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3dly. He may speak, without presumption, of the preservation or the breach of the unities of time and place. He may safely venture to say, that if Vulcan is forging the arms of Æneas, in one part of the picture, and Æneas is admiring them, when finished, in another part of the same picture, the painter would have done better, if he had possessed a larger portion of common sense. So when Barry dedicates half a canvass to Elysium, where we are surprised to find Louis XIV., and some other worthies of his description, and the other half to Hell, where he unmercifully places the Pope in his robes and tiara, swimming about in burning brimstone, we do not hazard much, in exclaiming with Horace, quicquid ostendas mihi sic, incredulus odi.
4thly. Such a spectator may decide, whether the artist has preserved unity of character in his composition whether, if it be an allegory, all the personages are allegorical, with distinct, intelligible, and appropriate emblems;-mor, if it be a reality intended to be represented, whether the personages are all real—if it be an ancient story, whether the objects are ancient--if modern, whether they are modern—if sacred history, whether the representation is profaned by profane history
Thus, when an allegory requires, like Barry's pictures, a book of explanation; or, if like Ceracci's group to his statue of Liberty, formerly in Philadelphia, it is unintelligible till he explains it; or, like the allegories of Reubens, unintelligible and unexplainable; we may say here is lack of judgment.
So when Reubens introduces Mercury and a cardinal at the council chamber of the queen-mother, we may safely say, they had better not have been sent for.
When Raphael makes the river Jordan support his own waters in his hand, (as some decapitated saint carried his head under bis arm for a mile or two,) in order that the Israelites may pass, we may well say, that this fact was an unpardonable omission in the sacred historian. Instances of this kind might be cited vithout number.
5thly. A man of common sense may venture to judge of COSTUME. He may laugh at Abraham about to blow out the brains of Isaac with a pistol; at Tintoret arming the Israelites, with fusils; or the Benedictines of Veronese at the marriage of Cana. Such remarks as these, Dr. Darwin, in allusion to a former essay of mine on the subject, was pleased to call “ the cold criticism of the present day;" but I am satisfied, if it be the criticism of common sense. These remarks might be extended, but they are enough to express the meaning intended to be conveyed, and to show that a man of good education, and careful observation, may, without presumption, and without pretending to connoisseurship, express an opinion, and retain it, on a work of art. I hope, therefore, the apology will be admitted, if I venture a few remarks, even upon the very imperfect sketch of West's great picture.
Ist. I object to the air, attitude, and manner of our Saviour, in this sketch. The picture is intended to be the picture of Christ healing the sick. He is not in any act of healing the sick: he stands quietly, in the attitude of a posture-master, as if displaying his own person to the utmost advantage. His attention does not appear drawn toward any object in particular: there is nothing expressed by his air and manner in the least indicating the purpose of his presence.
2dly. I fancy we cannot rely on the truth of this sketch; if we can, then the character, evidently expressed, of facé, attitude, and manner, is that of mawkish placidity, approaching to absoJute silliness. · 3dly. I object to this, as to other delineations of our Saviour, he is made too old. Jesus Christ was thirty-three years of age, only, when he was crucified. He should be depicted with the kind, but energetic countenance of a young man. Like all the other faces of Christ, of which this is a copy, there is not a trace of the To Ostov, of the mens divinior, atque 08 magna sonaturum; and yet this eminently belonged to the character, equally with the attributes of compassion and benevolence.
4thly. I object that there is no authority to support the rays of glory round his head, at any point of time but the transfiguration. I well know, that many painters have indulged themselves in this supposed mark of veneration; but it is intermingling a supposed fact with a real one, and the Scriptures do not support it as a general concomitant of Christ's person.
5thly. I object to what Mr. West's friend tells us is the dress of our Saviour, in this picture-red and blue. This may be the costume of the Venetian and the Lombard school, but it is just as appropriate as if we were to dress an English bishop in green and gold. All the scriptural accounts of Christ represent him as plain, unaffected, unpretending, unassuming. The dress which Mr. West has given to him is the most costly those times could afford. It is not appropriate to Jesus, the son of the carpenter-to Jesus, whose occupation it was to turn the minds of the people from the allurements of the present world, to the pursuits which might fit them for a world to come. The first and most marked characteristic of grandeur of mind, is simplicity-simplicity of look, of language, of dress, of manner. By simplicity, of course, not meaning silliness, but a perfect freedom from any thing like ornament or ostentation, and a deliberate and habitual reliance on natural character alone. So ought Christ to be depicted in every particular.
