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of simplicity; but if this same vulgar person, or even an infant, should mistake for dirt what was intended to be a shade, it might be apprehended that the shadow was not the true colour of nature, with almost as much certainty as if the observation had been made by the most able connoisseur. R.
NOTE L. VERSE 703.
However admirable his taste may be, he is but half a painter who can only conceive his subject, and is without knowledge of the mechanical part of his art; as, on the other hand, his skill may be said to be thrown away, who has employed his colours on subjects that create no interest from their beauty, their character, or expression. One part often absorbs the whole mind to the neglect of the rest: the young students,whilst at Rome, studying the works of Michel Angelo and Raffaelle, are apt to lose all relish for any kind of excellence, except what is found in their works. Perhaps going afterwards to Venice they may be induced to think there are other things required, and that nothing but the most superlative excellence in design, character, and dignity of style, can atone for a deficiency in the ornamental graces of the art. Excellence must of course be rare; and one of the causes of its rarity, is the necessity of uniting qualities which in their nature are contrary to each other; and yet no approaches can be made towards perfection without it. Every art or profession requires this union of contrary qualities, like the harmony of colouring, which is produced by an opposition of hot and cold hues. The poet and the painter must unite to the warmth that accompanies a poetical imagination, patience and perseverance: the one in counting syllables and toiling for a rhyme, and the other in labouring the minute parts, and finishing the detail of his works, in order to produce the great effect he desires : they must both possess a comprehensive mind that takes in the whole at one view, and at the same time an accuracy of eye or mind that distinguishes between two things that, to an ordinary spectator, appear the same, whether this consists in tints or words, or the nice discrimination on which expression and elegance depend.
NOTE LI. VERSE 715.
While free from prejudice your active eye
Preserves its first unsullied purity. Prejudice is generally used in a bad sense, to imply a predilection not founded on reason or nature, in favour of a particular manner, and therefore ought to be opposed with all our force; but totally to eradicate in advanced age what has so much assisted us in our youth, is a point to which we cannot hope to arrive. The difficulty of conquering this prejudice is to be considered in the number of those causes which makes excellence so very rare.
Whoever would make a happy progress in any art or science, must begin by having great confidence in, and even prejudice in favour of, his instructor; but to continue to think him infallible, would be continuing for ever in a state of infancy.
It is impossible to draw a line when the artist shall begin to dare to examine and criticise the works of his master, or of the greatest masterpieces of art; we can only say, that his progress to this capacity will be gradual. In proportion as the scholar learns to analyse the excellence of the masters he esteems-in proportion as he comes exactly to distinguish in what that excellence consists, and refer it to some precise rule and fixed standard, in that proportion he becomes free. When he has once laid hold of their principle, he will see when they deviate from it, or fail to come up to it; so that it is in reality through his extreme admiration of, and blind deference to, these masters (without which he never would have employed an intense application to discover the rule and scheme of their works), that he is enabled, if I may use the expression, to emancipate himself, even to get above them, and to become the judge of those of whom he was at first the humble disciple. R.
NOTE LII. VERSE 721.
When duly taught each geometric rule,
Approach with awful step the Grecian school. The first business of the student is to be able to give a true representation of whatever object presents itself just as it appears to the eye, so as to amount to a deception; and the geometric rules of perspective are included in this study. This is the language of the art; which appears the more necessary to be taught early, from the natural repugnance which the mind has to such mechanical labour, after it has acquired a relish for its higher departments.
The next step is to acquire a knowledge of the beauty of form; for this purpose he is recommended to the study of the Grecian sculpture; and for composition, colouring, and expression, to the great works at Rome, Venice, Parma, and Bologna; he begins now to look for those excellencies which address themselves to the imagination, and considers deception as a scaffolding to be now thrown aside, as of no importance to this finished fabric.
NOTE LIII. VERSE 725.
No rest, no pause, till all her graces known,
A happy habit makes each grace your own. To acquire this excellence, something more is required than measuring statues or copying pictures.
I am confident the works of the ancient sculptors were produced, not by measuring, but in consequence of that correctness of eye which they had acquired by long habit, which served them at all times, and on all occasions, when the compass would fail. There is no reason why the eye should not be capable of acquiring equal precision and exactness with the organs of hearing or speaking. We know that an infant, who has learned its language by habit, will sometimes correct the most learned grammarian who has been taught by rule only; the idiom, which is the peculiarity of language, and that in which its native grace is seated, can be learned by habit alone.
To possess this perfect habit, the same conduct is necessary in art as in language, that it should be begun early, whilst the organs are pliable, and impressions are easily taken, and that we should accustom ourselves, while this habit is forming, to see beauty only, and avoid as much as possible deformity, or what is incorrect. What