Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

almost without being sensible that they take it, wedge-like snout of a swine, with its tough carand the acute sense of smell is deadened, so as to tilage at the end, the little sunk eyes, and the feel hardly any thing from so sharp a stimulus; whole make of the head, so well adapted to its yet deprive the snuff-taker of his box, and he is offices of digging and rooting, would be exthe most uneasy mortal in the world. Indeed so tremely beautiful. The great bag hanging to the far are use and habit from being causes of plea- bill of a pelican, a thing highly useful to this sure, merely as such, that the effect of constant animal, would be likewise as beautiful in our use is to make all things of whatever kind entirely eyes. The hedge-hog, so well secured against unaffecting. For as use at last takes off the all assaults by his prickly hide, and the porcupine painful effect of many things, it reduces the with his missile quills, would be then considered pleasurable effect in others in the same manner, as creatures of no small elegance. There are few and brings both to a sort of mediocrity and indif- animals whose parts are better contrived than those ference. Very justly is use called a second na- of the monkey; he has the hands of a man, ture; and our natural and common state is one joined to the springy limbs of a beast; he is adof absolute indifference, equally prepared for mirably calculated for running, leaping, grappling, pain or pleasure. But when we are thrown out and climbing; and yet there are few animals of this state, or deprived of any thing requisite to which seem to have less beauty in the eyes

of all maintain us in it; when this chance does not mankind. I need say little on the trunk of the happen by pleasure from some mechanical cause, elephant, of such various usefulness, and which is we are always hurt. It is so with the second so far from contributing to his beauty. How well nature, custom, in all things which relate to it. fitted is the wolf for running and leaping ! how Thus the want of the usual proportions in men admirably is the lion armed for battle! but will and other animals is sure to disgust, though their any one therefore call the elephant, the wolf, and presence is by no means any cause of real plea- the lion, beautiful animals? I believe nobody sure, It is true, that the proportions laid down will think the form of a man's leg so well adapted as causes of beauty in the human body, are fre- to running, as those of a horse, a dog, a deer, quently found in beautiful ones, because they are and several other creatures; at least they have not generally found in all mankind; but if it can be that appearance : yet, I believe, a well-fashioned shewn too, that they are found without beauty, human leg will be allowed to far exceed all these and that beauty frequently exists without them, in beauty. If the fitness of parts was what conand that this beauty, where it exists, always can stituted the loveliness of their form, the actual be assigned to other less equivocal causes, it will employment of them would undoubtedly much naturally lead us to conclude, that proportion and augment it; but this, though it is sometimes so beauty are not ideas of the same nature. The upon another principle, is far from being always true opposite to beauty is not disproportion or de- the case. A bird on the wing is not so beautiful formity, but ugliness : and as it proceeds from as when it is perched ; nay, there are several of causes opposite to those of positive beauty, we

the domestic fowls which are seldom seen to fls, cannot consider it until we come to treat of that. and which are nothing the less beautiful on that Between beauty and ugliness there is a sort of account; yet birds are so extremely different in mediocrity, in which the assigned proportions are their form from the beast and human kinds, that most commonly found; but this has no effect you cannot, on the principle of fitness, allow them upon the passions.

any thing agreeable, but in consideration of their parts being designed for quite other purposes. ! never in my life chanced to see a peacock Ay; and

