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such a tragedy as might be both instructive and delightful, according to the manners of the Grecians.
To make a sketch, or a more perfect model of a picture, is, in the language of poets, to draw up the scenery of a play; and the reason is the same for both; to guide the undertaking, and to preserve the remembrance of such things, whose natures are difficult to retain.
To avoid absurdities and incongruities, is the same law established for both arts. The painter is not to paint a cloud at the bottom of a picture, but in the uppermost parts; nor the poet to place what is proper to the end or middle, in the beginning of a poem. I might enlarge on this; but there are few poets or painters, who can be supposed to sin so grossly against the laws of nature and of art. I remember only one play, and for once I will call it by its name, "The Slighted Maid,"* where there is nothing in the first act, but what might have been said or done in the fifth; nor any thing in the midst, which might not have been placed as well in the beginning, or the end. To express the passions which are seated in the heart, by outward signs, is one great precept of the painters, and very difficult to perform. In poetry, the same passions and motions of the mind are to be expressed; and in this consists the principal difficulty, as well as the excellency of that art. This, says my author, is the gift of Jupiter; and, to speak in the same heathen language, we call it the gift of our Apollo,-not to be obtained by pains or study, if we are not born to for the motions which are studied, are never so natural as those which break out in the height of a real passion. Mr. Otway possesesd this art as thoroughly as any of the ancients or moderns. I will not defend every thing in his In truth, the very expression in the text is else where hitched into rhyme :
The labouring bee, when his sharp sting is gone,
* * * * How can he show his manhood if you bind him, To box like boys with one hand tied behind him. Prologue to Amphitryon.
A comedy written by Sir Robert Stapylton, and acted by the Duke of York's servants, at their theatre in Lincoln's Inn Fields, in 1663. Dryden has elsewhere undervalued this play:
Your Ben and Fletcher, in their first young flight,
Sir Robert Stapylton, the author of the "Slighted Maid," translated Juvenal and Musæus, and wrote other two plays, called "The Step-Mother," and "Hero and Leander."
"Venice Preserved;" but I must bear this testimony to his memory,-that the passions are truly touched in it, though perhaps there is somewhat to be desired, both in the grounds of them, and in the height and elegance of expression; but nature is there, which is the greatest beauty.
"In the passions," says our author, "we must have a very great regard to the quality of the persons who are actually possessed with them." The joy of a monarch for the news of a victory, must not be expressed like the ecstacy of a Harlequin on the receipt of a letter from his mistress-this is so much the same in both the arts, that it is no longer a comparison. What he says of face-painting, or the portrait of any one particular person, concerning the likeness, is also as applicable to poetry. In the character of a hero, as well as in an inferior figure, there is a better or worse likeness to be taken: the better is a panegyric, if it be not false, and the worse is a libel. Sophocles, says Aristotle, always drew men as they ought to be, that is, better than they were; another, whose name I have forgotten,* drew them worse than naturally they were: Euripides altered nothing in the character, but made them such as they were represented by history, epic poetry, or tradition. Of the three, the draught of Sophocles is most commended by Aristotle. I have followed it in that part of "Edipus" which I writ, though perhaps I have made him too good a man. But my characters of Antony and Cleopatra, though they are favourable to them, have nothing of outrageous panegyric. Their passions were their own, and such as were given them by history; only the deformities of them were cast into shadows, that they might be objects of compassion whereas if I had chosen a noon-day light for them, somewhat must have been discovered, which would rather have moved our hatred than our pity.
"Otway," says Pope, "has written but two tragedies, out of six, that are pathetic. I believe he did it without much design, as Lillo has done in his 'Barnwell.' It is a talent of nature, rather than an effect of judgment, to write so movingly."-Spence's Anecdotes, quoted by Malone. Dryden, at an early period, is said to ve set no high value upon Otway in other respects, while he allowed he excelled him in the art of affecting the passions.
"Aristotle, in the place referred to, (WEỌI TOINT. K. μs.) does not mention any third dramatic poet by name. He does indeed put the case of a third poet, who might pursue a method different from the prac tice either of Sophocles or Euripides, and represent things as they are said and believed to be. In the same passage, (which is manifestly corrupt,) he mentions an observation of Xenophanes, who, I believe, was the person here in our author's thoughts."- Malone.
The first and third Acts.
The Gothic manner, and the barbarous ornaments, which are to be avoided in a picture, are just the same with those in an ill-ordered play. For example, our English tragi-comedy must be confessed to be wholly Gothic, notwithstanding the success which it has found upon our theatre, and in the "Pastor Fido" of Guarini; even though Corisca and the Satyr contribute som what to the main action. Neither can I defend my "Spanish Friar," as fond as otherwise I am of it, from this imputation: for though the comical parts are diverting, and the serious moving, yet they are of an unnatural mingle: for mirth and gravity destroy each other, and are no more to be allowed for decent, than a gay widow laughing in a mourning habit.
I had almost forgotten one considerable resemblance. Du Fresnoy tells us, "That the figures of the groups must not be all on a side, that is, with their face and bodies all turned the ́same way; but must contrast each other by their several positions." Thus in a play, some characters must be raised, to oppose others, and to set them off the better; according to the old maxim, Contraria juxta se posita, magis elucescunt. Thus, in "The Scornful Lady," the usurer is set to confront the prodigal: thus, in my "Tyrannic Love," the atheist Maximin is opposed to the character of St. Catherine.
the design to be moderately good, it is like an excellent complexion with indifferent features: the white and red well mingled on the face, make what was before but passable appear beautiful. Operum colores is the very word which Horace uses to signify words and elegant expressions, of which he himself was so great a master, in his Odes. Amongst the ancients, Zeuxis was most famous for his colouring; amongst the moderns, Titian and Correggio. Of the two ancient epic poets, who have so far excelled all the moderns, the invention and design were the particular talents of Homer. Virgil must yield to him in both; for the design of the Latin was borrowed from the Grecian: but the dictio Virgiliana, the expression of Virgil, his colouring, was incomparably the better; and in that I have always endeavoured to copy him. Most of the pedants, I know, maintain the contrary, and will have Homer excel even in this part. But of all people, as they are the most ill-mannered, so they are the worse judges. Even of words, which are their province, they seldom know more than the grammatical construction, unless they are born with a poetical genius, which is a rare portion amongst them. Yet some I know may stand excepted; and such I honour. Virgil is so exact in every word, that none can be changed but for a worse; nor any one removed from its place, but the harmony will be altered. He pretends sometimes to trip; but it is only to make you think him in danger of a fall, when he is most secure: like a skilful dancer on the ropes, (if you will pardon the meanness of the similitude,) who slips willingly, and makes a seeming stumble, that you may think him in great hazard of breaking his neck, while at the same time he is only giving you a proof of his dexterity. My late Lord Roscommon was often pleased with this reflection, and with the examples of it in this admirable author.
I am now come, though with the omission of many likenesses, to the Third Part of Painting, which is called the Chromatic, or Colouring Expression, and all that belongs to words, is that in a poem which colouring is in a picture. The colours well chosen in their proper places, together with the lights and shadows which belong to them, lighten the design, and make it pleasing to the eye. The words, the expressions, the tropes and figures, the versification, and all the other elegancies of sound, as cadences, turns of words upon the thought, and many other things, which are all parts of expression, perform exactly the same office both in dramatic and epic poetry. Our author calls Colouring, -lena sororis in plain English, the bawd of her sister, the design or drawing: she clothes, she dresses her up, she paints her, she makes her appear more lovely than naturally she is; she procures for the design, and makes lovers for her for the design of itself is only so many naked lines. Thus in poetry, the expression is that which charms the reader, and beautifies the design, which is only the outlines of the fable. It is true, the design must of itself be good; if it be vicious, or, in one word, unpleasing, the cost of colouring is thrown away upon it: it is an ugly woman in a rich habit set out with jewels;-nothing can become her; but granting
I have not leisure to run through the whole comparison of lights and shadows with tropes and figures; yet I cannot but take notice of metaphors, which like them have power to lessen or greaten any thing. Strong and glowing colours are the just resemblances of bold metaphors: but both must be judiciously applied; for there is a difference betwixt daring and foolhardiness. Lucan and Statius often ventured them too far; our Virgil never. But the great defect of the "Pharsalia" and the "Thebais" was in the design: if that had been more perfect, we might have forgiven many of their bold strokes in the colouring, or at least excused them; yet some of them are such as Demosthenes or Cicero could not have defended. Vir
which would cost me an hour, if I had the leisure to translate them, there is so much of beauty in the original.
