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60 OF THE RELATIVE IMPORTANCE OF TRUTHS. [PART II.
in one sermon to express and explain every divine truth which can be gathered out of God's revelation, as a painter expect in j5. Tin-duty or one composition to express and illustrate every Mme^a's'Yhat'of ^esson which can be received from God,s creation, a preacher. Both are commentators on infinity, and the duty
of both is to take for each discourse one essential truth, seeking particularly and insisting especially on those which are less palpable to ordinary observation, and more likely to escape an indolent research; and to impress that, and that alone, upon those whom they address, with every illustration that can be furnished by their knowledge, and every adornment attainable by their power. And the real truthfulness of the painter is in proportion to the number and variety of the facts he has so illustrated; those facts being always, as above observed, the realization, not the violation of a general principle. The quantity of truth is in proportion to the number of such facts, and its value and instructiveness in proportion to their rarity. All really great pictures, therefore, exhibit the general habits of nature, manifested in some peculiar, rare, and beautiful way.
OF THE RELATIVE IMPORTANCE OF TRUTHS :—THIRDLY, THAT TRUTHS OF COLOR ARE THE LEAST IMPORTANT OF ALL TRUTHS.
In the two last chapters, we have pointed out general tests of the importance of all truths, which will be sufficient at once 51. Difference to distinguish certain classes of properties in amTMcondary17 bodies, as more necessary to be told than others, qualities in bodies. Decause more characteristic, either of the particular thing to be represented, or of the principles of nature.
According to Locke, Book ii. chap. 8, there are three sorts of qualities in bodies : first, the " bulk, figure, number, situation, and motion or rest of their solid parts: those that are in them, whether we perceive them or not." These he calls primary qualities. Secondly, " the power that is in any body to operate after a peculiar manner on any of our senses," (sensible qualities.) And thirdly, " the power that is in any body to make such a change in another body as that it shall operate on our senses differently from what it did before: these last being usually called powers."
Hence he proceeds to prove that those which he calls primary qualities are indeed part of the essence of the body, and characteristic of it; but that the two other kinds of qualities which together he calls secondary, are neither of them more than powers of producing on other objects, or in us, certain effects f 2. The first are and sensations. Now a power of influence is alIstK the^econd ways equally characteristic of two objects—the imperfectly so. active and passive ; for it is as much necessary that there should be a power in the object suffering to receive the impression, as in the object acting to give the impression. (Compare Locke, Book ii. chap. 21, sect. 2.) For supposing two people, as is frequently the case, perceive different scents in the same flower, it is evident that the power in the flower to give this or that depends on the nature of their nerves, as well as on that of its own particles; and that we are as correct in saying it is a power in us to perceive, as in the object to impress. Every power, therefore, being characteristic of the natnre of two bodies, is imperfectly and incompletely characteristic of either separately; but the primary qualities, being characteristic only of the body in which they are inherent, are the most important truths connected with it. For the question, what the thing is, must precede, and be of more importance than the question, what can it do.
Now, by Locke,s definition above given, only secondary quai- bulk, figure, situation, and motion or rest of solid important than parts, are primary qualities. Hence all truths of color sink at once into the second rank. He, therefore, who has neglected a truth of form for a truth of color, has neglected a greater truth for a less one.
And that color is indeed a most unimportant characteristic of objects, will be farther evident on the slightest consideration. The color of plants is constantly changing with the season, and of everything with the quality of light falling on it; but the nature and essence of the thing are independent of these changes. An oak is an oak, whether green with spring or red with winter; a dahlia is a dahlia, whether it be yellow or crimson ; and if some monster-hunting botanist should ever frighten the flower blue, still it will be a dahlia; but let one curve of the petals—one groove of the stamens be wanting, and the flower ceases to be the same. Let the roughness of the bark and the angles of the boughs be smoothed or diminished, and the oak ceases to be an oak ; but let it retain its inward structure and outward form, and though its leaves grew white, or pink, or blue, or tri-color, it would be a white oak, or a pink oak, or a republican oak, but an i 4. color no dis- oa^ still. Again, color is hardly ever even a possible object!!1 boftwthe distinction between two objects of the same spesume species. cies rpWQ trees, of yie same kind, at the same
season, and of the same age, are of absolutely the same color; but they are not of the same form, nor anything like it. There can be no difference in the color of two pieces of rock broken from the same place ; but it is impossible they should be of the same form. So that form is not only the chief characteristic
of species, but the only characteristic of individuals of a species.
