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ley: and the obscure image of death, in Milton, is even more horrific than the Ugolino of Dante.
The observation holds good in reference to landscape ; and hence arises the cause, why straight lines are so peculiarly offensive; why landscape admits of no symmetry; and why Alpine views are not so agreeable for any length of time, as those, that are observed from the sides, or at the feet of high and woody mountains. Lakes must wind, and trees must hide, or the beauties of the finest scene will pall upon the sight. Had we the Venus de Medicis always unveiled before us, we should soon cease to be moved by the whiteness of her bosom, or the symmetry of her contour,
EFFECTS OF CONTRAST. From novelty springs the pleasure, which is ever attendant on judicious contrast. The earth, and “all that it inhabits,” animals, birds, fishes, and insects; flowers, plants, trees, and rivers; the air, the clouds, the stars, nay, the whole universal region of infinity, are all one vast, one interminable tissue of decided contrast. So also are the feelings, the opinions, and passions of man ; the form of his external frame, as well as the organic principles of his mind. In music and in painting; in architecture and mechanics ; indeed, throughout the whole circle of the sciences and the arts, are the laws of contrast also acknowledged and confirmed. Hence is it, that, as in the formation of beauty, the most opposite colours are frequently employed, so in the architecture of governments, those constitutions, which present the most nicely opposed contrasts or balances, have universally been found to be the best in theory, and the most reducible to practice :—even the contrasts of contending interests, in a state, contribute to the proper administration of a government. It is not a little remarkable, that Ferdinand, king of Cas
tile, should have have been sensible, in some measure, of the truth of this remark; as we may learn from his answer to those Castilians, who solicited him to deprive the states of Arragon of their independence. This he refused to do; alleging as his reason, “that the equilibrium of power, enjoyed by the king and people, contributed to public safety ; and that whenever the one preponderated over the other, ruin was the consequence to one, if not to both.” And yet the benefits of these balances were neither observable to Tacitus nor Bonaparte. Tacitus was of opinion, that a constitution, consisting of three estates, could have no long duration a ; and when La Fayette returned thanks to Bonaparte, for his liberation from the dungeon of Olmutz, the First Consul presumed to assert, that Mons. La Fayette had endeavoured to establish a 'solecism, in appointing a monarch, at the head of a republicb.
a Annal. iv. c. 33.-Cicero, however, speaks of the three estates with appro. bation.—De Republica, lib. ii..
b This is very well for a man who began his career in the midst of anarchy, and finished by establishing a despotism. But the British constitution might have taught him better grace, and a wiser argument. This constitution, founded, in the first instance, upon a passage of only five lines *, it is our duty, not by words artfully adapted to the purpose of undermining its best principles, to protect :-each man' in his sphere, and every man to the best of his ability : And, should necessity require, each man, peer as well as peasant, and peasant as well as peer, is bound to fight for it. The cheapest and most effective method of preservation, however, is to elect discreet and enlightened men to represent the country in parliament, and to pay them for their services. “I always thought any of the simple, unbalanced governments bad," said Mr. Fox, in his speech on the army estimates, Feb. 9, 1790. “ Simple monarchy, simple aristocracy, simple democracy ;-I hold them all imperfect or vicious; all are bad by themselves. The composition alone is good. These have been my sentiments always; in which I have agreed with my friend, Mr. Burke.”
* It is difficult to say too much in praise of these lines; and as language is scarcely able to express the admiration and the reverence with which they ought to be regarded, it would be well if they were inscribed in large capitals on every church, chapel, and house throughout the empire. “Nullus liber homo capiatur, vel imprisonetur, aut disseisiatur de libero tenemento suo, vel libertatibus vel liberis consuetudinis suis, aut utlagetur, aut exulet, aut aliquo modo de. struatur, nec super eum ibimus, nec super eum mittemus, nisi per legale
Aware of the results of contrast, epic, dramatic, and pastoral poets are in the constant habit of exercising their skill in exhibiting them. Virgil and Sannazarius frequently contrast the labours of the mariner with the amusements of the husbandman and the shepherd. Claude understood this secret of affecting the heart; and the inscription of Et in Arcadia ego, in a picture of Poussin a, has been agreeably alluded to by the Abbé Du Bois, and described by De Lille in his “ Man of the Fields." The original hint is from Virgil, who decorates one of his pastoral scenes with the rustic sepulchre of Bianor b. - In a picture of horror, some beautiful object should invariably be exhibited, on which the eye may be delighted to repose. Thus in a picture, painted by Moore, for the Earl of Breadalbane, at Rome, an eruption of Vesuvius is rendered peculiarly engaging by the introduction of the story of two brothers; one carrying his father, and the other his mother. And in Shidone's Massacre of the Innocents, the painter heightens the general effect of his picture by one of the simplest and most affecting of contrasts. Instead of representing the soldiers of Herod, in the actual commission of their horrible crime, he exhibits one of them, imparting the fatal tidings to a group of mothers; the terror and
• "The sepulchral inscription,” says Du Bois, “ contains those few Latin words,— Et ego in Arcadia ;' but this short inscription draws the most serious reflections from two youths and two young virgins, decked with garlands, who seem to be struck with their having thus accidentally met with so melancholy a scene, in a place where one might naturally suppose they had not been in pursuit of an object of sorrow. One of them points with his finger to the inscription, to make the rest observe it ; whilst the remains of an expiring joy may yet be discerned through the gloominess of grief, which begins to diffuse itself over their countenances.” , .
