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be decent, lofty, and elated; of Minerva, the strength of the traces left on the imamasculine, confident, and chaste; and of gination, I should call those of hearing, Venus, winning, soft, and conscious of feeling, smelling, and tasting, notions, wbicb pleasing. These sister arts, painting and impress the memory but weakly; while statuary, as well as poetry, put it out of those of colours I should call ideas, to de ail doubt, that the imagination carries the note their strength anų peculiar clearness ideas of the beautiful and the sublime far upon the imagination. This distinction beyond visible nature; since no mortal ever deserves particular notice. The Author of possessed the blaze of divine charms that nature has drawn an impenetrable veil over surrounds the Apollo Belvedere, or the the fixed material world that surrounds us; Venus of Medici, I have just mentioned. solid matter refuses our acquaintance, and
A variety and flush of colouring is ge- will be known to us only by resisting the nerally the refuge of painters, who are not touch; but how obscure are the informaable to animate their designs. We
may tions of feeling! Light comes like an inticall a lustre of colouring, the rant and fus- mate acquaintance to relieve us: it introtian of painting, under which are hid the duces all nature to us, the fields, the trees, want of strength and nature. None but a the flowers, the crystal streams, and azure painter of real genius can be severe and sky. But all this beauteous diversity is no modest in his colouring, and please at the more than an agreeable enchantment formsame time, It must be observed, that the ed by the light that spreads itself to view ; glow and variety of colours give a plea- the fixed parts of nature are eternally ensure of a very different kind from the ob- tombed beneath the light, and we see noject of painting. When foreign ornaments, thing in fact but a creation of colours. gilding, and carving, come to be consider. Schoolmen, with their usual arrogance, will ed as necessary to the beauty of pictures, tell you their ideas are transcripts of nathey are a plain diagnostic of a decay in lure, and assure you that the veracity of taste and power.
Usher. God requires they should be so, because we
cannot well avoid thinking so: but nothing $218. On Architecture.
is an object of vision but light; the picture A free and easy proportion, united with we see is not appexed to the earth, but simplicity, seem to constitute the elegance comes with angelic celerity to meet our of form in building. A subordination of eyes. That which is called body or subparts to one evident design forms simpli- stance, that reflects the various colours of city; when the members thus evidently the light, and lies hid beneath the appeare related are great, the union is always very ance, is wrapt in impenetrable obscurity; great. In the proportions of a noble edi- it is faithfully shut out from our eyes and fice, you see the image of a creating mind imagination, and only causes in us the result from the whole. The evident uni- ideas of feeling, tasting, or smelling, which formity of the rotunda, and its unparal- yet are not resemblances of any part of leled simplicity, are probably the sources matter. I do not know if I appear too of its superior beauty. When we look up strong when I call colours the expression at a vaulted roof, that seems to rest upon of the Divinity.
Light strikes with such our horizon, we are astonished at the mag- vivacuy and force, that we can hardly call nificence, more than at the visible extent. it inanimate or unintelligent.
Ibid. When I am taking a review of the objects of beauty and grandeur, can I pass $ 220. On Uniformity. by unnoticed the source of colours and vi- Shall we admit uniformity into our list sible beauty? When the light is withdrawn of beauty, or first examine its real merits? all nature retires from view, visible bodies When we look into the works of nature, are annihilated, and the soul mourns the we cannot avoid observing that uniformity universal absence in solitude; when it re- is but the beauty of minute objects. The turns, it brings along with it the creation, opposite sides of a leaf divided in the midand restores joy as well as beauty. dle, and the leaves of the same species of
vegetables, retain a striking uniformity : $ 219. Thoughts on Colours and Lights,
but the branch, the tree, and forest, de
sert this familiarity, and take a noble irreIf I should distinguish the perceptions of gularity with vast advantage. Cut a tree the senses from each other, according to into a regular form, and you change its
lofty port for a minute prettiness. What ideas are affecting and beyond life, and we forms the beauty of country scenes, but see objects in a brighter hue than they af. the want of upiformity? No two hills, ter appear in. For when curiosity is sated, vales, rivers, or prospects, are alike; and the objects grow dull, and our ideas fall to you are charmed by the variety. Let us their diminutive natural size. What I have now suppose a country made up of the said may account for the raptured prospect most beautiful hills and descents imagin- of our youth we see backward ; novelty able, but every hill and every vale alike, always recommends, because expectations and at an equal distance; they soon tire of the unknown are ever high; and in you, and you find the delight vanishes with youth we have an eternal novelty; unexthe novelıy.
perienced credulous youth gilds our young There are, I own, certain assemblages ideas, and ever meets a fresh lustre that is that form a powerful beauty by their union, not yet allayed by doubts. In age, expeof which a fine face is incontestable evi- rience corrects our hopes, and the imagidence. But the charm does not seem bylation cools; for this reason, wisdom and any means to reside in the uniformity, high pleasure do not reside together. which in the human countenance is not
I have observed through this discourse, yery exact. The human countenance may that the delight we receive from the visible be planned out much more regularly, but objects of nature, or from the fine arts, may I fancy without adding to the beauty, for be divided into the conceptions of the sub. which we must seek another source. In lime, and conceptions of the beautiful. Of truth, the finest eye in the world without the origin of the sublime I spoke hypothemeaning, and the finest mouth without a tically, and with diffidence; all we certainsmile are insipid.
