Imágenes de páginas

So far is this rule from being indispensable, that it is very fels dom practised, other confiderations of greater consequence standing in the way. Examples in opposition to this rule, are found in the Cartoons, in Christ's Charge to Peter, the preaching of St. Paul, and Elymas the Sorcerer, who is undoubtedly the principal object in that picture. In none of those compofitions is the principal figure in the midst of the picture. In. the very admirable composition of the Tent of Darius, by Le Brun, Alexander is not in the middle of the picture, nor does the principal light fall on him ; but the attention of all the rest immediately distinguishes him, and distinguishes him more properly; the greatest light falls on the Daughter of Darius, who is in the middle of the picture, where it is more necessary the principal light should be placed.'

The Author has not confined himself to such topics as are naturally connected with his subject. He makes frequent digressions, for the sake of introducing some new observation on painting, which may have a tendency to improve the taste of his hearers. Thus he observes, “ Though it is not my business to enter into the detail of our art, yet I must take this opporo tunity of mentioning one of the means of producing that great effect which we observe in the works of the Venetian painters, as I think it is not generally known or observed. It ought, in my opinion, to be indispensably observed, that the mafies of light in a picture be always of a warm mellow colour, yellow, red, or a yellowish white ; and that the blue, the grey, or the green colours be kept almost entirely out of these masses, and be used only to support and set off these warm colours; and for this purpose, a small proportion of cold colours will be fufficient. · "Let this conduct be reversed, let the light be cold, and the furrounding colours warm, as we often fee in the works of the Roman and Florentine painters, and it will be out of the power of art, even in the hands of Rubens, or Titian, to make a picture splendid and harmonious.

Le Brun and Carlo Maratti were two painters of great mex rit, and particularly in what may be called Academical Merit, but were both deficient in this management of colours ; the want of observing this rule is one of the causes of that heaviness of effect which is so observable in their works. The principal light in the picture of Le Brun, which I just now mcn. tioned, falls on Statira, who is dreiled very injudiciously in a pale blue drapery; it is true, he has heightened this blue with gold, but that is not enough; the whole picture has a heavy air, and by no means answers the expectation raised by the print. Pouffin often made a fpo: of blue drapery, when the general hue of the picture was inclinable to brown or yellow;

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which thews sufficiently, that harmony of colouring was not a part of the art that had much engaged the attention of this great painter.

The conduct of Titian in the picture of Bacchus and Ariadne, has been much celebrated, and justly, for the harmony of colouring. To Ariadne is given (say the Critics) a red scarf, to relieve the figure from the sea which is behind her. It is not for that reason, but for another of much greater consequence, for the sake of the general harmony and effect of the picture. The figure of Ariadne is separated from the great groupe, and is dressed in blue, which added to the colour of the sea, make that quantity of cold colour which Titian thought necessary for the support and brilliancy of the great groupe, which groupe is composed, with very little exception, entirely of mellow colours. But as the picture in this case would be divided into two distinct parts, one half cold, and the other warm, it was necessary to carry some of the mellow colours of the great groupe, into the cold part of the picture, and a part of the cold into the great groupe ; accordingly Titian gave Ariadne 2 red scarf, and to one of the Bacchante, a little blue drapery,' · If attention to arrangement had deprived us of such observations as those which we have cited, it would afford matter of regret to all lovers of the Arts. We must obferve, however, that our Author appears to have been too negligent of order in his discourse. His propensity to digression has sometimes betraycd him into inaccuracies, which it would have been easy to avoid. Thus, in page 9, he examines fimplicity, which he forbears to consider as implying that exact conduct proceed. ing from an intimate knowledge of fimple unadulterated nature, as it is then only another name for perfection. He proceeds, therefore, to consider fimplicity in another sense of that word, as a general corrector of excess. While employed in discuss sing this subject, he obicrves, p. II, as we are speaking of Elle most refined and lubile idea of perfection, may we not enquire, whether a curious eye m..y not discern rome faults, even in those great men?' meaning Pousin and Le Seur. Thus, for the sake of introducing a remark on the works of these French painters, he returns to the first idea of simplicity, which he had told us he meant not to examine. An error of this kind mult, doubtless, be confidered as a blemish in a discourse which concains many excellent rules and observations, conveyed in a very good style; which, however, is rather spirited than elegane * ; always Aowing, sometimes verbose, but in general dis


