Slike strani

that compose the solar system, which, however large, are weighed, measured, and subjected to certain laws, with the utmost accuracy. Their places round the sun, with their distances, are determined by a precise rule, corresponding to their quantity of matter. The superior dignity of the central body, in respect to its bulk and lucid appearance, is suited to the place it occupies. The globular figure of these bodies is not only in itself beautiful, but is above all others fitted for regular motion. Each planet revolves about its own axis in a given time; and each moves round the sun in an orbit nearly circular, and in a time proportioned to its distance. Their velocities, directed by an established law, are perpetually changing by regular accelerations and retardations. In fine, the great variety of regular appearances, joined with the beauty of the system itself, cannot fail to produce the highest delight in every one who is sensible of design, power, or beauty.

281. Nature hath a wonderful power of connecting systems with each other, and of propagating that connection through all her works. Thus the constituent parts of a plant, the roots, the stem, the branches, the leaves, the fruit, are really different systems, united by a mutual dependence on each other: in an animal, the lymphatic and lacteal ducts, the blood-vessels and nerves, the muscles and glands, the bones and cartilages, the membranes and bowels, with the other organs, form distinct systems, which are united into one whole. There are at the same time, other connections less intimate every plant is joined to the earth by its roots it requires rain and dews to furnish it with juices; and it requires heat to preserve these juices in fluidity and motion: every animal, by its gravity, is connected with the earth, with the element in which it breathes, and with the sun, by deriving from it cherishing and enlivening heat the earth furnisheth aliment to plants, these to animals, and these again to other animals, in a long train of dependence: that the earth is part of a greater system comprehending many bodies mutually attracting each other, and gravitating all towards one common centre, is now thoroughly explored. Such a regular and uniform series of connections, propagated through so great a number of beings, and through such wide spaces, is wonderful; and our wonder must increase, when we observe these connections propagated from the minutest atoms to bodies of the most enormous size, and so widely diffused as that we can neither perceive their beginning nor their end. That these connections are not confined within our own planetary system, is certain: they are diffused over spaces still more remote, where new bodies and systems rise without end. All space is filled with the works of God, which are conducted by one plan, to answer unerringly one great end.

250. The solar system. Its variety and regularity.

281. Systems wonderfully connected with each other: the constituent parts of plants; so of animals.-Other less intimate connections.-Some not confined to our own planetary system.

282. But the most wonderful connection of all, though not the most conspicuous, is that of our internal frame with the works of nature: man is obviously fitted for contemplating these works, because in this contemplation he has great delight. The works of nature are remarkable in their uniformity no less than in their variety; and the mind of man is fitted to receive pleasure equally from both. Uniformity and variety are interwoven in the works of nature with surprising art: variety, however great, is never without some degree of uniformity; nor the greatest uniformity without some degree of variety: there is great variety in the same plant, by the different appearances of its stem, branches, leaves, blossoms, fruit, size, and color; and yet, when we trace that variety through different plants, especially of the same kind, there is discovered a surprising uniformity: again, where nature seems to have intended the most exact uniformity, as among individuals of the same kind, there still appears a diversity, which serves readily to distinguish one individual from another. It is indeed admirable, that the human visage, in which uniformity is so prevalent, should yet be so marked, as to leave no room, among millions, for mistaking one person for another; these marks, though clearly perceived, are generally so delicate, that words cannot be found to describe them. A correspondence so perfect between the human mind and the works of nature, is extremely remarkable. The opposition between variety and uniformity is so great that one would not readily imagine they could both be relished by the same palate at least not in the same object, nor at the same time it is however true, that the pleasures they afford, being happily adjusted to each other, and readily mixing in intimate union, are frequently produced by the same individual object. Nay, further, in the objects that touch us the most, uniformity and variety are constantly combined: witness natural objects, where this combination is always found in perfection. Hence it is, that natural objects readily form themselves into groups, and are agreeable in whatever manner combined: a wood with its trees, shrubs, and herbs, is agreeable: the music of birds, the lowing of cattle, and the murmuring of a brook, are in conjunction delightful; though they strike the ear without modulation or harmony. In short, noth ing can be more happily accommodated to the inward constitution of man, than that mixture of uniformity with variety, which the eye discovers in natural objects; and, accordingly, the mind is never more highly gratified than in contemplating a natural landscape.

