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THE LAOCOON.

tend his very frame. Notwithstanding which, he appears to be less affected by his own affliction than that of hi* children; who raise their eyes towards him, and implore his assistance in vain. The paternal tenderness of the Laocobn is manifest in his piteous looks; his coun-tenance expresses moans, not cries; his eyes, directed towards Heaven, supplicate celestial aid. His mouth expresses the pangs and indignation occasioned by an unjust chastisement. This double sensation swells the nose, and discloses itself in his enlarged nostrils. Beneath his forehead is rendered, with the utmost fidelity, the struggle between grief and resistance; the one makes him elevate his eyebrows; the other, the lids of his eyes. The artist being incapable of embellishing nature, has contented himself by giving her more extension, variety, and force. Where the greatest suffering exists, the greatest beauties are observable. The left side, into which the serpent darts its venom by its bite, is the part that apparently suffers most, from its approximation to the heart; and this part of the statue, may be reckoned a prodigy of art."

The profound study of this chef-d'oeuvre, one of the most precious remains of antiquity; and. which Dr. Gillies observes, may be regarded as the triumph of Grecian sculpture, is sufficient to form a great artist. Michael Angelo always contemplated it with renewed admiration. Raphael was never weary of studying it; and Annibal Caracci was so struck with the perfection he remarked in the group, that he one day made a drawing of it, from memory, with the greatest exactness.

Our observations on this matchless performance might be extended to a considerable length, would the limits of this publication permit it. We shall, therefore, conelude our remarks with the following extract from Virgil, descriptive of the subject:

"A greater omen, and of worse portent

Did our unweary minds with fear torment,

Concurring to produce the dire event »

Laocoon, Neptune's priest by lot that year,

With solemn pomp then sacrificed a steer;

When (dreadful to behold!) from sea we spy'd

Two serpents, rank'd abreast, the seas divide,

And smoothly sweep'd along the swelling tide.

Their flaming crests above the waves they show:

Their bellies seem to burn the seas below:

Their speckled tails advance to steer their course,

And now the sounding shore the flying billows force.

And on the strand, and now the plain, they held.

Their ardent eyes with bloody streaks were fill'd:

Their nimble tongues they brandish'd as they came,

And lick'd their hissing jaws, that sputter'd flame.

We fled amaz'd; their destin'd way they take,

And to Laocoon and his children make:

And first around the tender boys they wind,
Then with their sharpen'd fangs their limbs and bodies grind.
The wretched father, running to their aid
With pious haste, but vain, they next invade:
Twice round his waist their winding volumes roll'd;
And twice about his gasping throat they fold.
The priest thus doubly chok'd—their crests divide,
And tow'ring o'er his head in triumph ride.
With both his hands he labours at the knots;
His holy fillets the blue venom blots:
His roaring fills the flitting air around.
Thus, when an ox receives a glancing wound,
He breaks his bands, the fatal altar flies,
And with loud belkowings breaks the yielding skies.
Their tasks perform'd. the serpents quit their prey,
And to the tow'r of Pallas make their way:
Couch'd at her feet, they lie protected there,
By her large buckler, and protended spear.
Amazement seizes all: the gen'ral cry
Proclaims Laocoon justly doom'd to die,
Whose hand the will of Pallas had withstood,
And dar'd to violate the sacred wood.

2eneid, B. II.

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