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.

Colours It Is Composed Of The Extreme Primaries Yellow And Blue Colours With The Neutral Black Of The Various Combinations Of Black facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail