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separates us from our favourite object, we are ready to burst even the fetters of life itself!
I am not aware that any one has demonstrated how it is that a stronger capacity is required for the conduct of great affairs than of small
organs of the mind, like the pupil of the eye, may be contracted or dilated to view a broader or a narrower surface, and yet find sufficient variety to occupy its attention in
each. The material universe is infinitely divi: sible, and so is the texture of human affairs.
We take things in the gross or in the detail, according to the occasion. I think I could as soon get up the budget of Ways and Means for the current year, as be sure of making both ends meet, and paying my rent at quarter-day in a paltry huckster's shop. Great objects move on by their own weight and impulse : great power turns aside petty obstacles; and he, who wields it, is often but the puppet of circumstances, like the fly on the wheel that said, “ What a dust we raise !" It is easier to ruin a kingdom and aggrandise one's own pride and prejudices than to set up a green-grocer's stall. An idiot or a madman may do this at any time, whose word is law, and whose nod is fate. Nay, he whose look is obedience, and who understands the silent wishes of the great, may easily trample on the necks and tread out the liberties of a mighty nation, deriding their strength, and hating it the more from a consciousness of his own meanness. Power is not wisdom, it is true; but it equally ensures its own objects. It does not exact, but dispenses with talent. When a man creates this power, or new-moulds the state by sage counsels and bold enterprises, it is a different thing from overturning it with the levers that are put into his baby hands. In general, however, it may be argued that great transactions and complicated concerns ask more genius to conduct them than smaller ones, for this reason, viz. that the mind must be able either to embrace a greater variety of details in a more extensive range of objects, or must have a greater faculty of generalising, or a greater depth of insight into ruling principles, and so come at true results in that way. Buonaparte knew every thing, even to the names of our cadets in the East-India service; but he failed in this, that he did not calculate the resistance which barbarism makes to refinement. He thought that the Russians could not burn Moscow, because the Parisians could not burn Paris. The French think every thing 'must be French. The Cossacks, alas! do not conform to etiquette : the rudeness of the seasons knows no rules of politeness !-Some artists think it a test of genius to paint a large picture, and I grant the truth of this position, if the large picture contains more than a small one. It is not the size of the canvas, but the quantity of truth and nature put into it, that settles the point. It is a mistake, common enough on this subject, to suppose that a miniature is more finished than an oil-picture. The miniature is inferior to the oil-picture only because it is less finished, because it cannot follow nature into so many individual and exact particulars. The proof of which is, that the copy of a good portrait will always make a highly finished miniature (see for example Mr. Bone's enamels), whereas the copy of a good miniature, if enlarged to the size of life, will make but a very sorry portrait. Several of our best artists, who are fond of painting large figures, invert this reasoning. They make the whole figure gigantic, not that they may have room for nature, but for the motion of their brush (as if they were painting the side of a house), regarding the extent of canvas they have to cover as an excuse for their slovenly and hasty manner of getting over it; and thus, in fact, leave their pictures nothing at last but
in any case (either in a larger or a smaller compass) to go into the details, so as to lose sight of the effect, and decompound the face into porous and transparent molecules, in the manner of Denner, who painted what he saw through a magnifying glass. The painter's eye need not be a microscope, but I contend that it should be a looking-glass, bright, clear, lucid. The little in art begins with insignificant parts, with what does not tell in connection with other parts. The true artist will paint not material points, but moral quantities. In a word, wherever there is feeling or expression in a muscle or a vein, there is grandeur and refinement too. I will conclude these remarks with an account of the manner in which the ancient sculptors combined great and little things in such matters. “ That the name of Phidias," says Pliny, “is illustrious
all the nations that have heard of the fame of the Olympian Jupiter, no one doubts; but in order that those may know that he is deservedly praised who have not even seen his works, we shall offer a few arguments, and those of his genius only: nor to this purpose shall we insist on the beauty of the Olympian Jupiter, nor on the magnitude of the Minerva at Athens, though it is twenty-six cubits in height (about thirty-five feet), and is made of ivory and gold: but we shall refer to the shield, on which the battle of the Amazons is carved on the outer side: on the inside of the same is the fight of the Gods and Giants; and on the sandals, that between the Centaurs and Lapithæ; so well did every part of that work display the powers of the art. Again, the sculptures on the pedestal he called the birth of Pandora : there are to be seen in number thirty Gods, the figure of Victory being particularly admirable : the learned also admire the figures of the serpent and the brazen sphinx, writhing under the spear. These things are mentioned, in passing, of an artist never enough to be commended, that it may be seen that he shewed the same magnificence even in small things.”—Pliny's Natural History, Book 36.