ROMANTIC

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ROMANTIC, in aesthetics, is used as contradistinguished to antique, or classic. (See these two articles.) Christianity turned men's thoughts from the external world, and the present condition of man, which had engrossed the attention of antiquity, to his spiritual nature and future destiny ; and all the works of imagination soon testified of the change. An unbounded world of imaginary beings, good and bad, beautiful and deformed, human, animal, angelic and demoniac, was created. The effect was increased by the mixture of the northern element with that of the south ; for the northern mythology (q. v.) was full of supernatural, shadowy beings. A further consequence of Christianity was the giving of increased importance to the individual. The love and hatred, success and sufferings, of individual men assumed a more prominent place than had been allowed them in antiquity ; the sense of personal dignity was heightened, and the longing for something better than the present world can afford, became more intense. These circumstances furnished the chief elements of romantic poetry the poetry of the middle ages. The Greek lived in what is and was, the Christian in what is to come. So much is the spirit of romantic poetry connected with Christianity, that Jean Paul says, in his Vorschule zur Msthetik: " The origin and character of the whole modern poetry is so easily to be derived from Christianity, that the romantic might be called with equal propriety the Christian poetry." And so much is romantic poetry impressed with the longing for something beyond the existing world, that Viennet, in his Epitre aux Muses sur les Romantiques (Paris, 1824), says : C'est la melancolie et la jmjsticite, C'est Vaffectation de la naivete ; W C'est un monde ideal qu'on voit dans les nuages Tout, jusquan sentiment, nhjparle qv?en images. C'est unje ne sais quoi dont on est tramsporU ; .Et moins on le comprend, plus on est enchante. Romantic poetry first grew up in the south of Europe, us its name would naturally lead us to suppose (see Romanic Languages), and was imbued with the spirit of chivalry, which also had its origin there. Hence the reason why love holds so prominent a place in romantic poetry. The reader will find some remarks applicable to this subject in the article Chivalry, where we have attempted to trace the causes of this singular institution. The age of chivalry has passed; the chivalrous spirit has taken a different direction (Humboldt, Parry, Caillie, are our knighterrants); but the causes which produced the romantic poetry are by no means all extinct; and the poetry of our time has much more resemblance to that of the middle ages than to the Greek. The same circumstances which gave its character to the poetry of the middle ages, had a corresponding influence on the fine arts in general, and music, painting and architecture were imbued with a peculiar spirit. The magnificent Gothic cathedrals which still remain, bear witness to the aspirations which Christianity awakened f and the solemnity which it inspired. The term ROMANTIC, therefore, is frequently applied to modern art in general, as contradistinguished to the antique classic or plastic, (q. v.)See the article Middle Ages, also the excellent work of Bouterwek, History of Arts, Sciences, &c.; Jean Paul's Vorschule ; an Essay on the Romantic Narrative Poetry of the Italians, in Panezzi's edition of Bojardo and Ariosto, vol. i. (London, 1830), and Storia ed Analisi degli antiehi Romanzi di Cavalleria e dei PoemiRomanzeschid*Italia con Dissertazioni sulV Origine, sugP Instituti, suite Ceremonie de1 Cavalieri, sidle Corti drAmore, &c, by Giulio Ferrario (Milan, 4 vols., 1828); the last of the four volumes is a Bibliogrqfia dei Romanzir &c. d^Italia. See, also, our articles on the Portuguese. Spanish, and French Literatures.