Slike strani
PDF
ePub

ences, by gaining the esteem and affection of others. Reason, in. deed, dictates that lesson : but reason alone is not sufficient in a matter of such importance; and the appetite mentioned is a motive more powerful than reason, to be active in gaining esteem and affection. That appetite, at the same time, is finely adjusted to the moral branch of our constitution, by promoting all the moral virtues ; for what means are there to attract love and esteem so effectual as a virtuous course of life?—if a man be just and beneficent, if he be temperate, modest, and prudent, he will infallibly gain the esteem and love of all who know him.*

176. Communication of passion to related objects, is an illustrious instance of the care of Providence to extend social connections as far as the limited nature of man can admit. That communication is so far hurtful, as to spread the malevolent passions beyond their natural bounds: but let it be remarked, that this unhappy effect regards savages only, who give way to malevolent passions ; for under the discipline of society, these passions being subdued, are in a good measure eradicated ; and in their place succeed the kindly affections, which, meeting with all encouragement, take possession of the mind, and govern all our actions. In that condition, the progress of passion along related objects, by spreading the kindly affections through a multitude of individuals, hath a glorious effect.

177. Nothing can be more entertaining to a rational mind, than the economy of the human passions, of which I have attempted to give some faint notion. It must, however, be acknowledged, that our passions, when they happen to swell beyond proper limits, take on a less regular appearance : reason may proclaim our duty, but the will, influenced by passion, makes gratification always welcome. Hence the power of passion, which, when in excess, cannot be resisted but by the utmost fortitude of mind : it is bent upon gratification; and where proper objects are wanting, it clings to any object at hand without distinction. Thus joy inspired by a fortunate event, is diffused upon every person around by acts of benevolence; and resentment for an atrocious injury done by one out of reach, seizes the first object that occurs to vent itself upon. Those who believe in prophecies, even wish the accomplishinent; and a weak mind is disposed voluntarily to fulfil a prophecy, in order to gratify its wish. Shakspeare, whom no particle of human nature hath

* (The author presents here rather a low standard of moral virtue. The motive assigned may have a good effect in securing an external morality; but if moral virtucs have no higher origin than a regard to human applause, they are, in the view of the Divine Law, only brilliant sins; for that requires supreme regard and love to God, as the basis of all true virtue.]

175. Tendency and uses of an appetite for fame or esteem.-Criticism on the author's views. 176. Communication of passion to related objects: In part burtful; in part beneficial

escaped, however remote from common obser ration, describes that weakness :

King Henry. Dob any name particular belong
toto ica: ioaging wi.ere I ins: did swoon?

Hartice. "Tiscaia Jerusalem, my noble lord.
King Henry. Laud be to God: e'en there my life must end.
It han been propiesiei to me many years,
I should no: die bat in Jerusalem,
Which rainy I supposed the Holy Land.
Bat bear me to the chamber, there I'll lie:
In thai Jerusalem sball Henry die.

Second Part, Henry IV. Act IV. Sc. last.

CHAPTER III.

BEAUTY.

178. Having discoursed in general of emotions and passions, I proceed to a more narrow inspection of such of them as serve to unfold the principles of the fine arts. It is the province of a writer upon ethics, to give a full enumeration of all the passions; and of each separately to assign the nature, the cause, the gratification, and the effects. But a treatise of ethics is not my province: I carry my view no farther than to the elements of criticism, in order to show, that the fine arts are a subject of reasoning as well as ot taste. Instead of a painful and tedious examination of the several passions and emotions, I purpose to confine my inquiries to such attributes, relations, and circumstances, as in the fine arts are chiefly employed to raise agreeable emotions. Attributes of single objects, as the most simple, shall take the lead ; to be followed with particulars, which, depending on relations, are not found in single objects. I begin with Beauty, the most noted of all the qualities that belong to single objects.

179. The term beauty, in its native signification, is appropriated to objects of sight: objects of the other senses may be agreeable, such as the sounds of musical instruments; the smoothness and softness of some surfaces; but the agreeableness denominated beauty belongs to objects of sight.

Of all the objects of external sense, an object of sight is the most complex : in the very simplest, color is perceived, figure and length, breadth and thickness. A tree is composed of a trunk, branches, and leaves; it has color, figure, size, and sometimes motion : by means of each of these particulars, separately considered, it appears

177. Power of passion when expressive; joy; resentment—The wish to accoinplish a prophecy illustrated from Shakspeare.

178. What the ethical writer has to say of the passions.—To what does Lord Kames propose to confin, his inquiries ?

beautiful; how much more so, when they are all united together! The beauty of the human figure is extraordinary, being a composition of numberless beauties arising from the parts and qualities of the object, various colors, various motions, figures, size, &c., all united in one complex object, and striking the eye with combined force. Hence it is, that beauty, a quality so remarkable in visible objects, lends its name to express every thing that is eminently agreeable : thus, by a figure of speech, we say a beautiful sound, a beautiful thought or expression, a beautiful theorem, a beautiful event, a beautiful discovery in art or science. But, as figurative expression is the subject of a following chapter, this chapter is confined to beauty in its proper signification.*

180. It is natural to suppose, that a perception so various as that of beauty, comprehending sometimes many particulars, sometimes few, should occasion emotions equally various; and yet all the various emotions of beauty maintain one common character, that of sweetness and gayety.f

Considering, attentively, the beauty of visible objects, we discover two kinds. The first may be termed intrinsic beauty, because it is

* [Cousin (in his Lectures on the Beautiful) offers some discriminating remarks upon this topic:

“ Experience testifies that all agreeable things do not appear beautiful, and that, among agreeable things, those which are most so are not the most beautiful; a sure sign that the agreeable is not the beautiful, for if one is identical with the other, they should never be separated, but should always be commenburate with each other.

“Far from this, whilst all our senses give us agreeable sensations, only two have the privilege of awakening in us the idea of beauty. Does one ever say: This is a beautiful taste-This is a beautiful smell? Nevertheless one should say it, if the beautiful is the agreeable. On the other hand, there are certain pleasures of odor and taste, that move sensibility more than the greatest beauties of nature and art; and even among the perceptions of hearing and sight; those are not always the most vivid that most excite in us the idea of beauty." - Cousin's Lectures, VI.)

+ [Cousin has the following just observations: “Place yourself before an object of nature, wherein men recognize beauty, and observe what takes place within you at the sight of this object. Is it not certain that at the same time that yon judge that it is beautiful, you also feel its beauty, that is to say, that you experience at the sight of it a delightful emotion, and that you are attracted towards this object by a sentiment of sympathy and love? In other cases you judge otherwise and feel an opposite sentiment. Aversion accompanies the judgment of the ugly, as love accompanies the judgment of the beautiful. And this sentiment is awakened not only in presence of the objects of nature: all objects, whatever they may be, that we judge to be ugly or beautiful, have the power to excite in us this sentiment. Vary the circumstances as much as you please, place me before an admirable edifice, or before a beautiful landscape; represent to my mind the great discoveries of Descartes and Newton, the exploits of the great Condé, the virtue of St. Vincent de Paul; elevate me still higher; awaken in me the obscure and too much forgotten idea of the infinite Beiug'; whatever you do, as often as you give birth within me to the idea of the beautiful, you give me an internal and exquisite joy, always followed by a sentiment of love for the object that caused it.'']

179. To what class of objects is the term Beauty appropriated ? -- The complex structure of objects of external sense. -A tree; the human figure.—To what, tiguratively, the term Beauty is applied.-Cousin's remarks.

discovered in a single object viewed apart without relation to any other: the exanıples above given are of that kind. The other may be termed relative beauty, being founded on the relation of objects. Intrinsic beauty is an object of sense merely: to perceive the beauty of a spreading oak, or of a flowing river, no more is required bu singly an act of vision. The perception of relative beauty is accom panied with an act of understanding and reflection; for of a fine in strument or engine, we perceive not the relative beauty, until we bu made acquainted with its use and destination. In a word, intrinsic beauty is ultimate; relative beauty is that of means relating to some good end or purpose. These different beauties agree in one capital circumstance, that both are equally perceived as belonging to the object. This is evident with respect to intrinsic beauty; but will not be so readily admitted with respect to the other: the utility of the plough, for example, may make it an object of admiration or of desire; but why should utility make it appear beautiful? A natural propensity mentioned (Chapter ii. part i. sect. 5) will explair that doubt: the beauty of the effect, by an easy transition of ideas, is transferred to the cause, and is perceived as one of the qualities of the cause. Thus a subject void of intrinsic beauty appears beautiful from its utility: an old Gothic tower, that has no beauty in itself, appears beautiful, considered as proper to defend against an enemy; a dwelling-house void of all regularity, is however beautiful in the view of convenience; and the want of forın or symmetry in a tree, will not prevent its appearing beautiful, if it be known to produce good fruit.*

181. When these two beauties coincide in any object, it appears delightful: every memver of the human body possesses both in a high degree: the fine proportions and slender make of a horse destined for running, please every eye; partly from symmetry, and partly from utility.

