding to a slight pressure
against the edge. Consequently, although the slaty coherents are capable
of forming large and bold mountains, they are liable to all kinds of
destruction and decay in a far greater degree than the crystallines;
giving way in large masses under frost, and crumbling into heaps of
flaky rubbish, which in its turn dissolves or is ground down into
impalpable dust or mud, and carried to great distances by the mountain
streams. These characters render the slaty coherents peculiarly adapted
for the support of vegetation; and as, though apparently homogeneous,
they usually contain as many chemical elements as the crystallines, they
constitute (as far as regards the immediate nourishment of soils) the
most important part of mountain ranges.


  3. Darkness and blueness in color.

§ 3. I have already often had occasion to allude to the apparent
connexion of brilliancy of color with vigor of life, or purity of
substance. This is preeminently the case in the mineral kingdom. The
perfection with which the particles of any substance unite in
crystallization corresponds, in that kingdom, to the vital power in
organic nature; and it is a universal law, that according to the purity
of any substance, and according to the energy of its crystallization, is
its beauty or brightness. Pure earths are without exception white when
in powder; and the same earths which are the constituents of clay and
sand, form, when crystallized, the emerald, ruby, sapphire, amethyst,
and opal. Darkness and dulness of color are the universal signs of
dissolution, or disorderly mingling of elements.[48]

§ 4. Accordingly, these slaty coherents, being usually composed of many
elements imperfectly united, are also for the most part grey, black, or
dull purple; those which are purest and hardest verging most upon
purple, and some of them in certain lights displaying, on their smooth
sides, very beautiful zones and changeful spaces of grey, russet, and
obscure blue. But even this beauty is strictly connected with their
preservation of such firmness of form as properly belongs to them; it is
seen chiefly on their even and silky surfaces; less, in comparison, upon
their broken edges, and is lost altogether when they are reduced to
powder. They then form a dull grey dust, or, with moisture, a black
slime, of great value as a vegetative earth, but of intense ugliness
when it occurs in extended spaces in mountain scenery. And thus the
slaty coherents are often employed to form those landscapes of which the
purpose appears to be to impress us with a sense of horror and pain, as
a foil to neighboring scenes of extreme beauty. There are many spots
among the inferior ridges of the Alps, such as the Col de Ferret, the
Col d'Anterne, and the associated ranges of the Buet, which, though
commanding prospects of great nobleness, are themselves very nearly
types of all that is most painful to the human mind. Vast wastes of
mountain ground, covered here and there with dull grey grass, or moss,
but breaking continually into black banks of shattered slate, all
glistening and sodden with slow tricklings of clogged, incapable
streams; the snow water oozing through them in a cold sweat, and
spreading itself in creeping stains among their dust; ever and anon a
shaking here and there, and a handful or two of their particles or
flakes trembling down, one sees not why, into more total dissolution,
leaving a few jagged teeth, like the edges of knives eaten away by
vinegar, projecting through the half-dislodged mass from the inner rock,
keen enough to cut the hand or foot that rests on them, yet crumbling as
they wound, and soon sinking again into the smooth, slippery, glutinous
heap, looking like a beach of black scales of dead fish, cast ashore
from a poisonous sea, and sloping away into foul ravines, branched down
immeasurable slopes of barrenness, where the winds howl and wander
continually, and the snow lies in wasted and sorrowful fields, covered
with sooty dust, that collects in streaks and stains at the bottom of
all its thawing ripples. I know no other scenes so appalling as these in
storm, or so woful in sunshine.


  4. Great power of supporting vegetation.

§ 5. Where, however, these same rocks exist in more favorable positions,
that is to say, in gentler banks and at lower elevations, they form a
ground for the most luxuriant vegetation; and the valleys of Savoy owe
to them some of their loveliest solitudes,--exquisitely rich pastures,
interspersed with arable and orchard land, and shaded by groves of
walnut and cherry. Scenes of this kind, and of that just described, so
singularly opposed, and apparently brought together as foils to each
other, are, however, peculiar to certain beds of the slaty coherents,
which are both vast in elevation, and easy of destruction. In Wales and
Scotland, the same groups of rocks possess far greater hardness, while
they attain less elevation; and the result is a totally different aspect
of scenery. The severity of the climate, and the comparative durableness
of the rock, forbid the rich vegetation; but the exposed summits, though
barren, are not subject to laws of destruction so rapid and fearful as
in Switzerland; and the natural color of the rock is oftener developed
in the purples and greys which, mingled with the heather, form the
principal elements of the deep and beautiful distant blue of the British
hills. Their gentler mountain streams also permit the beds of rock to
remain in firm, though fantastic, forms along their banks, and the
gradual action of the cascades and eddies upon the slaty cleavage
produces many pieces of foreground scenery to which higher hills can
present no parallel. Of these peculiar conditions we shall have to speak
at length in another place.


  5. Adaptation to architecture and the fine arts.

§ 6. As far as regards ministry to the purposes of man, the slaty
coherents are of somewhat more value than the slaty crystallines. Most
of them can be used in the same way for rough buildings, while they
furnish finer plates or sheets for roofing. It would be difficult,
perhaps, to estimate the exact importance of their educational influence
in the form of drawing-slate. For sculpture they are, of course,
altogether unfit, but I believe certain finer conditions of them are
employed for a dark ground in Florentine mosaic.

§ 7. It remains only to be noticed, that the direction of the lamination
(or separation into small folio) is, in these rocks, not always, nor
even often indicative of the true direction of their larger beds. It is
not, however, necessary for the reader to enter into questions of such
complicated nature as those which belong to the study of slaty cleavage;
and only a few points, which I could not pass over, are noted in the
Appendix; but it is necessary to observe here, that all rocks, however
constituted, or however disposed, have certain ways of breaking in one
direction rather than another, and separating themselves into blocks by
means of smooth cracks or fissures, technically called joints, which
often influence their forms more than either the position of their beds,
or their slaty lamination; and always are conspicuous in their weathered
masses. Of these, however, as it would be wearisome to enter into more
detail at present, I rather choose to speak incidentally, as we meet
with examples of their results in the scenery we have to study more
particularly.


FOOTNOTES

  [48] Compare the close of § 11, Chap. III. Vol. III., and, here,
    Chap. III. § 23.



CHAPTER XI.

OF THE MATERIALS OF MOUNTAINS:--FOURTHLY, COMPACT COHERENTS.


§ 1. This group of rocks, the last we have to examine, is, as far as
respects geographical extent and usefulness to the human race, more
important than any of the preceding ones. It forms the greater part of
all low hills and uplands throughout the world, and supplies the most
valuable materials for building and sculpture, being distinguished from
the group of the slaty coherents by its incapability of being separated
into thin sheets. All the rocks belonging to the group break
irregularly, like loaf sugar or dried clay. Some of them are composed of
hardened calcareous matter, and are known as limestone; others are
merely hardened sand, and are called freestone or sandstone; and others,
appearing to consist of dry mud or clay, are of less general importance,
and receive different names in different localities.

§ 2. Among these rocks, the foremost position is, of course, occupied by
the great group of the marbles, of which the substance appears to have
been prepared expressly in order to afford to human art a perfect means
of carrying out its purposes. They are of exactly the necessary
hardness,--neither so soft as to be incapable of maintaining themselves
in delicate forms, nor so hard as always to require a blow to give
effect to the sculptor's touch; the mere pressure of his chisel produces
a certain, effect upon them. The color of the white varieties is of
exquisite delicacy, owing to the partial translucency of the pure rock;
and it has always appeared to me a most wonderful ordinance,--one of the
most _marked_ pieces of purpose in the creation,--that all the
variegated kinds should be comparatively opaque, so as to set off the
color on the surface, while the white, which if it had been opaque would
have looked somewhat coarse (as, for instance, common chalk does), is
rendered just translucent enough to give an impression of extreme
purity, but not so translucent as to interfere in the least with the
distinctness of any forms into which it is wrought. The colors of
variegated marbles are also for the most part very beautiful, especially
those composed of purple, amber, and green, with white; and there seems
to be something notably attractive to the human mind in the vague and
veined labyrinths of their arrangements. They are farther marked as the
prepared material for human work by the dependence of their beauty on
smoothness of surface; for their veins are usually seen but dimly in the
native rock; and the colors they assume under the action of weather are
inferior to those of the crystallines: it is not until wrought and
polished by man that they show their character. Finally, they do not
decompose. The exterior surface is sometimes destroyed by a sort of
mechanical disruption of its outer flakes, but rarely to the extent in
which such action takes place in other rocks; and the most delicate
sculptures, if executed in good marble, will remain for ages
undeteriorated.

§ 3. Quarries of marble are, however, rare, and we owe the greatest part
of the good architecture of this world to the more ordinary limestones
and sandstones, easily obtainable in blocks of considerable size, and
capable of being broken, sawn, or sculptured with ease; the color,
generally grey, or warm red (the yellow and white varieties becoming
grey with age), being exactly that which will distinguish buildings by
an agreeable contrast from the vegetation by which they may be
surrounded.

To these inferior conditions of the compact coherence we owe also the
greater part of the _pretty_ scenery of the inhabited globe. The sweet
winding valleys, with peeping cliffs on either side; the light,
irregular wanderings of broken streamlets; the knolls and slopes covered
with rounded woods; the narrow ravines, carpeted with greensward, and
haunted by traditions of fairy or gnome; the jutting crags, crowned by
the castle or watch-tower; the white sea-cliff and sheep-fed down; the
long succession of coteau, sunburnt, and bristling with vines,--all
these owe whatever they have of simple beauty to the peculiar nature of
the group of rocks of which we are speaking; a group which, though
occasionally found in mountain masses of magnificent form and size, is
on the whole characterized by a comparative smallness of scale, and a
tendency to display itself less in true mountains than in elevated downs
or plains, through which winding valleys, more or less deep, are cut by
the action of the streams.

§ 4. It has been said that this group of rocks is distinguished by its
incapability of being separated into sheets. This is only true of it in
small portions, for it is usually deposited in beds or layers of
irregular thickness, which are easily separable from each other; and
when, as not unfrequently happens, some of these beds are only half an
inch or a quarter of an inch thick, the rock appears to break into flat
plates like a slaty coherent. But this appearance is deceptive. However
thin the bed may be, it will be found that it is in its own substance
compact, and not separable into two other beds; but the true slaty
coherents possess a delicate slatiness of structure, carried into their
most minute portions, so that however thin a piece of them may be, it is
usually possible, if we have instruments fine enough, to separate it
into two still thinner flakes. As, however, the slaty and compact
crystallines, so also the slaty and compact coherents pass into each
other by subtle gradations, and present many intermediate conditions,
very obscure and indefinable.

§ 5. I said just now that the colors of the compact coherents were
usually such as would pleasantly distinguish buildings from vegetation.
They are so; but considered as abstract hues, are yet far less agreeable
than those of the nobler and older rocks. And it is to be noticed, that
as these inferior rocks are the materials with which we usually build,
they form the ground of the idea suggested to most men's minds by the
word "stone," and therefore the general term "stone-color" is used in
common parlance as expressive of the hue to which the compact coherents
for the most part approximate. By stone-color I suppose we all
understand a sort of tawny grey, with too much yellow in it to be called
cold, and too little to be called warm. And it is quite true that over
enormous districts of Europe, composed of what are technically known as
"Jura" and "mountain" limestones, and various pale sandstones, such is
generally the color of any freshly broken rock which peeps out along the
sides of their gentler hills. It becomes a little greyer as it is
colored by time, but never reaches anything like the noble hues of the
gneiss and slate; the very lichens which grow upon it are poorer and
paler; and although the deep wood mosses will sometimes bury it
altogether in golden cushions, the minor mosses, whose office is to
decorate and chequer the rocks without concealing them, are always more
meagrely set on these limestones than on the crystallines.

§ 6. I never have had time to examine and throw into classes the
varieties of the mosses which grow on the two kinds of rock, nor have I
been able to ascertain whether there are really numerous differences
between the species, or whether they only grow more luxuriantly on the
crystallines than on the coherents. But this is certain, that on the
broken rocks of the foreground in the crystalline groups the mosses seem
to set themselves consentfully and deliberately to the task of producing
the most exquisite harmonies of color in their power. They will not
conceal the form of the rock, but will gather over it in little brown
bosses, like small cushions of velvet made of mixed threads of dark ruby
silk and gold, rounded over more subdued films of white and grey, with
lightly crisped and curled edges like hoar frost on fallen leaves, and
minute clusters of upright orange stalks with pointed caps, and fibres
of deep green, and gold, and faint purple passing into black, all woven
together, and following with unimaginable fineness of gentle growth the
undulation of the stone they cherish, until it is charged with color so
that it can receive no more; and instead of looking rugged, or cold, or
stern, as anything that a rock is held to be at heart, it seems to be
clothed with a soft, dark leopard skin, embroidered with arabesque of
purple and silver. But in the lower ranges this is not so. The mosses
grow in more independent spots, not in such a clinging and tender way
over the whole surface; the lichens are far poorer and fewer; and the
color of the stone itself is seen more frequently; altered, if at all,
only into a little chiller grey than when it is freshly broken. So that
a limestone landscape is apt to be dull, and cold in general tone, with
some aspect even of barrenness. The sandstones are much richer in
vegetation: there are, perhaps, no scenes in our own island more
interesting than the wooded dingles which traverse them, the red rocks
growing out on either side, and shelving down into the pools of their
deep brown rivers, as at Jedburgh and Langholme; the steep oak copses
climbing the banks, the paler plumes of birch shaking themselves free
into the light of the sky above, and the few arches of the monastery
where the fields in the glen are greenest, or the stones of the border
tower where its cliffs are steepest, rendering both field and cliff a
thousandfold more dear to the heart and sight. But deprived of
associations, and compared in their mere natural beauty with the ravines
of the central ranges, there can be no question but that even the
loveliest passages of such scenery are imperfect and poor in foreground
color. And at first there would seem to be an unfairness in this, unlike
the usual system of compensation which so often manifests itself
throughout nature. The higher mountains have their scenes of power and
vastness, their blue precipices and cloud-like snows: why should they
also have the best and fairest colors given to their foreground rocks,
and overburden the human mind with wonder; while the less majestic
scenery, tempting us to the observance of details for which amidst the
higher mountains we had no admiration left, is yet, in the beauty of
those very details, as inferior as it is in scale of magnitude?

§ 7. I believe the answer must be, simply, that it is not good for man
to live among what is most beautiful;--that he is a creature incapable
of satisfaction by anything upon earth; and that to allow him habitually
to possess, in any kind whatsoever, the utmost that earth can give, is
the surest way to cast him into lassitude or discontent.

If the most exquisite orchestral music could be continued without a
pause for a series of years, and children were brought up and educated
in the room in which it was perpetually resounding, I believe their
enjoyment of music, or understanding of it, would be very small. And an
accurately parallel effect seems to be produced upon the powers of
contemplation, by the redundant and ceaseless loveliness of the high
mountain districts. The faculties are paralyzed by the abundance, and
cease, as we before noticed of the imagination, to be capable of
excitement, except by other subjects of interest than those which
present themselves to the eye. So that it is, in reality, better for
mankind that the forms of their common landscape should offer no
violent stimulus to the emotions,--that the gentle upland, browned by
the bending furrows of the plough, and the fresh sweep of the chalk
down, and the narrow winding of the copse-clad dingle, should be more
frequent scenes of human life than the Arcadias of cloud-capped mountain
or luxuriant vale; and that, while humbler (though always infinite)
sources of interest are given to each of us around the homes to which we
are restrained for the greater part of our lives, these mightier and
stranger glories should become the objects of adventure,--at once the
cynosures of the fancies of childhood, and themes of the happy memory,
and the winter's tale of age.

§ 8. Nor is it always that the inferiority is felt. For, so natural is
it to the human heart to fix itself in hope rather than in present
possession, and so subtle is the charm which the imagination casts over
what is distant or denied, that there is often a more touching power in
the scenes which contain far-away promise of something greater than
themselves, than in those which exhaust the treasures and powers of
Nature in an unconquerable and excellent glory, leaving nothing more to
be by the fancy pictured, or pursued.

I do not know that there is a district in the world more calculated to
illustrate this power of the expectant imagination, than that which
surrounds the city of Fribourg in Switzerland, extending from it towards
Berne. It is of grey sandstone, considerably elevated, but presenting no
object of striking interest to the passing traveller; so that, as it is
generally seen in the course of a hasty journey from the Bernese Alps to
those of Savoy, it is rarely regarded with any other sensation than that
of weariness, all the more painful because accompanied with reaction
from the high excitement caused by the splendor of the Bernese Oberland.
The traveller, footsore, feverish, and satiated with glacier and
precipice, lies back in the corner of the diligence, perceiving little
more than that the road is winding and hilly, and the country through
which it passes cultivated and tame. Let him, however, only do this tame
country the justice of staying in it a few days, until his mind has
recovered its tone, and take one or two long walks through its fields,
and he will have other thoughts of it. It is, as I said, an undulating
district of grey sandstone, never attaining any considerable height,
but having enough of the mountain spirit to throw itself into continual
succession of bold slope and dale; elevated, also, just far enough above
the sea to render the pine a frequent forest tree along its irregular
ridges. Through this elevated tract the river cuts its way in a ravine
some five or six hundred feet in depth, which winds for leagues between
the gentle hills, unthought of, until its edge is approached; and then
suddenly, through the boughs of the firs, the eye perceives, beneath,
the green and gliding stream, and the broad walls of sandstone cliff
that form its banks; hollowed out where the river leans against them, at
its turns, into perilous overhanging, and, on the other shore, at the
same spots, leaving little breadths of meadow between them and the
water, half-overgrown with thicket, deserted in their sweetness,
inaccessible from above, and rarely visited by any curious wanderers
along the hardly traceable footpath which struggles for existence
beneath the rocks. And there the river ripples, and eddies, and murmurs
in an utter solitude. It is passing through the midst of a thickly
peopled country; but never was a stream so lonely. The feeblest and most
far-away torrent among the high hills has its companions: the goats
browse beside it; and the traveller drinks from it, and passes over it
with his staff; and the peasant traces a new channel for it down to his
mill-wheel. But this stream has no companions: it flows on in an
infinite seclusion, not secret nor threatening, but a quietness of sweet
daylight and open air,--a broad space of tender and deep desolateness,
drooped into repose out of the midst of human labor and life; the waves
plashing lowly, with none to hear them; and the wild birds building in
the boughs, with none to fray them away; and the soft, fragrant herbs
rising, and breathing, and fading, with no hand to gather them;--and yet
all bright and bare to the clouds above, and to the fresh fall of the
passing sunshine and pure rain.

§ 9. But above the brows of those scarped cliffs, all is in an instant
changed. A few steps only beyond the firs that stretch their branches,
angular, and wild, and white, like forks of lightning, into the air of
the ravine, and we are in an arable country of the most perfect
richness; the swathes of its corn glowing and burning from field to
field; its pretty hamlets all vivid with fruitful orchards and flowery
gardens, and goodly with steep-roofed storehouse and barn; its
well-kept, hard, park-like roads rising and falling from hillside to
hillside, or disappearing among brown banks of moss, and thickets of the
wild raspberry and rose; or gleaming through lines of tall trees, half
glade, half avenue, where the gate opens, or the gateless path turns
trustedly aside, unhindered, into the garden of some statelier house,
surrounded in rural pride with its golden hives, and carved granaries,
and irregular domain of latticed and espaliered cottages, gladdening to
look upon in their delicate homeliness--delicate, yet, in some sort,
rude; not like our English homes--trim, laborious, formal,
irreproachable in comfort; but with a peculiar carelessness and
largeness in all their detail, harmonizing with the outlawed loveliness
of their country. For there is an untamed strength even in all that soft
and habitable land. It is, indeed, gilded with corn and fragrant with
deep grass, but it is not subdued to the plough or to the scythe. It
gives at its own free will,--it seems to have nothing wrested from it
nor conquered in it. It is not redeemed from desertness, but
unrestrained in fruitfulness,--a generous land, bright with capricious
plenty, and laughing from vale to vale in fitful fulness, kind and wild;
nor this without some sterner element mingled in the heart of it. For
along all its ridges stand the dark masses of innumerable pines, taking
no part in its gladness, asserting themselves for ever as fixed shadows,
not to be pierced or banished, even in the intensest sunlight; fallen
flakes and fragments of the night, stayed in their solemn squares in the
midst of all the rosy bendings of the orchard boughs, and yellow
effulgence of the harvest, and tracing themselves in black network and
motionless fringes against the blanched blue of the horizon in its
saintly clearness. And yet they do not sadden the landscape, but seem to
have been set there chiefly to show how bright everything else is round
them; and all the clouds look of purer silver, and all the air seems
filled with a whiter and more living sunshine, where they are pierced by
the sable points of the pines; and all the pastures look of more glowing
green, where they run up between the purple trunks: and the sweet field
footpaths skirt the edges of the forest for the sake of its shade,
sloping up and down about the slippery roots, and losing themselves
every now and then hopelessly among the violets, and ground ivy, and
brown sheddings of the fibrous leaves; and, at last, plunging into some
open aisle where the light through the distant stems shows that there is
a chance of coming out again on the other side; and coming out, indeed,
in a little while, from the scented darkness, into the dazzling air and
marvellous landscape, that stretches still farther and farther in new
wilfulness of grove and garden, until, at last, the craggy mountains of
the Simmenthal rise out of it, sharp into the rolling of the southern
clouds.

§ 10. I believe, for general development of human intelligence and
sensibility, country of this kind is about the most perfect that exists.
A richer landscape, as that of Italy, enervates, or causes wantonness; a
poorer contracts the conceptions, and hardens the temperament of both
mind and body; and one more curiously or prominently beautiful deadens
the sense of beauty. Even what is here of attractiveness,--far
exceeding, as it does that of most of the thickly peopled districts of
the temperate zone,--seems to act harmfully on the poetical character of
the Swiss; but take its inhabitants all in all, as with deep love and
stern penetration they are painted in the works of their principal
writer, Gotthelf, and I believe we shall not easily find a peasantry
which would completely sustain comparison with them.

§ 11. But be this as it may, it is certain that the compact coherent
rocks are appointed to form the greatest part of the earth's surface,
and by their utility, and easily changed and governed qualities, to
tempt man to dwell among them; being, however, in countries not
definitely mountainous, usually covered to a certain depth by those beds
of loose gravel and sand to which we agreed to give the name of
diluvium. There is nothing which will require to be noted respecting
these last, except the forms into which they are brought by the action
of water; and the account of these belongs properly to the branch of
inquiry which follows next in the order we proposed to ourselves,
namely, that touching the sculpture of mountains, to which it will be
best to devote some separate chapters; this only being noted in
conclusion respecting the various rocks whose nature we have been
describing, that out of the entire series of them we may obtain almost
every color pleasant to human sight, not the less so for being generally
a little softened or saddened. Thus we have beautiful subdued reds,
reaching tones of deep purple, in the porphyries, and of pale rose
color, in the granites; every kind of silvery and leaden grey, passing
into purple, in the slates; deep green, and every hue of greenish grey,
in the volcanic rocks and serpentines; rich orange, and golden brown, in
the gneiss; black, in the lias limestones; and all these, together with
pure white, in the marbles. One color only we hardly ever get in an
exposed rock--that dull _brown_ which we noticed above, in speaking of
color generally, as the most repulsive of all hues; every approximation
to it is softened by nature, when exposed to the atmosphere, into a
purple grey. All this can hardly be otherwise interpreted, than as
prepared for the delight and recreation of man; and I trust that the
time may soon come when these beneficent and beautiful gifts of color
may be rightly felt and wisely employed, and when the variegated fronts
of our houses may render the term "stone-color" as little definite in
the mind of the architect as that of "flower-color" would be to the
horticulturist.



CHAPTER XII.

ON THE SCULPTURE OF MOUNTAINS:--FIRST, THE LATERAL RANGES.


§ 1. Close beside the path by which travellers ascend the Montanvert
from the valley of Chamouni, on the right hand, where it first begins to
rise among the pines, there descends a small stream from the foot of the
granite peak known to the guides as the Aiguille Charmoz. It is
concealed from the traveller by a thicket of alder, and its murmur is
hardly heard, for it is one of the weakest streams of the valley. But it
is a constant stream; fed by a permanent though small glacier, and
continuing to flow even to the close of the summer, when more copious
torrents, depending only on the melting of the lower snows, have left
their beds "stony channels in the sun."

I suppose that my readers must be generally aware that glaciers are
masses of ice in slow motion, at the rate of from ten to twenty inches a
day, and that the stones which are caught between them and the rocks
over which they pass, or which are embedded in the ice and dragged along
by it over those rocks, are of course subjected to a crushing and
grinding power altogether unparalleled by any other force in constant
action. The dust to which these stones are reduced by the friction is
carried down by the streams which flow from the melting glacier, so that
the water which in the morning may be pure, owing what little strength
it has chiefly to the rock springs, is in the afternoon not only
increased in volume, but whitened with dissolved dust of granite, in
proportion to the heat of the preceding hours of the day, and to the
power and size of the glacier which feeds it.

§ 2. The long drought which took place in the autumn of the year 1854,
sealing every source of waters except these perpetual ones, left the
torrent of which I am speaking, and such others, in a state peculiarly
favorable to observance of their _least_ action on the mountains from
which they descend. They were entirely limited to their own ice
fountains, and the quantity of powdered rock which they brought down
was, of course, at its minimum, being nearly unmingled with any earth
derived from the dissolution of softer soil, or vegetable mould, by
rains.

At three in the afternoon, on a warm day in September, when the torrent
had reached its average maximum strength for the day, I filled an
ordinary Bordeaux wine-flask with the water where it was least turbid.
From this quart of water I obtained twenty-four grains of sand and
sediment, more or less fine. I cannot estimate the quantity of water in
the stream; but the runlet of it at which I filled the flask was giving
about two hundred bottles a minute, or rather more, carrying down
therefore about three quarters of a pound of powdered granite every
minute. This would be forty-five pounds an hour; but allowing for the
inferior power of the stream in the cooler periods of the day, and
taking into consideration, on the other side, its increased power in
rain, we may, I think, estimate its average hour's work at twenty-eight
or thirty pounds, or a hundred weight every four hours. By this
insignificant runlet, therefore, some four inches wide and four inches
deep, rather more than two tons of the substance of the Mont Blanc are
displaced, and carried down a certain distance every week; and as it is
only for three or four months that the flow of the stream is checked by
frost, we may certainly allow eighty tons for the mass which it annually
moves.

§ 3. It is not worth while to enter into any calculation of the relation
borne by this runlet to the great torrents which descend from the chain
of Mont Blanc into the valley of Chamouni. To call it the thousandth
part of the glacier waters, would give a ludicrous under-estimate of
their total power; but even so calling it, we should find for result
that eighty thousand tons of mountain must be yearly transformed into
drifted sand, and carried down a certain distance.[49] How much greater
than this is the actual quantity so transformed I cannot tell; but take
this quantity as certain, and consider that this represents merely the
results of the labor of the constant summer streams, utterly
irrespective of all sudden falls of stones and of masses of mountain (a
single thunderbolt will sometimes leave a scar on the flank of a soft
rock, looking like a trench for a railroad); and we shall then begin to
apprehend something of the operation of the great laws of change, which
are the conditions of all material existence, however apparently
enduring. The hills, which, as compared with living beings, seem
"everlasting," are, in truth, as perishing as they: its veins of flowing
fountain weary the mountain heart, as the crimson pulse does ours; the
natural force of the iron crag is abated in its appointed time, like the
strength of the sinews in a human old age; and it is but the lapse of
the longer years of decay which, in the sight of its Creator,
distinguishes the mountain range from the moth and the worm.

§ 4. And hence two questions arise of the deepest interest. From what
first created forms were the mountains brought into their present
condition? into what forms will they change in the course of ages? Was
the world anciently in a more or less perfect state than it is now? was
it less or more fitted for the habitation of the human race? and are the
changes which it is now undergoing favorable to that race or not? The
present conformation of the earth appears dictated, as has been shown in
the preceding chapters, by supreme wisdom and kindness. And yet its
former state must have been different from what it is now; as its
present one from that which it must assume hereafter. Is this,
therefore, the earth's prime into which we are born; or is it, with all
its beauty, only the wreck of Paradise?

I cannot entangle the reader in the intricacy of the inquiries necessary
for anything like a satisfactory solution of these questions. But, were
he to engage in such inquiries, their result would be his strong
conviction of the earth's having been brought from a state in which it
was utterly uninhabitable into one fitted for man;--of its having been,
when first inhabitable, more beautiful than it is now; and of its
gradually tending to still greater inferiority of aspect, and unfitness
for abode.

It has, indeed, been the endeavor of some geologists to prove that
destruction and renovation are continually proceeding simultaneously in
mountains as well as in organic creatures; that while existing eminences
are being slowly lowered, others, in order to supply their place, are
being slowly elevated; and that what is lost in beauty or healthiness in
one spot is gained in another. But I cannot assent to such a conclusion.
Evidence altogether incontrovertible points to a state of the earth in
which it could be tenanted only by lower animals, fitted for the
circumstances under which they lived by peculiar organizations. From
this state it is admitted gradually to have been brought into that in
which we now see it; and the circumstances of the existing dispensation,
whatever may be the date of its endurance, seem to me to point not less
clearly to an end than to an origin; to a creation, when "the earth was
without form and void," and to a close, when it must either be renovated
or destroyed.

§ 5. In one sense, and in one only, the idea of a continuous order of
things is admissible, in so far as the phenomena which introduced, and
those which are to terminate, the existing dispensation, may have been,
and may in future be, nothing more than a gigantic development of
agencies which are in continual operation around us. The experience we
possess of volcanic agency is not yet large enough to enable us to set
limits to its force; and as we see the rarity of subterraneous action
generally proportioned to its violence, there may be appointed, in the
natural order of things, convulsions to take place after certain epochs,
on a scale which the human race has not yet lived long enough to
witness. The soft silver cloud which writhes innocently on the crest of
Vesuvius, rests there without intermission; but the fury which lays
cities in sepulchres of lava bursts forth only after intervals of
centuries; and the still fiercer indignation of the greater volcanoes,
which make half the globe vibrate with earthquake, and shrivels up whole
kingdoms with flame, is recorded only in dim distances of history: so
that it is not irrational to admit that there may yet be powers dormant,
not destroyed, beneath the apparently calm surface of the earth, whose
date of rest is the endurance of the human race, and whose date of
action must be that of its doom. But whether such colossal agencies are
indeed in the existing order of things or not, still the effective
truth, for us, is one and the same. The earth, as a tormented and
trembling ball, may have rolled in space for myriads of ages before
humanity was formed from its dust; and as a devastated ruin it may
continue to roll, when all that dust shall again have been mingled with
ashes that never were warmed by life, or polluted by sin. But for us the
intelligible and substantial fact is that the earth has been brought, by
forces we know not of, into a form fitted for our habitation: on that
form a gradual, but destructive, change is continually taking place, and
the course of that change points clearly to a period when it will no
more be fitted for the dwelling-place of men.

§ 6. It is, therefore, not so much what these forms of the earth
actually are, as what they are continually becoming, that we have to
observe; nor is it possible thus to observe them without an instinctive
reference to the first state out of which they have been brought. The
existing torrent has dug its bed a thousand feet deep. But in what form
was the mountain originally raised which gave that torrent its track and
power? The existing precipice is wrought into towers and bastions by the
perpetual fall of its fragments. In what form did it stand before a
single fragment fell?

Yet to such questions, continually suggesting themselves, it is never
possible to give a complete answer. For a certain distance, the past
work of existing forces can be traced; but there gradually the mist
gathers, and the footsteps of more gigantic agencies are traceable in
the darkness; and still, as we endeavor to penetrate farther and farther
into departed time, the thunder of the Almighty power sounds louder and
louder; and the clouds gather broader and more fearfully, until at last
the Sinai of the world is seen altogether upon a smoke, and the fence of
its foot is reached, which none can break through.

§ 7. If, therefore, we venture to advance towards the spot where the
cloud first comes down, it is rather with the purpose of fully pointing
out that there is a cloud, than of entering into it. It is well to have
been fully convinced of the existence of the mystery, in an age far too
apt to suppose that everything which is visible is explicable, and
everything that is present, eternal. But besides ascertaining the
existence of this mystery, we shall perhaps be able to form some new
conjectures respecting the facts of mountain aspects in the past ages.
Not respecting the processes or powers to which the hills owe their
origin, but respecting the aspect they first assumed.

§ 8. For it is evident that, through all their ruin, some traces must
still exist of the original contours. The directions in which the mass
gives way must have been dictated by the disposition of its ancient
sides; and the currents of the streams that wear its flanks must still,
in great part, follow the course of the primal valleys. So that, in the
actual form of any mountain peak, there must usually be traceable the
shadow or skeleton of its former self; like the obscure indications of
the first frame of a war-worn tower, preserved, in some places, under
the heap of its ruins, in others to be restored in imagination from the
thin remnants of its tottering shell; while here and there, in some
sheltered spot, a few unfallen stones retain their Gothic sculpture, and
a few touches of the chisel, or stains of color, inform us of the whole
mind and perfect skill of the old designer. With this great difference,
nevertheless, that in the human architecture the builder did not
calculate upon ruin, nor appoint the course of impendent desolation; but
that in the hand of the great Architect of the mountains, time and decay
are as much the instruments of His purpose as the forces by which He
first led forth the troops of hills in leaping flocks:--the lightning
and the torrent, and the wasting and weariness of innumerable ages, all
bear their part in the working out of one consistent plan; and the
Builder of the temple for ever stands beside His work, appointing the
stone that is to fall, and the pillar that is to be abased, and guiding
all the seeming wildness of chance and change, into ordained splendors
and foreseen harmonies.

§ 9. Mountain masses, then, considered with respect to their first
raising and first sculpture, may be conveniently divided into two great
groups; namely, those made up of beds or layers, commonly called
stratified; and those made of more or less united substance, called
unstratified. The former are nearly always composed of coherent rocks,
the latter of crystallines; and the former almost always occupy the
outside, the latter the centre of mountain chains. It signifies,
therefore, very little whether we distinguish the groups by calling one
stratified and the other unstratified, or one "coherent" and the other
"crystalline," or one "lateral" and the other "central." But as this
last distinction in position seems to have more influence on their forms
than either of the others, it is, perhaps, best, when we are examining
them in connection with art, that this should be thoroughly kept in
mind; and therefore we will consider the first group under the title of
"lateral ranges," and the second under that of "central peaks."

[Illustration: FIG. 8.]

§ 10. The LATERAL RANGES, which we are first to examine, are, for the
most part, broad tabular masses of sandstone, limestone, or whatever
their material may be,--tilted slightly up over large spaces (several or
many miles square), and forming precipices with their exposed edges, as
a book resting obliquely on another book forms miniature precipices with
its back and sides. The book is a tolerably accurate representation of
the mountain in substance, as well as in external aspect; nearly all
these tabular masses of rock being composed of a multitude of thinner
beds or layers, as the thickness of the book is made up of its leaves;
while every one of the mountain leaves is usually written over, though
in dim characters, like those of a faded manuscript, with history of
departed ages.

"How were these mountain volumes raised, and how are they supported?"
are the natural questions following such a statement.

And the only answer is: "Behold the cloud."

No eye has ever seen one of these raised on a large scale; no
investigation has brought completely to light the conditions under which
the materials which support them were prepared. This only is the simple
fact, that they _are_ raised into such sloping positions; generally
several resting one upon another, like a row of books fallen down (Fig.
8); the last book being usually propped by a piece of formless compact
crystalline rock, represented by the piece of crumpled paper at _a_.

[Illustration: FIG. 9.]

§ 11. It is another simple fact that this arrangement is not effected in
an orderly and serene manner; but that the books, if they were ever
neatly bound, have been fearfully torn to pieces and dog's-eared in the
course of their elevation; sometimes torn leaf from leaf, but more
commonly rent across, as if the paper had been wet and soft: or, to
leave the book similitude, which is becoming inconvenient, the beds seem
to have been in the consistence of a paste, more or less dry; in some
places brittle, and breaking, like a cake, fairly across; in others
moist and tough, and tearing like dough, or bending like hot iron; and,
in others, crushed and shivering into dust, like unannealed glass. And
in these various states they are either bent or broken, or shivered, as
the case may be, into fragments of various shapes, which are usually
tossed one on top of another, as above described; but, of course, under
such circumstances, presenting, not the uniform edges of the books, but
jagged edges, as in Fig. 9.

[Illustration: FIG. 10.]

§ 12. Do not let it be said that I am passing my prescribed limits, and
that I have tried to enter the clouds, and am describing operations
which have never been witnessed. I describe facts or semblances, not
operations. I say "_seem_ to have been," not "have been." I say "_are_
bent;" I do not say "_have been_ bent." Most travellers must remember
the entrance to the valley of Cluse, from the plain of Bonneville, on
the road from Geneva to Chamouni. They remember that immediately after
entering it they find a great precipice on their left, not less than two
thousand feet in perpendicular height. That precipice is formed by beds
of limestone bent like a rainbow, as in Fig. 10. Their edges constitute
the cliff; the flat arch which they form with their backs is covered
with pine forests and meadows, extending for three or four leagues in
the direction of Sixt. Whether the whole mountain was called out of
nothing into the form it possesses, or created first in the form of a
level mass, and then actually bent and broken by external force, is
quite irrelevant to our present purpose; but it is impossible to
describe its form without appearing to imply the latter alternative; and
all the distinct evidence which can be obtained upon the subject points
to such a conclusion, although there are certain features in such
mountains which, up to the present time, have rendered all positive
conclusion impossible, not because they contradict the theories in
question, but because they are utterly inexplicable on any theory
whatever.

§ 13. We return then to our Fig. 9, representing beds which _appear_ to
have been broken short off at the edges. "If they ever were actually
broken," the reader asks, "what could have become of the bits?"
Sometimes they seem to have been lost, carried away no one knows where.
Sometimes they are really found in scattered fragments or dust in the
neighborhood. Sometimes the mountain is simply broken in two, and the
pieces correspond to each other, only leaving a valley between; but more
frequently one half slips down, or the other is pushed up. In such
cases, the coincidence of part with part is sometimes so exact, that
half of a broken pebble has been found on one side, and the other half
five or six hundred feet below, on the other.

§ 14. The beds, however, which are to form mountains of any eminence are
seldom divided in this gentle way. If brittle, one would think they had
been broken as a captain's biscuit breaks, leaving sharp and ragged
edges; and if tough, they appear to have been torn asunder very much
like a piece of new cheese.

The beds which present the most definite appearances of abrupt fracture,
are those of that grey or black limestone above described (Chap. x. §
4), formed into a number of thin layers or leaves, commonly separated by
filmy spreadings of calcareous sand, hard when dry, but easily softened
by moisture; the whole, considered as a mass, easily friable, though
particular beds may be very thick and hard. Imagine a layer of such
substance, three or four thousand feet thick, broken with a sharp crash
through the middle, and one piece of it thrown up as in Fig. 11. It is
evident that the first result of such a shock would be a complete
shattering of the consistence of the broken edges, and that these would
fall, some on the instant, and others tottering and crumbling away from
time to time, until the cliff had got in some degree settled into a
tenable form. The fallen fragments would lie in a confused heap at the
bottom, hiding perhaps one half of its height, as in Fig. 12; the top of
it, wrought into somewhat less ragged shape, would thenceforth submit
itself only to the gradual influences of time and storm.

[Illustration: FIG. 11.]

[Illustration: FIG. 12.]

I do not say that this operation has actually taken place. I merely say
that such cliffs do in multitudes _exist_ in the form shown at Fig. 12,
or, more properly speaking, in that form modified by agencies in
visible operation, whose work can be traced upon them, touch by touch.
But the condition at Fig. 12 is the first rough blocking out of their
form, the primal state in which they demonstrably were, some thousands
of years ago, but beyond which no human reason can trace them without
danger of error. The cloud fastens upon them there.

§ 15. It is rare, however, that such a cliff as that represented in Fig.
12 can maintain itself long in such a contour. Usually it moulders
gradually away into a steep mound or bank; and the larger number of bold
cliffs are composed of far more solid rock, which in its general make is
quite unshattered and flawless; apparently unaffected, as far as its
coherence is concerned, by any shock it may have suffered in being
raised to its position, or hewn into its form. Beds occur in the Alps
composed of solid coherent limestone (such as that familiar to the
English traveller in the cliffs of Matlock and Bristol), 3000 or 4000
feet thick, and broken short off throughout a great part of this
thickness, forming nearly[50] sheer precipices not less than 1500 or
2000 feet in height, after all deduction has been made for slopes of
débris at the bottom, and for rounded diminution at the top.

§ 16. The geologist plunges into vague suppositions and fantastic
theories in order to account for these cliffs; but, after all that can
be dreamed or discovered, they remain in great part inexplicable. If
they were interiorly shattered, it would be easy to understand that, in
their hardened condition, they had been broken violently asunder; but it
is not easy to conceive a firm cliff of limestone broken through a
thickness of 2000 feet without showing a crack in any other part of it.
If they were divided in a soft state, like that of paste, it is still
less easy to understand how any such soft material could maintain
itself, till it dried, in the form of a cliff so enormous and so
ponderous: it must have flowed down from the top, or squeezed itself out
in bulging protuberance at the base. But it has done neither; and we are
left to choose between the suppositions that the mountain was created in
a form approximating to that which it now wears, or that the shock which
produced it was so violent and irresistible, as to do its work neatly
in an instant, and cause no flaws to the rock except in the actual line
of fracture. The force must have been analogous either to the light and
sharp blow of the hammer with which one breaks a stone into two pieces
as it lies in the hand, or the parting caused by settlement under great
weight, like the cracks through the brickwork of a modern ill-built
house. And yet the very beds which seem at the time they were broken to
have possessed this firmness of consistency, are also bent throughout
their whole body into waves, apparently following the action of the
force that fractured them, like waves of sea under the wind. Truly the
cloud lies darkly upon us here!

[Illustration: FIG. 13.]

§ 17. And it renders these precipices more remarkable that there is in
them no principle of compensation against destructive influences. They
are not cloven back continually into new cliffs, as our chalk shores are
by the sea; otherwise, one might attribute their first existence to the
force of streams. But, on the contrary, the action of years upon them is
now always one of deterioration. The increasing heap of fallen fragments
conceals more and more of their base, and the wearing of the rain lowers
the height and softens the sternness of their brows, so that a great
part of their terror has evidently been subdued by time; and the farther
we endeavor to penetrate their history, the more mysterious are the
forms we are required to explain.


  The three great representative forms of stratified mountains.

§ 18. Hitherto, however, for the sake of clearness, we have spoken of
hills as if they were composed of a single mass or volume of rock. It is
very seldom that they are so. Two or three layers are usually raised at
once, with certain general results on mountain form, which it is next
necessary to examine.


  1. Wall above slope.

1st. Suppose a series of beds raised in the condition _a_, Fig. 13, the
lowest soft, the uppermost compact; it is evident that the lower beds
would rapidly crumble away, and the compact mass above break for want of
support, until the rocks beneath had reached a slope at which they could
securely sustain themselves, as well as the weight of wall above, thus
bringing the hill into the outline _b_.

[Illustration: FIG. 14.]


  2. Slope above wall.

2d. If, on the other hand, the hill were originally raised as at _c_,
the softest beds being at the top, these would crumble into their smooth
slope without affecting the outline of the mass below, and the hill
would assume the form _d_, large masses of débris being in either of
these two cases accumulated at the foot of the slope, or of the cliff.
These first ruins might, by subsequent changes, be variously engulfed,
carried away, or covered over, so as to leave nothing visible, or at
least nothing notable, but the great cliff with its slope above or below
it. Without insisting on the evidences or probabilities of such
construction, it is sufficient to state that mountains of the two types,
_b_ and _d_, are exceedingly common in all parts of the world; and
though of course confused with others, and themselves always more or
less imperfectly developed, yet they are, on the whole, singularly
definite as classes of hills, examples of which can hardly but remain
clearly impressed on the mind of every traveller. Of the first, _b_,
Salisbury Crags, near Edinburgh, is a nearly perfect instance, though on
a diminutive scale. The cliffs of Lauterbrunnen, in the Oberland, are
almost without exception formed on the type _d_.


  3. Slope and wall alternately.

3d. When the elevated mass, instead of consisting merely of two great
divisions, includes alternately hard and soft beds, as at _a_, Fig. 14,
the vertical cliffs and inclined banks alternate with each other, and
the mountain rises on a series of steps, with receding slopes of turf or
débris on the ledge of each, as at _b_. At the head of the valley of
Sixt, in Savoy, huge masses of mountain connected with the Buet are thus
constructed: their slopes are quite smooth, and composed of good pasture
land, and the cliffs in many places literally vertical. In the summer
the peasants make hay on the inclined pastures; and the hay is "carried"
by merely binding the haycocks tight and rolling them down the slope and
over the cliff, when I have heard them fall to the bank below, a height
of from five to eight hundred feet, with a sound like the distant report
of a heavy piece of artillery.

[Illustration: FIG. 15.]

§ 19. The next point of importance in these beds is the curvature, to
which, as well as to fracture, they seem to have been subjected. This
curvature is not to be confounded with that rippling or undulating
character of every portion of the slaty crystalline rocks above
described. I am now speaking of all kinds of rocks indifferently;--not
of their appearance in small pieces, but of their great contours in
masses, thousands of feet thick. And it is almost universally true of
these masses that they do not merely lie in flat superposition one over
another, as the books in Fig. 8; but they lie in _waves_, more or less
vast and sweeping according to the scale of the country, as in Fig. 15,
where the distance from one side of the figure to the other is supposed
to be four or five leagues.

§ 20. Now, observe, if the precipices which we have just been describing
had been broken when their substance was in a hard state, there appears
no reason why any connexion should be apparent between the energy of
_undulation_ and these _broken_ rocks. If the continuous waves were
caused by convulsive movements of the earth's surface while its
substance was pliable, and were left in repose for so long a period as
to become perfectly hard before they were broken into cliffs, there
seems no reason why the second series of shocks should so closely have
confined itself to the locality which had suffered the first, that the
most abrupt precipices should always be associated with the wildest
waves. We might have expected that sometimes we should have had noble
cliffs raised where the waves had been slight; and sometimes low and
slight fractures where the waves had been violent. But this is not so.
The contortions and fractures bear always such relation to each other as
appears positively to imply contemporaneous formation. Through all the
lowland districts of the world the average contour of the waves of rock
is somewhat as represented in Fig. 16 _a_, and the little cliffs or
hills formed at the edges of the beds (whether by fracture, or, as
oftener happens in such countries, by gradual washing away under the
surge of ancient seas) are no higher, in proportion to the extent of
surface, than the little steps seen in the centre of the figure. Such is
the nature, and such the scale, of the ranges of hills which form our
own downs and wolds, and the French coteaux beside their winding rivers.
But as we approach the hill countries, the undulation becomes more
marked, and the crags more bold; so that almost any portion of such
mountain ranges as the Jura or the Vosges will present itself under
conditions such as those at _b_, the precipices at the edges being
bolder in exact proportion to the violence of wave. And, finally, in the
central and noblest chains the undulation becomes literally contortion;
the beds occur in such positions as those at _c_, and the precipices are
bold and terrific in exact proportion to this exaggerated and tremendous
contortion.

[Illustration: FIG. 16.]

§ 21. These facts appear to be just as contrary to the supposition of
the mountains having been formed while the rocks were hard, as the
considerations adduced in § 15 are to that of their being formed while
they were soft. And I believe the more the reader revolves the subject
in his thoughts, and the more opportunities he has of examining the
existing facts, the less explicable those facts will become to him, and
the more reverent will be his acknowledgment of the presence of the
cloud.

For, as he examines more clearly the structure of the great mountain
ranges, he will find that though invariably the boldest forms are
associated with the most violent contortions, they sometimes _follow_
the contortions, and sometimes appear entirely independent of them. For
instance, in crossing the pass of the Tête Noire, if the traveller
defers his journey till near the afternoon, so that from the top of the
pass he may see the great limestone mountain in the Valais, called the
Dent de Morcles, under the full evening light, he will observe that its
peaks are hewn out of a group of contorted beds, as shown in Fig. 4,
Plate 29. The wild and irregular zigzag of the beds, which traverse the
face of the cliff with the irregularity of a flash of lightning, has
apparently not the slightest influence on the outline of the peak. It
has been carved out of the mass, with no reference whatever to the
interior structure. In like manner, as we shall see hereafter, the most
wonderful peak in the whole range of the Alps seems to have been cut out
of a series of nearly horizontal beds, as a square pillar of hay is cut
out of a half-consumed haystack. And yet, on the other hand, we meet
perpetually with instances in which the curves of the beds have in great
part directed the shape of the whole mass of mountain. The gorge which
leads from the village of Ardon, in the Valais, up to the root of the
Diablerets, runs between two ranges of limestone hills, of which the
rude contour is given in Fig. 17, page 154. The great slope seen on the
left, rising about seven thousand feet above the ravine, is nothing but
the back of one sheet of limestone, whose broken edge forms the first
cliff at the top, a height of about six hundred feet, the second cliff
being the edge of another bed emergent beneath it, and the slope beyond,
the surface of a third. These beds of limestone all descend at a uniform
inclination into the gorge, where they are snapped short off, the
torrent cutting its way along the cleft, while the beds rise on the
other side in a huge contorted wave, forming the ridge of mountains on
the right,--a chain about seven miles in length, and from five thousand
to six thousand feet in height. The actual order of the beds is seen in
Fig. 18, and it is one of the boldest and clearest examples of the form
of mountains being correspondent to the curves of beds which I have ever
seen; it also exhibits a condition of the summits which is of constant
occurrence in stratified hills, and peculiarly important as giving rise
to the serrated structure, rendered classical by the Spaniards in their
universal term for mountain ridges, Sierra, and obtaining for one of the
most important members of the Comasque chain of Alps its well known
Italian name--Il Resegone. Such mountains are not merely successions of
irregular peaks, more or less resembling the edge of a much-hacked
sword; they are orderly successions of teeth set in one direction,
closely resembling those of a somewhat overworn saw, and nearly always
produced by successive beds emerging one from beneath the other.

[Illustration: FIG. 18.]

[Illustration: FIG. 17.]

§ 22. In all such cases there is an infinitely greater difficulty in
accounting for the forms than in explaining the fracture of a single
bed. How, and when, and where, were the other portions carried away? Was
each bed once continuous over a much larger space from the point where
its edge is now broken off, or have such beds slipped back into some
gulf behind them? It is very easy for geologists to speak generally of
elevation and convulsion, but very difficult to explain what sort of
convulsion it could be which passed forward from the edge of one bed to
the edge of another, and broke the required portion off each without
disturbing the rest. Try the experiment in the simplest way: put half a
dozen of hard captain's biscuits in a sloping position on a table, and
then try, as they lie, to break the edge of each, one by one, without
disturbing the rest. At least, you will have to raise the edge before
you can break it; to put your hand underneath, between it and the next
biscuit, before you can get any purchase on it. What force was it that
put its fingers between one bed of limestone 600 feet thick and the next
beneath? If you try to break the biscuits by a blow from above, observe
the necessary force of your blow, and then conceive, if you can, the
sort of hammer that was required to break the 600 feet of rock through
in the same way. But, also, you will, ten to one, break two biscuits at
the same time. Now, in these serrated formations, two biscuits are
_never_ broken at the same time. There is no appearance of the slightest
jar having taken place affecting the bed beneath. If there be, a huge
cliff or gorge is formed at that spot, not a sierra. Thus, in Fig. 18,
the beds are affected throughout their united body by the shock which
formed the ravine at _a_; but they are broken, one by one, into the
cliffs at _b_ and _c_. Sometimes one is tempted to think that they must
have been slipped back, one from off the other; but there is never any
appearance of friction having taken place on their exposed surfaces; in
the plurality of instances their continuance or rise from their roots in
waves (see Fig. 16 above) renders the thing utterly impossible; and in
the few instances which have been known of such action actually taking
place (which have always been on a small scale), the sliding bed has
been torn into a thousand fragments almost as soon as it began to
move.[51]

§ 23. And, finally, supposing a force found capable of breaking these
beds in the manner required, what force was it that carried the
fragments away? How were the gigantic fields of shattered marble
conveyed from the ledges which were to remain exposed? No signs of
violence are found on these ledges; what marks there are, the rain and
natural decay have softly traced through a long series of years. Those
very time-marks may have indeed effaced mere superficial appearances of
convulsion; but could they have effaced all evidence of the action of
such floods as would have been necessary to carry bodily away the whole
ruin of a block of marble leagues in length and breadth, and a quarter
of a mile thick? Ponder over the intense marvellousness of this. The bed
at _c_ (Fig. 18) must first be broken through the midst of it into a
sharp precipice, without at all disturbing it elsewhere; and then all of
it beyond _c_ is to be broken up, and carried perfectly away, without
disturbing or wearing down the face of the cliff at _c_.

And yet no trace of the means by which all this was effected is left.
The rock stands forth in its white and rugged mystery, as if its peak
had been born out of the blue sky. The strength that raised it, and the
sea that wrought upon it, have passed away, and left no sign; and we
have no words wherein to describe their departure, no thoughts to form
about their action, than those of the perpetual and unsatisfied
interrogation,--

  "What ailed thee, O thou sea, that thou fleddest?
   And ye mountains, that ye skipped like lambs?"


FOOTNOTES

  [49] How far, is another question. The sand which the stream brings
    from the bottom of one eddy in its course, it throws down in the
    next; all that is _proved_ by the above trial is, that so many tons
    of material are annually carried down by it a certain number of
    feet.

  [50] _Nearly_; that is to say, not quite vertical. Of the degree of
    steepness, we shall have more to say hereafter.

  [51] The Rossberg fall, compared to the convulsions which seem to
    have taken place in the higher Alps, is like the slip of a paving
    stone compared to the fall of a tower.



CHAPTER XIII.

OF THE SCULPTURE OF MOUNTAINS:--SECONDLY, THE CENTRAL PEAKS.


§ 1. In the 20th paragraph of the last chapter, it was noticed that
ordinarily the most irregular contortions or fractures of beds of rock
were found in the districts of most elevated hills, the contortion or
fracture thus appearing to be produced at the moment of elevation. It
has also previously been stated that the hardness and crystalline
structure of the material increased with the mountainous character of
the ground; so that we find as almost invariably correlative, the
_hardness_ of the rock, its _distortion_, and its _height_; and, in like
manner its _softness_, _regularity_ of _position_, and _lowness_. Thus,
the line of beds in an English range of down, composed of soft chalk
which crumbles beneath the fingers, will be as low and continuous as in
_a_ of Fig. 16 (p. 151); the beds in the Jura mountains, composed of
firm limestone, which needs a heavy hammer stroke to break it, will be
as high and wavy as at _b_; and the ranges of Alps, composed of slaty
crystallines, yielding only to steel wedges or to gunpowder, will be as
lofty and as wild in structure as at _c_. Without this beneficent
connection of hardness of material with height, mountain ranges either
could not have existed, or would not have been habitable. In their
present magnificent form, they could not have existed; and whatever
their forms, the frequent falls and crumblings away, which are of little
consequence in the low crags of Hastings, Dover, or Lyme, would have
been fatal to the population of the valleys beneath, when they took
place from heights of eight or ten thousand feet.

[Illustration: FIG. 19.]

§ 2. But this hardening of the material would not have been sufficient,
by itself, to secure the safety of the inhabitants. Unless the reader
has been already familiarized with geological facts, he must surely have
been struck by the prominence of the _bedded_ structure in all the
instances of mountain form given in the preceding chapter; and must have
asked himself, Why are mountains always built in this masonry-like way,
rather than in compact masses? Now, it is true that according to present
geological theories, the bedded structure was a necessary consequence of
the mode in which the materials were accumulated; but it is not less
true that this bedded structure is now the principal means of securing
the stability of the mass, and is to be regarded as a beneficent
appointment, with such special view. That structure compels each
mountain to assume the safest contour of which under the given
circumstances of upheaval it is capable. If it were all composed of an
amorphous mass of stone as at A, Fig. 19, a crack beginning from the
top, as at _x_ in A, might gradually extend downwards in the direction
_x y_ in B, until the whole mass, indicated by the shade, separated
itself and fell. But when the whole mountain is arranged in beds, as at
C, the crack beginning at the top stops in the uppermost bed, or, if it
extends to the next, it will be in a different place, and the detached
blocks, marked by the shaded portions, are of course still as secure in
their positions as before the crack took place. If, indeed, the beds
sloped towards the precipice, as at D, the danger would be greater; but
if the reader looks to any of the examples of mountain form hitherto
given, he will find that the universal tendency of the modes of
elevation is to cause the beds to slope _away_ from the precipice, and
to build the whole mountain in the form C, which affords the utmost
possible degree of security. Nearly all the mountains which rise
immediately above thickly peopled districts, though they may appear to
be thrown into isolated peaks, are in reality nothing more than flattish
ranks of rock, terminated by walls of cliff, of this perfectly safe
kind; and it will be part of our task in the succeeding chapter to
examine at some length the modes in which sublime and threatening forms
are almost deceptively assumed by arrangements of mountain which are in
themselves thus simple and secure.

§ 3. It, however, fell within the purpose of the Great Builder to give,
in the highest peaks of mountains, examples of form more strange and
majestic than any which could be attained by structures so beneficently
adapted to the welfare of the human race. And the admission of other
modes of elevation, more terrific and less secure, takes place exactly
in proportion to the increasing presence of such conditions in the
locality as shall render it on other grounds unlikely to be inhabited,
or incapable of being so. Where the soil is rich and the climate soft,
the hills are low and safe;[52] as the ground becomes poorer and the air
keener, they rise into forms of more peril and pride; and their utmost
terror is shown only where their fragments fall on trackless ice, and
the thunder of their ruin can be heard but by the ibex and the eagle.

§ 4. The safety of the lower mountains depends, as has just been
observed, on their tendency to divide themselves into beds. But it will
easily be understood that, together with security, such a structure
involves some monotony of aspect; and that the possibility of a rent
like that indicated in the last figure, extending itself without a
check, so as to detach some vast portion of the mountain at once, would
be a means of obtaining accidental forms of far greater awfulness. We
find, accordingly, that the bedded structure is departed from in the
central peaks; that they are in reality gifted with this power, or, if
we choose so to regard it, affected with this weakness, of rending
downwards throughout into vertical sheets; and that to this end they are
usually composed of that structureless and massive rock which we have
characterized by the term "compact crystalline."

