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To all their dated backs he turns you round; 135
And now the Chapel's filver bell you hear,
NOT E S. Ver. 142. The false taste in Music, improper to the subjects, as of light airs in churches, often practised by the organist, &c.
P. Ver. 142. That summons you to all the Pride of Pray'r:] This absurdity is very happily expressed; Pride, of all human follies, being the first we should leave behind us when we approach the facred altar. But he who could take Meanness for Magnificence, might easily mistake Humility for Meanness.
Ver. 145.—And in Painting (from which even Italy is not free) of naked figures in churches, &c. which has obliged some Popes to put draperies on some of those of the best masters.
P. Ver. 146. Where sprawl the Saints of Verrio or Laguerre,] This was not only said to deride the indecency and aukward position of the figures, but to infinuate the want of dignity in the subjects. Raphael's pagans, as the devils in Milton, act a gobler part than the Gods and Saints of ordinary poets
On gilded clouds in fair expanfion lie,
emiple plan ince and certs at the
NOTE s. and painters. The cartons at Hampton-Court are talked of by every body; they have been copied, engraved, and criticised; and yet fo little studied or considered, that in the noblest of them, of which likewise more has been faid than of all the rest, we are as much strangers to St. Paul's audience in the Areopagus, as to those he preached before at Theffa. tonica or Beræa.
The story from whence the painter took his subject is this;
" St. Paul came to Athens, was encountered by the Epi. " curcans and Stoics, taken up by them to the court of « Areopagus, before which he made his apology; and « amongst his converts at this time, were Dionysius the “ Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris.” On this fimple plan he exercises his invention. Paul is placed on an eminence in the act of speaking, the audience round him in a circle; and a statue of Mars in the front of his temple, denotes the Scene of Action.
The first figure has been taken notice of for the force of its expression. We see all the marks of conviction, and resignation to the will of the divine Messenger. But I do not know, that it has been suspected, that a particular character was here represented. And yet the Platonic countenance, and the female attendant, shew plainly, that the painter designed DIONYSIUS, whom Ecclesiastical story makes of this sect; and to whom sacred history has given this companion. For the woman is DAMARIS, mentioned with him, in the Aits, as a joint convert. Either the Artist mistook his text, and fupposed her converted with him at this audience; or, what is more likely, he purposely committed the indecorum of bringing a woman into the Areopagus, the better to mark out his Dionysius ; a character of great fame in the Romilh Church, from a mystic voluminous impoftor, who has assumed his titles Next to this PLATONIST of open visage and extended arms, is a figure deeply collected within himself, im. persed in thought, and ruminating on what he hears. Con
To rest, the Cushion and soft Dean invite,
NOT E S. formable to his state, his arms are buried in his garment, and his chin reposing on his bosom; in a word, all his lineaments denote the Stoic; the symbol of which sect was, Ne te quæfiveris extra." Adjoining to him is an old man, with a squalid beard and habit, leaning on his crouch, and turning his eyes upwards on the Apostle ; but with a countenance so four and canine, that one cannot hesitate a moment in pronouncing him a CYNIC. The next that follows, by his elegance of dress, and placid air of raillery and neglect, betrays the EPICUREAN: As the other which stands close by him, with his finger on his lips, denoting filence, plainly marks out a follower of PYTHAGORAS. After these come a groupe of figures, cavilling in all the rage of disputation, and criticising the divine Speaker.. These plainly design the ACADEMICS, the genius of whose school was to debate de quolibet ente, and never come to a conclusion. Without the Circle, and behind the principal figures, are a number of young faces, to represent the scholars and disciples of the several sects. These are all before the Apostle. Behind him are two other figures : one regarding the Apostle's action, with his face turned upwards; in which the passions of malicious zeal and disappointed rage are so strongly marked, that we needed not the red bonnet, to see he was a Jewish Rabbi.. The other is a pagan priest, full of anxiety for the danger of the established Worship.
Thus has this great Master, in order to heighten the digpity of his subject, brought in the heads of every sect of philosophy and religion which were most averse to the principles, and most opposed to the success of the Gospel; so that one may truly esteem this carton as the greatest effort of his divine genius.
Ver. 146. Verrio or Laguerre.] Verrio (Antonio) painted many ceilings, &c. at Windsor, Hampton-Court, &c. and Laguerre at Blenheim-castle, and other places. P.
But hark! the chiming Clocks to dinner call ; A hundred footsteps scrape the marble Hall: The rich Buffet well-colour'd Serpents grace, And gaping Tritons spew to wash your face.
Ver. 150. Who never mentions Hell to ears polite.] This is a fact; a reverend Dean preaching at Court, threatened the finner with punishment in “ a place which he thought it not “ decent to name in so polite an assembly.” P.
Ver. 153. Taxes the incongruity of Ornaments, (though sometimes practised by the ancients) where an open mouth ejects the water into a fountain, or where the shocking images of serpents, &c. are introduced into Grotto's or Buffets. P.
VER. 153. The rich Buffet well-colour'd Serpents grace,] The circumstance of being well-colour'd Thews this ornament not only to be very absurd, but very odious too ; and has a peculiar beauty, as, in one instance of false Taste, viz. an injudicious choice in imitation, he gives (in the epithet employed) the suggestion of another, which is an injudicious manner of it. For those disagreeable objects which, when painted, give pleasure; if coloured after nature, in relief, become shocking; as a toad, or a dead carcase in wax-work: yet these things are the delight of all people of bad Taste. However, the Ornament itself pretends to science, and would justify its use by antiquity; though it betrays the most miserable ignorance of it. The Serpent, amongst the ancients, was sacred, and full of venerable mysteries. Now things do not excite ideas, so much according to their own natural impressions, as by fictitious ones, arising from foreign and accidental combinations ; consequently the view of this animal raifed in them nothing of that abhorrence which it is wont to do in us; but on the contrary, very agreeable sensations, correspondent to those foreign associations. Hence, and more especially, because the Serpent was the peculiar Symbol of health, it became an extreme proper ornament to the genial rooms of the antients. In the mean time, we who are strangers to all this
Is this a dinner? this a Genial room? 155
NOT E s.
superstition, yet make ourselves liable to one much more absurd, which is idolizing the very fashions that arose from it. So again, it was a practice amongst the Egyptians to make their fountains issue from the mouth of a Lion, because the Nile overflows when the sun is in that sign. But when we, in a senseless affectation of taste in the antique, imitate this significative ornament, which took its rise from the local peculiarities of that country, do we not deserve to be well laughed at? But if these pretenders to Taste can so widely miltake, it is no wonder that those who pretend to none, I mean the verbal Critics, should a little hallucinate in this mate ter. I remember, when the short Latin inscription on Shakefpear's monument was first set up, and in the very style of elegant and simple antiquity, the News-papers were full of these Small critics; in which the only observation that looked like learning, was founded in this ignorance of Taste and Antiquity. One of these Critics objected to the word Mors (in the inscription) because the Roman writers of the purest times scrupled to employ it ; but, in its stead, used an im. proper, that is, a figurative word, or otherwise a circumlocution. But had he confidered, that it was their Superstition of lucky and unlucky words which occasioned this delicacy, he must have seen that a Christian writer, in a Christian inscription, acted with great judgment in avoiding so senseless an affectation of, what he miscalls, classical expression.
Ver. 155. Is this a dinner, &c.] The proud Festivals of some men are here set forth to ridicule, where pride destroys the ease, and formal regularity all the pleasurable enjoyment of the entertainment. P.
VER. 156. Hecatomb.) Alluding to the hundred footsteps before.