The beauty of utility, being proportioned accurately to the degree of utility, requires no illustration ; but intrinsic beauty, so complex as I have said, cannot be handled distinctly without being analyzed into its constituent parts. If a tree be beautiful by means of its col

.[Cousin, in his Lecture on The Beautiful in Objects, ignores the obvious distinction which Lord Kames makes between intrinsic and relative beauty. He says :-“ No great effort of observation or reasoning is necessary to convince us that utility has nothing to do with beauty. What is useful is not always beautiful. What is 'beautiful is not always useful, and what is at once useful and beautiful is beautiful for some other reason than its utility. Observe a lever or a pulley: surely nothing is more useful. Nevertheless you are not tempted to say that this is beautiful. Have you discovered an antique vase admirably worked? You exclaim that this vase is bet titul, without thinking to seek of what use it may be to you.'']

180. The common character of all the emotions of beauty.-Twofold beauty of visible objects : intrinsic; relative.--How these differ as to manner of perception; in what they agree.--Why should the utility of a plough make it appear beautiful--Instances where's Bulbject void of intrinsic beauty appears bea utiful from its utility.-Cousin's observations

or, its figure, its size, its motion, it is in reality possessed of so many different beauties, which ought to be examined separately, in order to have a clear notion of them when combined. The beauty of color is too familiar to need explanation.* Do not the bright and cheerful colors of gold and silver contribute to preserve these metals in high estimation! The beauty of figure, arising from various circumstances and different views, is more complex: for example, viewing any body as a whole, the beauty of its figure arises from regularity and simplicity; viewing the parts with relation to each other, uniformity, proportion, and order contribute to its beauty. The beauty of motion deserves a chapter by itself; and another chapter is destined for grandeur, being distinguishable from beauty in its proper sense. Upon simplicity I must make a few cursory observations, such as may be of use in examining the beauty of single objects.

182. A multitude of objects crowding into the mind at once, disturb the attention, and pass without making any impression, or any distinct impression; in a group, no single object makes the figure it would do apart, when it occupies the whole attention. For the same reason, the impression made by an object that divides the attention by the multiplicity of its parts, equals not that of a more simple object comprehended in a single view: parts extremely complex must be considered in portions successively; and a number of impressions in succession, which cannot unite because not simultaneous, never touch the mind like one entire impression made as it were at one stroke. This justifies simplicity in works of art, as opposed to complicated circumstances and crowded ornaments. There is an additional reason for simplicity in works of dignity or elevation; which is, that the mind attached to beauties of a high rank, cannot descend to inferior beauties. The best artists accordingly have in all ages been governed by a taste for simplicity. How comes it then that we find profuse decoration prevailing in works of art? The reason

* ["Colors are beautiful, first, when they convey to the mind a lively sensation, as white and red; (2) when they cherish the organ of sight, as greon; (3) when they have that character which we terın delicacy, and yield a sensation both lively and gentle, as pale red and light blue. But (4) the beauty of e color depends chiefly on the agreeableness of the ideas it conveys to the mind; for the same color, which in one thing is very beautiful, may in another be very ugly. The verdure of the fields, for exampie, is delightful, because it Icads us to think of fruitfulness, fragrance, and many other pleasant things ; but greenness in the human fuce would be horrible, because it would suggest the notion of pain, of disease, or of something unnatural.

“In general, every color is beautiful, that brings along with it the agreeable idea of perfection, of health, of convenience, of intellectual or moral virtue, or of any other sort of excellence. Negroes love their own color for the same reason that we love ours; because they always see it; because all the people they love have it; and because none are without it but those who are thought to be strangers and enemies."— Beattie.)

181. Effect of the coincidence of intrinsic and relative beauty. Examples.-- Why the beauty of utility requires no illustration.-Intrinsic beauty must be analyzed into constitu. ent parts. Example of a tree.-Dr. Beattie's remarks on color.-Beauty of figure.

« PrejšnjaNaprej »