Examples In Each Art
( Originally Published Late 1800's )
Pathos, no less than grandeur and beauty, is applicable to each of the arts : to those not only of painting, sculpture, poetry, and eloquence, but also to music and architecture, acting, costume, and even gardening.
Raphael's powerful and touching. drawing of ` The Murder of the Innocents,' which adorns our National Gallery, is a splendid example of the pathetic in painting, where the various elements of weakness, virtue, and unjust suffering, in the heartbroken mothers and slaughtered children, are finely exhibited; and the sympathy which this work excites in our minds, by appealing to our own inmost feelings, appears to form a connection and dependence between ourselves and the subject described.
The numerous efforts in sculpture of a pathetic character, serving as monuments to the memory of the departed, amply suffice to show how eminently this branch of art is adapted for the illustration of the pathetic style.
A fine instance of the pathetic in poetry is afforded by the following lamentation which Milton puts into the mouth of Eve on her expulsion from Paradise. Feelings of pity and sympathy are those which it mainly excites. The softer emotions of the mind are vividly called forth by the reference to the well-loved flowers and shades which Eve laments on leaving,the sad desolation which will prevail in consequence of her departure,the sweet joys and endearments from which she is to be for ever severed. Ideas are suggested, moreover, as to the ex-tent of the suffering she is undergoing, the virtue of the sufferer, and the hardship of her punishment. Nothing, however, of strong passion, or violent emotion, is caused here. All is gentle and subdued :
"O unexpected stroke, worse than of death !
Virgil's description of the death of Dido * is very touching, and abounding in exquisite tender feeling. Her agitation and pale face impress us with a sense of her agony, as do also her tears ; while the speech that she utters is at once highly pathetic, and full of fine, and noble, and virtuous sentiment. Her attitude, action, and language, indeed, alike contribute to affect us in the same manner. With her deep grief we can-not but sympathize, and her cruel fate excites our liveliest pity.
"At trepida et coeptis inmanibus effera Dido,
In the following passage from Chaucer there is much exquisite melting pathos, the main elements in which are the meekness, grief, and pious affection of the mother, the tender condition, weakness, and helplessness of the child, its perilous situation, and approaching fate. .The poet describes the agony of Grisildis on giving up her two infants to their supposed betrayer ;---
" But at the last to speken she began,
The mother's address to the child, the description of her care for it, of her piety in her distress, and of its feeble condition and frame, mainly conduce to move us here, and constitute the leading elements of the pathos with which the passage is imbued.
But eloquence, equally with painting and poetry, is capable of giving vent to the pathetic, of which, indeed, ample proof is afforded, were there no other illustration of the truth of this assertion, by the following passage from the oration of Cicero already quoted from, referring to the unjust banishment of Milo, and his still undiminished affection for his country which had expelled him, which serves, moreover, to impress us with a high idea of his virtue : ---
"Me quidem, judices, exanimant et interimunt hm voches Milonis, quas audio assidue, et quibus intersum quotidie. Valeant, valeant, inquit, cives mei, valeant ; sint incolumes, sint florentes, sint beati ; stet haec urbs preclara, mihique patria carissima, quoquo modo merita de me erit. Tranquilla republica cives mei, quoniam mihi cum illis non licet, sine me ipsi, sed per me tamen, perfruantur. Ego cedam atque abibo. Si mihi republica bona frui non licuerit, at carebo mala : et quamprimum tetigero bene moratam et liberam civitatem, in ea conquiescam. O frustra, inquit, suscepti mei labores ! O spes fallaces ! O cogitationes inanes meae ! Ego, cum tribunus plebis, republica oppressa, me senatui dedissem, quern extinctum acceperam ! equitibus Romanis, quorum vires Brant debiles : bonis viris, qui omnem auctoritatem Clodianis armis abjecerant : mihi unquam bonorum presidium defuturum putarem ? Ego, cum te (mecum enim saepissime loquitur), patrie reddidissem, mihi non futurum in patria non putarem locum ? Ubi nunc senatus est, quern secuti sumus ? ubi equites Romani illi, inquit, tui ? ubi studia municipiorum ? ubi Italiae noces ? ubi denique tua, M. Tulli, que plurimis fuit auxilio, vox et defensio ? mihine ea soli, qui pro te toties morti me obtuli, nihil potest opitulari."
Dramatic acting, as has been well illustrated by some of the efforts of our greatest tragedians in this line, is fully adapted for the representation of the pathetic. Architecture and costume are fitted for it so far only as they can occasion the suggestion of ideas of this character through these particular arts. For the excitement of the pathetic, gardening is also available in this manner, which the style of some of the cemeteries both in this country and in foreign lands, in Asia as well as Europe, may serve to evince. Probably, however, much more might be done in this art than has as yet been effected or attempted, in giving to our own cemeteries that solemn and pathetic character which as receptacles for the departed they ought to possess, both by the laying out of the grounds, and the introduction of those trees and shrubs, such as the yew, the cypress, and the weeping willow, which appear peculiarly adapted to call forth sad and solemn feelings. The cemeteries of Asia are in this respect very superior to our own.