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young artist against aiming at the union of contradictory excellencies, which must necessarily be mutually exclusive of each other. He then censures some persons who have been fond of describing the expression of mired passions, which they fancied to exist in some favourite work. Such expression he pronounces to be out of the reach of art; and only ascribed to such works by persons, who not being of the profession know not ehạt can or cannot be done.
What Sir Joshua Reynolds declares to be beyond the reach of art, it is indeed hardiness not to admit as impracticable; yet as the question does not turn on the technical skill of a painter so much as on the powers of the human countenance, it may not be improper to discuss it.
I must first observe, that the examples of false judgment taken by the President from Pliny relate to fixed, habitual characteristic qualities, not to passions occasionally exi erted,
But to come near to the question: can it be doubted, that every indication of inward emotion which the countenance is capable of assuming, the pencil of the painter can imitate on the canyass?
If this maxim be incontrovertible, as I think it is, we have only to inquire, whether in fact the countenance ever expresses a mixture of emotions ? While the soul is affected by any passion, if it be assailed by another of a different or discordant nature, the former will either give way, or contend for predominance. In the first case, there will be a moment of fuctuation, during which the expression will be uncertain ; that of the former not being totally effaced, nor the other yet exclusively ascendant. Thus the lover in Lucretius viewing his mistress in vultu videt vestigia risus. This transient interval resembles those points of time so happily seized by Ovid in the Metamorphoses before the entire recess of the first form or consummation of the new one. Though the painter's art, confined to a single instant, could not delineate the rapid train of passions, which dim'd the face of Satan on the view of Eden, and thrice chang'd with pale ire, envy, and despair; yet were he even to select the moment, when his griev'd look he fixed sad, still it must be Satanic sadness, tinged with deep malice and revenge. I could almost conceive, that as the sculptor in the station of a statue can imply its being in actual motion, so the magic of the painter can suggest to us, how transient the emotion expressed is intended to be. If the first impressed passioni be firm enough to contend for superiority with that superinduced, does not experience prove, that the features wear à form very different from that which either passion single would impress? Does not the expression participate of the character of each? Is there no difference, but in degree, between the aspect of a man oppressed by fear, and of one disturbed by complexional timidity, yet supported against its influence by rational self-discipline ? The countenance of Coriolanus, during the supplication of his mother and wife, must have passed through a series of expressions from that of an assumed cold stateliness, with which he covered his feelings, til! when overpowered by natural affection his eyes did sw at compussion. Through the whole of this conflict at no time did his countenance indicate an unmixed emotion; and even at the concluding triumph of filial duty the great interpreter of nature hath represented him distracted almost to agony:
Oh, my mother, mother! oh!
If not most mortal to him. But let it come. Andromache daxquoev yolacata (6 Iliad, 484.) readily oceurs as a beautiful illustration of the power of the countenance to express blended feelings*; it does not however appear to me to come so near the essence of this question as to be ccmpetent to support the decision of it. * A variety of soft images rushed at once upon the mind of Andromache; her beurt was melted with a recollection of the
tender circumstances that form the aggregate of domestic happiness; and Hector's perilous station excited a fear of losing him who supported this happiness; the little incident of infant terror quickens this mass of tenderness; yet these several emotions, being of a kindred nature, easily coalesce into one united charity. Mingled tears and smiles are often marks of the affectionate feeling, though on most occasions they denote contrary passions.
Perhaps the following may be a more apposite instance: Junius Brutus is graphically described by Livy as presiding at the capital punishment of his sons, whom he had condemned to die : “ et qui spectator erat ainovendus, eum ipsum fortuna exactorein supplicii dedit .
* In like maaner « Death (in Pat. Lost) grinn'd šorrible o ghastly smako."
ter omne tempus pater, vultus et os ejus, spectaculo esset
But what appearance in the countenance of Brutus so strongly interested the attention of the beholders? They surely saw something more than the expression of a father's heart wounded by the sufferings of his sous. They traced a severe internal conflict; they observed visibly charactered in his face the vigorous but ineffectual efforts of nature to burst the restraints with which stern republiean justice had fettered her yearnings; eminente patrio animo inter publicee pana ministerium.
Were the great master, who harrowed our couls with sympathy for the woes of Ugolino, to delineate this awful scene, the power of his pencil would prove, that in one instance his decision had been ill-founded. 1785, Jan.