yet before, very long before, I considered ans It is said that the idea of utility, or of a part's aptitude in his form for the aerial life, I was struck being well adapted to answer its end, is the cause with the extreme beauty which raises that bird of beauty, or indeed beauty itself. If it were not above many of the best Aying fowls in the world ; for this opinion, it had been impossible for the though, for any thing I saw, his way of living doctrine of proportion to have held its ground was much like that of the swine, which fed in the very long; the world would be soon weary farm-yard along with him. The same may be said of hearing of measures which related to nothing, of cocks, hens, and the like; they are of the flying cither of a natural principle, or of a fitness to kind in figure; in their manner of moving not answer some end; the idea which mankind most very different from men and beasts. To leave these commonly conceive of proportion, is the suitable foreign examples; if beauty in our own species ness of means to certain ends, and, where this is was annexed to use, men would be much more not the question, very seldom trouble themselves lovely than women; and strength and agility about the effect of different measures of things would be considered as the only beauties. But to Therefore it was necessary for this theory to insist, call strength by the name of beauty, to have but that not only artificial but natural objects took one denomination for the qualities of a Venus and their beauty from the fitness of the parts for their Hercules, so totally different in almost all respects, several purposes.

But in framing this theory, is surely a strange confusion of ideas, or abuse of I am apprehensive that experience was not suffi- words. The cause of this confusion, I imagine. ciently consulted. For, on that principle, the proceeds from our frequently perceiving the parts

SECT. VI. FITNESS

NOT THE CAUSE OF BEAUTY.

SECT. VII.-THE REAL EFFECTS OF FITNESS.

of the human and other animal bodies to be at of our reason to disentangle our minds from the once very beautiful, and very well adapted to their allurements of the object, to a consideration of purposes; and we are deceived by a sophism, which that wisdom which invented so powerful a machine. makes us take that for a cause which is only a con

on- The effect of proportion and fitness, at least comitant: this is the sophism of the fly; who ima- so far as they proceed from a mere consideration gined he raised a great dust, because he stood upon of the work itself, produce approbation, the acthe chariot that really raised it. The stomach, the quiescence of the understanding, but not love, lungs, the liver, as well as other parts, are incom- nor any passion of that species. When we exparably well adapted to their purposes; yet they amine the structure of a watch, when we come to are far from having any beauty. Again, many know thoroughly the use of every part of it, things are very beautiful, in which it is impossible satisfied as we are with the fitness of the whole, to discern any idea of use. And I appeal to the we are far enough from perceiving any thing like first and most natural feeling of mankind, whether, beauty in the watch-work itself; but let us look on beholding a beautiful eye, or a well-fashioned on the case, the labour of some curious artist in mouth, or a well-turned leg, any ideas of their engraving, with little or no idea of use, we shall being well fitted for seeing, eating, or running, have a much livelier idea of beauty than we ever ever present themselves. What idea of use is it could have had from the watch itself, though the that flowers excite, the most beautiful part of the master-piece of Graham. In beauty, as I said, the vegetable world ? It is true, that the infinitely effect is previous to any knowledge of the use ; wise and good Creator has, of his bounty, fre- but to judge of proportion, we must know the quently joined beauty to those things which he end for which any work is designed. According has made useful to us : but this does not prove to the end, the proportion varies. Thus there is that an idea of use and beauty are the same thing, one proportion of a tower, another of a house ; or that they are any way dependent on each other. one proportion of a gallery, another of a hall,

another of a chamber. To judge of the proportions of these, you must be first acquainted with the

purposes for which they were designed. Good When I excluded proportion and fitness from sense and experience, acting together, find out what any share in beauty, I did not by any means is fit to be done in every work of art.

