Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

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 familiarity with objects which we happen to have seen since we came into the world. Our taste for uniformity, from 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 instance, is always irregular, and to use regularity in painting, or gardening, would make 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; allowing 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

the relation it bears to some other.

Our taste

of beauty is, perhaps, compounded of all the ideas that have entered the imagination from our birth. This seems to occasion the different opinions that For instance, a foreign eye

prevail concerning it. esteems those features and dresses handsome, which we think deformed. Is it not then likely that

those who have seen most objects, throughout the universe," cæteris paribus," will be the most impartial judges: because they will judge truest of the general proportion that was intended by the Creator; and is best? The beauty of most objects is partly of the absolute and partly of the relative kind. A Corinthian pillar has some beauty dependent on it's variety and smoothness: which I would call absolute; it has also a relative beauty, dependent on it's taperness and foliage; which, authors say, was first copied from the leaves of plants, and the shape of a tree. Uniformity should, perhaps, be added as another source of absolute beauty (when it appears in one single object). I do not know any other reason, but that it renders the whole more easily comprehended. It seems that nature herself.considers it as beauty, as the external parts of the human frame are made uniform to please the sight; which is rarely the case of the internal, that are not Hutchinson determines absolute beauty to depend on this and on variety? and says it is in a compound ratio of both. Thus an octagon excels a square; and a square, a figure of unequal sides: but carry variety to an extreme, and it loses it's effect. For instance, multiply the number of angles till the mind loses the uniformity of parts, and the figure is less pleasing; or, as it approaches nearer to a round,

seen.

it may be said to be robbed of it's variety. But, amidst all these eulogiums of variety, it is proper to observe, that novelty sometimes requires a little abatement. I mean, that some degree of familiarity introduces a discovery of relative beauty, more than adequate to the bloom of novelty.-This is, now and then, obvious in the features of a face, the air of some tunes, and the flavour of some dishes. In short, it requires some familiarity to become acquainted with the relation that parts bear unto the whole, or one object to another. Variety, in the same object, where the beauty does not depend on imitation (which is the case in foliage, bustos, basso-relievos, painting) requires uniformity. For instance, an octagon is much more beautiful than a figure of unequal sides; which is at once various and disagreeable.

[graphic]
[ocr errors]
« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »