The hungry sheep look up and are not fed.Augustine Thierry has a great deal to answer for, if to him we owe the modern fashion of writing history picturesquely. At least his method leads to most unhappy results when essayed by men to whom nature has denied a sense of what the picturesque really is. The historical picturesque does not consist, in truth of costume and similar accessaries, but in the grouping, attitude, and expression of the figures, caught when they are unconscious that the artist is sketching them. The moment they are posed for a composition, unless by a man of genius, the life has gone out of them. In the hands of an inferior artist, who fancies that imagination is something to be squeezed out of color-tubes, the past becomes a phantasmagoria of jackboots, doublets, and flap-hats, the mere property-room of a deserted theatre, as if the light had been scenical and illusory the world an unreal thing that vanished with the foot-lights. It is the power of catching the actors in great events at unawares that makes the glimpses given us by contemporaries
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