An agreeable counte- ly know on this head is, that the sensanance includes in the idea thereof an agree- tions of the sublime we receive from exable and gentle disposition. How the coun- ternal objects, are attended with obscure tenance, and an arrangement of colours ideas of power and immensity; the origin and features, can express the idea of an un- of our sensations of beauty are still more seen mind, we know not; but so the fact is, unintelligible; however, i think there is and to this fine intelligent picture, whether some foundation for classing the objects of it be false or true, certain I am, that the beauty under different heads, by a correbeauty of the human countenace is owing, spondence or similarity, that may be ob. more than to upiforinity. Shall we then served between several particulars. Ibid. say, that the greatest uniformity, along with the greatest variety, forms beauty! But
§ 222 On the Origin of our general Ideas this is a repetition of words without distinct
of Beauty. ideas, and explicates a well-known effect A full and consistent evidence of design, by an obscure cause. Uniformity, as far as especially if the design be attended with an itextends, excludes variety; and variety, as important effect, gives the idea of beauty; far as it reaches, excludes uniformity. Va- thus a ship under sail, a greyhound, a well. riety is by far more pleasing than unifor- shaped horse, are beautiful, because they mity, but it does not constitute beauty; for display with ease a great design. Birds and it is impossible that can be called beauty, beasts of prey, completely armed for de. which, when well known, ceases to please: struction, are for the same reason beautiful, whereas a fine piece of music shall charm although objects of terror. after being heard a hundred times; and a
Where different designs at a single view, lovely countenance makes a stronger im- appear to concur to one effect, the beauty pression on the mind by being often seen, accumulates; as in the Grecian architecbecause their beauty is real. I think we may, ture: where different designs, leading to upon the whole, conclude, that if unifor- different effects, unite in the same wholo, mity be a beauty, it is but the beauty of mi- they cause confusion, and diminish the nute objects; and that it pleases only by the idea of beauty, as in the Gothic buildings. visible design, and the evident footsteps of Upon the same principle, confusion and intelligence it discovers. Usher. disorder are ugly or frightful; the figures
made by spilled liquors are always ugly, 221. On Novelty.
Regular figures are handsome; and the I must say something of the evanescent rcular, the most regular, is the most charms of novelty. When our curiosity is beautiful. This regulation holds only ex cited at the opening of new scenes, our where the sublime does not enter; for in
that case the irregularity and carelessness sentiment of beauty arises from a reflex add to the ideas of power, and raise in considerate act of the mind, upon the obproportion our admiration. The confusion servation of the designs of nature or of art: in which we see the stars scattered over the the sentiment of beauty is instantaneous, heavens, and the rude arrangement of and depends upon no prior reflections. mountains, add to their grandeur.
All I mean is, that design and beauty are A mixture of the sublime aids exceed in an arbitrary manner united together ; ingly the idea of beauty, and heightens the so that where we see the one, whether we horrors of disorder and ugliness. Personal reflect on it or no, we perceive the other. beauty is vastly raised by a noble air; on I must further add, that there may be the contrary, the dissolution and ruins of other divisions of beauty easily discovera large city, distress the mind proportion- able, which I have not taken notice of. ally:
but while we mourn over great ruins, The general sense of beauty, as well as at the destruction of our species, we are of grandeur, seems peculiar to man in the also soothed by the generous commisera- creation. The herd in common with him tion we feel in our own breast, and there- enjoy the gentle breath of spring; they lie fore ruins give us the same kind of grateful down to repose on the flowery bank, and melancholy we feel at a tragedy. Of all hear the peaceful bumming of the bee; the objects of discord and confusion, no they enjoy the green fields and pastures: other is so shocking as the human soul in but we have reason to think, that it is madness. When we see the principle of man only who sees the image of beauty thought and beauty disordered, the horror over the happy prospect, and rejoices at is too high, like that of a massacre com- it; that it is hid from the brute creation, mitted before our eyes, to suffer the mind and depends not upon sense, but on the to make any reflex act on the god-like intelligent mind. traces of pity that distinguish our species: We have just taken a transient view of and we feel no sensations but those of dis- the principal departments of taste; let us may and terror.