§ 5. This, indeed, is not universal. It happens sometimes that toward
the centre of great hill ranges ordinary stratified rocks of the
coherent groups are hardened into more compact strength than is usual
with them; and out of the hardened mass a peak, or range of peaks, is
cut as if out of a single block. Thus the well known Dent du Midi of
Bex, a mountain of peculiar interest to the English travellers who crowd
the various inns and pensions which now glitter along the shores of the
Lake of Geneva at Vevay, Clarens, and Montreux, is cut out of horizontal
beds of rock which are traceable in the evening light by their dark and
light lines along its sides, like courses of masonry; the real form of
the mountain being that of the ridge of a steep house-roof, jagged and
broken at the top, so that, seen from near St. Maurice, the extremity of
the ridge appears a sharp pyramid. The Dent de Morcles, opposite the
Dent du Midi, has been already noticed, and is figured in Plate 29, Fig.
4. In like manner, the Matterhorn is cut out of a block of nearly
horizontal beds of gneiss. But in all these cases the materials are so
hardened and knit together that to all intents and purposes they form
one solid mass, and when the forms are to be of the boldest character
possible, this solid mass is unstratified, and of compact crystalline
rock.

§ 6. In looking from Geneva in the morning light, when Mont Blanc and
its companion hills are seen dark against the dawn, almost every
traveller must have been struck by the notable range of jagged peaks
which bound the horizon immediately to the north-east of Mont Blanc. In
ordinary weather they appear a single chain, but if any clouds or mists
happen to float into the heart of the group, it divides itself into two
ranges, lower and higher, as in Fig. 1, Plate 29, of which the uppermost
and more distant chain is the real crest of the Alps, and the lower and
darker line is composed of subordinate peaks which form the south side
of the valley of Chamouni, and are therefore ordinarily known as the
"Aiguilles of Chamouni."

[Illustration: J. Ruskin.     J.C. Armytage
               29. Aiguille Structure.]

Though separated by some eight or nine miles of actual distance, the two
ranges are part of one and the same system of rock. They are both of
them most notable examples of the structure of the compact crystalline
peaks, and their jagged and spiry outlines are rendered still more
remarkable in any view obtained of them in the immediate neighborhood of
Geneva, by their rising, as in the figure, over two long slopes of
comparatively flattish mountain. The highest of these is the back of a
stratified limestone range, distant about twenty-five miles, whose
precipitous extremity, nodding over the little village of St. Martin's,
is well known under the name of the Aiguille de Varens. The nearer line
is the edge of another limestone mountain, called the Petit Salève,
within five miles of Geneva. And thus we have two ranges of the
crystalline rocks opposed to two ranges of the coherents, both having
their distinctive characters, the one of vertical fracture, the other of
level continuousness, developed on an enormous scale. I am aware of no
other view in Europe where the essential characteristics of the two
formations are so closely and graphically displayed.

§ 7. Nor can I imagine any person thoughtfully regarding the more
distant range, without feeling his curiosity strongly excited as to the
method of its first sculpture. That long banks and fields of rock should
be raised aslope, and break at their edges into cliffs, however
mysterious the details of the operation may be, is yet conceivable in
the main circumstances without any great effort of imagination. But the
carving of those great obelisks and spires out of an infinitely harder
rock; the sculpture of all the fretted pinnacles on the inaccessible and
calm elevation of that great cathedral,--how and when was this wrought?
It is necessary, before the extent and difficulty of such a question can
be felt, to explain more fully the scale and character of the peaks
under consideration.

[Illustration: FIG. 20.]

[Illustration: FIG. 21.]

§ 8. The valley of Chamouni, largely viewed, and irrespectively of minor
ravines and irregularities, is nothing more than a deep trench, dug
between two ranges of nearly continuous mountains,--dug with a
straightness and evenness which render its scenery, in some respects,
more monotonous than that of any other Alpine valley. On each side it is
bordered by banks of turf, darkened with pine forest, rising at an even
slope to a height of about 3000 feet, so that it may best be imagined
as a kind of dry moat, which, if cut across, would be of the form
typically shown in Fig. 20; the sloping bank on each side being about
3000 feet high, or the moat about three fifths of a mile in vertical
depth. Then, on the top of the bank, on each side, and a little way back
from the edge of the moat, rise the ranges of the great mountains, in
the form of shattered crests and pyramids of barren rock sprinkled with
snow. Those on the south side of the valley rise another 3000 feet above
the bank on which they stand, so that each of the masses superadded in
Fig. 21 may best be described as a sort of Egyptian pyramid,[53] of the
height of Snowden or Ben Lomond, hewn out of solid rock, and set on the
shoulder of the great bank which borders the valley. Then the Mont
Blanc, a higher and heavier cluster of such summits, loaded with deep
snow, terminates the range. Glaciers of greater or less extent descend
between the pyramids of rock; and one, supplied from their largest
recesses, even runs down the bank into the valley. Fig. 22[54] rudely
represents the real contours of the mountains, including Mont Blanc
itself, on its south side. The range of peaks, _b_, _p_, m, is that
already spoken of, known as the "Aiguilles of Chamouni." They form but a
very small portion of a great crowd of similar, and, for the most part,
larger peaks which constitute the chain of Mont Blanc, and which receive
from the Savoyards the name of Aiguilles, or needles, in consequence of
their peculiarly sharp summits. The forms of these Aiguilles, wonderful
enough in themselves, are, nevertheless, perpetually exaggerated both by
the imagination of the traveller, and by the artists whose delineations
of them find most frank acceptance. Fig. 1 in Plate 30 is faithfully
copied from the representation given of one of these mountains in a
plate lately published at Geneva. Fig. 2 in the same plate is a true
outline of the mountain itself. Of the exaggerations in the other I
shall have more to say presently; meantime, I refer to it merely as a
proof that I am not myself exaggerating, in giving Fig. 22 as showing
the general characters of these peaks.

[Illustration: FIG. 22.]

§ 9. This, then, is the problem to be considered,--How mountains of such
rugged and precipitous outline, and at the least 3000 feet in height,
were originally carved out of the hardest rocks, and set in their
present position on the top of the green and sloping bank which sustains
them.

"By mere accident," the reader replies. "The uniform bank might as
easily have been the highest, and the broken granite peaks have risen
from its sides, or at the bottom of it. It is merely the chance
formation of the valley of Chamouni."

Nay; not so. Although, as if to bring the problem more clearly before
the thoughts of men, by marking the structure most where the scenery is
most attractive, the formation is more distinct at Chamouni than
anywhere else in the Alpine chain; yet the general condition of a
rounded bank sustaining jagged or pyramidal peaks is more or less
traceable throughout the whole district of the great mountains. The most
celebrated spot, next to the valley of Chamouni, is the centre of the
Bernese Oberland; and it will be remembered by all travellers that in
its principal valley, that of Grindelwald, not only does the summit of
the Wetterhorn consist of a sharp pyramid raised on the advanced
shoulder of a great promontory, but the two most notable summits of the
Bernese Alps, the Schreckhorn and Finsteraarhorn, cannot be seen from
the valley at all, being thrown far back upon an elevated plateau, of
which only the advanced head or shoulder, under the name of the
Mettenberg, can be seen from the village. The real summits, consisting
in each case of a ridge starting steeply from this elevated plateau, as
if by a new impulse of angry or ambitious mountain temper, can only be
seen by ascending a considerable height upon the flank of the opposite
mass of the Faulhorn.

§ 10. And this is, if possible, still more notably and provokingly the
case with the great peaks of the chain of Alps between Monte Rosa and
Mont Blanc. It will be seen, by a glance at any map of Switzerland, that
the district which forms the canton Valais is, in reality, nothing but a
ravine sixty miles long, between that central chain and the Alps of the
cantons Fribourg and Berne. This ravine is also, in its general
structure, merely a deeper and wider _moat_ than that already described
as forming the valley of Chamouni. It lies, in the same manner, between
two _banks_ of mountain; and the principal peaks are precisely in the
same manner set back upon the tops of these banks; and so provokingly
far back, that throughout the whole length of the valley not one of the
summits of the chief chain can be seen from it. That usually pointed out
to travellers as Monte Rosa is a subordinate, though still very colossal
mass, called the Montagne de Saas; and this is the only peak of great
size discoverable from the valley throughout its extent; one or two
glimpses of the snows, not at any eminent point, being caught through
the entrances of the lateral valleys of Evolena, &c.

[Illustration: FIG. 23.]

§ 11. Nor is this merely the consequence of the great _distance_ of the
central ridge. It would be intelligible enough that the mountains should
rise gradually higher and higher towards the middle of the chain, so
that the summit at _a_ in the upper diagram of Fig. 23 should be
concealed by the intermediate eminences _b_, _c_, from the valley at
_d_. But this is not, by any means, the manner in which the concealment
is effected. The great peaks stand, as at _a_ in the lower diagram,
jagged, sharp, and suddenly starting out of a comparatively tame mass
of elevated land, through which the trench of the valley of the Rhone is
cut, as at _c_. The subdivision of the bank at _b_ by thousands of
ravines, and its rise, here and there, into more or less notable
summits, conceal the real fact of the structure from a casual observer.
But the longer I stayed among the Alps, and the more closely I examined
them, the more I was struck by the one broad fact of their being a vast
Alpine plateau, or mass of elevated land, upon which nearly all the
highest peaks stood like children set upon a table, removed, in most
cases, far back from the edge of the plateau, as if for fear of their
falling. And the most majestic scenes in the Alps are produced, not so
much by any violation of this law, as by one of the great peaks having
apparently walked to the edge of the table to look over, and thus
showing itself suddenly above the valley in its full height. This is the
case with the Wetterhorn and Eiger at Grindelwald, and with the Grande
Jorasse, above the Col de Ferret. But the raised bank or table is always
intelligibly in existence, even in these apparently exceptional cases;
and, for the most part, the great peaks are not allowed to come to the
edge of it, but remain like the keeps of castles far withdrawn,
surrounded, league beyond league, by comparatively level fields of
mountain, over which the lapping sheets of glacier writhe and flow,
foaming about the feet of the dark central crests like the surf of an
enormous sea-breaker hurled over a rounded rock, and islanding some
fragment of it in the midst. And the result of this arrangement is a
kind of division of the whole of Switzerland into an upper and lower
mountain-world; the lower world consisting of rich valleys bordered by
steep, but easily accessible, wooded banks of mountain, more or less
divided by ravines, through which glimpses are caught of the higher
Alps; the upper world, reached after the first steep banks, of 3000 or
4000 feet in height, have been surmounted, consisting of comparatively
level but most desolate tracts of moor and rock, half covered by
glacier, and stretching to the feet of the true pinnacles of the chain.

§ 12. It can hardly be necessary to point out the perfect wisdom and
kindness of this arrangement, as a provision for the safety of the
inhabitants of the high mountain regions. If the great peaks rose at
once from the deepest valleys, every stone which was struck from their
pinnacles, and every snow-wreath which slipped from their ledges, would
descend at once upon the inhabitable ground, over which no year could
pass without recording some calamity of earth-slip or avalanche; while,
in the course of their fall, both the stones and the snow would strip
the woods from the hill sides, leaving only naked channels of
destruction where there are now the sloping meadow and the chestnut
glade. Besides this, the masses of snow, cast down at once into the
warmer air, would all melt rapidly in the spring, causing furious
inundation of every great river for a month or six weeks. The snow being
then all thawed, except what lay upon the highest peaks in regions of
nearly perpetual frost, the rivers would be supplied, during the summer,
only by fountains, and the feeble tricklings on sunny days from the high
snows. The Rhone under such circumstances would hardly be larger at
Lyons than the Severn at Shrewsbury, and many Swiss valleys would be
left almost without moisture. All these calamities are prevented by the
peculiar Alpine structure which has been described. The broken rocks and
the sliding snow of the high peaks, instead of being dashed at once to
the vales, are caught upon the desolate shelves or shoulders which
everywhere surround the central crests. The soft banks which terminate
these shelves, traversed by no falling fragments, clothe themselves with
richest wood; while the masses of snow heaped upon the ledge above them,
in a climate neither so warm as to thaw them quickly in the spring, nor
so cold as to protect them from all the power of the summer sun, either
form themselves into glaciers, or remain in slowly wasting fields even
to the close of the year,--in either case supplying constant, abundant,
and regular streams to the villages and pastures beneath, and, to the
rest of Europe, noble and navigable rivers.

§ 13. Now, that such a structure is the best and wisest possible, is,
indeed, sufficient reason for its existence; and to many people it may
seem useless to question farther respecting its origin. But I can hardly
conceive any one standing face to face with one of these towers of
central rock, and yet not also asking himself, Is this indeed the actual
first work of the Divine Master on which I gaze? Was the great precipice
shaped by His finger, as Adam was shaped out of the dust? Were its
clefts and ledges carved upon it by its Creator, as the letters were on
the Tables of the Law, and was it thus left to bear its eternal
testimony to His beneficence among these clouds of heaven? Or is it the
descendant of a long race of mountains, existing under appointed laws of
birth and endurance, death and decrepitude?

§ 14. There can be no doubt as to the answer. The rock itself answers
audibly by the murmur of some falling stone or rending pinnacle. It is
_not_ as it was once. Those waste leagues around its feet are loaded
with the wrecks of what it was. On these, perhaps, of all mountains, the
characters of decay are written most clearly; around these are spread
most gloomily the memorials of their pride, and the signs of their
humiliation.

"What then were they once?"

The only answer is yet again,--"Behold the cloud."

Their form, as far as human vision can trace it, is one of eternal
decay. No retrospection can raise them out of their ruins, or withdraw
them beyond the law of their perpetual fate. Existing science may be
challenged to form, with the faintest color of probability, any
conception of the original aspect of a crystalline mountain; it cannot
be followed in its elevation, nor traced in its connection with its
fellows. No eyes ever "saw its substance, yet being imperfect;" its
history is a monotone of endurance and destruction: all that we can
certainly know of it, is that it was once greater than it is now, and it
only gathers vastness, and still gathers, as it fades into the abyss of
the unknown.

§ 15. Yet this one piece of certain evidence ought not to be altogether
unpursued; and while, with all humility, we shrink from endeavoring to
theorize respecting processes which are concealed, we ought not to
refuse to follow, as far as it will lead us, the course of thought which
seems marked out by conspicuous and consistent phenomena. Exactly as the
form of the lower mountains seems to have been produced by certain
raisings and bendings of their formerly level beds, so the form of these
higher mountains seems to have been produced by certain breakings away
from their former elevated mass. If the process appears in either case
doubtful, it is less so with respect to the higher hills. We may not
easily believe that the steep limestone cliffs on one side of a valley,
now apparently secure and steadfast, ever were united with the cliffs on
the other side; but we cannot hesitate to admit that the peak which we
see shedding its flakes of granite, on all sides of it, as a fading rose
lets fall its leaves, was once larger than it is, and owes the present
characters of its forms chiefly to the modes of its diminution.

§ 16. Holding fast this clue, we have next to take into consideration
another fact of not less importance,--that over the whole of the rounded
banks of lower mountain, wherever they have been in anywise protected
from the injuries of time, there are yet visible the tracks of ancient
glaciers. I will not here enter into detail respecting the mode in which
traces of glaciers are distinguishable. It is enough to state that the
footmark, so to speak, of a glacier is just as easily recognizable as
the trail of any well-known animal; and that with as much confidence as
we should feel in asserting that a horse had passed along a soft road
which yet retained the prints of its shoes, it may be concluded that the
glaciers of the Alps had once triple or quadruple the extent that they
have now; so that not only the banks of inferior mountains were once
covered with sheets of ice, but even the great valley of the Rhone
itself was the bed of an enormous "Mer de Glace," which extended beyond
the Lake of Geneva to the slopes of Jura.[55]

§ 17. From what has already been noted of glacier action, the reader
cannot but be aware that its universal effect is to round and soften the
contours of the mountains subjected to it; so that a glacier may be
considered as a vast instrument of friction, a white sand-paper, applied
slowly but irresistibly to all the roughnesses of the hill which it
covers. And this effect is of course greatest when the ice flows
fastest, and contains more embedded stones; that is to say, greater
towards the lower part of a mountain than near its summit.

[Illustration: FIG. 24.]

Suppose now a chain of mountains raised in any accidental form, only of
course highest where the force was greatest,--that is to say, at the
centre of the chain,--and presenting any profile such as _a_, Fig. 24;
terminated, perhaps, by a broken secondary cliff, and the whole covered
with a thick bed of glacier, indicated by the spotted space, and moving
in the direction of the arrows. As it wears away the mountain, not at
all at the top, but always more and more as it descends, it would in
process of time reduce the contour of the flank of the hill to the form
at _b_. But at this point the snow would begin to slide from the central
peak, and to leave its rocks exposed to the action of the atmosphere.
Supposing those rocks disposed to break into vertical sheets, the summit
would soon cleave itself into such a form as that at _x_; and the
flakes again subdividing and falling, we should have conditions such as
at _y_. Meanwhile the glacier is still doing its work uninterruptedly on
the lower bank, bringing the mountain successively into the outlines _c_
and _d_, in which the forms _x_ and _y_ are substituted consecutively
for the original summit. But the level of the whole flank of the
mountain being now so much reduced, the glacier has brought itself by
its own work into warmer climate, and has wrought out its own
destruction. It would gradually be thinned away, and in many places at
last vanish, leaving only the barren rounded mountains, and the tongues
of ice still supplied from the peaks above.

§ 18. Such is the actual condition of the Alps at this moment. I do not
say that they have in reality undergone any such process. But I think it
right to put the supposition before the reader, more with a view of
explaining what the appearance of things actually is, than with any wish
that he should adopt either this or any other theory on the subject. It
facilitates a description of the Brèche de Roland to say, that it looks
as if the peer had indeed cut it open with a swordstroke; but it would
be unfair to conclude that the describer gravely wished the supposition
to be adopted as explanatory of the origin of the ravine. In like
manner, the reader who has followed the steps of the theory I have just
offered, will have a clearer conception of the real look and anatomy of
the Alps than I could give him by any other means. But he is welcome to
accept in seriousness just as much or as little of the theory as he
likes.[56] Only I am well persuaded that the more familiar any one
becomes with the chain of the Alps, the more, whether voluntarily or
not, the idea will force itself upon him of their being mere remnants of
large masses,--splinters and fragments, as of a stranded wreck, the
greater part of which has been removed by the waves; and the more he
will be convinced of the existence of two distinct regions, one, as it
were, below the ice, another above it,--one of subjected, the other of
emergent rock; the lower worn away by the action of the glaciers and
rains, the higher splintering and falling to pieces by natural
disintegration.

§ 19. I press, however, neither conjecture nor inquiry farther; having
already stated all that is necessary to give the reader a complete idea
of the different divisions of mountain form. I proceed now to examine
the points of pictorial interest in greater detail; and in order to do
so more conveniently, I shall adopt the order, in description, which
Nature seems to have adopted in formation; beginning with the mysterious
hardness of the central crystallines, and descending to the softer and
lower rocks which we see in some degree modified by the slight forces
still in operation. We will therefore examine: 1. the pictorial
phenomena of the central peaks; 2. those of the summits of the lower
mountains round them, to which we shall find it convenient to give the
distinguishing name of crests; 3. the formation of Precipices, properly
so called; then, the general aspect of the Banks and Slopes, produced by
the action of water or of falling débris, on the sides or at the bases
of mountains; and finally, remove, if it may be, a few of the undeserved
scorns thrown upon our most familiar servants, Stones. To each of these
subjects we shall find it necessary to devote a distinct chapter.


FOOTNOTES

  [52] It may be thought I should have reversed these sentences, and
    written where the hills are low and safe, the climate is soft, &c.
    But it is not so. No antecedent reason can be shown why the Mont
    Cervin or Finsteraarhorn should not have risen sharp out of the
    plains of Lombardy, instead of out of glaciers.

  [53] I use the terms "pyramid" and "peak" at present, in order to
    give a rough general idea of the aspect of these hills. Both terms,
    as we shall see in the next chapter, are to be accepted under
    limitation.

  [54] This coarse sketch is merely given for reference, as I shall
    often have to speak of the particular masses of mountain, indicated
    by the letters in the outline below it; namely--

    _b._ Aiguille Blaitière.              _p._ Aiguille du Plan.
    _m._ Aiguille du Midi.                 M. Mont Blanc (summit).
    _d._ Dôme du Gouté.                   _g._ Aiguille du Gouté.
    _q_ and _r_ indicate stations only.    T. Tapia.
     C. Montagne de la Côte.              _t._ Montagne de Taconay.

  [55] The glacier tracks on the gneiss of the great angle opposite
    Martigny are the most magnificent I ever saw in the Alps; those
    above the channel of the Trient, between Valorsine and the valley of
    the Rhone, the most interesting.

  [56] For farther information respecting the glaciers and their
    probable action, the reader should consult the works of Professor
    Forbes. I believe this theory of the formation of the upper peaks
    has been proposed by him, and recently opposed by Mr. Sharpe, who
    believes that the great bank spoken of in the text was originally a
    sea-bottom. But I have simply stated in this chapter the results of
    my own watchings of the Alps; for being without hope of getting time
    for available examination of the voluminous works on these subjects,
    I thought it best to read nothing (except Forbes's most important
    essay on the glaciers, several times quoted in the text), and
    therefore to give, at all events, the force of independent witness
    to such impressions as I received from the actual facts; De
    Saussure, always a faithful recorder of those facts, and my first
    master in geology, being referred to, occasionally, for information
    respecting localities I had not been able to examine.



CHAPTER XIV.

RESULTING FORMS:--FIRST, AIGUILLES.


§ 1. I have endeavored in the preceding chapters always to keep the
glance of the reader on the broad aspect of things, and to separate for
him the mountain masses into the most distinctly comprehensible forms.
We must now consent to take more pains, and observe more closely.

§ 2. I begin with the Aiguilles. In Fig. 24, p. 170, at _a_, it was
assumed that the mass was raised highest merely where the elevating
force was greatest, being of one substance with the bank or cliff below.
But it hardly ever _is_ of the same substance. Almost always it is of
compact crystallines, and the bank of slaty crystallines; or if it be of
slaty crystallines the bank is of slaty coherents. The bank is almost
always the softer of the two.[57]

Is not this very marvellous? Is it not exactly as if the substance had
been prepared soft or hard with a sculpturesque view to what had to be
done with it; soft, for the glacier to mould, and the torrent to divide;
hard, to stand for ever, central in mountain majesty.

[Illustration: FIG. 25.]

§ 3. Next, then, comes the question, How do these compact crystallines
and slaty crystallines join each other? It has long been a well
recognized fact in the science of geology, that the most important
mountain ranges lift up and sustain upon their sides the beds of rock
which form the inferior groups of hills around them in the manner
roughly shown in the section Fig. 25, where the dark mass stands for the
hard rock of the great mountains (crystallines), and the lighter lines
at the side of it indicate the prevalent direction of the beds in the
neighboring hills (coherents), while the spotted portions represent the
gravel and sand of which the great plains are usually composed. But it
has not been so universally recognized, though long ago pointed out by
De Saussure, that the great central groups are often themselves composed
of beds lying in a precisely opposite direction; so that if we analyze
carefully the structure of the dark mass in the centre of Fig. 25, we
shall find it arranged in lines which slope downwards to the centre; the
flanks of it being of slaty crystalline rock, and the summit of compact
crystallines, as at _a_, Fig. 26.

[Illustration: FIG. 26.]

In speaking of the sculpture of the central peaks in the last chapter, I
made no reference to the _nature_ of the rocks in the banks on which
they stood. The diagram at _a_, Fig. 27, as representative of the
original condition, and _b_, of the resultant condition will, compared
with Fig. 24, p. 170, more completely illustrate the change.[58]

[Illustration: FIG. 27.]

[Illustration: FIG. 28.]

§ 4. By what secondary laws this structure may ultimately be discovered
to have been produced is of no consequence to us at present; all that it
is needful for us to note is the beneficence which appointed it for the
mountains destined to assume the boldest forms. For into whatever
outline they may be sculptured by violence or time, it is evident at a
glance that their stability and security must always be the greatest
possible under the given circumstances. Suppose, for instance, that the
peak is in such a form as _a_ in Fig. 26, then, however steep the slope
may be on either side, there is still no chance of one piece of rock
sliding off another; but if the same outline were given to beds disposed
as at _b_, the unsupported masses might slide off those beneath them at
any moment, unless prevented by the inequalities of the surfaces.
Farther, in the minor divisions of the outline, the tendency of the peak
at _a_ will be always to assume contours like those at _a_ in Fig. 28,
which are, of course, perfectly safe; but the tendency of the beds at
_b_ in Fig. 27 will be to break into contours such as at _b_ here, which
are all perilous, not only in the chance of each several portion giving
way, but in the manner in which they would _deliver_, from one to the
other, the fragments which fell. A stone detached from any portion of
the peak at _a_ would be caught and stopped on the ledge beneath it; but
a fragment loosened from _b_ would not stay till it reached the valley
by a series of accelerating bounds.

§ 5. While, however, the secure and noble form represented at _a_ in
Figs. 26 and 28 is for the most part ordained to be that of the highest
mountains, the contours at _b_, in each figure, are of perpetual
occurrence among the secondary ranges, in which, on a smaller scale,
they produce some of the most terrific and fantastic forms of precipice;
not altogether without danger, as has been fearfully demonstrated by
many a "bergfall" among the limestone groups of the Alps; but with far
less danger than would have resulted from the permission of such forms
among the higher hills; and with collateral advantages which we shall
have presently to consider. In the meantime, we return to the
examination of the superior groups.

[Illustration: FIG. 29.]

§ 6. The reader is, no doubt, already aware that the chain of the Mont
Blanc is bordered by two great valleys, running parallel to each other,
and seemingly excavated on purpose that travellers might be able to
pass, foot by foot, along each side of the Mont Blanc and its aiguilles,
and thus examine every peak in succession. One of these valleys is that
of Chamouni, the other that of which one half is called the Allée
Blanche, and the other the Val Ferret, the town of Cormayeur being near
its centre, where it opens to the Val d'Aosta. Now, cutting the chain of
Mont Blanc right across, from valley to valley, through the double range
of aiguilles, the section would be[59] as Fig. 29 here, in which _a_ is
the valley of Chamouni, _b_ the range of aiguilles of Chamouni, _c_ the
range of the Géant, _d_ the valley of Cormayeur.

[Illustration: 30. The Aiguille Charmoz.]
                   Ideal.         Actual.

The little projection under M is intended to mark approximately the
position of the so well-known "Montanvert." It is a great weakness, not
to say worse than weakness, on the part of travellers, to extol
always chiefly what they think fewest people have seen or can see. I
have climbed much, and wandered much, in the heart of the high Alps, but
I have never yet seen anything which equalled the view from the cabin of
the Montanvert; and as the spot is visited every year by increasing
numbers of tourists, I have thought it best to take the mountains which
surround it for the principal subjects of our inquiry.

§ 7. The little eminence left under M truly marks the height of the
Montanvert on the flanks of the Aiguilles, but not accurately its
position, which is somewhat behind the mass of mountain supposed to be
cut through by the section. But the top of the Montanvert is actually
formed, as shown at M, by the crests of the oblique beds of slaty
crystallines. Every traveller must remember the steep and smooth beds of
rock like sloping walls, down which, and over the ledges of which, the
path descends from the cabin to the edge of the glacier. These sloping
walls are formed by the inner sides of the crystalline beds,[60] as
exposed in the notch behind the letter M.

§ 8. To these beds we shall return presently, our object just now being
to examine the aiguille, which, on the Montanvert, forms the most
conspicuous mass of mountain on the right of the spectator. It is known
in Chamouni as the Aiguille des Charmoz, and is distinguished by a very
sharp horn or projection on its side, which usually attracts the
traveller's attention as one of the most singular minor features in the
view from the Montanvert. The larger masses of the whole aiguille, and
true contour of this horn, are carefully given in plate +30+, Fig. 2, as
they are seen in morning sunshine. The _impression_ which travellers
usually carry away with them is, I presume, to be gathered from Fig. 1,
a fac simile of one of the lithographs purchased with avidity by English
travellers, in the shops of Chamouni and Geneva, as giving a faithful
representation of this aiguille seen from the Montanvert. It is worth
while to perpetuate this example of the ideal landscape of the
nineteenth century, popular at the time when the works of Turner were
declared by the public to be extravagant and unnatural.

§ 9. This example of the common ideal of aiguilles is, however, useful
in another respect. It shows the strong impression which these Chamouni
mountains leave, of their being above all others sharp-peaked and
splintery, dividing more or less into arrowy spires; and it marks the
sense of another and very curious character in them, that these spires
are apt to be somewhat bent or curved.

Both these impressions are partially true, and need to be insisted upon,
and cleared of their indistinctness, or exaggeration.

First, then, this strong impression of their peakedness and spiry
separateness is always produced with the least possible _danger_ to the
travelling and admiring public; for if in reality these granite
mountains were ever separated into true spires or points, in the least
resembling this popular ideal in Plate +30+, the Montanvert and Mer de
Glace would be as inaccessible, except at the risk of life, as the
trenches of a besieged city; and the continual fall of the splintering
fragments would turn even the valley of Chamouni itself into a stony
desolation.

§ 10. Perhaps in describing mountains with any effort to give some idea
of their sublime forms, no expression comes oftener to the lips than the
word "peak." And yet it is curious how rarely, even among the grandest
ranges, an instance can be found of a mountain ascertainably peaked in
the true sense of the word,--pointed at the top, and sloping steeply on
all sides; perhaps not more than five summits in the chain of the Alps,
the Finster-Aarhorn, Wetterhorn, Bietschhorn, Weisshorn, and Monte Viso
presenting approximations to such a structure. Even in the case of not
very steep pyramids, presenting themselves in the distance under some
such outline as that at the top of Fig. 30, it almost invariably
happens, when we approach and examine them, that they do not slope
equally on all their sides, but are nothing more than steep ends of
ridges, supported by far-extended masses of comparatively level rock,
which, seen in perspective, give the impression of a steep slope, though
in reality disposed in a horizonal, or nearly horizontal, line.

§ 11. Supposing the central diagram in Fig. 30 to be the apparent
contour of a distant mountain, then its slopes may indeed, by singular
chance, be as steep as they appear; but, in all probability, several of
them are perspective descents of its retiring lines; and supposing it
were formed as the gable roof of the old French house below, and seen
under the same angle, it is evident that the part of the outline _a b_
(in lettered reference line below) would be perfectly horizontal; _b c_
an angle slope, in retiring perspective, much less steep than it
appears; _c d_, perfectly, horizontal; _d e_, an advancing or
foreshortened angle slope, less steep than it appears; and _e f_,
perfectly horizontal.

[Illustration: FIG. 30.]

But if the pyramid presents itself under a more formidable aspect, and
with steeper sides than those of the central diagram, then it may be
assumed (as far as I know mountains) for next to a certainty, that it is
not a pointed obelisk, but the end of a ridge more or less prolonged, of
which we see the narrow edge or section turned towards us.

[Illustration: FIG. 31.]

[Illustration: FIG. 32.

                    Angles with the horizon _x y_.

  Of the line  _a b_                                               17°
       "       _b c_                                               20½
       "       _d y_  (general slope, exclusive of inequalities)   35¾
       "       _a x_  (ditto, ditto, to point of cliff above _x_)  23½ ]

For instance, no mountain in the Alps produces a more vigorous
impression of peakedness than the Matterhorn. In Professor Forbes's
work on the Alps, it is spoken of as an "obelisk" of rock, and
represented with little exaggeration in his seventh plate under the
outline Fig. 31. Naturally, in glancing, whether at the plate or the
mountain, we assume the mass to be a peak, and suppose the line _a b_ to
be the steep slope of its side. But that line is a perspective line. It
is in reality _perfectly horizontal_, corresponding to _e f_ in the
penthouse roof, Fig. 30.

[Illustration: FIG. 33.

                  Angles with the horizon _x y_.

  _a f_                                    56°
  _a e_                                    12¾
  _e b_  (from point to point)             44½
  _b c_  (   ditto, ditto    )             67¼
  _c d_  (overhanging)                     79°
  _a x_  (irrespective of irregularities)  56
  _a y_                                    38¾ ]

§ 12. I say "perfectly horizontal," meaning, of course, in general
tendency. It is more or less irregular and broken, but so nearly
horizontal that, after some prolonged examination of the data I have
collected about the Matterhorn, I am at this moment in doubt _which is
its top_. For as, in order to examine the beds on its flanks, I walked
up the Zmutt glacier, I saw that the line _a b_ in Fig. 31 gradually
lost its steepness; and about half-way up the glacier, the conjectural
summit _a_ then bearing nearly S. E. (forty degrees east of south), I
found the contour was as in Fig. 32. In Fig. 33, I have given the
contour as seen from Zermatt; and in all three, the same letters
indicate the same points. In the Figures 32 and 33 I measured the angles
with the greatest care,[61] from the base lines _x y_, which are
accurately horizontal; and their general truth, irrespective of mere
ruggedness, may be depended upon. Now in this flank view, Fig. 32, what
_was_ the summit at Zermatt, _a_, becomes quite subordinate, and the
point _b_, far down the flank in Forbes's view taken from the
Riffelhorn, is here the apparent summit. I was for some time in
considerable doubt which of the appearances was most trustworthy; and
believe now that they are _both_ deceptive; for I found, on ascending
the flank of the hills on the other side of the Valais, to a height of
about five thousand feet above Brieg, between the Aletsch glacier and
Bietschhorn; being thus high enough to get a view of the Matterhorn on
something like distant terms of equality, up the St. Nicholas valley, it
presented itself under the outline Fig. 34, which seems to be conclusive
for the supremacy of the point _e_, between _a_ and _b_ in Fig. 33. But
the impossibility of determining, at the foot of it, without a
trigonometrical observation, _which is the top_ of such an apparent peak
as the Matterhorn, may serve to show the reader how little the eye is to
be trusted for the verification of peaked outline.

[Illustration: FIG. 34.]

§ 13. In like manner, the aiguilles of Chamouni, which present
themselves to the traveller, as he looks up to them from the village,
under an outline approximating to that rudely indicated at C in the next
figure, are in reality buttresses projecting from an intermediate ridge.
Let A be supposed to be a castle wall, with slightly elevated masses of
square-built buttresses at intervals. Then, by a process of
dilapidation, these buttresses might easily be brought to assume in
their perspective of ruin the forms indicated at B, which, with certain
modifications, is the actual shape of the Chamouni aiguilles. The top of
the Aiguille Charmoz is not the point under _d_, but that under _e_.
The deception is much increased by the elevation of the whole castle
wall on the green bank before spoken of, which raises its foundation
several thousand feet above the eye, and thus, giving amazing steepness
to all the perspective lines, produces an impression of the utmost
possible isolation of peaks, where, in reality, there is a
well-supported, and more or less continuous, though sharply jagged, pile
of solid walls.

[Illustration: FIG. 35.]

§ 14. There is, however, this great difference between the castle wall
and aiguilles, that the dilapidation in the one would take place by the
fall of _horizontal_ bricks or stones; in the aiguilles it takes place
in quite an opposite manner by the flaking away of nearly _vertical_
ones.

This is the next point of great interest respecting them. Observe, the
object of their construction appears to be the attainment of the utmost
possible peakedness in aspect, with the least possible danger to the
inhabitants of the valleys. As, therefore, they are first thrown into
transverse ridges, which take, in perspective, a more or less peaked
outline, so, in their dilapidation, they split into narrow flakes,
which, if seen edgeways, look as sharp as a lance-point, but are
nevertheless still strong; being each of them, in reality, not a
lance-point or needle, but a hatchet edge.

§ 15. And since if these sharp flakes broke _straight_ across the masses
of mountain, when once the fissure took place, all hold would be lost
between flake and flake, it is ordered (and herein is the most notable
thing in the whole matter) that they shall not break straight, but _in
curves, round the body_ of the aiguilles, somewhat in the manner of the
coats of an onion; so that, even after fissure has taken place, the
detached film or flake clings to and leans upon the central mass, and
will not fall from it till centuries of piercing frost have wedged it
utterly from its hold; and, even then, will not fall all at once, but
drop to pieces slowly, and flake by flake. Consider a little the
beneficence of this ordinance;[62] supposing the cliffs had been built
like the castle wall, the mouldering away of a few bricks, more or less,
at the bottom would have brought down huge masses above, as it
constantly does in ruins, and in the mouldering cliffs of the slaty
coherents; while yet the top of the mountain would have been always
blunt and rounded, as at _a_, Fig. 36, when seen against the sky. But
the aiguille being built in these nearly vertical curved flakes, the
worst that the frost can do to it is to push its undermost rocks asunder
into forms such as at _b_, of which, when many of the edges have fallen,
the lower ones are more or less supported by the very débris accumulated
at their feet; and yet all the while the tops sustain themselves in the
most fantastic and incredible fineness of peak against the sky.

[Illustration: J. Ruskin.    J. C. Armytage.
               31. The Aiguille Blaitière.]

[Illustration: FIG. 36.]

§ 16. I have drawn the flakes in Fig. 36, for illustration's sake, under
a caricatured form. Their real aspect will be understood in a moment by
a glance at the opposite plate, +31+, which represents the central
aiguille in the woodcut outline Fig. 35 (Aiguille Blaitière, called by
Forbes Greppond), as seen from within about half a mile of its actual
base. The white shell-like mass beneath it is a small glacier, which in
its beautifully curved outline[63] appears to sympathize with the sweep
of the rocks beneath, rising and breaking like a wave at the feet of the
remarkable horn or spur which supports it on the right. The base of the
aiguille itself is, as it were, washed by this glacier, or by the snow
which covers it, till late in the season, as a cliff is by the sea;
except that a narrow chasm, of some twenty or thirty feet in depth and
two or three feet wide, usually separates the rock from the ice, which
is melted away by the heat reflected from the southern face of the
aiguille. The rock all along this base line is of the most magnificent
compactness and hardness, and rings under the hammer like a bell; yet,
when regarded from a little distance, it is seen to be distinctly
inclined to separate into grand curved flakes or sheets, of which the
dark edges are well marked in the plate. The pyramidal form of the
aiguille, as seen from this point, is, however, entirely deceptive; the
square rock which forms its apparent summit is not the real top, but
much in advance of it, and the slope on the right against the sky is a
perspective line; while, on the other hand, the precipice in light,
above the three small horns at the narrowest part of the glacier, is
considerably steeper than it appears to be, the cleavage of the flakes
crossing it somewhat obliquely. But I show the aiguille from this spot
that the reader may more distinctly note the fellowship between its
curved precipice and the little dark horn or spur which bounds the
glacier; a spur the more remarkable because there is just such another,
jutting in like manner from the corresponding angle of the next aiguille
(Charmoz), both of them looking like remnants or foundations of the
vaster ancient pyramids, of which the greater part has been by ages
carried away.

[Illustration: FIG. 37.]

§ 17. The more I examined the range of the aiguilles the more I was
struck by this curved cleavage as their principal character. It is quite
true that they have other straighter cleavages (noticed in the Appendix,
as the investigation of them would be tiresome to the general reader);
but it is this to which they owe the whole picturesqueness of their
contours; curved as it is, not simply, but often into the most strange
shell-like undulations, as will be understood by a glance at Fig. 37,
which shows the mere _governing_ lines at the base of this Aiguille
Blaitière, seen, with its spur, from a station some quarter of a mile
nearer it, and more to the east than that chosen in Plate +31+. These
leading lines are rarely well shown in fine weather, the important
contour from _a_ downwards being hardly relieved clearly from the
precipice beyond (_b_), unless a cloud intervenes, as it did when I made
this memorandum; while, again, the leading lines of the Aiguille du
Plan, as seen from the foot of it, close to the rocks, are as at Fig.
38, the generally pyramidal outline being nearly similar to that of
Blaitière, and a spur being thrown out to the right, under _a_, composed
in exactly the same manner of curved folia of rock laid one against the
other. The hollow in the heart of the aiguille is as smooth and sweeping
in curve as the cavity of a vast bivalve shell.

[Illustration: FIG. 38.]

§ 18. I call these the governing or leading lines, not because they are
the first which strike the eye, but because, like those of the grain of
the wood in a tree-trunk, they rule the swell and fall and change of all
the mass. In Nature, or in a photograph, a careless observer will by no
means be struck by them, any more than he would by the curves of the
tree; and an ordinary artist would draw rather the cragginess and
granulation of the surfaces, just as he would rather draw the bark and
moss of the trunk. Nor can any one be more steadfastly adverse than I to
every substitution of anatomical knowledge for outward and apparent
fact; but so it is, that as an artist increases in acuteness of
perception, the facts which _become_ outward and apparent to him are
those which bear upon the growth or make of the thing. And, just as in
looking at any woodcut of trees after Titian or Albert Durer, as
compared with a modern water-color sketch, we shall always be struck by
the writhing and rounding of the tree trunks in the one, and the
stiffness, and merely blotted or granulated surfaces of the other; so,
in looking at these rocks, the keenness of the artist's eye may almost
precisely be tested by the degree in which he perceives the curves that
give them their strength and grace, and in harmony with which the flakes
of granite are bound together, like the bones of the jaw of a saurian.
Thus the ten years of study which I have given to these mountains since
I described them in the first volume as "traversed sometimes by graceful
curvilinear fissures, sometimes by straight fissures," have enabled me
to ascertain, and now generally at a glance to see, that the curvilinear
ones are _dominant_, and that even the fissures or edges which appear
perfectly straight have _almost_ always some delicate sympathy with the
curves. Occasionally, however, as in the separate beds which form the
spur or horn of the Aiguille Blaitière, seen in true profile in Plate
+29+, Fig. 3, the straightness is so accurate that, not having brought a
rule with me up the glacier, I was obliged to write under my sketch,
"Not possible to draw it straight enough." Compare also the lines
sloping to the left in Fig. 38.

§ 19. "But why not give everything just as it is; without caring what is
dominant and what subordinate?"

You cannot. Of all the various impossibilities which torment and
humiliate the painter, none are more vexatious than that of drawing a
mountain form. It is indeed impossible enough to draw, by resolute care,
the foam on a wave, or the outline of the foliage of a large tree; but
in these cases, when care is at fault, carelessness will help, and the
dash of the brush will in some measure give wildness to the churning of
the foam, and infinitude to the shaking of the leaves. But chance will
not help us with the mountain. Its fine and faintly organized edge seems
to be definitely traced against the sky; yet let us set ourselves
honestly to follow it, and we find, on the instant, it has disappeared:
and that for two reasons. The first, that if the mountain be lofty, and
in light, it is so faint in color that the eye literally cannot trace
its separation from the hues next to it. The other day I wanted the
contour of a limestone mountain in the Valais, distant about seven
miles, and as many thousand feet above me; it was barren limestone; the
morning sun fell upon it, so as to make it almost vermilion color, and
the sky behind it a bluish green. Two tints could hardly have been more
opposed, but both were so subtle, that I found it impossible to see
accurately the line that separated the vermilion from the green. The
second, that if the contour be observed from a nearer point, or looked
at when it is dark against the sky, it will be found composed of
millions of minor angles, crags, points, and fissures, which no human
sight or hand can draw finely enough, and yet all of which have effect
upon the mind.

§ 20. The outline shown as dark against the sky in Plate +29+, Fig. 2 is
about a hundred, or a hundred and twenty, yards of the top of the ridge
of Charmoz, running from the base of the aiguille down to the
Montanvert, and seen from the moraine of the Charmoz glacier, a quarter
of a mile distant to the south-west.[64] It is formed of decomposing
granite, thrown down in blocks entirely detached, but wedged together,
so as to stand continually in these seemingly perilous contours (being a
portion of such a base of aiguille as that in _b_, Fig. 36, p. 185).[65]
The block forming the summit on the left is fifteen or eighteen feet
long; and the upper edge of it, which is the dominant point of the
Charmoz ridge, is the best spot in the Chamouni district for giving a
thorough command of the relations of the aiguilles on each side of the
Mer de Glace. Now put the book, with that page open, upright, at three
yards distance from you, and try to draw this contour, which I have made
as dark and distinct as it ever could be in reality, and you will
immediately understand why it is impossible to draw mountain outlines
rightly.

§ 21. And if not outlines, _a fortiori_ not details of mass, which have
all the complexity of the outline multiplied a thousand fold, and drawn
in fainter colors. Nothing is more curious than the state of
embarrassment into which the unfortunate artist must soon be cast when
he endeavors honestly to draw the face of the simplest mountain
cliff--say a thousand feet high, and two or three miles distant. It is
full of exquisite details, all seemingly decisive and clear; but when he
tries to arrest one of them, he cannot see it,--cannot find where it
begins or ends,--and presently it runs into another; and then he tries
to draw that, but that will not be drawn, neither, until it has
conducted him to a third, which, somehow or another, made part of the
first; presently he finds that, instead of three, there are in reality
four, and then he loses his place altogether. He tries to draw clear
lines, to make his work look craggy, but finds that then it is too hard;
he tries to draw soft lines, and it is immediately too soft; he draws a
curved line, and instantly sees it should have been straight; a straight
one, and finds when he looks up again, that it has got curved while he
was drawing it. There is nothing for him but despair, or some sort of
abstraction and shorthand for cliff. Then the only question is, what is
the wisest abstraction; and out of the multitude of lines that cannot
altogether be interpreted, which are the really dominant ones; so that
if we cannot give the whole, we may at least give what will convey the
most important facts about the cliff.

[Illustration: 32. Aiguille Drawing.
               1. Old Ideal.      2. Turnerian.]

§ 22. Recurring then to our "public opinion" of the Aiguille Charmoz, we
find the greatest exaggeration of, and therefore I suppose the greatest
interest in, the narrow and spiry point on its left side. That is in
reality a point at all but a hatchet edge; a flake of rock, which is
enabled to maintain itself in this sharp-edged state by its writhing
folds of sinewy granite. Its structure, on a larger scale, and seen
"edge on," is shown in Fig. 41. The whole aiguille is composed of a
series of such flakes, liable, indeed, to all kinds of fissure in other
directions, but holding, by their modes of vertical association, the
strongest authority over the form of the whole mountain. It is not in
all lights that they are seen plainly: for instance, in the morning
effect in Plate +30+ they are hardly traceable: but the longer we watch,
the more they are perceived; and their power of sustaining themselves
vertically is so great, that at the foot of the aiguille on the right a
few of them form a detached mass, known as the _Petit_ Charmoz, between
E and _c_ in Fig. 60, p. 210, of which the height of the uttermost
flake, between _c_ and _d_, is about five hundred feet.

[Illustration: FIG. 41.]

Important, however, as this curved cleavage is, it is so confused among
others, that it has taken me, as I said, ten years of almost successive
labor to develope, in any degree of completeness, its relations among
the aiguilles of Chamouni; and even of professed geologists, the only
person who has described it properly is De Saussure, whose _continual_
sojourn among the Alps enabled him justly to discern the constant from
the inconstant phenomena. And yet, in his very first journey to Savoy,
Turner saw it at a glance, and fastened on it as the main thing to be
expressed in those mountains.

In the opposite Plate (+32+), the darkest division, on the right, is a
tolerably accurate copy of Turner's rendering of the Aiguille Charmoz
(etched and engraved by himself), in the plate called the "Mer de
Glace," in the Liber Studiorum. Its outline is in local respects
inaccurate enough, being modified by Turnerian topography; but the flaky
character is so definite, that it looks as if it had been prepared for
an illustrative diagram of the points at present under discussion.

§ 23. And do not let it be supposed that this was by chance, or that the
modes of mountain drawing at the period would in any wise have helped
Turner to discover these lines. The aiguilles had been drawn before this
time, and the figure on the left in Plate +32+ will show how. It is a
facsimile of a piece of an engraving of the Mer de Glace, by Woollett,
after William Pars, published in 1783, and founded on the general
Wilsonian and Claudesque principles of landscape common at the time.
There are, in the rest of the plate, some good arrangements of shadow
and true aerial perspective; and the piece I have copied, which is an
attempt to represent the Aiguille Dru, opposite the Charmoz, will serve,
not unfairly, to show how totally inadequate the draughtsmen of the time
were to perceive the character of mountains, and, also, how unable the
human mind is by itself to conceive anything like the variety of natural
form. The workman had not looked at the thing,--trusted to his "Ideal,"
supposed that broken and rugged rocks might be shaped better out of his
own head than by Nature's laws,--and we see what comes of it.

§ 24. And now, lastly, observe, in the laws by which this strange
curvilinear structure is given to the aiguilles, how the provision for
beauty of form is made in the first landscape materials we have to
study. We have permitted ourselves, according to that unsystematic mode
of proceeding pleaded for in the opening of our present task, to wander
hither and thither as this or that question rose before us, and
demanded, or tempted, our pursuit. But the reader must yet remember that
our special business in this section of the work is the observance of
the nature of _beauty_, and of the degrees in which the aspect of any
object fulfils the laws of beauty stated in the second volume. Now in
the fifteenth paragraph of the chapter on infinity, it was stated that
curvature was essential to all beauty, and that what we should "need
more especially to prove, was the constancy of curvature in all natural
forms whatsoever." And these aiguilles, which are the first objects we
have had definitely to consider, appeared as little likely to fulfil the
condition as anything we could have come upon. I am well assured that
the majority of spectators see no curves in them at all, but an
intensely upright, stern, spiry ruggedness and angularity. And we might
even beforehand have been led to expect, and to be contented in
expecting, nothing else from them than this; for since, as we have said
often, they are part of the earth's skeleton, being created to sustain
and strengthen everything else, and yet differ from a skeleton in this,
that the earth is not only supported by their strength, but fed by their
ruin; so that they are first composed of the hardest and least tractable
substance, and then exposed to such storm and violence as shall beat
large parts of them to powder;--under these desperate conditions of
being, I say, we might have anticipated some correspondent ruggedness
and terribleness of aspect, some such refusal to comply with ordinary
laws of beauty, as we often see in other things and creatures put to
hard work, and sustaining distress or violence.

§ 25. And truly, at first sight, there is such refusal in their look,
and their shattered walls and crests seem to rise in a gloomy contrast
with the soft waves of bank and wood beneath; nor do I mean to press the
mere fact, that, as we look longer at them, other lines become
perceptible, because it might be thought no proof of their beauty that
they needed long attention in order to be discerned. But I think this
much at least is deserving of our notice, as confirmatory of foregone
conclusions, that the forms which in other things are produced by slow
increase, or gradual abrasion of surface, _are here produced by rough
fracture_, when rough fracture is to be the law of existence. A rose is
rounded by its own soft ways of growth, a reed is bowed into tender
curvature by the pressure of the breeze; but we could not, from these,
have proved any resolved preference, by Nature, of curved lines to
others, inasmuch as it might always have been answered that the curves
were produced, not for beauty's sake, but infallibly, by the laws of
vegetable existence; and, looking at broken flints or rugged banks
afterwards, we might have thought that we only liked the curved lines
because associated with life and organism, and disliked the angular
ones, because associated with inaction and disorder. But Nature gives us
in these mountains a more clear demonstration of her will. She is here
driven to make fracture the law of being. She cannot tuft the rock-edges
with moss, or round them by water, or hide them with leaves and roots.
She is bound to produce a form, admirable to human beings, by continual
breaking away of substance. And behold--so soon as she is compelled to
do this--she changes the law of fracture itself. "Growth," she seems to
say, "is not essential to my work, nor concealment, nor softness; but
curvature is: and if I must produce my forms by breaking them, the
fracture itself shall be in curves. If, instead of dew and sunshine, the
only instruments I am to use are the lightning and the frost, then their
forked tongues and crystal wedges shall still work out my laws of tender
line. Devastation instead of nurture may be the task of all my elements,
and age after age may only prolong the unrenovated ruin; but the
appointments of typical beauty which have been made over all creatures
shall not therefore be abandoned; and the rocks shall be ruled, in their
perpetual perishing, by the same ordinances that direct the bending of
the reed and the blush of the rose."


FOOTNOTES

  [57] See, for explanatory statements, Appendix 2.

  [58] I have been able to examine these conditions with much care in
    the chain of Mont Blanc only, which I chose for the subject of
    investigation both as being the most interesting to the general
    traveller, and as being the only range of the central mountains
    which had been much painted by Turner. But I believe the singular
    arrangements of beds which take place in this chain have been found
    by the German geologists to prevail also in the highest peaks of the
    Western Alps; and there are a peculiar beauty and providence in them
    which induce me to expect that farther inquiries may justify our
    attributing them to some very extensive law of the earth's
    structure. See the notes from De Saussure in Appendix 2.

  [59] That is to say, as it appears to me. There are some points of
    the following statements which are disputed among geologists; the
    reader will find them hereafter discussed at greater length.

  [60] Running, at that point very nearly, N. E. and S. W., and
    dipping under the ice at an angle of about seventy degrees.

  [61] It was often of great importance to me to ascertain these
    _apparent_ slopes with some degree of correctness. In order to do so
    without the trouble of carrying any instrument (except my compass
    and spirit-level), I had my Alpine pole made as even as a round rule
    for about a foot in the middle of its length. Taking the bearing of
    the mountain, placing the pole at right angles to the bearing, and
    adjusting it by the spirit-level, I brought the edge of a piece of
    finely cut pasteboard parallel, in a vertical plane (plumbed), with
    the apparent slope of the hillside. A pencil line drawn by the pole
    then gave me a horizon, with which the angle could be easily
    measured at home. The measurements thus obtained are given under the
    figures.

  [62] That is to say, in a cliff intended to _owe its outline to
    dilapidation_. Where no dilapidation is to be permitted, the bedded
    structure, well knit, is always used. Of this we shall see various
    examples in the 16th chapter.

  [63] Given already as an example of curvature in the Stones of
    Venice, vol. 1, plate 7.

  [64] The top of the aiguille of the Little Charmoz bearing, from the
    point whence this sketch was made, about six degrees east of north.

  [65] The _summits_ of the aiguilles are often more fantastically
    rent still. Fig. 39 is the profile of a portion of the upper edge of
    the Aiguille du Moine, seen from the crest of Charmoz; Fig. 40 shows
    the three lateral fragments, drawn to a larger scale. The height of
    each of the upright masses must be from twenty to twenty-five feet.
    I do not know if their rude resemblance to two figures, on opposite
    sides of a table or altar, has had anything to do with the name of
    the aiguille.

    [Illustration: FIG. 39.]

    [Illustration: FIG. 40.]



CHAPTER XV.

RESULTING FORMS:--SECONDLY, CRESTS.


§ 1. Between the aiguilles, or other conditions of central peak, and the
hills which are clearly formed, as explained in Chap. XII. § 11, by the
mere breaking of the edges of solid beds of coherent rock, there occurs
almost always a condition of mountain summit, intermediate in aspect, as
in position. The aiguille may generally be represented by the type _a_,
Fig. 42; the solid and simple beds of rock by the type _c_. The
condition _b_, clearly intermediate between the two, is, on the whole,
the most graceful and perfect in which mountain masses occur. It seems
to have attracted more of the attention of the poets than either of the
others; and the ordinary word, crest, which we carelessly use in
speaking of mountain summits, as if it meant little more than "edge" or
"ridge," has a peculiar force and propriety when applied to ranges of
cliff whose contours correspond thus closely to the principal lines of
the crest of a Greek helmet.

[Illustration: FIG. 42.]

§ 2. There is another resemblance which they can hardly fail to suggest
when at all irregular in form,--that of a wave about to break. Byron
uses the image definitely of Soracte; and, in a less clear way, it seems
to present itself occasionally to all minds, there being a general
tendency to give or accept accounts of mountain form under the image of
waves; and to speak of a hilly country, seen from above, as looking
like a "sea of mountains."

Such expressions, vaguely used, do not, I think, generally imply much
more than that the ground is waved or undulated into bold masses. But if
we give prolonged attention to the mountains of the group _b_ we shall
gradually begin to feel that more profound truth is couched under this
mode of speaking, and that there is indeed an appearance of action and
united movement in these crested masses, nearly resembling that of sea
waves; that they seem not to be heaped up, but to leap or toss
themselves up; and in doing so, to wreathe and twist their summits into
the most fantastic, yet harmonious, curves, governed by some grand
under-sweep like that of a tide, running through the whole body of the
mountain chain.

[Illustration: FIG 43.]

For instance, in Fig. 43, which gives, rudely, the leading lines of the
junction of the "Aiguille pourri"[66] (Chamouni) with the Aiguilles
Rouges, the reader cannot, I think, but feel that there is something
which binds the mountains together--some common influence at their heart
which they cannot resist: and that, however they may be broken or
disordered, there is as true unity among them as in the sweep of a wild
wave, governed, through all its foaming ridges, by constant laws of
weight and motion.

[Illustration: FIG. 44.]

§ 3. How far this apparent unity is the result of elevatory force _in_
mountain, and how far of the sculptural force of water _upon_ the
mountain, is the question we have mainly to deal with in the present
chapter.

[Illustration: FIG. 45.]

But first look back to Fig. 7, of Plate +8+, Vol. III., there given as
the typical representation of the ruling forces of growth in a leaf.
Take away the extreme portion of the curve on the left, and any segment
of the leaf remaining, terminated by one of its ribs, as _a_ or _b_,
Fig. 44, will be equally a typical contour of a common crested mountain.
If the reader will merely turn Plate +8+ so as to look at the figure
upright, with its stalk downwards, he will see that it is also the base
of the honeysuckle ornament of the Greeks. I may anticipate what we
shall have to note with respect to vegetation so far as to tell him that
it is also the base of form in all timber trees.

[Illustration: FIG. 46.]

§ 4. There seems something, therefore, in this contour which makes its
production one of the principal aims of Nature in all her compositions.
The cause of this appears to be, that as the cinqfoil is the simplest
expression of proportion, this is the simplest expression of opposition,
in unequal curved lines. If we take any lines, _a x_ and _e g_, Fig. 45,
both of varied curvature (not segments of circles), and one shorter than
the other, and join them together so as to form one line, as _b x_, _x
g_, we shall have one of the common lines of beauty; if we join them at
an angle, as _c x_, _x y_, we shall have the common crest, which is in
fact merely a jointed line of beauty. If we join them as at _a_, Fig.
46, they form a line at once monotonous and cramped, and the jointed
condition of this same line, _b_, is hardly less so. It is easily
proved, therefore, that the junction of lines _c x_, _x y_, is the
simplest and most graceful mode of opposition; and easily observed that
in branches of trees, wings of birds, and other more or less regular
organizations, such groups of line are continually made to govern the
contours. But it is not so easily seen why or how this form should be
impressed upon irregular heaps of mountain.

[Illustration: FIG. 47.]

§ 5. If a bed of coherent rock be raised, in the manner described in
Chap. XIII., so as to form a broken precipice with its edge, and a long
slope with its surface, as at _a_, Fig. 47 (and in this way nearly all
hills are raised), the top of the precipice has usually a tendency to
crumble down, and, in process of time, to form a heap of advanced ruins
at its foot. On the other side, the back or slope of the hill does not
crumble down, but is gradually worn away by the streams; and as these
are always more considerable, both in velocity and weight, at the bottom
of the slope than the top, the ground is faster worn away at the bottom,
and the straight slope is cut to a curve of continually increasing
steepness. Fig. 47 _b_ represents the contour to which the hill _a_
would thus be brought in process of time; the dotted line indicating its
original form. The result, it will be seen, is a crest.[67]

[Illustration: FIG. 48.]