LXXXII. Critique on the word Purpureus.
London, June 4, 1782. MR. URBAN, In reading Latin authors we scarcely meet with any passages so obscure as those which relate to colours. We see the same word applied as an epithet to such opposite things; and, consequently, we see such opposite meanings assigned to the same word, that we are inclined to doubt whether the signification be “ albus an ater.” Thus the word “purpureus" is applied to fire, air, and water, as well as to swans and snow. It seems, at the first view, almost impossible to settle the idea which the ancients intended to convey by this word. I shall endeavour to clear away part of this
. In the first place, it appears evidently that piirpureus very often conveyed the same idea with our purple:!and this was its literal and original meaning. Thus, “Purpureos flores."
Virg. Geor. iv. 54. “ Cum tibi succurrit Veneris lascivia nostræ; Purpureas tenero pollice tange genas."
Ovid. 1 Amor. iv. 21. “Purpureus ignis.”
Stat. 1 Achil. 162.
Ovid. Amor. i. 3, 14. In the next place, I imagine the ancients thought purpureus properly applied to that matter which was eminent for its shining qualities, of what colour soever it might be: this ! take to have been its metaphorical or figurative meaning: Thus Horace, addressing Venus,
“Tempestivius in domum
4 Carm. i.,9.
On which passage Baxter has the following note: “Purpureum pro pulchro poetæ dicere assueverunt.”. (Vet. Schol.) * Albinovano etiam nix purpurea dicitur. Quicquid late splendebat et candebat per catachresin purpureum dicebatur: illud enim in coloribus summum erat." This, I think, is in general the idea meant to be conveyed by purpureus. Let us examine it in two or three passages. Ovid, speaking of the horses of the sun, has these words: “Gemmea purpureis cum juga demet equis."
Fast. ii. 14. And in another place,
“ Carmina sanguineæ deducunt cornua lunæ,
Lib. 2. Amor. Eleg. i. 24. One would think it almost impossible to reconcile the two epithets, purpureos and niveos, which are here applied to the saine animals by the same person. However, I think the passages may be perfectly understood by considering Baster's explication of purpureus. I am persuaded that the poet, alluding to the appearance of the sun itself, meant to say,
that the horses made a bright, shining, and splendid figure; and this without wishing to point out any particular colour. I am the more inclined to be of this opinion, because Val. Flaccus, speaking of the same horses, calls them “ nitentes equos," lib. v. 415. Ovid has “diem purpureum;' " and Virgil and Tibullus, "purpureum ver." (Ovid. 3 Fast. 518, Virg. Ecl. ix. 40; Tibul. iii. 5. 4.) I see no other way in these passages of translating -purpurèus except "splendid, shining."
In Persius are the following lines :
Magis auratis pendens laquearibus ensis
Sat. iii. 40. Did I imagine ensis purpureus to be the true reading, I should infer much from hence in favour of my opinion, since I see no other reason why a sword, which is not stained with blood, should be called purpureus, except on account of its shining qualities. But I am intirely in favour of the other reading of this passage:
ensis Purpurcas subter cervices : that is, “the sword which was hung over the head of Damocles, dressed in kingly garments”- regio ornutu umictus.
Horace, speaking of those heroes, who for the greatness of their actions were received into the highest heaven, thus anticipates the deification of Augustus:
“ Quos inter Augustus recumbens
3 Carm, ji. 11. It is well known that Augustus's vanity led him to imagine that his eyes beamed forth light after the nranner in which Apollo is described. This weakness Horace here flatters: the purpureum os means that radiant countenance, that “ quiddam divini vigoris," which Augustus imagined he so peculiarly possessed. In the same strain of flattery Virgil speaks of #neas, the representative of Augustus:
“ Haud illo (Apollo) segnior ibat Æneas; tantum egregio decus enitet ore.”
iv. 140. And again;
“Os humerosque deo similis. Namque ipsa (Venus) deCæsariem nato gevitrix, lumenque juve ntæ Purpureum ; et lætos oculis aftlarai horore."
* Persius here alludes to the well known story of Tamocles, over whose head 2 paked sword was hung by a s ngle horsehair, by crder of Dionysius the tyrant. See Cic. Tusc. Quæst. lib. v.