b Buc. ix. l. 59.
judicium parium suorum vel per legem terræ : Nulli vendemus, nulli negabimus, aut differemus rectum vel justitiam.”—Magna Charta, c. xxix. There was only one error in this ;-and that, I grieve to say, was premeditated. The commonalty were villeins : the resolution, therefore, applied only to those, who were already free. Those, who were slaves, and attached to the soil, remained in slavery still!
anguish in whose countenances and attitudes form a strong and heart-rending contrast to the exquisite serenity of the sleeping children. How much superior to the Massacre des Innocens even of Guido !-Poussin, also, has selected this subject for the exercise of his genius. In this picture he represents only one mother, and one child; and the shrieks of the mother are so violent as to frighten her friends away a!
Some pictures have no resemblance in the figures, and yet have a unity of effect in the design; as Carracci's Assumption of the Virgin, and Raphael's Transfiguration. While others have a striking variety even in the expression of the same character; a quality for which Julio Romano's Martyrdom of St. Stephen has been much and most deservedly celebrated.
Rubens was a great master in this art; and Parrhasius appears to have attended so minutely to the subject of contrast, that he is said to have been able to delineate, in the countenance of one subject, firmness and fickleness ; mildness and cruelty; bravery and timidity. In this, however, there appears to be more of poetry than of truth. In respect to poetical contrasts, no instances more affecting are to be found, than in Virgil's imitation of Apollonius b; in the Hypsipyle of Statius“; and in the Danaë of Simonides.
What a fine example, too, is that in Lucan, where he contrasts the fallen condition of his hero, after the battle of Pharsalia, with the happy state of his more prosperous fortune ; when, at the head of the commonwealth, he was esteemed, by his party, the greatest general and the best citizen Rome had ever produced. “He, who had triumphed
A Bell, of the Martyrdom of St. Agnes, by Domenichino :-" The serene and beautiful countenance of the saint is irradiated by an expression of rapt holi. ness and heavenly resignation infinitely touching, and finely contrasting with the terror and amazement, described with admirable skill and effect in the attitudes of the surrounding multitude." 6 Argon. iii. 743.
.c Theb. vi.
at three several times,” says Paterculus, “ for conquests, in three different quarters of the world, and who had not only doubled the Roman revenue, but the Roman empire ! The whole earth,” continues he, “ which had been small sphere enough for his victories, could now scarcely afford him agravea.”
Let us now turn to a contrast exhibited, in the British House of Commons on the memorable night in which the traffic in slaves was, by a vote of the House, declared to be for ever illegal, and the persons engaged in the trade for ever infamous. After many distinguished characters had delivered their opinions, the solicitor-general rose from his seat; and, after a long and argumentative speech, in which he took occasion to recapitulate, and to combat many of the objections, that had been urged to the measure, he concluded with an eloquent representation of the gratitude, the vote of the House would call from posterity; and of the happiness, which many of the younger members, who were present, would have in beholding, what they had anticipated with all the generous ardour of youth, expressed by some of them in a corresponding glow of language, the benign effects of this measure upon the negroes, the whole property of the colonies, and the prosperity of the country at large. “When I look to the man, now at the head of the French monarchy, surrounded, as he is, with all the pomp of power, and all the pride of victory; distributing kingdoms to his family, and principalities to his followers ; seeming, when he sits upon his throne, to have reached the summit of human ambition, and the pinnacle of earthly happiness: and when I follow that man into his closet, or to his bed ; and consider the pangs, with which his solitude must be tortured, and his repose banished, by the recollection of the blood he has spilled, and the oppressions he has committed ; and when I contrast those pangs of remorse with the feelings, which must accompany my honourable friend, MR. WILBERFORCE, from this House, to his home; after
a Lib. ii. 40.