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and some low; some copious, and some short; some pathetic, and others void of passion; some formed to instruct, and others not capable of it.
Now from these two circumstances, that is to say, from the accuracy of the imitation, and the merit of the subject imitated, the question, concerning which art is most excellent, must be tried and determined.
This, however, cannot be done, without a detail of particulars, that so there may be formed, on every part, just and accurate comparisons.
To begin, therefore, with painting.
ON THE SUBJECTS WHICH PAINTING IMITATES. ON THE SUBJECTS WHICH
MUSIC IMITATES. COMPARISON OF MUSIC WITH PAINTING.
The fittest subjects for painting, are all such things and incidents as are peculiarly characterized by figure and colour. 8
Of this kind are the whole mass of things inanimate and vegetable;" such as flowers, fruits, buildings, landscapes : the various tribes of animal figures; such as birds, beasts, herds, flocks: the motions and sounds peculiar to each animal species, when accompanied with configurations, which are obvious and remarkable: the human body in all its appearances, (as male, female; young, old; handsome, ugly,) and in all its attitudes, (as lying, sitting, standing, &c.:) the natural sounds peculiar to the human species, (such as crying, laughing, hallooing, &c.:') all energies, passions, and affections of the soul, being in any degree more intense or violent than ordinary:k all actions and events, whose integrity or wholeness depends upon a short and self-evident succession of incidents;' or if the succession be extended, then such actions, at least, whose incidents are all along, during that succession, similar:m all actions which, being qualified as above, open themselves into a large variety of circumstances, concurring all in the same point of time : all actions which are known, and known universally, rather than actions newly invented, or known but to few."
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motions as the swimming of many kinds of b The reason is, that these things are fish, or in such sounds as the purring of a almost wholly known to us by their colour cat, because here is no such special conand figure : besides, they are as motionless, figuration to be perceived. Homer, in his for the most part, in nature, as in the imi- shield, describing the picture of a bull tation.
seized by two lions, says of the bull, o de Η Instances of this kind are the Hying μακρά μεμυκώς “Ελκετο, “he, bellowing of birds, the galloping of horses, the roaring loudly, was dragged along.” Where Eusof lions, the crowing of cocks: and the tathius, in commenting on this bellowing, reason is, that though to paint motion or says, ás dhaou tớ xhuatı, “ as he (the sound be impossible, yet the motions and bull) made manifest (in the picture) by sounds here mentioned having an immediate his figure or attitude.” Eust. in J. E. p. and natural connection with a certain visible 1224. configuration of the parts, the mind, from j The reason is of the same kind as that a prospect of this configuration, conceives given in the note immediately preceding : insensibly that which is concomitant; and and by the same rule, the observation must hence it is, that, by a sort of fallacy, the be confined to natural sounds only. In sounds and motions appear to be painted language, few of the speakers know the also. On the contrary, not so in such configurations which attend it.
And thus much as to the subjects of painting.
II. In music, the fittest subjects of imitation are all such things and incidents as are most eminently characterized by motion and sound.P
Motion may be either slow or swift, even or uneven, broken or continuous; sound may be either soft or loud, high or low. Wherever, therefore, any of these species of motion or sound may be found in an eminent (not a moderate or mean) degree, there will be room for musical imitation.
* The reason is still of the same kind, variety ; the greater also, in proportion, the viz. from their visible effects on the body: beauty and perfection. Noble instances of they paturally produce either to the counte- this are the pictures above mentioned in nance a particular redness or paleness, or a note k. See Aristot. Poet, c. 7. 'Odé particular modification of its muscles, or else καθ' αυτήν φύσιν του πράγματος όρος, αει to the limbs a particular attitude. Now all pèy, etc. See also Characteristics, vol. i. these effects are solely referable to colour p. 143. and Bossu, book i. c. 16, L'Achille and figure, the two grand sensible media d'Homere est si grand, &c. peculiar to painting. See Raphael's cartoons • The reason is, that a picture being (as of St. Paul at Athens, and of his striking has been said) but a point or instant in a the sorcerer Elymas blind ; see also the story well known, the spectator's memory crucifixion of Polycrates, and the sufferings will supply the previous and the subsequent: of the consul Regulus, both by Salvator Rosa. but this cannot be done where such know