6thly, I object to the introduction, among the sick, of an ob. ject or two, that present ideas unnecessarily disgusting. Sickness may be expressed with excellent effect, as Mr. West has expressed it, without appearing in its most odious forms. The face of the paralytic woman, is not compensated by the beautiful counte, nance behind her.
7thly. There ought to have been no old or elderly persons introduced among the sick. It is hardly charity to recover those whom the regular course of nature has led to the brink of the grave; nor do they interest the feelings of the spectator. The cases should have, consisted of the bodily distress of youth and beauty: the mourners should have been chosen from the aged.
8thly. There are too few garments distributed among the sick and some of their attendants. Whether the costume of the age is preserved in the dress, can hardly be seen accurately from this meagre outline, and therefore we cannot decide.
These are not faults of great magnitude, but they seem to me lo be aberrations from strict propriety. That the picture is a very fine ode upon the whole, we may well conjecture, even from this sketch; and reasonably too, from the profuse admiration paid
to it in England. It may well bear, therefore, the criticism the hyper-criticisms of any part of the public to whom it i dressed.
FOR THE PORT FOLIO.
THE STRANGER IN NEWYORK.
Newyork, October 5, 1811. DEAR SIR,
In delineating the characters of Mr. Harison and Hoffman, I have attempted to trace the intellectual qualities, peculiar to each, to distinguish the prevailing traits of their eloquence, and to mark its effects upon the public mind. In Mr. Harison we perceive the fruits of a powerful memory and sound judgment, operating on thě materials, furnished by intense application-In Mr. Hoffman, the spontaneous effusions of a quick and sagacious mind, comparatively deficient in powers of investigation. In the former we perceive the man of taste, the scholar and the finished gentleman; in the latter the subtle pleader, the man of business, and the idol of the people. The one declined into the “ sear and yellow leaf,” has retired from the contentious field of politics; whilst the other in the bloom of years and of genius, may rationally look forward to political advancement. Should a change of politics restore the federal party to their former-power, it is universally expected, that Mr. Hoffman will hold a preeminent rank, in the administration of the state or general government.
The portrait, my dear H., which I shall next present you, is distinguished for its boldness and originality. Thomas Addis Emmett, is the brother of that Emmett who, in attempting the emancipation of his country, fell a victim to his heroic temerity: whose lofty spirit and “high tempered honour," sustained him with such a gallant bearing, amid the storms of adversity: who even on the precincts of the grave was firm, collected and dauntless: who met death with calmness, yet sensibility, with
the fearlessness of a brave man, and the intrepidity of conscious innocence. Excuse, my friend, this fervour of expression; this momentary swell of enthusiasm, excited by “the remembrance of worth, of valour, and of genius”-of scenes which touch and kindle the heart, by the sad and tender associations they awaken.
Thomas Addis Emmett is not less distinguished than his brother, for energy of spirit and elevation of genius. America, which he has chosen for his domecil, has proved as kind to his fortunes, as propitious to his fame. Public opinion has exalted Mr. Emmett to the first standing in his profession, nor has public opinion exalted him above his merits. His powers are of the highest order, always rigorous, and always at command. Like our countryman Erskine nature destined him to adorn and dignify the bar. Like him he commenced his juridical career, at an advanced period of life. Mr. Emmett from the practice of physic, and Mr. Erskine from the profession of arms, became students at law. In the expression of energetic feelings, and the rich glow of an ardent and creative fancy, it is difficult to say which of these eminent lawyers possesses the superiority; though in the attractive graces of manner, and the polished beauties of style, the advantage, undoubtedly, lies on the side of the English advocate. :
In the pleadings of Mr. Emmett, the marks of a fine genius are every where discernible. To ardour and impetuosity of feel, ing, he unites quickness of intuition and sagacity of reasoning. The velocity of his perceptions, whilst it enables his mind to reach, at a single glance, the remotest consequences, is apt, at times, to hurry it with too swift an impulse, to examine correctly the intermediate objects, which it has passed. With a slight degree of reflection, however, it is capable of perceiving the minor, as well as the more important points of a cause; and of tracing the steps by which it arrived at the end of its conclusions. A mind thus happily formed, possesses an inherent vigour,, which, without any extraordinary powers of abstraction, is sufficient to unfold and elucidate the most obscure and complicated points of law. :
But Mr. Emmett's understanding, however vigorous and acute, is surpassed by his luxuriant fancy, which is vigorous in