282. The wonderful connection of our internal frame with the works of nature. These afford pleasure to man from mingling uniformity with variety. For ir stance, in plants; in individua's of the same kind. The human face-Variety and uniformity relished at the same time and in the same object.-Natural objects form themselves into groups.— Natural landscape delightful



283. MAN is superior to the brute, not more by his rational faculties, than by his senses. With respect to external senses, brutes probably yield not to men; and they may also have some obscure perception of beauty: but the more delicate senses of regularity, order, uniformity, and congruity, being connected with morality and religion, are reserved to dignify the chief of the terrestrial creation. Upon that account, no discipline is more suitable to man, nor more congruous to the dignity of his nature, than that which refines his taste, and leads him to distinguish, in every subject, what is regular, what is orderly, what is suitable, and what is fit and proper. (Cicero de Officiis, 1. i.)

It is clear from the very conception of the terms congruity and propriety, that they are not applicable to any single object: they imply a plurality, and obviously signify a particular relation between different objects. Thus we say currently, that a decent garb is suitable or proper for a judge, modest behavior for a young woman, and a lofty style for an epic poem: and, on the other hand, that it is unsuitable or incongruous to see a little woman sunk in an overgrown farthingale, a coat richly embroidered covering coarse and dirty linen, a mean subject in an elevated style, an elevated subject in a mean style, a first minister darning his wife's stocking, or a reverend prelate in lawn sleeves dancing a hornpipe.

284. The perception we have of this relation, which seems peculiar to man, cannot proceed from any other cause, but from a sense of congruity or propriety; for, supposing us destitute of that sense, the terms would be to us unintelligible.*

* From many things that pass current in the world without being generally condemned, one at first view would imagine, that the sense of congruity of propriety hath scarce any foundation in nature, and that it is rather an artificial refinement of those who affect to distinguish themselves from others. The fulsome panegyrics bestowed upon the great and opulent, in epistles dedicatory and other such compositions, would incline us to think so. Did there prevail in the world, it will be said, or did nature suggest, a taste of what is suitable, decent, or proper, would any good writer deal in such compositions, or any man of sense receive them without disgust? Can it be supposed that Louis XIV. of France was endued by nature with any sense of propriety, when, in a dramatic performance purposely composed for his entertainment, he suffered himself, publicly and in his presence, to be styled the greatest king ever the earth produced? These, it is true, are strong facts; but luckily they do not prove the sense of propriety to be artificial: they only prove, that the sense of propriety is at times overpowered by pride and vanity; which is no singu lar case, for that sometimes is the fate even of the sense of justice.

283. Points in which man is superior to the brute.-Di-cipline suitable for man.--Terms congruity and propriety, not applicable to a single object.-Instances of what is proper of what is incongruous.

It is a matter of experience, that congruity or propriety, wherever perceived, is agreeable; and that incongruity or impropriety whereever perceived, is disagreeable. The only difficulty is, to ascertain what are the particular objects that in conjunction suggest these relations; for there are many objects that do not: the sea, for example, viewed in conjunction with a picture, or a man viewed in conjunction with a mountain, suggest not either congruity or incongruity. It seems natural to inter, what will be found true by induction, that we never perceive congruity nor incongruity but among things that are connected by some relation; such as a man and his actions, a principle and its accessories, a subject and its ornaments. We are indeed so framed by nature, as, among things so connected, to require a certain suitableness or correspondence, termed congruity or propriety; and to be displeased when we find the opposite relation of incongruity or impropriety.*

285. If things connected be the subject of congruity, it is reasonable beforehand to expect a degree of congruity proportioned to the degree of the connection. And, upon examination, we find our expectation to be well founded: where the relation is intimate, as between a cause and its effect, a whole and its parts, we require the strictest congruity; but where the relation is slight or accidental, as among things jumbled together, we require little or no congruity: the strictest propriety is required in behavior and manner of living; because a man is connected with these by the relation of cause and effect. The relation between an edifice and the ground it stands upon is of the most intimate kind, and therefore the situation of a great house ought to be lofty: its relation to neighboring hills, rivers, plains, being that of the propinquity only, demands but a small share of congruity. Among members of the same club, the congruity ought to be considerable, as well as among things placed for show in the same niche: among passengers in a stage-coach we require very little congruity; and less still at a public spectacle.

In the chapter of beauty, qualities are distinguished into primary and secondary and to clear some obscurity that may appear in the text, it is proper to be observed, that the same distinction is applicable to relations. Resemblance, equality, uniformity, proximity, are relations that depend not on us, but exist equally, whether perceived or not; and upon that account may justly be termed primary relations. But there are other relations, that only appear such to us, and that have not any external existence like primary relations; which is the case of congruity, incongruity, propriety, impropriety; these may be properly termed secondary relations. Thus it appears, from what is said in the text, that the secondary relations mentioned arise from objects connected by some primary relation. Property is an example of a secondary relation, as it exists nowhere but in the mind. I purchase a field or a horse: the covenant makes the primary relation; and the secondary relation built on it, is property.

294. The sense of congruity a constituent of our nature. Objections answered.--Congruity and propriety, agreeable, &c.-Among what things only congruity or incongruity is perceived-Primary and secondary relations.

Congruity is so nearly allied to beauty as commonly to be held a species of it; and yet they differ so essentially as never to coincide: beauty, like color, is placed upon a single subject; congruity upon a plurality. Further, a thing beautiful in itself may, with relation to other things, produce the strongest sense of incongruity.

286. Congruity and propriety are commonly reckoned synonymous terms; and hitherto in opening the subject they have been used indifferently; but they are distinguishable, and the precise meaning of each must be ascertained. Congruity is the genus of which propriety is a species; for we call nothing propriety but that congruity or suitableness which ought to subsist between sensible beings and their thoughts, words, and actions.

In order to give a full view of these secondary relations, I shall trace them through some of the most considerable primary relations. The relation of a part to the whole, being extremely intimate, demands the utmost degree of congruity: even the slightest deviation is disgustful; witness the Lutrin, a burlesque poem, which is closed with a serious and warm panegyric on Lamoignon, one of the king's judges:

-Amphora cœpit

Institui; currente rota, cur urceus exit?

287. Examples of congruity and incongruity are furnished in plenty by the relation between a subject and its ornaments. A literary performance, intended merely for amusement, is susceptible of much ornament, as well as a music-room or a playhouse; for in gayety the mind hath a peculiar relish for show and decoration. The most gorgeous apparel, however improper in tragedy, is not unsuitable to opera-actors: the truth is, an opera, in its present form, is a mighty fine thing; but, as it deviates from nature in its capital circumstances, we look not for nature nor propriety in those which are accessory. On the other hand, a serious and important subject admits not much ornament,* nor a subject that of itself is extremely beautiful; and a subject that fills the mind with its loftiness and grandeur, appears best in a dress altogether plain.

To a person of a mean appearance, gorgeous apparel is unsuitable; which, besides the incongruity, shows by contrast the meanness of appearance in the strongest light. Sweetness of look and manner requires simplicity of dress joined with the greatest elegance. A stately and majestic air requires sumptuous apparel, which ought

Contrary to this rule, the introduction to the third volume of the Characteristics, is a continued chain of metaphors: these in such profusion are too florid for the subject; and have besides the bad effect of removing our attention from the principal subject, to fix it upon splendid trifles.

285. Congruity is expected in what degree? Instances.-Congruity nearly allied to beauty.

2-6. Congruity and propriety distinguishable.-Relation of a part to the whole demands congruity.

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