« AnteriorContinuar »
Si Venerem Cous nunquam pinxisset Apelles,
Mersa sub æquereis illa lateret aquis. Thus varied, One birth to seas the Cyprian goddess ow'd, A second birth the painter's art bestow'd; Less by the seas than by his power was given ; They made her live, but he advanc'd to heaven. The idea of this beauty is indeed various, according to the several forms which the painter or sculptor would describe, as one in strength, another in magnanimity; and sometimes it consists in cheerfulness, and sometimes in delicacy, and is always diversified by the sex and age.
The beauty of Jove is one, and that of Juno another; Hercules and Cupid are perfect beauties, though of different kinds; for beauty is only that which makes all things as they are in their proper and perfect nature, which the best painters always chuse by contemplating the forms of each. We ought farther to consider, that a picture being the representation of a hunian action, the painter ought to retain in his mind the examples of all affections and passions, as a poet preserves the idea of an angry man ; of one who is fearful, sad, or merry, and so of all the rest; for it is impossible to express that with the band, which never entered into the imagination.
In this manner as I have briefly and rudely shewn, painters and sculptors, chusing the most elegant natural beauties, perfectionate the idea, and advance their art even above nature itself in her individual productions, which is the utmost mastery of human performance.
From hence arises that astonishment and almost adoration, which is paid by the knowing, to those divine remains of antiquity. From hence Phidias, Lysippus, and other noble sculptors, are still held in veneration; and Apelles, Zeuxis, Protogenes, and other admirable painters, though their works are perished, are and will be eternally admired; who all of them drew after the ideas of perfection, which are the miracles of nature, the providence of the understanding, the exemplars of the mind, the light of the fancy, ESSAY 56.
which from its rising inspired the statue of Memnon, and the fire which warmed into life the image of Prometheus. It is this which causes the graces and the loves to take up their habitations in the hardest marble, and to subsist in the emptiness of light and shadows.
ADVANTAGE OF RESTRAINT.
(From the Museum.)
LIFE, as Cebes paints it, is a large mansion, and infancy the entrance, where ten thousand fancies and opinions of different kinds are continually waiting to allure every new comer to their respective apartments. It is the duty therefore of parents, like the good genius he describes, to inform them which of these are invested with true, and which with fallacious appearances.
But there is a defect too often in the manner used to attain this desirable end; for austerity and rigour are indiscriminately exerted toward the good and the bad, the generous and the froward; so that frequently the punishments, which are intended to drive them by force from vice, give them a disgust to virtue, which pro
perly recommended, has charms sufficient when known, to attract the mind without any second
In that polite age when Greece was in all her glory, there lived at Athens, a noble citizen named Democritus, whom affluence of fortune, generosity of temper, and extent of knowledge, made the delight of the poor, and an example to the rich; a benefactor to the distressed, and an ornament to his country. But amidst all the blessings power and virtue could bestow, he was suddenly rendered the most miserable of men by the death of his wife Aspasia, who dying in child-bed, left him the consolation of being father to an infant who was a living image of his deceased mother.
It was a long time before his philosophy could overcome his grief; but his passion being allayed by degrees, he resumed the man, and submitted again to the dictates of reason. His thoughts now wholly turned on the education of his son Euphemion, (for so he called the boy) whose very dawn of infancy promised the greatest splendour; but considering that the vivacity of his temper would greatly expose him to the seductions of the world, he would often, as the child sat playing on his lap, mix an anxious tear with the smiles of paternal pleasure.
When Euphemion was past his childhood, the prudent Democritus devised an expedient to make pleasure the passage to virtue, as virtue was the only passage to real pleasure; for knowing from his own past conduct, the propensity of youth to voluptuousness, he made that the enforcement of his precepts, which generally is the bane of all morality.
As they were walking together in a gallery of pictures, “Behold, my son," says the father, " that representation of perfect beauty enibracing “ with no small extasy a young man who kneels " before her.” Methinks,” cries Euphemion, interrupting him, “I can read in the painting “ the greatest transport of soul; and sure he has " sufficient reason to appear so enraptured when " the master-piece of heaven is in his possession.” “ You speak," continues Democritus, “as if you “ envied his situtation, and with too much “ warmth and enthusiasm of objects that are so
easily to be obtained, “To be obtained !" replied Euphemion; " by what means, and by “ whom ! if it is in my power O tell me the way; " it will make your son the happiest of mortals.” ** Alas!” said the father sighing, “I am afraid “ the impatience of your temper will never suffer
you to undergo the self denial and delay that is requisite, before you can arrive at such a height