Virgil, as he better knew his colours, so he knew better how and where to place them. In as much haste as I am, I cannot forbear giving one example. It is said of him that he read the Second, Fourth, and Sixth Books of his Eneids to Augustus Cæsar. In the Sixth, (which we are sure he read, because we know Octavia was present, who rewarded him so bountifully for the twenty verses which were made in honour of her deceased son Marcellus,)— in his Sixth Book, I say, the poet, speaking of Misenus, the trumpeter, says,
• Our author has already compared the first of the
lines alluded to
Quæ superimposito moles geminata Colossowith the first line of Virgil's Eclogues.
+ Theb. vi. 400, 401.
Our author's confession of the difficulty of translating these lines, probably induced Pope to transplant them into his "Windsor Forest," where they are thus beautifully paraphrased:
The impatient courser pants in every vein, And pawing seems to beat the distant plain; Hills, vales, and floods, appear already crost, And, ere he starts, a thousand steps are lost. Our author trusted, as usual, to memory; for the first of the lines, quoted from Statius, runs differ
Stare adeò miserum est
but he was thinking on a passage in the Third Georgic.
tum, si qua sonum procul arma dedere, Stare loco nescit: micat auribus, et tremit artus; Conlectumque premens volvit sub naribus ignem. Malone.
quo non præstantior alter Ere ciere viros,
and broke off in the hemistich, or midst of the verse; but in the very reading, seized as it were with a divine fury, he made the latter part of the hemistich with these following words, martemque accendere cantu.
How warm, nay, how glowing a colouring is this! In the beginning of his verse, the word as, or brass was taken for a trumpet, because the instrument was made of the metal,-which of itself was fine; but in the latter end, which was made extempore, you see three metaphors, -cantu. Good heamartemque,— accendere, vens! how the plain sense is raised by the beauty of the words! But this was happiness, the former might be only judgment: this was the curiosa felicitas, which Petronius attributes to Horace; it is the pencil thrown luckily full upon the horse's mouth, to express the foam which the painter with all his skill could not perform without it. These hits of words a true poet often finds, as I may say, without seeking; but he knows their value when he finds them, and is
infinitely pleased. A bad poet may sometimes light on them, but he discerns not a diamond from a Bristol-stone; and would have been of the cock's mind in Esop,--a grain of barley would have pleased him better than the jewel.
The lights and shadows which belong to colouring, put me in mind of that verse of Horace,
Hoc amat obscurum, vult hoc sub luce videri. Some parts of a poem require to be amply written, and with all the force and elegance of words; others must be cast into shadows, that is, passed over in silence, or but faintly touched. This belongs wholly to the judgment of the poet and the painter. The most beautiful parts of the picture, and the poem, must be the most finished, the colours and words most chosen ; many things in both, which are not deserving of this care, must be shifted off, content with vulgar expressions, and those very short, and left, as in a shadow, to the imagination of the reader.
We have the proverb manum de tabulâ from the painters; which signifies to know when to give over, and lay by the pencil. Both Homer and Virgil practised this precept wonderfully well, but Virgil the better of the two. Homer knew, that when Hector was slain, Troy was as good as already taken; therefore he concludes his action there: for what follows in the funerals of Patroclus, and the redemption of Hector's body, is not, properly speaking, a part of the main action. But Virgil concludes with the death of Turnus; for after that difficulty was removed, Æneas might marry, and establish the
Trojans, when he pleased. This rule I had before my eyes in the conclusion of the "Spanish Friar," when the discovery was made that the king was living, which was the knot of the play untied; the rest is shut up in the compass of some few lines, because nothing then hindered the happiness of Torrismond and Leonora. The faults of that drama are in the kind of it, which is tragi-comedy. But it was given to the people; and I never writ any thing for myself but "Antony and Cleopatra."
the jostling of islands rent from their foundations, and meeting in the ocean, he knew the comparison was forced beyond nature, and raised too high; he therefore softens the metaphor with a credas: "you would almost believe -that mountains or islands rushed against each other:"
This remark, I must acknowledge, is not so proper for the colouring as the design; but it will hold for both. As the words, &c. are evidently shown to be the clothing of the thought, in the same sense as colours are the clothing of the design, so the painter and the poet ought to judge exactly when the colouring and expressions are perfect, and then to think their work is truly finished. Apelles said of Protogenes, -that he knew not when to give over. A work may be over-wrought, as well as under-wrought; too much labour often takes away the spirit by adding to the polishing, so that there remains nothing but a dull correctness, a piece without any considerable faults, but with few beauties; for when the spirits are drawn off, there is nothing but a caput mortuum. Statius never thought an expression could be bold enough; and if a bolder could be found, he rejected the first. Virgil had judginent enough to know daring was necessary; but he knew the difference betwixt a glowing colour and a glaring. As, when he compared the shocking of the fleets at Actium to
pelago credas innare revulsas Cycladas, aut montes concurrere montibus altos.