1 For, of necessity, every picture is a ledge is wanting. And therefore it may be punctum temporis, or “ instant."
justly questioned, whether the most celeSuch, for instance, as the storm at sea; brated subjects, borrowed by painting from whose incidents of vision may be nearly all history, would have been any of them inincluded in foaming waves, a dark sky, telligible through the medium of painting ships out of their erect posture, and men only, supposing history to have been silent, hanging upon the ropes: or as a battle ; and to have given no additional informawhich, from beginning to end, presents no- tion. thing else than blood, fire, smoke, and dis- It may be here added, that Horace, conorder. Now such events may be well formably to this reasoning, recommends, imitated all at once ; for how long soever even to poetic imitation, a known story be they last, they are but repetitions of the fore an unknown: Nicias, the painter, recommended
Tuque much the same subjects, viz. a sea-fight, or Rectius Iliacum carmen deducis in actus, a land-battle of cavalry ; his reasons too are Quam si proferres ignota, indictaque primus. much the same with those mentioned in the
Art, Poet. v. 128. following note. He concludes with a maxim, And, indeed, as the being understood to (little regarded by his successors, however others, either hearers or spectators, seems important,) that the subject itself is as much to be a common requisite to all mimetic a part of the painter's art, as the poet's arts whatever, (for to those who understand fable is a part of poetry. See Demetrius them not, they are in fact no mimetic arts,) Phal. p. 53. edit. Oxon.
it follows, that perspicuity must be essential For painting is not bounded in exten- to them all ; and that no prudent artist sion, as it is in duration. Besides, it seems would neglect, if it were possible, any just true in every species of composition, that, advantage to obtain this end. Now there as far as perplexity and confusion may be can be no advantage greater than the notoavoided, and the wholeness of the piece may riety of the subject imitated. be preserved clear and intelligible, the more P Page 28. ample the magnitude, and the greater the
Thus, in the natural or inanimate world, music may imitate the glidings, murmurings, tossings, roarings, and other accidents of water, as perceived in fountains, cataracts, rivers, seas, &c.; the same of thunder; the same of winds, as well the stormy as the gentle. In the animal world, it may imitate the voice of some animals, but chiefly that of singing birds; it may also faintly copy some of their motions. In the human kind, it can also imitate some motions, and sounds; and of sounds, those most perfectly, which are expressive of grief and anguish."
And thus much as to the subjects which music imitates.
III. It remains, then, that we compare these two arts together. And here, indeed, as to musical imitation in general, it must be confessed, that, as it can, from its genius, imitate only sounds and motions; as there are not many motions, either in the animal or in the inanimate world, which are exclusively peculiar, even to any species, and scarcely any to an individual; as there are no natural sounds, which characterize, at least, lower than a species, (for the natural sounds of individuals are in every species the same :) further, as music does but imperfectly imitate even these sounds and motions ;' on the contrary, as figures, postures of figures, and colours characterize, not only every sensible species, but even every individual, and, for the most part, also the various energies and passions of every individual :' and further, as painting is able, with the highest accuracy and exactness, to imitate all these colours and figures, and while musical imitation pretends, at most, to no more than the raising of ideas similar, itself aspires to raise ideas the very same: in a word, as painting, in respect of its subjects, is equal to the noblest part of imitation, the imitating regular actions consisting of a whole and parts; and of such imitation, music is utterly incapable: from all this it must be confessed, that musical imitation is greatly below that of painting, and that at best it is but an imperfect thing.
As to the efficacy, therefore, of music, it must be derived from another source, which must be left for the present, to be considered of hereafter.*
9 As the walk of the giant Polypheme, this kind is the chorus of Baal's priests in in the pastoral of Acis and Galatea : the oratorio of Deborah : See what ample strides he takes, &c.
Doleful tidings, how ye wound, &c. As the shouts of a multitude, in the · The reason is, from the dissimilitude coronation anthem of God save the king, between the sounds and motions of nature, &c.
and those of music. Musical sounds are all . The
ason is, that this species of mu- produced from even vibration, most natural sical imitation most nearly approaches na- from uneven ; musical motions are chiefly ture: for grief, in most animals, declares definite in their measure, most natural are itself by sounds, which are not unlike to indefinite. long notes in the chromatic system. Of u See note k of this chapter.
