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gard to charity, compassion, munificence, and magnanimity; and we cannot fail to vote his taste the glorious triumph which it deserves. There is a kind of counter-taste, founded on surprise and curiosity which maintains a sort of rivalship with the true; and may be expressed by the name Concetto. Such is the fondness of some persons for a knife-haft made from the royal oak, or a tobacco-stopper from a mulberry-tree of Shakespeare's own planting. gratifies an empty curiosity. Such is the casual resemblance of Apollo and the nine muses in a piece of agate; a dog expressed in feathers, or a woodcock in mohair. They serve to give surprise. But a just fancy will no more esteem a picture because it proves to be produced by shells, than a writer would prefer a pen because a person made it with his toes. In all such cases difficulty should not be allowed to give a casting weight; nor a needle be considered as a paints er's instrument when he is so much better furnished with a pencil. * Perhaps, no print, nor even painting, is capable of producing a figure answerable to the idea which poetry or history has given us of great men: a Cicero, for instance, a Homer, a Cato, or an Alexander. The same, perhaps, is true of the grandeur of some ancient buildings. And the reason is, that the effects of a pencil are distinct and limited, whereas the descriptions of the pen leave the imagination room to expatiate; and Burke has made it extremely obvious, that indistinctness of outline is one source of the sublime.
What an absurd* Cornelius Ketel, born at Gonda, in 1548; landed in England 1573; settled at Amsterdam 1581; took it into his head to grow fainous by painting with his fingers instead of pencils. The whim took. His success increased.--His fingers appearing too easy tools, he then undertook to paint with his feet. See H. Walpole’s “ Book of Painters.”
ity is it, in framing even prints, to suffer a margin of white paper to appear beyond the ground; destroying half the relievo the lights are intended to produce! Frames ought to contrast with paintings; or to appear as distinct as possible: for which reason, frames of wood inlaid, or otherwise variegated with colours, are less suitable than gilt ones, which, exhibiting an appearance of metal, afford the best contrast with colour. The peculiar expression in some portraits is owing to the greater or less manifestation of the soul in some of the features.. perhaps, a sublime, and a beautiful, in the very make of a face, exclusive of any particular expression of the soul; or, at least, not expressive of any other than a tame dispassionate one. We see often what the world calls regular features, and a good complexion almost totally unanimated by any discovery of the temper or understanding. Whenever the regularity of feature, beauty of complexion, the strong expression of sagacity and generosity, concur in one face, the features are irresistible. here it is to be observed, that a sort of sympathy has a prodigious bias. --Thus a pensive beauty, with regular features and complexion, will have the preference with a spectator of the pensive cast: and so of the rest.
The soul appears to me to discover herself most in the mouth and eyes; with this difference, that the mouth seems the more expressive of the temper, and the eye of the understanding. Is a portrait, supposing it to be as like as can be to the person for whom it is drawn, a more or less beautiful object than the original face? I should think, a perfect face must be much more pleasing than any representation of it; and a set of ugly features much
more ugly than the most exact resemblance that can be drawn of them. Painting can do much by means of shades; but not equal the force of real relievo: on which account, it may be the advantage of bad features to have their effect diminished; but, surely, pever can be the interest of good ones.
Softness of manner seems to be in painting, what smoothness of syllables is in language, affecting the sense of sight or hearing, previous to any correspondent pas. sion.
The " theory of agreeable sensations” founds them on the greatest activity or exercise an object occasions to the senses, without proceeding to fatigue. Violent contrasts are on the footing of roughness or inequality.-Harmony or similitude, on the other hand, are somewhat congenial to smooth
In other words, these two recommend themselves; the one to our love of action, the other to our love of rest. A medium, therefore may be most agreeable to the generality. An har mony in colours seems as requisite, as a variety of lines seems necessary to the pleasure we expect from outward forms. The lines, indeed, should be well varied; but yet the opposite sides of any thing should shew a balance, or an appearance of equal quantity, if we would strive to please a well-constituted taste. It is evident enough to me, that persons often occur, who may be said to have an ear to music, and an eye for proportions in visible objects, who nevertheless can hardly be said to have a relish or taste for either. I mean, that a person may distinguish notes and tones to a nicety, and yet not give a discerning choice to what is preferable in music. The same in objects of sight.
On the other hand, they cannot have a proper feeling of beauty or harmony, without a
power of discriminating those notes and proportions on which harmony and beauty so fully depend. What is said, in, a treatise lately published, for beauty being more common than deformity (and seemingly with excellent reason), may be also said for virtue being more common than vice.
Quere, Whether beauty do not as much require an opposition of lines, as it does an harmony of colours ? The passion for antiquity, as such, seems, in some measure, opposite to the taste for beauty or perfection. It is rather the foible of a lazy and pusillanimous disposition, looking back and resting with pleasure on the steps by which we have arrived thus far, than the bold and enterprising spirit of a genius, whose ambition fires him only to reach the goal. Such as is described (on' another occasion) in the zealous and active charioteer of Horace:
"hunc atque hunc superare laboret.
præteritum temuens extremos ivter euntem." Again, the “ Nil actum reputans, si quid restaret agendum" is the least applicable, of any character, to a mere antiquarian; who, instead of endeavouring to improve or to excel, contents himself, perhaps, with discovering the very name of a first inventor; or with tracing back an art, that is flourishing, to the very first source of it's original deformity. I have heard it claimed by adepts in inusic, that the pleasure it imparts to a natural ear, which owes little or nothing to cultivation, is by no means to be compared to what they feel themselves from the most perfect composition. The state of the question may be best explained by a recourse to objects that are analogous.- Is a country fellow less struck with beauty than a philosopher or an anatomist, who knows how that beauty is produced ? Surely no. On the other hand, an attention to the cause may somewhat interfere with the attention to the effect.—They may, indeed, feel a pleasure of another sort.-—'The faculty of reason may obtain some kind of balance, for what the more sensible faculty of the imagination loses. I am much inclined to suppose our ideas of beauty depend greatly on habit-what I mean is, on the fa: miliarity with objects which we happen to have seen since we came into the world. Our taste for uni. formity, froin what we have observed in the individual parts of nature, a man, a tree, a beast, a bird, or insect, &c.—our taste for regularity from what is within our power to observe in the several perfections of the whole system. A landscape, for justance, is always irregular, and to use regularity in painting, or gardening, would inake our work un; natural and disagreeable.—Thus we allow beauty to the different, and almost opposite, proportions of all animals. There is, I think, a beauty in some forms, independent of any use to which they can be applied. I know not whether this may not be resolved into smoothness of surface; with variety to a certain degree, that is comprehensible without much difficulty.
As to the dignity of colours, quere, whether those that affect the eye most forcibly, for instance, scarlet, may not claim the first place; aļlowing their beauty to cloy soonest; and other colours, the next, according to their impulse; allowing them to produce a more durable pleasure? It may be convenient to divide beauty into the absoJute and the relative. Absolute is that abovementioned. Relative is that by which an object pleases, through