But here I must break off without finishing the discourse.
Cynthius, aurem vellit, et admonuit, &c. The things which are behind are of too nice a consideration for an essay, begun and ended in twelve mornings; and perhaps the judges of painting and poetry, when I tell them how short a time it cost me, may make me the same answer which my late Lord Rochester made to one, who, to commend a tragedy, said it was written in three weeks: "How the devil could he be so long about it?" For that poem was infamously bad; and I doubt this Parallel is little better; and then the shortness of the time is so far from being a commendation, that it is scarcely an excuse. But if I have really drawn a portrait to the knees, or a half-length, with a tolerable likeness, then I may plead, with some justice, for myself, that the rest is left to the imagination. Let some better artist provide himself of a deeper canvass, and, taking these hints which I have given, set the figure on its legs, and finish it in the invention, design, and colouring.
MONSIEUR DE PILES, THE FRENCH TRANSLATOR.
AMONG all the beautiful and delightful arts, that of painting has always found the most lovers; the number of them almost including all mankind. Of whom great multitudes are daily found, who value themselves on the knowledge of it: either because they keep company with painters; or that they have seen good pieces; or, lastly, because their gusto is naturally good. Which notwithstanding that knowledge of theirs (if we may so call it) is so very superficial, and so ill grounded, that it is impossible for them to describe in what consists the beauty of those works which they admire, or the faults, which are in the greatest part of those which they condemn. And truly it is not hard to find, that this proceeds from no other cause, than that they are not furnished with rules by which to judge; nor have any solid foundations, which are as so many lights set up to clear their understanding, and lead them to an entire and certain knowledge. I think it superfluous to prove, that this is necessary to the knowledge of paint ing. It is sufficient, that painting be acknowledged for an art; for that being granted, it follows, without dispute, that no arts are without their precepts. I shall satisfy myself with telling you, that this little treatise will furnish you with infallible rules of judging truly; since they are not only founded upon right reason, but upon the best pieces of the best masters, which our author hath carefully examined, during the space of more than thirty years; and on which he has made all the reflections which are necessary, to render this treatise worthy of prosperity; which, though little in bulk, yet contains most judicious remarks, and suffers nothing to escape that is essential to the subject which it handles. If you will please to read it with attention, you will find it capable of giving the most nice and -delicate sort of knowledge, not only to the lovers, but even to the professors of that art.
It would be too long to tell you the particular
advantages, which it has above all the books that have appeared before it, in this kind; you need only read it, and that will convince you of this truth. All that I will allow myself to say, is only this, that there is not a word in it which carries not its weight; whereas in all others, there are two considerable faults, which lie open to the sight, viz. that saying too much, they always say too little. I assure myself, that the reader will own it is a work of general profit: to the lovers of painting, for their instruction how to judge knowingly, from the reason of the thing; and to the painters themselves, by removing their difficulties, that they may work with pleasure; because they may be in some manner certain, that their productions are good. It is to be used like spirits, and precious liquors : the less you drink of it at a time, it is with the greater pleasure. Read it often, and but little at once, that you may digest it better; and dwell particularly on those passages which you find marked with an asterism, *. For the observations which follow such a note will give you a clearer light on the matter which is there treated, You will find them by the numbers which are of on the side of the translation, from five to five verses, by searching for the like number in the remarks which are at the end of it, and which are distinguished from each other by this note, †. You will find, in the latter pages of this book the judgment of the author on those painters who have acquired the greatest reputation in the world; amongst whom he was not willing to comprehend those who are now living. They are undoubtedly his, as being found among his papers, written in his own hand.
As for the prose translation, which you will find on the other side of the Latin poem, I must inform you on what occasion, and in what manner, it was performed. The love which I had for painting, and the pleasure which I found in the exercise of that noble art, at my leisure