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fect of that diabolical spirit of frenzy, which goes forth over the whole composition. To show the poetical and almost prophetical conception in the artist, one little circumstance may serve. Not content with the dying and dead figures which he has strewed in profusion over the proper scene of the action, he shows you what (of a kindred nature) is passing beyond it. Close by the shell, in which, by the direction of the parish beadle, a man is depositing his wife, is an old wall, which, partaking of the universal decay around it, is tumbling to pieces. Through a gap in this wall are seen three figures, which appear to make a part in some funeral procession which is passing by on the other side of the wall, out of the sphere of the composition. This extending of the interest beyond the bounds of the subject could only have been conceived by a great genius. Shakspere, in his description of the Painting of the Trojan War, in his Tarquin and Lucrece, has introduced a similar device, where the painter made a part stand for the whole :
“ For much imaginary work was there,
Conceits deceitful, so compact, so kind,
This he well calls imaginary work, where the spectator must meet the artist in his conceptions half-way; and it is peculiar to the confidence of high genius alone to trust so much to spectators or readers. Lesser artists show every thing distinct and full, as they require an object to be made out to themselves before they can comprehend it.
When I think of the power displayed in this (I will not hesitate to say) sublime print, it seems to me the extreme narrowness of system alone, and of that rage for classification, by which, in matters of taste, at least, we are perpetually perplexing instead of arranging our ideas, that would make us concede to the work of Poussin above mentioned, and deny to this of Hogarth, the name of a grand serious composition. We are for ever deceiving ourselves with names and theories.
We call one man a great historical painter, because he has taken for his subjects kings or great men, or transactions over which time has thrown a grandeur. We term another the painter of common life, and set him
down in our minds for an artist of an inferior class, without reflecting whether the quantity of thought shown by the latter may not much more than level the distinction which their mere choice of subjects may seem to place between them; or whether, in fact, from that very common life a great artist may not extract as deep an interest as another man from that which we are pleased to call history.
I entertain the highest respect for the talents and virtues of Reynolds, but I do not like that his reputation should overshadow and stifle the merits of such a man as Hogarth, nor that to mere names and classifications we should be content to sacrifice one of the greatest ornaments of England.
I would ask the most enthusiastic admirer of Reynolds, whether in the countenances of his Staring and Grinning Despair, which he has given us for the faces of Ugolino and dying Beaufort, there be any thing comparable to the expression which Hogarth has put into the face of his broken-down Rake, in the last plate but one of the • Rake's Pro gress,' where a letter from the manager is brought to him to say that his play “will not do !” Here all is easy, natural, undistorted; but withal what a mass of woe is here accumulated !—the long history of a mis-spent life is compressed into the countenance as plainly as the series of plates before had told it; here is no attempt at Gorgonian looks, which are to freeze the beholder, no grinning at the antique bed-posts, no face-making, or consciousness of the presence of spectators in or out of the picture, but grief kept to a man's self, a face retiring from notice with the shame which great anguish sometimes brings with it -a final leave taken of hope-the coming on of vacancy and stupefaction-a beginning alienation of mind looking like tranquillity. Here is matter for the mind of the beholder to feed on for the hour together -matter to feed and fertilize the mind. It is too real to admit one thought about the power of the artist who did it. When we compare the expression in subjects which so fairly admit of comparison, and find the superiority so clearly to remain with Hogarth, shall the mere contemptible difference of the scene of it being laid, in the one case in our Fleet King's Bench Prison, and in the other in the State Prison of Pisa, or the bed-room of a cardinal—or that the subject of the one has never been authenticated, and the other is matter of history-so weigh down the real points of the comparison, as to induce us to rank the artist who has chosen the one scene or subject (though confessedly inferior in that which constitutes the soul of his art) in a class from which we
exclude the better genius (who has happened to make choice of the other) with something like disgrace.
DUGALD STEWART. [DUGALD STEWART, one of the most celebrated of the metaphysicians who belong to what is known as the Scotch school, was born at Edinburgh in 1753—died in 1828. The following extract is from his • Elements of the Philosophy of the Human Mind;' and it affords a fair specimen of the elegance of his style and the variety of his illustrations. Highly popular as Stewart was during the greater part of a long career as a professor and a writer, he is now regarded as wanting depth and originality in his philosophical vocation. His · Elements,' his • Philosophical Essays,' and his · Preliminary Dissertation ’in the Encyclopædia Britannica,' will amply repay the trouble of perusal, especially to that class of readers who do not approach the study of the human mind as severe and determined students.]
