This section is from the book "Chromatography; Or, A Treatise On Colours And Pigments, And Of Their Powers In Painting", by George Field. Also available from Amazon: Chromatography, or A Treatise on Colours and Pigments, and of Their Powers in Painting.
The poets have distinguished this colour by the epithet cheerful; verdure is also the symbol of hope, which, like the animating greenness of plants, leaves us only with life: it is also emblematical of immortality, and the figure of old Saturn or Time is crowned with evergreen. This colour denotes also memory, and affords a great number of epithets and metaphors, colloquial as well as rhetorical. Plenty is personified in a mantle of green. In mythological subjects it distinguishes the draperies of Neptune, the Naiades, and the Dryades; and, from being a general garb of nature, perhaps, has been held to be a sacred or holy colour.
It is thus that colours lead ideas by association and analogy, and excite sentiments naturally in the manner we have so repeatedly alluded to already, in drawing attention to the powers of expression in colours; an attention of more importance than generally supposed in the practice of the pencil, and in spreading the charm of disguised art over its productions. And it is thus also that colouring moves the affections in the manner of certain chords in music, upon relations grounded so deeply in our nature, that a universal comprehension is perhaps requisite for their interpretation, and to "Untwist the secret chains that tie The hidden soul of harmony."
Of these powers of colours, which, when judiciously managed, are capable of producing or heightening sentiment, the poet has not failed to profit, of which we have already adduced many instances; and, in the absence of the more palpable illustrations of the powers and properties of green, by examples in nature and painting, the following are in point from the poets, expressing - Youth, vigour, freshness, hope, etc.
"My salad days. When I was green in judgment, cold in blood."
"While virgin Spring, by Eden's Hood,
Unfolds her tender mantle green."
"It' I have any where said a green old age, I have Virgil's authority: 'sed cruda Deo viridisqve senectus.'" - Dayden.
"Green is indeed the colour of lovers."
"Phyllidis adventu nostra nemus omne virebit."
Virgil: EcL vii. 59.
Accordance with light and colours, etc.: -
"Haste, haste, ye Naiads I with attractive art New charms to every native grace impart: With opening flow'rets bind your sea-green hair."
Addison, after STATIUS.
"My mistaking eyes, That have been so. badazzled with the sun, That every thing I took on seemeth green."
"Strike, louder strike th' ennobling strings To those whose merchant sons were kings; To him who, deck'd with pearly pride, For Adria weds his green-haird bride."
Spenser: Shepherd* Cullender, Feb.
"O, beware, ray lord, of jealousy;
It is the green-eyed monster, which doth mock The meat it feeds on."
Othello, Act iii. Sc. 3.
"And what's a life? - The flourishing array Of the proud summer-meadow, which to-day Wears her green plush, ami is to-morrow hay."
Quables: Emb xiii. B. iii.
Variety of contrast, etc.: -
"Such crimson tempest should bedrench The fresh green lap of fair King Richard's land."
"Britannia's genius bends to earth. And mourns the fatal day; While stain'd with blood, he strives to tear Unseemly from his sea-green hair The wreaths of cheerful May."
"That yon green hoy shall have no sun to ripe The bloom that promiseth a mighty fruit."
The entire import of the colours to the sentiment lies in general wider in context than the passages which we have extracted, with all possible brevity, from the poets; - and to analyse these critically would lead into a needlessly wide discussion, since this want will be easily supplied by the intelligent reader. This applies particularly to the colour green, which is as principal in poetry as it is in nature and painting.
Milton paints with green and violet, in a sort of minor key, thus beautifully: -
"Sweet Echo, sweetest nymph, that liv'st unseen, Within thy aery shell, By slow Meander's margent green, And in the violet-embroider'd vale, Where the love-lorn nightingale Nightly to thee her sad song mourneth well."
In the following, the elements of green combine in the joint sentiment or expression of youth, freshness, joy, and animation: -
"Fair laughs the morn, and soft the zephyr blows, While proudly riding o'er the azure realm In gallant trim the gilded vessel goes,
Youth at the prow, and Pleasure at the helm."
And in the succeeding, the expression of green is cool, refreshing, shadowy, etc.: -
"Here in the sultriest season let him rest
Fresh in the green beneath those aged trees;
Here winds of gentlest wing will fan his breast.
From heaven itself he may inhale the breeze.
Byron: Childe Harold.
"Guide my way Through fair Lyceum's walks, the green retreats Of Academus, and the Thymy vale, Where oft, enchanted with Socratic sounds, Ilissus pure devolved Lis tuncful stream."
Akenside: Pl. Imag. 1. 1590.
"Now waft me from the green hill's side,
Whose cold turf hides the hurled friend!"
"The green leaves quiver with the cooling wind."
Shakespere: Tit. And. Act ii, Sc. 3.
"The zephyrs curl the green locks of the plain."
"I know each lane and every alley green. Dingle, or bushy dell of this wild wood. And every bosky bourn."
The number of pigments of any colour is in general proportioned to its importance; hence the variety of greens is very great, though their classes are not very numerous. The following arc the principal: -