There remains to be mentioned, imitation by poetry.
ON THE SUBJECTS WHICH POETRY IMITATES, BUT IMITATES ONLY
THROUGH NATURAL MEDIA, OR MERE SOUNDS. COMPARISON OP
Poetic imitation includes every thing in it which is performed either by picture-imitation or musical ; for its materials are words, and words are symbols by compact of all ideas.
Further, as words, beside their being symbols by compact, are also sounds variously distinguished by their aptness to be rapidly or slowly pronounced, and by the respective prevalence of mutes, liquids, or vowels, in their composition; it will follow, that, beside their compact-relation, they will have likewise a natural relation to all such things, between which and themselves there is any natural resemblance: thus, for instance, there is natural resemblance between all sorts of harsh and grating sounds. There is, therefore, (exclusive of its signification,) a natural relation between the sound of a vile hautboy, and of that verse in Virgil,
Stridenti miserum stipula disperdere carmen ; or of that other in Milton,
Grate on their scrannel pipes of wretched straw. So also between the smooth swift gliding of a river, and of that verse in Horace,
Labitur, et labetur in omne volubilis ævum. And thus, in part, even poetic imitation has its foundation in nature: but then this imitation goes not far; and taken without the meaning derived to the sounds from compact, is but little intelligible, however perfect and elaborate.
II. If, therefore, poetry be compared with painting, in respect of this its merely natural and inartificial resemblance, it may be justly said, that inasmuch as of this sort of resemblance, poetry (like music) has no other sources, than those two of sound and motion; inasmuch as it often wants these sources themselves, (for
* Chapter vi.
a In his Lycidas.
Epist. ii. I. 1. ver. 42, 43.
numbers of words neither have, nor can have, any resemblance to those ideas of which they are the symbols ;) inasmuch as natural sounds and motions, which poetry thus imitates, are themselves but loose and indefinite accidents of those subjects to which they belong,' and consequently do but loosely and indefinitely characterize them; lastly, inasmuch as poetic sounds and motions do but faintly resemble those of nature, which are themselves confessed to be so imperfect and vague. From all this it will follow, (as it has already followed of music,) that poetic imitation founded in mere natural resemblance is much inferior to that of painting, and at best but very imperfect.
III. As to the preference which such poetic imitation may claim before musical, or musical imitation before that, the merits on each side may appear perhaps equal. They both fetch their imitations from sound and motion. Now music seems to imitate nature better as to motion, and poetry as to sound.
The reason is
, that in motions, music has a greater variety;e and in sounds, those of poetry approach nearer to nature.
If, therefore, in sound the one have the preference, in motion the other, and the merit of sound and motion be supposed nearly equal, it will follow, that the merit of the two imitations will be nearly equal also.
ON THE SUBJECTS WHICH POETRY IMITATES, NOT BY MERE SOUNDS OR
NATURAL MEDIA, BUT BY WORDS SIGNIFICANT; THE SUBJECTS AT THE SAME TIME BEING SUCH, TO WHICH THE GENIUS OF EACH OF THE OTHER TWO ARTS IS MOST PERFECTLY ADAPTED. ITS COMPARISON IN THESE SUBJECTS, FIRST WITH PAINTING, THEN WITH MUSIC.
The mimetic art of poetry has been hitherto considered, as fetching its imitation from mere natural resemblance. In this it has been shewn much inferior to painting, and nearly equal to music.
compounded, can be made produce. 4 Page 28.
i Musical sounds are produced by even e Music has no less than five different vibrations, which scarcely any natural lengths of notes in ordinary use, reckoning sounds are : on the contrary, words are from the semibreve to the semiquaver ; all the product of uneven vibration, and so are which may be infinitely compounded, even most natural sounds; add to this, that in any one time, or measure. Poetry, on words are far more numerous than musical the other hand, has but two lengths, or sounds. So that poetry, as to imitation by quantities, a long syllable and a short, sound, seems to exceed music, not only in (which is its half
;) and all the variety of nearness of resemblance, but even in variety verse arises from such feet and metres, as also. these two species of syllables, by being