In ranking imitation among the original principles or ultimate facts in our constitution, it is, I presume, scarcely necessary for me to observe, that I do not use that term exactly in the popular sense in which it is commonly understood. I do not suppose, for example, that it is in consequence of any instinctive or mysterious process that a painter or an author forms his taste in painting or in writing, on the models exhibited by his predecessors; for all this may obviously be resolved, in the most satisfactory manner, into more simple and general laws. The imitation of which I am here to treat, and which I have distinguished by the title of Sympathetic, is that chiefly which depends on the mimical
powers connected with our bodily frame, and which, in certain combinations of circumstances, seems to result, with little intervention of our will, from a sympathy between the bodily organizations of different individuals. Of various particulars connected with this class of phenomena, philosophy, I suspect, will never be able to give a complete explanation. In general, it may
be remarked, that whenever we see, in the countenance of another individual, any sudden change of features, more especially such a change as is expressive of any particular passion or emotion, our own countenance has a tendency to assimilate itself to
his. Every man is sensible of this when he looks at a person
under the influence of laughter, or in a deep melancholy. Something too of the same kind takes place in that spasm of the muscles of the jaw which we experience in yawning; an action which is well known to be frequently excited by the contagious power of example. Even when we conceive in solitude the external expression of any passion, the effect of the conception is visible in our own appearance. This is a fact of which every person must be conscious who attends, in his own case, to the result of the experiment; and it is a circumstance which has been often remarked with respect to historical painters, when in the act of transferring to the canvass the glowing picture of a creative imagination.
If this general fact be admitted, it will enable us to account for a phenomenon which, although overlooked by most men from its familiarity, cannot fail to suggest an interesting subject of speculation to those who reflect on the circumstances with due attention. What I allude to is, that a mimic, without consulting a mirror, knows, by a sort of consciousness or internal feeling, the moment when he has hit upon the resemblance he wishes to exhibit. This phenomenon (which has always appeared to me an extremely curious and important one) seems to be altogether inexplicable, unless we suppose that, when the muscles of the mimic's face are so modified as to produce the desired combination of features, he is conscious, in some degree, of the same feeling or sensation which he had when he first became acquainted with the original appearance which he has been attempting to copy.
Nor is it the visible appearance alone of others that we have a disposition to imitate. We copy instinctively the voices of our companions, their tones, their accents, and their modes of pronunciation. Hence that general similarity in point of air and manner, observable in all who associate habitually together, and which every man acquires in a greater or less degree; a similarity unheeded, perhaps, by those who witness it daily, and whose attention, accordingly, is more forcibly called to the nicer shades by which individuals are discriminated from each other, but which catches the eye of every stranger with incomparably greater force than the specific peculiarities which, to a closer observer, mark the endless varieties of human character.
The influence of this principle of imitation on the outward appearance is much more extensive than we are commonly disposed to suspect. It operates, indeed, chiefly on the air and movements, without producing any very striking effect on the material form in its quiescent state. So difficult, however, is it to abstract this form from its habitual accompaniments, that the members of the same community, by being accustomed to associate from their infancy in the intercourse of private life, appear, to a careless observer, to bear a much closer resemblance to each other than they do in reality; while, on the other hand, the physical diversities which are characteristical of different nations are, in his estimation, proportionally magnified.
The important effects of the same principle, when considered in relation to our moral constitution, will afterwards appear. At present I shall only remark, that the reflection which Shakspere puts into the mouth of Falstaff, with respect to the manners of Justice Shallow and his attendants, and which Sir John expresses with all the precision of a philosophical observer and all the dignity of a moralist, may be extended to the most serious concerns of human life. It is a wonderful thing to see the semblable coherence of his men's spirits and his: they, by observing of him, do bear themselves like foolish justices; he, by conversing with them, is turned into a justice-like serving-man. Their spirits are so married in conjunction with the participation of society, that they flock together in concert, like so many wild geese. It is certain that either wise bearing or ignorant carriage is caught, as men take diseases, one of another; therefore let men take heed to their company."
Of this principle of our nature Count Rumford appears to have availed himself, with much address, in his House of Industry at Munich. “In order to inspire the rising generation with an early bias towards labour, he invited parents to send their children to the establishment before they were old enough to do any kind of work, and actually paid them for doing nothing, but merely being present when others were busy around them. These children (he tells us) were placed upon seats built around the halls where other children worked while they were obliged to remain idle spectators; and in this situa tion they soon became so uneasy at their own inactivity, that they fre quently solicited with great importunity to be employed, and ofte cried bitterly if this favour was not instantly granted." A variety motives, it is true, were in all probability here concerned; but much I think, must be ascribed to sympathy and to imitation.