now, madam, make a few general reflecRegular motion and life shewn in inani- tions upon our subject. Usher. mate objects, give us also the secret pleasure we call beauty. Thus waves spent, $ 223. Sense, Taste, and Genius, distinand successively breaking upon the shore,
guished. and waving fields of corn and grass in
The human genius, with the best assisttinued motion, are ever beautiful. The ance, and the finest examples, breaks forth beauty of colours may perhaps be arranged but slowly; and the greatest men have but under this head; colours, like notes of mu- gradually acquired a just taste, and chaste sic, affect the passions; red incites anger, simple conceptions of beauty. At an imblack to melancholy; white brings a gen- mature age, the sense of beauty is weak tle joy to the mind; the softer colours re- and confused, and requires an excess of fresh or relax it. The mixtures and gra- colouring to catch its attention. It then dations of colours have an effect corre- prefers extravagance and rant to justness, spondent to the transitions and combina- a gross false wit to the engaging light of tions of sounds; but the strokes are too nature, and the shewy, rich, and glaring, transient and feeble to become the objects to the fine and amiable. This is the childof expression.
hood of taste; but as the human genius Beauty also results from every disposition strengthens and grows to maturity, if it be of nature that plainly discovers her favour assisted by a happy education, the sense of and indulgence to us. Thus the spring universal beauty awakes; it begins to be season, when the weather becomes mild, disgusted with the false and misshapen dethe verdant fields, trees loaded with fruit ceptions that pleased before, and rests with or covered with shade, clear springs, but delight on elegant simplicity, on pictures of particularly the human face, where the easy beauty and unaffected grandeur. gentle passions are delineated, are beyond The progress of the fine arts in the huexpression beautiful. On the same prin- man mind may be fixed at three remarkciple, inclement wintry skies, trees strip- able degrees, from their foundation to the ped of their verdure, desert barren lands, loftiest height. The basis is a sense of and, above all, death, are frightful and beauty and of the sublime, the second step shocking. I must, however, observe, that we may call taste, and the last genius. I do not by any means suppose that the A sense of the beautiful and of the great
is universal, which appears from the uni- young savages of America, than to the formity thereof in the most distant ages noble youth of Europe. and nations. What was engaging and Genius, the pride of man, as man is of sublime in ancient Greece and Rome, are the creation, has been possessed but by so at this day: and, as I observed before, few, even in the brightest ages. Men of there is not the least necessity of improve- superior genius, while they see the rest of ment or science, to discover the charms of mankind painfully struggling to comprea graceful or noble deportment. There hend obvious truths, glance themselves is a fine but an ineffectual light in the through the most remote consequences, breast of man. After nightfall we have like lightning through a path that cannot admired the planet Venus; the beauty and be traced. They see the beauties of navivacity of her lustre, the immense distance ture with life and warmth, and paint them from which we judged her beams issued, forcibly without effort, as the morning sun and the silence of the night, all concurred does the scenes he rises upon; and in seto strike us with an agreeable amazement. veral instances, communicate to objects a But she shone in distinguished beauty, morning freshness and unaccountable luswithout giving sufficient light to direct tre, that is not seen in the creation of naour steps, or shew us the objects around us. ture. The poet, the statuary, the painter, Thus in unimproved nature, the light of have produced images that left nature far the mind is bright and useless. In utter behind. barbarity, our prospect of it is still less The constellations of extraordinary perfixed; it appears, and then again seems sonages who appeared in Greece and Rome wholly to vanish in the savage breast, like at or near the same period of time, after the same planet Venus, when she has but ages of darkness to which we know no bejust raised her orient beams to mariners ginning; and the long barrenness of those above the waves, and is now descried, and countries after in great men, prove that Dow lost, through the swelling billows. genius owes much of its lustre to a person
The next step is taste, the subject of our al contest of glory, and the strong rivalinquiry, which consists in a distinct, un- ship of great examples within actual view confused knowledge of the great and beau- and knowledge; and that great parts alone tiful. Although you see not many pos- are not able to lift a person out of barbasessed of a good taste, yet the generality rity. It is further to be observed, that of mankind are capable of it. The very when the inspiring spirit of the fine arts populace of Athens had acquired a good retired, and left inanimate and cold the taste by habit and fine example, so that a breasts of poets, painters, and statuaries, delicacy of judgment seemed natural to all men of taste still remained, who distinwho breathed the air of that elegant city: guished and admired the beauteous monuwe find a manly and elevated sense distin- ments of genius; but the power of exeguish the cominon people of Rome and of cution was lost; and although monarchs all the cities of Greece, while the level of loved and courted the arts, yet they remankind was preserved in those cities; fused to return. From whence it is eviwhile the plebeians had a share in the dent, that neither laste, nor natural parts, government, and an utter separation was form the creating genius that inspired the not made between them and the nobles, great masters of antiquity, and that they by wealth and luxury. But when once the owed their extraordinary powers to somecommon people are rent asunder wholly thing different from both. from the great and opulent, and made sub- If we consider the numbers of men who servient to the luxury of the latter ; then wrote well, and excelled in every departthe taste of nature infallibly takes her flightment of the liberal arts, in the ages of from both parties. The poor by a sordid nius, and the simplicity that always athabit, and an attention wholly confined to teods beauty; we must be led to think, mean views, and the rich by an attention that although few perhaps can reach to the to the changeable modes of fancy, and a supreme beauty of imagination displayed vitiated preference for the rich and costly, by the first-rate poets, orators, and philolose view of simple beauty and grandeur. sophers; yet most men are capable of just It may seem a paradox, and yet I am thinking and agreeable writing. Nature firmly persuaded, that it would be easier lies very near our reflection, and will apat this day to give a good taste to the pear, if we be not misled and prejudiced
before the sense of beauty grows to matu- monly glaring and extraordinary; whetsce rity. The populace of Athens and Rome proceeds false wit of every kind, a gaudy prove strongly, that upcommon parts or richness in dress, an oppressive load of orgreat learning are not necessary to make nament in building, and a grandeur overmen think justly.
