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The parallel between Poetry and Painting, which occupies this and the succeeding number, is written with a warmth of style, and beauty of imagery, by no means common in the productions of Sir Richard Blackmore, to whom there is every reason to suppose it must be ascribed.
The following passage, from the opening of M. Du Fresnoy's poem, De Arte Graphica, as translated by Mason, forms an admirable expansion of the mottos which Blackmore has sea lected from Horace on this occasion :
True Poetry the painter's power displays;
What to the ear sublimer rapture brings,
From you, blest Pair! Religion deigns to claim
where charms seraphic shine ,
Then round this globe on joint pursuit ye stray,
Thus to each form, in heaven, and earth, and sea,
Hence, from the canvass, still, with wonted state,
To magic colouring, and creative song. The version of Fresnoy by Mason is one of the very few translations which can boast of excelling the original,
(A continuation of the Parallel between Poetry and Painting:)
Pictoribus atque Poetis
The masters of the pencil often take their ideas, and borrow the passions they would exhibit, from the writings of the poet; while the painter is himself but the copyist, and the poet the original. 'Tis observed of Raphael, the most famous in his art, that he formed the Jupiter in his Psyche, by the admirable description of that deity in Virgil, when Venus addressed her petition to him. Nor is the poet, in his turn, less obliged to the great pieces of the painter, who often sits to the poet, while he forms his ideas ; and, inspired by the lively and passionate figures expressed in colours, translates the painter, and turns the picture into verse.
The sister arts, to heighten their images, and strike our minds with greater force, agree to represent human qualities as persons, and to endow them with their peculiar properties. They describe virtues in the form of goddesses, and vices in that of furies, and give to each their emblematical distinctions. Thus Justice holds her sword in one hand, and her balance in the other ; while Fame is provided with wings and a silver trumpet. And thus the portraits of Sin and Death, as animated beings, are admirably drawn by Spenser, and afterwards by Milton, to move detestation and terror.
The heroic pen and pencil equally conspire to preserve to men the memory of their illustrious progenitors, to record their great deeds, to rescue their names from oblivion, and, in spite of mortality and the tomb, to continue the existence of heroes and heroines; they anni. hilate intervening time, and make past ages in a manner present, that the living and the dead may converse together, and that the virtues and achievements of ancestors may inspire their sons with generous resolutions to imitate their great example. To be thus transmitted to posterity as objects of praise and admiration, is that allur, ing idea of immortality, by the impulse of which so many great spirits have in all ages been animated and pushed on to the most hazardous enterprizes.
As it is the property of heroic pieces of paint
ing, as well as of epic poems, to excite pleasure and admiration, by setting before us the important actions of illustrious persons; so they agree in this, that in each distinct work of this kind of Painting and Poetry, there is but one principal agent, and but one chief action, to which all the other real or imaginary characters in a regular subordination must be referred. If this relation and connection of the characters and the under actions is not preserved, that is, if they do not conspire to carry on and influence the main design, the unity in each is broken.
It is the end of each of these species, not only to move the passions, but to inspire generous sentiments, and convey to the mind moral and divine instruction. Besides the admirable pieces of devotion which are frequent in foreign countries, who can view in our own the cartoons of Raphael, and see Ananias struck dead in an instant by the breath of an apostle, and not receive awful impressions of divine vengeance, and of indignation at the guilt of perjury? If · any man cannot find enough in Elymas the sorcerer, deprived in a moment of his sight, and groping for his way at noon-day, to reverence the power and justice of the Supreme Being, he must himself be another miracle of intellectual blindness. Is it possible to observe the silent