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Beauty and other Pleasures of Taste.

ful character; and a beautiful theorem in mathematics.

Colour seems to afford the simplest instance of Beauty. Association of ideas, it is probable, has some influence on the pleasure, which we receive from colours. Green, for example, may appear more beautiful from being connected in our ideas with rural scenes and prospects; white with innocence; blue with the serenity of the sky. Independently of associations of this sort, all that we can farther observe respecting colours is, that those, chosen for beauty, are commonly delicate, rather than glaring. Such are the feathers of several kinds of birds, the leaves of flowers, and the fine variation of colours, shown by the sky at the rising and setting of the sun.

Figure opens to us forms of Beauty more complex and diversified. Regularity first offers itself as a source of Beauty. By a regular figure is meant one, which we perceive to be formed according to some certain rule, and not left arbitrary or loose in the construction of its parts. Thus a circle, a square, a triangle, or a hexagon, gives pleasure to the eye by its regularity, as a beautiful figure; yet a certain graceful variety is found to be a much, more powerful principle of Beauty. Regularity seems to appear beautiful to us chiefly, if not entirely, on account of its suggesting the ideas of fitness, propriety, and use, which have always a more intimate connexion with orderly and proportioned forms, than with those which appear not constructed according to any certain rule. Nature, who is the most graceful artist, hath, in all her ornamental works, pursued variety with an apparent neglect of reg

Beauty and other Pleasures of Taste.


ularity. Cabinets, doors, and windows are made after a regular form, in cubes and parallelograms with exact proportion of parts; and thus formed, they please the eye ; for this just reason, that, being works of use, they are by such figures better adapted to the ends for which they were designed. But plants, flowers, and leaves are full of variety and diversity. A straight canal is an insipid figure, when compared with the meanders of a river. Cones and pyramids have their degree of beauty ; but trees, growing in their natural wildness, have infinitely more beauty, than when trimmed into pyramids and cones. The apartments of a house must be disposed with regularity for the convenience of its inhabitants; but a garden, which is intended merely for beauty, would be extremely disgusting, if it had as much uniformity and order as a dwelling-house.

Motion affords another source of Beauty distinct from figure. Motion of itself is pleasing; and bodies in motion are, “ cæteris paribus," universally preferred to those at rest. Only gentle motion however belongs to the Beautiful ; for, when it is swift, or very powerful, such as that of a torrent, it partakes of the sublime. The motion of a bird gliding through the air is exquisitely beautiful; but the swiftness with which lightning darts through the sky, is magnificent and astonishing. Here it is necessary to observe, that the sensations of sublime and beautiful are not always distinguished by very distant boundaries; but are capable in many instances of approaching towards each other. Thus a gentle running stream is one of the most beautiful ob. jects in nature ; but, as it swells gradually into a



Beauty and other Pleasures of Taste.

great river, the beautiful by degrees is lost in the sublime. A young tree is a beautiful object; a spreading ancient oak is a venerable and sublime one. To return, however, to the beauty of motion: it will be found to hold very generally, that motion in a straight line is not so beautiful as in a waving direction; and motion upward is commonly more pleasing than motion downward. The easy, curling motion of flame and smoke is an object singularly agreeable. Hogarth observes very ingeniously, that all the common and necessary motions for the business of life are performed in straight or plain lines; but that all the graceful and ornamental movements are made in curve lines; an observation worthy of the attention of those who study the

who study the grace of gesture and aetion.

Colour, figure, and motion, though separate principles of Beauty, yet in many beautiful objects meet together, and thereby render the beauty greater and more complex. Thus in flowers, trees, and animals we are entertained at once with the delicacy of the colour, with the gracefulness of the figure, and sometimes also with the motion of the object. The most complete assemblage of beautiful objects, which can be found, is represented by a rich natural landscape, where there is a sufficient variety of objects ; fields in verdure, scattered trees and flowers, running water, and animals grazing. If to these be added some of the productions of art, suitable to such a scene; as a bridge with arches over a river, smoke rising from cottages in the midst of trees, and a distant view of a fine building seen by the rising sun ; we then enjoy in the highest perfection that

Beauty and other Pleasures of Taste.

gay, cheerful, and placid sensation, which characterises Beauty.

The beauty of the human countenance is more complex than any we have yet examined. It comprehends the beauty of colour, arising from the delicate shades of the complexion; and the beautty of figure arising from the lines which constitute different features of the face. But the principal Beauty of the countenance depends upon a mysterious expression, which it conveys of the qualities of the mind; of good sense, or good humour; of eandour, benevolence, sensibility, or other amia. ble dispositions. It may be observed that there are certain qualities of the mind, which, whether expressed in the countenance, or by words, or by actions, always raise in us a feeling similar to that of Beauty. There are two great classes of moral qualities; one is of the high and the great virtues, which require extraordinary efforts, and is founded on dangers and sufferings; as heroism, magnanimity, contempt of pleasures, and contempt of death. These produce in the spectator an emotion of sublimity and grandeur. The other class is chiefly of the social virtues; and such as are of a softer and gentler kind; as compassion, mildness, and generosity. These excite in the beholder a sensation of pleasure, so nearly allied to that excited by beautiful external objects, that though of a more exalted nature, it may with propriety be classed under the same head.

Beauty of writing in its more definite sense characterises a particular manner; signifying a certain grace and amenity in the turn either of style or sentiment, by which some authors are particularly distinguished. In this sense it

Beauty and other Pleasures of Taste.

denotes a manner neither remarkably sublime, nor vehemently passionate, nor uncommonly sparkling'; but such as excites in the reader an enotion of the placid kind, resembling that which is raiserl by contemplation of beautiful objects in nature ; which neither lifts the mind very high, nor agitates it to excess; but spreads over the imagination a pleasing serenity. Addison is a writer of this character, and one of the most proper examples of it. Fenelon, the author of Telemachus, is another example. Virgil also, though very capable of rising occasionally into the sublime, yet generally is distinguished by the character of beauty and grace, rather than of sublimity. Among orators, Cicero has more of the beautiful than Demosthenes, whose genius led him wholly toward vehemence and strength.

So inuch it is necessary to have said upon the subject of Beauty; since next to sublimity it is the most copious source of the Pleasures of taste. But objects delight the imagination not only by appearing under the forms of sublime or beautiful; they likewise derive their power of giving it pleasure from several other principles.

Novelty, for example, has been mentioned by Addison, and by every writer on this subject. An object which has no other merit than that of being new, by this quality alone raises in the mind a vivid and an agreeable emotion. Hence that passion of curiosity which prevails so generally in mankind. Objects and ideas, which have been long familiar, make too faint an impression, to give an agreeable exercise to our faculties. New and strange objects rouse the mind from its

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