* Elegance always fupposes the highest degree of correctness and purity. This ous Author has not attained. P. 28, 'It is presenting


tinguished by the happy medium between too much simplicity and too much refinement. to the eye the same effe&t as that which it has been accustomed to feel, P. 33, . By recommending the attention of the artist to an ac: quaintance with the passions and affections of the mind.' There are too many examples of this kind, which would be more excusable in a large work than in a discourse of thirty-eight pages.

ART. IV. A Proposal for Uniformiry of Weights and Measures in Scor.

land, ty execution of the Laws now in force. With Tables of the English and Scorch Standards, and of the customary Weights and Measures of the several Counties and Borougbs of Scotland ;Comparisons of the Standards with each other, and with the County Measures; Tables and Rules for their reciprocal Converfion; and some Tables of the Weight and Produce of Corn, &c. Addressed to his Majesty's Sheriffs and Srewarts-depute, &c. 8vo.

35. Elliot, Edinburgh. Cadell, London. 1779. . W E cannot give a better idea of the scope of this Work

VV than in the words of the Author.

• The advantages of uniformity in weights and measures are so great, and so general, that it has been an object of the legislature in every commercial kingdom.

• In Engla: d, from Magna Charita down to the present time, there are above fifty acts in the statute book concerning weights anu measures.

• In Scotland, since the Anila of King David I. there are above forty acts of parliament upon the same subject.

About ihe year 1950, a committee of the House of Commons · was appointed “to enquire into the original itandards of weights and measures in England, and to consider the laws relating thereto; and to report their observations thereupon, together with their opinion of the most effectual means for ascertaining and enforcing uniform and certain standards of weights and mealures to be used for the future."

This committee, taking the affittance of able artists and ingenious men, made a laborious and accurate comparison of the several standards of weighis and measures accounted the standards ; but which differed considerably from one another. By this comparison they ascertained the true medium itandard. They also considered the whole laws relative to weights and measures, and came to several resolutions, expressed at length in cwo reports made by them to the House of Commons in 1758 and 1759. Upon these reports, which contain the whole history and liate of the English weights and measures, and the material laws concerning them, two bills were brought into the House of Commons in the year 1765. The first is intitled, “ A bill for ascertaining and ettablishing uniform and cer. tain ftandards of weights and measures throughout the kingdom of Great Britain,” &c. The second is intitled, “ A bill for en forcing uniformity of weights and measures to the standards thereof by the law to be established.”

• These

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• These bills were printed, and laid * over, with a view that the public inight have an opportunity of canvasling them, and suggest. ing proper additions and amendments. It was agreed, that certain clauses should be inserted for including Scotland, which had not originally been in the contemplation of the committee. But much is it to be lamented, the subject has not again been resumed by the House.

" While this subject was under the consideration of the House of Commons, an idea was suggested, that one of the great causes of the inefficacy of the many laws for establishing standards, and directing uniformity, was, the difficulty of carrying them into execution, without accurate tables for converting the customary weights and measures into the standards. •• The neceflity of such tables is very obvious. People who use,

for the same purposes, measures differing both in size and name, Speak as it were different languages; and it is not enough to make a law appointing all persons to speak the same language in that respect, without also making some provision for teaching them to do so. The case is even worse where the different weights or measures have the same names; for unless they who have occafion to use them, are not only ascertained that they speak of different things, though under the same names, but also are taught where the difference lies, and how great it is, they are led unwittingly into great deception. As, for instance, the boll is the general measure for corn over all Scotland; yet, it may be said, there are hardly two counties in Scotland where the boll-measure is exactly the same, and there are some counties where the boll contains more than double what it does in others. The Trone weight, commonly called the quool wright, falls under the same observation. So, unless people are apprired of the differences, and taught how to convert the several weights and measures readily into one another, it will ever be a vain project to expect general conformity to the law. For that purpose, tables dould be formed by public authority, and put upon public record,