We are intend to say that they were of no value, or that rational creatures, and in all our works we ought they ought to be disregarded in works of art. to regard their end and purpose ; the gratification Works of art are the proper sphere of their power; of any passion, how innocent soever, ought only and here it is that they have their full effect. to be of secondary consideration. Herein is placed Whenever the wisdom of our Creator intended the real power of fitness and proportion; they that we should be affected with any thing, he did operate on the understanding considering them, not confide the execution of his design to the lan- which approves the work and acquiesces in it. guid and precarious operation of our reason ; but the passions, and the imagination which princihe endued it with powers and properties that pre- pally raises them, have here very little to do. vent the understanding, and even the will; which, When a room appears in its original nakedness, seizing upon the senses and imagination, captivate bare walls and a plain ceiling ; let its proportion the soul before the understanding is ready either be ever so excellent, it pleases very little; a cold to join with them, or to oppose them. It is by a approbation is the utmost we can reach; a much long deduction, and much study, that we discover worse proportioned room with elegant mouldings the adorable wisdom of God in his works : when and fine festoons, glasses, and other merely ornate discover it, the effect is very different, not only mental furniture, will make the imagination revolt in the manner of acquiring it, but in its own against the reason ; it will please much more than nature, from that which strikes us without any the naked proportion of the first room, which the preparation from the sublime or the beautiful. How understanding has so much approved as admiraGifferent is the satisfaction of an anatomist, who bly fitted for its purposes. What I have here said discovers the use of the muscles and of the skin, and before concerning proportion, is by no means the excellent contrivance of the one for the various to persuade people absurdly to neglect the idea of movements of the body, and the wonderful texture use in the works of art. It is only to shew that of the other, at once a general covering, and at these excellent things, beauty and proportion, are once a general outlet as well as inlet; how dif- not the same ; not that they should either of them terent is this from the affection which possesses an be disregarded. ordinary man at the sight of a delicate, smooth skin, and all the other parts of beauty, which pquire no investigation to be perceived ! In the former case, whilst we look up to the Maker with On the whole; if such parts in human bodies armiration and praise, the object which causes it as are found proportioned, were likewise constantly may be odious and distasteful; the latter very often found beautiful, as they certainly are not; or if » touches us by his power on the imagination, they were so situated, as that a pleasure might that we examine but little into the artifice of its flow from the comparison, which they seldom are; crourivance; and we have need of a strong effort or if any assignable proportions were found, either

SECT. VIII.-THE RECAPITULATION.

SECT. IX.-PERFECTION NOT THE CAUSE OF

BEAUTY.

BE APPLIED TO VIRTUE.

so.

in plants or animals, which were always attended and anxiety, are never persons of shining qualiwith beauty, which never was the case; or if, ties or strong virtues. It is rather the soft

green where parts were well adapted to their purposes,

of the soul on which we rest our eyes, that are they were constantly beautiful, and when no use fatigued with beholding more glaring objects. It appeared, there was no beauty, which is contrary is worth observing how we feel ourselves affected to all experience; we might conclude, that beauty in reading the characters of Cæsar and Cato, as consisted in proportion or utility. But since, in they are so finely drawn and contrasted in Sallust. all respects, the case is quite otherwise; we may In one the ignoscendo largiundo; in the other, be satisfied that beauty does not depend on these, nil largiundo. In one, the miseris perfugium ; in let it owe its origin to what else it will.

the other, malis perniciem. In the latter we have much to admire, much to reverence, and perhaps something to fear; we respect him, but we respect him at a distance. The former makes us familiar

with him; we love him, and he leads us whither There is another notion current, pretty closely he pleases. To draw things closer to our first and allied to the former ; that Perfection is the con- most natural feelings, I will add a remark made stituent cause of beauty. This opinion has been upon reading this section by an ingenious friend. made to extend much further than to sensible ob- The authority of a father, so useful to our welljects. But in these, so far is perfection, considered being, and so justly venerable upon all accounts, as such, from being the cause of beauty, that this hinders us from having that entire love for him that quality, where it is highest, in the female sex, we have for our mothers, where the parental aualmost always carries with it an idea of weakness thority is almost melted down into the mother's and imperfection. Women are very sensible of fondness and indulgence. But we generally have this ; for which reason, they learn to lisp, to totter a great love for our grandfathers, in whom this in their walk, to counterfeit weakness, and even authority is removed a degree from us, and where sickness. In all this they are guided by nature. the weakness of age mellows it into something of Beauty in distress is much the most affecting a feminine partiality. beauty. Blushing has little less power; and modesty in general, which is a tacit allowance of sect. XI.—HOW FAR THE IDEA OF BEAUTY MAY imperfection, is itself considered as an amiable quality, and certainly heightens every other that is

