uinely unique species of lifen(whether created by God or evolvednin the course of millions of years) isna laughing matter. The only prominentnAmerican conservative whonspeaks out on conservation wouldnappear to be James Buckley, whosensingle term in the Senate is a testamentnto personal integrity.nReal conservation—as opposednto the nuts and berries Malthusianismnof the Sierra Club—is conser-native; it is conservatism from thenground up. It is based on knowingnour own limits, on recognizing thatnman was given dominion over thenearth, not an empire won by conquest.nFor conservatives to repudiatenall responsibility for the rest ofnnature does not, on the face ofnit, make a great deal of sense. Ifnwe claim to beliee in the humannheritage and in the traditions ofnour ci’ilization, these traditionsnamount to more than platitudesnabout freedom and equality. Theynbind us with the generations whonlied on this land before a revolutionnmade us Americans. “The landnwas ours before we were the land’s,”ncelebrated Robert Frost. If we arenwilling to repudiate it, to despoilnour inheritance like a spendthriftnheir, we had best shed the pretensenthat we are conserving anythingnexcept our own self-interest.nThe right’s indifference to thenenvironment is particularly deplorablenfor a less obvious reason. If thenUnited States is going to save itsnnatural inheritance, conservativesnare going to have to do it. Thengovernment planning advocated bynthe environmentalist left wouldnonly make life as intolerable here asnit is in the Soviet Union—whichnhas, by the way, worse pollutionnproblems than the U.S. Conservationn(and restoration) efforts willnrequire some of the reverence fornlife displayed by the right-to-lifenmoement combined with the freenenterprise know-how of our bestnentrepreneurs. It will also require ancontemplation of man’s place innnature and his relationship to whatnthe Declaration once called “nature’snGod.” ccnThe Scenery of SolipsismnA taste for landscape seems to be anuniversal human trait. We buildnour houses with an eye to then”view” as much as comfort. Landscapenhas generally played a largenrole in painting and literature, mostnoften as a backdrop for the humanndrama. But near the end of the I8thncentury, “nature” (the word wasnfairly new in this sense) began tonoccupy the center stage, especiallynin Britain. James A. W. Heffernannin The Re-Creation of Land-nscape: A Study of Wordsworth,nColeridge, Constable, and Turnern(Dartmouth/University Press ofnNew England; Hanover, NH) outlinesnthe problems of the Romanticnapproach to nature.nRomantic poets sought to be lessn”pictorial” than their predecessors,nand contemporary painters wantednto break the authority of poets andnwriters to define their subject matter.nBoth efforts to defy tradition lednalmost immediately to contradictions.nJohn Constable professed andesire “to forget that I have ever seenna picture,” to regard “Hill, Dale,nand shady Woods” with the innocentn”wond’ring Eyes” of Milton’snAdam. Yet in this very declarationnof independence, the painter wasnrelying on the imagery of a 17thcenturynpoet. Wordsworth was inna similar bind. Telling his readernto “quit your books” and to letn”Nature be your Teacher,” Wordsworthnmust have wanted to exemptnthe Lyrical Ballads from his proscription.nEven more problematic is thenRomantic effort to “annihilate thenpast” by displacing every commu-nREVISIONSnnnmi sense of history, religion, andnmyth with a “private history” of thenartist’s own unmediated encounternwith nature. So Wordsworth inn”Tintern Abbey” ignores the Cisterciannruin of his title while he transformsnthe imposing cliffs above thenWye into the walls of his ownnprivate “prehistoric cathedral.” Innthe same way. Turner lauded paintersnwho “even over history” highlightedn”what was to them remarkablenin nature.” Turner followed hisnown rule and reduced Moses almostnto a dot in his painting of thenfire-dropping clouds of The FifthnPlague (which should have beennThe Seventh Plague), and he deniednHannibal any place at all in hisnportrayal of the snowstorm throughnwhich the Carthaginian led hisntroops.nAll four artists struggled to investnthorn bushes, lime tree bowers, andnremote valleys with extraordinarynsignificance through the sheer forcenof their imaginations, entirely unaidednby tradition, Scripture, ornscience: That way lies solipsism.nWithin Romanticism itself, Heffernannfinds no solution to the quandariesnof groundless subjectivism.nWhat he finds instead is a flightnfrom reality to appearances: virtuallynall the Romantics were entrancednby the -beauty of reflected images,nand Wordsworth’s call for an artnthat will “treat of things not as theynare, but as they appear” had manynechoes. Having repudiated everynperspective upon nature except thatnof creative individuality, Romanticismnfinally gives us—as Hazlitfcnsaid of Turiier’s work—“pictures ofnnothing and very like.” CC-nAUGUST 1985/5n