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Of Painting The Face Post by :Andrew_Murray Category :Essays Author :T. T. Date :October 2011 Read :2837

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Of Painting The Face

If that which is most ancient be best, then the face that one is borne with, is better than it that is borrowed: Nature is more ancient than Art, and Art is allowed to help Nature, but not to hurt it; to mend it, but not to mar it; for perfection, but not for perdition: but this artificiall facing doth corrupt the naturall colour of it. Indeed God hath given a man oil for his countenance, as He hath done wine for his heart, to refresh and cheere it; but this is by reflection and not by plaister-worke; by comforting, and not by dawbing and covering; by mending and helping the naturall colour, and not by marring or hiding it with an artificiall lit. What a miserable vanity is it a man or woman beholding in a glasse their borrowed face, their bought complexion, to please themselves with a face that is not their owne? And what is the cause they paint? Without doubt nothing but pride of heart, disdaining to bee behind their neighbour, discontentment with the worke of God, and vaine glory, or a foolish affectation of the praise of men. This kind of people are very hypocrites, seeming one thing and being another, desiring to bee that in show which they cannot be in substance, and coveting to be judged that, they are not: They are very grosse Deceivers; for they study to delude men with shewes, seeking hereby to bee counted more lovely creatures than they are, affecting that men should account that naturall, which is but artificiall. I may truly say they are deceivers of themselves; for if they thinke they doe well to paint, they are deceived; if they think it honest and just to beguile men, and to make them account them more delicate and amiable, then they are in truth, they are deceived; if they thinke it meete that that should bee counted God's worke, which is their owne, they are deceived: If they thinke that shall not one day give account unto Christ of idle deeds, such as this, as well as of idle words, they are deceived; if they thinke that God regards not such trifles, but leaves them to their free election herein; they are deceived. Now they that deceive themselves, who shall they be trusted with? A man, that is taken of himselfe, is in a worse taking than he that is caught of another. This self-deceiver, is a double sinner: he sinnes in that he is deceived, hee sinnes again in that he doth deceive himself. To bee murdered of another is not a sin in him that is murdered; but for a man to be deceived in what he is forbidden, is a sinne; it were better to bee murdered, than so to be deceived: For there the body is but killed, but here the soule herself is endangered. Now, how unhappy is the danger, how grievous is the sin, when a man is merely of himself indangered? It is a misery of miseries for a man to bee slaine with his owne sword, with his owne hand, and long of his owne will: Besides, this painting is very scandalous, and of ill report; for any man therefore to use it, is to thwart the precept of the Holy Ghost in Saint Paul, who saith unto the Phillippians in this wise, Whatsoever things are true (but a painted face is a false face) whatsoever things are venerable (but who esteems a painted face venerable?) whatsoever things are just (but will any man of judgement say, that to paint the face is a point of justice? Who dare say it is according to the will of God which is the rule of justice?

Doth the law of God command it? Doth true reason teach it? Doth lawes of men enjoyne it?) whatsoever things are (chaste and) pure: (but is painting of the face a point of chastity? Is that pure that proceeds out of the impurity of the soule, and which is of deceipt, and tends unto deceipt? Is that chaste, which is used to wooe mens eyes unto it?) whatsoever things are lovely (but will any man out of a well informed judgement say, that this kinde of painting is worthy love, or that a painted face is worthy to be fancied?) whatsoever things are of good report: If there bee any vertue, if there bee any praise, think on these things. But I hope to paint the face, to weare an artificiall colour, or complexion, is no vertue; neither is it of good report amongst the vertuous. I read that Iezabel did practise it, but I find not that any holy Matrone or religious Virgine ever used it: And it may perhaps of some be praised, but doubtlesse not of such as are judicious, but of them rather hated and discommended. A painted face is the devils Looking-glasse: there hee stands peering and toying (as an Ape in a looking-glasse) joying to behold himselfe therein; for in it he may reade pride, vanity, and vaine-glory. Painting is an enemy to blushing, which is vertues colour. And indeed how unworthy are they to bee credited in things of moment, that are so false in their haire, or colour, over which age, and sicknesse, and many accidents doe tyrannize; yea and where their deceipt is easily discerned? And whereas the passions and conditions of a man, and his age, is something discovered by the face, this painting hindereth a mans judgement herein, so that if they were as well able to colour the eyes, as they are their haire and faces, a man could discerne little or nothing in such kind of people. In briefe, these painters are sometimes injurious to those, that are naturally faire and lovely, and no painters; partly, in that these are thought sometimes to bee painted, because of the common use of painting; and partly, in that these artificial creatures steal away the praise from the naturall beauty by reason of their Art, when it is not espyed, whereas were it not for their cunning, they would not bee deemed equall to the other. It is great pitty that this outlandish vanity is in so much request and practise with us, as it is.


(The end)
T. T.'s essay: Of Painting The Face

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