«6. And different Again, a color, in association with other colors,
fronf^hst'lt is 'S different from the same color seen by itself. It
*k,ne- has a distinct and peculiar power upon the retina
dependent on its association. Consequently, the color of any
object is not more dependent upon the nature of the object
itself, and the eye beholding it, than on the color of the objects
near it; in this respect also, therefore, it is no characteristic.
And so arreat is the uncertainty with respect to $6. It is not , ■ , . , •. , i
certain whether those qualities orpowers which depend as much on
fee the same the nature of the object suffering as of the object acting, that it is totally impossible to prove that one man sees in the same thing the same color that another does though he may use the same name for it. One man may see yellow where another sees blue, but as the effect is constant, they agree in the term to be used for it, and both call it blue, or both yellow, having yet totally different ideas attached to the term. And yet neither can be said to see falsely, because the color is not in the thing, but in the thing and them together. But ix they see forms differently, one must see falsely, because the form is positive in the object. My friend may see boars blue for anything I know, but it is impossible he should see them with paws instead of hoofs, unless his eyes or brain are diseased. (Compare Locke, Book ii. chap, xxxii. § 15.) But I do not speak of this uncertainty as capable of having any effect on art, because, though perhaps Landseer sees dogs of the color which I should call blue, yet the color he puts on the canvas, being in the same way blue to him, will still be brown or dogcolor to me; and so we may argue on points of color just as if all men saw alike, as indeed in all probability they do; but I merely mention this uncertainty to show farther the vagueness and unimportance of color as a characteristic of bodies.
Before going farther, however, I must explain sidered as an the sense in which I have used the word " form,"
element or land- , . , , , . ,
acape, include* because painters have a most inaccurate and careless habit of confining the term to the outline of bodies, whereas it necessarily implies light and shade. It is true that the outline and the chiaroscuro must be separate subjects of investigation with the student ; but no form whatsoever can be known to the eye in the slightest degree without its chiaroscuro; and, therefore, in speaking of form generally as an element of landscape, I mean that perfect and harmonious unity of outline with light and shade, by which all the parts and projections and proportions of a body are fully explained to the eye, being nevertheless perfectly independent of sight or power in other objects, the presence of light upon a body being a positive existence, whether we are aware of it or not, and in no degree dependent upon our senses. This being understood, the most 4 8. importance of convincing proof of the unimportance of color «pwt!i'i?igh?hl'" lies in the accurate observation of the way in which «iS*»nd °uniS' uny material object impresses itself on the mind, porunco or color, If we iook at nature carefully, we shall find that her colors are in a state of perpetual confusion and indistinctness, while her forms, as told by light and shade, are invariably clear, distinct, and speaking. The stones and gravel of the bank catch green reflections from the boughs above; the bushes receive grays and yellows from the ground ; every hairbreadth of polished surface gives a little bit of the blue of the sky or the gold of the sun, like a star upon the local color; this local color, changeful and uncertain in itself, is again disguised and modified by the hue of the light, or quenched in the gray of the shadow; and the confusion and blending of tint is altogether so great, that were we left to find out what objects were by their colors only, we would scarcely in places distinguish the boughs of a tree from the air beyond them, or the ground beneath them. I know that people unpractised in art will not believe this at first; but if they have accurate powers of observation, they may soon ascertain it for themselves ; they will find that, while they can scarcely ever determine the exact hue of anything, except when it occurs in large masses, as in a green field or the blue sky, the form, as told by light and shade, is always decided and evident, and the source of the chief character of every object. Light and shade indeed so completely conquer the distinctions of local color, that the difference in hue between the illumined parts of a white and black object is not so great as the difference (in sunshine) between the illumined and dark side of either separately.