§ 6. But crests of this uniform substance and continuous outline occur
only among hills composed of the softest coherent rocks, and seldom
attain any elevation such as to make them important or impressive. The
notable crests are composed of the hard coherents or slaty crystallines,
and then the contour of the crests depends mainly on the question
whether in the original mass of it, the beds lie as at _a_ or as at _b_,
Fig. 48. If they lie as at _a_, then the resultant crest will have the
general appearance seen at _c_; the edges of the beds getting separated
and serrated by the weather. If the beds lie as at _b_, the resultant
crest will be of such a contour as that at _d_.

The crests of the contour _d_ are formed usually by the harder coherent
rocks, and are notable chiefly for their bold precipices in front, and
regular slopes, or sweeping curves, at the back. We shall examine them
under the special head of _precipices_. But the crests of the form at c
belong usually to the slaty crystallines, and are those properly called
crests, their edges looking, especially when covered with pines, like
separated plumes. These it is our chief business to examine in the
present chapter.

[Illustration: FIG. 49.]

§ 7. In order to obtain this kind of crest, we first require to have our
mountain beds thrown up in the form _a_, Fig. 48. This is not easily
done on a large scale, except among the slaty crystallines forming the
flanks of the great chains, as in Fig. 29, p. 176. In that figure it
will be seen that the beds forming each side of the chain of Mont Blanc
are thrown into the required steepness, and therefore, whenever they
are broken towards the central mountain, they naturally form the front
of a crest, while the torrents and glaciers falling over their longer
slopes, carve them into rounded banks towards the valley.

§ 8. But the beauty of a crest or bird's wing consists, in nature, not
merely in its curved terminal outline, but in the radiation of the
plumes, so that while each assumes a different curve, every curve shall
show a certain harmony of direction with all the others.

We shall have to enter into the examination of this subject at greater
length in the 17th chapter; meanwhile, it is sufficient to observe the
law in a single example, such as Fig. 49, which is a wing of one of the
angels in Durer's woodcut of the Fall of Lucifer.[68] At first sight,
the plumes seem disposed with much irregularity, but there is a sense of
power and motion in the whole which the reader would find was at once
lost by a careless copyist; for it depends on the fact that if we take
the principal curves at any points of the wing, and continue them in the
lines which they are pursuing at the moment they terminate, these
continued lines will all meet in a single point, C. It is this law which
gives unity to the wing.

All groups of curves set beside each other depend for their beauty upon
the observance of this law;[69] and if, therefore, the mountain crests
are to be perfectly beautiful, Nature must contrive to get this element
of radiant curvature into them in one way or another. Nor does it, at
first sight, appear easy for her to get, I do not say radiant curves,
but curves _at all_: for in the aiguilles, she actually bent their beds;
but in these slaty crystallines it seems not always convenient to her to
bend the beds; and when they are to remain straight, she must obtain the
curvature in some other way.

[Illustration: FIG. 50.]

[Illustration: FIG. 51.]

[Illustration: FIG. 52.]

§ 9. One way in which she gets it is curiously simple in itself, but
somewhat difficult to explain, unless the reader will be at the pains of
making a little model for himself out of paste or clay. Hitherto,
observe, we have spoken of these crests as seen at their sides, as a
Greek helmet is seen from the side of the wearer. By means presently to
be examined, these mountain crests are so shaped that, seen _in front_,
or from behind (as a helmet crest is seen in front of or behind the
wearer), they present the contour of a sharp ridge, or house gable. Now
if the breadth of this ridge at its base remains the same, while its
height gradually diminishes from the front of it to the back (as from
the top of the crest to the back of the helmet), it necessarily assumes
the form of such a quaint gable roof as that shown in profile in Fig.
50, and in perspective[70] in Fig. 51, in which the gable is steep at
the end farthest off, but depressed at the end nearest us; and the rows
of tiles, in consequence, though in reality quite straight, appear to
radiate as they retire, owing to their different slopes. When a mountain
crest is thus formed, and the concave curve of its front is carried into
its flanks, each edge of bed assuming this concave curve, and radiating,
like the rows of tiles, in perspective at the same time, the whole
crest is thrown into the form Fig. 52, which is that of the radiating
plume required.

[Illustration: FIG. 53.]

§ 10. It often happens, however, that Nature does not choose to keep the
ridge broad at the lower extremity, so as to diminish its steepness. But
when this is not so, and the base is narrowed so that the slope of side
shall be nearly equal everywhere, she almost always obtains her varied
curvature of the plume in another way, by merely turning the crest a
little round as it descends. I will not confuse the reader by examining
the complicated results of such turning on the inclined lines of the
strata; but he can understand, in a moment, its effect on another series
of lines, those caused by rivulets of water down the sides of the crest.
These lines are, of course, always, in general tendency, perpendicular.
Let _a_, Fig. 53, be a circular funnel, painted inside with a pattern of
vertical lines meeting at the bottom. Suppose these lines to represent
the ravines traced by the water. Cut off a portion of the lip of the
funnel, as at _b_, to represent the crest side. Cut the edge so as to
slope down towards you, and add a slope on the other side. Then give
each inner line the concave sweep, and you have your ridge _c_, of the
required form, with radiant curvature.

§ 11. A greater space of such a crest is always seen on its concave than
on its convex side (the outside of the funnel); of this other
perspective I shall have to speak hereafter; meantime, we had better
continue the examination of the proper crest, the _c_ of Fig. 48, in
some special instance.

The form is obtained usually in the greatest perfection among the high
ridges near the central chain, where the beds of the slaty crystallines
are steep and hard. Perhaps the most interesting example I can choose
for close examination will be that of a mountain in Chamouni, called
the Aiguille Bouchard, now familiar to the eye of every traveller, being
the ridge which rises, exactly opposite the Montanvert, beyond the Mer
de Glace. The structure of this crest is best seen from near the foot of
the Montanvert, on the road to the source of the Arveiron, whence the
top of it, _a_, presents itself under the outline given rudely in the
opposite plate (+33+), in which it will be seen that, while the main
energy of the mountain mass tosses itself against the central chain of
Mont Blanc (which is on the right hand), it is met by a group of
counter-crests, like the recoil of a broken wave cast against it from
the other side; and yet, as the recoiling water has a sympathy with the
under swell of the very wave against which it clashes, the whole mass
writhes together in strange unity of mountain passion; so that it is
almost impossible to persuade oneself, after long looking at it, that
the crests have not indeed been once fused and tossed into the air by a
tempest which had mastery over them, as the winds have over ocean.

§ 12. And yet, if we examine the crest structure closely, we shall find
that nearly all these curvatures are obtained by Nature's skilful
handling of perfectly straight beds,--only the meeting of those two
waves of crest is indeed indicative of the meeting of two masses of
different rocks; it marks that junction of the slaty with the compact
crystallines, which has before been noticed as the principal mystery of
rock structure. To this junction my attention was chiefly directed
during my stay at Chamouni, as I found it was always at that point that
Nature produced the loveliest mountain forms. Perhaps the time I gave to
the study of it may have exaggerated its interest in my eyes; and the
reader who does not care for these geological questions, except in their
direct bearing upon art, may, without much harm, miss the next seven
paragraphs, and go on at the twenty-first. Yet there is one point, in a
Turner drawing presently to be examined, which I cannot explain without
inflicting the tediousness even of these seven upon him.

[Illustration: J. Ruskin.                     R. P. Cuff.
               33. Leading Contours of Aiguille Bouchard.]

§ 13. First, then, the right of the Aiguille Bouchard to be called a
crest at all depends, not on the slope from _a_ to _b_, Plate +33+, but
on that from _a_ to _h_. The slope from _a_ to _b_ is a perspective
deception; _b_ is much the highest point of the two. Seen from the
village of Chamouni, the range presents itself under the outline Fig.
54, the same points in each figure being indicated by the same letters.
From the end of the valley the supremacy of the mass _b c_ is still more
notable. It is altogether with mountains as with human spirits, you
never know which is greatest till they are far away.

[Illustration: FIG. 54.]

§ 14. It will be observed also, that the beauty of the crest, in both
Plate +33+ and Fig. 54, depends on the gradually increasing steepness of
the lines of slope between _a_ and _b_. This is in great part deceptive,
being obtained by the receding of the crest into a great mountain
crater, or basin, as explained in § 11. But this very recession is a
matter of interest, for it takes place exactly on the line above spoken
of, where the slaty crystallines of the crest join the compact
crystallines of the aiguilles; at which junction a correspondent chasm
or recession, of some kind or another, takes place along the whole front
of Mont Blanc.

§ 15. In the third paragraph of the last chapter we had occasion to
refer to the junction of the slaty and compact crystallines at the roots
of the aiguilles. It will be seen in the figure there given, that this
change is not sudden, but gradated. The rocks to be joined are of the
two types represented in Fig. 3, p. 106 (for convenience' sake I shall
in the rest of this chapter call the slaty rock gneiss, and the compact
rock protogine, its usual French name). Fig. 55 shows the general
manner of junction, beds of gneiss occurring in the middle of the
protogine, and of protogine in the gneiss; sometimes one touching the
other so closely, that a hammer-stroke breaks off a piece of both;
sometimes one passing into the other by a gradual change, like the zones
of a rainbow; the only general phenomenon being this, that the higher up
the hill the gneiss is, the harder it is (so that while it often yields
to the pressure of the finger down in the valley, on the Montanvert it
is nearly as hard as protogine); and, on the other hand, the lower down
the hill, or the nearer the gneiss, the protogine is, the finer it is in
grain. But still the actual transition from one to the other is usually
within a few fathoms; and it is that transition, and the preparation for
it, which causes the great step, or jag, on the flank of the chain, and
forms the tops of the Aiguille Bouchard, Charmoz ridges, Tapia, Montagne
de la Côte, Montagne de Taconay, and Aiguille du Gouté.

[Illustration: FIG. 55.]

[Illustration: FIG. 56.]

[Illustration: FIG. 57.]

[Illustration: FIG. 58.]

§ 16. But what most puzzled me was the intense _straightness_ of the
lines of the gneiss beds, dipping, as it seemed, under the Mont Blanc.
For it has been a chief theory with geologists that these central
protogine rocks have once been in fusion, and have risen up in molten
fury, overturning and altering all the rocks around. But every day, as
I looked at the crested flanks of the Mont Blanc, I saw more plainly the
exquisite _regularity_ of the slopes of the beds, ruled, it seemed, with
an architect's rule, along the edge of their every flake from the
summits to the valley. And this surprised me the more because I had
always heard it stated that the beds of the lateral crests, _a_ and _b_,
Fig. 56, varied in slope, getting less and less inclined as they
descended, so as to arrange themselves somewhat in the form of a fan. It
may be so; but I can only say that all my observations and drawings give
an opposite report, and that the beds seemed invariably to present
themselves to the eye and the pencil in parallelism, modified only by
the phenomena just explained (§§ 9, 10). Thus the entire mass of the
Aiguille Bouchard, of which only the top is represented in Plate +33+,
appeared to me in profile, as in Fig. 57, dependent for all its effect
and character on the descent of the beds in the directions of the dotted
lines, _a_, _b_, _d_. The interrupting space, _g g_, is the Glacier des
Bois; M is the Montanvert; _c_, _c_, the rocks under the glacier, much
worn by the fall of avalanches, but, for all that, showing the steep
lines still with the greatest distinctness. Again, looking down the
valley instead of up, so as to put the Mont Blanc on the left hand, the
principal crests which support it, Taconay and La Côte, always appeared
to me constructed as in Plate +35+ (p. 212), they also depending for all
their effect on the descent of the beds in diagonal lines towards the
left. Nay, half-way up the Breven, whence the structure of the Mont
Blanc is commanded, as far as these lower buttresses are concerned,
better than from the top of the Breven, I drew carefully the cleavages
of the beds, as high as the edge of the Aiguille de Gouté, and found
them exquisitely parallel throughout; and again on the Cormayeur side,
though less steep, the beds _a_, _b_, Fig. 58, traversing the vertical
irregular fissures of the great aiguille of the Allée Blanche, as seen
over the Lac de Combal, still appeared to me perfectly regular and
parallel.[71] I have not had time to trace them round, through the
Aiguille de Bionassay, and above the Col de Bonhomme, though I know the
relations of the beds of limestone to the gneiss on the latter col are
most notable and interesting. But, as far as was required for any
artistical purposes, I perfectly ascertained the fact that, whatever
their real structure might be, these beds did appear, through the softer
contours of the hill, as straight and parallel; that they continued to
appear so until near the tops of the crests; and that those tops seemed,
in some mysterious way, dependent on the junction of the gneissitic beds
with, or their transition into, the harder protogine of the aiguilles.

Look back to Plate +33+. The peak of the Bouchard, _a_, is of gneiss,
and its beds run down in lines originally straight, but more or less
hollowed by weathering, to the point _h_, where they plunge under
débris. But the point _b_ is, I believe, of protogine; and all the
opposed writhing of the waves of rock to the right appears to be in
consequence of the junction.

[Illustration: 34. Cleavages of Aiguille Bouchard.]

§ 17. The way in which these curves are produced cannot, however, be
guessed at until we examine the junction more closely. Ascending about
five hundred feet above the cabin of the Montanvert, the opposite crest
of the Bouchard, from _a_ to _c_, Plate +33+, is seen more in front,
expanded into the jagged line, _a_ to _c_, Plate +34+, and the beds,
with their fractures, are now seen clearly throughout the mass, namely:

1st. (See references on plate). The true gneiss beds dipping down in the
direction G H, the point H being the same as _h_ in Plate +33+. These
are the beds so notable for their accurate straightness and parallelism.

2nd. The smooth fractures which in the middle of the etching seem to
divide the column of rock into a kind of brickwork. They are very neat
and sharp, running nearly at right angles with the true beds.[72]

3rd. The curved fractures of the aiguilles (seen first under the letter
_b_, and seeming to push outwards against the gneiss beds[73])
continuing through _c_ and the spur below.

4th. An irregular cleavage, something like that of starch, showing
itself in broken vertical lines.

5th. Writhing lines, cut by water. These have the greatest possible
influence on the aspect of the precipice: they are not merely caused by
torrents, but by falls of winter snow, and stones from the glacier
moraines, so that the cliff being continually worn away at the foot of
it, is wrought into a great amphitheatre, of which the receding sweep
continually varies the apparent steepness of the crest, as already
explained. I believe in ancient times the great Glacier des Bois itself
used to fill this amphitheatre, and break right up against the base of
the Bouchard.

6th. Curvatures worn by water over the back of the crest towards the
valley, in the direction _g i_.

7th. A tendency (which I do not understand) to form horizontal masses
at the levels _k_ and _l_.[74]

[Illustration: FIG. 61.]

§ 18. The reader may imagine what strange harmonies and changes of line
must result throughout the mass of the mountain from the varied
prevalence of one or other of these secret inclinations of its rocks
(modified, also, as they are by perpetual deceptions of perspective),
and how completely the rigidity or parallelism of any one of them is
conquered by the fitful urgencies of the rest,--a sevenfold action
seeming to run through every atom of crag. For the sake of clearness, I
have shown in this plate merely leading lines; the next (Plate +35+,
opposite) will give some idea of the complete aspect of two of the
principal crests on the Mont Blanc flanks, known as the Montagne de la
Côte, and Montagne de Taconay, _c_ and _t_ in Fig. 22, at page 163. In
which note, first, that the eminences marked _a a_, _b b_, _c c_, here,
in the reference figure (61), are in each of the mountains
correspondent, and indicate certain changes in the conditions of their
beds at those points. I have no doubt the two mountains were once one
mass, and that they have been sawn asunder by the great glacier of
Taconay, which descends between them; and similarly the Montagne de
la Côte sawn from the Tapia by the glacier des Bossons, B B in reference
figure.

[Illustration: 35. Crests of La Côte and Taconay.]

[Illustration: 36. Crest of La Côte.]

§ 19. Note, secondly, the general tendency in each mountain to throw
itself into concave curves towards the Mont Blanc, and descend in
rounded slopes to the valley; more or less interrupted by the direct
manifestation of the straight beds, which are indeed, in this view of
Taconay, the principal features of it. They necessarily become, however,
more prominent in the outline etching than in the scene itself, because
in reality the delicate cleavages are lost in distance or in mist, and
the effects of light bring out the rounded forms of the larger masses;
and wherever the clouds fill the hollows between, as they are apt to do,
(the glaciers causing a chillness in the ravines, while the wind,
blowing _up_ the larger valleys, clears the edges of the crests,) the
summits show themselves as in Plate 36, dividing, with their dark
frontlets, the perpetual sweep of the glaciers and the clouds.[75]

§ 20. Of the aqueous curvatures of this crest, we shall have more to say
presently; meantime let us especially observe how the providential laws
of beauty, acting with reversed data, arrive at similar results in the
aiguilles and crests. In the aiguilles, which are of such hard rock that
the fall of snow and trickling of streams do not affect them, the inner
structure is so disposed as to bring out the curvatures by the mere
fracture. In the crests and lower hills, which are of softer rock, and
largely influenced by external violence, the inner structure is
straight, and the necessary curvatures are produced by perspective, by
external modulation, and by the balancing of adverse influences of
cleavage. But, as the accuracy of an artist's eye is usually shown by
his perceiving the inner anatomy which regulates growth and form, and as
in the aiguilles, while we watch them, we are continually discovering
new curves, so in the crests, while we watch them, we are continually
discovering new straightnesses; and nothing more distinguishes good
mountain-drawing, or mountain-seeing, from careless and inefficient
mountain-drawing, than the observance of the marvellous parallelisms
which exist among the beds of the crests.

[Illustration: FIG. 62.]

§ 21. It indeed happens, not unfrequently, that in hills composed of
somewhat soft rock, the aqueous contours will so prevail over the
straight cleavage as to leave nothing manifest at the first glance but
sweeping lines like those of waves. Fig. 43, p. 196, is the crest of a
mountain on the north of the valley of Chamouni, known, from the rapid
decay and fall of its crags, as the Aiguille _Pourri_; and at first
there indeed seems little distinction between its contours and those of
the summit of a sea wave. Yet I think also, if it _were_ a wave, we
should immediately suppose the tide was running towards the right hand;
and if we examined the reason for this supposition, we should perceive
that along the ridge the steepest falls of crag were always on the
right-hand side; indicating a tendency in them to break rather in the
direction of the line _a b_ than any other. If we go half-way down the
Montanvert, and examine the left side of the crest somewhat more
closely, we shall find this tendency still more definitely visible, as
in Fig. 62.

§ 22. But what, then, has given rise to all those coiled plungings of
the crest hither and thither, yet with such strange unity of motion?

Yes. There is the cloud. How the top of the hill was first shaped so as
to let the currents of water act upon it in so varied a way we know not,
but I think that the appearance of _interior_ force of elevation is for
the most part deceptive. The series of beds would be found, if examined
in section, very uniform in their arrangement, only a little harder in
one place, and more delicate in another. A stream receives a slight
impulse this way or that, at the top of the hill, but increases in
energy and sweep as it descends, gathering into itself others from its
sides, and uniting their power with its own. A single knot of quartz
occurring in a flake of slate at the crest of the ridge may alter the
entire destinies of the mountain form. It may turn the little rivulet of
water to the right or left, and that little turn will be to the future
direction of the gathering stream what the touch of a finger on the
barrel of a rifle would be to the direction of the bullet. Each
succeeding year increases the importance of every determined form, and
arranges in masses yet more and more harmonious, the promontories shaped
by the sweeping of the eternal waterfalls.

§ 23. The importance of the results thus obtained by the slightest
change of direction in the infant streamlets, furnishes an interesting
type of the formation of human characters by habit. Every one of those
notable ravines and crags is the expression, not of any sudden violence
done to the mountain, but of its little _habits_, persisted in
continually. It was created with one ruling instinct; but its destiny
depended nevertheless, for effective result, on the direction of the
small and all but invisible tricklings of water, in which the first
shower of rain found its way down its sides. The feeblest, most
insensible oozings of the drops of dew among its dust were in reality
arbiters of its eternal form; commissioned, with a touch more tender
than that of a child's finger,--as silent and slight as the fall of a
half-checked tear on a maiden's cheek,--to fix for ever the forms of
peak and precipice, and hew those leagues of lifted granite into the
shapes that were to divide the earth and its kingdoms. Once the little
stone evaded,--once the dim furrow traced,--and the peak was for ever
invested with its majesty, the ravine for ever doomed to its
degradation. Thenceforward, day by day, the subtle habit gained in
power; the evaded stone was left with wider basement; the chosen furrow
deepened with swifter-sliding wave; repentance and arrest were alike
impossible, and hour after hour saw written in larger and rockier
characters upon the sky, the history of the choice that had been
directed by a drop of rain, and of the balance that had been turned by a
grain of sand.

[Illustration: FIG. 63.]

§ 24. Such are the principal laws, relating to the crested mountains,
for the expression of which we are to look to art; and we shall
accordingly find good and intelligent mountain-drawing distinguished
from bad mountain-drawing, by an indication, first, of the artist's
recognition of some great harmony among the summits, and of their
tendency to throw themselves into tidal waves, closely resembling those
of the sea itself; sometimes in free tossing towards the sky, but more
frequently still in the form of _breakers_, concave and steep on one
side, convex and less steep on the other; secondly, by his indication of
straight beds or fractures, continually stiffening themselves through
the curves in some given direction.

[Illustration: FIG. 64.]

§ 25. Fig. 63 is a facsimile of a piece of the background in Albert
Durer's woodcut of the binding of the great Dragon in the Apocalypse. It
is one of his most careless and rudest pieces of drawing; yet, observe
in it how notably the impulse of the breaking wave is indicated; and
note farther, how different a thing good drawing may be from delicate
_drawing_ on the one hand, and how different it must be from ignorant
drawing on the other. Woodcutting, in Durer's days, had reached no
delicacy capable of expressing subtle detail or aerial perspective. But
all the subtlety and aerial perspective of modern days are useless, and
even barbarous, if they fail in the expression of the essential mountain
facts.

§ 26. It will be noticed, however, that in this example of Durer's, the
recognition of straightness of line does not exist, and that for this
reason the hills look soft and earthy, not rocky.

So, also, in the next example, Fig. 64, the crest in the middle distance
is exceedingly fine in its expression of mountain force; the two ridges
of it being thrown up like the two edges of a return wave that has just
been beaten back from a rock. It is still, however, somewhat wanting in
the expression of straightness, and therefore slightly unnatural. It was
not people's way in the Middle Ages to look at mountains carefully
enough to discover the most subtle elements of their structure. Yet in
the next example, Fig. 65, the parallelism and rigidity are definitely
indicated, the crest outline being, however, less definite.

[Illustration: FIG. 65.]

Note, also (in passing), the entire equality of the lines in all these
examples, whether turned to dark or light. All good outline drawing, as
noticed in the chapter on finish, agrees in this character.

§ 27. The next figure (66) is interesting because it furnishes one of
the few instances in which Titian definitely took a suggestion from the
Alps, as he saw them from his house at Venice. It is from an old print
of a shepherd with a flock of sheep by the sea-side, in which he has
introduced a sea distance, with the Venetian church of St. Helena, some
subordinate buildings resembling those of Murano, and this piece of
cloud and mountain. The peak represented is one of the greater Tyrolese
Alps, which shows itself from Venice behind an opening in the chain,
and is their culminating point. In reality the mass is of the shape
given in Fig. 67. Titian has modified it into an energetic crest,
showing his feeling for the form, but I have no doubt that the woodcut
reverses Titian's original work (whatever it was), and that he gave the
crest the true inclination to the right, or east, which it has in
nature.

[Illustration: FIG. 66.]

§ 28. Now, it not unfrequently happens that in Claude's distances he
introduces actual outlines of Capri, Ischia, Monte St. Angelo, the Alban
Mount, and other chains about Rome and Naples, more or less faithfully
copied from nature. When he does so, confining himself to mere outline,
the grey contours seen against the distance are often satisfactory
enough; but as soon as he brings one of them nearer, so as to require
any drawing within its mass, it is quite curious to see the state of
paralysis into which he is thrown for want of any perception of the
mountain anatomy. Fig. 68 is one of the largest hills I can find in the
Liber Veritatis (No. 86), and it will be seen that there are only a few
lines inserted towards the edges, drawn in the direction of the sides of
the heap, or cone, wholly without consciousness of any interior
structure.

[Illustration: FIG. 67.]

[Illustration: FIG. 68.]

§ 29. I put below it, outlined also in the rudest way (for as I take the
shade away from the Liber Veritatis, I am bound also to take it away
from Turner), Fig. 69, a bit of the crags in the drawing of Loch
Coriskin, partly described already in § 5 of the chapter on the Inferior
Mountains in Vol. I. The crest form is, indeed, here accidentally
prominent, and developed to a degree rare even with Turner; but note,
besides this, the way in which Turner leans on the _centre_ and body of
the hill, not on its edge; marking its strata stone by stone, just as a
good figure painter, drawing a limb, marks the fall and rise of the
joint, letting the outline sink back softened; and compare the exactly
opposite method of Claude, holding for life to his outline, as a Greek
navigator holds to the shore.[76]

[Illustration: FIG. 69.]

§ 30. Lest, however, it should be thought that I have unfairly chosen
my examples, let me take an instance at once less singular and more
elaborate.

We saw in our account of Turnerian topography, Chap. II., § 14, that it
had been necessary for the painter, in his modification of the view in
the ravine of Faïdo, to introduce a passage from among the higher peaks;
which, being thus intended expressly to convey the general impression of
their character, must sufficiently illustrate what Turner felt that
character to be. Observe: it could not be taken from the great central
aiguilles, for none such exist at all near Faïdo; it could only be an
expression of what Turner considered the noblest attributes of the hills
next to these in elevation,--that is to say, those which we are now
examining.

I have etched the portion of the picture which includes this passage, on
page 221, on its own scale, including the whole couloir above the
gallery, and the gallery itself, with the rocks beside it.[77] And now,
if the reader will look back to Plate +20+, which is the outline of the
_real_ scene, he will have a perfect example, in comparing the two, of
the operation of invention of the highest order on a given subject. I
should recommend him to put a piece of tracing paper over the etching,
Plate +37+, and with his pen to follow some of the lines of it as
carefully as he can, until he feels their complexity, and the redundance
of the imaginative power which amplified the simple theme, furnished by
the natural scene, with such detail; and then let him observe what great
mountain laws Turner has been striving to express in all these
additions.

§ 31. The cleavages which govern the whole are precisely the same as
those of the Aiguille Bouchard, only wrought into grander combinations.
That the reader may the better distinguish them, I give the leading
lines coarsely for reference in Fig. 70, opposite. The cleavages and
lines of force are the following.

[Illustration: J. M. W. Turner.           J. Ruskin.
               37. Crests of the Slaty Crystallines.]

[Illustration: FIG. 70.]

1. A B and associated lines _a b_, _a b_, &c., over the whole plate.
       True beds or cleavage beds (_g h_ in Aiguille Bouchard, Plate
       +34+); here, observe, closing in retiring perspective with
       exquisite subtlety, and giving the great unity of radiation to
       the whole mass.

2. D E and associated lines _d e_, _d e_, over all the plate. Cross
       cleavage, the second in Aiguille Bouchard; straight and sharp.
       Forming here the series of crests at B and D.

3. _r s_, _r s_. Counter-crests, closely corresponding to
       counter-fracture, the third in Aiguille Bouchard.

4. _m n_, _m n_, &c., over the whole. Writhing aqueous lines falling
       gradually into the cleavages. Fifth group in Aiguille Bouchard.
       The starchy cleavage is not seen here, it being not generally
       characteristic of the crests, and present in the Bouchard only
       accidentally.

5. _x x x_. Sinuous lines worn by the water, indicative of some softness
       or flaws in the rock; these probably the occasion or consequence
       of the formation of the great precipice or brow on the right. We
       shall have more to say of them in Chap. XVII.

[Illustration: FIG. 71.]

6. _g f_, _g f_, &c. Broad aqueous or glacial curvatures. The sixth
       group in Aiguille Bouchard.

7. _k l_, _k l_. Concave curves wrought by the descending avalanche;
       peculiar, of course, to this spot.

8. _i h_, _i h_. Secondary convex curves, glacial or aqueous,
       corresponding to _g f_, but wrought into the minor secondary
       ravine. This secondary ravine is associated with the opponent
       aiguillesque masses _r s_; and the cause of the break or gap
       between these and the crests B D is indicated by the elbow or
       joint of nearer rock, M, where the distortion of the beds or
       change in their nature first takes place. Turner's idea of the
       structure of the whole mass has evidently been that in section it
       was as in Fig. 71, snapped asunder by elevation, with a nucleus
       at M, which, allowing for perspective, is precisely on the line
       of the chasm running in the direction of the arrow; but he gives
       more of the curved aiguillesque fracture to these upper crests,
       which are greater in elevation (and we saw, sometime ago, that
       the higher the rock the harder). And that nucleus of change at M,
       the hinge, as it were, on which all these promontories of upper
       crest revolve, is the first or nearest of the evaded stones,
       which have determined the course of streams and nod of cliffs
       throughout the chain.

§ 32. I can well believe that the reader will doubt the possibility of
all this being intended by Turner: and _intended_, in the ordinary
sense, it was not. It was simply seen and instinctively painted,
according to the command of the imaginative dream, as the true Griffin
was, and as all noble things are. But if the reader fancies that the
apparent truth came by mere chance, or that I am imagining purpose and
arrangement where they do not exist, let him be once for all assured
that no man goes through the kind of work which, by this time, he must
be beginning to perceive I _have_ gone through, either for the sake of
deceiving others, or with any great likelihood of deceiving himself. He
who desires to deceive the picture-purchasing public may do so cheaply;
and it is easy to bring almost any kind of art into notice without
climbing Alps or measuring cleavages. But any one, on the other hand,
who desires to ascertain facts, and will refer all art directly to
nature for many laborious years, will not at last find himself an easy
prey to groundless enthusiasms, or erroneous fancies. Foolish people are
fond of repeating a story which has gone the full round of the
artistical world,--that Turner, some day, somewhere, said to somebody
(time, place, or person never being ascertainable), that I discovered in
his pictures things which he did himself not know were there. Turner was
not a person apt to say things of this kind; being generally, respecting
all the movements of his own mind, as silent as a granite crest; and if
he ever did say it, was probably laughing at the person to whom he was
speaking. But he _might_ have said it in the most perfect sincerity;
nay, I am quite sure that, to a certain extent, the case really was as
he is reported to have declared, and that he neither was aware of the
value of the truths he had seized nor understood the nature of the
instinct that combined them. And yet the truth was assuredly
apprehended, and the instinct assuredly present and imperative; and any
artists who try to imitate the smallest portion of his work will find
that no happy chances will, for them, gather together the resemblances
of fact, nor, for them, mimic the majesty of invention.[78]

§ 33. No happy chance--nay, no happy thought--no perfect knowledge--will
ever take the place of that mighty unconsciousness. I have often had to
repeat that Turner, in the ordinary sense of the words, neither knew nor
thought so much as other men. Whenever his _perception_ failed--that is
to say, with respect to scientific truths which produce no results
palpable to the eye--he fell into the frankest errors. For instance, in
such a thing as the relation of position between a rainbow and the sun,
there is not any definitely visible connection between them; it needs
attention and calculation to discover that the centre of the rainbow is
the shadow of the spectator's head.[79] And attention or calculation of
this abstract kind Turner appears to have been utterly incapable of; but
if he drew a piece of drapery, in which every line of the folds has a
_visible_ relation to the points of suspension, not a merely calculable
one, this relation he will see to the last thread; and thus he traces
the order of the mountain crests to their last stone, not because he
knows anything of geology, but because he instinctively seizes the last
and finest traces of any visible law.

[Illustration: FIG. 72.]

§ 34. He was, however, especially obedient to these laws of the crests,
because he heartily loved them. We saw in the early part of this chapter
how the crest outlines harmonized with nearly every other beautiful form
of natural objects, especially in the continuity of their external
curves. This continuity was so grateful to Turner's heart that he would
often go great lengths to serve it. For instance, in one of his drawings
of the town of Lucerne he has first outlined the Mont Pilate in pencil,
with a central peak, as indicated by the dotted line in Fig. 72. This is
nearly true to the local fact; but being inconsistent with the general
look of crests, and contrary to Turner's instincts, he strikes off the
refractory summit, and, leaving his pencil outline still in the sky,
touches with color only the contour shown by the continuous line in the
figure, thus treating it just as we saw Titian did the great Alp of the
Tyrol. He probably, however, would not have done this with so important
a feature of the scene as the Mont Pilate, had not the continuous line
been absolutely necessary to his composition, in order to oppose the
peaked towers of the town, which were his principal subject; the form of
the Pilate being seen only as a rosy shadow in the far off sky. We
cannot, however, yet estimate the importance, in his mind, of this
continuity of descending curve, until we come to the examination of the
lower hill _flanks_, hitherto having been concerned only with their
rocky summits; and before we leave those summits, or rather the harder
rocks which compose them, there is yet another condition of those rocks
to be examined; and that the condition which is commonly the most
interesting, namely, the Precipice. To this inquiry, however, we had
better devote a separate chapter.


FOOTNOTES

  [66] So called from the mouldering nature of its rocks. They are
    slaty crystallines, but unusually fragile.

  [67] The materials removed from the slope are spread over the plain
    or valley below. A nearly equal quantity is supposed to be removed
    from the other side; but besides this _removed_ mass, the materials
    crumble heavily from above, and form the concave curve.

  [68] The lines are a little too straight in their continuations, the
    engraver having cut some of the curvature out of their thickness,
    thinking I had drawn them too coarsely. But I have chosen this
    coarsely lined example, and others like it, following, because I
    wish to accustom the reader to distinguish between the mere fineness
    of instrument in the artist's hand, and the precision of the line he
    draws. Give Titian a blunt pen, and still Titian's line will be a
    noble one: a tyro, with a pen well mended, may draw more neatly; but
    his lines ought to be discerned from Titian's, if we understand
    drawing. Every line in this woodcut of Durer's is _refined_; and
    that in the noblest sense. Whether broad or fine does not matter,
    the lines are _right_; and the most delicate false line is evermore
    to be despised, in presence of the coarsest faithful one.

  [69] Not absolutely on the meeting of the curves in one point, but
    on their radiating with some harmonious succession of difference in
    direction. The difference between lines which are in true harmony of
    radiation, and lines which are not, can, in complicated masses, only
    be detected by a trained eye; yet it is often the chief difference
    between good and bad drawing. A cluster of six or seven black plumes
    forming the wing of one of the cherubs in Titian's Assumption, at
    Venice, has a freedom and force about it in the painting which no
    copyist or engraver has ever yet rendered, though it depends merely
    on the subtlety of the curves, not on the color.

  [70] "_Out of_ perspective," I should have said: but it will show
    what I mean.

  [71] Nor did any nearer observations ever induce me to form any
    contrary opinion. It is not easy to get any consistent series of
    _measurements_ of the slope of these gneiss beds; for, although
    parallel on the great scale, they admit many varieties of dip in
    minor projections. But all my notes unite, whether at the bottom or
    top of the great slope of the Montanvert and La Côte, in giving an
    angle of from 60° to 80° with the horizon; the consistent angle
    being about 75°. I cannot be mistaken in the measurements
    themselves, however inconclusive observations on minor portions of
    rock may be; for I never mark an angle unless enough of the upper or
    lower surface of the beds be smoothly exposed to admit of my pole
    being adjusted to it by the spirit-level. The pole then indicates
    the strike of the beds, and a quadrant with a plumb-line their dip;
    to all intents and purposes accurately. There is a curious
    distortion of the beds in the ravine between the Glacier des Bois
    and foot of the Montanvert, near the ice, about a thousand feet
    above the valley; the beds there seem to bend suddenly back under
    the glacier, and in some places to be quite vertical. On the
    opposite side of the glacier, below the Chapeau, the dip of the
    limestone under the gneiss, with the intermediate bed, seven or
    eight feet thick, of the grey porous rock which the French call
    _cargneule_, is highly interesting; but it is so concealed by débris
    and the soil of the pine forests, as to be difficult to examine to
    any extent. On the whole, the best position for getting the angle of
    the beds accurately, is the top of the Tapia, a little below the
    junction there of the granite and gneiss (see notice of this
    junction in Appendix 2); a point from which the summit of the
    Aiguille du Gouté bears 11° south of west, and that of the Aiguille
    Bouchard 17° north of east, the Aiguille Dru 5½° or 6° north of
    east, the peak of it appearing behind the Petit Charmoz. The beds of
    gneiss emerging from the turf under the spectator's feet may be
    brought parallel by the eye with the slopes of the Aiguille du Gouté
    on one side, and the Bouchard (and base of Aiguille d'Argentière) on
    the other; striking as nearly as possible from summit to summit
    through that on which the spectator stands, or from about 10° north
    of east to 10° south of west, and dipping with exquisite uniformity
    at an angle of 74 degrees with the horizon. But what struck me as
    still more strange was, that from this point I could distinctly see
    traces of the same straight structure running through the Petit
    Charmoz, and the roots of the aiguilles themselves, as in Fig. 59;
    nor could I ever, in the course of countless observations, fairly
    determine any point where this slaty structure altogether had
    ceased. It seemed only to get less and less traceable towards the
    centre of the mass of Mont Blanc; and, from the ridge of the
    Aiguille Bouchard itself, at the point _a_ in Plate 33, whence,
    looking south-west, the aiguilles can be seen in the most accurate
    profile obtainable throughout the valley of Chamouni, I noticed a
    very singular parallelism even on the south-east side of the
    Charmoz, _x y_ (Fig. 60), as if the continued influence of this
    cleavage were carried on from the Little Charmoz, _c_, _d_ (in
    which, seen on the opposite side, I had traced it as in Fig. 59),
    through the central mass of rock _r_. In this profile, M is the Mont
    Blanc itself; _m_, the Aiguille du Midi; P, Aiguille du Plan; _b_,
    Aiguille Blaitière; C, Great Charmoz; _c_, Petit Charmoz; E, passage
    called de l'Etala.

    [Illustration: FIG. 59.]

    [Illustration: FIG. 60.]

  [72] Many geologists think they _are_ the true beds. They run across
    the gneissitic folia, and I hold with De Saussure, and consider them
    a cleavage.

  [73] I tried in vain to get along the ridge of the Bouchard to this
    junction, the edge of the precipice between _a_ and _b_ (Plate 33)
    being too broken; but the point corresponds so closely to that of
    the junction of the gneiss and protogine on the Charmoz ridge, that,
    adding the evidence of the distant contour, I have no doubt as to
    the general relations of the rocks.

  [74] De Saussure often refers to these as "assaissements." They
    occur, here and there, in the aiguilles themselves.

  [75] The aqueous curves and roundings on the nearer crest (La Côte)
    are peculiarly tender, because the gneiss of which it is composed is
    softer in grain than that of the Bouchard, and remains so even to
    the very top of the peak, _a_, in Fig. 61, where I found it mixed
    with a yellowish and somewhat sandy quartz rock, and generally much
    less protogenic than is usual at such elevations on other parts of
    the chain.

  [76] It is worth while noting here, in comparing Fig. 66 and Fig.
    68, how entirely our judgment of some kinds of art depends upon
    knowledge, not on feeling. Any person unacquainted with hills would
    think Claude's right and Titian's ridiculous: but, after inquiring a
    little farther into the matter, we find Titian's a careless and
    intense expression of true knowledge, and Claude's a slow and
    plausible expression of total ignorance.

    It will be observed that Fig. 69 is one of the second order of
    crests, _d_, Fig. 48. The next instance given is of the first order
    of crests, _c_, in the same figure

  [77] This etching, like that of the Bolton rocks, is prepared for
    future mezzo-tint, and looks harsh in its present state; but will
    mark all the more clearly several points of structure in question.
    The diamond-shaped rock, however, (M, in the reference figure,) is
    not so conspicuous here as it will be when the plate is finished,
    being relieved in light from the mass behind, as also the faint
    distant crests in dark from the sky.

  [78] An anecdote is related, more to our present purpose, and better
    authenticated, inasmuch as the name of the artist to whom Turner was
    speaking at the time is commonly stated, though I do not give it
    here, not having asked his permission. The story runs that this
    artist (one of our leading landscape painters) was complaining to
    Turner that, after going to Domo d'Ossola, to find the site of a
    particular view which had struck him several years before, he had
    entirely failed in doing so; "it looked different when he went back
    again." "What," replied Turner, "do you not know yet, at your age,
    that you ought to _paint_ your _impressions_?"

  [79] So, in the exact length or shape of shadows in general, he will
    often be found quite inaccurate; because the irregularity caused in
    shadows by the shape of what they fall _on_, as well as what they
    fall from, renders the law of connection untraceable by the eye or
    the instinct. The chief _visible_ thing about a shadow is, that it
    is always of some form which nobody would have thought of; and this
    visible principle Turner always seizes, sometimes wrongly in
    calculated fact, but always so rightly as to give more the look of a
    real shadow than any one else.



CHAPTER XVI

RESULTING FORMS:--THIRDLY, PRECIPICES.


§ 1. The reader was, perhaps, surprised by the smallness of the number
to which our foregoing analysis reduced Alpine summits bearing an
ascertainedly peaked or pyramidal form. He might not be less so if I
were to number the very few occasions on which I have seen a true
precipice of any considerable height. I mean by a true precipice, one by
which a plumb-line will swing clear, or without touching the face of it,
if suspended from a point a foot or two beyond the brow. Not only are
perfect precipices of this kind very rare, but even imperfect
precipices, which often produce upon the eye as majestic an impression
as if they were vertical, are nearly always curiously low in proportion
to the general mass of the hills to which they belong. They are for the
most part small steps or rents in large surfaces of mountain, and
mingled by Nature among her softer forms, as cautiously and sparingly as
the utmost exertion of his voice is, by a great speaker, with his tones
of gentleness.

[Illustration: FIG. 73.]

§ 2. Precipices, in the large plurality of cases, consist of the edge of
a bed of rock, sharply fractured, in the manner already explained in
Chap. XII., and are represented, in their connection with aiguilles and
crests, by _c_, in Fig. 42, p. 195. When the bed of rock slopes
backwards from the edge, as _a_, Fig. 73, a condition of precipice is
obtained more or less peaked, very safe, and very grand.[80] When the
beds are horizontal, _b_, the precipice is steeper, more dangerous, but
much less impressive. When the beds slope towards the precipice, the
front of it overhangs, and the noblest effect is obtained which is
possible in mountain forms of this kind.

§ 3. Singularly enough, the type _b_ is in actual nature nearly always
the most dangerous of the three, and _c_ the safest, for horizontal beds
are usually of the softest rocks, and their cliffs are caused by some
violent agency in constant operation, as chalk cliffs by the wearing
power of the sea, so that such rocks are continually falling, in one
place or another. The form _a_ may also be assumed by very soft rocks.
But _c_ cannot exist at all on the large scale, unless it is built of
good materials, and it will then frequently stay in its fixed frown for
ages.

§ 4. It occasionally happens that a precipice is formed among the higher
crests by the _sides_ of vertical beds of slaty crystallines. Such rocks
are rare, and never very high, but always beautiful in their smoothness
of surface and general trenchant and firm expression. One of the most
interesting I know is that of the summit of the Breven, on the north of
the valley of Chamouni. The mountain is formed by vertical sheets of
slaty crystallines, rather soft at the bottom, and getting harder and
harder towards the top, until at the very summit it is hard and compact
as the granite of Waterloo Bridge, though much finer in the grain, and
breaking into perpendicular faces of rock so perfectly cut as to feel
smooth to the hand. Fig. 4, p. 107, represents, of the real size, a bit
which I broke from the edge of the cliff, the shaded part underneath
being the surface which forms the precipice. The plumb-line from the
brow of this cliff hangs clear 124 English feet; it is then caught by a
ledge about three feet wide, from which another precipice falls to about
twice the height of the first; but I had not line enough to measure it
with from the top, and could not get down to the ledge. When I say the
line hangs _clear_, I mean when once it is off the actual brow of the
cliff, which is a little rounded for about fourteen or fifteen feet,
from _a_ to _b_, in the section, Fig. 75. Then the rock recedes in an
almost unbroken concave sweep, detaching itself from the plumb-line
about two feet at the point _c_ (the lateral dimensions are exaggerated
to show the curve), and approaching it again at the ledge _d_, which is
124 feet below _a_. The plumb-line, fortunately, can be seen throughout
its whole extent from a sharp bastion of the precipice farther on, for
the face of the cliff runs, in horizontal plan, very nearly to the
magnetic north and south, as shown in Fig. 74, the plumb-line swinging
at _a_, and seen from the advanced point P. It would give a similar
result at any other part of the cliff face, but may be most conveniently
cast from the point _a_, a little below, and to the north of the summit.

[Illustration: FIG. 74.]

[Illustration: FIG. 75.]

§ 5. But although the other divisions of this precipice, below the ledge
which stops the plummet, give it altogether a height of about five
hundred feet,[81] the whole looks a mere step on the huge slope of the
Breven; and it only deserves mention among Alpine cliffs as one of
singular beauty and decision, yet perfectly approachable and examinable
even by the worst climbers; which is very rarely the case with cliffs of
the same boldness. I suppose that this is the reason for its having been
often stated in scientific works that no cliff could be found in the
Alps from which a plumb-line would swing two hundred feet. This can
_possibly_ be true (and even with this limitation I doubt it) of cliffs
conveniently approachable by experimental philosophers. For, indeed, one
way or another, it is curious how Nature fences out, as it were, the
brows of her boldest precipices. Wherever a plumb-line will swing, the
precipice is, almost without exception, of the type _c_, in Fig. 73, the
brow of it rounding towards the edge for, perhaps, fifty or a hundred
yards above, rendering it unsafe in the highest degree for any
inexperienced person to attempt approach. But it is often possible to
ascertain from a distance, if the cliff can be got relieved against the
sky, the approximate degree of its precipitousness.

§ 6. It may, I think, be assumed, almost with certainty, that whenever a
precipice is very bold and very high, it is formed by beds more or less
approaching horizontally, out of which it has been cut, like the side of
a haystack from which part has been removed. The wonderfulness of this
operation I have before insisted upon; here we have to examine the best
examples of it.

As, in forms of central rock, the Aiguilles of Chamouni, so in
notableness of lateral precipice, the Matterhorn, or Mont Cervin,
stands, on the whole, unrivalled among the Alps, being terminated, on
two of its sides, by precipices which produce on the imagination nearly
the effect of verticality. There is, however, only one point at which
they reach anything approaching such a condition; and that point is
wholly inaccessible either from below or above, but sufficiently
measurable by a series of observations.

[Illustration: Fig. 77.]

§ 7. From the slope of the hill above, and to the west of, the village
of Zermatt, the Matterhorn presents itself under the figure shown on the
right hand in the opposite plate (+38+). The whole height of the mass,
from the glacier out of which it rises, is about 4000 feet; and
although, as before noticed, the first slope from the top towards the
right is merely a perspective line, the part of the contour _c d_, Fig.
33, p. 181, which literally overhangs,[82] cannot be. An apparent slope,
however steep, so that it does not overpass the vertical, _may_ be a
horizontal line; but the moment it can be shown literally to overhang,
it _must_ be one of two things,--either an actually pendant _face_ of
rock, as at _a_, Fig. 77, or the under edge of an overhanging _cornice_
of rock, _b_. Of course the latter condition, on such a scale as this of
the Matterhorn, would be the more wonderful of the two; but I was
anxious to determine which of these it really was.

[Illustration: 38. The Cervin, from the East and North-east.]

§ 8. My first object was to reach some spot commanding, as nearly as
might be, the lateral profile of the Mont Cervin. The most available
point for this purpose was the top of the Riffelhorn; which, however,
first attempting to climb by its deceitful western side, and being
stopped, for the moment, by the singular moat and wall which defend its
Malakhoff-like summit, fearing that I might not be able ultimately to
reach the top, I made the drawing of the Cervin, on the left hand in
Plate +38+, from the edge of the moat; and found afterwards the
difference in aspect, as it was seen from the true summit, so slight as
not to necessitate the trouble of making another drawing.[83]

[Illustration: FIG. 78.]

[Illustration: FIG. 79.]

§ 9. It may be noted in passing, that this wall which with its regular
fosse defends the Riffelhorn on its western side, and a similar one on
its eastern side, though neither of them of any considerable height, are
curious instances of trenchant precipice, formed, I suppose, by slight
slips or faults of the serpentine rock. The summit of the horn, _a_,
Fig. 78, seems to have been pushed up in a mass beyond the rest of the
ridge, or else the rest of the ridge to have dropped from it on each
side, at _b c_, leaving the two troublesome faces of cliff right across
the crag, hard, green as a sea wave, and polished like the inside of a
seashell, where the weather has not effaced the surface produced by the
slip. It is only by getting past the eastern cliff that the summit can
be reached at all, for on its two lateral escarpments the mountain seems
quite inaccessible, being in its whole mass nothing else than the top of
a narrow wall with a raised battlement, as rudely shown in perspective
at _e d_; the flanks of the wall falling towards the glacier on one
side, and to the lower Riffel on the other, four or five hundred feet,
not, indeed, in unbroken precipice, but in a form quite incapable of
being scaled.[84]

[Illustration: FIG. 79.]

§ 10. To return to the Cervin. The view of it given on the left hand in
Plate +38+ shows the ridge in about its narrowest profile; and shows
also that this ridge is composed of beds of rock shelving across it,
apparently horizontal, or nearly so, at the top, and sloping
considerably southwards (to the spectator's left), at the bottom. How
far this slope is a consequence of the advance of the nearest angle
giving a steep perspective to the beds, I cannot say; my own belief
would have been that a great deal of it is thus deceptive, the beds
lying as the tiles do in the somewhat anomalous, but perfectly
conceivable house-roof, Fig. 79. Saussure, however, attributes to the
beds themselves a very considerable slope. But be this as it may, the
main facts of the thinness of the beds, their comparative horizontality,
and the daring swordsweep by which the whole mountain has been hewn out
of them, are from this spot comprehensible at a glance. Visible, I
_should_ have said; but eternally, and to the uttermost,
_in_comprehensible. Every geologist who speaks of this mountain seems
to be struck by the wonderfulness of its calm sculpture--the absence of
all aspect of convulsion, and yet the stern chiselling of so vast a mass
into its precipitous isolation leaving no ruin nor débris near it.
"Quelle force n'a-t-il pas fallu," exclaims M. Saussure, "pour rompre,
et pour _balayer_ tout ce qui manque à cette pyramide!" "What an
overturn of all ancient ideas in Geology," says Professor Forbes, "to
find a pinnacle of 15,000 feet high [above the sea] sharp as a pyramid,
and with perpendicular precipices of thousands of feet on every hand, to
be a representative of the older chalk formation; and what a difficulty
to conceive the nature of a convulsion (even with unlimited power),
which could produce a configuration like the Mont Cervin rising from the
glacier of Zmutt!"

[Illustration: FIG 80.]

§ 11. The term "perpendicular" is of course applied by the Professor in
the "poetical" temper of Reynolds,--that is to say, in one "inattentive
to minute exactness in details;" but the effect of this strange
Matterhorn upon the imagination is indeed so great, that even the
gravest philosophers cannot resist it; and Professor Forbes's drawing of
the peak, outlined at page 180, has evidently been made under the
influence of considerable excitement. For fear of being deceived by
enthusiasm also, I daguerreotyped the Cervin from the edge of the little
lake under the crag of the Riffelhorn, with the somewhat amazing result
shown in Fig. 80. So cautious is Nature, even in her boldest work, so
broadly does she extend the foundations, and strengthen the buttresses,
of masses which produce so striking an _impression_ as to be described,
even by the most careful writers, as perpendicular.

§ 12. The only portion of the Matterhorn which approaches such a
condition is the shoulder, before alluded to, forming a step of about
one twelfth the height of the whole peak, shown by light on its snowy
side, or upper surface, in the right-hand figure of Plate +38+. Allowing
4000 feet for the height of the peak, this step or shoulder will be
between 300 and 400 feet in absolute height; and as it is not only
perpendicular, but assuredly overhangs, both at this snow-lighted angle
and at the other corner of the mountain (seen against the sky in the
same figure), I have not the slightest doubt that a plumb-line would
swing from the brow of either of these bastions, between 600 and 800
feet, without touching rock. The intermediate portion of the cliff which
joins them is, however, not more than vertical. I was therefore anxious
chiefly to observe the structure of the two angles, and, to that end, to
see the mountain close on that side, from the Zmutt glacier.

§ 13. I am afraid my dislike to the nomenclatures invented by the German
philosophers has been unreasonably, though involuntarily, complicated
with that which, crossing out of Italy, one necessarily feels for those
invented by the German peasantry. As travellers now every day more
frequently visit the neighborhood of the Monte Rosa, it would surely be
a permissible, because convenient, poetical license, to invent some
other name for this noble glacier, whose present title, certainly not
euphonious, has the additional disadvantage of being easily confounded
with that of the _Zermatt_ glacier, properly so called. I mean myself,
henceforward, to call it the Red glacier, because, for two or three
miles above its lower extremity, the whole surface of it is covered with
blocks of reddish gneiss, or other slaty crystalline rocks,--some fallen
from the Cervin, some from the Weisshorn, some brought from the Stockhi
and Dent d'Erin, but little rolled or ground down in the transit, and
covering the ice, often four or five feet deep, with a species of
macadamization on a large scale (each stone being usually some foot or
foot and a half in diameter), anything but convenient to a traveller in
haste. Higher up, the ice opens into broad white fields and furrows,
hard and dry, scarcely fissured at all, except just under the Cervin,
and forming a silent and solemn causeway, paved, as it seems, with white
marble from side to side; broad enough for the march of an army in line
of battle, but quiet as a street of tombs in a buried city, and bordered
on each hand by ghostly cliffs of that faint granite purple which seems,
in its far-away height, as unsubstantial as the dark blue that bounds
it;--the whole scene so changeless and soundless; so removed, not merely
from the presence of men, but even from their thoughts; so destitute of
all life of tree or herb, and so immeasurable in its lonely brightness
of majestic death, that it looks like a world from which not only the
human, but the spiritual, presences had perished, and the last of its
archangels, building the great mountains for their monuments, had laid
themselves down in the sunlight to an eternal rest, each in his white
shroud.

§ 14. The first point from which the Matterhorn precipices, which I came
to examine, show their structure distinctly, is about half-way up the
valley, before reaching the glacier. The most convenient path, and
access to the ice, are on the south; but it is best, in order to watch
the changes of the Matterhorn, to keep on the north side of the valley;
and, at the point just named, the shoulder marked _e_ in Fig. 33, p.
181, is seen, in the morning sunlight, to be composed of zigzag beds,
apparently of eddied sand. (Fig. 81.)

[Illustration: FIG. 81.]

I have no doubt they once _were_ eddied sand; that is to say, sea or
torrent drift, hardened by fire into crystalline rock; but whether they
ever were or not, the certain fact is, that here we have a precipice,
trenchant, overhanging, and 500 feet in height, cut across the thin beds
which compose it as smoothly as a piece of fine-grained wood is cut with
a chisel.

§ 15. From this point, also, the nature of the corresponding bastion, _c
d_, Fig 33, is also discernible. It is the edge of a great concave
precipice, cut out of the mountain, as the smooth hollows are out of the
rocks at the foot of a waterfall, and across which the variously colored
beds, thrown by perspective into corresponding curvatures, run exactly
like the seams of canvas in a Venetian felucca's sail.

Seen from this spot, it seems impossible that the mountain should long
support itself in such a form, but the impression is only caused by the
concealment of the vast proportions of the mass behind, whose poise is
quite unaffected by this hollowing at one point. Thenceforward, as we
ascend the glacier, the Matterhorn every moment expands in apparent
width; and having reached the foot of the Stockhi (about a four hours'
walk from Zermatt), and getting the Cervin summit to bear S. 11½° E., I
made the drawing of it engraved opposite, which gives a true idea of the
relations between it and the masses of its foundation. The bearing
stated is that of the apparent summit only, as from this point the true
summit is not visible; the rocks which seem to form the greatest part of
the mountain being in reality nothing but its foundations, while the
little white jagged peak, relieved against the dark hollow just below
the seeming summit, is the rock marked _g_ in Fig. 33. But the structure
of the mass, and the long ranges of horizontal, or nearly horizontal,
beds which form its crest, showing in black points like arrow-heads
through the snow, where their ridges are left projecting by the
avalanche channels, are better seen than at any other point I reached,
together with the sweeping and thin zones of sandy gneiss below, bending
apparently like a coach-spring; and the notable point about the whole
is, that this under-bed, of seemingly the most delicate substance, is
that prepared by Nature to build her boldest precipice with, it being
this bed which emerges at the two bastions or shoulders before noticed,
and which by that projection causes the strange oblique distortion of
the whole mountain mass, as it is seen from Zermatt.

[Illustration: J. Ruskin. J.           C. Armytage.
               39. The Cervin, from the North-West.]

§ 16. And our surprise will still be increased as we farther examine the
materials of which the whole mountain is composed. In many places its
crystalline slates, where their horizontal surfaces are exposed along
the projecting beds of their foundations, break into ruin so total that
the foot dashes through their loose red flakes as through heaps of
autumn leaves; and yet, just where their structure seems most delicate,
just where they seem to have been swept before the eddies of the streams
that first accumulated them, in the most passive whirls, there the after
ages have knit them into the most massive strength, and there have hewn
out of them those firm grey bastions of the Cervin,--overhanging,
smooth, flawless, unconquerable! For, unlike the Chamouni aiguilles,
there is no aspect of destruction about the Matterhorn cliffs. They are
not torn remnants of separating spires, yielding flake by flake, and
band by band, to the continual process of decay. They are, on the
contrary, an unaltered monument, seemingly sculptured long ago, the huge
walls retaining yet the forms into which they were first engraven,
and standing like an Egyptian temple,--delicate-fronted, softly colored,
the suns of uncounted ages rising and falling upon it continually, but
still casting the same line of shadows from east to west, still, century
after century, touching the same purple stains on the lotus pillars;
while the desert sand ebbs and flows about their feet, as those autumn
leaves of rock lie heaped and weak about the base of the Cervin.

§ 17. Is not this a strange type, in the very heart and height of these
mysterious Alps--these wrinkled hills in their snowy, cold, grey-haired
old age, at first so silent, then, as we keep quiet at their feet,
muttering and whispering to us garrulously, in broken and dreaming fits,
as it were, about their childhood--is it not a strange type of the
things which "out of weakness are made strong?" If one of those little
flakes of mica-sand, hurried in tremulous spangling along the bottom of
the ancient river, too light to sink, too faint to float, almost too
small for sight, could have had a mind given to it as it was at last
borne down with its kindred dust into the abysses of the stream, and
laid, (would it not have thought?) for a hopeless eternity, in the dark
ooze, the most despised, forgotten, and feeble of all earth's atoms;
incapable of any use or change; not fit, down there in the diluvial
darkness, so much as to help an earth-wasp to build its nest, or feed
the first fibre of a lichen;--what would it have thought, had it been
told that one day, knitted into a strength as of imperishable iron,
rustless by the air, infusible by the flame, out of the substance of it,
with its fellows, the axe of God should hew that Alpine tower; that
against _it_--poor, helpless, mica flake!--the wild north winds should
rage in vain; beneath _it_--low-fallen mica flake!--the snowy hills
should lie bowed like flocks of sheep, and the kingdoms of the earth
fade away in unregarded blue; and around it--weak, wave-drifted mica
flake!--the great war of the firmament should burst in thunder, and yet
stir it not; and the fiery arrows and angry meteors of the night fall
blunted back from it into the air; and all the stars in the clear heaven
should light, one by one as they rose, new cressets upon the points of
snow that fringed its abiding-place on the imperishable spire?

