Imágenes de páginas

N° 226.

Monday, November 19.


[ocr errors]

Mutum eft pictura poema.
A picture is a poem without words.

often lamented and hinted


forrow in several speculations, that the art of painting is made so little use of to the improvement of our manners. When we consider that it places the action of the person represented in the most agreeable aspect imaginable, that it does not only express the passion or concern as it fits upon him who is drawn, but has under those features the height of the painter's imagination, what strong images of virtue and humanity might we not expect would be inftilled into the mind from the labours of the pencil ? This is a poetry which would be understood with much less capacity, and less expence of time, than what is taught by writings; but the use of it is generally perverted, and that admirable skill proAtituted to the baseft and most unworthy ends. Who is the better man for beholding the most beautiful Vedus,

the best wrought Bacchanal, the images of sleeping Cuř pids, languishing nymphs, or any of the representa

tions of gods, goddesses, demigods, satyrs, polyphemes, sphinxes, or fawns ? But if the virtues and vices, which are sometimes pretended to be represented under fuch draughts, were given us by the painter in the characters of real life, and the persons of men and women whose actions have rendered them laudable or infamous; we should not see a good hiftory-piece without receiving an instructive lecture. There needs no other proof of this truth, than the testimony of every reasonable creature who has seen the cartons in her majesty's gallery at Hampton-court : these are representations of no less actions than those of our blessed Saviour and his apostles. As I now fit and recollect the warm images which the admirable Raphael has raised, it is impossible even from the faint traces. in one's memory of what one has not


seen these two years, to be unmoved at the horror and reverence which


in the whole assembly when the mercenary man fell down dead; at the amazement of the man born blind, when he first receives fight; or at the graceless indignation of the forcerer, when he is struck blind. The lame, when they first find strength in their feet, stand doubtful of their new vigour. The heavenly apostles appear acting these great things, with a deep sente of the infirmities which they relieve, but no value of themselves who administer to their weakness. They know themselves to be but inftruments; and the generous distress they are painted in when divine honours are offered to them, is a representation in the most exquisite degree of the beauty of holiness. When St. Paul is preaching to the Athenians, with what wonderful art are almost all the different tempers of mankind represented in that elegant audience ? You see one credulous of all that is said, another wrapt up in deep suspense, another saying there is some reason in what he says, another angry that the apostle defiroys a favourite opinion which he is unwilling to give up, anather wholly convinced and holding out his hands in rapture, while the generality attend, and wait for the opinion of those who are of leading characters in the assembly. I will not pretend fo much as to mention that chart on which is drawn the appearance of our blessed Lord after his resurrection. Present authority, late suffering, humility and majesty, despotic command, and divine love, are at once feated in his celestial aspect

. The figures of the eleven apostles are all in the fame paffion of admiration, but discover it differently accordingly to their characters. Peter receives his malter's orders on his keees with an admiration mixed with a more particular attention: the two next with a more open ecstasy, though still constrained by the awe of the divine presence ; the beloved difciple, whom I take to be the right of the two first figures, has in his countenance wonder drowned in love; and the last personage, whose back is towards the spectators, and his side towards the presence, one would fancy to be St. Thomas, as abashed by the conscience of his former diffidence ; which perplexed concern it is possible Raphael thought

too hard a talk to draw but by this acknowledgment of the difficulty to describe it.

The whole work is an exercise of the highest piety in the painter ; and all the touches of a religious mind are expressed in a manner much more forcible than can possibly be performed by the most moving eloquenoe. These invaluable pieces are very justly in the hands of the greatest and most pious sovereign in the world; and cannot be the frequent object of every one at their own leisure : but as an engraver is to the painter, what a painter is to an author, it is worthy her majesty's name, that she has encouraged that noble artiit, monsieur Dorigny, to publish these works of Raphael. We have of this gentleman a piece of the transfiguration, which, I think, is held a work second to none in the world.

Methinks it would be ridiculous in our people of condition, after their large bounty to foreigners of no name or merit, should they overlook this occasion of having, for a trifling subscription, a work which it is impossible for a man of fense to behold, without being warmed with the noblett sentiments that can be inspired by love, admiration, compassion, contempt of this world, and expectation of a better.

