chapter  IV
THE LANDSCAPE POETS,
Pages 44

T h e r e is nothing necessarily romantic in literature that concerns itself with rural life or natural scenery. Y et we may accept, with some qualification, the truth of Professor M cClintock’s statement, that the “ beginning and presence of a creative, romantic movement is almost always shown by the love, study, and interpretation of physical nature.” * Why this should be true, at all events of the romantic movement that began in the eighteenth century, is obvious enough. Ruskin and Leslie Stephen have already been quoted, as witnesses to the fact that naturalism and romanticism had a common root: the desire, namely, to escape into the fresh air and into freer conditions, from a literature which dealt, in a strictly regulated way, with the indoor life of a highly artificial society. The pastoral had ceased to furnish any relief. Professing to chant the praises of innocence and simplicity, it had become itself utterly unreal and conventional, in the hands of cockneys like Philips and Pope. When the romantic spirit took possession of the poetry of nature, it manifested itself in a passion for wildness, grandeur, solitude. Of this there was as yet comparatively little even in the verse of Thomson, Shenstone, Akenside, and Dyer.