This pian is neceffary for another reason; namely, that it would be improper to destroy the memory and knowledge even of the weights and measures intended to be laid aside; because, without that knowledge, ancient rights, ancient trade, and ancient history, · could not be understood.

* Scotch writers have, for fome time palt, discovered a laudable ambition to acquire a proper knowledge of the English language; but we have frequent, occasion to remark, that from their great folicitude to avoid Scorticisins chey frequently are led into faulty Anglicisms, as is the case with our Author, in the pasage here referred to. He does not mean that the bill was laid over (covered) with paint; or with gold, or with any other fubitance; his intention is to say, that the business lay over, i. e. was neglected, and not brought to a period at that time. No error in language hath of. fended our critical delicacy so often as this parcicular inilance; nor can we help being amazed that an error so very absurd thould be so long perfifted in. Is it polibic that any person who hath had only a moderate share of education can be ignorant that the preterite of the active verb to lie is lay--and of the verb to lay (to place upon ány ibing) is laid,


• The proper manner of ascertaining and preserving the knowledge of ancient weights and measures is by statutory record ; and therefore such cables as have been mentioned would be the best manner of such a record.

"It is not proposed, nor is it indeed pollible, to extend such tables to every barony, or to every parish, although there are differences of weights and measures almost in every parish and barony in this kingdom. This would be an unnecessary minuteness ; for although such differences do exist, yet they are often very small, and their proportions to the county weights and measures are generally known within the county : therefore, if the medium of counties 'or large diftricts of counties be taken as near the truth as can easily be gor, it would sufficiently answer the different objects of the law, and the several purposes of commerce.

"To accomplish even this, is a work of time; but is far from being imposible. Till it is done, it may be prognosticated, from pait experience, that an alt for uniformity would not probably have effect. The advantage of such a law is so great, that it is to be hoped the same public spirit which carried the matter so far in the year 1765, and by which the true standards were actually made, and are now in public cultody, will be revived, and this great commercial object brought to complete maturity.

* But though these hopes may be distant, in so far as concerns the obtaining one new compleie act for settling the standards, and en. forcing uniformity, in place of the var.ous laws now in being; yet certain it is, that judges and magistrates have, by the present law, a great deal in their power for enforcing uniformity to the prelent ftandards. These laws are intricate only by their multiplicity; and the execution of them is difficul: for want of such tables of conversion as have been above described. Magillrates have it in their power to employ fit persons to make such tables, and to perfect them by degrees (for they cannot be completely done at once), and afterwards to circulate them for public use. So foon * as such cables shall come to be publicly known and understood, the task of the magistrace will be more than halt done. Seeing the benefit of uniformity, most people will be defirous to embrace it; and should there be a few obilinate, and tenacious of old cuiloms, they will be carried with the tide, and can have no pretence for complaining should they be coin, pelled to lay bad culloins alide. * « The obj:ct of this paper is to low, that a great deal may be done by the present laws; and to suggeit what appears to be the simpleit and easielt method of carsying them into execution. This would be of great consequence in the mean time, and might pave the way for a new and complete act of parliament, if not for Great Britain, at least for this part of it.'

Our ingenious and accurate Author proceeds to point out the several acts that have been made in Scotland for regulating weights and measures. It appears that in the year 1617, great pains had been taken for reducing all weights and meafures throughout Scotland to an uniformity; for which end a Standard ell for regulating measures of length was made, and

TT * Sconicism,


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