Aut Tace Aut Loquere Meliora Silentio

I was intending to write something quite different tonight, but somehow it didn’t happen – mainly because I was looking for a quotation in a book that I couldn’t find (the quotation, not the book) and I got distracted.  Perhaps another time.  But here is a useful piece of advice (to myself more than anyone else), from the seventeenth century Italian painter Salvator Rosa.  Rosa was featured in an exhibition at the Dulwich Picture Gallery last year that I meant to see, but never quite got round to (so another thing that hasn’t happened), but this self-portrait can be seen as  part of the permanent collection at the National Gallery.  The motto he is holding up reads “Aut tace aut loquere meliora silentio” (Either be silent or say something better than silence).  If this principle were to be generally adopted, what a profound and blissful silence would descend on the blogosphere (and beyond). 

This look (the broad-brimmed hat, the hair, the white shirt, the long black coat or cloak) is a remarkably persistent one (the iconography, at the time, was that of the lover).  You wouldn’t be too surprised to see him walking around Covent Garden today.  Think, a little earlier, of the Dean of St. Paul’s, in his youth –

… Lord Byron, Keith Richards, Johnny Depp … erm … Russell Brand? (But I’m sure you can find pictures of those for yourself, if you want to).

Well, there.  I have said something, after a fashion.