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Colours It Is The Coolest As Well As The Nearest In Relation To Black

or shade; in which respect, and in never being a warm colour, it
resembles blue. In other respects also, purple partakes of the
properties of blue, which is its archeus, or ruling colour; hence it is
to the eye a retiring colour, that reflects light little, and loses
rapidly in power in a declining light, and according to the distance at
which it is viewed. By reason of its being the mean between black and
blue it becomes the most retiring of all positive colours. Nature
employs this hue beautifully in landscape, as a sub-dominant, in
harmonizing the broad shadows of a bright sunshine ere the light sinks
into deep orange or red. Girtin, who saw Nature as she is, and painted
what he saw, delighted in this effect of sunlight and shadow. As a
ruling colour, whether in flesh or otherwise, purple is commonly too
cold, or verges on ghastliness, a fault which is to be as much avoided
as the opposite extreme of viciousness in colouring, stigmatized as

Yet, next to green, purple is the most generally pleasing of the
consonant colours; and has been celebrated as a regal or imperial
colour, as much perhaps from its rarity in a pure state, as from its
individual beauty. Romulus wore it in his trabea or royal mantle, and
Tullus Hostilius, after having subdued the Tuscans, assumed the pretexta
or long robe, broadly striped with purple. Under the Roman emperors, it
became the peculiar emblem or symbol of majesty, and the wearing of it
by any who were not of the Imperial family, was deemed a "treasonable
usurpation," punishable by death. At the decline of the empire, the
Tyrian purple was an important article of commerce, and got to be common
in the clothing of the people. Pliny says, "Nepos Cornelius, who died in
the reign of Augustus Caesar, when I was a young man, assured me that
the light violet purple had been formerly in great request, and that a
pound of it usually fetched 100 denaria (about L4 sterling): that soon
after the tarentine or reddish purple came into fashion; and that this
was followed by the Tyrian dibapha, which could not be bought for less
than 1000 denaria (nearly L40 sterling) the pound; which was its price
when P. Lentulus Spinter was AEdile, Cicero being then Consul. But
afterwards, the double-dyed purple became less rare, &c." The Tyrian
purple alluded to was obtained from the purpurae, a species of shell-fish
adhering to rocks and large stones in the sea adjoining Tyre. On
account, probably, of its extreme costliness, it was frequently the
custom to dye the cloth with a ground of kermes or alkanet, previous to
applying the Tyrian purple. This imparted to the latter a crimson hue,
and explains doubtless the term, double-dyed. The Greeks feigned the
ancient purple to be the discovery of Hercules Tyrius, whose dog, eating
by chance of the fish from which it was produced, returned to him with
his mouth tinged with the dye. Alexander the Great is said to have found
in the royal treasury, at the taking of Susa, purple to the enormous
value of 5000 talents,[A] which had lain there one hundred and
ninety-two years, and still preserved its freshness and beauty.

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