Catherine Morland, the heroine of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, is confused. Walking in the countryside around Bath with her newfound friends Henry and Eleanor Tilney, she is baffled by their conversation about landscape: ‘They were viewing the country with the eyes of persons accustomed to drawing, and decided on its capability of being formed into pictures, with all the eagerness of real taste. Here Catherine was quite lost. She knew nothing of drawing – nothing of taste – and she listened to them with an attention which brought her little profit, for they talked in phrases which conveyed scarcely any idea to her.’ But all is not lost, for Catherine, though a partly formed heroine, is teachable:

she confessed and lamented her want of knowledge; declared that she would give anything in the world to be able to draw; and a lecture on the picturesque immediately followed, in which [Henry Tilney’s] … instructions were so clear that she soon began to see beauty in every thing admired by him, and her attention was so earnest, that he became perfectly satisfied of her having a great deal of natural taste. He talked of fore-grounds, distances, and second distances – side-screens and perspectives – lights and shades; – and Catherine was so hopeful a scholar, that when they gained the top of Beechen Cliff, she voluntarily rejected the whole city of Bath, as unworthy to make part of a landscape.