« EelmineJätka »
in Guido's, Corregio's, and Raphael's pictures than in real life. Thus for instance, if I wanted to discover what makes anger graceful, in a set of features full of the greatest sweetness; I would rather endeavour to find it out in Guido's St. Michael, than in Mrs. P.'s face, if that ever had any anger in it; because in the pictured angel, we have full leisure to consider it; but in the living one, it would be too transient and changeable to be the subject of any steady observation.
But though we cannot describe what grace is, we may point out the parts and things in which it is most apt to appear.
The chief residence of grace is about the mouth; though at times it may visit every limb or part of the body. In the same manner as the eyes are the chief seat where the beauty of the passions is displayed. In a very graceful face, by which I do not so much mean a majestic as a soft pleasing one, there is now and then (for no part of beauty is either so engaging or so uncommon) a certain deliciousness that almost always lives about the mouth, in something not quite to be called a smile, but rather an approach towards one, which gently varies about the different lines like a little fluttering Cupid; and perhaps sometimes discovers a little dimple, that
after just lightening upon us, disappears and appears again by fits. This I take to be one of the most pleasing sorts of grace; but it is easier conceived than described.
The grace of attitude may belong to the disposition of each part, as well as to the carriage or disposition of the whole body; but how much more it belongs to the head, than to any other part, may be seen in the pieces of the most celebrated painters, and particularly in those of Guido, who has been rather too lavish in bestowing this beauty on almost all his fine women; whereas nature has given it in so high a degree to very few.
The turns of the neck are extremely capable of graces; and are easy to be observed, and very difficult to be accounted for.
How much of this grace may belong to the arms and feet, as well as to the neck and head, may be seen in dancing. But it is not only in genteel motions that a beautiful woman will be graceful; and Ovid, who was so great a master in all the parts of beauty, had good reason for saying, that when Venus imitated the hobbling gait of her husband, her very lameness had a deal of prettiness and grace in it. "Every motion of a "graceful woman," says Tibullus, "is full of "grace." She designs nothing by it perhaps,
and may not even be sensible of it herself, and indeed she should not be so too much; for the moment that any gesture or action appears to be affected, it ceases to be graceful. Horace and Virgil seem to extend grace so far as to the flowing of the hair; and Tibullus to the dress of his mistress; but then he assigns it more to her manner of putting on and appearing in whatever she wears, than to the dress itself.
There are two very distinct and as it were opposite sorts of grace, the majestic and the familiar. I should have called the latter by the name of pleasing, had I not been afraid of a tautology; for grace is pleasingness itself. The former chiefly belongs to fine women, the latter to pretty women; that is more commanding, this more delightful and engaging. The Grecian painters and sculptors used to express the former most strongly in the looks and attitudes of their Minervas; the latter in those of Venus.
Xenophon in his Choice of Hercules (or at least the excellent translator of that piece) has made just the same distinction in the personages of Wisdom and Pleasure; the former of which he describes as advancing to the young hero with the majestic grace, and the latter with the familiar.
"Graceful, yet each with different grace they move, "This striking sacred awe, that winning softer love."
No poet I have ever read seems to understand this part of beauty so well as our own Milton. He speaks of these two sorts of grace very distinctly, and gives the majestic to Adam, and both the familiar and majestic to Eve, but the latter in a less degree than the former.
Two of far nobler shape erect and tall,
Parad. Lost. B. 4. 298.
I espy'd thee, fair indeed and tall,
Ib. v. 480.
Her heav'nly form,
Angelic, but more soft and feminine;
Her graceful innocence; her ev'ry air
B. 9. 481.
Grace was in all her steps; heav'n in her eye,
B. 8. 489.
Speaking, or mute, all comeliness and grace
Though grace is so difficult to be accounted for in general; yet I have observed two particular things which are universally connected with it. The first is, there is no grace without motion, by which I mean without some gentle or pleasing motion, either of the whole body, or of some limb, at least of some feature. It may be hence, that Lord Bacon, and perhaps Horace, call grace by the name of decent motion, just as if they were equivalent terms. Virgil in one place points out the majesty of Juno, and in another the graceful air of Apollo, by only saying that they moved; and possibly he means no more, when he makes the motion of Venus* the principal thing by which Æneas discovers her under all her disguise, though the commentators as usual would fain find out a more dark and mysterious meaning.
All the best statues are represented as in some
*Et vera incessu patuit Dea.
Æneid. 1. 1. P. 406.
And by her graceful walk the queen of love is known.