I know it is in every body's mouth, that we From what has been said in the foregoing ought to love perfection. This is to me a suffi- section, we may easily see how far the application cient proof, that it is not the proper object of love. of beauty to virtue may be made with propriety. Who ever said we ought to love a fine woman, or The general application of this quality to virtue, even any of these beautiful animals which please has a strong tendency to confound our ideas of us? Here to be affected, there is no need of the things; and it has given rise to an infinite deal of concurrence of our will.

whimsical theory; as the affixing the name of beauty to proportion, congruity, and perfection, as well as to qualities of things yet more remote from our natural ideas of it, and from one ano

ther, has tended to confound our ideas of beauty, Nor is this remark in general less applicable and left us no standard or rule to judge by, that to the qualities of the mind. Those virtues which was not even more uncertain and fallacious than cause admiration, and are of the sublimer kind, our own fancies. This loose and inaccurate manproduce terrour rather than love ; such as forti- ner of speaking has therefore misled us both in tude, justice, wisdom, and the like. Never was the theory of taste and of morals; and induced any man amiable by force of these qualities. Those us to remove the science of our duties from their which engage our hearts, which impress us with proper basis, (our reason, our relations, and our a sense of loveliness, are the softer virtues ; easi- necessities,) to rest it upon foundations altogether ness of temper, compassion, kindness, and liber- visionary and unsubstantial. ality; though certainly those latter are of less immediate and momentous concern to society, and SECT. XII.—THE REAL CAUSE OF BEAUTY. of less dignity. But it is for that reason that they are so amiable. The great virtues turn principally Having endeavoured to shew what beauty is on dangers, punishments, and troubles, and are not, it remains that we should examine, at least exercised rather in preventing the worst mischiefs, with equal attention, in what it really consists. than in dispensing favours; and are therefore not Beauty is a thing much too affecting not to delovely, though highly venerable. The subordinate pend upon some positive qualities. turn on reliefs, gratifications, and indulgences; is no creature of our reason, since it strikes us and are therefore more lovely, though inferiour in without

any reference to use, and even where no dignity. Those persons who creep into the hearts use at all can be discerned, since the order and of most people, who are chosen as the companions method of nature is generally very different from of their softer hours, and their reliefs from care our measures and proportions, we must conclude

SECT. X.-HOW FAR THE IDEA OF BEAUTY MAY
DE APPLIED TO THE QUALITIES OF THE MIND.

And, since it They vary

upon

that beauty is, for the greater part, some quality | in gardens; smooth streams in the landscape; in bodies acting mechanically upon the human smooth coats of birds and beasts in animal beaumind by the intervention of the senses. We ought ties; in fine women, smooth skins; and in several therefore to consider attentively in what manner sorts of ornamental furniture, smooth and polished those sensible qualities are disposed, in such things surfaces. A very considerable part of the effect as by experience we find beautiful, or which excite of beauty is owing to this quality; indeed the in us the passion of love, or some correspondent most considerable. For take any beautiful object, affection.

and give it a broken and rugged surface; and

however well formed it may be in other respects, SECT. XIII.-BEAUTIFUL OBJECTS SMALL.

it pleases no longer. Whereas, let it want ever

so many of the other constituents, if it wants not The most obvious point that presents itself to this, it becomes more pleasing than almost all the us in examining any object, is its extent or quan- others without it. This seems to me so evident, I tily. And what degree of extent prevails in that I am a good deal surprised, that none who

bodies that are held beautiful, may be gathered have handled the subject have made any mention from the usual manner of expression concerning of the quality of smoothness, in the enumeration it. I am told that, in most languages, the objects of those that go to the forming of beauty. For of love are spoken of under diminutive epithets. indeed any ruggedness, any sudden projection, It is so in all the languages of which I have any any sharp angle, is in the highest degree contrary knowledge. In Greek the iwv and other diminu-to that idea. tive terms are almost always the terms of affection and tenderness. These diminutives were com

SECT. XV.-GRADUAL VARIATION. monly added by the Greeks to the names of persons with whom they conversed on terms of But as perfectly beautiful bodies are not comfriendship and familiarity. Though the Romans posed of angular parts, so their parts never conwere a people of less quick and delicate feelings, tinue long in the same right line.t yet they naturally slid into the lessening termi- their direction every moment, and they change nation

the same occasions. Antiently in the under the eye by a deviation continually carrying English language the diminishing ling was added on, but for whose beginning or end you will find to the names of persons and things that were the it difficult to ascertain a point. The view of a objects of love. Some we retain still, as darling, beautiful bird will illustrate this observation. for little dear,) and a few others. But, to this Here we see the head increasing insensibly to the day, in ordinary conversation, it is usual to add middle, from whence it lessens gradually until it the endearing name of little to every thing we love: mixes with the neck; the neck loses itself in a the French and Italians make use of these affec- larger swell, which continues to the middle of the tionate diminutives even more than we. In the body, when the whole decreases again to the tail ; animal creation, out of our own species, it is the the tail takes a new direction ; but it soon varies small we are inclined to be fond of; little birds, its new course : it blends again with the other parts; and some of the smaller kinds of beasts. A great and the line is perpetually changing, above, below, beautiful thing is a manner of expression scarcely upon every side. In this description I have before ever used; but that of a great ugly thing is very me the idea of a dove; it agrees very well with common. There is a wide difference between most of the conditions of beauty. It is smooth admiration and love. The sublime, which is the and downy; its parts are (to use that expression) Cause of the former, always dwells on great ob- melted into one another; you are presented with jects, and terrible; the latter on small ones, and no sudden protuberance through the whole, and pleasing; we submit to what we admire, but we yet the whole is continually changing. Observe luve what submits to us; in one case we are forced, that part of a beautiful woman where she is perin the other we are flattered, into compliance. In haps the most beautiful, about the neck and breasts; short, the ideas of the sublime and the beautiful the smoothness; the softness; the easy and insensistand on foundations so different, that it is hard, I ble swell; the variety of the surface, which is never had almost said impossible, to think of reconciling for the smallest space the same; the deceitful maze, them in the same subject, without considerably through which the unsteady eye slides giddily, Jessening the effect of the one or the other upon without knowing where to fix or whither it is the passions. So that, attending to their quantity, carried. Is not this a demonstration of that beautiful objects are comparatively small. change of surface, continual, and yet hardly per

ceptible at any point, which forms one of the great SECT. XIV.-SMOOTHNESS.

constituents of beauty? It gives me no small

pleasure to find that I can strengthen my theory The next property constantly observable in such in this point, by the opinion of the very ingenious objects is * Smoothness: a quality so essential to Mr. Hogarth ; whose idea of the line of beauty I beauty, that I do not now recollect any thing take in general to be extremely just. But the idea beautiful that is not smooth. In trees and flowers, of variation, without attending so accurately to the smooth leaves are beautiful; smooth slopes of earth manner of the variation, has led him to consider • Part IV. sect. 21.

+ Part V. sect. 23.

SECT. XVI.- DELICACY.

angular figures as beautiful : these figures, it is | Thirdly, if the colours be strong and vivid, they true, vary greatly; yet they vary in a sudden and are always diversified, and the object is never of broken manner; and I do not find any natural one strong colour; there are almost always such a object which is angular, and at the same time number of them, (as in variegated flowers,) that beautiful. Indeed few natural objects are entirely the strength and glare of each is considerably angular. But I think those which approach the abated. In a fine complexion, there is not only most nearly to it are the ugliest. I must add too, some variety in the colouring, but the colours : that, so far as I could observe of nature, though neither the red nor the white are strong and glarthe varied line is that alone in which complete ing. Besides, they are mixed in such a manner, beauty is found, yet there is no particular line and with such gradations, that it is impossible to which is always found in the most completely fix the bounds. On the same principle it is, that beautiful, and which is therefore beautiful in pre- the dubious colour in the necks and tails of peaference to all other lines. At least I never could cocks, and about the heads of drakes, is so very observe it.

agreeable. In reality, the beauty both of shape and colouring are as nearly related, as we can well suppose it possible for things of such different na

tures to be. An air of robustness and strength is very prejudicial to beauty. An appearance of delicacy, and

SECT. XVIII.- RECAPITULATION. even of fragility, is almost essential to it. Whoever examines the vegetable or animal creation On the whole, the qualities of beauty, as they will find this observation to be founded in nature. are merely sensible qualities, are the following: It is not the oak, the ash, or the elm, or any of First, to be comparatively small. Secondly, to be the robust trees of the forest, which we consider as smooth. Thirdly, to have a variety in the direcbeautiful; they are awful and majestick; they in- tion of the parts; but, fourthly, to have those spire a sort of reverence. It is the delicate myrtle, parts not angular, but melted as it were into each it is the orange, it is the almond, it is the jasmine, other. Fifthly, to be of a delicate frame, without it is the vine, which we look on as vegetable any remarkable appearance of strength. Sixthly. beauties. It is the flowery species, so remarkable to have its colours clear and bright, but not very for its weakness and momentary duration, that gives strong and glaring. Seventhly, or if it should us the liveliest idea of beauty and elegance. Among have any glaring colour, to have it diversified with animals, the greyhound is more beautiful than the others. These are, I believe, the properties on mastiff; and the delicacy of a gennet, a barb, or which beauty depends ; properties that operate by an Arabian horse, is much more amiable than the nature, and are less liable to be altered by castrength and stability of some horses of war or car- price, or confounded by a diversity of tastes, than riage. I need here say little of the fair sex, where

any

other. I believe the point will be easily allowed me. The beauty of women is considerably owing to their weakness or delicacy, and is even enhanced by their timidity, a quality of mind analogous to it. Tue Physiognomy has a considerable share in I would not here be understood to say, that weak-beauty, especially in that of our own species. The ness betraying very bad health has any share in manners give a certain determination to the counbeauty; but the ill effect of this is not because it tenance; which, being observed to correspond is weakness, but because the ill state of health, pretty regularly with them, is capable of joining which produces such weakness, alters the other the effect of certain agreeable qualities of the conditions of beauty; the parts in such a case col- mind to those of the body. So that to form a lapse; the bright colour, the lumen purpureum finished human beauty, and to give it its full injuventa, is gone; and the fine variation is lost in Auence, the face must be expressive of such gentle wrinkles, sudden breaks, and right lines.

and amiable qualities, as correspond with the sofiness, smoothness, and delicacy of the outward form.

SECT. XIX.-THE PHYSIOGNOMY.

SECT. XVII.-BEAUTY IN COLOUR.

SECT. XX.-THE EYE.

As to the colours usually found in beautiful bodies, it may be somewhat difficult to ascertain I HAVE hitherto purposely omitted to speak of them, because, in the several parts of nature, there the Eye, which has so great a share in the beauty is an infinite variety. However, even in this va- of the animal creation, as it did not fall so easily riety, we may mark out something on which to under the foregoing heads, though in fact it is settle. First, the colours of beautiful bodies must reducible to the same principles. I think then, that not be dusky or muddy, but clean and fair. Se- the beauty of the eye consists, first, in its clearness; condly, they must not be of the strongest kind. what colouredeye shall please most, depends a good Those which seem most appropriated to beauty, deal on particular fancies; but none are pleased are the milder of every sort ; light greens ; soft with an eye whose water (to use that term) is dull blues; weak whites ; pink reds; and violets. and muddy.* We are pleased with the eye in this

• Part IV. sect 25.

« ZurückWeiter »