This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
The following passages from a recent lecture by the Hon. John Thompson, of Poughkeepsie, on the " Beautiful in Nature and Art," are worthy of careful study. Our readers will unite with us in a high appreciation of the truthfulness and importance of the sentiments conveyed, and of the felicitous style in which they are expressed.
"Architecture and gardening being useful, as well as ornamental arts, are said not to be capable of that limitless and infinite expression of beauty which belong to the others, yet we confess to the weakness of preferring a beautiful structure on some mild declivity, surrounded by a most "living landscape," to all the paintings and statues which ever amazed or delighted mankind. What are imitations on canvass to the reality ! - or what the attitudes of a Venus or Apollo, " though they live in stone and fill the air around with beauty," to the superb grace which high art may superinduce upon nature! True, the statues are expressions of humanity, and therefore higher in the scale, artistically considered; but they are inferior and more limited in the variety, grace, richness, and beauty appertaining to natural scenery embellished by art The beauty of statuary may be highly intellectual, and even moral, but yet it is circumscribed within narrower limits and demands higher cultivation, and even art, to appreciate it Fixed in its forms and attitudes, it has one expression, stamped with the last finish of precision; it has no flexibility, no changes, no variation, no life; it is but slightly suggestive, and takes no hold upon the infinite.
But no pencil can catch or describe the living beauty that shimmers and glists through the branches; that plays around the wing of the zephyr as it drinks the breath of the flowers; that lifts tower and turret into the rosy light, and bows solemnly under the old trees that wave their giant arms in the tempest, or catch the last sunbeam on their lofty crowns; - the beauty that spreads its mantle of purple and gold over the face of the evening landscape; that drapes its deep folds through the valley where shadows creep and mixes them with silver mist on the summits, where daylight lingers; that mirrors itself in the glassy wave where it watches the first glimmer of the twilight-star! These have also what painting uses and imitates - colcor - a variety and blending of features and harmony of parts, • ••*••
"Still, if it went no further than to induce the culture of taste and sensibility, if it awakened and stimulated sentiment only, this is a wide step towards moral excellence, and out of which it may grow and flourish. And, in this respect; the culture of flowers has advantages which do not belong to the beautiful in most of the other arts, We may be captivated and absorbed by the beauty of a fine landscape, statue, or picture - by the splendor of a sunset; or the radiance of the moon or stars and may feel the exalting and refining influence of these objects steal over the soul; but yet all this is temporary and evanescent The beauty fades from the sky, the landscape is buried is night, the shadows steal over the picture, and the impression is gone. There is no link of connection between them and us, but the imagination and the memory. Not so with the flower! It does not refine, simply, but it holds us; it not only elevates our sensibilities, but it winds itself about our heart strings; it employs our daily thoughts - demands our daily care. It implies frailty, and we guard it; helplessness, and we assist it We reprove nature if the storm be too rude, and lift the bowed blossoms that it may look again in the eye of the sun.
It demands forethought, a sense of responsibility, a sleepless and unselfish diligence, while.
Like wearied infants on Earth's gentle breast, in every nook our little field-flowers rest.
"Who shall say that this culture, care, and labor, is not conducive to virtue? - is not virtue's self, transferable to humanity when the exigency claims it! And yet it is so beautiful, this voiceless commune with the flowers! o harsh sound grates upon the ear, no note of complaining, no murmur of discontent, no petulance, no deception. The glossy leaves only tremble their gratitude, and the blooming roses blush their psalm of thanksgiving. And then, what silent preachers - suggestive of brightness, that passes away; of patience, that waits and watches for the bloom; of diligence, that watereth when the shower is withheld and the dew is gone; of sorrow, from the broken stem and withered leaf; of resignation, for they live yet at the root; of immortality, for 'Flowers bloom again; leaves glad once more the tree;
And man, there blooms a second spring Tor thee.' "