§ 18. I have thought it worth while, for the sake of these lessons, and
the other interests connected with them, to lead the reader thus far
into the examination of the principal precipices among the Alps,
although, so far as our immediate purposes are concerned, the inquiry
cannot be very fruitful or helpful to us. For rocks of this kind, being
found only in the midst of the higher snow fields, are not only out of
the general track of the landscape painter, but are for the most part
quite beyond his power--even beyond Turner's. The waves of snow, when it
becomes a principal element in mountain form, are at once so subtle in
tone, and so complicated in curve and fold, that no skill will express
them, so as to keep the whole luminous mass in anything like a true
relation to the rock darkness. For the distant rocks of the upper peaks
are themselves, when in light, paler than white paper, and their true
size and relation to near objects cannot be exhibited unless they are
painted in the palest tones. Yet, as compared with their snow, they are
so dark that a daguerreotype taken for the proper number of seconds to
draw the snow shadows rightly, will always represent the rocks as
_coal-black_. In order, therefore, to paint a snowy mountain properly,
we should need a light as much brighter than white paper as white paper
is brighter than charcoal. So that although it is possible, with deep
blue sky, and purple rocks, and blue shadows, to obtain a very
interesting resemblance of snow effect, and a true one up to a certain
point (as in the best examples of the body-color drawings sold so
extensively in Switzerland) it is not possible to obtain any of those
refinements of form and gradation which a great artist's eye requires.
Turner felt that, among these highest hills, no serious or perfect work
could be done; and although in one or two of his vignettes (already
referred to in the first volume) he showed his knowledge of them, his
practice, in larger works, was always to treat the snowy mountains
merely as a far-away white cloud, concentrating the interest of his
picture on nearer and more tractable objects.

§ 19. One circumstance, however, bearing upon art, we may note before
leaving these upper precipices, namely, the way in which they illustrate
the favorite expression of Homer and Dante--_cut_ rocks. However little
satisfied we had reason to be with the degree of affection shown towards
mountain scenery by either poet, we may now perceive, with some respect
and surprise, that they had got at one character which was in the
essence of the noblest rocks, just as the early illuminators got at the
principles which lie at the heart of vegetation. As distinguished from
all other natural forms,--from fibres which are torn, crystals which are
broken, stones which are rounded or worn, animal and vegetable forms
which are grown or moulded,--the true hard rock or precipice is notably
a thing _cut_, its inner _grain_ or structure seeming to have less to do
with its form than is seen in any other object or substance whatsoever;
and the aspect of subjection to some external sculpturing instrument
being distinct in almost exact proportion to the size and stability of
the mass.

§ 20. It is not so, however, with the next groups of mountain which we
have to examine--those formed by the softer slaty coherents, when their
perishable and frail substance has been raised into cliffs in the manner
illustrated by Fig. 12 at p. 146,--cliffs whose front every frost
disorganizes into filmy shale, and of which every thunder-shower
dissolves tons in the swoln blackness of torrents. If this takes place
from the top downwards, the cliff is gradually effaced, and a more or
less rounded eminence is soon all that remains of it; but if the lower
beds only decompose, or if the whole structure is strengthened here and
there by courses of harder rock, the precipice is undermined, and
remains hanging in perilous ledges and projections until, the process
having reached the limit of its strength, vast portions of it fall at
once, leaving new fronts of equal ruggedness, to be ruined and cast down
in their turn.

The whole district of the northern inferior Alps, from the mountains of
the Réposoir to the Gemmi, is full of precipices of this kind; the well
known crests of the Mont Doron, and of the Aiguille de Varens, above
Sallenches, being connected by the great cliffs of the valley of Sixt,
the dark mass of the Buet, the Dent du Midi de Bex, and the Diablerets,
with the great amphitheatre of rock in whose securest recess the path of
the Gemmi hides its winding. But the most frightful and most
characteristic cliff in the whole group is the range of the Rochers des
Fys, above the Col d'Anterne. It happens to have a bed of harder
limestone at the top than in any other part of its mass; and this bed,
protecting its summit, enables it to form itself into the most ghastly
ranges of pinnacle which I know among mountains. In one spot the upper
edge of limestone has formed a complete cornice, or rather bracket--for
it is not extended enough to constitute a cornice, which projects far
into the air over the wall of ashy rock, and is seen against the clouds,
when they pass into the chasm beyond, like the nodding coping-stone of a
castle--only the wall below is not less than 2500 feet in height,--not
vertical, but steep enough to seem so to the imagination.

§ 21. Such precipices are among the most impressive as well as the most
really dangerous of mountain ranges; in many spots inaccessible with
safety either from below or from above; dark in color, robed with
everlasting mourning, for ever tottering like a great fortress shaken by
war, fearful as much in their weakness as in their strength, and yet
gathered after every fall into darker frowns and unhumiliated
threatening; for ever incapable of comfort or of healing from herb or
flower, nourishing no root in their crevices, touched by no hue of life
on buttress or ledge, but, to the utmost, desolate; knowing no shaking
of leaves in the wind, nor of grass beside the stream,--no motion but
their own mortal shivering, the deathful crumbling of atom from atom in
their corrupting stones; knowing no sound of living voice or living
tread, cheered neither by the kid's bleat nor the marmot's cry; haunted
only by uninterrupted echoes from far off, wandering hither and thither
among their walls, unable to escape, and by the hiss of angry torrents,
and sometimes the shriek of a bird that flits near the face of them, and
sweeps frightened back from under their shadow into the gulf of air:
and, sometimes, when the echo has fainted, and the wind has carried the
sound of the torrent away, and the bird has vanished; and the mouldering
stones are still for a little time,--a brown moth, opening and shutting
its wings upon a grain of dust, may be the only thing that moves, or
feels, in all the waste of weary precipice, darkening five thousand feet
of the blue depth of heaven.

§ 22. It will not be thought that there is nothing in a scene such as
this deserving our contemplation, or capable of conveying useful
lessons, if it were fitly rendered by art. I cannot myself conceive any
picture more impressive than a faithful rendering of such a cliff would
be, supposing the aim of the artist to be the utmost tone of sad
sublime. I am, nevertheless, aware of no instance in which the slightest
attempt has been made to express their character; the reason being,
partly, the extreme difficulty of the task, partly the want of
temptation in specious color or form. For the majesty of this kind of
cliff depends entirely on its size: a low range of such rock is as
uninteresting as it is ugly; and it is only by making the spectator
understand the enormous scale of their desolation, and the space which
the shadow of their danger oppresses, that any impression can be made
upon his mind. And this scale cannot be expressed by any artifice; the
mountain cannot be made to look large by painting it blue or faint,
otherwise it loses all its ghastliness. It must be painted in its own
near and solemn colors, black and ashen grey; and its size must be
expressed by thorough drawing of its innumerable details--pure
_quantity_,--with certain points of comparison explanatory of the whole.
This is no light task; and, attempted by any man of ordinary genius,
would need steady and careful painting for three or four months; while,
to such a man, there would appear to be nothing worth his toil in the
gloom of the subject, unrelieved as it is even by variety of form; for
the soft rock of which these cliffs are composed rarely breaks into bold
masses; and the gloom of their effect partly depends on its not doing
so.

§ 23. Yet, while painters thus reject the natural, and large sublime,
which is ready to their hand, how strangely do they seek after a false
and small sublime. It is not that they reprobate gloom, but they will
only have a gloom of their own making; just as half the world will not
see the terrible and sad truths which the universe is full of, but
surrounds itself with little clouds of sulky and unnecessary fog for its
own special breathing. A portrait is not thought grand unless it has a
thundercloud behind it (as if a hero could not be brave in sunshine); a
ruin is not melancholy enough till it is seen by moonlight or twilight;
and every condition of theatrical pensiveness or of the theatrical
terrific is exhausted in setting forth scenes or persons which in
themselves are, perhaps, very quiet scenes and homely persons; while
that which, without any accessories at all, is everlastingly melancholy
and terrific, we refuse to paint,--nay, we refuse even to observe it in
its reality, while we seek for the excitement of the very feelings it
was meant to address, in every conceivable form of our false ideal.

For instance: there have been few pictures more praised for their
sublimity than the "Deluge" of Nicolas Poussin; of which, nevertheless,
the sublimity, such as it is, consists wholly in the painting of
everything grey or brown,--not the grey and brown of great painters,
full of mysterious and unconfessed colors, dim blue, and shadowy purple,
and veiled gold,--but the stony grey and dismal brown of the
conventionalist. Madame de Genlis, whose general criticisms on painting
are full of good sense--singularly so, considering the age in which she
lived[85]--has the following passage on this picture:--

"'I remember to have seen the painting you mention; but I own I found
nothing in it very beautiful.'

"'You have seen it rain often enough?'

"'Certainly.'

"'Have you ever at such times observed the color of the clouds
attentively?--how the dusky atmosphere obscures all objects, makes them,
if distant, disappear, or be seen with difficulty? Had you paid a proper
attention to these effects of rain, you would have been amazed by the
exactitude with which they are painted by Poussin.'"[86]

§ 24. Madame de Genlis is just in her appeal to nature, but had not
herself looked carefully enough to make her appeal accurate. She had
noticed one of the principal effects of rain, but not the other. It is
true that the dusky atmosphere "obscures all objects," but it is also
true that Nature, never intending the eye of man to be without delight,
has provided a rich compensation for this shading of the tints with
_darkness_, in their brightening by _moisture_. Every color, wet, is
twice as brilliant as it is when dry; and when distances are obscured by
mist, and bright colors vanish from the sky, and gleams of sunshine from
the earth, the foreground assumes all its loveliest hues, the grass and
foliage revive into their perfect green, and every sunburnt rock glows
into an agate. The colors of mountain foregrounds can never be seen in
perfection unless they _are_ wet; nor _can moisture be entirely
expressed except by fulness of color_. So that Poussin, in search of a
false sublimity, painting every object in his picture, vegetation and
all, of one dull grey and brown, has actually rendered it impossible for
an educated eye to conceive it as representing rain at all; it is a dry,
volcanic darkness. It may be said that had he painted the effect of rain
truly, the picture, composed of the objects he has introduced, would
have become too pretty for his purpose. But his error, and the error of
landscapists in general, is in seeking to express terror by false
treatment, instead of going to Nature herself to ask her what she has
appointed to be everlastingly terrible. The greatest genius would be
shown by taking the scene in its plainest and most probable facts; not
seeking to change pity into fear, by denying the beauty of the world
that was passing away. But if it were determined to excite fear, and
fear only, it ought to have been done by imagining the true ghastliness
of the tottering cliffs of Ararat or Caucasus, as the heavy waves first
smote against the promontories that until then had only known the thin
fanning of the upper air of heaven;--not by painting leaves and grass
slate-grey. And a new world of sublimity might be opened to us, if any
painter of power and feeling would devote himself, for a few months, to
these solemn cliffs of the dark limestone Alps, and would only paint one
of them, as it truly stands, not in rain nor storm, but in its own
eternal sadness: perhaps best on some fair summer evening, when its
fearful veil of immeasurable rock is breathed upon by warm air, and
touched with fading rays of purple; and all that it has of the
melancholy of ruin, mingled with the might of endurance, and the
foreboding of danger, rises in its grey gloom against the gentle sky;
the soft wreaths of the evening clouds expiring along its ridges one by
one, and leaving it, at last, with no light but that of its own
cascades, standing like white pillars here and there along its sides,
motionless and soundless in their distance.

§ 25. Here, however, we must leave these more formidable examples of the
Alpine precipice, to examine those which, by Turner or by artists in
general, have been regarded as properly within the sphere of their art.

Turner had in this respect some peculiar views induced by early
association. It has already been noticed, in my pamphlet on
Pre-Raphaelitism, that his first conceptions of mountain scenery seem to
have been taken from Yorkshire; and its rounded hills, far winding
rivers, and broken limestone scars, to have formed a type in his mind to
which he sought, as far as might be, to obtain some correspondent
imagery in all other landscape. Hence, he almost always preferred to
have a precipice _low down_ on the hillside, rather than near the top;
liked an extent of rounded slope above, and the vertical cliff to the
water or valley, better than the slope at the bottom and wall at the top
(compare Fig. 13, p. 148); and had his attention early directed to those
horizontal, or comparatively horizontal, beds of rock which usually form
the faces of precipices in the Yorkshire dales; not, as in the
Matterhorn, merely indicated by veined coloring on the surface of the
smooth cliff, but projecting, or mouldering away, in definite
successions of ledges, cornices, or steps.

[Illustration: J. Ruskin.        J. H. Le Keux.
               40. The Mountains of Villeneuve.]

§ 26. This decided love of the slope, or bank above the wall, rather
than below it, is one of Turner's most marked idiosyncrasies, and gives
a character to his composition, as distinguished from that of other men,
perhaps more marked than any which are traceable in other features of it
(except, perhaps, in his pear-shaped ideal of trees, of which more
hereafter). For when mountains are striking to the general eye, they
almost always have the high crest or wall of cliff on the _top_ of their
slopes, rising from the plain first in mounds of meadow-land, and bosses
of rock, and studded softness of forest; the brown cottages peeping
through grove above grove, until just where the deep shade of the pines
becomes blue or purple in the haze of height, a red wall of upper
precipice rises from the pasture land, and frets the sky with glowing
serration. Plate +40+, opposite, represents a mass of mountain just
above Villeneuve, at the head of the Lake of Geneva, in which the type
of the structure is shown with singular clearness. Much of the scenery
of western Switzerland, and characteristically the whole of that of
Savoy, is composed of mountains of this kind; the isolated group between
Chambery and Grenoble, which holds the Grande Chartreuse in the heart
of it, is constructed entirely of such masses; and the Montagne de
Vergi, which in like manner encloses the narrow meadows and traceried
cloisters of the Convent of the Réposoir, forms the most striking
feature among all the mountains that border the valley of the Arve
between Cluse and Geneva; while ranges of cliffs presenting precisely
the same typical characters frown above the bridge and fortress of
Mont-Meillan, and enclose, in light blue calm, the waters of the Lake of
Annecy.

[Illustration: FIG. 82.]

§ 27. Now, although in many of his drawings Turner acknowledges this
structure, it seems always to be with some degree of reluctance; whereas
he seizes with instant eagerness, and every appearance of contentment,
on forms of mountain which are rounded into banks above, and cut into
precipices below, as is the case in most elevated table-lands; in the
chalk coteaux of the Seine, the basalt borders of the Rhine, and the
lower gorges of the Alps; so that while the most striking pieces of
natural mountain scenery usually rise from the plain under some such
outline as that at _a_, Fig. 82, Turner always formed his composition,
if possible, on such an arrangement as that at _b_.

One reason for this is clearly the greater simplicity of the line. The
simpler a line is, so that it be cunningly varied _within_ its
simplicities, the grander it is; and Turner likes to enclose all his
broken crags by such a line as that at _b_, just as we saw the classical
composer, in our first plate, enclose the griffin's beak with breadth of
wing. Nevertheless, I cannot but attribute his somewhat wilful and
marked rejection of what sublimity there is in the other form, to the
influence of early affections; and sincerely regret that the fascination
exercised over him by memory should have led him to pass so much of his
life in putting a sublimity not properly belonging to them into the
coteaux of Clairmont and Meauves, and the vine terraces of Bingen and
Oberwesel; leaving almost unrecorded the natural sublimity, which he
could never have exaggerated, of the pine-fringed mountains of the
Iscre, and the cloudy diadem of the Mont Vergi.

§ 28. In all cases of this kind, it is difficult to say how far harm and
how far good have resulted from what unquestionably has in it something
of both. It is to be regretted that Turner's studies should have been
warped, by early affection, from the Alps to the Rhine; but the fact of
his _feeling_ this early affection, and being thus strongly influenced
by it through his life, is indicative of that sensibility which was at
the root of all his greatness. Other artists are led away by foreign
sublimities and distant interests; delighting always in that which is
most markedly strange, and quaintly contrary to the scenery of their
homes. But Turner evidently felt that the claims upon his regard
possessed by those places which first had opened to him the joy, and the
labor, of his life, could never be superseded; no Alpine cloud could
efface, no Italian sunbeam outshine, the memory of the pleasant dales
and days of Rokeby and Bolton; and many a simple promontory, dim with
southern olive,--many a low cliff that stooped unnoticed over some alien
wave, was recorded by him with a love, and delicate care, that were the
shadows of old thoughts and long-lost delights, whose charm yet hung
like morning mist above the chanting waves of Wharfe and Greta.

§ 29. The first instance, therefore, of Turner's mountain drawing which
I endeavored to give accurately, in this book, was from those shores of
Wharfe which, I believe, he never could revisit without tears; nay,
which for all the latter part of his life, he never could even speak of,
but his voice faltered. We will now examine this instance with greater
care.

It is first to be remembered that in every one of his English or French
drawings, Turner's mind was, in two great instincts, at variance with
itself. The _affections_ of it clung, as we have just seen, to humble
scenery, and gentle wildness of pastoral life. But the _admiration_ of
it was, more than any other artist's whatsoever, fastened on largeness
of scale. With all his heart, he was attached to the narrow meadows and
rounded knolls of England; by all his imagination he was urged to the
reverence of endless vales and measureless hills; nor could any scene be
too contracted for his love, or too vast for his ambition. Hence, when
he returned to English scenery after his first studies in Savoy and
Dauphiné, he was continually endeavoring to reconcile old fondnesses
with new sublimities; and, as in Switzerland he chose rounded Alps for
the love of Yorkshire, so in Yorkshire he exaggerated scale, in memory
of Switzerland, and gave to Ingleborough, seen from Hornby Castle, in
great part the expression of cloudy majesty and height which he had seen
in the Alps from Grenoble. We must continually remember these two
opposite instincts as we examine the Turnerian topography of his subject
of Bolton Abbey.

§ 30. The Abbey is placed, as most lovers of our English scenery know
well, on a little promontory of level park land, enclosed by one of the
sweeps of the Wharfe. On the other side of the river, the flank of the
dale rises in a pretty wooded brow, which the river, leaning against,
has cut into two or three somewhat bold masses of rock, steep to the
water's edge, but feathered above with copse of ash and oak. Above these
rocks, the hills are rounded softly upwards to the moorland; the entire
height of the brow towards the river being perhaps two hundred feet, and
the rocky parts of it not above forty or fifty, so that the general
impression upon the eye is that the hill is little more than twice the
height of the ruins, or of the groups of noble ash trees which encircle
them. One of these groups is conspicuous above the rest, growing on the
very shore of the tongue of land which projects into the river, whose
clear brown water, stealing first in mere threads between the separate
pebbles of shingle, and eddying in soft golden lines towards its central
currents, flows out of amber into ebony, and glides calm and deep below
the rock on the opposite shore.

§ 31. Except in this stony bed of the stream, the scene possesses very
little more aspect of mountain character than belongs to some of the
park and meadow land under the chalk hills near Henley and Maidenhead;
and if it were faithfully drawn in all points, and on its true scale,
would hardly more affect the imagination of the spectator, unless he
traced, with such care as is never from any spectator to be hoped, the
evidence of nobler character in the pebbled shore and unconspicuous
rock. But the scene in reality does affect the imagination strongly, and
in a way wholly different from lowland hill scenery. A little farther up
the valley the limestone summits rise, and that steeply, to a height of
twelve hundred feet above the river, which foams between them in the
narrow and dangerous channel of the Strid. Noble moorlands extend above,
purple with heath, and broken into scars and glens, and around every
soft tuft of wood, and gentle extent of meadow, throughout the dale,
there floats a feeling of this mountain power, and an instinctive
apprehension of the strength and greatness of the wild northern land.

§ 32. It is to the association of this power and border sternness with
the sweet peace and tender decay of Bolton Priory, that the scene owes
its distinctive charm. The feelings excited by both characters are
definitely connected by the melancholy tradition of the circumstances to
which the Abbey owes its origin; and yet farther darkened by the nearer
memory of the death, in the same spot which betrayed the boy of
Egremont, of another, as young, as thoughtless, and as beloved.

  "The stately priory was reared,
     And Wharfe, as he moved along,
   To matins joined a mournful voice,
     Nor failed at evensong."

All this association of various awe, and noble mingling of mountain
strength with religious fear, Turner had to suggest, or he would not
have drawn Bolton Abbey. He goes down to the shingly shore; for the
Abbey is but the child of the Wharfe;--it is the river, the great cause
of the Abbey, which shall be his main subject; only the extremity of the
ruin itself is seen between the stems of the ash tree; but the waves of
the Wharfe are studied with a care which renders this drawing unique
among Turner's works, for its expression of the eddies of a slow
mountain stream, and of their pausing in treacherous depth beneath the
hollowed rocks.

[Illustration: 12. The Shores of Wharfe.]

On the opposite shore is a singular jutting angle of the shales, forming
the principal feature of the low cliffs at the water's edge. Turner
fastens on it as the only available mass; draws it with notable care,
and then magnifies it, by diminishing the trees on its top to one fifth
of their real size, so that what would else have been little more than a
stony bank becomes a true precipice, on a scale completely suggestive of
the heights behind. The hill beyond is in like manner lifted into a more
rounded, but still precipitous, eminence, reaching the utmost admissible
elevation of ten or twelve hundred feet (measurable by the trees upon
it). I have engraved this entire portion of the drawing of the real
size, on the opposite page; the engraving of the whole drawing,
published in the England Series, is also easily accessible.

[Illustration: FIG. 83.]

§ 33. Not knowing accurately to what group of the Yorkshire limestones
the rocks opposite the Abbey belonged, or their relation to the
sandstones at the Strid, I wrote to ask my kind friend Professor
Phillips, who instantly sent me a little geological sketch of the
position of these "Yoredale Shales," adding this interesting note: "The
black shales opposite the Abbey are curiously tinted at the surface, and
are contorted. Most artists give them the appearance of solid massive
rocks; nor is this altogether wrong, especially when the natural joints
of the shale appear prominent after particular accidents; they should,
however, never be made to resemble [i.e. in solidity] limestone or
gritstone."

Now the Yoredale shales are members of the group of rocks which I have
called slaty coherents, and correspond very closely to those portions of
the Alpine slates described in Chap. X. § 4; their main character is
continual separation into fine flakes, more or less of Dante's
"iron-colored grain;" which, however, on a large scale, form those
somewhat solid-looking masses to which Mr. Phillips alludes in his
letter, and which he describes, in his recently published Geology, in
the following general terms: "The shales of this tract are usually dark,
close, and fissile, and traversed by extremely long straight joints,
dividing the rock into rhomboidal prisms" (i.e. prisms of the shape
_c_, Fig. 83, in the section).

§ 34. Turner had, therefore, these four things to show:--1. Flaky
division horizontally; 2. Division by rhomboidal joints; 3. Massy
appearance occasionally, somewhat concealing the structure; 4. Local
contortion of the beds. (See passage quoted of Mr. Phillips's letter).

[Illustration: FIG. 84.]

Examine, then, the plate just given (12 A). The cleavage of the shales
runs diagonally up from left to right; note especially how delicately it
runs up through the foreground rock, and is insisted upon, just at the
brow of it, in the angular step-like fragments; compare also the etching
in the first volume. Then note the upright pillars in the distance,
marked especially as rhomboidal by being drawn with the cleavage still
sloping up on the returning side, as at _a_, Fig. 83, not as at _b_,
which would be their aspect if they were square; and then the indication
of interruption in the structure at the brow of the main cliff, where,
as well as on the nearer mass, exposure to the weather has rounded away
the cleavages.

This projection, as before mentioned, does exist at the spot; and I
believe is partly an indication of the contortion in the beds alluded to
by Mr. Phillips; but no one but Turner would have fastened on it, as in
anywise deserving special attention.

For the rest, no words are of any use to explain the subtle fidelity
with which the minor roundings and cleavages have been expressed by him.
Fidelity of this kind can only be estimated by workers: if the reader
can himself draw a bit of natural precipice in Yoredale shale, and then
copy a bit of the etching, he will find some measure of the difference
between Turner's work and other people's, and not otherwise; although,
without any such labor, he may at once perceive that there is a
difference, and a wide one,--so wide, that I have literally nothing to
compare the Turnerian work with in previous art. Here, however, Fig. 84,
is a rock of Claude's (Liber Veritatis, No. 91, on the left hand), which
is something of the shape of Turner's, and professes to be crested in
like manner with copse-wood. The reader may "compare" as much as he
likes, or can, of it.

[Illustration: FIG. 85.]

§ 35. In fact, as I said some time ago, the whole landscape of Claude
was nothing but a more or less softened continuance of the old
traditions of missal-painting, of which I gave examples in the previous
volume. The general notion of rock which may be traced in the earliest
work, as Figs. 1 and 2 in Plate +10+ Vol. III. is of an upright mass cut
out with an adze; as art advances, the painters begin to perceive
horizontal stratification, and, as in all the four other examples of
that plate, show something like true rendering of the fracture of rocks
in vertical joints with superimposed projecting masses. They insist on
this type, thinking it frowning or picturesque, and usually exhibit it
to more advantage by putting a convent, hermitage, or castle on the
projection of the crag. In the blue backgrounds of the missals the
projection is often wildly extravagant; for instance, the MS.
Additional, 11,696 Brit. Mus., has all its backgrounds composed of blue
rocks with towers upon them, of which Fig. 85 is a characteristic
example (magnified in scale about one-third; but, I think, rather
diminished in extravagance of projection). It is infinitely better drawn
than Claude's rocks ever are, in the expression of cleavage; but
certainly somewhat too bold in standing. Then, in more elaborate work,
we get conditions of precipice like Fig. 3 in Plate +10+, which, indeed,
is not ill-drawn in many respects; and the book from which it is taken
shows other evidences of a love of nature sufficiently rare at the
period, though joined quaintly with love of the grotesque: for instance,
the writer, giving an account of the natural productions of Saxony,
illustrates his chapter with a view of the salt mines; he represents
the brine-spring, conducted by a wooden trough from the rock into an
evaporating-house where it is received in a pan, under which he has
painted scarlet flames of fire with singular skill; and the rock out of
which the brine flows is in its general cleavages the best I ever saw
drawn by mediæval art. But it is carefully wrought to the resemblance of
a grotesque human head.

[Illustration: FIG. 86.]

§ 36. This bolder quaintness of the missals is very slightly modified in
religious paintings of the period. Fig. 86, by Cima da Conegliano, a
Venetian, No. 173 in the Louvre, compared with Fig. 3 of Plate +10+
(Flemish), will show the kind of received tradition about rocks current
throughout Europe. Claude takes up this tradition, and, merely making
the rocks a little clumsier, and more weedy, produces such conditions as
Fig. 87 (Liber Veritatis, No. 91, with Fig. 84 above); while the
orthodox door or archway at the bottom is developed into the Homeric
cave, shaded with laurels, and some ships are put underneath it, or seen
through it, at impossible anchorages.

[Illustration: J. Ruskin.     J. H. Le Keux
               41. The Rocks of Arona.]

§ 37. Fig. 87 is generally characteristic, not only of Claude, but of
the other painters of the Renaissance period, because they were all
equally fond of representing this overhanging of rocks with buildings on
the top, and weeds drooping into the air over the edge, always thinking
to get sublimity by exaggerating the projection, and never able to feel
or understand the simplicity of real rock lines; not that they were in
want of examples around them: on the contrary, though the main idea was
traditional, the modifications of it are always traceable to the lower
masses of limestone and tufa which skirt the Alps and Apennines, and
which have, in reality, long contracted habits of nodding over their
bases; being, both by Virgil and Homer, spoken of always as "hanging" or
"over-roofed" rocks. But then they have a way of doing it rather
different from the Renaissance ideas of them. Here, for instance (Plate
+41+), is a real hanging rock, with a castle on the top of it, and
([Greek: katêrephês]) laurel, all plain fact, from Arona, on the Lago
Maggiore; and, I believe, the reader, though we have not as yet said
anything about lines, will at once, on comparing it with Fig. 87,
recognize the difference between the true parabolic flow of the
rock-lines and the humpbacked deformity of Claude; and, still more, the
difference between the delicate overhanging of the natural cliff,
cautiously diminished as it gets higher[87], and the ideal danger of the
Liber Veritatis.

[Illustration: FIG. 87.]

§ 38. And the fact is, generally, that natural cliffs are very cautious
how they overhang, and that the artist who represents them as doing so
in any extravagant degree entirely destroys the sublimity which he hoped
to increase, for the simple reason that he takes away the whole
rock-nature, or at least that part of it which depends upon weight. The
instinct of the observer refuses to believe that the rock is ponderous
when it overhangs so far, and it has no more real effect upon him than
the imagined rocks of a fairy tale.

[Illustration: FIG. 88.]

Though, therefore, the subject sketched on this page is sufficiently
trifling in itself, it is important as a perfect general type of the
overhanging of that kind of precipices, and of the mode in which they
are connected with the banks above. Fig. 88 shows its abstract leading
lines, consisting of one great parabolic line _x y_ falling to the brow,
curved aqueous lines down the precipice face, and the springing lines of
its vegetation, opposed by contrary curves on the farther cliff. Such an
arrangement, with or without vegetation, may take place on a small or
large scale; but a bolder projection than this, except by rare accident,
and on a small scale, cannot. If the reader will glance back to Plate
+37+, and observe the arrangement of the precipices on the right hand,
he will now better understand what Turner means by them. But the whole
question of the beauty of this form, or mode of its development, rests
on the nature of the bank above the cliffs, and of the aqueous forces
that carved it; and this discussion of the nature of banks, as it will
take some time, had better be referred to next chapter. One or two more
points are, however, to be stated here.

§ 39. For the reader has probably been already considering how it is
that these overhanging cliffs are formed at all, and why they appear
thus to be consumed away at the bottom. Sometimes if of soft material
they actually _are_ so consumed by the quicker trickling of streamlets
at the base than at the summit, or by the general action of damp in
decomposing the rock. But in the noblest instances, such cliffs are
constructed as at c in Fig. 73, above, and the inward retirement of the
precipice is the result of their tendency to break at right angles to
the beds, modified according to the power of the rock to support itself,
and the aqueous action from above or below.

I have before alluded (in p. 157) to this somewhat perilous arrangement
permitted in the secondary strata. The danger, be it observed, is not of
the fall of the _brow_ of the precipice, which never takes place on a
large scale in rocks of this kind (compare § 3 of this chapter), but of
the sliding of one bed completely away from another, and the whole mass
coming down together. But even this, though it has several times
occurred in Switzerland, is not a whit more likely to happen when the
precipice is terrific than when it is insignificant. The danger results
from the imperfect adhesion of the mountain beds; not at all from the
external form of them. A cliff, which is in aspect absolutely awful, may
hardly, in the part of it that overhangs, add one thousandth part to the
gravitating power of the entire mass of the rocks above; and, for the
comfort of nervous travellers, they may be assured that they are often
in more danger under the gentle slopes of a pleasantly wooded hill, than
under the most terrific cliffs of the Eiger or Jungfrau.

[Illustration: FIG. 89.]

§ 40. The most interesting examples of these cliffs are usually to be
seen impendent above strong torrents, which, if forced originally to run
in a valley, such as _a_ in Fig. 89, bearing the relation there shown to
the inclination of beds on each side, will not, if the cleavage is
across the beds, cut their channel straight down, but in an inclined
direction, correspondent to the cleavage, as at _b_. If the operation be
carried far, so as to undermine one side of the ravine too seriously,
the undermined masses fall, partially choke the torrent, and give it a
new direction of force, or diminish its sawing power by breaking it
among the fallen masses, so that the cliff never becomes very high in
such an impendent form; but the trench is hewn downwards in a direction
irregularly vertical. Among the limestones on the north side of the
Valles, they being just soft enough to yield easily to the water, and
yet so hard as to maintain themselves in massy precipices, when once
hewn to the shape, there are defiles of whose depth and proportions I am
almost afraid to state what I believe to be the measurements, so much do
they differ from any which I have seen assigned by scientific men as the
limits of precipitous formation. I can only say that my deliberate
impression of the great ravine cut by the torrent which descends from
the Aletsch glacier, about half way between the glacier and Brieg, was,
that its depth is between a _thousand and fifteen hundred_ feet, by a
breadth of between _forty and a hundred_.

But I could not get to the edge of its cliffs, for the tops rounded away
into the chasm, and, of course, all actual measurement was impossible.
There are other similar clefts between the Bietschhorn and the Gemmi;
and the one before spoken of at Ardon, about five miles below Sion,
though quite unimportant in comparison, presents some boldly overhanging
precipices easily observed by the passing traveller, as they are close
to the road. The glen through which the torrent of the Trient descends
into the valley of the Rhone, near Martigny, though not above three or
four hundred feet deep, is also notable for its narrowness, and for the
magnificent hardness of the rock through which it is cut,--a gneiss
twisted with quartz into undulations like those of a Damascus sabre, and
as compact as its steel.

§ 41. It is not possible to get the complete expression of these
ravines, any more than of the apse of a Gothic cathedral, into a
picture, as their elevation cannot be drawn on a vertical plane in front
of the eye, the head needing to be thrown back, in order to measure
their height, or stooped to penetrate their depth. But the structure and
expression of the entrance to one of them have been made by Turner the
theme of his sublime mountain-study (Mill near the Grande Chartreuse) in
the Liber Studiorum; nor does he seem ever to have been weary of
recurring for various precipice-subject, to the ravines of the Via Mala
and St. Gothard. I will not injure any of these--his noblest works--by
giving imperfect copies of them; the reader has now data enough whereby
to judge, when he meets with them, whether they are well done or ill;
and, indeed, all that I am endeavoring to do here, as often aforesaid,
is only to get some laws of the simplest kind understood and accepted,
so as to enable people who care at all for justice to make a stand at
once beside the modern mountain-drawing, as distinguished from
Salvator's, or Claude's, or any other spurious work. Take, for instance,
such a law as this of the general oblique inclination of a torrent's
sides, Fig. 89, and compare the Turnerian gorge in the distance of Plate
+21+ here, or of the Grande Chartreuse subject in the Liber Studiorum,
and consider whether anywhere else in art you can find similar
expressions of the law.

"Well; but you have come to no conclusions in this chapter respecting
the Beauty of Precipices; and that was your professed business with
them."

I am not sure that the idea of beauty was meant in general to be very
strictly connected with such mountain forms: one does not,
instinctively, speak or think of a "Beautiful Precipice." They have,
however, their beauty, and it is infinite; yet so dependent on help or
change from other things, on the way the pines crest them, or the
waterfalls color them, or the clouds isolate them, that I do not choose
to dwell here on any of their perfect aspects, as they cannot be
reasoned of by anticipating inquiries into other materials of landscape.

Thus, I have much to say of the cliffs of Grindelwald and the
Chartreuse, but all so dependent upon certain facts belonging to pine
vegetation, that I am compelled to defer it to the next volume; nor do I
much regret this; because it seems to me that, without any setting
forth, or rather beyond all setting forth, the Alpine precipices have a
fascination about them which is sufficiently felt by the spectator in
general, and even by the artist; only they have not been properly drawn,
because people do not usually attribute the magnificence of their effect
to the trifling details which really are its elements; and, therefore,
in common drawings of Swiss scenery we see all kinds of efforts at
sublimity by exaggeration of the projection of the mass, or by
obscurity, or blueness or aerial tint,--by everything, in fact, except
the one needful thing,--plain drawing of the rock. Therefore in this
chapter I have endeavored to direct the reader to a severe mathematical
estimate of precipice outline, and to make him dwell, not on the
immediately pathetic or impressive aspect of cliffs, which all men feel
readily enough, but on their internal structure. For he may rest assured
that, as the Matterhorn is built of mica flakes, so every great
pictorial impression in scenery of this kind is to be reached by little
and little; the cliff must be built in the picture as it was probably in
reality--inch by inch; and the work will, in the end, have most power
which was begun with most patience. No man is fit to paint Swiss scenery
until he can place himself front to front with one of those mighty
crags, in broad daylight, with no "effect" to aid him, and work it out,
boss by boss, only with such conventionality as its infinitude renders
unavoidable. We have seen that a literal facsimile is impossible, just
as a literal facsimile of the carving of an entire cathedral front is
impossible. But it is as vain to endeavor to give any conception of an
Alpine cliff without minuteness of detail, and by mere breadth of
effect, as it would be to give a conception of the façades of Rouen or
Rheims, without indicating any statues or foliation. When the statues
and foliation are once got, as much blue mist and thundercloud as you
choose, but not before.

§ 43. I commend, therefore, in conclusion, the precipice to the artist's
_patience_; to which there is this farther and final encouragement,
that, though one of the most difficult of subjects, it is one of the
kindest of sitters. A group of trees changes the color of its leafage
from week to week, and its position from day to day; it is sometimes
languid with heat, and sometimes heavy with rain; the torrent swells or
falls in shower or sun; the best leaves of the foreground may be dined
upon by cattle, or trampled by unwelcome investigators of the chosen
scene. But the cliff can neither be eaten nor trampled down; neither
bowed by the shower nor withered by the heat: it is always ready for us
when we are inclined to labor; will always wait for us when we would
rest; and, what is best of all, will always talk to us when we are
inclined to converse. With its own patient and victorious presence,
cleaving daily through cloud after cloud, and reappearing still through
the tempest drift, lofty and serene amidst the passing rents of blue, it
seems partly to rebuke, and partly to guard, and partly to calm and
chasten, the agitations of the feeble human soul that watches it; and
that must be indeed a dark perplexity, or a grievous pain, which will
not be in some degree enlightened or relieved by the vision of it, when
the evening shadows are blue on its foundation, and the last rays of the
sunset resting in the fair height of its golden Fortitude.


FOOTNOTES

  [80] Distinguished from a _crest_ by being the _face_ of a large
    contiguous bed of rock, not the end of a ridge.

  [81] The contour of the whole cliff, seen from near its foot as it
    rises above the shoulder of the Breven, is as at Fig. 76 opposite.
    The part measured is _a d_; but the precipice recedes to the summit
    _b_, on which a human figure is discernible to the naked eye merely
    as a point. The bank from which the cliff rises, _c_, _recedes_ as
    it falls to the left; so that five hundred feet may perhaps be an
    under-estimate of the height below the summit. The straight sloping
    lines are cleavages, across the beds. Finally, Fig. 4, Plate 25,
    gives the look of the whole summit as seen from the village of
    Chamouni beneath it, at a distance of about two miles, and some four
    or five thousand feet above the spectator. It appears, then, like a
    not very formidable projection of crag overhanging the great slopes
    of the mountain's foundation.

    [Illustration: FIG. 76.]

  [82] At an angle of 79° with the horizon. See the Table of angles,
    p. 181. The line _a e_ in Fig. 33, is too steep, as well as in the
    plate here; but the other slopes are approximately accurate. I would
    have made them quite so, but did not like to alter the sketch made
    on the spot.

  [83] Professor Forbes gives the bearing of the Cervin from the top
    of the Riffelhorn as 351°, or N. 9° W., supposing local attraction
    to have caused an error of 65° to the northward, which would make
    the true bearing N. 74° W. From the point just under the Riffelhorn
    summit, _e_, in Fig. 78, at which my drawing was made, I found the
    Cervin bear N. 79° W. without any allowance for attraction; the
    disturbing influence would seem therefore confined, or nearly so, to
    the summit _a_. I did not know at the time that there was any such
    influence traceable, and took no bearing from the summit. For the
    rest, I cannot vouch for bearings as I can for angles, as their
    accuracy was of no importance to my work, and I merely noted them
    with a common pocket compass and in the sailor's way (S. by W. and ½
    W. & C.), which involves the probability of error of from two to
    three degrees on either side of the true bearing. The other drawing
    in Plate +38+ was made from a point only a degree or two to the
    westward of the village of Zermatt. I have no note of the bearing;
    but it must be about S. 60° or 65° W.

  [84] Independent travellers may perhaps be glad to know the way to
    the top of the Riffelhorn. I believe there is only one path; which
    ascends (from the ridge of the Riffel) on its eastern slope, until,
    near the summit, the low but perfectly smooth cliff, extending from
    side to side of the ridge, seems, as on the western slope, to bar
    all farther advance. This cliff may, however, by a good climber, be
    mastered even at the southern extremity; but it is dangerous there:
    at the opposite or northern side of it, just at its base, is a
    little cornice, about a foot broad, which does not look promising at
    first, but widens presently; and when once it is past, there is no
    more difficulty in reaching the summit.

  [85] I ought before to have mentioned Madame de Genlis as one of the
    few writers whose influence was always exerted to restore to
    truthful feelings, and persuade to simple enjoyments and pursuits,
    the persons accessible to reason in the frivolous world of her
    times.

  [86] Veillées du Château, vol. ii.

  [87] The actual extent of the projection remaining the same
    throughout, the angle of suspended slope, for that reason,
    diminishes as the cliff increases in height.



CHAPTER XVII.

RESULTING FORMS:--FOURTHLY, BANKS.


§ 1. During all our past investigations of hill form, we have been
obliged to refer continually to certain results produced by the action
of descending streams or falling stones. The actual contours assumed by
any mountain range towards its foot depend usually more upon this
torrent sculpture than on the original conformation of the masses; the
existing hill side is commonly an accumulation of débris; the existing
glen commonly an excavated watercourse; and it is only here and there
that portions of rock, retaining impress of their original form, jut
from the bank, or shelve across the stream.

§ 2. Now this sculpture by streams, or by gradual weathering, is the
finishing work by which Nature brings her mountain forms into the state
in which she intends us generally to observe and love them. The violent
convulsion or disruption by which she first raises and separates the
masses may frequently be intended to produce impressions of terror
rather than of beauty; but the laws which are in constant operation on
all noble and enduring scenery must assuredly be intended to produce
results grateful to men. Therefore, as in this final pencilling of
Nature's we shall probably find her ideas of mountain beauty most
definitely expressed, it may be well that, before entering on this part
of our subject, we should recapitulate the laws respecting beauty of
form which we arrived at in the abstract.

§ 3. Glancing back to the fourteenth and fifteenth paragraphs of the
chapter on Infinity, in the second volume, and to the third and tenth of
the chapters on Unity, the reader will find that abstract beauty of form
is supposed to depend on continually varied curvatures of line and
surface, associated so as to produce an effect of some unity among
themselves, and opposed, in order to give them value, by more or less
straight or rugged lines.

The reader will, perhaps, here ask why, if both the straight and curved
lines are necessary, one should be considered more beautiful than the
other. Exactly as we consider light beautiful and darkness ugly, in the
abstract, though both are essential to all beauty. Darkness mingled with
color gives the delight of its depth or power; even pure blackness, in
spots or chequered patterns, is often exquisitely delightful; and yet we
do not therefore consider, in the abstract, blackness to be beautiful.

[Illustration: FIG. 90.]

Just in the same way straightness mingled with curvature, that is to
say, the close approximation of part of any curve to a straight line,
gives to such curve all its spring, power, and nobleness: and even
perfect straightness, limiting curves, or opposing them, is often
pleasurable: yet, in the abstract, straightness is always ugly, and
curvature always beautiful.

Thus, in the figure at the side, the eye will instantly prefer the
semicircle to the straight line; the trefoil (composed of three
semicircles) to the triangle; and the cinqfoil to the pentagon. The
mathematician may perhaps feel an opposite preference; but he must be
conscious that he does so under the influence of feelings quite
different from those with which he would admire (if he ever does admire)
a picture or statue; and that if he could free himself from those
associations, his judgment of the relative agreeableness of the forms
would be altered. He may rest assured that, by the natural instinct of
the eye and thought, the preference is given instantly, and always, to
the curved form; and that no human being of unprejudiced perceptions
would desire to substitute triangles for the ordinary shapes of clover
leaves, or pentagons for those of potentillas.

§ 4. All curvature, however, is not equally agreeable; but the
examination of the laws which render one curve more beautiful than
another, would, if carried out to any completeness, alone require a
volume. The following few examples will be enough to put the reader in
the way of pursuing the subject for himself.

[Illustration: FIG. 91.]

Take any number of lines, _a b_, _b c_, _c d_, &c., Fig. 91, bearing any
fixed proportion to each other. In this figure, _b c_ is one third
longer than _a b_, and _c d_ than _b c_; and so on. Arrange them in
succession, keeping the inclination, or angle, which each makes with the
preceding one always the same. Then a curve drawn through the
extremities of the lines will be a beautiful curve; for it is governed
by consistent laws; every part of it is connected by those laws with
every other, yet every part is different from every other; and the mode
of its construction implies the possibility of its continuance to
infinity; it would never return upon itself though prolonged for ever.
These characters must be possessed by every perfectly beautiful curve.

If we make the difference between the component or measuring lines less,
as in Fig. 92, in which each line is longer than the preceding one only
by a fifth, the curve will be more contracted and less beautiful. If we
enlarge the difference, as in Fig. 93, in which each line is double the
preceding one, the curve will suggest a more rapid proceeding into
infinite space, and will be more beautiful. Of two curves, the same in
other respects, that which suggests the quickest attainment of infinity
is always the most beautiful.

[Illustration: FIG. 92.]

[Illustration: FIG. 93.]

§ 5. These three curves being all governed by the same general law, with
a difference only in dimensions of lines, together with all the other
curves so constructible, varied as they may be infinitely, either by
changing the lengths of line, or the inclination of the lines to each
other, are considered by mathematicians only as one curve, having this
peculiar character about it, different from that of most other infinite
lines, that any portion of it is a magnified repetition of the preceding
portion; that is to say, the portion between _e_ and _g_ is precisely
what that between _c_ and _e_ would look, if seen through a lens which
magnified somewhat more than twice. There is therefore a peculiar
equanimity and harmony about the look of lines of this kind, differing,
I think, from the expression of any others except the circle. Beyond the
point _a_ the curve may be imagined to continue to an infinite degree of
smallness, always circling nearer and nearer to a point, which, however,
it can never reach.

[Illustration: FIG. 94.]

§ 6. Again: if, along the horizontal line, A B, Fig. 94, we measure any
number of equal distances, A _b_, _b c_, &c., and raise perpendiculars
from the points _b_, _c_, _d_, &c., of which each perpendicular shall be
longer, by some given proportion (in this figure it is one third), than
the preceding one, the curve _x y_, traced through their extremities,
will continually change its direction, but will advance into space in
the direction of _y_ as long as we continue to measure distances along
the line A B, always inclining more and more to the nature of a straight
line, yet never becoming one, even if continued to infinity. It would,
in like manner, continue to infinity in the direction of _x_, always
approaching the line A B, yet never touching it.

§ 7. An infinite number of different lines, more or less violent in
curvature according to the measurements we adopt in designing them, are
included, or defined, by each of the laws just explained. But the number
of these laws themselves is also infinite. There is no limit to the
multitude of conditions which may be invented, each producing a group of
curves of a certain common nature. Some of these laws, indeed, produce
single curves, which, like the circle, can vary only in size; but, for
the most part, they vary also, like the lines we have just traced, in
the rapidity of their curvature. Among these innumerable lines, however,
there is one source of difference in character which divides them,
infinite as they are in number, into two great classes. The first class
consists of those which are limited in their course, either ending
abruptly, or returning to some point from which they set out; the second
class, of those lines whose nature is to proceed for ever into space.
Any portion of a circle, for instance, is, by the law of its being,
compelled, if it continue its course, to return to the point from which
it set out; so also any portion of the oval curve (called an ellipse),
produced by cutting a cylinder obliquely across. And if a single point
be marked on the rim of a carriage wheel, this point, as the wheel rolls
along the road, will trace a curve in the air from one part of the road
to another, which is called a cycloid, and to which the law of its
existence appoints that it shall always follow a similar course, and be
terminated by the level line on which the wheel rolls. All such curves
are of inferior beauty: and the curves which are incapable of being
completely drawn, because, as in the two cases above given, the law of
their being supposes them to proceed for ever into space, are of a
higher beauty.

§ 8. Thus, in the very first elements of form, a lesson is given us as
to the true source of the nobleness and chooseableness of all things.
The two classes of curves thus sternly separated from each other, may
most properly be distinguished as the "Mortal and Immortal Curves;" the
one having an appointed term of existence, the other absolutely
incomprehensible and endless, only to be seen or grasped during a
certain moment of their course. And it is found universally that the
class to which the human mind is attached for its chief enjoyment are
the Endless or Immortal lines.

§ 9. "Nay," but the reader answers, "what right have you to say that one
class is more beautiful than the other? Suppose I like the finite curves
best, who shall say which of us is right?"

No one. It is simply a question of experience. You will not, I think,
continue to like the finite curves best as you contemplate them
carefully, and compare them with the others. And if you should do so, it
then yet becomes a question to be decided by longer trial, or more
widely canvassed opinion. And when we find on examination that every
form which, by the consent of human kind, has been received as lovely,
in vases, flowing ornaments, embroideries, and all other things
dependent on abstract line, is composed of these infinite curves, and
that Nature uses them for every important contour, small or large, which
she desires to recommend to human observance, we shall not, I think,
doubt that the preference of such lines is a sign of healthy taste, and
true instinct.

§ 10. I am not sure, however, how far the delightfulness of such line,
is owing, not merely to their expression of infinity, but also to that
of restraint or moderation. Compare Stones of Venice, vol. iii. chap. i.
§ 9, where the subject is entered into at some length. Certainly the
beauty of such curvature is owing, in a considerable degree, to both
expressions; but when the line is sharply terminated, perhaps more to
that of moderation than of infinity. For the most part, gentle or
subdued sounds, and gentle or subdued colors, are more pleasing than
either in their utmost force; nevertheless, in all the noblest
compositions, this utmost power is permitted, but only for a short time,
or over a small space. Music must rise to its utmost loudness, and fall
from it; color must be gradated to its extreme brightness, and descend
from it; and I believe that absolutely perfect treatment would, in
either case, permit the intensest sound and purest color only for a
point or for a moment.

[Illustration: 42. Leaf Curvature. Magnolia and Laburnum.]

[Illustration: 43. Leaf Curvature. Dead Laurel.]

[Illustration: 44. Leaf Curvature. Young Ivy.]

Curvature is regulated by precisely the same laws. For the most part,
delicate or slight curvature is more agreeable than violent or rapid
curvature; nevertheless, in the best compositions, violent
curvature is permitted, but permitted only over small spaces in the
curve.

§ 11. The right line is to the curve what monotony is to melody, and
what unvaried color is to gradated color. And as often the sweetest
music is so low and continuous as to approach a monotone; and as often
the sweetest gradations so delicate and subdued as to approach to
flatness, so the finest curves are apt to hover about the right line,
nearly coinciding with it for a long space of their curve; never
absolutely losing their own curvilinear character, but apparently every
moment on the point of merging into the right line. When this is the
case, the line generally returns into vigorous curvature at some part of
its course, otherwise it is apt to be weak, or slightly rigid;
multitudes of other curves, not approaching the right line so nearly,
remain less vigorously bent in the rest of their course; so that the
quantity[88] of curvature is the same in both, though differently
distributed.

[Illustration: FIG. 95.]

§ 12. The modes in which Nature produces variable curves on a large
scale are very numerous, but may generally be resolved into the gradual
increase or diminution of some given force. Thus, if a chain hangs
between two points A and B, Fig. 95, the weight of chain sustained by
any given link increases gradually from the central link at C, which has
only its own weight to sustain, to the link at B, which sustains,
besides its own, the weight of all the links between it and C. This
increased weight is continually pulling the curve of the swinging chain
more nearly straight as it ascends towards B; and hence one of the most
beautifully gradated natural curves--called the catenary--of course
assumed not by chains only, but by all flexible and elongated
substances, suspended between two points. If the points of suspension be
near each other, we have such curves as at D; and if, as in nine cases
out of ten will be the case, one point of suspension is lower than the
other, a still more varied and beautiful curve is formed, as at E. Such
curves constitute nearly the whole beauty of general contour in falling
drapery, tendrils and festoons of weeds over rocks, and such other
pendent objects.[89]

§ 13. Again. If any object be cast into the air, the force with which it
is cast dies gradually away, and its own weight brings it downwards; at
first slowly, then faster and faster every moment, in a curve which, as
the line of fall necessarily nears the perpendicular, is continually
approximating to a straight line. This curve--called the parabola--is
that of all projected or bounding objects.

§ 14. Again. If a rod or stick of any kind gradually becomes more
slender or more flexible, and is bent by any external force, the force
will not only increase in effect as the rod becomes weaker, but the rod
itself, once bent, will continually yield more willingly, and be more
easily bent farther in the same direction, and will thus show a
continual increase of curvature from its thickest or most rigid part to
its extremity. This kind of line is that assumed by boughs of trees
under wind.

§ 15. Again. Whenever any vital force is impressed on any organic
substance, so as to die gradually away as the substance extends, an
infinite curve is commonly produced by its outline. Thus, in the budding
of the leaf, already examined, the gradual dying away of the
exhilaration of the younger ribs produces an infinite curve in the
outline of the leaf, which sometimes fades imperceptibly into a right
line,--sometimes is terminated sharply, by meeting the opposite curve at
the point of the leaf.

§ 16. Nature, however, rarely condescends to use one curve only in any
of her finer forms. She almost always unites two infinite ones, so as to
form a reversed curve for each main line, and then modulates each of
them into myriads of minor ones. In a single elm leaf, such as Fig. 4,
Plate +8+, she uses three such--one for the stalk, and one for each of
the sides,--to regulate their _general_ flow; dividing afterwards each
of their broad lateral lines into some twenty less curves by the jags of
the leaf, and then again into minor waves. Thus, in any complicated
group of leaves whatever, the infinite curves are themselves almost
countless. In a single extremity of a magnolia spray, the uppermost
figure in Plate +42+, including only sixteen leaves, each leaf having
some three to five distinct curves along its edge, the lines for
separate study, including those of the stems, would be between sixty and
eighty. In a single spring-shoot of laburnum, the lower figure in the
same plate, I leave the reader to count them for himself; all these,
observe, being seen at one view only, and every change of position
bringing into sight another equally numerous set of curves. For
instance, in Plate +43+ is a group of four withered leaves, in four
positions, giving, each, a beautiful and well composed group of curves,
variable gradually into the next group as the branch is turned.

§ 17. The following Plate (+44+), representing a young shoot of
independent ivy, just beginning to think it would like to get something
to cling to, shows the way in which Nature brings subtle curvature into
forms that at first seem rigid. The stems of the young leaves look
nearly straight, and the sides of the projecting points, or bastions, of
the leaves themselves nearly so; but on examination it will be found
that there is not a stem nor a leaf-edge but is a portion of one
infinite curve, if not of two or three. The main line of the supporting
stem is a very lovely one; and the little half-opened leaves, in their
thirteenth-century segmental simplicity (compare Fig. 9, Plate 8 in Vol.
III.), singularly spirited and beautiful. It may, perhaps, interest the
general reader to know that one of the infinite curves derives its name
from its supposed resemblance to the climbing of ivy up a tree.

[Illustration: FIG. 97.]

§ 18. I spoke just now of "well-composed" curves,--I mean curves so
arranged as to oppose and set each other off, and yet united by a common
law; for as the beauty of every curve depends on the unity of its
several component lines, so the beauty of each group of curves depends
on their submission to some general law. In forms which quickly attract
the eye, the law which unites the curves is distinctly manifest; but, in
the richer compositions of Nature, cunningly concealed by delicate
infractions of it;--wilfulnesses they seem, and forgetfulnesses, which,
if once the law be perceived, only increase our delight in it by showing
that it is one of equity, not of rigor, and allows, within certain
limits, a kind of individual liberty. Thus the system of unison which
regulates the magnolia shoot, in Plate +42+, is formally expressed in
Fig. 97. Every line has its origin in the point p, and the curves
generally diminish in intensity towards the extremities of the leaves,
one or two, however, again increasing their sweep near the points. In
vulgar ornamentation, entirely rigid laws of line are always observed;
and the common Greek honeysuckle and other such formalisms are
attractive to uneducated eyes, owing to their manifest compliance with
the first conditions of unity and symmetry, being to really noble
ornamentation what the sing-song of a bad reader of poetry, laying
regular emphasis on every required syllable of every foot, is to the
varied, irregular, unexpected, inimitable cadence of the voice of a
person of sense and feeling reciting the same lines,--not incognisant of
the rhythm, but delicately bending it to the expression of passion, and
the natural sequence of the thought.

§ 19. In mechanically drawn patterns of dress, Alhambra and common
Moorish ornament, Greek mouldings, common flamboyant traceries, common
Corinthian and Ionic capitals, and such other work, lines of this
declared kind (generally to be classed under the head of "doggerel
ornamentation") may be seen in rich profusion; and they are necessarily
the only kind of lines which can be felt or enjoyed by persons who have
been educated without reference to natural forms; their instincts being
blunt, and their eyes actually incapable of perceiving the inflexion of
noble curves. But the moment the perceptions have been refined by
reference to natural form, the eye requires perpetual variation and
transgression of the formal law. Take the simplest possible condition of
thirteenth-century scroll-work, Fig. 98. The law or cadence established
is of a circling tendril, terminating in an ivy-leaf. In vulgar design,
the curves of the circling tendril would have been similar to each
other, and might have been drawn by a machine, or by some mathematical
formula. But in good design all imitation by machinery is impossible. No
curve is like another for an instant; no branch springs at an expected
point. A cadence is observed, as in the returning clauses of a beautiful
air in music; but every clause has its own change, its own surprises.
The enclosing form is here stiff and (nearly) straight-sided, in order
to oppose the circular scroll-work; but on looking close it will be
found that each of its sides is a portion of an infinite curve, almost
too delicate to be traced; except the short lowest one, which is made
quite straight, to oppose the rest.

[Illustration: FIG. 98.]

I give one more example from another leaf of the same manuscript, Fig.
99, merely to show the variety introduced by the old designers between
page and page. And, in general, the reader may take it for a settled law
that, whatever can be done by machinery, or imitated by formula, is not
worth doing or imitating at all.

§ 20. The quantity of admissible transgression of law varies with the
degree in which the ornamentation involves or admits imitation of
nature. Thus, if these ivy leaves in Fig. 99 were completely drawn in
light and shade, they would not be properly connected with the more or
less regular sequences of the scroll; and in every subordinate ornament,
something like complete symmetry may be admitted, as in bead mouldings,
chequerings, &c. Also, the ways in which the transgression may be
granted vary infinitely; in the finest compositions it is perpetual, and
yet so balanced and atoned for as always to bring about more beauty than
if there had been no transgression. In a truly fine mountain or organic
line, if it is looked at in detail, no one would believe in its being a
continuous curve, or being subjected to any fixed law. It seems broken,
and bending a thousand ways; perfectly free and wild, and yielding to
every impulse. But, after following with the eye three or four of its
impulses, we shall begin to trace some strange order among them; every
added movement will make the ruling intent clearer; and when the whole
life of the line is revealed at last, it will be found to have been,
throughout, as obedient to the true law of its course as the stars in
their orbits.