It is certainly the greatest honour we can do our country, to distinguish strangers of merit who apply to us with modesty and diffidence, which generally accompanies merit.' No opportunity of this kind ought to be neglected ; and a modest behaviour should alarm us to examine whether we do not lose something excellent under that disadvantage in the poffeffor of that quality. My skill in paintings, where one is not directed by the passion of the pictures, is so inconfiderable, that I am in very great perplexity when I offer to speak of any performances of painters, of landskips, buildings, or single figures. This makes me at a loss how to mention the pieces which Mr. Boul exposes to sale by auction on Wednesday next in Chandois-itreet : but having heard him commended by those who have bought of him heretofore for great integrity in his dealing, and overheard him himself, though a laudable painter, say nothing of his own was fit to come into the room with those he had to sell, I feared I fhould




lose an occasion of serving a man of worth, in omitting to speak of his auction.


N° 227

Tuesday, November 20,

*Ω μoι εγώ τι πάθω και τι ο δύσσους; ουχ υπακούεις :
Ταν Βαίταν αποδυς είς κύματα τηνα αλεύμαι
"Ωπερ τως θύννως σκωπιάζεται 'Oλπις ο γριπεύς
Κήκα μη ποθάνω, τό γε μαν τεόν άδυ τίτυκται.


In my latt Thursday's paper I made mention of a place called the Lover's Leap, which I find has raised a great curiosity among leveral of my correspondents. I there told them that this leap was used to be taken from a promontory of Leucas. This Leucas was formerly a part of Acarnania, being joined to it by a narrow neck of land, which the sea has by length of time overflowed and washed away ; so that at present Leucas is divided from the continent, and is a little island in the Ionian fea. The promontory of this island, from whence the lover took his leap, was formerly called Leucate. If the reader has a mind to know both the island and the promontory by their modern titles, he will find in his map the ancient island of Leucas under the name of St. Mauro, and the ancient promontory

of Leucate under the name of the Cape of St. Mauro.

Since I am engaged thus far in antiquity, I must observe that Theocritus in the motto prefixed to my paper, describes one of his despairing shepherds addressing hintelf to his mitress after the following manner :

“ Alas! « what will becoine of me! Wretch that I am ! Will

you not hear me? I will throw off my clothes, and " take a leap into that part of the sea which is so much

frequented by Olpis the fisherman. And though I “ should escape with my life, I know you

will be pleased o with it.” İthall leave it with the critics to determine

whether the place which this shepherd so particularly points out, was not the above-mentioned Leucate, or at least some other lover's leap, which was supposed to have had the same effect. I cannot believe, as all the interpreters do, that the shepherd means nothing farther here than that he would drown himself, since he represents the iffue of his leap as doubtful, by adding, that if he should escape with life, he knows his mistress would be pleased with it ; which is according to our interpretation, that she would rejoice any way to get rid of a lover who was so troublesome to her.

After this short preface, I shall present my reader with some letters which I have received upon this sub. ject. The first is sent me by a physician.

• Mr. SPECTATOR, • THE Lover's Leap, which you mention in your 223d paper, was generally, I believe, a very effec-tual cure for love, and not only for love, but for all other evils. In ihort, sir, I ain afraid it was such a.

leap as that which Hero took to get rid of her pallion • for Leander. A man is in no danger of breaking his heart, who breaks his neck to prevent it. I know very well the wonders which ancient authors relate con-. cerning this leap ; and in particular that very many

persons who tried it, escaped not only with their lives • but their limbs. If by this ineans they got rid of their

love, though it may in part be ascribed to the reasons you give for it ;:why may we not suppose that the cold bath into which they plunged themselves, had also: • soine share in their cure? A leap into the fea, or into

any creek of salt waters, very often gives a new motion

to the spirits, and a new turn to the blood ;; for which ' reason we prescribe it in diftempers which no other 6. medicine will reach. I could produce a quotation out • of a very venerable author, in which the frenzy pro--'duced by love is compared to that which is produced .. by the biting of a mad dog. But as this comparison

is a little too coarse for your paper, and might look: as if it were cited to ridicule the author who has made: use of it; I shall only. hint at it, and desire you to» consider whether, if the frenzy produced by these twas



[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »