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NOTE II. VERSE 33.
Such powers, such prcises, heav'n-born pair, belong To magick colouring, and persuasive song.
That is to say, they belong intrinsically and of right. Mr. Wills, in the preface to his version of our poet, first deteeted the false translations of Du Piles and Dryden, which Sily,
so much have these divine arts been honoured ;” in consequence of which the Frenchman gives a note of four pages, enume rating the instances in which Painting and its Professors have been honoured by kings and great men, ancient and modern. Fresnoy had not this in his idea : He
says, tantus inest divis honor artibus atque potestas," which Wills justly and literally translates, Such powers, such honours, are in arts divine.
NOTE III. VERSE 51.
'Tis Painting's first chief business to explore,
The Poet, with great propriety, begins, by declaring what is the chief business of Theory and pronounces it to be a knowledge of what is beautiful in nature :
That form alone, where glows peculiar grace,
The genuine Painter condescends to trace. v. 9. There is an absolute necessity for the Painter to generalize his notions; to paint particulars is not to paint nature, it is only to paint circumstances. When the Artist has conceived in his imagination the image of perfect beauty, or the abstract idea of forms, he may be said to be admitted into the great Council of Nature, and to
Trace Beauty's beam to its eternal spring, And pure to man the fire celestial bring. v. 19. To facilitate the acquisition of this ideal beauty, the Artist is recommended to a studious examination of ancient sculpture.
NOTE IV. VERSE 55.
How all one wretched, blind barbarity! The mind is distracted with the variety of accidents, for so they ought to be called rather than forms; and the disagreement of
those among themselves will be a perpetual source of confusion and meanness, until, by generalizing his ideas, the painter has acquired the only true criterion of judgement; then, with a Master's care,
Judge of his art, thro' beauty's realms he flies, Selects, combines, improves, diversifies. ver. 76.
It is better that he should come to diversify on particulars from the large and broad idea of things, than vainly attempt to ascend from particulars to this great general idea : for to generalise from the endless and vicious variety of actual forms, requires a mind of wonderful capacity ; it is perhaps more than any one mind can accomplish: but when the other, and, I think, better course is pursued, the Artist may avail himself of the united powers of all his predecessors. He sets out with an ample inheritance, and avails himself of the selection of
NOTE V. VERSE 63.
The sententious and Horatian line, (says a later French editor,) which in the original,
is placed to the score of the Ancients, to give it greater weight, is the Author's own. I suspect, however, that he borrowed the thought from some ancient prose-writer, as we see he borrowed from Plutarch before at the opening of his poem.
NOTE VI. VERSE 65.
The original here is very obscure; when I had translated the passage in the clearest manner I was able, but necessarily with some periphrasis, I consulted a learned friend upon it, who was pleased to approve the version, and to elucidate the text in the following manner : Cognita,” (the things known,) in line 45, refers to “
Nosse quid in natura pulchrius," (the thing to be learned,) in line 38; the main thing is to know what forms are most beautiful, and to know what forms have been chiefly reputed such by the Ancients. In these when once known, i. e. attended to and considered, the mind of course takes a pleasure, and thus the conscious soul becomes enamoured with the object, &c. as in the Paraphrase. M.
NOTE VII. VERSE 78.
And clasps each Venus as she glides along.
power of expressing these transitory beauties is perhaps the greatest effort of our art, and which cannot be attained till the Student has acquired a facility of drawing nature correctly in its inanimate state. R.
NOTE VIII. VERSE 78.
Where purblind practice only points the way. Practice is justly called purblind ; for tice, that is tolerable in its way, is not totally blind : an imperceptible theory, which grows out of, accompanies, and directs it, is never wholly wanting to a sedulous practice; but this
goes but a little way with the Painter himself, and is utterly inexplicable to others.
To become a great proficient; an artist ought to see clearly enough to enable him to point out to others the principle on which he works ; otherwise he will be confined, and what is worse, he will be uncertain.