[Illustration: FIG. 99.]


  The four systems of mountain line.

§ 21. Thus much may suffice for our immediate purpose respecting
beautiful lines in general. We have now to consider the particular
groups of them belonging to mountains.

The lines which are produced by course of time upon hill contours are
mainly divisible into four systems.

1. Lines of Fall. Those which are wrought out on the solid mass by the
fall of water or of stones.

2. Lines of Projection. Those which are produced in débris by the
bounding of the masses, under the influence of their falling force.

3. Lines of Escape. Those which are produced by the spreading of débris
from a given point over surfaces of varied shape.

4. Lines of Rest. Those which are assumed by débris when in a state of
comparative permanence and stability.


  1. Lines of Fall.

  1. Lines of Fall. Produced by falling bodies upon hill-surfaces.

However little the reader may be acquainted with hills, I believe that,
almost instinctively, he will perceive that the form supposed to belong
to a wooded promontory at _a_, Fig. 100, is an impossible one; and that
the form at _b_ is not only a possible but probable one. The lines are
equally formal in both. But in _a_, the curve is a portion of a circle,
meeting a level line: in _b_ it is an infinite line, getting less and
less steep as it ascends.

[Illustration: FIG. 100.]

Whenever a mass of mountain is worn gradually away by forces descending
from its top, it _necessarily_ assumes, more or less perfectly,
according to the time for which it has been exposed, and the tenderness
of its substance, such contours as those at _b_, for the simple reason
that every stream and every falling grain of sand gains in velocity and
erosive power as it descends. Hence, cutting away the ground gradually
faster and faster, they produce the most rapid curvature (provided the
rock be hard enough) towards the bottom of the hill.[90]

§ 22. But farther: in _b_ it will be noticed that the lines always get
steeper as they fall more and more to the right; and I should think the
reader must feel that they look more natural, so drawn, than, as at _a_,
in unvarying curves.

[Illustration: FIG. 101.]

This is no less easily accounted for. The simplest typical form under
which a hill can occur is that of a cone. Let A C B, Fig. 101, have been
its original contour. Then the aqueous forces will cut away the shaded
portions, reducing it to the outline _d_ C _e_. Farther, in doing so,
the water will certainly have formed for itself gullies or channels from
top to bottom. These, supposing them at equal distances round the cone,
will appear, in perspective, in the lines _g h i_. It does not, of
course, matter whether we consider the lines in this figure to represent
the bottom of the ravines, or the ridges between, both being formed on
similar curves; but the rounded lines in Fig. 100 would be those of
forests seen on the edges of each detached ridge.

§ 23. Now although a mountain is rarely perfectly conical, and never
divided by ravines at exactly equal distances, the law which is seen in
entire simplicity in Fig. 101, applies with a sway more or less
interrupted, but always manifest, to every convex and retiring mountain
form. All banks that thus turn away from the spectator necessarily are
thrown into perspectives like that of one side of this figure; and
although not divided with equality, their irregular divisions crowd
gradually together towards the distant edge, being then less steep, and
separate themselves towards the body of the hill, being then more steep.

[Illustration: FIG. 102.]

§ 24. It follows, also, that not only the whole of the nearer curves,
will be steeper, but, if seen from below, the steepest parts of them
will be the more important. Supposing each, instead of a curve, divided
into a sloping line and a precipitous one, the perspective of the
precipice, raising its top continually, will give the whole cone the
shape of _a_ or _b_ in Fig. 102, in which, observe, the precipice is of
more importance, and the slope of less, precisely in proportion to the
nearness of the mass.

§ 25. Fig. 102, therefore, will be the general type of the form of a
convex retiring hill symmetrically constructed. The precipitous part of
it may vary in height or in slope according to original conformation;
but the heights being supposed equal along the whole flank, the contours
will be as in that figure; the various rise and fall of real height
altering the perspective appearance accordingly, as we shall see
presently, after examining the other three kinds of line.


  2. Lines of Projection.

  2. Lines of Projection. Produced by fragments bounding or carried
       forward from the bases of hills.

§ 26. The fragments carried down by the torrents from the flanks of the
hill are of course deposited at the base of it. But they are deposited
in various ways, of which it is most difficult to analyze the laws; for
they are thrown down under the influence partly of flowing water, partly
of their own gravity, partly of projectile force caused by their fall
from the higher summits of the hill; while the débris itself, after it
has fallen, undergoes farther modification by surface streamlets. But in
a general way débris descending from the hill side, _a b_, Fig. 103,
will arrange itself in a form approximating to the concave line _d c_,
the larger masses remaining undisturbed at the bottom, while the smaller
are gradually carried farther and farther by surface streams.

[Illustration: FIG. 103.]


  3. Lines of Escape.

  3. Lines of Escape. Produced by the lateral dissemination of the
       fragments.

§ 27. But this form is much modified by the special direction of the
descending force as it escapes from confinement. For a stream coming
down a ravine is kept by the steep sides of its channel in concentrated
force: but it no sooner reaches the bottom, and escapes from its ravine,
than it spreads in all directions, or at least tries to choose a new
channel at every flood. Let _a b c_, Fig. 104, be three ridges of
mountain. The two torrents coming down the ravine between them meet, at
_d_ and _e_, with the heaps of ground formerly thrown down by their own
agency. These heaps being more or less in the form of cones, the torrent
has a tendency to divide upon their apex, like water poured on the top
of a sugar-loaf, and branch into the radiating channels _e x_, _e y_,
&c. The stronger it is, the more it is disposed to rush straightforward,
or with little curvature, as in the line _e x_, with the impetus it has
received in coming down the ravine; the weaker it is, the more readily
it will lean to one side or the other, and fall away in the lines of
escape, _e y_, or _e h_; but of course at times of highest flood it
fills all its possible channels, and invents a few new ones, of which
afterwards the straightest will be kept by the main stream, and the
lateral curves occupied by smaller branches; the whole system
corresponding precisely to the action of the ribs of the young leaf, as
shown in Plate +8+ of Vol. III., especially in Fig. 6,--the main
torrent, like the main rib, making the largest fortune, i. e. raising
the highest heap of gravel and dust.

[Illustration: FIG. 104.]

§ 28. It may easily be imagined that when the operation takes place on a
large scale, the mass of earth thus deposited in a gentle slope at the
mountain's foot becomes available for agricultural purposes, and that
then it is of the greatest importance to prevent the stream from
branching into various channels at its will, and pouring fresh sand over
the cultivated fields. Accordingly, at the mouth of every large ravine
in the Alps, where the peasants know how to live and how to work, the
stream is artificially embanked, and compelled as far as possible to
follow the central line down the cone. Hence, when the traveller passes
along any great valley,--as that of the Rhone or Arve,--into which
minor torrents are poured by lateral ravines, he will find himself every
now and then ascending a hill of moderate slope, at the _top_ of which
he will cross a torrent, or its bed, and descend by another gradual
slope to the usual level of the valley. In every such case, his road has
ascended a tongue of débris, and has crossed the embanked torrent
carried by force along its centre.

Under such circumstances, the entire tongue or heap of land ceases of
course to increase, until the bed of the confined torrent is partially
choked by its perpetual deposit. Then in some day of violent rain the
waves burst their fetters, branch at their own will, cover the fields of
some unfortunate farmer with stones and slime, according to the
torrent's own idea of the new form which it has become time to give to
the great tongue of land, carry away the road and the bridge together,
and arrange everything to their own liking. But the road is again
painfully traced among the newly fallen débris; the embankment and
bridge again built for the stream, now satisfied with its outbreak; and
the tongue of land submitted to new processes of cultivation for a
certain series of years. When, however, the torrent is exceedingly
savage, and generally of a republican temper, the outbreaks are too
frequent and too violent to admit of any cultivation of the tongue of
land. A few straggling alder or thorn bushes, their roots buried in
shingle, and their lower branches fouled with slime, alone relieve with
ragged spots of green the broad waste of stones and dust. The utmost
that can be done is to keep the furious stream from choosing a new
channel in every one of its fits of passion, and remaining in it
afterwards, thus extending its devastation in entirely unforeseen
directions. The land which it has brought down must be left a perpetual
sacrifice to its rage; but in the moment of its lassitude it is brought
back to its central course, and compelled to forego for a few weeks or
months the luxury of deviation.

§ 29. On the other hand, when, owing to the nature of the valley above,
the stream is gentle, and the sediment which it brings down small in
quantity, it may be retained for long years in its constant path, while
the sides of the bank of earth it has borne down are clothed with
pasture and forest, seen in the distance of the great valley as a
promontory of sweet verdure, along which the central stream passes with
an influence of blessing, submitting itself to the will of the
husbandman for irrigation, and of the mechanist for toil; now nourishing
the pasture, and now grinding the corn, of the land which it has first
formed, and now waters.

§ 30. I have etched above, Plate +35+, a portion of the flank of the
valley of Chamouni, which presents nearly every class of line under
discussion, and will enable the reader to understand their relations at
once. It represents, as was before stated, the crests of the Montagnes
de la Côte and Taconay, shown from base to summit, with the Glacier des
Bossons and its moraine. The reference figure given at p. 212 will
enable the reader to distinguish its several orders of curves, as
follows:

_h r_. Aqueous curves of fall, at the base of the Tapia; very
       characteristic. Similar curves are seen in multitude on the two
       crests beyond as _b c_, _c_ B.

_d e_. First lines of projection. The débris falling from the glacier
       and the heights above.

_k_, _l_, _n_.Three lines of escape. A considerable torrent (one of whose
       falls is the well-known Cascade des Pélerins[91]) descends from
       behind the promontory _h_: its natural or proper course would be
       to dash straight forward down the line _f g_, and part of it does
       so; but erratic branches of it slide away round the promontory,
       in the lines of escape, _k_, _l_, &c. Each row of trees marks,
       therefore, an old torrent bed, for the torrent always throws
       heaps of stones up along its banks, on which the pines, growing
       higher than on the neighboring ground, indicate its course by
       their supremacy. When the escaped stream is feeble, it steals
       quietly away down the steepest part of the slope; that is to say,
       close under the promontory, at _i_. If it is stronger, the
       impetus from the hill above shoots it farther out, in the line
       _k_; if stronger still, at _l_; in each case it curves gradually
       round as it loses its onward force, and falls more and more
       languidly to leeward, down the slope of the débris.

_r s_. A line which, perhaps, would be more properly termed of
       limitation than of escape, being that of the base or termination
       of the heap of torrent débris, which in shape corresponds exactly
       to the curved lip of a wave, after it has broken, as it slowly
       stops upon a shallow shore. Within this line the ground is
       entirely composed of heaps of stones, cemented by granite dust
       and cushioned with moss, while outside of it, all is smooth
       pasture. The pines enjoy the stony ground particularly, and hold
       large meetings upon it, but the alders are shy of it; and, when
       it has come to an end, form a triumphal procession all round its
       edge, following the concave line. The correspondent curves above
       are caused by similar lines in which the débris has formerly
       stopped.

[Illustration: 45. Débris Curvature.]

§ 31. I found it a matter of the greatest difficulty to investigate the
picturesque characters of these lines of projection and escape, because,
as presented to the eye, they are always modified by perspective; and
it is almost a physical impossibility to get a true profile of any of
the slopes, they round and melt so constantly into one another. Many of
them, roughly measured, are nearly circular in tendency;[92] but I
believe they are all portions of infinite curves either modified by the
concealment or destruction of the lower lips of débris, or by their
junction with straight lines of slope above, throwing the longest limb
of the curve upwards. Fig. 1, in Plate +45+ opposite, is a simple but
complete example from Chamouni; the various overlapping and concave
lines at the bottom being the limits of the mass at various periods,
more or less broken afterwards by the peasants, either by removing
stones for building, or throwing them back at the edges here and there,
out of the way of the plough; but even with all these breaks, their
natural unity is so sweet and perfect, that, if the reader will turn the
plate upside down, he will see I have no difficulty (merely adding a
quill or two) in turning them into a bird's wing (Fig. 2), a little
ruffled indeed, but still graceful, and not of such a form as one would
have supposed likely to be designed and drawn, as indeed it was, by the
rage of a torrent.

But we saw in Chap. VII. § 10 that this very rage was, in fact, a
beneficent power,--creative, not destructive; and as all its apparent
cruelty is overruled by the law of love, so all its apparent disorder is
overruled by the law of loveliness: the hand of God, leading the wrath
of the torrent to minister to the life of mankind, guides also its grim
surges by the laws of their delight; and bridles the bounding rocks, and
appeases the flying foam, till they lie down in the same lines that lead
forth the fibres of the down on a cygnet's breast.

§ 32. The straight slopes with which these curves unite themselves
below, in Plate +33+ (_f g_ in reference figure), are those spoken of
in the outset as lines of rest. But I defer to the next chapter the
examination of these, which are a separate family of lines (not curves
at all), in order to reassemble the conclusions we have now obtained
respecting _curvature_ in mountains, and apply them to questions of art.

And, first, it is of course not to be supposed that these symmetrical
laws are so manifest in their operation as to force themselves on the
observance of men in general. They are interrupted, necessarily, by
every fantastic accident in the original conformation of the hills,
which, according to the hardness of their rocks, more or less accept or
refuse the authority of general law. Still, the farther we extend our
observance of hills, the more we shall be struck by the continual
roundness and softness which it seems the object of nature to give to
every form; so that, when crags look sharp and distorted, it is not so
much that they are unrounded, as that the various curves are more subtly
accommodated to the angles, and that, instead of being worn into one
sweeping and smooth descent, like the surface of a knoll or down, the
rock is wrought into innumerable minor undulations, its own fine anatomy
showing through all.

[Illustration: J. Ruskin.     J. H. Le Keux.
               46. The Buttresses of an Alp.]

§ 33. Perhaps the mountain which I have drawn on the opposite page
(Plate +46+[93]) is, in its original sternness of mass, and in the
complexity of lines into which it has been chiselled, as characteristic
an instance as could be given by way of general type. It is one of no
name or popular interest, but of singular importance in the geography of
Switzerland, being the angle buttress of the great northern chain of the
Alps (the chain of the Jungfrau and Gemmi), and forming the promontory
round which the Rhone turns to the north-west, at Martigny. It is
composed of an intensely hard gneiss (slaty crystalline), in which the
plates of mica are set for the most part against the angle, running
nearly north and south, as in Fig. 105, and giving the point, therefore,
the utmost possible strength, which, however, cannot prevent it from
being rent gradually by enormous curved fissures, and separated into
huge vertical flakes and chasms, just at the lower promontory, as seen
in Plate +46+, and (in plan) in Fig. 105. The whole of the upper
surface of the promontory is wrought by the old glaciers into furrows
and striæ more notable than any I ever saw in the Alps.

§ 34. Now observe, we have here a piece of Nature's work which she has
assuredly been long in executing, and which is in peculiarly firm and
stable material. It is in her best rock (slaty crystalline), at a point
important for all her geographical purposes, and at the degree of
mountain elevation especially adapted to the observation of mankind. We
shall therefore probably ascertain as much of Nature's mind about these
things in this piece of work as she usually allows us to see all at
once.

[Illustration: FIG. 105.]

§ 35. If the reader will take a pencil, and, laying tracing paper over
the plate, follow a few of its lines, he will (unless before accustomed
to accurate mountain-drawing) be soon amazed by the complexity,
endlessness, and harmony of the curvatures. He will find that there is
not one line in all that rock which is not an infinite curve, and united
in some intricate way with others, and suggesting others unseen; and if
it were the reality, instead of my drawing, which he had to deal with,
he would find the infinity, in a little while, altogether overwhelm him.
But even in this imperfect sketch, as he traces the multitudinous
involution of flowing line, passing from swift to slight curvature, or
slight to swift, at every instant, he will, I think, find enough to
convince him of the truth of what has been advanced respecting the
natural appointment of curvature as the first element of all loveliness
in form.

§ 36. "Nay, but there are hard and straight lines mingled with those
curves continually." True, as we have said so often, just as shade is
mixed with light. Angles and undulations may rise and flow continually,
one through or over the other; but the opposition is in quantity nearly
always the same, if the mass is to be pleasant to the eye. In the
example previously given (Plate +40+), the limestone bank above
Villeneuve, it is managed in a different way, but is equal in degree;
the lower portion of the hill is of soft rock in thin laminæ; the upper
mass is a solid and firm bed, yet not so hard as to stand all weathers.
The lower portion, therefore, is rounded into almost unbroken softness
of bank; the upper surmounts it as a rugged wall, and the opposition of
the curve and angle is just as complete as in the first example, in
which one was continually mingled with the other.

§ 37. Next, note the _quantity_ in these hills. It is an element on
which I shall have to insist more in speaking of vegetation; but I must
not pass it by, here, since, in fact, it constitutes one of the
essential differences between hills of first-rate magnificence, and
inferior ones. Not that there is want of quantity even in the lower
ranges, but it is a quantity of inferior things, and therefore more
easily represented or suggested. On a Highland hill side are
multitudinous clusters of fern and heather; on an Alpine one,
multitudinous groves of chestnut and pine. The number of the things may
be the same, but the sense of infinity is in the latter case far
greater, because the number is of nobler things. Indeed, so far as mere
magnitude of space occupied on the field of the horizon is the measure
of objects, a bank of earth ten feet high may, if we stoop to the foot
of it, be made to occupy just as much of the sky as that bank of
mountain at Villeneuve; nay, in many respects its little ravines and
escarpments, watched with some help of imagination, may become very
sufficiently representative to us of those of the great mountain; and in
classing all water-worn mountain-ground under the general and humble
term of Banks, I mean to imply this relationship of structure between
the smallest eminences and the highest. But in this matter of
superimposed _quantity_ the distinctions of rank are at once fixed. The
heap of earth bears its few tufts of moss or knots of grass; the
Highland or Cumberland mountain its honeyed heathers or scented ferns;
but the mass of the bank at Martigny or Villeneuve has a vineyard in
every cranny of its rocks, and a chestnut grove on every crest of them.

§ 38. This is no poetical exaggeration. Look close into that plate
(+46+). Every little circular stroke in it among the rocks means, not a
clump of copse nor wreath of fern, but a walnut tree, or a Spanish
chestnut, fifty or sixty feet high. Nor are the little curves, thus
significative of trees, laid on at random. They are not indeed counted,
tree by tree, but they are most carefully distributed in the true
proportion and quantity; or if I have erred at all, it was, from mere
fatigue, on the side of sparingness. The minute mounds and furrows
scattered up the side of that great promontory, when they are actually
approached, after three or four hours' climbing, turn into independent
hills with true _parks_ of lovely pasture land enclosed among them, and
avenue after avenue of chestnuts, walnuts, and pines bending round their
bases; while in the deeper dingles, unseen in the drawing, nestle
populous villages, literally bound down to the rock by enormous trunks
of vine, which, first trained lightly over the loose stone roofs, have
in process of years cast their fruitful net over the whole village, and
fastened it to the ground under their purple weight and wayward coils,
as securely as ever human heart was fastened to earth by the net of the
Flatterer.

§ 39. And it is this very richness of incident and detail which renders
Switzerland so little attractive in its subjects to the ordinary artist.
Observe, this study of mine in Plate +46+ does not profess to be a
_picture_ at all. It is a mere sketch or catalogue of all that there is
on the mountain side, faithfully written out, but no more than should be
put down by any conscientious painter for mere guidance, before he
begins his work, properly so called; and in finishing such a subject no
trickery nor shorthand is of any avail whatsoever; there are a certain
number of trees to be drawn; and drawn they must be, or the place will
not bear its proper character. They are not misty wreaths of soft wood
suggestible by a sweep or two of the brush; but arranged and lovely
clusters of trees, clear in the mountain sunlight, each specially
grouped and as little admitting any carelessness of treatment, though
five miles distant, as if they were within a few yards of us; the whole
meaning and power of the scene being involved in that one fact of
quantity. It is not large merely by multitudes of tons of rock,--the
number of tons is not measurable; it is not large by elevation of angle
on the horizon,--a house-roof near us rises higher; it is not large by
faintness of aerial perspective,--in a clear day it often looks as if we
could touch the summit with the hand. But it is large by this one
unescapable fact that, from the summit to the base of it, there are of
timber trees so many countable thousands. The scene differs from
subjects not Swiss by including hundreds of other scenes within itself,
and is mighty, not by scale, but by aggregation.

§ 40. And this is more especially and humiliatingly true of pine forest.
Nearly all other kinds of wood may be reduced, over large spaces, to
undetailed masses; but there is nothing but patience for pines; and this
has been one of the principal reasons why artists call Switzerland
"unpicturesque." There may perhaps be, in the space of a Swiss valley
which comes into a picture, from five to ten millions of well grown
pines.[94] Every one of these pines must be drawn before the scene can
be. And a pine cannot be represented by a round stroke, nor by an
upright one, nor even by an angular one; no conventionalism will express
a pine; it must be legitimately drawn, with a light side and a dark
side, and a soft gradation from the top downwards, or it does not look
like a pine at all. Most artists think it not desirable to choose a
subject which involves the drawing of ten millions of trees; because,
supposing they could even do four or five in a minute, and worked for
ten hours a day, their picture would still take them ten years before
they had finished its pine forests. For this, and other similar reasons,
it is declared usually that Switzerland is ugly and unpicturesque; but
that is not so; it is only that _we_ cannot paint it. If we could, it
would be as interesting on the canvas as it is in reality; and a painter
of fruit and flowers might just as well call a human figure
unpicturesque, because it was to him unmanageable, as the ordinary
landscape-effect painter speak in depreciation of the Alps.

§ 41. It is not probable that any subjects such as we have just been
describing, involving a necessity of ten years' labor, will be executed
by the modern landscape school,--at least, until its Pre-Raphaelitic
tendencies become much more developed than they are yet; nor was it
desirable that they should have been by Turner, whose fruitful invention
would have been unwisely arrested for a length of time on any single
subject, however beautiful. But with his usual certainty of perception,
he fastened at once on this character of "quantity," as the thing to be
expressed, in one way or another, in all grand mountain-drawing; and the
subjects of his on which I have chiefly dwelt in the First Volume
(chapter on the Inferior Mountains, § 16, &c.) are distinguished from
the work of other painters in nothing so much as in this redundance.
Beautiful as they are in color, graceful in fancy, powerful in
execution,--in none of these things do they stand so much alone as in
plain, calculable quantity; he having always on the average twenty trees
or rocks where other people have only one, and winning his victories not
more by skill of generalship than by overwhelming numerical superiority.

§ 42. I say his works are distinguished in this more than in anything
else, not because this is their highest quality, but because it is
peculiar to them. Invention, color, grace of arrangement, we may find in
Tintoret and Veronese in various manifestation; but the expression of
the infinite redundance of natural landscape had never been attempted
until Turner's time; and the treatment of the masses of mountain in the
Daphne and Leucippus, Golden Bough, and Modern Italy, is wholly without
precursorship in art.

Nor, observe, do I insist upon this quantity _merely_ as arithmetical,
or as if it were producible by repetition of similar things. It would be
easy to be redundant, if multiplication of the same idea constituted
fulness; and since Turner first introduced these types of landscape,
myriads of vulgar imitations of them have been produced, whose
perpetrators have supposed themselves disciples or rivals of Turner, in
covering their hills with white dots for forest, and their foregrounds
with yellow sparklings for herbage. But the Turnerian redundance is
never monotonous. Of the thousands of groups of touches which, with him,
are necessary to constitute a single bank of hill, not one but has some
special character, and is as much a separate invention as the whole plan
of the picture. Perhaps this may be sufficiently understood by an
attentive examination of the detail introduced by him in his St. Gothard
subject, as shown in Plate +37+.

§ 43. I do not, indeed, know if the examples I have given from natural
scenes, though they are as characteristic as I could well choose, are
enough to accustom the reader to the character of true mountain lines,
and to enable him to recognize such lines in other instances; but if
not, at all events they may serve to elucidate the main points, and
guide to more complete examination of the subject, if it interests him,
among the hills themselves. And if, after he has pursued the inquiry
long enough to feel the certitude of the laws which I have been
endeavoring to illustrate, he turns back again to art, I am well assured
it will be with a strange recognition of unconceived excellence, and a
newly quickened pleasure in the unforeseen fidelity, that he will trace
the pencilling of Turner upon his hill drawings. I do not choose to
spend, in this work, the labor and time which would be necessary to
analyze, as I have done the drawing of the St. Gothard, any other of
Turner's important mountain designs; for the reader must feel the
disadvantage they are under in being either reduced in scale, or divided
into fragments: and therefore these chapters are always to be considered
merely as memoranda for reference before the pictures which the reader
may have it in his power to examine. But this one drawing of the St.
Gothard, as it has already elucidated for us Turner's knowledge of crest
structure, will be found no less wonderful in the fulness with which it
illustrates his perception of the lower aqueous and other curvatures. If
the reader will look back to the etching of the entire subject, Plate
+21+, he will now discern, I believe, without the necessity of my
lettering them for him, the lines of fall, rounded down from the crests
until they plunge into the overhanging precipices; the lines of
projection, where the fallen stones extend the long concave sweep from
the couloir, pushing the torrent against the bank on the other side; in
the opening of the ravine he will perceive the oblique and parallel
inclination of its sides, following the cleavage of the beds in the
diagonal line A B of the reference figure; and, finally, in the great
slope and precipice on the right of it, he will recognize one of the
grandest types of the peculiar mountain mass which Turner always chose
by preference to illustrate, the "slope above wall" of _d_ in Fig. 13,
p. 148; compare also the last chapter, §§ 26, 27. It will be seen, by
reference to my sketch of the spot, Plate +20+, that this conformation
does actually exist there with great definiteness: Turner has only
enlarged and thrown it into more numerous alternations of light and
shade. As these could not be shown in the etching, I have given, in the
frontispiece, this passage nearly of its real size: the exquisite greys
and blues by which Turner has rounded and thrown it back are necessarily
lost in the plate; but the grandeur of his simple cliff and soft curves
of sloping bank above is in some degree rendered.

We must yet dwell for a moment on the detail of the rocks on the left in
Plate +37+, as they approach nearer the eye, turning at the same time
from the light. It cost me trouble to etch this passage, and yet half
its refinements are still missed; for Turner has put his whole strength
into it, and wrought out the curving of the gneiss beds with a subtlety
which could not be at all approached in the time I had to spare for this
plate. Enough, however, is expressed to illustrate the points in
question.

§ 44. We have first, observe, a rounded bank, broken, at its edges, into
cleavages by inclined beds. I thought it would be well, lest the reader
should think I dwelt too much on this particular scene, to give an
instance of similar structure from another spot; and therefore I
daguerreotyped the cleavages of a slope of gneiss just above the Cascade
des Pélerins, Chamouni, corresponding in position to this bank of
Turner's. Plate +48+ (facing p. 303), copied by Mr. Armytage from the
daguerreotype, represents, necessarily in a quite unprejudiced and
impartial way, the structure at present in question; and the reader may
form a sufficient idea, from this plate, of the complexity of descending
curve and foliated rent, in even a small piece of mountain
foreground,[95] where the gneiss beds are tolerably continuous. But
Turner had to add to such general complexity the expression of a more
than ordinary undulation in the beds of the St. Gothard gneiss.

§ 45. If the reader will look back to Chapter II. § 13, he will find it
stated that this scene is approached out of the defile of Dazio Grande,
of which the impression was still strong on Turner's mind, and where
only he could see, close at hand, the nature of the rocks in a good
section. It most luckily happens that De Saussure was interested by the
rocks at the same spot, and has given the following account of them,
Voyages, §§ 1801, 1802:--

"À une lieue de Faïdo, l'on passe le Tésin pour le repasser bientôt
après [see the old bridge in Turner's view, carried away in mine], et
l'on trouve sur sa rive droite des couches d'une roche feuilletée, qui
montent du Côté du Nord.

"On voit clairement que depuis que les granits veinés ont été remplacés
par des pierres moins solides, tantôt les rochers se sont éboulés et ont
été recouverts par la terre végétale, tantôt leur situation primitive a
subi des changements irréguliers.

"§ 1802. Mais bientôt après, _on monte par un chemin en corniche au
dessus du Tésin, qui se précipite entre des rochers avec la plus grande
violence_. Ces rochers sont là si serrés, qu'il n'y a de place que pour
la rivière et pour le chemin, et même en quelques endroits, celui-ci est
entièrement pris sur le roc. Je fis à pied cette montée, pour examiner
avec soin ces beaux rochers, _dignes de toute l'attention d'un amateur_.

"Les veinés de ce granit forment en plusieurs endroits des _zigzags
redoublés_, précisément comme ces anciennes tapisseries, connues sous le
nom de points d'Hongrie; et là, on ne peut pas prononcer, si les veinés
de la pierre, sont ou ne sont pas parallèles à ses couches. Cependant
ces veinés reprennent aussi dans quelques places, une direction
constante, et cette direction est bien la même que celle des couches. Il
paroît même qu'en divers endroits, où ces veinés ont la forme d'un
_sigma_ ou d'une M couchée M, ce sont les grandes jambes du _sigma_, qui
ont la direction des couches. Enfin, j'observai plusieurs couches, qui
dans le milieu de leur épaisseur paroissoient remplies de ces veinés en
zigzag, tandis qu'auprès de leurs bords, on les voyoit toutes en lignes
droites."

§ 46. If the reader will now examine Turner's work at the point _x_ in
the reference figure, and again on the stones in the foreground,
comparing it finally with the fragment of the rocks which happened
fortunately to come into my foreground in Plate +20+, rising towards the
left, and of which I have etched the structure with some care, though at
the time I had quite forgotten Saussure's notice of the peculiar
M-shaped zigzags of the gneiss at the spot, I believe he will have
enough evidence before him, taken all in all, to convince him of
Turner's inevitable perception, and of the entire supremacy of his
mountain drawing over all that had previously existed. And if he is able
to refer, even to the engravings (though I desire always that what I
state should be _tested_ by the drawings only) of any others of his
elaborate hill-subjects, and will examine their details with careful
reference to the laws explained in this chapter, he will find that the
Turnerian promontories and banks are always simply _right_, and that in
all respects; that their gradated curvatures, and nodding cliffs, and
redundant sequence of folded glen and feathery glade, are, in all their
seemingly fanciful beauty, literally the most downright plain speaking
that has as yet been uttered about hills; and differ from all antecedent
work, not in being ideal, but in being, so to speak, pictorial _casts_
of the ground. Such a drawing as that of the Yorkshire Richmond, looking
down the river, in the England Series, is even better than a model of
the ground, because it gives the aerial perspective, and is better than
a photograph of the ground, because it exaggerates no shadows, while it
unites the veracities both of model and photograph.

§ 47. Nor let it be thought that it was an easy or creditable thing to
treat mountain ground with this faithfulness in the days when Turner
executed those drawings. In the Encyclopædia Britannica (Edinburgh,
1797), under article "Drawing," the following are the directions given
for the production of a landscape:--

"If he is to draw a landscape from nature, let him take his station on a
rising ground, where he will have a large horizon, and mark his tablet
into three divisions, downwards from top to the bottom; and divide in
his own mind the landscape he is to take into three divisions also. Then
let him turn his face directly opposite to the midst of the horizon,
keeping his body fixed, and draw what is directly before his eyes upon
the middle division of the tablet: then _turn his head, but not his
body_,[96] to the left hand and delineate what he views there, joining
it properly to what he had done before; and, lastly, do the same by
what is to be seen upon his right hand, laying down everything exactly,
both with respect to distance and proportion. One example is given in
plate clxviii.

"The best artists of late, in drawing their landscapes, make them shoot
away, one part lower than another. Those who make their landscapes mount
up higher and higher, as if they stood at the bottom of a hill to take
the prospect, commit a great error; the best way is to get upon a rising
ground, make the nearest objects in the piece the highest, and those
that are farther off to shoot away lower and lower till they come almost
level with the line of the horizon, lessening everything proportionably
to its distance, and observing also to make the objects fainter and less
distinct the farther they are removed from the eye. He must make all his
lights and shades fall one way, and let every thing have its proper
motion: as trees shaken by the wind, the small boughs bending more and
the large ones less; water agitated by the wind, and dashing against
ships or boats, or falling from a precipice upon rocks and stones, and
spirting up again into the air, and sprinkling all about; clouds also in
the air now gathered with the winds; now violently condensed into hail,
rain, and the like,--always remembering, that whatever motions are
caused by the wind must be made all to move the same way, because the
wind can blow but one way at once."

Such was the state of the public mind, and of public instruction, at the
time when Claude, Poussin, and Salvator were in the zenith of their
reputation; such were the precepts which, even to the close of the
century, it was necessary for a young painter to comply with during the
best part of the years he gave to study. Take up one of Turner's views
of our Yorkshire dells, seen from about a hawk's height of pause above
the sweep of its river, and with it in your hand, side by side with the
old Encyclopædia paragraph, consider what must have been the man's
strength, who, on a sudden, passed from such precept to such practice.

§ 48. On a sudden it was; for, even yet a youth, and retaining profound
respect for all older artist's ways of _work_, he followed his own will
fearlessly in choice of _scene_; and already in the earliest of his
coast drawings there are as daring and strange decisions touching the
site of the spectator as in his latest works; lookings down and up into
coves and clouds, as defiant of all former theories touching possible
perspective, or graceful componence of subject, as, a few years later,
his system of color was of the theory of the brown tree. Nor was the
step remarkable merely for its magnitude,--for the amount of progress
made in a few years. It was much more notable by its direction. The
discovery of the true structure of hill banks had to be made by Turner,
not merely in _advance_ of the men of his day, but in _contradiction_ to
them. Examine the works of contemporary and preceding landscapists, and
it will be found that the universal practice is to make the tops of all
cliffs broken and rugged, their bases smooth and soft, or concealed with
wood. No one had ever observed the contrary structure, the bank rounded
at the top, and broken on the flank. And yet all the hills of any
importance which are met with throughout Lowland Europe are, properly
speaking, high banks, for the most part following the courses of rivers,
and forming a step from the high ground, of which the country generally
consists, to the river level. Thus almost the whole of France, though,
on the face of it, flat, is raised from 300 to 500 feet above the level
of the sea, and is traversed by valleys either formed by, or directing,
the course of its great rivers. In these valleys lie all its principal
towns, surrounded, almost without exception, by ranges of hills covered
with wood or vineyard. Ascending these hills, we find ourselves at once
in an elevated plain, covered with corn and lines of apple trees,
extending to the next river side, where we come to the brow of another
hill, and descend to the city and valley beneath it. Our own valleys in
Northumberland, Yorkshire, Derbyshire, and Devonshire, are cut in the
same manner through vast extents of elevated land; the scenery which
interests the traveller chiefly, as he passes through even the most
broken parts of those counties, being simply that of the high _banks_
which rise from the shores of the Dart or the Derwent, the Wharfe or the
Tees. In all cases, when these banks are surmounted, the sensation is
one of disappointment, as the adventurer finds himself, the moment he
has left the edge of the ravine, in a waste of softly undulating moor or
arable land, hardly deserving the title of hill country. As we advance
into the upper districts the fact remains still the same, although the
banks to be climbed are higher, the ravines grander, and the
intermediate land more broken. The majesty of an isolated peak is still
comparatively rare, and nearly all the most interesting pieces of
scenery are glens or passes, which, if seen from a height great enough
to command them in all their relations, would be found in reality little
more than trenches excavated through broad masses of elevated land, and
expanding at intervals into the wide basins which are occupied by the
glittering lake or smiling plain.

[Illustration: FIG. 106.]

[Illustration: J. Ruskin.    J. H. Le Keux.
               47. The Quarries of Carrara.]

§ 49. All these facts had been entirely ignored by artists; nay, almost
by geologists, before Turner's time. He saw them at once; fathomed them
to the uttermost, and, partly owing to early association, partly,
perhaps, to the natural pleasure of working a new mine discovered by
himself, devoted his best powers to their illustration, passing by with
somewhat less attention the conditions of broken-summited rock, which
had previously been the only ones known. And if we now look back to his
treatment of the crest of Mont Pilate, in the figure given at the close
of the last chapter, we shall understand better the nature and strength
of the instinct which compelled him to sacrifice the peaked summit, and
to bring the whole mountain within a lower enclosing line. In that
figure, however, the dotted peak interferes with the perception of the
form finally determined upon, which therefore I repeat here (Fig. 106),
as Turner gave it in color. The eye may not at first detect the law of
ascent in the peaks, but if the height of any one of them were altered,
the general form would instantly be perceived to be less agreeable. Fig.
107 shows that they are disposed within an infinite curve, A _c_, from
which the last crag falls a little to conceal the law, while the
terminal line at the other extremity, A _b_, is a minor echo of the
whole contour.

[Illustration: FIG. 107.]

§ 50. I must pause to make one exception to my general statement that
this structure had been entirely ignored. The reader was, perhaps,
surprised by the importance I attached to the fragment of mountain
background by Masaccio, given in Plate +13+ of the third volume. If he
looks back to it now, his surprise will be less. It was a complete
recognition of the laws of the lines of aqueous sculpture, asserted as
Turner's was, in the boldest opposition to the principles of rock
drawing of the time. It presents even smoother and broader masses than
any which I have shown as types of hill form; but it must be remembered
that Masaccio had seen only the softer contours of the Apennine
limestone. I have no memorandum by me of the hill lines near Florence;
but Plate +47+ shows the development of limestone structure, at a spot
which has, I think, the best right to be given as an example of the
Italian hills, the head of the valley of Carrara. The white scar on the
hill side is the principal quarry; and the peaks above deserve
observation, not so much for anything in their forms, as for the
singular barrenness which was noted in the fifteenth chapter of the last
volume (§ 8) as too often occurring in the Apennines. Compare this plate
with the previous one. The peak drawn in Plate +46+ rises at least 7500
feet above the sea,--yet is wooded to its top; this Carrara crag not
above 5000,[97]--yet it is wholly barren.

§ 51. Masaccio, however, as we saw, was taken away by death before he
could give any one of his thoughts complete expression. Turner was
spared to do _his_ work, in this respect at least, completely. It might
be thought that, having had such adverse influence to struggle with, he
would prevail against it but in part; and, though showing the way to
much that was new, retain of necessity some old prejudices, and leave
his successors to pursue in purer liberty, and with happier power, the
path he had pointed out. But it was not so: he did the work so
completely on the ground which he chose to illustrate, that nothing is
left for future artists to accomplish in that kind. Some classes of
scenery, as often pointed out in the preceding pages, he was unfamiliar
with, or held in little affection, and out of that scenery, untouched by
him, new motives may be obtained; but of such landscape as his favorite
Yorkshire Wolds, and banks of Rhenish and French hill, and rocky
mountains of Switzerland, like the St. Gothard, already so long dwelt
upon, he has expressed the power in what I believe to be for ever a
central and unmatchable way. I do not say this with positiveness,
because it is not demonstrable. Turner may be beaten on his own
ground--so may Tintoret, so may Shakespeare, Dante, or Homer: but my
_belief_ is that all these first-rate men are lonely men; that the
particular work they did was by them done for ever in the best way; and
that this work done by Turner among the hills, joining the most intense
appreciation of all tenderness with delight in all magnitude, and memory
for all detail, is never to be rivalled, or looked upon in similitude
again.


FOOTNOTES

  [88] _Quantity_ of curvature is as measurable as quantity of
    anything else; only observe that it depends on the nature of the
    line, not on its magnitude; thus, in simple circular curvature, _a
    b_, Fig. 96, being the fourth of a large circle, and _b c_ the half
    of a smaller one, the quantity of the element of circular curvature
    in the entire line _a c_ is three fourths of that in _any_
    circle,--the the same as the quantity in the line _e f_.

    [Illustration: FIG 96.]

  [89] The catenary is not properly a curve capable of infinity, if
    its direction does not alter with its length; but it is capable of
    infinity, implying such alteration by the infinite removal of the
    points of suspension. It entirely corresponds in its effect on the
    eye and mind to the infinite curves. I do not know the exact nature
    of the apparent curves of suspension formed by a high and weighty
    waterfall; they are dependent on the gain in rapidity of descent by
    the central current, where its greater body is less arrested by the
    air; and I apprehend, are catenary in character, though not in
    cause.

  [90] I am afraid of becoming tiresome by going too far into the
    intricacies of this most difficult subject; but I say "_towards_ the
    bottom of the hill," because, when a certain degree of verticality
    is reached, a counter protective influence begins to establish
    itself, the stones and waterfalls bounding away from the brow of the
    precipice into the air, and wearing it at the top only. Also it is
    evident that when the curvature falls into a vertical cliff, as
    often happens, the maximum of curvature must be somewhere _above_
    the brow of the cliff, as in the cliff itself it has again died into
    a straight line.

  [91] The following extract from my private diary, giving an account
    of the destruction of the beauty of this waterfall in the year 1849,
    which I happened to witness, may be interesting to those travellers
    who remember it before that period. The house spoken of as
    "Joseph's," is that of the guide Joseph Coutet, in a village about a
    mile below the cascade, between it and the Arve: that noticed as of
    the "old avalanche" is a hollow in the forest, cleft by a great
    avalanche which fell from the Aiguille du Midi in the spring of
    1844. It struck down about a thousand full-grown pines, and left an
    open track in the midst of the wood, from the cascade nearly down to
    the village.

    "Evening, Thursday, June 28th. I set out for the Cascade des
    Pélerins as usual; when we reached Joseph's house, we heard a sound
    from the torrent like low thunder, or like that of a more distant
    and heavier fall. A peasant said something to Joseph, who stopped to
    listen, then nodded, and said to me, 'La cascade vient de se
    déborder.' Thinking there would be time enough afterwards to ask for
    explanations, I pushed up the hill almost without asking a question.
    When we reached the place of the old avalanche, Joseph called to me
    to stop and see the torrent increase. There was at this time a dark
    cloud on the Aiguille du Midi, down to its base; the upper part of
    the torrent was brown, the lower white, not larger than usual. The
    brown part came down, I thought, with exceeding slowness, reaching
    the cascade gradually; as it did so, the fall rose to about once and
    a half its usual height, and in the five minutes' time that I paused
    (it could not be more) turned to the color of slate. I then pushed
    on as hard as I could. When I reached the last ascent I was obliged
    to stop for breath, but got up before the fall could sensibly have
    diminished in body of water. It was then nearly twice as far cast
    out from the rock as last night, and the water nearly black in
    color; and it had the appearance, as it broke and separated at the
    outer part of the fall, of a shower of fragments of flat slate. The
    reason of this appearance I could not comprehend, unless the water
    was so mixed with mud that it drew out flat and unctuously when it
    broke; but so it was: instead of spray it looked like a shower of
    dirty flat bits of slate--only with a lustre, as if they had been
    wet first. This, however, was the least of it, for the torrent
    carried with it nearly as much weight of stone as water; the stones
    varying in size, the average being, I suppose, about that of a hen's
    egg; but I do not suppose that at any instant the arch of water was
    without four or five as large as a man's fist, and often came larger
    ones,--all vomited forth with the explosive power of a small
    volcano, and falling in a continual shower as thick, constant, and,
    had it not been mixed with the crash of the fall, as loud as a heavy
    fire of infantry; they bounded and leaped in the basin of the fall
    like hailstones in a thunder-shower. As we watched the fall it
    seemed convulsively to diminish, and suddenly showed, as it
    shortened, the rock underneath it, which I could hardly see
    yesterday: as I cried out to Joseph it rose again, higher than ever,
    and continued to rise, till it all but reached the snow on the rock
    opposite. It then became very fantastic and variable, increasing and
    diminishing in the space of two or three seconds, and partially
    changing its direction. After watching it for half an hour or so, I
    determined to try and make some memoranda. Coutet brought me up a
    jug of water: I stooped to dip my brush, when Coutet caught my arm,
    saying, 'Tenez;' at the same instant I heard a blow, like the going
    off of a heavy gun, two or three miles away; I looked up, and as I
    did, the cascade sank before my eyes, and fell back to the rock.
    Neither of us spoke for an instant or two; then Coutet said, 'C'est
    une pierre, qui est logée dans le creux,' or words to that effect:
    in fact, he had seen the stone come down as he called to me. I
    thought also that nothing more had happened, and watched the
    destroyed fall only with interest, until, as suddenly as it had
    fallen, it rose again, though not to its former height; and Coutet,
    stooping down, exclaimed, 'Ce n'est pas ça, le roc est percé;' in
    effect, a hole was now distinctly visible in the cup which turned
    the stream, through which the water whizzed as from a burst pipe.
    The cascade, however, continued to increase, until this new channel
    was concealed, and I was maintaining to Coutet that he must have
    been mistaken (and that the water only _struck_ on the outer rock,
    having changed its mode of fall above), when again it fell; and the
    two girls, who had come up from the châlet, expressed their opinion
    at once, that the 'cascade est finie.' This time all was plain; the
    water gushed in a violent jet d'eau through the new aperture, hardly
    any of it escaping above. It rose again gradually, as the hole was
    choked with stones, and again fell; but presently sprang out almost
    to its first elevation (the water being by this time in much less
    body), and retained very nearly the form it had yesterday, until I
    got tired of looking at it, and went down to the little châlet, and
    sat down before its door. I had not been there five minutes before
    the cascade fell, and rose no more."

  [92] It might be thought at first that the line to which such curves
    would approximate would be the cycloid, as the line of quickest
    descent. But in reality the contour is modified by perpetual sliding
    of the débris under the influence of rain; and by the bounding of
    detached fragments with continually increased momentum. I was quite
    unable to get at anything like the expression of a constant law
    among the examples I studied in the Alps, except only the great laws
    of delicacy and changefulness in all curves whatsoever.

  [93] I owe Mr. Le Keux sincere thanks, and not a little admiration,
    for the care and skill with which he has followed, on a much reduced
    scale, the detail of this drawing.

  [94] Allow ten feet square for average space to each pine; suppose
    the valley seen only for five miles of its length, and the pine
    district two miles broad on each side--a low estimate of breadth
    also: this would give five millions.

  [95] The white spots on the brow of the little cliff are lichens,
    only four or five inches broad.

  [96] What a _comfortable_, as well as intelligent, operation,
    sketching from nature must have been in those days!

  [97] It is not one of the highest points of the Carrara chain. The
    chief summits are much more jagged, and very noble. See Chap. XX. §
    20.



CHAPTER XVIII.

RESULTING FORMS:--FIFTHLY, STONES.


§ 1. It is somewhat singular that the indistinctness of treatment which
has been so often noticed as characteristic of our present art shows
itself always most when there is least apparent reason for it. Modern
artists, having some true sympathy with what is vague in nature, draw
all that is uncertain and evasive without evasion, and render faithfully
whatever can be discerned in faithless mist or mocking vapors; but
having no sympathy with what is solid and serene, they seem to become
uncertain themselves in proportion to the certainty of what they see;
and while they render flakes of far-away cloud, or fringes of
inextricable forest, with something like patience and fidelity, give
nothing but the hastiest indication of the ground they can tread upon or
touch. It is only in modern art that we find any complete representation
of clouds, and only in ancient art that, generally speaking, we find any
careful realization of Stones.

§ 2. This is all the more strange, because, as we saw some time back,
the _ruggedness_ of the stone is more pleasing to the modern than the
mediæval, and he rarely completes any picture satisfactorily to himself
unless large spaces of it are filled with irregular masonry, rocky
banks, or shingly shores: whereas the mediæval could conceive no
desirableness in the loose and unhewn masses; associated them generally
in his mind with wicked men, and the Martyrdom of St. Stephen; and
always threw them out of his road, or garden, to the best of his power.

Yet with all this difference in predilection, such was the honesty of
the mediæval, and so firm his acknowledgment of the necessity to paint
completely whatever was to be painted at all, that there is hardly a
strip of earth under the feet of a saint, in any finished work of the
early painters, but more, and better painted, stones are to be found
upon it than in an entire exhibition full of modern mountain scenery.

§ 3. Not better painted in every respect. In those interesting and
popular treatises on the art of drawing, which tell the public that
their colors should neither be too warm nor too cold, and that their
touches should always be characteristic of the object they are intended
to represent, the directions given for the manufacture of stones usually
enforce "crispness of outline" and "roughness of texture." And,
accordingly, in certain expressions of frangibility, irregular
accumulation, and easy resting of one block upon another, together with
some conditions of lichenous or mossy texture, modern stone-painting is
far beyond the ancient; for these are just the characters which first
strike the eye, and enable the foreground to maintain its picturesque
influence, without inviting careful examination. The mediæval painter,
on the other hand, not caring for this picturesque general effect, nor
being in anywise familiar with mountain scenery, perceived in stones,
when he was forced to paint them, eminently the characters which they
had in common with figures; that is to say, their curved outlines,
rounded surfaces, and varieties of delicate color, and, accordingly, was
somewhat too apt to lose their angular and fragmentary character in a
series of muscular lines resembling those of an anatomical preparation;
for, although in large rocks the cleavable or frangible nature was the
thing that necessarily struck him most, the pebbles under his feet were
apt to be oval or rounded in the localities of almost all the important
schools of Italy. In Lombardy, the mass of the ground is composed of
nothing but Alpine gravel, consisting of rolled oval pebbles, on the
average about six inches long by four wide--awkward building materials,
yet used in ingenious alternation with the bricks in all the lowland
Italian fortresses. Besides this universal rotundity, the qualities of
stones which rendered them valuable to the lapidary were forced on the
painter's attention by the familiar arts of inlaying and mosaic. Hence,
in looking at a pebble, his mind was divided between its roundness and
its veins; and Leonardo covers the shelves of rock under the feet of St.
Anne with variegated agates; while Mantegna often strews the small
stones about his mountain caves in a polished profusion, as if some
repentant martyr princess had been just scattering her caskets of
pearls into the dust.

§ 4. Some years ago, as I was talking of the curvilinear forms in a
piece of rock to one of our academicians, he said to me, in a somewhat
despondent accent, "If you look for curves, you will see curves; if you
look for angles, you will see angles."

The saying appeared to me an infinitely sad one. It was the utterance of
an experienced man; and in many ways true, for one of the most singular
gifts, or, if abused, most singular weaknesses, of the human mind is its
power of persuading itself to see whatever it chooses;--a great gift, if
directed to the discernment of the things needful and pertinent to its
own work and being; a great weakness, if directed to the discovery of
things profitless or discouraging. In all things throughout the world,
the men who look for the crooked will see the crooked, and the men who
look for the straight will see the straight. But yet the saying was a
notably sad one; for it came of the conviction in the speaker's mind
that there was in reality _no_ crooked and _no_ straight; that all so
called discernment was fancy, and that men might, with equal rectitude
of judgment, and good-deserving of their fellow-men, perceive and paint
whatever was convenient to them.

§ 5. Whereas things may always be seen truly by candid people, though
never _completely_. No human capacity ever yet saw the whole of a thing;
but we may see more and more of it the longer we look. Every individual
temper will see something different in it: but supposing the tempers
honest, all the differences are there. Every advance in our acuteness of
perception will show us something new; but the old and first discerned
thing will still be there, not falsified, only modified and enriched by
the new perceptions, becoming continually more beautiful in its harmony
with them and more approved as a part of the Infinite truth.

§ 6. There are no natural objects out of which more can be thus learned
than out of stones. They seem to have been created especially to reward
a patient observer. Nearly all other objects in nature can be seen, to
some extent, without patience, and are pleasant even in being half seen.
Trees, clouds, and rivers are enjoyable even by the careless; but the
stone under his foot has for carelessness nothing in it but stumbling;
no pleasure is languidly to be had out of it, nor food, nor good of any
kind; nothing but symbolism of the hard heart and the unfatherly gift.
And yet, do but give it some reverence and watchfulness, and there is
bread of thought in it, more than in any other lowly feature of all the
landscape.

§ 7. For a stone, when it is examined, will be found a mountain in
miniature. The fineness of Nature's work is so great, that, into a
single block, a foot or two in diameter, she can compress as many
changes of form and structure, on a small scale, as she needs for her
mountains on a large one; and, taking moss for forests, and grains of
crystal for crags, the surface of a stone, in by far the plurality of
instances, is more interesting than the surface of an ordinary hill;
more fantastic in form and incomparably richer in color,--the last
quality being, in fact, so noble in most stones of good birth (that is
to say, fallen from the crystalline mountain-ranges), that I shall be
less able to illustrate this part of my subject satisfactorily by means
of engraving than perhaps any other, except the color of skies. I say,
_shall_ be less able, because the beauty of stone surface is in so great
a degree dependent on the mosses and lichens which root themselves upon
it, that I must place my richest examples in the section on vegetation.
For instance, in the plate opposite, though the mass of rock is large
and somewhat distant, the effect of it is as much owing to the white
spots of silvery lichen in the centre and left, and to the flowing lines
in which the darker mosses, growing in the cranny, have arranged
themselves beyond, as to the character of the rock itself; nor could the
beauty of the whole mass be explained, if we were to approach the least
nearer, without more detailed drawing of this vegetation. For the
present I shall only give a few examples of the drawing of stones
roughly broken, or worn so as not to be materially affected by
vegetation.

[Illustration: 48. Bank of Slaty Crystallines.]

§ 8. We have already seen an example of Titian's treatment of mountain
crests as compared with Turner's; here is a parallel instance, from
Titian, of stones in the bed of a torrent (Fig. 108), in many ways good
and right, and expressing in its writhed and variously broken lines far
more of real stone structure than the common water-color dash of the
moderns. Observe, especially, how Titian has understood that the
fracture of the stone more or less depends on the undulating grain of
its crystalline structure, following the cavity of the largest stone in
the middle of the figure, with concentric lines; and compare in Plate
+21+ the top of Turner's largest stones on the left.

[Illustration: FIG. 108.]

§ 9. If the reader sees nothing in this drawing (Fig. 108) that he can
like,--although, indeed, I would have him prefer the work of
Turner,--let him be assured that he does not yet understand on what
Titian's reputation is founded. No painter's name is oftener in the
mouth of the ordinary connoisseur, and no painter was ever less
understood. His power of color is indeed perfect, but so is
Bonifazio's. Titian's _supremacy_ above all the other Venetians, except
Tintoret and Veronese, consists in the firm truth of his portraiture,
and more or less masterly understanding of the nature of stones, trees,
men, or whatever else he took in hand to paint; so that, without some
correlative understanding in the spectator, Titian's work, in its
highest qualities, must be utterly dead and unappealing to him.

[Illustration: FIG. 109.]

[Illustration: FIG. 110.]

[Illustration: FIG. 111.]

[Illustration: FIG. 112.]

§ 10. I give one more example from the lower part of the same print
(Fig. 109), in which a stone, with an eddy round it, is nearly as well
drawn as it can be in the simple method of the early wood-engraving.
Perhaps the reader will feel its truth better by contrast with a
fragment or two of modern Idealism. Here, for instance (Fig. 110), is a
group of stones, highly entertaining in their variety of form, out of
the subject of "Christian vanquishing Apollyon," in the outlines to the
Pilgrim's Progress, published by the Art-Union, the idealism being here
wrought to a pitch of extraordinary brilliancy by the exciting nature
of the subject. Next (Fig. 111) is another poetical conception, one of
Flaxman's, representing the eddies and stones of the Pool of Envy
(Flaxman's Dante), which may be conveniently compared with the
Titianesque stones and streams. And, finally, Fig. 112 represents, also
on Flaxman's authority, those stones of an "Alpine" character, of which
Dante says that he

  "Climbed with heart of proof the adverse steep."

It seems at first curious that every one of the forms that Flaxman has
chanced upon should be an impossible one--a form which a stone never
could assume: but this is the Nemesis of false idealism, and the
inevitable one.

§ 11. The chief incapacity in the modern work is not, however, so much
in its outline, though that is wrong enough, as in the total absence of
any effort to mark the surface roundings. It is not the _outline_ of a
stone, however true, that will make it solid or heavy; it is the
interior markings, and thoroughly understood perspectives of its sides.
In the opposite plate the upper two subjects are by Turner, foregrounds
out of the Liber Studiorum (Source of Arveron, and Ben Arthur); the
lower by Claude, Liber Veritatis, No. 5. I think the reader cannot but
feel that the blocks in the upper two subjects are massy and ponderous;
in the lower, wholly without weight. If he examine their several
treatment, he will find that Turner has perfect imaginative conception
of every recess and projection over the whole surface, and _feels_ the
stone as he works over it; every touch, moreover, being full of tender
gradation. But Claude, as he is obliged to hold to his outline in hills,
so also clings to it in the stones,--cannot round them in the least,
leaves their light surfaces wholly blank, and puts a few patches of dark
here and there about their edges, as chance will have it.

[Illustration: 49. Truth and Untruth of Stones.]

§ 12. Turner's way of wedging the stones of the glacier moraine together
in strength of disorder, in the upper subject, and his indication of the
springing of the wild stems and leafage out of the rents in the boulders
of the lower one, will hardly be appreciated unless the reader is
_fondly_ acquainted with the kind of scenery in question; and I cannot
calculate on this being often the case, for few persons ever look at any
near detail closely, and perhaps least of all at the heaps of débris
which so often seem to encumber and disfigure mountain ground. But for
the various reasons just stated (§ 7), Turner found more material for
his power, and more excitement to his invention, among the fallen stones
than in the highest summits of mountains; and his early designs, among
their thousand excellences and singularities, as opposed to all that had
preceded them, count for not one of the least the elaborate care given
to the drawing of torrent beds, shaly slopes, and other conditions of
stony ground which all canons of art at the period pronounced
inconsistent with dignity of composition; a convenient principle, since,
of all foregrounds, one of loose stones is beyond comparison the most
difficult to draw with any approach to realization. The Turnerian
subjects, "Junction of the Greta and Tees" (Yorkshire Series, and
illustrations to Scott); "Wycliffe, near Rokeby" (Yorkshire); "Hardraw
Fall" (Yorkshire); "Ben Arthur" (Liber Studiorum); "Ulleswater" and the
magnificent drawing of the "Upper Fall of the Tees" (England Series),
are sufficiently illustrative of what I mean.

§ 13. It is not, however, only, in their separate condition, as
materials of foreground, that we have to examine the effect of stones;
they form a curiously important element of distant landscape in their
aggregation on a large scale.

It will be remembered that in the course of the last chapter we wholly
left out of our account of mountain lines that group which was called
"Lines of Rest." One reason for doing so was that, as these lines are
produced by débris in a state of temporary repose, their beauty, or
deformity, or whatever character they may possess, is properly to be
considered as belonging to stones rather than to rocks.

§ 14. Whenever heaps of loose stones or sand are increased by the
continual fall of fresh fragments from above, or diminished by their
removal from below, yet not in such mass or with such momentum as
entirely to disturb those already accumulated, the materials on the
surface arrange themselves in an equable slope, producing a straight
line of profile in the bank or cone.