Usher. strained and puerile universally. I must 224. Thoughts on the Human Capacity. genius almost always lay a great stress on
observe, that people of bad taste and little We know not the bounds of taste," be- trivial matters, and are ostentatious and cause we are unacquainted with the ex
exact in singularities, or in a decorum in tent and boundaries of the human genius. trifes. When people of mean parts ap-. The mind in ignorance is like a sleeping pear in high stations, and at the head of giant; it has immense capacities without the fashionable world, they cannot fail to the power of using them. By listening to introduce a false embroidered habit of the lectures of Socrates, men grew heroes, mind: people of nearly the same genius, philosophers, and legislators; for he of all who make up the crowd, will admire and anankind seems to have discovered the
follow them; and at length solitary taste, short and lightsome path to the faculties adorned only by noble simplicity, will be of the mind. To give you an instance of lost in the general example. the human capacity, that comes more im- Also when a nation is much corrupted; mediately within your notice, what graces, when avarice and a love of gain have seitwhat sentiments, have been transplanted ed upon the hearts of men ; when the into the motion of a minuet, of which a nobles ignominiously bend their necks to Bavage has no conception! We know not corruption and bribery, or enter into the
, to what degree of rapture harmony is ca- base mysteries of gaming; then decency, pable of being carried, nor what hidden elevated principles, and greatness of soul, powers may be in yet unexperienced expire ; and all that reniains is a comedy beauties of the imagination, whose objects or puppet-shew of elegance, in which the are in scenes and in worlds we are stran. dancing-master and peer are upon a level,
Children who die young, have and the mind is understood to have no no conception of the sentiment of person- part in the drama of politeness, or else to
, al beauty. Are we certain that we are act under a mean disguise of virtues not yet children in respect to several species which it is not possessed of. Ibid. of beauties? We are ignorant whether there be not passions in the soul, that have 226. Some Reflections on the fluman
Mind. hitherto remained unawaked and undiscovered for want of objects to rouse them: Upon putting together the whole of our we feel plainly that some such are gently reflections you see two different natures agitated and moved by certain notes of laying claim to the human race, and dragmusic. In reality, we know not but the ging it different ways. You see a necestaste and capacity of beauty and grandeur sity, that arises from our situation and cirin the soul, may extend as far beyond all cumstances, bending us down into unworwe actually perceive, as this whole world thy misery and sordid baseness; and you see, exceeds the sphere of a cockle or an when we can escape from the insulting tyDyster.
Ibid. ranny of our fate, and acquire ease and
freedom, a generous nature, that lay stupe$ 225. Taste how depraved and lost.
fied and oppressed, begin to awake and Let us now consider by what means charm us with prospects of beauty and taste is usually depraved and lost in a na- glory. This awaking genius gazes in tion, that is neither conquered by barba- rapture at the beauteous and elevating rians, nor has lost the improvements in scenes of nature. The beauties of nature agriculture, husbandry, and defence, that are familiar, and charm it like a mother's allow men leisure for reflection and em- bosom; and the objects which have the bellishment. I observed before that this plain marks of immense power and grannatural light is not so clear in the greatest deur, raise in it a still, an inquisitive, and men, but it may lie oppressed by barba- trembling delight: but genius often throws rity. When people of mean parts, and of over the objects of its conceptions colours pride without genius, get into elevated finer than those of nature, and
opens a stations, they want a taste for simple gran- paradise that exists no where but in its dour, and mistake for it what is uncom- own creations. The bright and peaceful