Page:Selected Orations Swedish Academy 1792.djvu/36
AN ORATION BY M. DE ROSENSTEIN.
Who shall reply to these questions? If we address ourselves to literary men, we shall find them divided in opinion: but if, in order to decide this question, we call to our assistance an art, which has the most exact resemblance to the Belles Lettres, at least to poetry, the painter will inform us, that he is permitted to conceal on the canvas a part of the thought, but that it is never allowable to mislead the spectator by glaring colours and false light. If we consult nature, she will instruct us that the passions have a tone which excites an emotion proportioned to their energy; but that this tone becomes disgusting and unpleasant, if raised too high. Nature also tells us, that the Alps excite admiration, not when clouds conceal them from our view, but when the excursive eye meets with no obstacle but the towering immensity of the mountain. As for us, there is another mode of deciding the question: it is to regard with diffidence our own opinion, and to turn our eyes to those immortal works, which, consecrated by the unanimous approbation of successive ages, of various nations and periods differing in character, have acquired a right to be regarded as the models of genius and taste.