The heap formed by the sand falling in an hour-glass presents, in its
straight sides, the simplest result of such a condition; and any heap
of sand thrown up by the spade will show the slopes here and there,
interrupted only by knotty portions, held together by moisture, or
agglutinated by pressure,--interruptions which cannot occur to the same
extent on a large scale, unless the soil is really hardened nearly to
the nature of rock. As long as it remains incoherent, every removal of
substance at the bottom of the heap, or addition of it at the top,
occasions a sliding disturbance of the whole slope, which smooths it
into rectitude of line; and there is hardly any great mountain mass
among the Alps which does not show towards its foundation perfectly
regular descents of this nature, often two or three miles long without a
break. Several of considerable extent are seen on the left of Plate
+46+.

§ 15. I call these lines of rest, because, though the bulk of the mass
may be continually increasing or diminishing, the line of the profile
does not change, being fixed at a certain angle by the nature of the
earth. It is usually stated carelessly as an angle of about 45 degrees,
but it never really reaches such a slope. I measured carefully the
angles of a very large number of slopes of mountain in various parts of
the Mont Blanc district. The few examples given in the note below are
enough to exhibit the general fact that loose débris lies at various
angles up to about 30° or 32°; débris protected by grass or pines may
reach 35°, and rocky slopes 40° or 41°, but in continuous lines of rest
I never found a steeper angle.[98]

§ 16. I speak of some rocky slopes as lines of rest, because, whenever
a mountain side is composed of soft stone which splits and decomposes
fast, it has a tendency to choke itself up with the ruins, and gradually
to get abraded or ground down towards the débris slope; so that vast
masses of the sides of Alpine valleys are formed by ascents of nearly
uniform inclination, partly loose, partly of jagged rocks, which break,
but do not materially alter the general line of ground. In such cases
the fragments usually have accumulated without disturbance at the foot
of the slope, and the pine forests fasten the soil and prevent it from
being carried down in large masses. But numerous instances occur in
which the mountain is consumed away gradually by its own torrents, not
having strength enough to form clefts or precipices, but falling on each
side of the ravines into even banks, which slide down from above as they
are wasted below.

§ 17. By all these various expedients, Nature secures, in the midst of
her mountain curvatures, vast series of perfectly straight lines
opposing and relieving them; lines, however, which artists have almost
universally agreed to alter or ignore, partly disliking them
intrinsically, on account of their formality, and partly because the
mind instantly associates them with the idea of mountain decay. Turner,
however, saw that this very decay having its use and nobleness, the
contours which were significative of it ought no more to be omitted
than, in the portrait of an aged man, the furrows on his hand or brow;
besides, he liked the lines themselves, for their contrast with the
mountain wildness, just as he liked the straightness of sunbeams
penetrating the soft waywardness of clouds. He introduced them
constantly into his noblest compositions; but in order to the full
understanding of their employment in the instance I am about to give,
one or two more points yet need to be noticed.

§ 18. Generally speaking, the curved lines of convex, _fall_ belong to
mountains of hard rock, over whose surfaces the fragments _bound_ to the
valley, and which are worn by wrath of avalanches and wildness of
torrents, like that of the Cascade des Pélerins, described in the note
above. Generally speaking, the straight lines of _rest_ belong to softer
mountains, or softer surfaces and places of mountains, which, exposed to
no violent wearing from external force, nevertheless keep slipping and
mouldering down spontaneously or receiving gradual accession of material
from incoherent masses above them.

§ 19. It follows, rather, that where the gigantic wearing forces are in
operation, the stones or fragments of rock brought down by the torrents
and avalanches are likely, however hard, to be rounded on all their
edges; but where the straight shaly slopes are found, the stones which
glide or totter down their surfaces frequently retain all their angles,
and form jagged and flaky heaps at the bottom.

And farther, it is to be supposed that the rocks which are habitually
subjected to these colossal forces of destruction are in their own mass
firm and secure, otherwise they would long ago have given way; but that
where the gliding and crumbling surfaces are found without much external
violence, it is very possible that the whole framework of the mountain
may be full of flaws; and a danger exist of vast portions of its mass
giving way, or slipping down in heaps, as the sand suddenly yields in an
hour-glass after some moments of accumulation.

§ 20. Hence, generally, in the mind of any one familiar with mountains,
the conditions will be associated, on the one hand, of the curved,
convex, and overhanging bank or cliff, the roaring torrent, and the
rounded boulder of massive stone; and, on the other, of the straight and
even slope of bank, the comparatively quiet and peaceful lapse of
streams, and the sharp-edged and unworn look of the fallen stones,
together with a sense of danger greater, though more occult, than in the
wilder scenery.

[Illustration: J. M. W. Turner   J. Cousen.
               50. Goldau.]

The drawing of the St. Gothard, which we have so laboriously analyzed,
was designed, as before mentioned, from a sketch taken in the year 1843.
But with it was made another drawing. Turner brought home in that year a
series of sketches taken in the neighborhood of the pass; among others,
one of the Valley of Goldau, covered as it is by the ruins of the
Rossberg. Knowing his fondness for fallen stones, I chose this Goldau
subject as a companion to the St. Gothard. The plate opposite will give
some idea of the resultant drawing.

§ 21. _Some_ idea only. It is a subject which, like the St. Gothard, is
far too full of detail to admit of reduction; and I hope, therefore,
soon to engrave it properly of its real size. It is, besides, more than
usually difficult to translate this drawing into black and white,
because much of the light on the clouds is distinguished merely by
orange or purple color from the green greys, which, though not darker
than the warm hues, have the effect of shade from their coldness, but
cannot be marked as shade in the engraving without too great increase of
depth. Enough, however, has been done to give some idea of the elements
of Turner's design.

§ 22. Detailed accounts of the Rossberg Fall may be found in any
ordinary Swiss Guide; the only points we have to notice respecting it
are, that the mountain was composed of an indurated gravel, disposed in
oblique beds sloping _towards_ the valley. A portion of one of these
beds gave way, and half filled the valley beneath, burying five
villages, together with the principal one of Goldau, and partially
choking up a little lake, the streamlets which supplied it now forming
irregular pools among the fallen fragments. I call the rock, and
accurately, indurated gravel; but the induration is so complete that the
mass breaks _through_ the rolled pebbles chiefly composing it, and may
be considered as a true rock, only always in its blocks rugged and
formless when compared with the crystalline formations. Turner has
chosen his position on some of the higher heaps of ruin, looking down
towards the Lake of Zug, which is seen under the sunset, the spire of
the tower of Aart on its shore just relieved against the light of the
waves.

The Rossberg itself, never steep, and still more reduced in terror by
the fall of a portion of it, was not available to him as a form
_explanatory_ of the catastrophe; and even the slopes of the Righi on
the left are not, in reality, as uninterrupted in their slope as he has
drawn them; but he felt the connection of this structure with the ruin
amidst which he stood, and brought the long lines of danger clear
against the sunset, and as straight as its own retiring rays.

§ 23. If the reader will now glance back to the St. Gothard subject, as
illustrated in the two Plates +21+ and +37+, and compare it with this of
Goldau, keeping in mind the general conclusions about the two great
classes of mountain scenery which I have just stated, he will, I hope,
at last cease to charge me with enthusiasm in anything that I have said
of Turner's imagination, as always instinctively possessive of those
truths which lie deepest, and are most essentially linked together, in
the expression of a scene. I have only taken two drawings (though these
of his best period) for the illustration of all the structures of the
Alps which, in the course of half a volume, it has been possible for me
to explain; and all my half-volume is abstracted in these two drawings,
and that in the most consistent and complete way, as if they had been
made on purpose to contain a perfect summary of Alpine truth.

§ 24. There are one or two points connected with them of yet more
touching interest. They are the last drawings which Turner ever made
with unabated power. The one of the St. Gothard, speaking with strict
accuracy, is _the_ last drawing; for that of Goldau, though majestic to
the utmost in conception, is less carefully finished, and shows, in the
execution of parts of the sky, signs of impatience, caused by the first
feeling of decline of strength. Therefore I called the St. Gothard (Vol.
III. Ch. XV. § 5) the last mountain drawing he ever executed with
perfect power. But the Goldau is still a noble companion to it--more
solemn in thought, more sublime in color, and, in certain points of
poetical treatment, especially characteristic of the master's mind in
earlier days. He was very definitely in the habit of indicating the
association of any subject with circumstances of death, especially the
death of multitudes, by placing it under one of his most deeply
_crimsoned_ sunset skies. The color of blood is this plainly taken for
the leading tone in the storm-clouds above the "Slave-ship." It occurs
with similar distinctness in the much earlier picture of Ulysses and
Polypheme, in that of Napoleon at St. Helena, and, subdued by softer
hues, in the Old Témeraire. The sky of this Goldau is, in its scarlet
and crimson, the deepest in tone of all that I know in Turner's
drawings. Another feeling traceable in several of its former works, is
an acute sense of the contrast between the careless interests and idle
pleasures of daily life, and the state of those whose time for labor, or
knowledge, or delight is passed for ever. There is evidence of this
feeling in the introduction of the boys at play in the churchyard of
Kirkby Lonsdale, and the boy climbing for his kite among the thickets
above the little mountain churchyard of Brignal-banks; it is in the same
tone of thought that he has placed here the two figures fishing, leaning
against these shattered flanks of rock,--the sepulchral stones of the
great mountain Field of Death.

§ 25. Another character of these two drawings, which gives them especial
interest as connected with our inquiries into mediæval landscape, is,
that they are precisely and accurately illustrative of the two principal
ideas of Dante about the Alps. I have already explained the rise of the
first drawing out of Turner's early study of the "Male Bolge" of the
Splugen and St. Gothard. The Goldau, on the other hand, might have been
drawn in purposeful illustration of the lines before referred to (Vol.
III. Ch. XV. § 13) as descriptive of a "loco _Alpestro_." I give now
Dante's own words:

  "Qual' è quella ruina, che nel fianco
   Di quà da Trento l'Adice percosse,
     O per tremuoto, o per sostegni manco,
     Che da cima del monte, onde si mosse,
   Al piano è sì la roccia discoscesa
     Che alcuna via darebbe a chi su fosse;
     Cotal di quel burrato era la scesa."

  "As is that landslip, ere you come to Trent,
     That smote the flank of Adige, through some stay
   Sinking beneath it, or by earthquake rent;
   For from the summit, where of old it lay,
     Plainwards the broken rock unto the feet
   Of one above it might afford some way;
   Such path adown this precipice we meet."

                                           CAYLEY.

§ 26. Finally, there are two lessons to be gathered from the opposite
conditions of mountain decay, represented in these designs, of perhaps a
wider range of meaning than any which were suggested even by the states
of mountain strength. In the first, we find the unyielding rock,
undergoing no sudden danger, and capable of no total fall, yet, in its
hardness of heart, worn away by perpetual trampling of torrent waves,
and stress of wandering storm. Its fragments, fruitless and restless,
are tossed into ever-changing heaps: no labor of man can subdue them to
his service, nor can his utmost patience secure any dwelling-place among
them. In this they are the type of all that humanity which, suffering
under no sudden punishment or sorrow, remains "stony ground," afflicted,
indeed, continually by minor and vexing cares, but only broken by them
into fruitless ruin of fatigued life. Of this ground not
"corn-giving,"--this "rough valley, neither eared nor sown,"[99] of the
common world, it is said, to those who have set up their idols in the
wreck of it--

  "Among the smooth stones of the stream is thy portion. They, they
  are thy lot."[100]

But, as we pass beneath the hills which have been shaken by earthquake
and torn by convulsion, we find that periods of perfect repose succeeded
those of destruction. The pools of calm water lie clear beneath their
fallen rocks, the water-lilies gleam, and the reeds whisper among their
shadows; the village rises again over the forgotten graves, and its
church-tower, white through the storm-twilight, proclaims a renewed
appeal to His protection in whose hand "are all the corners of the
earth, and the strength of the hills is His also." There is no
loveliness of Alpine valley that does not teach the same lesson. It is
just where "the mountain falling cometh to naught, and the rock is
removed out of his place," that, in process of years, the fairest
meadows bloom between the fragments, the clearest rivulets murmur from
their crevices among the flowers, and the clustered cottages, each
sheltered beneath some strength of mossy stone, now to be removed no
more, and with their pastured flocks around them, safe from the eagle's
stoop and the wolf's ravin, have written upon their fronts, in simple
words, the mountaineer's faith in the ancient promise--

  "Neither shalt thou be afraid of destruction when it cometh;

  "For thou shalt be in league with the Stones of the Field; and the
  beasts of the field shall be at peace with thee."


FOOTNOTES

  [98]

    Small fragments of limestone, five or six inches across, and
       flattish, sharp, angular on edges, and quite loose; slope      °
       near fountain of Maglans                                      31½
    Somewhat larger stones, nearer Maglans; quite loose              31¾
    Similar débris, slightly touched with vegetation                 35
    Débris on southern side of Maglans                               33½
    Slope of Montagne de la Côte, at the bottom, as seen from the
       village of Chamouni                                           40¾
    Average slope of Montagne de Taconay, seen from Chamouni         38
    Maximum slope of side of Breven                                  41
    Slope of débris from ravine of Breven down to the village
       of Chamouni                                                   14
    Slopes of débris set with pines under Aiguille Verte, seen
       from Argentière                                               36
    General slope of Tapia, from Argentière                          34
    Slopes of La Côte and Taconay, from Argentière                   27¾
    Profile of Breven, from near the Chapeau (a point commanding the
       valley of Chamouni in its truest longitude)                   32½
    Average slope of Montanvert, from same point                     39½
    Slope of La Côte, same point                                     36½
    Eastern slope of Pain de Sucre, seen from Vevay                  33
    Western        "         "         "                             36½
    Slope of foot of Dent de Morcles, seen from Vevay                38½
             "        "      Midi,    "          "                   40

  [99] Deut. xxi. 4. So Amos, vi. 12: "Shall horses run upon the rock;
    will one plow here with oxen?"

  [100] Is. lvii. 5, 6.



CHAPTER XIX.

THE MOUNTAIN GLOOM.


§ 1. We have now cursorily glanced over those conditions of mountain
structure which appear constant in duration, and universal in extent;
and we have found them, invariably, calculated for the delight, the
advantage, or the teaching of men; prepared, it seems, so as to contain,
alike in fortitude or feebleness, in timeliness or in terror, some
beneficence of gift, or profoundness of counsel. We have found that
where at first all seemed disturbed and accidental, the most tender laws
were appointed to produce forms of perpetual beauty; and that where to
the careless or cold observer it seemed severe or purposeless, the
well-being of man has been chiefly consulted, and his rightly directed
powers, and sincerely awakened intelligence, may find wealth in every
falling rock, and wisdom in every talking wave.

It remains for us to consider what actual effect upon the human race has
been produced by the generosity, or the instruction of the hills; how
far, in past ages, they have been thanked, or listened to; how far, in
coming ages, it may be well for us to accept them for tutors, or
acknowledge them for friends.

§ 2. What they have already taught us may, one would think, be best
discerned in the midst of them,--in some place where they have had their
own way with the human soul; where no veil has been drawn between it and
them, no contradicting voice has confused their ministries of sound, or
broken their pathos of silence: where war has never streaked their
streams with bloody foam, nor ambition sought for other throne than
their cloud-courtiered pinnacles, nor avarice for other treasure than,
year by year, is given to their unlaborious rocks, in budded jewels, and
mossy gold.

§ 3. I do not know any district possessing more pure or uninterrupted
fulness of mountain character (and that of the highest order), or which
appears to have been less disturbed by foreign agencies, than that which
borders the course of the Trient between Valorsine and Martigny. The
paths which lead to it out of the valley of the Rhone, rising at first
in steep circles among the walnut trees, like winding stairs among the
pillars of a Gothic tower, retire over the shoulders of the hills into a
valley almost unknown, but thickly inhabited by an industrious and
patient population. Along the ridges of the rocks, smoothed by old
glaciers into long, dark, billowy swellings, like the backs of plunging
dolphins, the peasant watches the slow coloring of the tufts of moss and
roots of herb which, little by little, gather a feeble soil over the
iron substance; then, supporting the narrow strip of clinging ground
with a few stones, he subdues it to the spade; and in a year or two a
little crest of corn is seen waving upon the rocky casque. The irregular
meadows run in and out like inlets of lake among these harvested rocks,
sweet with perpetual streamlets, that seem always to have chosen the
steepest places to come down, for the sake of the leaps, scattering
their handfuls of crystal this way and that, as the wind takes them,
with all the grace, but with none of the formalism, of fountains;
dividing into fanciful change of dash and spring, yet with the seal of
their granite channels upon them, as the lightest play of human speech
may bear the seal of past toil, and closing back out of their spray to
lave the rigid angles, and brighten with silver fringes and glassy films
each lower and lower step of sable stone; until at last, gathered
altogether again,--except, perhaps, some chance drops caught on the
apple-blossom, where it has budded a little nearer the cascade than it
did last spring,--they find their way down to the turf, and lose
themselves in that silently; with quiet depth of clear water furrowing
among the grass blades, and looking only like their shadow, but
presently emerging again in little startled gushes and laughing hurries,
as if they had remembered suddenly that the day was too short for them
to get down the hill.

Green field, and glowing rock, and glancing streamlet, all slope
together in the sunshine towards the brows of the ravines, where the
pines take up their own dominion of saddened shade; and with everlasting
roar in the twilight, the stronger torrents thunder down pale from the
glaciers, filling all their chasms with enchanted cold, beating
themselves to pieces against the great rocks that they have themselves
cast down, and forcing fierce way beneath their ghastly poise.

The mountain paths stoop to these glens in forky zigzags, leading to
some grey and narrow arch, all fringed under its shuddering curve with
the ferns that fear the light; a cross of rough-hewn pine, iron-bound to
its parapet, standing dark against the lurid fury of the foam. Far up
the glen, as we pause beside the cross, the sky is seen through the
openings in the pines, thin with excess of light; and, in its clear,
consuming flame of white space, the summits of the rocky mountains are
gathered into solemn crowns and circlets, all flushed in that strange,
faint silence of possession by the sunshine which has in it so deep a
melancholy; full of power, yet as frail as shadows; lifeless, like the
walls of a sepulchre, yet beautiful in tender fall of crimson folds,
like the veil of some sea spirit, that lives and dies as the foam
flashes; fixed on a perpetual throne, stern against all strength, lifted
above all sorrow, and yet effaced and melted utterly into the air by
that last sunbeam that has crossed to them from between the two golden
clouds.

§ 4. High above all sorrow: yes; but not unwitnessing to it. The
traveller on his happy journey, as his foot springs from the deep turf
and strikes the pebbles gayly over the edge of the mountain road, sees
with a glance of delight the clusters of nut-brown cottages that nestle
among those sloping orchards, and glow beneath the boughs of the pines.
Here, it may well seem to him, if there be sometimes hardship, there
must be at least innocence and peace, and fellowship of the human soul
with nature. It is not so. The wild goats that leap along those rocks
have as much passion of joy in all that fair work of God as the men that
toil among them. Perhaps more. Enter the street of one of those
villages, and you will find it foul with that gloomy foulness that is
suffered only by torpor, or by anguish of soul. Here, it is torpor--not
absolute suffering,--not starvation or disease, but darkness of calm
enduring; the spring known only as the time of the scythe, and the
autumn as the time of the sickle, and the sun only as a warmth, the wind
as a chill, and the mountains as a danger. They do not understand so
much as the name of beauty, or of knowledge. They understand dimly that
of virtue. Love, patience, hospitality, faith,--these things they know.
To glean their meadows side by side, so happier; to bear the burden up
the breathless mountain flank, unmurmuringly; to bid the stranger drink
from their vessel of milk; to see at the foot of their low deathbeds a
pale figure upon a cross, dying also, patiently;--in this they are
different from the cattle and from the stones, but in all this
unrewarded as far as concerns the present life. For them, there is
neither hope nor passion of spirit; for them neither advance nor
exultation. Black bread, rude roof, dark night, laborious day, weary arm
at sunset; and life ebbs away. No books, no thoughts, no attainments, no
rest; except only sometimes a little sitting in the sun under the church
wall, as the bell tolls thin and far in the mountain air; a pattering of
a few prayers, not understood, by the altar rails of the dimly gilded
chapel, and so back to the sombre home, with the cloud upon them still
unbroken--that cloud of rocky gloom, born out of the wild torrents and
ruinous stones, and unlightened, even in their religion, except by the
vague promise of some better thing unknown, mingled with threatening,
and obscured by an unspeakable horror,--a smoke, as it were, of
martyrdom, coiling up with the incense, and, amidst the images of
tortured bodies and lamenting spirits in hurtling flames, the very
cross, for them, dashed more deeply than for others, with gouts of
blood.

§ 5. Do not let this be thought a darkened picture of the life of these
mountaineers. It is literal fact. No contrast can be more painful than
that between the dwelling of any well-conducted English cottager, and
that of the equally honest Savoyard. The one, set in the midst of its
dull flat fields and uninteresting hedgerows, shows in itself the love
of brightness and beauty; its daisy-studded garden beds, its smoothly
swept brick path to the threshold, its freshly sanded floor and orderly
shelves of household furniture, all testify to energy of heart, and
happiness in the simple course and simple possessions of daily life. The
other cottage, in the midst of an inconceivable, inexpressible beauty,
set on some sloping bank of golden sward, with clear fountains flowing
beside it, and wild flowers, and noble trees, and goodly rocks gathered
round into a perfection as of Paradise, is itself a dark and plague-like
stain in the midst of the gentle landscape. Within a certain distance
of its threshold the ground is foul and cattle-trampled; its timbers are
black with smoke, its garden choked with weeds and nameless refuse, its
chambers empty and joyless, the light and wind gleaming and filtering
through the crannies of their stones. All testifies that to its
inhabitant the world is labor and vanity; that for him neither flowers
bloom, nor birds sing, nor fountains glisten; and that his soul hardly
differs from the grey cloud that coils and dies upon his hills; except
in having no fold of it touched by the sunbeams.

§ 6. Is it not strange to reflect, that hardly an evening passes in
London or Paris but one of those cottages is painted for the better
amusement of the fair and idle, and shaded with pasteboard pines by the
scene-shifter; and that good and kind people,--poetically
minded,--delight themselves in imagining the happy life led by peasants
who dwell by Alpine fountains, and kneel to crosses upon peaks of rock?
that nightly we lay down our gold to fashion forth simulacra of
peasants, in gay ribands and white bodices, singing sweet songs, and
bowing gracefully to the picturesque crosses; and all the while the
veritable peasants are kneeling, songlessly, to veritable crosses, in
another temper than the kind and fair audiences dream of, and assuredly
with another kind of answer than is got out of the opera catastrophe; an
answer having reference, it may be, in dim futurity, to those very
audiences themselves? If all the gold that has gone to paint the
simulacra of the cottages, and to put new songs in the mouths of the
simulacra of the peasants, had gone to brighten the existent cottages,
and to put new songs into the mouths of the existent peasants, it might
in the end, perhaps, have turned out better so, not only for the
peasants, but for even the audience. For that form of the False Ideal
has also its correspondent True Ideal,--consisting not in the naked
beauty of statues, nor in the gauze flowers and crackling tinsel of
theatres, but in the clothed and fed beauty of living men, and in the
lights and laughs of happy homes. Night after night, the desire of such
an ideal springs up in every idle human heart; and night after night, as
far as idleness can, we work out this desire in costly lies. We paint
the faded actress, build the lath landscape, feed our benevolence with
fallacies of felicity, and satisfy our righteousness with poetry of
justice. The time will come when, as the heavy-folded curtain falls upon
our own stage of life, we shall begin to comprehend that the justice we
loved was intended to have been done in fact, and not in poetry, and the
felicity we sympathized in, to have been bestowed and not feigned. We
talk much of money's worth, yet perhaps may one day be surprised to find
that what the wise and charitable European public gave to one night's
rehearsal of hypocrisy,--to one hour's pleasant warbling of Linda or
Lucia,--would have filled a whole Alpine Valley with happiness, and
poured the waves of harvest over the famine of many a Lammermoor.[101]

§ 7. "Nay," perhaps the reader answers, "it is vain to hope that this
could ever be. The perfect beauty of the ideal must always be
fictitious. It is rational to amuse ourselves with the fair imagination;
but it would be madness to endeavor to put it into practice, in the face
of the ordinances of Nature. Real shepherdesses must always be rude, and
real peasants miserable; suffer us to turn away our gentle eyes from
their coarseness and their pain, and to seek comfort in cultivated
voices and purchased smiles. We cannot hew down the rocks, nor turn the
sands of the torrent into gold."

§ 8. This is no answer. Be assured of the great truth--that what is
impossible in reality is ridiculous in fancy. If it is not in the nature
of things that peasants should be gentle and happy, then the
imagination of such peasantry is ridiculous, and to delight in such
imagination wrong; as delight in any kind of falsehood is always. But if
in the nature of things it be possible that among the wildness of hills
the human heart should be refined, and if the comfort of dress, and the
gentleness of language, and the joy of progress in knowledge, and of
variety in thought, are possible to the mountaineer in his true
existence, let us strive to write this true poetry upon the rocks before
we indulge it in our visions, and try whether, among all the fine arts,
one of the finest be not that of painting cheeks with health rather than
rouge.

§ 9. "But is such refinement possible? Do not the conditions of the
mountain peasant's life, in the plurality of instances, necessarily
forbid it?"

As bearing sternly on this question, it is necessary to examine one
peculiarity of feeling which manifests itself among the European
nations, so far as I have noticed, irregularly,--appearing sometimes to
be the characteristic of a particular time, sometimes of a particular
race, sometimes of a particular locality, and to involve at once much
that is to be blamed and much that is praiseworthy. I mean the
capability of enduring, or even delighting in, the contemplation of
objects of terror--a sentiment which especially influences the temper of
some groups of mountaineers, and of which it is necessary to examine the
causes, before we can form any conjecture whatever as to the real effect
of mountains on human character.

§ 10. For instance, the unhappy alterations which have lately taken
place in the town of Lucerne have still spared two of its ancient
bridges; both of which, being long covered walks, appear, in past times,
to have been to the population of the town what the Mall was to London,
or the Gardens of the Tuileries are to Paris. For the continual
contemplation of those who sauntered from pier to pier, pictures were
painted on the woodwork of the roof. These pictures, in the one bridge,
represent all the important Swiss battles and victories; in the other
they are the well-known series of which Longfellow has made so beautiful
a use in the Golden Legend, the _Dance of Death_.

Imagine the countenances with which a committee, appointed for the
establishment of a new "promenade" in some flourishing modern town,
would receive a proposal to adorn such promenade with pictures of the
Dance of Death.

§ 11. Now just so far as the old bridge at Lucerne, with the pure, deep,
and blue water of the Reuss eddying down between its piers, and with the
sweet darkness of green hills, and far-away gleaming of lake and Alps
alternating upon the eye on either side; and the gloomy lesson frowning
in the shadow, as if the deep tone of a passing-bell, overhead, were
mingling for ever with the plashing of the river as it glides by
beneath; just so far, I say, as this differs from the straight and
smooth strip of level dust, between two rows of round-topped acacia
trees, wherein the inhabitants of an English watering-place or French
fortified town take their delight,--so far I believe the life of the old
Lucernois, with all its happy waves of light, and mountain strength of
will, and solemn expectation of eternity, to have differed from the
generality of the lives of those who saunter for their habitual hour up
and down the modern promenade. But the gloom is not always of this noble
kind. As we penetrate farther among the hills we shall find it becoming
very painful. We are walking, perhaps, in a summer afternoon, up the
valley of Zermatt (a German valley), the sun shining brightly on grassy
knolls and through fringes of pines, the goats leaping happily, and the
cattle bells ringing sweetly, and the snowy mountains shining like
heavenly castles far above. We see, a little way off, a small white
chapel, sheltered behind one of the flowery hillocks of mountain turf;
and we approach its little window, thinking to look through it into some
quiet home of prayer; but the window is grated with iron, and open to
the winds, and when we look through it, behold--a heap of white human
bones mouldering into whiter dust!

So also in that same sweet valley, of which I have just been speaking,
between Chamouni and the Valais, at every turn of the pleasant pathway,
where the scent of the thyme lies richest upon its rocks, we shall see a
little cross and shrine set under one of them; and go up to it, hoping
to receive some happy thought of the Redeemer, by whom all these lovely
things were made, and still consist. But when we come near--behold,
beneath the cross, a rude picture of souls tormented in red tongues of
hell fire, and pierced by demons.

§ 12. As we pass towards Italy the appearance of this gloom deepens; and
when we descend the southern slope of the Alps we shall find this
bringing forward of the image of Death associated with an endurance of
the most painful aspects of disease, so that conditions of human
suffering, which in any other country would be confined in hospitals,
are permitted to be openly exhibited by the wayside; and with this
exposure of the degraded human form is farther connected an
insensibility to ugliness and imperfection in other things; so that the
ruined wall, neglected garden, and uncleansed chamber, seem to unite in
expressing a gloom of spirit possessing the inhabitants of the whole
land. It does not appear to arise from poverty, nor careless contentment
with little: there is here nothing of Irish recklessness or humor; but
there seems a settled obscurity in the soul,--a chill and plague, as if
risen out of a sepulchre, which partly deadens, partly darkens, the eyes
and hearts of men, and breathes a leprosy of decay through every breeze
and every stone. "Instead of well-set hair, baldness, and burning
instead of beauty."

Nor are definite proofs wanting that the feeling is independent of mere
poverty or indolence. In the most gorgeous and costly palace garden the
statues will be found green with moss, the terraces defaced or broken;
the palace itself partly coated with marble, is left in other places
rough with cementless and jagged brick, its iron balconies bent and
rusted, its pavements overgrown with grass. The more energetic the
effort has been to recover from this state, and to shake off all
appearance of poverty, the more assuredly the curse seems to fasten on
the scene, and the unslaked mortar, and unfinished wall, and ghastly
desolation of incompleteness entangled in decay, strike a deeper
despondency into the beholder.

§ 13. The feeling would be also more easily accounted for if it appeared
consistent in its regardlessness of beauty,--if what was _done_ were
altogether as inefficient as what was deserted. But the balcony, though
rusty and broken, is delicate in design, and supported on a nobly carved
slab of marble; the window, though a mere black rent in ragged plaster,
is encircled by a garland of vine and fronted by a thicket of the sharp
leaves and aurora-colored flowers of the oleander; the courtyard,
overgrown by mournful grass, is terminated by a bright fresco of
gardens and fountains; the corpse, borne with the bare face to heaven,
is strewn with flowers; beauty is continually mingled with the shadow of
death.

§ 14. So also is a kind of merriment,--not true cheerfulness, neither
careless nor idle jesting, but a determined effort at gaiety, a resolute
laughter, mixed with much satire, grossness, and practical buffoonery,
and, it always seemed to me, void of all comfort or hope,--with this
eminent character in it also, that it is capable of touching with its
bitterness even the most fearful subjects, so that as the love of beauty
retains its tenderness in the presence of death, this love of jest also
retains its boldness, and the skeleton becomes one of the standard
masques of the Italian comedy. When I was in Venice, in 1850, the most
popular piece of the _comic_ opera was "Death and the Cobbler," in which
the point of the plot was the success of a village cobbler as a
physician, in consequence of the appearance of Death to him beside the
bed of every patient who was not to recover; and the most applauded
scene in it was one in which the physician, insolent in success, and
swollen with luxury, was himself taken down into the abode of Death, and
thrown into an agony of terror by being shown lives of men, under the
form of wasting lamps, and his own ready to expire.

§ 15. I have also not the smallest doubt that this endurance or
affronting of fearful images is partly associated with indecency, partly
with general fatuity and weakness of mind. The men who applauded loudest
when the actress put on, in an instant, her mask representing a skull,
and when her sharp and clear "Sono la Morte" rang through the theatre,
were just those whose disgusting habits rendered it impossible for women
to pass through some of the principal streets in Venice,--just those who
formed the gaping audience, when a mountebank offered a new quack
medicine on the Riva dei Schiavoni. And, as fearful imagery is
associated with the weakness of fever, so it seems to me that imbecility
and love of terror are connected by a mysterious link throughout the
whole life of man. There is a most touching instance of this in the last
days of Sir Walter Scott, the publication of whose latter works, deeply
to be regretted on many accounts, was yet, perhaps, on the whole,
right, as affording a means of studying the conditions of the decay of
overwrought human intellect in one of the most noble of minds. Among the
many signs of this decay at its uttermost, in Castle Dangerous, not one
of the least notable was the introduction of the knight who bears on his
black armor the likeness of a skeleton.

§ 16. The love of horror which is in this manner connected with
feebleness of intellect, is not, however, to be confounded with that
shown by the vulgar in general. The feeling which is calculated upon in
the preparation of pieces full of terror and crime, at our lower
theatres, and which is fed with greater art and elegance in the darker
scenery of the popular French novelists, however morally unhealthy, is
not _unnatural_; it is not the result of an apathy to such horror, but
of a strong desire for excitement in minds coarse and dull, but not
necessarily feeble. The scene of the murder of the jeweller in the
"Count of Monte Cristo," or those with the Squelette in the "Mystères de
Paris," appeal to instincts which are as common to all mankind as those
of thirst and hunger, and which are only debasing in the exaggerated
condition consequent upon the dulness of other instincts higher than
they. And the persons who, at one period of their life, might take chief
pleasure in such narrations, at another may be brought into a temper of
high tone and acute sensibility. But the love of horror respecting which
we are now inquiring appears to be an unnatural and feeble feeling; it
is not that the person needs excitement, or has any such strong
perceptions as would cause excitement, but he is dead to the horror, and
a strange evil influence guides his feebleness of mind rather to fearful
images than to beautiful ones,--as our disturbed dreams are sometimes
filled with ghastliness which seem not to arise out of any conceivable
association of our waking ideas, but to be a vapor out of the very
chambers of the tomb, to which the mind, in its palsy, has approached.

§ 17. But even this imbecile revelling in terror is more comprehensible,
more apparently natural, than the instinct which is found frequently
connected with it, of absolute joy in _ugliness_. In some conditions of
old German art we find the most singular insisting upon what is in all
respects ugly and abortive, or frightful; not with any sense of
sublimity in it, neither in mere foolishness, but with a resolute
choice, such as I can completely account for on no acknowledged
principle of human nature. For in the worst conditions of sensuality
there is yet some perception of the beautiful, so that men utterly
depraved in principle and habits of thought will yet admire beautiful
things and fair faces. But in the temper of which I am now speaking
there is no preference even of the lower forms of loveliness; no effort
at painting fair limbs or passionate faces, no evidence of any human or
natural sensation,--a mere feeding on decay and rolling in slime, not
apparently or conceivably with any pleasure in it, but under some
fearful possession of an evil spirit.

§ 18. The most wonderful instance of this feeling at its uttermost which
I remember, is the missal in the British Museum, Harl. MSS. 1892. The
drawings of the principal subjects in it appear to have been made first
in black, by Martin Schöngauer (at all events by some copyist of his
designs), and then another workman has been employed to paint these
drawings over. No words can describe the intensity of the "plague of the
heart" in this man; the reader should examine the manuscript carefully
if he desires to see how low human nature can sink. I had written a
description of one or two of the drawings in order to give some
conception of them to persons not able to refer to the book; but the
mere description so saddened and polluted my pages that I could not
retain it. I will only, therefore, name the principal characteristics
which belong to the workman's mind.

§ 19. First, perpetual tampering with death, whether there be occasion
to allude to it or not,--especially insisting upon its associations with
corruption. I do not pain the reader by dwelling on the details
illustrative of this feeling.

Secondly, Delight in dismemberment, dislocation, and distortion of
attitude. Distortion, to some extent, is a universal characteristic of
the German fifteenth and sixteenth century art; that is to say, there is
a general aptitude for painting legs across, or feet twisted round, or
bodies awkwardly bent, rather than anything in a natural position; and
Martin Schöngauer himself exhibits this defect in no small degree. But
here the finishing workman has dislocated nearly every joint which he
has exposed, besides knitting and twisting the muscles into mere knots
of cordage.

[Illustration: FIG. 113.]

What, however, only amounts to dislocation in the limbs of the human
figures, becomes actual dismemberment in the animals. Fig. 113 is a
faithful copy of a tree with two _birds_, one on its bough, and one
above it, seen in the background, behind a soldier's mace, in the
drawing of the Betrayal. In the engraving of this subject, by Schöngauer
himself, the mace does not occur; it has been put in by the finishing
workman, in order to give greater expression of savageness to the boughs
of the tree, which, joined with the spikes of the mace, form one mass of
disorganized angles and thorns, while the birds look partly as if being
torn to pieces, and partly like black spiders.

In the painting itself the sky also is covered with little detached and
bent white strokes, by way of clouds, and the hair of the figures torn
into ragged locks, like wood rent by a cannon shot.

[Illustration: FIG. 114.]

This tendency to dismember and separate everything is one of the eminent
conditions of a mind leaning to vice and ugliness; just as to connect
and harmonize everything is that of a mind leaning to virtue and beauty.
It is shown down to the smallest details; as, for instance, in the
spotted backgrounds, which, instead of being chequered with connected
patterns, as in the noble manuscripts (see Vol. III. Plate 7), are
covered with disorderly dashes and circles executed with a blunt pen or
brush, Fig. 114. And one of the borders is composed of various detached
heads cut off at the neck or shoulders without the slightest endeavor to
conceal or decorate the truncation. All this, of course, is associated
with choice of the most abominable features in the countenance.

§ 20. Thirdly, Pure ignorance. Necessarily such a mind as this must be
incapable of perceiving the truth of any form; and therefore together
with the distortion of all studied form is associated the utter negation
or imperfection of that which is less studied.

Fourthly, Delight in blood. I cannot use the words which would be
necessary to describe the second[102] painting of the Scourging, in this
missal. But I may generally notice that the degree in which the peculiar
feeling we are endeavoring to analyze is present in any district of
Roman Catholic countries, may be almost accurately measured by the
quantity of blood represented on the crucifixes.

The person employed to repaint, in the Campo Santo of Pisa, the portion
of Orcagna's pictures representing the Inferno, has furnished a very
notable example of the same feeling; and it must be familiar to all
travellers in countries thoroughly subjected to _modern_ Romanism, a
thing as different from thirteenth-century Romanism as a prison from a
prince's chamber.

Lastly, Utter absence of inventive power. The only ghastliness which
this workman is capable of is that of distortion. In ghastly
_combination_ he is impotent; he cannot even understand it or copy it
when set before him, continually destroying any that exists in the
drawing of Schöngauer.

§ 21. Such appear to be the principal component elements in the mind of
the painter of this missal, and it possesses these in complete
abstraction from nearly all others, showing, in deadly purity, the
nature of the venom which in ordinary cases is tempered by counteracting
elements. There are even certain feelings, evil enough themselves, but
more _natural_ than these, of which the slightest mingling would here be
a sort of redemption. Vanity, for instance, would lead to a more
finished execution, and more careful copying from nature, and of course
subdue the ugliness by fidelity; love of pleasure would introduce
occasionally a graceful or sensual form; malice would give some point
and meaning to the bordering grotesques, nay, even insanity might have
given them some inventive horror. But the pure mortiferousness of this
mind, capable neither of patience, fidelity, grace, or wit, in any
place, or from any motive,--this horrible apathy of brain, which cannot
ascend so high as insanity, but is capable only of putrefaction, save us
the task of all analysis, and leave us only that of examining how this
black aqua Tophana mingles with other conditions of mind.

§ 22. For I have led the reader over this dark ground, because it was
essential to our determination of the influence of mountains that we
should get what data we could as to the extent in other districts, and
derivation from other causes, of the horror which at first we might have
been led to connect too arbitrarily with hill scenery. And I wish that
my knowledge permitted me to trace it over wider ground, for the
observations hitherto stated leave the question still one of great
difficulty. It might appear to a traveller crossing and recrossing the
Alps between Switzerland and Italy, that the main strength of the evil
lay on the south of the chain, and was attributable to the peculiar
circumstances and character of the Italian nation at this period. But as
he examined the matter farther he would note that in the districts of
Italy generally supposed to be _healthy_, the evidence of it was less,
and that it seemed to gain ground in places exposed to malaria,
centralizing itself in the Val d'Aosta. He would then, perhaps, think it
inconsistent with justice to lay the blame on the mountains, and
transfer his accusation to the marshes, yet would be compelled to admit
that the evil manifested itself most where these marshes were surrounded
by hills. He would next, probably, suppose it produced by the united
effect of hardships, solitude, and unhealthy air; and be disposed to
find fault with the mountains, at least so far as they required painful
climbing and laborious agriculture;--but would again be thrown into
doubt by remembering that one main branch of the feeling,--the love of
ugliness, seemed to belong in a peculiar manner to Northern Germany. If
at all familiar with the art of the North and South, he would perceive
that the _endurance_ of ugliness, which in Italy resulted from languor
or depression (while the mind yet retained some apprehension of the
difference between fairness and deformity, as above noted in § 12), was
not to be confounded with that absence of perception of the Beautiful,
which introduced a general hard-featuredness of figure into all German
and Flemish early art, even when Germany and Flanders were in their
brightest national health and power. And as he followed out in detail
the comparison of all the purest ideals north and south of the Alps, and
perceived the perpetual contrast existing between the angular and bony
sanctities of the one latitude, and the drooping graces and pensive
pieties of the other, he would no longer attribute to the ruggedness, or
miasma, of the mountains the origin of a feeling which showed itself so
strongly in the comfortable streets of Antwerp and Nuremberg, and in the
unweakened and active intellects of Van Eyck and Albert Durer.


  Conditions which produce the Mountain gloom.

§ 23. As I think over these various difficulties, the following
conclusions seem to me deducible from the data I at present possess. I
am in no wise confident of their accuracy, but they may assist the
reader in pursuing the inquiry farther.


  General power of intellect.

I. It seems to me, first, that a fair degree of intellect and
imagination is necessary before this kind of disease is possible. It
does not seize on merely stupid peasantries, but on those which belong
to intellectual races, and in whom the faculties of imagination and the
sensibilities of heart were originally strong and tender. In flat land,
with fresh air, the peasantry may be almost mindless, but not infected
with this gloom.


  Romanism.

II. In the second place, I think it is closely connected with the
Romanist religion, and that for several causes.

A. The habitual use of bad art (ill-made dolls and bad pictures), in the
services of religion, naturally blunts the delicacy of the senses, by
requiring reverence to be paid to ugliness, and familiarizing the eye to
it in moments of strong and pure feeling; I do not think we can overrate
the probable evil results of this enforced discordance between the sight
and imagination.

B. The habitually dwelling on the penances, tortures, and martyrdoms of
the Saints, as subjects of admiration and sympathy, together with much
meditation on Purgatorial suffering; rendered almost impossible to
Protestants by the greater fearfulness of such reflections, when the
punishment is supposed eternal.

C. Idleness, and neglect of the proper duties of daily life, during the
large number of holidays in the year, together with want of proper
cleanliness, induced by the idea that comfort and happy purity are less
pleasing to God than discomfort and self-degradation. This insolence
induces much despondency, a larger measure of real misery than is
necessary under the given circumstances of life, and many forms of crime
and disease besides.

D. Superstitious indignation. I do not know if it is as a result of the
combination of these several causes, or if under a separate head, that I
should class a certain strange awe which seems to attach itself to
Romanism like its shadow, differing from the coarser gloom which we have
been examining, in that it can attach itself to minds of the highest
purity and keenness, and, indeed, does so to these more than to inferior
ones. It is an undefinable pensiveness, leading to great severity of
precept, mercilessness in punishment, and dark or discouraging thoughts
of God and man.[103]

It is connected partly with a greater belief in the daily presence and
power of evil spirits than is common in Protestants (except the more
enthusiastic, and _also gloomy_, sects of Puritans), connected also with
a sternness of belief in the condemnatory power and duty of the Church,
leading to persecution, and to less tempered indignation at oppositions
of opinion than characterizes the Protestant mind ordinarily, which,
though waspish and bitter enough, is not liable to the peculiar
heart-burning caused in a Papist by any insult to his Church, or by the
aspect of what he believes to be heresy.

§ 24. For all these reasons, I think Romanism is very definitely
connected with the gloom we are examining, so as without fail to produce
some measure of it in all persons who sincerely hold that faith; and if
such effect is ever not to be traced, it is because the Romanism is
checked by infidelity. The atheism or dissipation of a large portion of
the population in crowded capitals prevents this gloom from being felt
in full force; but it resumes its power, in mountain solitudes, over the
minds of the comparatively ignorant and more suffering peasantry; so
that it is not an evil inherent in the hills themselves, but one result
of the continuance in them of that old religious voice of warning,
which, encouraging sacred feeling in general, encourages also whatever
evil may essentially belong to the form of doctrine preached among them.

[Illustration: FIG. 115.]


  Disease of body.

§ 25. III. It is assuredly connected also with a diseased state of
health. Cheerfulness is just as natural to the heart of a man in strong
health as color to his cheek; and wherever there is habitual gloom,
there must be either bad air, unwholesome food, improperly severe labor,
or erring habits of life. Among mountains, all these various causes are
frequently found in combination. The air is either too bleak, or it is
impure; generally the peasants are exposed to alternations of both.
Great hardship is sustained in various ways, severe labor undergone
during summer, and a sedentary and confined life led during winter.
Where the gloom exists in less elevated districts, as in Germany, I do
not doubt, though I have not historical knowledge enough to prove this,
that it is partly connected with habits of sedentary life, protracted
study, and general derangement of the bodily system in consequence; when
it exists in the gross form exhibited in the manuscript above examined,
I have no doubt it has been fostered by habits of general vice, cruelty,
and dissipation.

[Illustration: FIG. 116.]


  Rudeness of life.

§ 26. IV. Considered as a natural insensibility to beauty, it is, I
imagine, indicative of a certain want of cultivation in the race among
whom it is found, perhaps without corporal or mental weakness, but
produced by rudeness of life, absence of examples of beautiful art,
defects in the mould of the national features, and such other
adversities, generally belonging to northern nations as opposed to
southern. Here, however, again my historical knowledge is at fault, and
I must leave the reader to follow out the question for himself, if it
interests him. A single example maybe useful to those who have not time
for investigation, in order to show the kind of difference I mean.

Fig. 115 is a St. Peter, from a German fifteenth-century MS., of good
average execution; and Fig. 116 a Madonna, either of the best English,
or second-rate French, work, from a service-book executed in 1290. The
reader will, I doubt not, perceive at once the general grace and
tenderness of sentiment in the lines of the drapery of the last, and
the comparatively delicate type of features. The hardnesses of line,
gesture, and feature in the German example, though two centuries at
least later, are, I think, equally notable. They are accompanied in the
rest of the MS. by an excessive coarseness in choice of ornamental
subject: beneath a female figure typical of the Church, for instance,
there is painted a carcass, just butchered, and hung up with skewers
through the legs.

§ 27. V. In many high mountain districts, not only are the inhabitants
likely to be hurt by hardship of life, and retarded by roughness of
manners, but their eyes are familiarized with certain conditions of
ugliness and disorder, produced by the violence of the elements around
them. Once accustomed to look upon these conditions as inevitable in
nature, they may easily transfer the idea of inevitableness and fitness
to the same appearances in their own houses. I said that mountains seem
to have been created to show us the perfection of beauty; but we saw in
the tenth chapter that they also show sometimes the extreme of ugliness:
and to the inhabitants of districts of this kind it is almost necessary
to their daily comfort that they should view without dislike aspects of
desolation which would to others be frightful. And can we blame them,
if, when the rivers are continually loading their fields with heaps of
black slime, and rolling, in time of flood, over the thickets on their
islets, leaving, when the flood is past, every leaf and bough dim with
granite-dust,--never more to be green through all the parching of
summer; when the landslip leaves a ghastly scar among the grassy mounds
of the hill side;--the rocks above are torn by their glaciers into rifts
and wounds that are never healed; and the ice itself blackened league
after league with loose ruin cast upon it as if out of some long and
foul excavation;--can we blame, I say, the peasant, if, beholding these
things daily as necessary appointments in the strong nature around him,
he is careless that the same disorders should appear in his household or
his farm; nor feels discomforted, though his walls should be full of
fissures like the rocks, his furniture covered with dust like the trees,
and his garden like the glacier in unsightliness of trench and
desolation of mound?

§ 28. Under these five heads are embraced, as far as I am able to trace
them, the causes of the temper which we are examining; and it will be
seen that only the last is quite peculiar to mountain and marsh
districts, although there is a somewhat greater probability that the
others also may be developed among hills more than in plains. When, by
untoward accident, all are associated, and the conditions described
under the fifth head are very distinct, the result is even sublime in
its painfulness. Of places subjected to such evil influence, none are
quite so characteristic as the town of Sion in the Valais. In the first
place (see § 23), the material on which it works is good; the race of
peasantry being there both handsome and intelligent, as far as they
escape the adverse influences around them; so that on a fête-day or a
Sunday, when the families come down from the hill châlets, where the air
is healthier, many very pretty faces may be seen among the younger
women, set off by somewhat more pains in adjustment of the singular
Valaisan costume than is now usual in other cantons of Switzerland.

§ 29. Secondly, it is a bishopric, and quite the centre of Romanism in
Switzerland, all the most definite Romanist doctrines being evidently
believed sincerely, and by a majority of the population; Protestantism
having no hold upon them at all; and republican infidelity, though
active in the councils of the commune, having as yet, so far as I could
see, little influence in the hearts of households. The prominence of the
Valais among Roman Catholic states has always been considerable. The
Cardinal of Sion was, of old, one of the personages most troublesome to
the Venetian ambassadors at the English Court.[104]

§ 30. Thirdly, it is in the midst of a marshy valley, pregnant with
various disease; the water either stagnant, or disgorged in wild
torrents charged with earth; the air, in the morning, stagnant also,
hot, close, and infected; in the afternoon, rushing up from the outlet
at Martigny in fitful and fierce whirlwind; one side of the valley in
almost continual shade, the other (it running east and west) scorched by
the southern sun, and sending streams of heat into the air all night
long from its torrid limestones; while less traceable plagues than any
of these bring on the inhabitants, at a certain time of life, violent
affections of goître, and often, in infancy, cretinism. Agriculture is
attended with the greatest difficulties and despondencies; the land
which the labor of a life has just rendered fruitful is often buried in
an hour; and the carriage of materials, as well as the traversing of
land on the steep hill sides, attended with extraordinary fatigue.

§ 31. Owing to these various influences, Sion, the capital of the
district, presents one of the most remarkable scenes for the study of
the particular condition of human feeling at present under consideration
that I know among mountains. It consists of little more than one main
street, winding round the roots of two ridges of crag, and branching, on
the sides towards the rocks, into a few narrow lanes, on the other, into
spaces of waste ground, of which part serve for military exercises, part
are enclosed in an uncertain and vague way; a ditch half-filled up, or
wall half-broken down, seeming to indicate their belonging, or having
been intended to belong, to some of the unfinished houses which are
springing up amidst their weeds. But it is difficult to say, in any part
of the town, what is garden-ground or what is waste; still more, what is
new building and what old. The houses have been for the most part built
roughly of the coarse limestone of the neighboring hills, then coated
with plaster, and painted, in imitation of Palladian palaces, with grey
architraves and pilasters, having draperies from capital to capital.
With this false decoration is curiously contrasted a great deal of
graceful, honest, and original ironwork, in bulging balconies, and
floreted gratings of huge windows, and branching sprays, for any and
every purpose of support or guard. The plaster, with its fresco, has in
most instances dropped away, leaving the houses peeled and scarred;
daubed into uncertain restoration with new mortar, and in the best cases
thus left; but commonly fallen also, more or less, into ruin, and either
roofed over at the first story when the second has fallen, or hopelessly
abandoned;--not pulled down, but left in white and ghastly shells to
crumble into heaps of limestone and dust, a pauper or two still
inhabiting where inhabitation is possible. The lanes wind among these
ruins; the blue sky and mountain grass are seen through the windows of
their rooms and over their partitions, on which old gaudy papers flaunt
in rags: the weeds gather, and the dogs scratch about their
foundations; yet there are no luxuriant weeds, for their ragged leaves
are blanched with lime, crushed under perpetually falling fragments, and
worn away by listless standing of idle feet. There is always mason's
work doing, always some fresh patching and whitening; a dull smell of
mortar, mixed with that of stale foulness of every kind, rises with the
dust, and defiles every current of air; the corners are filled with
accumulations of stones, partly broken, with crusts of cement sticking
to them, and blotches of nitre oozing out of their pores. The lichenous
rocks and sunburnt slopes of grass stretch themselves hither and thither
among the wreck, curiously traversed by stairs and walls and half-cut
paths, that disappear below starkly black arches, and cannot be
followed, or rise in windings round the angles, and in unfenced slopes
along the fronts, of the two masses of rock which bear, one the dark
castle, the other the old church and convent of Sion; beneath, in a
rudely inclosed square at the outskirts of the town, a still more
ancient Lombardic church raises its grey tower, a kind of esplanade
extending between it and the Episcopal palace, and laid out as a plot of
grass, intersected by gravel walks; but the grass, in strange sympathy
with the inhabitants, will not grow _as_ grass, but chokes itself with a
network of grey weeds, quite wonderful in its various expression of
thorny discontent and savageness; the blue flower of the borage, which
mingles with it in quantities, hardly interrupting its character, for
the violent black spots in the centre of its blue takes away the
tenderness of the flower, and it seems to have grown there in some
supernatural mockery of its old renown of being good against melancholy.
The rest of the herbage is chiefly composed of the dwarf mallow, the
wild succory, the wall-rocket, goose-foot, and milfoil;[105] plants,
nearly all of them, jagged in the leaf, broken and dimly clustered in
flower, haunters of waste ground and places of outcast refuse.

Beyond this plot of ground the Episcopal palace, a half-deserted,
barrack-like building, overlooks a _neglected vineyard_, of which the
clusters, black on the under side, snow-white on the other with
lime-dust, gather around them a melancholy hum of flies. Through the
arches of its trelliswork the avenue of the great valley is seen in
descending distance, enlarged with line beyond line of tufted foliage,
languid and rich, degenerating at last into leagues of grey Maremma,
wild with the thorn and the willow; on each side of it, sustaining
themselves in mighty slopes and unbroken reaches of colossal promontory,
the great mountains secede into supremacy through rosy depths of burning
air, and the crescents of snow gleam over their dim summits as--if there
could be Mourning, as once there was War, in Heaven--a line of waning
moons might be set for lamps along the sides of some sepulchral chamber
in the Infinite.

§ 32. I know not how far this universal grasp of the sorrowful spirit
might be relaxed if sincere energy were directed to amend the ways of
life of the Valaisan. But it has always appeared to me that there was,
even in more healthy mountain districts, a certain degree of inevitable
melancholy; nor could I ever escape from the feeling that here, where
chiefly the beauty of God's working was manifested to men, warning was
also given, and that to the full, of the enduring of His indignation
against sin.

It seems one of the most cunning and frequent of self-deceptions to turn
the heart away from this warning and refuse to acknowledge anything in
the fair scenes of the natural creation but beneficence. Men in general
lean towards the light, so far as they contemplate such things at all,
most of them passing "by on the other side," either in mere plodding
pursuit of their own work, irrespective of what good or evil is around
them, or else in selfish gloom, or selfish delight, resulting from their
own circumstances at the moment. Of those who give themselves to any
true contemplation, the plurality, being humble, gentle, and kindly
hearted, look only in nature for what is lovely and kind; partly, also,
God gives the disposition to every healthy human mind in some degree to
pass over or even harden itself against evil things, else the suffering
would be too great to be borne; and humble people, with a quiet trust
that everything is for the best, do not fairly represent the facts to
themselves, thinking them none of their business. So, what between
hard-hearted people, thoughtless people, busy people, humble people, and
cheerfully minded people,--giddiness of youth, and preoccupations of
age,--philosophies of faith, and cruelties of folly,--priest and Levite,
masquer and merchantman, all agreeing to keep their own side of the
way,--the evil that God sends to warn us gets to be forgotten, and the
evil that He sends to be mended by us gets left unmended. And then,
because people shut their eyes to the dark indisputableness of the facts
in front of them, their Faith, such as it is, is shaken or uprooted by
every darkness in what is revealed to them. In the present day it is not
easy to find a well-meaning man among our more earnest thinkers, who
will not take upon himself to dispute the whole system of redemption,
because he cannot unravel the mystery of the punishment of sin. But can
he unravel the mystery of the punishment of NO sin? Can he entirely
account for all that happens to a cab-horse? Has he ever looked fairly
at the fate of one of those beasts as it is dying,--measured the work it
has done, and the reward it has got,--put his hand upon the bloody
wounds through which its bones are piercing, and so looked up to Heaven
with an entire understanding of Heaven's ways about the horse? Yet the
horse is a fact--no dream--no revelation among the myrtle trees by
night; and the dust it dies upon, and the dogs that eat it, are
facts;--and yonder happy person, whose the horse was till its knees were
broken over the hurdles, who had an immortal soul to begin with, and
wealth and peace to help forward his immortality; who has also devoted
the powers of his soul, and body, and wealth, and peace, to the spoiling
of houses, the corruption of the innocent, and the oppression of the
poor; and has, at this actual moment of his prosperous life, as many
curses waiting round about him in calm shadow, with their death's eyes
fixed upon him, biding their time, as ever the poor cab-horse had
launched at him in meaningless blasphemies, when his failing feet
stumbled at the stones,--this happy person shall have no stripes,--shall
have only the horse's fate of annihilation; or, if other things are
indeed reserved for him, Heaven's kindness or omnipotence is to be
doubted therefore.

§ 33. We cannot reason of these things. But this I know--and this may by
all men be known--that no good or lovely thing exists in this world
without its correspondent darkness; and that the universe presents
itself continually to mankind under the stern aspect of warning, or of
choice, the good and the evil set on the right hand and the left.

And in this mountain gloom, which weighs so strongly upon the human
heart that in all time hitherto, as we have seen, the hill defiles have
been either avoided in terror or inhabited in penance, there is but the
fulfilment of the universal law, that where the beauty and wisdom of the
Divine working are most manifested, there also are manifested most
clearly the terror of God's wrath, and inevitableness of His power.

Nor is this gloom less wonderful so far as it bears witness to the error
of human choice, even when the nature of good and evil is most
definitely set before it. The trees of Paradise were fair; but our first
parents hid themselves from God "in medio ligni Paradisi," in the midst
of the trees of the garden. The hills were ordained for the help of man;
but, instead of raising his eyes to the hills, from whence cometh his
help, he does his idol sacrifice "upon every high hill and under every
green tree." The mountain of the Lord's house is established above the
hills; but Nadab and Abihu shall see under His feet the body of heaven
in his clearness, yet go down to kindle the censer against their own
souls. And so to the end of time it will be; to the end, that cry will
still be heard along the Alpine winds, "Hear, oh ye mountains, the
Lord's controversy!" Still, their gulfs of thawless ice, and unretarded
roar of tormented waves, and deathful falls of fruitless waste, and
unredeemed decay, must be the image of the souls of those who have
chosen the darkness, and whose cry shall be to the mountains to fall on
them, and to the hills to cover them; and still, to the end of time, the
clear waters of the unfailing springs, and the white pasture-lilies in
their clothed multitude, and the abiding of the burning peaks in their
nearness to the opened heaven, shall be the types, and the blessings, of
those who have chosen light, and of whom it is written, "The mountains
shall bring peace to the people, and the little hills, righteousness."


FOOTNOTES

  [101] As I was correcting this sheet for press, the morning paper
    containing the account of the burning of Covent Garden theatre
    furnished the following financial statements, bearing somewhat on
    the matter in hand; namely,

                                                                     £
      That the interior fittings of the theatre, in 1846, cost    40,000

      That it was opened on the 6th of April, 1847; and }
        that in 1848 the loss upon it was               }         34,756
             in 1849    "        "                                25,455
                                                                  ------
                                                                 100,211
                                                                  ------
                                                            £
      And that in one year the vocal department cost      33,349
                           the ballet     "      "         8,105
                           the orchestra  "      "        10,048
                                                          ------
                                                          51,502
                                                          ------

    Mr. Albano afterwards corrected this statement, substituting 27,000
    for 40,000: and perhaps the other sums may also have been
    exaggerated, but I leave the reader to consider what an annual
    expenditure of from 30,000_l._ to 50,000_l._ might effect in
    practical idealism in general, whether in Swiss valleys or
    elsewhere. I am not one of those who regard all theatrical
    entertainment as wrong or harmful. I only regret to see our theatres
    so conducted as to involve an expense which is worse than useless,
    in leading our audiences to look for mere stage effect, instead of
    good acting, good singing, or good sense. If we really loved music,
    or the drama, we should be content to hear well-managed voices, and
    see finished acting, without paying five or six thousand pounds to
    dress the songsters or decorate the stage. Simple but well-chosen
    dresses, and quiet landscape exquisitely painted, would have far
    more effect on the feelings of any sensible audience than the tinsel
    and extravagance of our common scenery; and our actors and actresses
    must have little respect for their own powers, if they think that
    dignity of gesture is dependent on the flash of jewellery, or the
    pathos of accents connected with the costliness of silk. Perfect
    execution of music by a limited orchestra is far more delightful,
    and far less fatiguing, than the irregular roar and hum of
    multitudinous mediocrity; and finished instrumentation by an
    adequate number of performers, exquisite acting, and sweetest
    singing, might be secured for the public at a fourth part of the
    cost now spent on operatic absurdities. There is no occasion
    whatever for decoration of the house: it is, on the contrary, the
    extreme of vulgarity. No person of good taste ever goes to a theatre
    to look at the fronts of the boxes. Comfortable and roomy seats,
    perfect cleanliness, decent and fitting curtains and other
    furniture, of good stuff, but neither costly nor tawdry, and
    convenient, but not dazzling, light, are the proper requirements in
    the furnishing of an opera-house. As for the persons who go there to
    look at each other--to show their dresses--to yawn away waste
    hours--to obtain a maximum of momentary excitement--or to say they
    were there, at next day's three-o'clock breakfast (and it is only
    for such persons that glare, cost, and noise are necessary), I
    commend to their consideration, or at least to such consideration as
    is possible to their capacities, the suggestions in the text. But to
    the true lovers of the drama I would submit, as another subject of
    inquiry, whether they ought not to separate themselves from the mob,
    and provide, for their own modest, quiet, and guiltless
    entertainment, the truth of heartfelt impersonation, and the melody
    of the unforced and delicate voice, without extravagance of adjunct,
    unhealthy lateness of hours, or appeal to degraded passions. Such
    entertainment might be obtained at infinitely smaller cost, and yet
    at a price which would secure honorable and permanent remuneration
    to every performer; and I am mistaken in my notion of the best
    actors, if they would not rather play at a house where people went
    to hear and to feel, than weary themselves, even for four times the
    pay, before an audience insulting in its listlessness and ignorant
    in its applause.

  [102] There are, unusually, two paintings of this subject, the first
    representing the preparations for the scourging, the second its
    close.

  [103] This character has, I think, been traced in the various
    writings of Mrs. Sherwood better than in any others; she has a
    peculiar art of making it felt and of striking the deep tone of it
    as from a passing-bell, contrasting it with the most cheerful,
    lovely, and sincere conditions of Protestantism.

  [104] See "Four Years at the Court of Henry VIII." (Dispatches of
    the Venetian ambassador Giustinian, translated by Mr. Rawdon Brown,)
    1854.

  [105] Malva rotundifolia, Cichorium Intybus, Sisymbrium tenuifolium,
    Chenopodium urbicum, Achillea Millefolium.



CHAPTER XX.

THE MOUNTAIN GLORY.


§ 1. I have dwelt, in the foregoing chapter, on the sadness of the hills
with the greater insistance that I feared my own excessive love for them
might lead me into too favorable interpretation of their influences over
the human heart; or, at least, that the reader might accuse me of fond
prejudice, in the conclusions to which, finally, I desire to lead him
concerning them. For, to myself, mountains are the beginning and the end
of all natural scenery; in them, and in the forms of inferior landscape
that lead to them, my affections are wholly bound up; and though I can
look with happy admiration at the lowland flowers, and woods, and open
skies, the happiness is tranquil and cold, like that of examining
detached flowers in a conservatory, or reading a pleasant book; and if
the scenery be resolutely level, insisting upon the declaration of its
own flatness in all the detail of it, as in Holland, or Lincolnshire, or
Central Lombardy, it appears to me like a prison, and I cannot long
endure it. But the slightest rise and fall in the road,--a mossy bank at
the side of a crag of chalk, with brambles at its brow, overhanging
it,--a ripple over three or four stones in the stream by the
bridge,--above all, a wild bit of ferny ground under a fir or two,
looking as if, possibly, one might see a hill if one got to the other
side of the trees, will instantly give me intense delight, because the
shadow, or the hope, of the hills is in them.

§ 2. And thus, although there are few districts of Northern Europe,
however apparently dull or tame, in which I cannot find pleasure, though
the whole of Northern France (except Champagne), dull as it seems to
most travellers, is to me a perpetual Paradise; and, putting
Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, and one or two such other perfectly flat
districts aside, there is not an English county which I should not find
entertainment in exploring the cross-roads of, foot by foot; yet all my
best enjoyment would be owing to the imagination of the hills, coloring,
with their far-away memories, every lowland stone and herb. The pleasant
French coteau, green in the sunshine, delights me, either by what real
mountain character it has in itself (for in extent and succession of
promontory the flanks of the French valleys have quite the sublimity of
true mountain distances), or by its broken ground and rugged steps among
the vines, and rise of the leafage above, against the blue sky, as it
might rise at Vevay or Como. There is not a wave of the Seine but is
associated in my mind with the first rise of the sandstones and forest
pines of Fontainebleau; and with the hope of the Alps, as one leaves
Paris with the horses' heads to the south-west, the morning sun,
flashing on the bright waves at Charenton. If there be _no_ hope or
association of this kind, and if I cannot deceive myself into fancying
that perhaps at the next rise of the road there may be seen the film of
a blue hill in the gleam of sky at the horizon, the landscape, however
beautiful, produces in me even a kind of sickness and pain; and the
whole view from Richmond Hill or Windsor Terrace,--nay, the gardens of
Alcinous, with their perpetual summer,--or of the Hesperides (if they
were flat, and not close to Atlas), golden apples and all--I would give
away in an instant, for one mossy granite stone a foot broad, and two
leaves of lady-fern.[106]

§ 3. I know that this is in great part idiosyncrasy; and that I must not
trust to my own feelings, in this respect, as representative of the
modern landscape instinct; yet I know it is not idiosyncrasy, in so far
as there may be proved to be indeed an increase of the absolute beauty
of all scenery in exact proportion to its mountainous character,
providing that character be _healthily_ mountainous. I do not mean to
take the Col de Bon Homme as representative of hills, any more than I
would take Romney Marsh as representative of plains; but putting
Leicestershire or Staffordshire fairly beside Westmoreland, and Lombardy
or Champagne fairly beside the Pays de Vaud or the Canton Berne, I find
the increase in the calculable sum of elements of beauty to be steadily
in proportion to the increase of mountainous character; and that the
best image which the world can give of Paradise is in the slope of the
meadows, orchards, and corn-fields on the sides of a great Alp, with its
purple rocks and eternal snows above; this excellence not being in any
wise a matter referable to feeling, or individual preferences, but
demonstrable by calm enumeration of the number of lovely colors on the
rocks, the varied grouping of the trees, and quantity of noble incidents
in stream, crag, or cloud, presented to the eye at any given moment.

§ 4. For consider, first, the difference produced in the whole tone of
landscape color by the introductions of purple, violet, and deep
ultramarine blue, which we owe to mountains. In an ordinary lowland
landscape we have the blue of the sky; the green of grass, which I will
suppose (and this is an unnecessary concession to the lowlands) entirely
fresh and bright; the green of trees; and certain elements of purple,
far more rich and beautiful than we generally should think, in their
bark and shadows (bare hedges and thickets, or tops of trees, in subdued
afternoon sunshine, are nearly perfect purple, and of an exquisite
tone), as well as in ploughed fields, and dark ground in general. But
among mountains, in _addition_ to all this, large unbroken spaces of
pure violet and purple are introduced in their distances; and even near,
by films of cloud passing over the darkness of ravines or forests, blues
are produced of the most subtle tenderness; these azures and
purples[107] passing into rose-color of otherwise wholly unattainable
delicacy among the upper summits, the blue of the sky being at the same
time purer and deeper than in the plains. Nay, in some sense, a person
who has never seen the rose-color of the rays of dawn crossing a blue
mountain twelve or fifteen miles away, can hardly be said to know what
_tenderness_ in color means at all; _bright_ tenderness he may, indeed,
see in the sky or in a flower, but this grave tenderness of the far-away
hill-purples he cannot conceive.

§ 5. Together with this great source of preeminence in _mass_ of color,
we have to estimate the influence of the finished inlaying and
enamel-work of the color-jewellery on every stone; and that of the
continual variety in species of flower; most of the mountain flowers
being, besides, separately lovelier than the lowland ones. The wood
hyacinth and wild rose are, indeed, the only _supreme_ flowers that the
lowlands can generally show; and the wild rose is also a mountaineer,
and more fragrant in the hills, while the wood hyacinth, or grape
hyacinth, at its best cannot match even the dark bell-gentian, leaving
the light-blue star-gentian in its uncontested queenliness, and the
Alpine rose and Highland heather wholly without similitude. The violet,
lily of the valley, crocus, and wood anemone are, I suppose, claimable
partly by the plains as well as the hills; but the large orange lily and
narcissus I have never seen but on hill pastures, and the exquisite
oxalis is preeminently a mountaineer.[108]

§ 6. To this supremacy in mosses and flowers we have next to add an
inestimable gain in the continual presence and power of water. Neither
in its clearness, its color, its fantasy of motion, its calmness of
space, depth, and reflection, or its wrath, can water be conceived by a
lowlander, out of sight of sea. A sea wave is far grander than any
torrent--but of the sea and its influences we are not now speaking; and
the sea itself, though it _can_ be clear, is never calm, among our
shores, in the sense that a mountain lake can be calm. The sea seems
only to pause; the mountain lake to sleep, and to dream. Out of sight of
the ocean, a lowlander cannot be considered ever to have seen water at
all. The mantling of the pools in the rock shadows, with the golden
flakes of light sinking down through them like falling leaves, the
ringing of the thin currents among the shallows, the flash and the cloud
of the cascade, the earthquake and foam-fire of the cataract, the long
lines of alternate mirror and mist that lull the imagery of the hills
reversed in the blue of morning,--all these things belong to those hills
as their undivided inheritance.

§ 7. To this supremacy in wave and stream is joined a no less manifest
preeminence in the character of trees. It is possible among plains, in
the species of trees which properly belong to them, the poplars of
Amiens, for instance, to obtain a serene simplicity of grace, which, as
I said, is a better help to the study of gracefulness, as such, than any
of the wilder groupings of the hills; so also, there are certain
conditions of symmetrical luxuriance developed in the park and avenue,
rarely rivalled in their way among mountains; and yet the mountain
superiority in foliage is, on the whole, nearly as complete as it is in
water; for exactly as there are some expressions in the broad reaches of
a navigable lowland river, such as the Loire or Thames, not, in their
way, to be matched among the rock rivers, and yet for all that a
lowlander cannot be said to have truly seen the element of water at all;
so even in his richest parks and avenues he cannot be said to have truly
seen trees. For the resources of trees are not developed until they have
difficulty to contend with; neither their tenderness of brotherly love
and harmony, till they are forced to choose their ways of various life
where there is contracted room for them, talking to each other with
their restrained branches. The various action of trees rooting
themselves in inhospitable rocks, stooping to look into ravines, hiding
from the search of glacier winds, reaching forth to the rays of rare
sunshine, crowding down together to drink at sweetest streams, climbing
hand in hand among the difficult slopes, opening in sudden dances round
the mossy knolls, gathering into companies at rest among the fragrant
fields, gliding in grave procession over the heavenward
ridges,--nothing of this can be conceived among the unvexed and unvaried
felicities of the lowland forest: while to all these direct sources of
greater beauty are added, first the power of redundance,--the mere
quantity of foliage visible in the folds and on the promontories of a
single Alp being greater than that of an entire lowland landscape
(unless a view from some cathedral tower); and to this charm of
redundance, that of clearer _visibility_,--tree after tree being
constantly shown in successive height, one behind another, instead of
the mere tops and flanks of masses, as in the plains; and the forms of
multitudes of them continually defined against the clear sky, near and
above, or against white clouds entangled among their branches, instead
of being confused in dimness of distance.

§ 8. Finally, to this supremacy in foliage we have to add the still less
questionable supremacy in clouds. There is no effect of sky possible in
the lowlands which may not in equal perfection be seen among the hills;
but there are effects by tens of thousands, for ever invisible and
inconceivable to the inhabitant of the plains, manifested among the
hills in the course of one day. The mere power of familiarity with the
clouds, of walking with them and above them, alters and renders clear
our whole conception of the baseless architecture of the sky; and for
the beauty of it, there is more in a single wreath of early cloud,
pacing its way up an avenue of pines, or pausing among the points of
their fringes, than in all the white heaps that fill the arched sky of
the plains from one horizon to the other. And of the nobler cloud
manifestations,--the breaking of their troublous seas against the crags,
their black spray sparkling with lightning; or the going forth of the
morning along their pavements of moving marble, level-laid between dome
and dome of snow;--of these things there can be as little imagination or
understanding in an inhabitant of the plains as of the scenery of
another planet than his own.

§ 9. And, observe, all these superiorities are matters plainly
measurable and calculable, not in any wise to be referred to estimate of
_sensation_. Of the grandeur or expression of the hills I have not
spoken; how far they are great, or strong, or terrible, I do not for the
moment consider, because vastness, and strength, and terror, are not to
all minds subjects of desired contemplation. It may make no difference
to some men whether a natural object be large or small, whether it be
strong or feeble. But loveliness of color, perfectness of form,
endlessness of change, wonderfulness of structure, are precious to all
undiseased human minds; and the superiority of the mountains in all
these things to the lowland is, I repeat, as measurable as the richness
of a painted window matched with a white one, or the wealth of a museum
compared with that of a simply furnished chamber. They seem to have been
built for the human race, as at once their schools and cathedrals; full
of treasures of illuminated manuscript for the scholar, kindly in simple
lessons to the worker, quiet in pale cloisters for the thinker, glorious
in holiness for the worshipper. And of these great cathedrals of the
earth, with their gates of rock, pavements of cloud, choirs of stream
and stone, altars of snow, and vaults of purple traversed by the
continual stars,--of these, as we have seen, it was written, nor long
ago, by one of the best of the poor human race for whom they were built,
wondering in himself for whom their Creator _could_ have made them, and
thinking to have entirely discerned the Divine intent in them--"They are
inhabited by the Beasts."

§ 10. Was it then indeed thus with us, and so lately? Had mankind
offered no worship in their mountain churches? Was all that granite
sculpture and floral painting done by the angels in vain?

Not so. It will need no prolonged thought to convince us that in the
hills the purposes of their Maker have indeed been accomplished in such
measure as, through the sin or folly of men, He ever permits them to be
accomplished. It may not seem, from the general language held concerning
them, or from any directly traceable results, that mountains have had
serious influence on human intellect; but it will not, I think, be
difficult to show that their occult influence has been both constant and
essential to the progress of the race.

§ 11. Consider, first, whether we can justly refuse to attribute to
their mountain scenery some share in giving the Greeks and Italians
their intellectual lead among the nations of Europe.

There is not a single spot of land in either of these countries from
which mountains are not discernible; almost always they form the
principal feature of the scenery. The mountain outlines seen from
Sparta, Corinth, Athens, Rome, Florence, Pisa, Verona, are of consummate
beauty; and whatever dislike or contempt may be traceable in the mind of
the Greeks for mountain ruggedness, their placing the shrine of Apollo
under the cliffs of Delphi, and his throne upon Parnassus, was a
testimony to all succeeding time that they themselves attributed the
best part of their intellectual inspiration to the power of the hills.
Nor would it be difficult to show that every great writer of either of
those nations, however little definite regard he might manifest for the
landscape of his country, had been mentally formed and disciplined by
it, so that even such enjoyment as Homer's of the ploughed ground and
poplar groves owes its intensity and delicacy to the excitement of the
imagination produced, without his own consciousness, by other and
grander features of the scenery to which he had been accustomed from a
child; and differs in every respect from the tranquil, vegetative, and
prosaic affection with which the same ploughed land and poplars would be
regarded by a native of the Netherlands.

The vague expression which I have just used--"intellectual lead," may be
expanded into four great heads; lead in Religion, Art and Literature,
War, and Social Economy.

§ 12. It will be right to examine our subject eventually under these
four heads; but I shall limit myself, for the present, to some
consideration of the first two, for a reason presently to be stated.


  1st. Influence of mountains on religious temperament.

I. We have before had occasion to note the peculiar awe with which
mountains were regarded in the middle ages, as bearing continual witness
against the frivolity or luxury of the world. Though the sense of this
influence of theirs is perhaps more clearly expressed by the mediæval
Christians than by any other sect of religionists, the influence itself
has been constant in all time. Mountains have always possessed the
power, first, of exciting religious enthusiasm; secondly, of purifying
religious faith. These two operations are partly contrary to one
another: for the faith of enthusiasm is apt to be _im_pure, and the
mountains, by exciting morbid conditions of the imagination, have
caused in great part the legendary and romantic forms of belief; on the
other hand, by fostering simplicity of life and dignity of morals, they
have purified by action what they falsified by imagination. But, even in
their first and most dangerous influence, it is not the mountains that
are to blame, but the human heart. While we mourn over the fictitious
shape given to the religious visions of the anchorite, we may envy the
sincerity and the depth of the emotion from which they spring: in the
deep feeling, we have to acknowledge the solemn influences of the hills;
but for the erring modes or forms of thought, it is human wilfulness,
sin, and false teaching, that are answerable. We are not to deny the
nobleness of the imagination because its direction is illegitimate, nor
the pathos of the legend because its circumstances are groundless; the
ardor and abstraction of the spiritual life are to be honored in
themselves, though the one may be misguided and the other deceived; and
the deserts of Osma, Assisi, and Monte Viso are still to be thanked for
the zeal they gave, or guarded, whether we find it in St. Francis and
St. Dominic, or in those whom God's hand hid from them in the clefts of
the rocks.

§ 13. And, in fact, much of the apparently harmful influence of hills on
the religion of the world is nothing else than their general gift of
exciting the poetical and inventive faculties, in peculiarly solemn
tones of mind. Their terror leads into devotional casts of thought;
their beauty and wildness prompt the invention at the same time; and
where the mind is not gifted with stern reasoning powers, or protected
by purity of teaching, it is sure to mingle the invention with its
creed, and the vision with its prayer. Strictly speaking, we ought to
consider the superstitions of the hills, universally, as a form of
poetry; regretting only that men have not yet learned how to distinguish
poetry from well-founded faith.

And if we do this, and enable ourselves thus to review, without carping
or sneering, the shapes of solemn imagination which have arisen among
the inhabitants of Europe, we shall find, on the one hand, the mountains
of Greece and Italy forming all the loveliest dreams, first of the
Pagan, then of the Christian mythology; on the other, those of
Scandinavia to be the first sources of whatever mental (as well as
military) power was brought by the Normans into Southern Europe.
Normandy itself is to all intents and purposes a hill country; composed,
over large extents, of granite and basalt, often rugged and covered with
heather on the summits, and traversed by beautiful and singular dells,
at once soft and secluded, fruitful and wild. We have thus one branch of
the Northern religious imagination rising among the Scandinavian fiords,
tempered in France by various encounters with elements of Arabian,
Italian, Provençal, or other Southern poetry, and then reacting upon
Southern England; while other forms of the same rude religious
imagination, resting like clouds upon the mountains of Scotland and
Wales, met and mingled with the Norman Christianity, retaining even to
the latest times some dark color of superstition, but giving all its
poetical and military pathos to Scottish poetry, and a peculiar
sternness and wildness of tone to the Reformed faith, in its
manifestations among the Scottish hills.

§ 14. It is on less disputable ground that I may claim the reader's
gratitude to the mountains, as having been the centres not only of
imaginative energy, but of purity both in doctrine and practice. The
enthusiasm of the persecuted Covenanter, and his variously modified
claims to miraculous protection or prophetic inspiration, hold exactly
the same relation to the smooth proprieties of lowland Protestantism,
that the demon-combats, fastings, visions, and miracles of the mountain
monk or anchorite hold to the wealth and worldliness of the Vatican. It
might indeed happen, whether at Canterbury, Rheims, or Rome, that a good
bishop should occasionally grasp the crozier; and a vast amount of
prudent, educated, and admirable piety is to be found among the ranks of
the lowland clergy. But still the large aspect of the matter is always,
among Protestants, that formalism, respectability, orthodoxy, caution,
and propriety, live by the slow stream that encircles the lowland abbey
or cathedral; and that enthusiasm, poverty, vital faith, and audacity of
conduct, characterize the pastor dwelling by the torrent side. In like
manner, taking the large aspects of Romanism, we see that its worst
corruptions, its cunning, its worldliness, and its permission of crime,
are traceable for the most part to lowland prelacy; but its
self-denials, its obediences, humilities, sincere claims to miraculous
power, and faithful discharges of pastoral duty, are traceable chiefly
to its anchorites and mountain clergy.

§ 15. It is true that the "Lady Poverty" of St. Francis may share the
influence of the hills in the formation of character; and that, since
the clergy who have little interest at court or conclave are those who
in general will be driven to undertake the hill services, we must often
attribute to enforced simplicity of life, or natural bitterness of
feeling, some of the tones of thought which we might otherwise have
ascribed to the influence of mountain scenery. Such causes, however,
affect the lowland as much as the highland religious character in all
districts far from cities; but they do not produce the same effects. The
curate or hermit of the field and fen, however simple his life, or
painful his lodging, does not often attain the spirit of the hill pastor
or recluse: we may find in him a decent virtue or a contented ignorance,
rarely the prophetic vision or the martyr's passion. Among the fair
arable lands of England and Belgium extends an orthodox Protestantism or
Catholicism; prosperous, creditable, and drowsy; but it is among the
purple moors of the highland border, the ravines of Mont Genèvre, and
the crags of the Tyrol, that we shall find the simplest Evangelical
faith, and the purest Romanist practice.

§ 16. Of course the inquiry into this branch of the hill influence is
partly complicated with that into its operation on domestic habits and
personal character, of which hereafter: but there is one curious witness
borne to the general truth of the foregone conclusions, by an apparently
slight, yet very significant circumstance in art. We have seen, in the
preceding volume, how difficult it was sometimes to distinguish between
honest painters, who truly chose to paint sacred subjects because they
loved them, and the affected painters, who took sacred subjects for
their own pride's sake, or for merely artistical delight. Amongst other
means of arriving at a conclusion in this matter, there is one helpful
test which may be applied to their various works, almost as easily and
certainly as a foot-rule could be used to measure their size; and which
remains an available test down to the date of the rise of the Claudesque
landscape schools. Nearly all the genuine religious painters use _steep
mountain distances_. All the merely artistical ones, or those of
intermediate temper, in proportion as they lose the religious element,
use flat or simply architectural distances. Of course the law is liable
to many exceptions, chiefly dependent on the place of birth and early
associations of painters; but its force is, I think, strongly shown in
this;--that, though the Flemish painters never showed any disposition to
paint, _for its own sake_, other scenery than of their own land (compare
Vol. III. Chap. XIII. § 20), the sincerely religious ones continually
used Alpine distances, bright with snow. In like manner Giotto,
Perugino, Angelico, the young Raphael, and John Bellini, always, if,
with any fitness to their subject, they can introduce them, use craggy
or blue mountain distances, and this with definite expression of love
towards them; Leonardo, conventionally, as feeling they were necessary
for his sacred subjects, while yet his science and idealism had
destroyed his mountain sincerity; Michael Angelo, wholly an artist, and
Raphael in later years, show no love of mountains whatever, while the
relative depths of feeling in Tintoret, Titian, and Veronese, are
precisely measurable by their affection to mountains. Tintoret, though
born in Venice, yet, because capable of the greatest reaches of feeling,
is the first of the old painters who ever drew mountain detail
rightly:[109] Titian, though born in Cadore, and recurring to it
constantly, yet being more worldly-minded, uses his hills somewhat more
conventionally, though, still in his most deeply felt pictures, such as
the St. Jerome, in the Brera, giving to the rocks and forests a
consummate nobleness; and Veronese, in his gay grasp of the outside
aspects of the world, contentedly includes his philosophy within
porticos and pillars, or at the best overshadows it with a few sprays of
laurel.

§ 17. The test fails, however, utterly, when applied to the later or
transitional landscape schools, mountains being there introduced in mere
wanton savageness by Salvator, or vague conventionalism by Claude,
Berghem, and hundreds more. This need not, however, in the least
invalidate our general conclusions: we surely know already that it is
possible to misuse the best gifts, and pervert the purest feelings; nor
need we doubt the real purpose, or, on honest hearts, the real effect,
of mountains, because various institutions have been founded among them
by the banditti of Calabria, as well as by St. Bruno.

§ 18. I cannot leave this part of my subject without recording a slight
incident which happened to myself, singularly illustrative of the
religious character of the Alpine peasant when under favorable
circumstances of teaching. I was coming down one evening from the
Rochers de Naye, above Montreux, having been at work among the limestone
rocks, where I could get no water, and both weary and thirsty. Coming to
a spring at a turn of the path, conducted, as usual, by the herdsmen
into a hollowed pine-trunk I stooped to it and drank deeply: as I raised
my head, drawing breath heavily, some one behind me said, "Celui qui
boira de cette eau-ci, aura encore soif." I turned, not understanding
for the moment what was meant; and saw one of the hill-peasants,
probably returning to his châlet from the market-place at Vevay or
Villeneuve. As I looked at him with an uncomprehending expression, he
went on with the verse:--"Mais celui qui boira de l'eau que je lui
donnerai, n'aura jamais soif."

I doubt if this would have been thought of, or said, by even the most
intelligent lowland peasant. The thought might have occurred to him, but
the frankness of address, and expectation of being at once understood
without a word of preparative explanation, as if the language of the
Bible were familiar to all men, mark, I think, the mountaineer.


  2nd. Influence of mountain on artistical power.

§ 19. We were next to examine the influence of hills on the artistical
power of the human race. Which power, so far as it depends on the
imagination, must evidently be fostered by the same influences which
give vitality to religious vision. But, so far as artistical
productiveness and skill are concerned, it is evident that the
mountaineer is at a radical and insurmountable disadvantage. The
strength of his character depends upon the absence of luxury; but it is
eminently by luxury that art is supported. We are not, therefore, to
deny the mountain influence, because we do not find finished frescoes on
the timbers of châlets or delicate bas-reliefs on the bastion which
protects the mountain church from the avalanche; but to consider how far
the tone of mind shown by the artists laboring in the lowland is
dependent for its intensity on the distant influences of the hills,
whether during the childhood of those born among them, or under the
casual contemplation of men advanced in life.

§ 20. Glancing broadly over the strength of the mediæval--that is to
say, of the peculiar and energetic--art of Europe, so as to discern,
through the clear flowing of its waves over France, Italy, and England,
the places in the pool where the fountain-heads are, and where the sand
dances, I should first point to Normandy and Tuscany. From the cathedral
of Pisa, and the sculpture of the Pisans, the course is straight to
Giotto, Angelico, and Raphael,--to Orcagna and Michael Angelo;--the
Venetian school, in many respects mightier, being, nevertheless,
subsequent and derivative. From the cathedrals of Caen and Coutances the
course is straight to the Gothic of Chartres and Notre Dame of Paris,
and thence forward to all French and English noble art, whether
ecclesiastical or domestic. Now the mountain scenery about Pisa is
precisely the most beautiful that surrounds any great Italian city,
owing to the wonderful outlines of the peaks of Carrara. Milan and
Verona have indeed fine ranges in sight, but rising farther in the
distance, and therefore not so directly affecting the popular mind. The
Norman imagination, as already noticed, is Scandinavian in origin, and
fostered by the lovely granite scenery of Normandy itself. But there is,
nevertheless, this great difference between French art and Italian, that
the French paused strangely at a certain point, as the Norman hills are
truncated at the summits, while the Italian rose steadily to a vertex,
as the Carrara hills to their crests. Let us observe this a little more
in detail.

§ 21. The sculpture of the Pisans was taken up and carried into various
perfection by the Lucchese, Pistojans, Sienese, and Florentines. All
these are inhabitants of truly mountain cities, Florence being as
completely among the hills as Inspruck is, only the hills have softer
outlines. Those around Pistoja and Lucca are in a high degree majestic.
Giotto was born and bred among these hills. Angelico lived upon their
slope. The mountain towns of Perugia and Urbino furnish the only
important branches of correlative art; for Leonardo, however
individually great, originated no new school; he only carried the
_executive_ delicacy of landscape detail so far beyond other painters
as to necessitate my naming the fifteenth-century manner of landscape
after him, though he did not invent it; and although the school of Milan
is distinguished by several peculiarities, and definitely enough
separable from the other schools of Italy, all its peculiarities are
mannerisms, not inventions.

Correggio, indeed, created a new school, though he himself is almost its
only master. I have given in the preceding volume the mountain outline
seen from Parma. But the only entirely great group of painters after the
Tuscans are the Venetians, and they are headed by Titian and Tintoret,
on whom we have noticed the influence of hills already; and although we
cannot trace it in Paul Veronese, I will not quit the mountain claim
upon him; for I believe all that gay and gladdening strength of his was
fed by the breezes of the hills of Garda, and brightened by the swift
glancing of the waves of the Adige.[110]

§ 22. Observe, however, before going farther, of all the painters we
have named, the one who obtains most executive perfection is Leonardo,
who on the whole lived at the greatest distance from the hills. The two
who have most feeling are Giotto and Angelico, both hill-bred. And
generally, I believe, we shall find that the hill country gives its
inventive depths of feeling to art, as in the work of Orcagna, Perugino,
and Angelico, and the plain country executive neatness. The executive
precision is joined with feeling in Leonardo, who saw the Alps in the
distance; it is totally unaccompanied by feeling in the pure Dutch
schools, or schools of the dead flats.

§ 23. I do not know if any writer on art, or on the development of
national mind, has given his attention to what seems to me one of the
most singular phenomena in the history of Europe,--the pause of the
English and French in pictorial art after the fourteenth century. From
the days of Henry III. to those of Elizabeth, and of Louis IX. to those
of Louis XIV., the general intellect of the two nations was steadily on
the increase. But their art intellect was as steadily retrograde. The
only art work that France and England have done nobly is that which is
centralized by the Cathedral of Lincoln, and the Sainte Chapelle. We
had at that time (_we_--French and English--but the French first) the
incontestable lead among European nations; no thirteenth-century work in
Italy is comparable for majesty of conception, or wealth of imaginative
detail, to the cathedrals of Chartres, Rheims, Rouen, Amiens, Lincoln,
Peterborough, Wells, or Lichfield. But every hour of the fourteenth
century saw French and English art in precipitate decline, Italian in
steady ascent; and by the time that painting and sculpture had developed
themselves in an approximated perfection, in the work of Ghirlandajo and
Mino of Fésole, we had in France and England no workman, in any art,
deserving a workman's name; nothing but skilful masons, with more or
less love of the picturesque, and redundance of undisciplined
imagination, flaming itself away in wild and rich traceries, and crowded
bosses of grotesque figure sculpture, and expiring at last in barbarous
imitation of the perfected skill and erring choice of Renaissance Italy.
Painting could not decline, for it had not reached any eminence; the
exquisite arts of illumination and glass design had led to no effective
results in other materials; they themselves, incapable of any higher
perfection than they had reached in the thirteenth century, perished in
the vain endeavor to emulate pictorial excellence, bad _drawing_ being
substituted, in books, for lovely _writing_, and opaque precision, in
glass, for transparent power; nor in any single department of exertion
did artists arise of such calibre or class as any of the great Italians;
and yet all the while, in literature, _we_ were gradually and steadily
advancing in power up to the time of Shakespere; the Italians, on the
contrary, not advancing after the time of Dante.

§ 24. Of course I have no space here to pursue a question such as this;
but I may state my belief that _one_ of the conditions involved in it
was the mountain influence of Italian scenery, inducing a disposition to
such indolent or enthusiastic reverie, as could only express itself in
the visions of art; while the comparatively flat scenery and severer
climate of England and France, fostering less enthusiasm, and urging to
more exertion, brought about a practical and rational temperament,
progressive in policy, science, and literature, but wholly retrograde in
art; that is to say (for great art may be properly so defined), in the
Art of _Dreaming_.


  3rd. Influence of mountains on literary power.

§ 25. III. In admitting this, we seem to involve the supposition that
mountain influence is either unfavorable or inessential to literary
power; but for this also the mountain influence is still necessary, only
in a subordinate degree. It is true, indeed, that the Avon is no
mountain torrent, and that the hills round the vale of Stratford are not
sublime; true, moreover, that the cantons Berne or Uri have never yet,
so far as I know, produced a great poet; but neither, on the other hand,
has Antwerp or Amsterdam. And, I believe, the natural scenery which will
be found, on the whole, productive of most literary intellect is that
mingled of hill and plain, as all available light is of flame and
darkness; the flame being the active element, and the darkness the
tempering one.

§ 26. In noting such evidence as bears upon this subject, the reader
must always remember that the mountains are at an unfair disadvantage,
in being much _out of the way_ of the masses of men employed in
intellectual pursuits. The position of a city is dictated by military
necessity or commercial convenience; it rises, flourishes, and absorbs
into its activity whatever leading intellect is in the surrounding
population. The persons who are able and desirous to give their children
education naturally resort to it; the best schools, the best society,
and the strongest motives assist and excite those born within its walls;
and youth after youth rises to distinction out of its streets, while
among the blue mountains, twenty miles away, the goatherds live and die
in unregarded lowliness. And yet this is no proof that the mountains
have little effect upon the mind, or that the streets have a helpful
one. The men who are formed by the schools, and polished by the society
of the capital, may yet in many ways have their powers shortened by the
absence of natural scenery; and the mountaineer, neglected, ignorant,
and unambitious, may have been taught things by the clouds and streams
which he could not have learned in a college, or a coterie.

§ 27. And in reasoning about the effect of mountains we are therefore
under a difficulty like that which would occur to us if we had to
determine the good or bad effect of light on the human constitution, in
some place where all corporal exercise was necessarily in partial
darkness, and only idle people lived in the light. The exercise might
give an advantage to the occupants of the gloom, but we should neither
be justified in therefore denying the preciousness of light in general,
nor the necessity to the workers of the few rays they possessed; and
thus I suppose the hills around Stratford, and such glimpses as
Shakespere had of sandstone and pines in Warwickshire, or of chalk
cliffs in Kent, to have been essential to the development of his genius.
This supposition can only be proved false by the rising of a Shakespere
at Rotterdam or Bergen-op-Zoom, which I think not probable; whereas, on
the other hand, it is confirmed by myriads of collateral evidences. The
matter could only be _tested_ by placing for half a century the British
universities at Keswick, and Beddgelert, and making Grenoble the capital
of France; but if, throughout the history of Britain and France, we
contrast the general invention and pathetic power, in ballads or
legends, of the inhabitants of the Scottish Border with those manifested
in Suffolk or Essex; and similarly the inventive power of Normandy,
Provence, and the Bearnois with that of Champagne or Picardy, we shall
obtain some convincing evidence respecting the operation of hills on the
masses of mankind, and be disposed to admit, with less hesitation, that
the apparent inconsistencies in the effect of scenery on greater minds
proceed in each case from specialities of education, accident, and
original temper, which it would be impossible to follow out in detail.
Sometimes only, when the original resemblance in character of intellect
is very marked in two individuals, and they are submitted to definitely
contrary circumstances of education, an approximation to evidence may be
obtained. Thus Bacon and Pascal appear to be men naturally very similar
in their temper and powers of mind. One, born in York House, Strand, of
courtly parents, educated in court atmosphere, and replying, almost as
soon as he could speak, to the queen asking how old he was--"Two years
younger than Your Majesty's happy reign!"--has the world's meanness and
cunning engrafted into his intellect, and remains smooth, serene,
unenthusiastic, and in some degree base, even with all his sincere
devotion and universal wisdom; bearing, to the end of life, the likeness
of a marble palace in the street of a great city, fairly furnished
within, and bright in wall and battlement, yet noisome in places about
the foundations. The other, born at Clermont, in Auvergne, under the
shadow of the Puy de Dôme, though taken to Paris at eight years old,
retains for ever the impress of his birthplace; pursuing natural
philosophy with the same zeal as Bacon, he returns to his own mountains
to put himself under their tutelage, and by their help first discovers
the great relations of the earth and the air: struck at last with mortal
disease; gloomy, enthusiastic, and superstitious, with a conscience
burning like lava, and inflexible like iron, the clouds gather about the
majesty of him, fold after fold; and, with his spirit buried in ashes,
and rent by earthquake, yet fruitful of true thought and faithful
affection, he stands like that mound of desolate scoria that crowns the
hill ranges of his native land, with its sable summit far in heaven, and
its foundations green with the ordered garden and the trellised vine.

§ 28. When, however, our inquiry thus branches into the successive
analysis of individual characters, it is time for us to leave it; noting
only one or two points respecting Shakespere, whom, I doubt not, the
reader was surprised to find left out of all our comparisons in the
preceding volume. He seems to have been sent essentially to take
universal and equal grasp of the _human_ nature; and to have been
removed, therefore, from all influences which could in the least warp or
bias his thoughts. It was necessary that he should lean _no_ way; that
he should contemplate, with absolute equality of judgment, the life of
the court, cloister, and tavern, and be able to sympathize so completely
with all creatures as to deprive himself, together with his personal
identity, even of his conscience, as he casts himself into their hearts.
He must be able to enter into the soul of Falstaff or Shylock with no
more sense of contempt or horror than Falstaff or Shylock themselves
feel for or in themselves; otherwise his own conscience and indignation
would make him unjust to them; he would turn aside from something, miss
some good, or overlook some essential palliation. He must be utterly
without anger, utterly without purpose; for if a man has any serious
purpose in life, that which runs counter to it, or is foreign to it,
will be looked at frowningly or carelessly by him. Shakespere was
forbidden of Heaven to have any _plans_. To _do_ any good or _get_ any
good, in the common sense of good, was not to be within his permitted
range of work. Not, for him, the founding of institutions, the
preaching of doctrines, or the repression of abuses. Neither he, nor the
sun, did on any morning that they rose together, receive charge from
their Maker concerning such things. They were both of them to shine on
the evil and good; both to behold unoffendedly all that was upon the
earth, to burn unappalled upon the spears of kings, and undisdaining,
upon the reeds of the river.

§ 29. Therefore, so far as nature had influence over the early training
of this man, it was essential to his perfectness that the nature should
be quiet. No mountain passions were to be allowed in him. Inflict upon
him but one pang of the monastic conscience; cast upon him but one cloud
of the mountain gloom; and his serenity had been gone for ever--his
equity--his infinity. You would have made another Dante of him; and all
that he would have ever uttered about poor, soiled, and frail humanity
would have been the quarrel between Sinon and Adam of Brescia,--speedily
retired from, as not worthy a man's hearing, nay, not to be heard
without heavy fault. All your Falstaffs, Slenders, Quicklys, Sir Tobys,
Lances, Touchstones, and Quinces would have been lost in that.
Shakespere could be allowed no mountains; nay, not even any supreme
natural beauty. He had to be left with his kingcups and
clover;--pansies--the passing clouds--the Avon's flow--and the
undulating hills and woods of Warwick; nay, he was not to love even
these in any exceeding measure, lest it might make him in the least
overrate their power upon the strong, full-fledged minds of men. He
makes the quarrelling fairies concerned about them; poor lost Ophelia
find some comfort in them; fearful, fair, wise-hearted Perdita trust the
speaking of her good will and good hostess-ship to them; and one of the
brothers of Imogen confide his sorrow to them,--rebuked instantly by his
brother for "wench-like words;[111]" but any thought of them in his
mighty men I do not find: it is not usually in the nature of such men;
and if he had loved the flowers the _least_ better himself, he would
assuredly have been offended at this, and given a botanical turn of mind
to Cæsar, or Othello.

§ 30. And it is even among the most curious proofs of the necessity to
all high imagination that it should paint straight from the life, that
he has _not_ given such a turn of mind to some of his great men;--Henry
the Fifth, for instance. Doubtless some of my readers, having been
accustomed to hear it repeated thoughtlessly from mouth to mouth that
Shakespere conceived the spirit of all ages, were as much offended as
surprised at my saying that he only painted human nature as he saw it in
his own time. They will find, if they look into his work closely, as
much antiquarianism as they do geography, and no more. The commonly
received notions about the things that had been, Shakespere took as he
found them, animating them with pure human nature, of any time and all
time; but inquiries into the minor detail of temporary feeling, he
despised as utterly as he did maps; and wheresoever the temporary
feeling was in anywise contrary to that of his own day, he errs frankly,
and paints from his own time. For instance in this matter of love of
flowers; we have traced already, far enough for our general purposes,
the mediæval interest in them, whether to be enjoyed in the fields, or
to be used for types of ornamentation in dress. If Shakespere had cared
to enter into the spirit even of the early fifteenth century, he would
assuredly have marked this affection in some of his knights, and
indicated, even then, in heroic tempers, the peculiar respect for
loveliness of _dress_ which we find constantly in Dante. But he could
not do this; he had not seen it in real life. In his time dress had
become an affectation and absurdity. Only fools, or wise men in their
weak moments, showed much concern about it; and the facts of human
nature which appeared to him general in the matter were the soldier's
disdain, and the coxcomb's care of it. Hence Shakespere's good soldier
is almost always in plain or battered armor; even the speech of Vernon
in Henry the Fourth, which, as far as I remember, is the only one that
bears fully upon the beauty of armor, leans more upon the spirit and
hearts of men--"bated, like eagles having lately bathed;" and has an
under-current of slight contempt running through the following line,
"Glittering in golden coats, _like images_;" while the beauty of the
young Harry is essentially the beauty of fiery and perfect youth,
answering as much to the Greek, or Roman, or Elizabethan knight as to
the mediæval one; whereas the definite interest in armor and dress is
opposed by Shakespere in the French (meaning to depreciate them), to the
English rude soldierliness:

  "_Con._ Tut, I have the best armor in the world. Would it were day!
   _Orl._ You have an excellent armor, but let my horse have his due."

And again:

  "My lord constable, the armor that I saw in your tent to-night, are
   those stars, or suns, upon it?"

while Henry, half proud of his poorness of array, speaks of armorial
splendor scornfully; the main idea being still of its being a gilded
show and vanity--

  "Our gayness and our _gilt_ are all besmirched."

This is essentially Elizabethan. The quarterings on a knight's shield,
or the inlaying of his armor, would never have been thought of by him as
mere "gayness or gilt" in earlier days.[112] In like manner, throughout
every scale of rank or feeling, from that of the French knights down to
Falstaff's "I looked he should have sent me two-and-twenty yards of
satin, as I am true knight, and he sends me security!" care for dress is
always considered by Shakespere as contemptible; and Mrs. Quickly
distinguishes herself from a true fairy by her solicitude to scour the
_chairs of order_--and "each fair instalment, coat, and several crest;"
and the association in her mind of the flowers in the fairy rings with
the

  "Sapphire, pearl, and rich embroidery,
   Buckled below fair knighthood's bending knee;"

while the true fairies, in field simplicity, are only anxious to "sweep
the dust behind the door;" and

  "With this field dew consecrate,
   Every several chamber bless
   Through this palace with sweet peace."

Note the expression "Field dew consecrate." Shakespere loved courts and
camps; but he felt that sacredness and peace were in the dew of the
Fields only.

§ 31. There is another respect in which he was wholly incapable of
entering into the spirit of the middle ages. He had no great art of any
kind around him in his own country, and was, consequently, just as
powerless to conceive the general influence of former art, as a man of
the most inferior calibre. Therefore it was, that I did not care to
quote his authority respecting the power of imitation, in the second
chapter of the preceding volume. If it had been needful to add his
testimony to that of Dante (given in § 5), I might have quoted
multitudes of passages wholly concurring with that, of which the "fair
Portia's counterfeit," with the following lines, and the implied ideal
of sculpture in the Winter's Tale, are wholly unanswerable instances.
But Shakespere's evidence in matters of art is as narrow as the range of
Elizabethan art in England, and resolves itself wholly into admiration
of two things,--mockery of life (as in this instance of Hermione as a
statue), or absolute splendor, as in the close of Romeo and Juliet,
where the notion of _gold_ as the chief source of dignity of aspect,
coming down to Shakespere from the times of the Field of the Cloth of
Gold, and, as I said before, strictly Elizabethan, would interfere
seriously with the pathos of the whole passage, but for the sense of
sacrifice implied in it:

  "As _rich_ shall Romeo by his lady lie
   Poor sacrifices of our enmity."

§ 32. And observe, I am not giving these examples as proof of any
smallness in Shakespere, but of his greatness; that is to say, of his
contentment, like every other great man who ever breathed, to paint
nothing but _what he saw_; and therefore giving perpetual evidence that
his sight was of the sixteenth, and not of the thirteenth century,
beneath all the broad and eternal humanity of his imagination. How far
in these modern days, emptied of splendor, it may be necessary for great
men having certain sympathies for those earlier ages, to act in this
differently from all their predecessors; and how far they may succeed in
the resuscitation of the past by habitually dwelling in all their
thoughts among vanished generations, are questions, of all practical and
present ones concerning art, the most difficult to decide; for already
in poetry several of our truest men have set themselves to this task,
and have indeed put more vitality into the shadows of the dead than most
others can give the presences of the living. Thus Longfellow, in the
Golden Legend, has entered more closely into the temper of the Monk, for
good and for evil, than ever yet theological writer or historian, though
they may have given their life's labor to the analysis: and, again,
Robert Browning is unerring in every sentence he writes of the Middle
Ages; always vital, right, and profound; so that in the matter of art,
with which we have been specially concerned, there is hardly a principle
connected with the mediæval temper, that he has not struck upon in those
seemingly careless and too rugged rhymes of his. There is a curious
instance, by the way, in a short poem referring to this very subject of
tomb and image sculpture; and illustrating just one of those phases of
local human character which, though belonging to Shakespere's own age,
he never noticed, because it was specially Italian and un-English;
connected also closely with the influence of mountains on the heart, and
therefore with our immediate inquiries. I mean the kind of admiration
with which a southern artist regarded the _stone_ he worked in; and the
pride which populace or priest took in the possession of precious
mountain substance, worked into the pavements of their cathedrals, and
the shafts of their tombs.

§ 33. Observe, Shakespere, in the midst of architecture and tombs of
wood, or freestone, or brass, naturally thinks of _gold_ as the best
enriching and ennobling substance for them;--in the midst also of the
fever of the Renaissance he writes, as every one else did, in praise of
precisely the most vicious master of that school--Giulio Romano; but the
modern poet, living much in Italy, and quit of the Renaissance
influence, is able fully to enter into the Italian feeling, and to see
the evil of the Renaissance tendency, not because he is greater than
Shakespere, but because he is in another element, and has _seen_ other
things. I miss fragments here and there not needed for my purpose in the
passage quoted, without putting asterisks, for I weaken the poem enough
by the omissions, without spoiling it also by breaks.

  "_The Bishop orders his tomb in St. Praxed's Church._

                         "As here I lie
  In this state chamber, dying by degrees,
  Hours, and long hours, in the dead night, I ask,
  Do I live--am I dead? Peace, peace, seems all;
  St. Praxed's ever was the church for peace.
  And so, about this tomb of mine. I fought
  With tooth and nail to save my niche, ye know;
  Old Gandolf[113] cozened me, despite my care.
  Shrewd was that snatch from out the corner south
  He graced his carrion with.
  Yet still my niche is not so cramped but thence
  One sees the pulpit o' the epistle side,
  And somewhat of the choir, those silent seats;
  And up into the aery dome where live
  The angels, and a sunbeam's sure to lurk.
  And I shall fill my slab of basalt there,
  And 'neath my tabernacle take my rest,
  With those nine columns round me, two and two,
  The odd one at my feet, where Anselm[114] stands;
  Peach-blossom marble all.
  Swift as a weaver's shuttle fleet our years:
  Man goeth to the grave, and where is he?
  Did I say basalt for my slab, sons? Black--
  'Twas ever antique-black[115] I meant! How else
  Shall ye contrast my frieze to come beneath?
  The bas-relief in bronze ye promised me,
  Those Pans and Nymphs ye wot of, and perchance
  Some tripod, thyrsus, with a vase or so,
  The Saviour at his sermon on the mount,
  St. Praxed in a glory, and one Pan,
  And Moses with the tables ... but I know
  Ye mark me not! What do they whisper thee,
  Child of my bowels, Anselm? Ah, ye hope
  To revel down my villas while I gasp,
  Bricked o'er with beggar's mouldy travertine,
  Which Gandolf from his tomb-top chuckles at!
  Nay, boys, ye love me--all of jasper, then!
  There's plenty jasper somewhere in the world--
  And have I not St. Praxed's ear to pray
  Horses for ye, and brown Greek manuscripts.
  That's if ye carve my epitaph aright,
  Choice Latin, picked phrase, Tully's every word,
  No gaudy ware like Gandolf's second line--
  Tully, my masters? Ulpian serves _his_ need."

§ 34. I know no other piece of modern English, prose or poetry, in which
there is so much told, as in these lines, of the Renaissance
spirit,--its worldliness, inconsistency, pride, hypocrisy, ignorance of
itself, love of art, of luxury, and of good Latin. It is nearly all that
I said of the central Renaissance in thirty pages of the "Stones of
Venice" put into as many lines, Browning's being also the antecedent
work. The worst of it is that this kind of concentrated writing needs so
much _solution_ before the reader can fairly get the good of it, that
people's patience fails them, and they give the thing up as insoluble;
though, truly, it ought to be to the current of common thought like
Saladin's talisman, dipped in clear water, not soluble altogether, but
making the element medicinal.

§ 35. It is interesting, by the way, with respect to this love of
stones in the Italian mind, to consider the difference necessitated in
the English temper merely by the general domestic use of wood instead of
marble. In that old Shakesperian England, men must have rendered a
grateful homage to their oak forests, in the sense of all that they owed
to their goodly timbers in the wainscot and furniture of the rooms they
loved best, when the blue of the frosty midnight was contrasted, in the
dark diamonds of the lattice, with the glowing brown of the warm,
fire-lighted, crimson-tapestried walls. Not less would an Italian look
with a grateful regard on the hill summits, to which he owed, in the
scorching of his summer noonday, escape into the marble corridor or
crypt palpitating only with cold and smooth variegation of the unfevered
mountain veins. In some sort, as, both in our stubbornness and our
comfort, we not unfitly describe ourselves typically as Hearts of Oak,
the Italians might in their strange and variegated mingling of passion,
like purple color, with a cruel sternness, like white rock, truly
describe themselves as Hearts of Stone.

§ 36. Into this feeling about marble in domestic use, Shakespere, having
seen it even in northern luxury, could partly enter, and marks it in
several passages of his Italian plays. But if the reader still doubts
his limitation to his own experience in all subjects of imagination, let
him consider how the removal from mountain influence in his youth, so
necessary for the perfection of his lower human sympathy, prevented him
from ever rendering with any force the feelings of the mountain
anchorite, or indicating in any of his monks the deep spirit of
monasticism. Worldly cardinals or nuncios he can fathom to the
uttermost; but where, in all his thoughts, do we find St. Francis, or
Abbot Samson? The "Friar" of Shakespere's plays is almost the only stage
conventionalism which he admitted; generally nothing more than a weak
old man who lives in a cell, and has a rope about his waist.

§ 37. While, finally, in such slight allusions as he makes to mountain
scenery itself, it is very curious to observe the accurate limitation of
his sympathies to such things as he had known in his youth; and his
entire preference of human interest, and of courtly and kingly dignities
to the nobleness of the hills. This is most marked in Cymbeline, where
the term "mountaineer" is, as with Dante, always one of reproach; and
the noble birth of Arviragus and Guiderius is shown by their holding
their mountain cave as

  "A cell of ignorance; travelling abed.
   A prison for a debtor;"

and themselves, educated among hills, as in all things contemptible:

  "We are beastly; subtle as the fox, for prey;
   Like warlike as the wolf, for what we eat:
   Our valor is to chase what flies; our cage
   We make our choir, as doth the prisoned bird."

A few phrases occur here and there which might justify the supposition
that he had seen high mountains, but never implying awe or admiration.
Thus Demetrius:

  "These things seem _small_ and _indistinguishable_,
   _Like far-off mountains, turned into clouds_."

"Taurus snow," and the "frosty Caucasus," are used merely as types of
purity or cold; and though the avalanche is once spoken of as an image
of power, it is with instantly following depreciation:

  "Rush on his host, as doth the melted snow
   Upon the valleys, whose low vassal seat
   The Alps doth spit and void his rheum upon."

§ 38. There was only one thing belonging to hills that Shakespere seemed
to feel as noble--the pine tree, and that was because he had seen it in
Warwickshire, clumps of pine occasionally rising on little sandstone
mounds, as at the place of execution of Piers Gaveston, above the
lowland woods. He touches on this tree fondly again and again.

                                 "As rough,
  Their royal blood enchafed, as the rud'st wind,
  That by his top doth take the mountain pine,
  And make him stoop to the vale."

                 "The strong-based promontory
  Have I made shake, and by the spurs plucked up
  The pine and cedar."

Where note his observance of the peculiar horizontal roots of the pine,
spurred as it is by them like the claw of a bird, and partly propped, as
the aiguilles by those rock promontories at their bases which I have
always called their spurs, this observance of the pine's strength and
animal-like grasp being the chief reason for his choosing it, above all
other trees, for Ariel's prison. Again:

  "You may as well forbid the mountain pines
   To wag their high tops, and to make no noise
   When they are fretted with the gusts of heaven."

And yet again:

  "But when, from under this terrestrial ball,
   He fires the proud tops of the eastern pines."

We may judge, by the impression which this single feature of hill
scenery seems to have made on Shakespere's mind, because he had seen it
in his youth, how his whole temper would have been changed if he had
lived in a more sublime country, and how essential it was to his power
of contemplation of mankind that he should be removed from the sterner
influences of nature. For the rest, so far as Shakespere's work has
imperfections of any kind,--the trivialness of many of his adopted
plots, for instance, and the comparative rarity with which he admits the
ideal of an enthusiastic virtue arising out of principle; virtue being
with him for the most part founded simply on the affections joined with
inherent purity in his women or on mere manly pride and honor in his
men;[116]--in a word, whatever difference, involving inferiority, there
exists between him and Dante, in his conceptions of the relation between
this world and the next, we may partly trace as we did the difference
between Bacon and Pascal, to the less noble character of the scenes
around him in his youth; and admit that, though it was necessary for his
special work that he should be put, as it were, on a level with his
race, on those plains of Stratford, we should see in this a proof,
instead of a negation, of the mountain power over human intellect. For
breadth and perfectness of condescending sight, the Shakesperian mind
stands alone; but in _ascending_ sight it is limited. The breadth of
grasp is innate; the stoop and slightness of it was given by the
circumstances of scene; and the difference between those careless
masques of heathen gods, or unbelieved though mightily conceived visions
of fairy, witch, or risen spirit, and the earnest faith of Dante's
vision of Paradise, is the true measure of the difference in influence
between the willowy banks of Avon, and the purple hills of Arno.

§ 39. Our third inquiry, into the influence of mountains on domestic and
military character, was, we said, to be deferred; for this reason, that
it is too much involved with the consideration of the influence of
simple rural life in unmountainous districts, to be entered upon with
advantage until we have examined the general beauty of vegetation,
whether lowland or mountainous. I hope to pursue this inquiry,
therefore, at the close of the next volume; only desiring, in the
meantime, to bring one or two points connected with it under the
consideration of our English travellers.

§ 40. For, it will be remembered, we first entered on this subject in
order to obtain some data as to the possibility of a Practical Ideal in
Swiss life, correspondent, in some measure, to the poetical ideal of the
same, which so largely entertains the European public. Of which
possibility, I do not think, after what we have even already seen of the
true effect of mountains on the human mind, there is any reason to
doubt, even if that ideal had not been presented to us already in some
measure, in the older life of the Swiss republics. But of its
possibility, _under present circumstances_, there is, I grieve to say,
the deepest reason to doubt; and that the more, because the question is
not whether the mountaineer can be raised into a happier life by the
help of the active nations of the plains; but whether he can yet be
protected from the infection of the folly and vanity of those nations. I
urged, in the preceding chapter, some consideration of what might be
accomplished, if we chose to devote to the help what we now devote to
the mockery of the Swiss. But I would that the enlightened population of
Paris and London were content with doing nothing;--that they were
satisfied with expenditure upon their idle pleasures, in their idle way;
and would leave the Swiss to their own mountain gloom of unadvancing
independence. I believe that every franc now spent by travellers among
the Alps tends more or less to the undermining of whatever special
greatness there is in the Swiss character; and the persons I met in
Switzerland, whose position and modes of life rendered them best able to
give me true information respecting the present state of their country,
among many causes of national deterioration, spoke with chief fear of
the influx of English wealth, gradually connecting all industry with the
wants and ways of strangers, and inviting all idleness to depend upon
their casual help; thus gradually resolving the ancient consistency and
pastoral simplicity of the mountain life into the two irregular trades
of innkeeper[117] and mendicant.

§ 41. I could say much on this subject if I had any hope of doing good
by saying anything. But I have none. The influx of foreigners into
Switzerland must necessarily be greater every year, and the greater it
is, the larger, in the crowd, will be the majority of persons whose
objects in travelling will be, first, to get as fast as possible from
place to place, and, secondly, at every place where they arrive, to
obtain the kind of accommodation and amusement to which they are
accustomed in Paris, London, Brighton, or Baden. Railroads are already
projected round the head of the Lake of Geneva, and through the town of
Fribourg; the head of the Lake of Geneva being precisely and accurately
the one spot of Europe whose character, and influence on human mind, are
special; and unreplaceable if destroyed, no other spot resembling, or
being in any wise comparable to it, in its peculiar way: while the town
of Fribourg is in like manner the only mediæval mountain town of
importance left to us; Inspruck and such others being wholly modern,
while Fribourg yet retains much of the aspect it had in the fourteenth
and fifteenth centuries. The valley of Chamouni, another spot also
unique in its way, is rapidly being turned into a kind of Cremorne
Gardens; and I can see, within the perspective of but few years, the
town of Lucerne consisting of a row of symmetrical hotels round the foot
of the lake, its old bridges destroyed, an iron one built over the
Reuss, and an acacia promenade carried along the lake-shore, with a
German band playing under a Chinese temple at the end of it, and the
enlightened travellers, representatives of European civilization,
performing before the Alps, in each afternoon summer sunlight, in their
modern manner, the Dance of Death.

§ 42. All this is inevitable; and it has its good as well as its evil
side. I can imagine the zealous modernist replying to me that when all
this is happily accomplished, my melancholy peasants of the valley of
Trient will be turned into thriving shopkeepers, the desolate streets of
Sion into glittering thoroughfares, and the marshes of the Valais into
prosperous market-gardens. I hope so; and indeed am striving every day
to conceive more accurately, and regulate all my efforts by the
expectation of, the state of society, not now, I suppose, much more
than twenty years in advance of us, when Europe, having satisfactorily
effaced all memorials of the past, and reduced itself to the likeness of
America, or of any other new country (only with less room for exertion),
shall begin to consider what is next to be done, and to what newness of
arts and interests may best be devoted the wealth of its marts, and the
strength of its multitudes. Which anticipations and estimates, however,
I have never been able, as yet, to carry out with any clearness, being
always arrested by the confused notion of a necessity for solitude,
disdain of buying and selling, and other elements of that old mediæval
and mountain gloom, as in some way connected with the efforts of nearly
all men who have either seen far into the destiny, or been much helpful
to the souls, of their race. And the grounds of this feeling, whether
right or wrong, I hope to analyze more fully in the next volume; only
noting, finally, in this, one or two points for the consideration of
those among us with whom it may sometimes become a question, whether
they will help forward, or not, the turning of a sweet mountain valley
into an abyss of factory-stench and toil, or the carrying of a line of
traffic through some green place of shepherd solitude.

§ 43. For, if there be any truth in the impression which I have always
felt, and just now endeavored to enforce, that the mountains of the
earth are its natural cathedrals, or natural altars, overlaid with gold,
and bright with broidered work of flowers, and with their clouds resting
on them as the smoke of a continual sacrifice, it may surely be a
question with some of us, whether the tables of the moneychanger,
however fit and commendable they may be as furniture in other places,
are precisely the thing which it is the whole duty of man to get well
set up in the mountain temple.

§ 44. And perhaps it may help to the better determination of this
question, if we endeavor, for a few patient moments, to bear with that
weakness of our forefathers in feeling an awe for the hills; and,
divesting ourselves, as far as may be, of our modern experimental or
exploring activity, and habit of regarding mountains chiefly as places
for gymnastic exercise, try to understand the temper, not indeed
altogether exemplary, but yet having certain truths and dignities in
it, to which we owe the founding of the Benedictine and Carthusian
cloisters in the thin Alpine air. And this monkish temper we may, I
suppose, best understand by considering the aspect under which mountains
are represented in the Monk's book. I found that in my late lectures, at
Edinburgh, I gave great offence by supposing, or implying, that
scriptural expressions could have any force as bearing upon modern
practical questions; so that I do not now, nor shall I any more, allude
to such expressions as in any wise necessarily bearing on the worldly
business of the practical Protestant, but only as necessary to be
glanced at in order to understand the temper of those old monks, who had
the awkward habit of understanding the Bible literally; and to get any
little good which momentary sympathy with the hearts of a large and
earnest class of men may surely bring to us.

§ 45. The monkish view of mountains, then, already alluded to,[118] was
derived wholly from that Latin Vulgate of theirs; and, speaking as a
monk, it may perhaps be permitted me to mark the significance of the
earliest mention of mountains in the Mosaic books; at least, of those in
which some Divine appointment or command is stated respecting them. They
are first brought before us as refuges for God's people from the two
judgments of water and fire. The ark _rests_ upon the "mountains of
Ararat;" and man, having passed through that great baptism unto death,
kneels upon the earth first where it is nearest heaven, and mingles with
the mountain clouds the smoke of his sacrifice of thanksgiving. Again:
from the midst of the first judgment by fire, the command of the Deity
to His servant is, "Escape to the mountain;" and the morbid fear of the
hills, which fills any human mind after long stay in places of luxury
and sin, is strangely marked in Lot's complaining reply: "I cannot
escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me." The third mention, in
way of ordinance, is a far more solemn one: "Abraham lifted up his eyes,
and saw the place afar off." "The Place," the Mountain of Myrrh, or of
bitterness, chosen to fulfil to all the seed of Abraham, far off and
near, the inner meaning of promise regarded in that vow: "I will lift up
mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh mine help."

And the fourth is the delivery of the law on Sinai.

§ 46. It seemed, then, to the monks, that the mountains were appointed
by their Maker to be to man, refuges from Judgment, signs of Redemption,
and altars of Sanctification and obedience; and they saw them afterwards
connected, in the manner the most touching and gracious, with the death,
after his task had been accomplished, of the first anointed Priest; the
death, in like manner, of the first inspired Lawgiver; and, lastly, with
the assumption of his office by the Eternal Priest, Lawgiver, and
Saviour.

Observe the connection of these three events. Although the _time_ of the
deaths of Aaron and Moses was hastened by God's displeasure, we have
not, it seems to me, the slightest warrant for concluding that the
_manner_ of their deaths was intended to be grievous or dishonorable to
them. Far from this: it cannot, I think, be doubted that in the denial
of the permission to enter the Promised Land, the whole punishment of
their sin was included; and that as far as regarded the manner of their
deaths, it must have been appointed for them by their Master in all
tenderness and love; and with full purpose of ennobling the close of
their service upon the earth. It might have seemed to us more honorable
that both should have been permitted to die beneath the shadow of the
Tabernacle, the congregation of Israel watching by their side; and all
whom they loved gathered together to receive the last message from the
lips of the meek lawgiver, and the last blessing from the prayer of the
anointed priest. But it was not thus they were permitted to die. Try to
realize that going forth of Aaron from the midst of the congregation. He
who had so often done sacrifice for their sin, going forth now to offer
up his own spirit. He who had stood, among them, between the dead and
the living, and had seen the eyes of all that great multitude turned to
him, that by his intercession their breath might yet be drawn a moment
more, going forth now to meet the Angel of Death face to face, and
deliver himself into his hand. Try if you cannot walk, in thought, with
those two brothers, and the son, as they passed the outmost tents of
Israel, and turned, while yet the dew lay round about the camp, towards
the slopes of Mount Hor; talking together for the last time, as step by
step, they felt the steeper rising of the rocks, and hour after hour,
beneath the ascending sun, the horizon grew broader as they climbed, and
all the folded hills of Idumea, one by one subdued, showed amidst their
hollows in the haze of noon, the windings of that long desert journey,
now at last to close. But who shall enter into the thoughts of the High
Priest, as his eye followed those paths of ancient pilgrimage; and,
through the silence of the arid and endless hills, stretching even to
the dim peak of Sinai, the whole history of those forty years was
unfolded before him, and the mystery of his own ministries revealed to
him; and that other Holy of Holies, of which the mountain peaks were the
altars, and the mountain clouds the veil, the firmament of his Father's
dwelling, opened to him still more brightly and infinitely as he drew
nearer his death; until at last, on the shadeless summit,--from him on
whom sin was to be laid no more--from him, on whose heart the names of
sinful nations were to press their graven fire no longer,--the brother
and the son took breastplate and ephod, and left him to his rest.

§ 47. There is indeed a secretness in this calm faith and deep restraint
of sorrow, into which it is difficult for us to enter; but the death of
Moses himself is more easily to be conceived, and had in it
circumstances still more touching, as far as regards the influence of
the external scene. For forty years Moses had not been alone. The care
and burden of all the people, the weight of their woe, and guilt, and
death, had been upon him continually. The multitude had been laid upon
him as if he had conceived them; their tears had been his meat, night
and day, until he had felt as if God had withdrawn His favor from him,
and he had prayed that he might be slain, and not see his
wretchedness.[119] And now, at last, the command came, "Get thee up into
this mountain." The weary hands that had been so long stayed up against
the enemies of Israel, might lean again upon the shepherd's staff, and
fold themselves for the shepherd's prayer--for the shepherd's slumber.
Not strange to his feet, though forty years unknown, the roughness of
the bare mountain-path, as he climbed from ledge to ledge of Abarim; not
strange to his aged eyes the scattered clusters of the mountain
herbage, and the broken shadows of the cliffs, indented far across the
silence of uninhabited ravines; scenes such as those among which, with
none, as now, beside him but God, he had led his flocks so often; and
which he had left, how painfully! taking upon him the appointed power,
to make of the fenced city a wilderness, and to fill the desert with
songs of deliverance. It was not to embitter the last hours of his life
that God restored to him, for a day, the beloved solitudes he had lost;
and breathed the peace of the perpetual hills around him, and cast the
world in which he had labored and sinned far beneath his feet, in that
mist of dying blue;--all sin, all wandering, soon to be forgotten for
ever; the Dead Sea--a type of God's anger understood by him, of all men,
most clearly, who had seen the earth open her mouth, and the sea his
depth, to overwhelm the companies of those who contended with his
Master--laid waveless beneath him; and beyond it, the fair hills of
Judah, and the soft plains and banks of Jordan, purple in the evening
light as with the blood of redemption, and fading in their distant
fulness into mysteries of promise and of love. There, with his unabated
strength, his undimmed glance, lying down upon the utmost rocks, with
angels waiting near to contend for the spoils of his spirit, he put off
his earthly armor. We do deep reverence to his companion prophet, for
whom the chariot of fire came down from heaven; but was his death less
noble, whom his Lord Himself buried in the vales of Moab, keeping, in
the secrets of the eternal counsels, the knowledge of a sepulchre, from
which he was to be called, in the fulness of time, to talk with that
Lord, upon Hermon, of the death that He should accomplish at Jerusalem?

And lastly, let us turn our thoughts for a few moments to the cause of
the resurrection of these two prophets. We are all of us too much in the
habit of passing it by, as a thing mystical and inconceivable, taking
place in the life of Christ for some purpose not by us to be understood,
or, at the best, merely as a manifestation of His divinity by brightness
of heavenly light, and the ministering of the spirits of the dead,
intended to strengthen the faith of His three chosen apostles. And in
this, as in many other events recorded by the Evangelists, we lose half
the meaning and evade the practical power upon ourselves, by never
accepting in its fulness the idea that our Lord was "perfect man,"
"tempted in all things like as we are." Our preachers are continually
trying, in all manner of subtle ways, to explain the union of the
Divinity with the Manhood, an explanation which certainly involves first
their being able to describe the nature of Deity itself, or, in plain
words, to comprehend God. They never can explain, in any one particular,
the union of the natures; they only succeed in weakening the faith of
their hearers as to the entireness of either. The thing they have to do
is precisely the contrary of this--to insist upon the _entireness_ of
both. We never think of Christ enough as God, never enough as Man; the
instinctive habit of our minds being always to miss of the Divinity, and
the reasoning and enforced habit to miss of the Humanity. We are afraid
to harbor in our own hearts, or to utter in the hearing of others, any
thought of our Lord, as hungering, tired, sorrowful, having a human
soul, a human will, and affected by events of human life as a finite
creature is; and yet one half of the efficiency of His atonement, and
the whole of the efficiency of His example, depend on His having been
this to the full.

§ 48. Consider, therefore, the Transfiguration as it relates to the
human feelings of our Lord. It was the first definite preparation for
His death. He had foretold it to His disciples six days before; then
takes with Him the three chosen ones into "an high mountain apart." From
an exceeding high mountain, at the first taking on Him the ministry of
life, He had beheld, and rejected the kingdoms of the earth, and their
glory: now, on a high mountain, He takes upon Him the ministry of death.
Peter and they that were with him, as in Gethsemane, were heavy with
sleep. Christ's work had to be done alone.

The tradition is, that the Mount of Transfiguration was the summit of
Tabor; but Tabor is neither a high mountain, nor was it in any sense a
mountain "_apart_;" being in those years both inhabited and fortified.
All the immediately preceding ministries of Christ had been at Cesarea
Philippi. There is no mention of travel southward in the six days that
intervened between the warning given to His disciples, and the going up
into the hill. What other hill could it be than the southward slope of
that goodly mountain, Hermon, which is indeed the centre of all the
Promised Land, from the entering in of Hamath unto the river of Egypt;
the mount of fruitfulness, from which the springs of Jordan descended to
the valleys of Israel. Along its mighty forest avenues, until the grass
grew fair with the mountain lilies, His feet dashed in the dew of
Hermon, He must have gone to pray His first recorded prayer about death;
and from the steep of it, before He knelt, could see to the south all
the dwelling-place of the people that had sat in darkness, and seen the
great light, the land of Zabulon and of Naphtali, Galilee of the
nations;--could see, even with His human sight, the gleam of that lake
by Capernaum and Chorazin, and many a place loved by Him, and vainly
ministered to, whose house was now left unto them desolate; and, chief
of all, far in the utmost blue, the hills above Nazareth, sloping down
to His old home: hills on which yet the stones lay loose, that had been
taken up to cast at Him, when He left them for ever.

§ 49. "And as he prayed, two men stood by him." Among the many ways in
which we miss the help and hold of Scripture, none is more subtle than
our habit of supposing that, even as man, Christ was free from the Fear
of Death. How could He then have been tempted as we are? since among all
the trials of the earth, none spring from the dust more terrible than
that Fear. It had to be borne by Him, indeed, in a unity, which we can
never comprehend, with the foreknowledge of victory,--as His sorrow for
Lazarus, with the consciousness of the power to restore him; but it
_had_ to be borne, and that in its full earthly terror; and the presence
of it is surely marked for us enough by the rising of those two at His
side. When, in the desert, He was girding Himself for the work of life,
angels of life came and ministered unto Him; now, in the fair world,
when He is girding Himself for the work of death, the ministrants come
to Him from the grave.

But from the grave conquered. One, from that tomb under Abarim, which
His own hand had sealed so long ago; the other from the rest into which
he had entered, without seeing corruption. There stood by Him Moses and
Elias, and spake of His decease.

Then, when the prayer is ended, the task accepted, first, since the
star paused over Him at Bethlehem, the full glory falls upon Him from
heaven, and the testimony is borne to his everlasting Sonship and power.
"Hear ye him."

If, in their remembrance of these things, and in their endeavor to
follow in the footsteps of their Master, religious men of by-gone days,
closing themselves in the hill solitudes, forgot sometimes, and
sometimes feared, the duties they owed to the active world, we may
perhaps pardon them more easily than we ought to pardon ourselves, if we
neither seek any influence for good nor submit to it unsought, in scenes
to which thus all the men whose writings we receive as inspired,
together with their Lord, retired whenever they had any task or trial
laid upon them needing more than their usual strength of spirit. Nor,
perhaps, should we have unprofitably entered into the mind of the
earlier ages, if among our other thoughts, as we watch the chains of the
snowy mountains rise on the horizon, we should sometimes admit the
memory of the hour in which their Creator, among their solitudes,
entered on His travail for the salvation of our race; and indulge the
dream, that as the flaming and trembling mountains of the earth seem to
be the monuments of the manifesting of His terror on Sinai,--these pure
and white hills, near to the heaven, and sources of all good to the
earth, are the appointed memorials of that Light of His Mercy, that
fell, snow-like, on the Mount of Transfiguration.


FOOTNOTES

  [106] In tracing the _whole_ of the deep enjoyment to mountain
    association, I of course except whatever feelings are connected with
    the observance of rural life, or with that of architecture. None of
    these feelings arise out of the landscape, properly so-called: the
    pleasure with which we see a peasant's garden fairly kept, or a
    ploughman doing his work well, or a group of children playing at a
    cottage door, being wholly separate from that which we find in the
    fields or commons around them; and the beauty of architecture, or
    the associations connected with it, in like manner often ennobling
    the most tame scenery;--yet not so but that we may always
    distinguish between the abstract character of the unassisted
    landscape, and the charm which it derives from the architecture.
    Much of the majesty of French landscape consists in its grand and
    grey village churches and turreted farmhouses, not to speak of its
    cathedrals, castles, and beautifully placed cities.

  [107] One of the principal reasons for the false supposition that
    Switzerland is not picturesque, is the error of most sketchers and
    painters in representing pine forest in middle distance as dark
    _green_, or grey green, whereas its true color is always purple, at
    distances of even two or three miles. Let any traveller coming down
    the Montanvert look for an aperture, three or four inches wide,
    between the near pine branches, through which, standing eight or ten
    feet from it, he can see the opposite forests on the Breven or
    Flegère. Those forests are not above two or two and a half miles
    from him; but he will find the aperture is filled by a tint of
    nearly pure azure or purple, not by green.

  [108] The Savoyard's name for its flower, "Pain du Bon Dieu," is
    very beautiful; from, I believe, the supposed resemblance of its
    white and scattered blossom to the fallen manna.

  [109] See reference to his painting of stones in the last note to §
    28 of the chapter on Imagination Penetrative, Vol. II.

  [110] In saying this I do not, of course, forget the influence of
    the sea on the Pisans and Venetians; but that is a separate subject,
    and must be examined in the next volume.

  [111]                          "With fairest flowers
        While summer lasts, and I live here, Fidele,
        I'll sweeten thy sad grave. Thou shalt not lack
        The flower that's like thy face--pale primrose, nor
        The azured harebell--like thy veins; no, nor
        The leaf of eglantine, whom not to slander,
        Outsweetened not thy breath. The ruddock would
        With charitable bill bring thee all this;
        Yea, and furred moss besides, when flowers are none,
        To winter-ground thy corse.
     _Gui._                      Prithee, have done,
        And do not play in wench-like words with that
        Which is so serious."

    Imogen herself, afterwards in deeper passion, will give weeds--not
    flowers--and something more:

                                       "And when
        With wildwood leaves, and weeds, I have strewed his grave,
        And on it said a century of prayers,
        Such as I can, twice o'er, I'll weep, and sigh,
        And, leaving so his service, follow you."

  [112] If the reader thinks that in Henry the Fifth's time the
    Elizabethan temper might already have been manifesting itself, let
    him compare the English herald's speech, act 2, scene 2, of King
    John; and by way of specimen of Shakespere's historical care, or
    regard of mediæval character, the large use of _artillery_ in the
    previous scene.

  [113] The last bishop.

  [114] His favorite son; nominally his nephew.

  [115] "Nero Antico" is more familiar to our ears; but Browning does
    right in translating it; as afterwards "cipollino" into
    "onion-stone." Our stupid habit of using foreign words without
    translation is continually losing us half the force of the foreign
    language. How many travellers hearing the term "cipollino" recognize
    the intended sense of a stone splitting into concentric coats, like
    an onion?

  [116] I mean that Shakespere almost always implies a total
    difference in _nature_ between one human being and another; one
    being from the birth, pure and affectionate, another base and cruel;
    and he displays each, in its sphere, as having the nature of dove,
    wolf, or lion, never much implying the government or change of
    nature by any external principle. There can be no question that in
    the main he is right in this view of human nature; still, the other
    form of virtue does exist occasionally, and was never, as far as I
    recollect, taken much note of by him. And with this stern view of
    humanity, Shakespere joined a sorrowful view of Fate, closely
    resembling that of the ancients. He is distinguished from Dante
    eminently by his always dwelling on last causes instead of first
    causes. Dante invariably points to the moment of the soul's choice
    which fixed its fate, to the instant of the day when it read no
    farther, or determined to give bad advice about Penestrino. But
    Shakespere always leans on the force of Fate, as it urges the final
    evil; and dwells with infinite bitterness on the power of the
    wicked, and the infinitude of result dependent seemingly on little
    things. A fool brings the last piece of news from Verona, and the
    dearest lives of its noble houses are lost; they might have been
    saved if the sacristan had not stumbled as he walked. Othello
    mislays his handkerchief, and there remains nothing for him but
    death. Hamlet gets hold of the wrong foil, and the rest is silence.
    Edmund's runner is a moment too late at the prison, and the feather
    will not move at Cordelia's lips. Salisbury a moment too late at the
    tower, and Arthur lies on the stones dead. Goneril and Iago have on
    the whole, in this world, Shakespere sees, much of their own way,
    though they come to a bad end. It is a pin that Death pierces the
    king's fortress wall with; and Carelessness and Folly sit sceptred
    and dreadful, side by side with the pin-armed skeleton.

  [117] Not the old hospitable innkeeper, who honored his guests and
    was honored by them, than whom I do not know a more useful or worthy
    character; but the modern innkeeper, proprietor of a building in the
    shape of a factory, making up three hundred beds; who necessarily
    regards his guests in the light of Numbers 1, 2, 3-300, and is too
    often felt or apprehended by them only as a presiding influence of
    extortion.

  [118] Vol III. Chap. XIV. § 10.

  [119] Numbers, xi. 12, 15.



APPENDIX.


I. MODERN GROTESQUE.

The reader may perhaps be somewhat confused by the different tone with
which, in various passages of these volumes, I have spoken of the
dignity of Expression. He must remember that there are three distinct
schools of expression, and that it is impossible, on every occasion when
the term is used, to repeat the definition of the three, and distinguish
the school spoken of.

There is, first, the Great Expressional School, consisting of the
sincerely thoughtful and affectionate painters of early times, masters
of their art, as far as it was known in their days. Orcagna, John
Bellini, Perugino, and Angelico, are its leading masters. All the men
who compose it are, without exception, _colorists_. The modern
Pre-Raphaelites belong to it.

Secondly, the Pseudo-Expressional School, wholly of modern development,
consisting of men who have never mastered their art, and are probably
incapable of mastering it, but who hope to substitute sentiment for good
painting. It is eminently characterized by its contempt of color, and
may be most definitely distinguished as the School of Clay.

Thirdly, the Grotesque Expressional School, consisting of men who,
having peculiar powers of observation for the stronger signs of
character in anything, and sincerely delighting in them, lose sight of
the associated refinements or beauties. This school is apt, more or
less, to catch at faults or strangenesses; and, associating its powers
of observation with wit or malice, produces the wild, gay, or satirical
grotesque in early sculpture, and in modern times, our rich and various
popular caricature.

I took no note of this branch of art in the chapter on the Grotesque
Ideal; partly because I did not wish to disturb the reader's mind in our
examination of the great imaginative grotesque, and also because I did
not feel able to give a distinct account of this branch, having never
thoroughly considered the powers of eye and hand involved in its finer
examples. But assuredly men of strong intellect and fine sense are found
among the caricaturists, and it is to them that I allude in saying that
the most subtle expression is often attained by "slight studies;" while
it is of the pseudo-expressionalist, or "high art" school that I am
speaking, when I say that expression may "sometimes be elaborated by the
toil of the dull;" in neither case meaning to depreciate the work,
wholly different in every way, of the great expressional schools.

I regret that I have not been able, as yet, to examine with care the
powers of mind involved in modern caricature. They are, however, always
partial and imperfect; for the very habit of looking for the leading
lines by the smallest possible number of which the expression may be
attained, warps the power of _general_ attention, and blunts the
perception of the delicacies of the entire form and color. Not that
caricature, or exaggeration of points of character, may not be
occasionally indulged in by the greatest men--as constantly by Leonardo;
but then it will be found that the caricature consists, not in imperfect
or violent _drawing_, but in delicate and perfect drawing of strange and
exaggerated forms quaintly combined: and even thus, I believe, the habit
of looking for such conditions will be found injurious; I strongly
suspect its operation on Leonardo to have been the increase of his
non-natural tendencies in his higher works. A certain acknowledgment of
the ludicrous element is admitted in corners of the pictures of
Veronese--in dwarfs or monkeys; but it is _never_ caricatured or
exaggerated. Tintoret and Titian hardly admit the element at all. They
admit the noble grotesque to the full, in all its quaintness,
brilliancy, and awe; but never any form of it depending on exaggeration,
partiality, or fallacy.[120]

I believe, therefore, whatever wit, delicate appreciation of ordinary
character, or other intellectual power may belong to the modern masters
of caricature, their method of study for ever incapacitates them from
passing beyond a certain point, and either reaching any of the perfect
forms of art themselves, or understanding them in others. Generally
speaking, their power is limited to the use of the pen or pencil--they
cannot touch color without discomfiture; and even those whose work is of
higher aim, and wrought habitually in color, are prevented by their
pursuit of _piquant_ expression from understanding noble expression.
Leslie furnishes several curious examples of this defect of perception
in his late work on Art;--talking, for instance, of the "insipid faces
of Francia."

On the other hand, all the real masters of caricature deserve honor in
this respect, that their gift is peculiarly their own--innate and
incommunicable. No teaching, no hard study, will ever enable other
people to equal, in their several ways, the works of Leech or
Cruikshank; whereas, the power of pure drawing is communicable, within
certain limits, to every one who has good sight and industry. I do not,
indeed, know how far, by devoting the attention to points of character,
caricaturist skill may be laboriously attained; but certainly the power
is, in the masters of the school, innate from their childhood.

Farther. It is evident that many subjects of thought may be dealt with
by this kind of art which are inapproachable by any other, and that its
influence over the popular mind must always be great; hence it may often
happen that men of strong purpose may rather express themselves in this
way (and continue to make such expression a matter of earnest study),
than turn to any less influential, though more dignified, or even more
intrinsically meritorious, branch of art. And when the powers of quaint
fancy are associated (as is frequently the case) with stern
understanding of the nature of evil, and tender human sympathy, there
results a bitter, or pathetic spirit of grotesque, to which mankind at
the present day owe more thorough moral teaching than to any branch of
art whatsoever.

In poetry, the temper is seen, in perfect manifestation, in the works of
Thomas Hood; in art, it is found both in various works of the
Germans,--their finest, and their least thought of; and more or less in
the works of George Cruikshank,[121] and in many of the illustrations
of our popular journals. On the whole, the most impressive examples of
it, in poetry and in art, which I remember, are the Song of the Shirt,
and the woodcuts of Alfred Rethel, before spoken of. A correspondent,
though coarser work appeared some little time back in Punch, namely, the
"General Février turned Traitor."

The reception of the woodcut last named was in several respects a
curious test of modern feeling. For the sake of the general reader, it
may be well to state the occasion and character of it. It will be
remembered by all that early in the winter of 1854-5, so fatal by its
inclemency, and by our own improvidence, to our army in the Crimea, the
late Emperor of Russia said, or was reported to have said, that "his
best commanders, General January and General February, were not yet
come." The word, if ever spoken, was at once base, cruel, and
blasphemous; base, in precisely reversing the temper of all true
soldiers, so nobly instanced by the son of Saladin, when he sent, at the
very instant of the discomfiture of his own army, two horses to Coeur
de Lion, whose horse had been killed under him in the mêlée; cruel,
inasmuch as he ought not to have exulted in the thought of the death, by
slow suffering, of brave men; blasphemous, inasmuch as it contained an
appeal to Heaven of which he knew the hypocrisy. He himself died in
February; and the woodcut of which I speak represented a skeleton in
soldier's armor, entering his chamber, the driven sleet white on its
cloak and crest; laying its hand on his heart as he lay dead.

There were some points to be regretted in the execution of the design,
but the thought was a grand one; the memory of the word spoken, and of
its answer, could hardly in any more impressive way have been recorded
for the people; and I believe that to all persons accustomed to the
earnest forms of art, it contained a profound and touching lesson. The
notable thing was, however, that it offended all persons _not_ in
earnest, and was loudly cried out against by the polite formalism of
society. This fate is, I believe, the almost inevitable one of
thoroughly genuine work, in these days, whether poetry or painting; but
what added to the singularity in this ease was that _coarse_
heartlessness was even more offended than polite heartlessness. Thus,
Blackwood's Magazine,--which from the time that, with grace, judgment,
and tenderness peculiarly its own, it bid the dying Keats "back to his
gallipots,"[122] to that in which it partly arrested the last efforts,
and shortened the life of Turner, had with an infallible instinct for
the wrong, given what pain it could, and withered what strength it
could, in every great mind that was in anywise within its reach; and had
made itself, to the utmost of its power, frost and disease of the heart
to the most noble spirits of England,--took upon itself to be generously
offended at this triumphing over the death of England's enemy, because,
"by proving that he is obliged to undergo the common lot of all, his
brotherhood is at once reasserted."[123] He was not, then, a brother
while he was alive? or is our brother's blood in general not to be
acknowledged by us till it rushes up against us from the ground? I know
that this is a common creed, whether a peculiarly wise or Christian one
may be doubted. It may not, indeed, be well to triumph over the dead,
but perhaps it is less well that the world so often tries to triumph
over the living. And as for exultation over a fallen foe (though there
was _none_ in the mind of the man who drew that monarch dead), it may be
remembered that there have been worthy persons, before now, guilty of
this great wickedness,--nay, who have even fitted the words of their
exultation to timbrels, and gone forth to sing them in dances. There
have even been those--women, too,--who could make a mock at the agony of
a mother weeping over her lost son, when that son had been the enemy of
their country; and their mock has been preserved, as worthy to be read
by human eyes. "The mother of Sisera looked out at a window. 'Hath he
not sped?'" I do not say this was right, still less that it was wrong;
but only that it would be well for us if we could quit our habit of
thinking that what we say of the dead is of more weight than what we say
of the living. The dead either know nothing, or know enough to despise
both us and our insults, or adulation.

"Well, but," it is answered, "there will always be this weakness in our
human nature; we shall for ever, in spite of reason, take pleasure in
doing funereal honor to the corpse, and writing sacredness to memory
upon marble." Then, if you are to do this,--if you are to put off your
kindness until death,--why not, in God's name, put off also your enmity?
and if you choose to write your lingering affections upon stones, wreak
also your delayed anger upon clay. This would be just, and, in the last
case, little as you think it, generous. The true baseness is in the
bitter reverse--the strange iniquity of our folly. Is a man to be
praised, honored, pleaded for? It might do harm to praise or plead for
him while he lived. Wait till he is dead. Is he to be maligned,
dishonored, and discomforted? See that you do it while he is alive. It
would be too ungenerous to slander him when he could feel malice no
more; too contemptible to try to hurt him when he was past anguish. Make
yourselves busy, ye unjust, ye lying, ye hungry for pain! Death is near.
This is your hour, and the power of darkness. Wait, ye just, ye
merciful, ye faithful in love! Wait but for a little while, for this is
not your rest.

"Well, but," it is still answered, "is it not, indeed, ungenerous to
speak ill of the dead, since they cannot defend themselves?"

Why should they? If you speak ill of them falsely, it concerns you, not
them. Those lies of thine will "hurt a man as thou art," assuredly they
will hurt thyself; but that clay, or the delivered soul of it, in no
wise. Ajacean shield, seven-folded, never stayed lance-thrust as that
turf will, with daisies pied. What you say of those quiet ones is wholly
and utterly the world's affair and yours. The lie will, indeed, cost its
proper price and work its appointed work; you may ruin living myriads by
it,--you may stop the progress of centuries by it,--you may have to pay
your own soul for it,--but as for ruffling one corner of the folded
shroud by it, think it not. The dead have none to defend them! Nay, they
have two defenders, strong enough for the need--God, and the worm.


II. ROCK CLEAVAGE.

I am well aware how insufficient, and, in some measure, how disputable,
the account given in the preceding chapters of the cleavages of the
slaty crystallines must appear to geologists. But I had several reasons,
good or bad as they may be, for treating the subject in such a manner.
The first was, that considering the science of the artist as eminently
the science of _aspects_ (see Vol. III. Chap. XVII. § 43), I kept myself
in all my investigations of natural objects as much as possible in the
state of an uninformed spectator of the outside of things, receiving
simply what impressions the external phenomena first induce. For the
natural tendency of accurate science is to make the possessor of it look
for, and eminently see, the things connected with his special pieces of
knowledge; and as all accurate science must be sternly limited, his
sight of nature gets limited accordingly. I observed that all our young
figure-painters were rendered, to all intents and purposes, _blind_ by
their knowledge of anatomy. They saw only certain muscles and bones, of
which they had learned the positions by rote, but could not, on account
of the very prominence in their minds of these bits of fragmentary
knowledge, see the real movement, color, rounding, or any other subtle
quality of the human form. And I was quite sure that if I examined the
mountain anatomy scientifically, I should go wrong, in like manner,
touching the external aspects. Therefore in beginning the inquiries of
which the results are given in the preceding pages, I closed all
geological books, and set myself, as far as I could, to see the Alps in
a simple, thoughtless, and untheorizing manner; but to _see_ them, if it
might be, thoroughly. If I am wrong in any of the statements made after
this kind of examination, the very fact of this error is an interesting
one, as showing the kind of deception which the external aspects of
hills are calculated to induce in an unprejudiced observer; but, whether
wrong or right, I believe the results I have given are those which
naturally would strike an artist, and _ought_ to strike him, just as the
apparently domical form of the sky, and radiation of the sun's light,
ought to be marked by him as pictorial phenomena, though the sky is not
domical, and though the radiation of sunbeams is a perspective
deception. There are, however, one or two points on which my opinions
might seem more adverse to the usual positions of geologists than they
really are, owing to my having left out many _qualifying_ statements for
fear of confusing the reader. These I must here briefly touch upon. And,
first, I know that I shall be questioned for not having sufficiently
dwelt upon slaty cleavages running transversely across series of beds,
and for generally speaking as if the slaty crystalline rocks were merely
dried beds of micaceous sand, in which the flakes of mica naturally lay
parallel with the beds, or only at such an angle to them as is
constantly assumed by particles of drift. Now the reason of this is
simply that my own mountain experience has led me _always_ among rocks
which induced such an impression; that, in general, artists seeking for
the noblest hill scenery, will also get among such rocks, and that
therefore I judged it best to explain their structure completely, merely
alluding (in Chap. X. § 7) to the curious results of cross cleavage
among the softer slates, and leaving the reader to pursue the inquiry,
if he cared to do so; although, in reality, it matters very little to
the artist whether the slaty cleavage be across the beds or not, for to
him the cleavage itself is always the important matter, and the
stratification, if contrary to it, is usually so obscure as to be
naturally, and therefore properly, lost sight of. And touching the
disputed question whether the micaceous arrangements of metamorphic
rocks are the results of subsequent crystallization, or of aqueous
deposition, I had no special call to speak: the whole subject appeared
to me only more mysterious the more I examined it; but my own
impressions were always strongly for the aqueous deposition; nor in such
cases as that of the beds of the Matterhorn (drawn in Plate +39+),
respecting which, somewhat exceptionally, I have allowed myself to
theorize a little, does the matter appear to me disputable.

And I was confirmed in this feeling by De Saussure; the only writer
whose help I did not refuse in the course of these inquiries. _His_ I
received for this reason,--all other geological writers whose works I
had examined were engaged in the maintenance of some theory or other,
and always gathering materials to support it. But I found Saussure had
gone to the Alps as I desired to go myself, only to _look_ at them, and
describe them as they were, loving them heartily--loving them, the
positive Alps, more than himself, or than science, or than any theories
of science; and I found his descriptions, therefore, clear, and
trustworthy; and that when I had not visited any place myself,
Saussure's report upon it might always be received without question.

Not but that Saussure himself has a pet theory, like other human beings;
only it is quite subordinate to his love of the Alps: He is a steady
advocate of the aqueous crystallization of rocks, and never loses a fair
opportunity of a blow at the Huttonians; but his opportunities are
always _fair_, his description of what he sees is wholly impartial; it
is only when he gets home and arranges his papers that he puts in the
little aqueously inclined paragraphs, and never a paragraph without just
cause. He may, perhaps, overlook the evidence on the opposite side; but
in the Alps the igneous alteration of the rocks, and the modes of their
upheaval, seem to me subjects of intense difficulty and mystery, and as
such Saussure always treats them; the evidence for the original
_deposition_ by water of the slaty crystallines appears to him, as it
does to me, often perfectly distinct.

Now, Saussure's universal principle was exactly the one on which I have
founded my account of the slaty crystallines:--"Fidèle à mon principle,
de ne regarder comme des couches, dans les montagnes schisteuses, que
les divisions parallèles aux feuillets des schistes dont elles sont
composées."--_Voyages_, § 1747. I know that this is an arbitrary, and in
some cases an assuredly false, principle; but the assumption of it by De
Saussure proves all that I want to prove,--namely, that the beds of the
slaty crystallines are in the Alps in so large a plurality of instances
correspondent in direction to their folia, as to induce even a cautious
reasoner to assume such correspondence to be universal.

The next point, however, on which I shall be opposed, is one on which I
speak with far less confidence, for in this Saussure himself is against
me,--namely, the parallelism of the beds sloping under the Mont Blanc.
Saussure states twice, §§ 656, 677, that they are arranged in the form
of a fan. I can only repeat that every measurement and every drawing I
made in Chamouni led me to the conclusions stated in the text, and so I
leave the subject to better investigators; this one fact being
indisputable, and the only one on which for my purpose it is necessary
to insist, that, whether in Chamouni the beds be radiant or not, to an
artist's eye they are usually parallel; and throughout the Alps no
phenomenon is more constant than the rounding of surfaces across the
extremities of beds sloping outwards, as seen in my plates +37+, +40+,
and +48+, and this especially in the most majestic mountain masses.
Compare De Saussure of the Grimsel, § 1712: "Toujours il est bien
remarquable que ces feuillets, verticaux au sommet, s'inclinent ensuite,
comme à Chamouni, contre le dehors de la montagne:" and again of the
granite at Guttannen, § 1679: "Ces couches ne sont pas tout-a-fait
verticales; elles s'appuyent un peu contre le Nord-Est, ou, comme à
Chamouni, contre le dehors de la montagne." Again, of the "quartz
micacé" of Zumloch, § 1723: "Ces rochers sont en couches à peu près
verticales, dont les plans courent du Nord-Est au Sud-Ouest, en
s'appuyant, _suivant l'usage_, contre l'extérieur de la montagne, ou
contre la vallée." Again, on the Pass of the Griés, § 1738: "Le rocher
présente des couches d'un schiste micacé rayé comme une étoffe; comme de
l'autre côté ils surplombent vers le dehors de la montagne." Without
referring to other passages I think Saussure's simple words, "suivant
l'usage," are enough to justify my statement in Chap. XIV. § 3; only
the reader must of course always remember that every conceivable
position of beds takes place in the Alps, and all I mean to assert
generally is, that where the masses are most enormous and impressive,
and formed of slaty crystalline rocks, there the run of the beds up, as
it were, from within the mountain to its surface, will, in all
probability, become a notable feature in the scene as regarded by an
artist. One somewhat unusual form assumed by horizontal beds of slaty
crystallines, or of granite, is described by Saussure with unusual
admiration; and the passage is worth extracting, as bearing on the
terraced ideal of rocks in the middle ages. The scene is in the Val
Formazza.

"Indépendamment de l'intérêt que ces couches présentent au géologiste
sous un nombre de rapports qu'il seroit trop long et peut-être inutile
de détailler, elles présentent même pour le peintre, un superbe tableau.
Je n'ai jamais vu de plus beaux rochers et distribués en plus grandes
masses; ici, blancs; là, noircis par les lichens; là, peints de ces
belles couleurs variées, que nous admirions au Grimsel, et entremêlés
d'arbres, dont les uns couronnent le faîte de la montagne, et d'autres
sont inégalement jetés sur les corniches qui en séparent les couches.
Vers le bas de la montagne l'oeil se repose sur de beaux vergers, dans
des prairies dont le terrein est inégal et varié, et sur de magnifiques
chàtaigniers, dont les branches étendues ombragent les rochers contre
lesquels ils croissent. En général, ces granits en couches horizontals
redent ce pays charmant; car, quoiqu'il y ait, comme je l'ai dit, des
couches qui forment des saillies, cependant elles sont pour l'ordinaire
arrangées en gradins, ou en grandes assises posées en reculement les
unes derrière les autres, et les bords de ces gradins sont couverts de
la plus belle verdure, et d'arbres distribués de la manière la plus
pittoresque. On voit è mme des montagnes très-élevées, qui out la forme
de pain de sucre, et qui sont entourées et couronnées jusqu'à leur
sommet, de guirlandes d'arbres assis sur les intervalles des couches, et
qui forment l'effet du monde le plus singulier."-_Voyages_, § 1758.

Another statement, which I made generally, referring, for those
qualifications which it is so difficult to give without confusing the
reader, to this appendix, was that of the usually greater hardness of
the tops of mountains as compared with their flanks. My own experience
among the Alps has furnished me with few exceptions to this law; but
there is a very interesting one, according to Saussure, in the range of
the Furca del Bosco. (Voyages, § 1779.)

Lastly, at page 186 of this volume, I have alluded to the various
cleavages of the aiguilles, out of which one only has been explained and
illustrated. I had not intended to treat the subject so partially; and
had actually prepared a long chapter, explaining the relations of five
different and important systems of cleavage in the Chamouni aiguilles.
When it was written, however, I found it looked so repulsive to readers
in general, and proved so little that was of interest even to readers in
particular, that I cancelled it, leaving only the account of what I
might, perhaps, not unjustifiably (from the first representation of it
in the Liber Studiorum) call Turner's cleavage. The following passage,
which was the introduction to the chapter, may serve to show that I have
not ignored the others, though I found, after long examination, that
Turner's was the principal one:--

"One of the principal distinctions between these crystalline masses and
stratified rocks, with respect to their outwardly apparent structure, is
the subtle complexity and number of _ranks_ in their crystalline
cleavages. The stratified masses have always a simple intelligible
organization; their beds lie in one direction, and certain fissures and
fractures of those beds lie in other clearly ascertainable directions;
seldom more than two or three _distinct_ directions of these fractures
being admitted. But if the traveller will set himself deliberately to
watch the shadows on the aiguilles of Chamouni as the sun moves round
them, he will find that nearly every quarter of an hour a new _set_ of
cleavages becomes visible, not confused and orderless, but a series of
lines inclining in some one definite direction, and that so positively,
that if he had only seen the aiguille at that moment, he would assuredly
have supposed its internal structure to be altogether regulated by the
lines of bed or cleavage then in sight. Let him, however, wait for
another quarter of an hour, and he will see those lines fade entirely
away as the sun rounds them; and another set, perhaps quite adverse to
them and assuredly lying in another direction, will as gradually become
visible, to die away in their turn, and be succeeded by a third scheme
of structure.

"These 'dissolving views' of the geology of the aiguilles have often
thrown me into despair of ever being able to give any account of their
formation; but just in proportion as I became aware of the infinite
complexity of their framework, the one great fact rose into more
prominent and wonderful relief,--that through this inextricable
complexity there was always manifested _some_ authoritative principle.
It mattered not at what hour of the day the aiguilles were examined, at
that hour they had a system of structure belonging to the moment. No
confusion nor anarchy ever appeared amidst their strength, but an
ineffable order, only the more perfect because incomprehensible. They
differed from lower mountains, not merely in being more compact, but in
being more disciplined.

"For, observe, the lines which cause these far-away effects of shadow,
are not, as often in less noble rocks, caused by real cracks through the
body of the mountain; for, were this so, it would follow, from what has
just been stated, that these aiguilles were cracked through and through
in every direction, and therefore actually weaker, instead of stronger,
than other rocks. But the appearance of fracture is entirely external,
and the sympathy or parallelism of the lines indicates, not an actual
splitting through the rock, but a mere disposition in the rock to split
harmoniously when it is compelled to do so. Thus, in the shell-like
fractures on the flank of the Aiguille Blaitière, the rock is not
actually divided, as it appears to be, into successive hollow plates. Go
up close to the inner angle between one bed of rock and the next, and
the whole mass will be found as firmly united as a piece of glass. There
is absolutely no crack between the beds,--no, not so much as would allow
the blade of a penknife to enter for a quarter of an inch;[124] but such
a subtle disposition to symmetry of fracture in the heart of the solid
rock, that the next thunderbolt which strikes on that edge of it will
rend away a shell-shaped fragment or series of fragments; and will
either break it so as to continue the line of one of the existing sides,
or in some other line parallel to that. And yet this resolvedness to
break into shell-shaped fragments running north and south is only
characteristic of the rock at this spot, and at certain other spots
where similar circumstances have brought out this peculiar humor. Forty
yards farther on it will be equally determined to break in another
direction, and nothing will persuade it to the contrary. Forty yards
farther it will change its mind again, and face its beds round to
another quarter of the compass; and yet all these alternating caprices
are each parts of one mighty continuous caprice, which is only masked
for a time, as threads of one color are in a patterned stuff by threads
of another; and thus from a distance, precisely the same cleavage is
seen repeated again and again in different places, forming a systematic
structure; while other groups of cleavages will become visible in their
turn, either as we change our place of observation, or as the sunlight
changes the direction of its fall."

One part of these rocks, I think, no geologist interested in this
subject should pass without examination; viz., the little spur of
Blaitière drawn in Plate +29+, Fig. 3. It is seen, as there shown, from
the moraine of the Charmoz glacier, its summit bearing S. 40° W.; and
its cleavage bed leaning to the left or S.E., against the aiguille
Blaitière. If, however, we go down to the extremity of the rocks
themselves, on the right, we shall find that all those thick beams of
rock are actually _sawn into vertical timbers_ by other cleavage,
sometimes so fine as to look almost slaty, directed straight S.E.,
against the aiguille, as if, continued, it would saw it through and
through; finally, cross the spur and go down to the glacier below,
between it and the Aiguille du Plan, and the bottom of the spur will be
found presenting the most splendid mossy surfaces, through which the
true gneissitic cleavage is faintly traceable, dipping _at right angles_
to the beds in Fig. 3, or under the Aiguille Blaitière, thus concurring
with the beds of La Côte.

I forgot to note that the view of this Aiguille Blaitière, given in
Plate +39+, was taken from the station marked _q_ in the reference
figure, p. 163; and the sketch of the Aiguille du Plan at p. 187, from
the station marked _r_ in the same figure, a highly interesting point of
observation in many respects; while the course of transition from the
protogine into gneiss presents more remarkable phenomena on the descents
from that point _r_ to the Tapia, T, than at any other easily accessible
spot.

Various interesting descriptions of granite cleavage will be found in De
Saussure, chiefly in his accounts of the Grimsel and St. Gothard. The
following summary of his observations on their positions of beds (1774),
may serve to show the reader how long I should have detained him if I
had endeavored to give a description of all the attendant phenomena:--
"Il est aussi bien curieux de voir ces gneiss, et ces granits veinés, en
couches verticales à Guttannen; mélangées d'horizontals et de verticales
au Lauteraar; toutes verticales au Grimsel et au Griés; toutes
horizontales dans le Val Formazza, et enfin pour la troisième fois
verticales à la sortie des Alpes à l'entrée du Lac Majeur."


III. LOGICAL EDUCATION.

In the Preface to the third volume I alluded to the conviction, daily
gaining ground upon me, of the need of a more accurately logical
education of our youth. Truly among the most pitiable and practically
hurtful weaknesses of the modern English mind, its usual inability to
grasp the connection between any two ideas which have elements of
opposition in them, as well as of connection, is perhaps the chief. It
is shown with singular fatality in the vague efforts made by our divines
to meet the objections raised by free-thinkers, bearing on the nature
and origin of evil; but there is hardly a sentence written on any matter
requiring careful analysis, by writers who have not yet begun to
perceive the influence of their own vanity (and there are too many such
among divines), which will not involve some half-lamentable,
half-ludicrous, logical flaw,--such flaws being the invariable
consequence of a man's straining to say anything in a learned instead of
an intelligible manner.

Take a sentence, for example, from J. A. James's "Anxious
Inquirer:"--"It is a great principle that _subjective religion_, _or in
other words_, religion _in us_, is produced and sustained by fixing the
mind on _objective religion_, _or_ the facts and doctrines of the Word
of God."

Cut entirely out the words I have put in italics, and the sentence has a
meaning (though not by any means an important one). But by its
verbosities it is extended into pure nonsense; for "facts" are neither
"objective" nor "subjective"[125] religion; they are not religion at
all. The belief of them, attended with certain feelings, is religion;
and it must always be religion "in us," for in whom else should it be
(unless in angels; which would not make it less "subjective"). It is
just as rational to call doctrines "objective religion," as to call
entreaties "objective compassion;" and the only real fact of any
notability deducible from the sentence is, that the writer desired
earnestly to say something profound, and had nothing profound to say.

To this same defect of intellect must, in charity, be attributed many of
the wretched cases of special pleading which we continually hear from
the pulpit. In the year 1853, I heard, in Edinburgh, a sermon from a
leading and excellent Presbyterian clergyman, on a subject generally
grateful to Protestant audiences, namely the impropriety and wickedness
of fasting. The preacher entirely denied that there was any authority
for fasting in the New Testament; declared that there were many feasts
appointed, but no fasts; insisted with great energy on the words
"forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats," &c., as
descriptive of Romanism, and _never once_, throughout a long sermon,
ventured so much as a single syllable that might recall to his
audience's recollection the existence of such texts as Matthew iv. 2 and
vi. 16, or Mark ix. 29. I have heard many sermons from Roman Catholic
priests, but I never yet heard, in the strongest holds of Romanism, any
so monstrous an instance of special pleading; in fact, it never could
have occurred in a sermon by any respectable Roman Catholic divine; for
the Romanists are trained to argument from their youth, and are always
to some extent plausible.

It is of course impossible to determine, in such cases, how far the
preacher, having conscientiously made up his mind on the subject by
foregoing thought, and honestly desiring to impress his conclusion on
his congregation, may think his object will be best, and even
justifiably attained, by insisting on all that is in favor of his
position, and trusting to the weak heads of his hearers not to find out
the arguments for the contrary; fearing that if he stated, in any
proportionate measure, the considerations on the other side, he might
not be able, in the time allotted to him, to bring out his conclusion
fairly. This, though I hold it an entirely false view, is nevertheless a
comprehensible and pardonable one, especially in a man familiar with the
reasoning capacities of the public; though those capacities themselves
owe half their shortcomings to being so unworthily treated. But, on the
whole, and looking broadly at the way the speakers and teachers of the
nation set about their business, there is an almost fathomless failure
in the results, owing to the general admission of special pleading as an
_art to be taught_ to youth. The main thing which we ought to teach our
youth is to _see_ something,--all that the eyes which God has given them
are capable of seeing. The sum of what we _do_ teach them is to _say_
something. As far as I have experience of instruction, no man ever
dreams of teaching a boy to get to the root of a matter; to think it
out; to get quit of passion and desire in the process of thinking; or to
fear no face of man in plainly asserting the ascertained result. But to
_say_ anything in a glib and graceful manner,--to give an epigrammatic
turn to nothing,--to quench the dim perceptions of a feeble adversary,
and parry cunningly the home thrusts of a strong one,--to invent
blanknesses in speech for breathing time, and slipperinesses in speech
for hiding time,--to polish malice to the deadliest edge, shape
profession to the seemliest shadow, and mask self-interest under the
fairest pretext,--all these skills we teach definitely, as the main arts
of business and life. There is a strange significance in the admission
of Aristotle's Rhetoric at our universities as a class-book. Cheating at
cards is a base profession enough, but truly it would be wiser to print
a code of gambler's legerdemain, and give _that_ for a class-book, than
to make the legerdemain of human speech, and the clever shuffling of the
black spots in the human heart, the first study of our politic youth.
Again, the Ethics of Aristotle, though containing some shrewd talk,
interesting for an _old_ reader, are yet so absurdly illogical and
sophistical, that if a young man has once read them with any faith, it
must take years before he recovers from the induced confusions of
thought and false habits of argument. If there were the slightest
dexterity or ingenuity in maintaining the false theory, there might be
some excuse for retaining the Ethics as a school-book, provided only the
tutor were careful to point out, on first opening it, that the Christian
virtues,--namely, to love with all the heart, soul, and strength; to
fight, not as one that beateth the air; and to do with _might_
whatsoever the hand findeth to do,--could not in anywise be defined as
"habits of choice in moderation." But the Aristotelian quibbles are so
shallow, that I look upon the retention of the book as a confession by
our universities that they consider practice in shallow quibbling one of
the essential disciplines of youth. Take, for instance, the distinction
made between "Envy" and "Rejoicing at Evil" ([Greek: phthonos] and
[Greek: epichairekakia]), in the second book of the Ethics, viz., that
envy is grieved when any one meets with good-fortune; but "the rejoicer
at evil so far misses of grieving, as even to rejoice" (the distinction
between the _good_ and _evil_, as subjects of the emotion, being thus
omitted, and merely the verbal opposition of grief and joy caught at);
and conceive the result, in the minds of most youths, of being forced to
take tricks of words such as this (and there are too many of them in
even the best Greek writers) for subjects of daily study and
admiration; the theory of the Ethics being, besides, so hopelessly
untenable, that even quibbling will not always face it out,--nay, will
not help it in exactly the first and most important example of virtue
which Aristotle has to give, and the very one which we might have
thought his theory would have fitted most neatly; for defining
"temperance" as a mean, and intemperance as one relative extreme, not
being able to find an opposite extreme, he escapes with the apology that
the kind of person who sins in the other extreme "has no precise name;
because, on the whole, he does not exist!"

I know well the common censure by which objections to such futilities of
so-called education are met, by the men who have been ruined by
them,--the common plea that anything does to "exercise the mind upon."
It is an utterly false one. The human soul, in youth, is _not_ a machine
of which you can polish the cogs with any kelp or brickdust near at
hand; and, having got it into working order, and good, empty, and oiled
serviceableness, start your immortal locomotive at twenty-five years old
or thirty, express from the Strait Gate, on the Narrow Road. The whole
period of youth is one essentially of formation, edification,
instruction, I use the words with their weight in them; intaking of
stores, establishment in vital habits, hopes and faiths. There is not an
hour of it but is trembling with destinies,--not a moment of which, once
past, the appointed work can ever be done again, or the neglected blow
struck on the cold iron. Take your vase of Venice glass out of the
furnace, and strew chaff over it in its transparent heat, and recover
_that_ to its clearness and rubied glory when the north wind has blown
upon it; but do not think to strew chaff over the child fresh from God's
presence, and to bring the heavenly colors back to him--at least in this
world.


FOOTNOTES

  [120] Compare Stones of Venice, vol. iii. chap. iii. § 74.

  [121] Taken all in all, the works of Cruikshank have the most
    sterling value of any belonging to this class, produced in England.

  [122] "The notice in Blackwood is still more scurrilous; the
    circumstance of Keats having been brought up a surgeon is the staple
    of the jokes of the piece. He is told 'it is a better and wiser
    thing to be a starved apothecary than a starved poet.'"--_Milnes'
    Life of Keats_, vol. i. p. 200, and compare pp. 193, 194. It may
    perhaps be said that I attach too much importance to the evil of
    base criticism; but those who think so have never rightly understood
    its scope, nor the reach of that stern saying of Johnson's (Idler,
    No. 3, April 29, 1758): "Little does he (who assumes the character
    of a critic) think how many harmless men he involves in his own
    guilt, by teaching them to be noxious without malignity, and to
    repeat objections which they do not understand." And truly, not in
    this kind only, but in all things whatsoever, there is not, to my
    mind, a more woful or wonderful matter of thought than the power of
    a fool. In the world's affairs there is no design so great or good
    but it will take twenty wise men to help it forward a few inches,
    and a single fool can stop it; there is no evil so great or so
    terrible but that, after a multitude of counsellors have taken means
    to avert it, a single fool will bring it down. Pestilence, famine,
    and the sword, are given into the fool's hand as the arrows into the
    hand of the giant: and if he were fairly set forth in the right
    motley, the web of it should be sackcloth and sable; the bells on
    his cap, passing balls; his badge, a bear robbed of her whelps; and
    his bauble, a sexton's spade.

  [123] By the way, this doubt of the possibility of an emperor's
    death till he _proves_ it, is a curious fact in the history of
    Scottish metaphysics in the nineteenth century.

  [124] The following extract from my diary refers to the only
    instance in which I remember any appearance of a spring, or welling
    of water through inner fissures, in the aiguilles.

    "20th August. Ascended the moraine till I reached the base of
    Blaitière; the upper part of the moraine excessively loose and edgy;
    covered with fresh snow: the rocks were wreathed in mist, and a
    light sleet, composed of small grains of kneaded snow, kept beating
    in my face; it was bitter cold too, though the thermometer was at
    43°, but the wind was like that of an English December thaw. I got
    to the base of the aiguille, however, one of the most grand and
    sweeping bits of granite I have ever seen; a small gurgling
    streamlet, escaping from a fissure not wide enough to let in my
    hand, made a strange hollow ringing in the compact rock, and came
    welling out over its ledges with the sound, and successive wave, of
    water out of a narrow-necked bottle, covering the rock with ice
    (which must have been frozen there last night) two inches thick. I
    levelled the Breven top, and found it a little beneath me; the
    Charmoz glacier on the left, sank from the moraine in broken
    fragments of nevè, and swept back under the dark walls of the
    Charmoz, lost in cloud."

  [125] If these two unlucky words get much more hold in the language,
    we shall soon have our philosophers refusing to call their dinner
    "dinner," but speaking of it always as their "objective appetite."


END OF THE FOURTH VOLUME.

       *       *       *       *       *

CORRECTIONS MADE TO THE ORIGINAL TEXT.

Page 31: 'his insistence upon this' corrected from 'insistance.'

Page 45: 'for in utter darkness the distinction is not visible' changed
         from 'darknes.'

Page 52: 'sharks, slugs, bones, fungi, frogs' originally 'fogs.'

Page 60: 'sitting about three yards from a bookcase' changed from 'yard.'

Page 89: 'We imagine the Deity in like manner' originally 'maner.'

Page 143: 'whatever their material may be,--tilted slightly up' changed
          from 'tited.'

Page 155: 'action actually taking place' corrected from 'palce.'

Page 185: 'which in its beautifully curved outline)' extra ')' removed.

Page 261: 'it seems partly to rebuke, and partly to guard'corrected from
          'and party.'

Page 279: 'partly of their own own gravity' removed duplicate 'own.'

Page 284: (footnote [91]) 'Ce n'est pas c'a' changed to 'Ce n'est pas
          ça.'

Page 291: 'are distinguished from the work of other painters' from
          'distingushd.'
Page 300: 'Shakespere' changed to 'Shakespeare.'

Page 317: CHAPTER XIX start added '1' after the §.

Page 352: 'its direction is illegitimate' from 'illegitmate.'

Page 356: 'Celui qui boira' corrected from 'doira.'

Page 358: 'all its peculiarities are mannerisms' changed from
          'peculiarites.'





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