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is more simple, and the attention less divided? This reasoning will appear still more conclusive, when we consider any regular polygon of very many sides; for of this figure the mind can never have any distinct perception.
A square is more regular than a parallelogram, and its parts more uniform; and for these reasons it is more beautiful. But that holds with respect to intrinsic beauty only; for in many instances utility turns the scale on the side of the parallelogram. This figure for the doors and windows of a dwelling-house is preferred, because of utility; and here we find the beauty of utility prevailing over that of regularity and uniformity.
A parallelogram again depends for its beauty, on the proportion of its sides. A great inequality of sides annihilates its beauty: approximation towards equality has the same effect; for proportion there degenerates into imperfect uniformity, and the figure appears an unsuccessful attempt toward a square. And thus proportion contributes to beauty.
An equilateral triangle yields not to a square in regularity, nor in uniformity of parts, and it is more simple. But an equilateral triangle is less beautiful than a square; which must be owing to inferiority of order in the position of its parts; the sides of an equilateral triangle incline to each other in the same angle, being the most perfect order of which they are susceptible; but this order is obscure, and far from being so perfect as the parallelism of the sides of a square. Thus order contributes to the beauty of visible objects, no less than simplicity, regularity, or proportion.
A parallelogram exceeds an equilateral triangle in the orderly disposition of its parts; but being inferior in uniformity and simplicity, it is less beautiful.
Uniformity is singular in one capital circumstance, that it is apt to disgust by excess: a number of things destined for the same use, such as windows, chairs, spoons, buttons, cannot be too uniform; for supposing their figure to be good, utility requires uniformity: but a scrupulous uniformity of parts in a large garden or field, is far from being agreeable. Uniformity among connected objects belongs not to the present subject: it is handled in the chapter of uniformity and variety.
In all the works of nature, simplicity makes an illustrious figure. It also makes a figure in works of art: profuse ornament in painting, gardening, or architecture, as well as in dress, or in language, shows a mean or corrupted taste:
Poets, like painters, thus unskilled to trace
No single property recommends a machine more than its sim plicity; not solely for better answering its purpose, but by appearing in itself more beautiful. Simplicity in behavior and manners has an enchanting effect, and never fails to gain our affection very differ
ent are the artificial manners of modern times. General theorems, abstracting from their importance, are delightful by their simplicity, and by the easiness of their application to variety of cases. We take equal delight in the laws of motion, which, with the greatest simplicity, are boundless in their operations.
A gradual progress from simplicity to complex forms and profuse ornament, seems to be the fate of all the fine arts: in that progress these arts resemble behavior, which, from original candor and simplicity, has degenerated into artificial refinements. At present, literary productions are crowded with words, epithets, figures: in music, sentiment is neglected for the luxury of harmony, and for difficult movement: in taste, properly so called, poignant sauces, with complicated mixtures, of different savors, prevail among people of condition: the French, accustomed to artificial red on a female cheek, think the modest coloring of nature altogether insipid.
The same tendency is discovered in the progress of the fine arts among the ancients. Some vestiges of the old Grecian buildings prove them to be of the Doric order: the Ionic succeeded, and seems to have been the favorite order, while architecture was in the height of glory: the Corinthian came next in vogue; and in Greece the buildings of that order appear mostly to have been erected after the Romans got footing there. At last came the Composite, with all its extravagancies, where simplicity is sacrificed to finery and crowded
But what taste is to prevail next? for fashion is a continual flux, and taste must vary with it. After rich and profuse ornaments become familiar, simplicity appears lifeless and insipid; which, would be an unsurmountable obstruction, should any person of genius and taste endeavor to restore ancient simplicity.*
The distinction between primary and secondary qualities in matter, seems now fully established. Heat and cold, smell and taste, though seeming to exist in bodies, are discovered to be effects caused by these bodies in a sensitive being color, which appears to the eye as spread upon a substance, has no existence but in the mind of the spectator. Qualities of that kind, which owe their existence to the percipient as much as to the object, are termed secondary qualities, and are distinguished from figure, extension, solidity, which, in contradistinction to the former, are termed primary qualities, because they inhere in subjects whether perceived or not. This distinction suggests a curious inquiry, whether beauty be a primary or only a secondary quality of objects? The question is easily determined with respect to the beauty of color; for, if color be a secondary quality, existing no where but in the mind of the spectator, its beauty must exist there also. This conclusion equally holds with respect to the beauty of utility, which is plainly a conception of the mind, arising not from sight, but from reflecting that the thing is fitted for
A sprightly writer observes, "that the noble simplicity of the Augustan age was driven out by false taste; that the gigantic, the puerile, the quaint, and at last the barbarous and the monkish, had each their successive admirers: that music has become a science of tricks and slight of hand," &c.
some good end or purpose. The question is more intricate with res pect to the beauty of regularity; for, if regularity be a primary quality, why not also its beauty? That this is not a good inference, will appear from considering, that beauty, in its very conception, refers to a percipient; for an object is said to be beautiful, for no other reason but that it appears so to a spectator: the same piece of matter that to a man appears beautiful, may possibly appear ugly to a being of a different species. Beauty, therefore, which for its existence depends on the percipient as much as on the object perceived, cannot be an inherent property in either. And hence it is wittily observed by the poet, that beauty is not in the person beloved, but in the lover's eye. This reasoning is solid; and the only cause of doubt or hesitation is, that we are taught a different lesson by sense: a singular determination of nature makes us perceive both beauty and color as belonging to the object, and, like figure or extension, as inherent properties. This mechanism is uncommon; and, when nature, to fulfil her intention, prefers any singular inethod of operation, we may be certain of some final cause that cannot be reached by ordinary means. For the beauty of some objects we are indebted entirely to nature; but, with respect to the endless variety of objects that owe their beauty to art and culture, the perception of beauty greatly promotes industry; being to us a strong additional incitement to enrich our fields, and improve our manufactures. These, however, are but slight effects, compared with the connections that are formed among individuals in society by means of this singular mechanism: the qualifications of the head and heart form, undoubtedly, the most solid and most permanent connections; but external beauty, which lies more in view, has a more extensive influence in forming these connections: at any rate, it concurs in an eminent degree with mental qualifications to produce social intercourse, mutual good-will, and consequently mutual aid and support, which are the life of society.
It must not, however, be overlooked, that the perception of beauty does not, when immoderate, tend to advance the interests of society. Love, in particular, arising from a perception of beauty, loses, when excessive, its sociable character: the appetite for gratification prevailing over affection for the beloved object, is ungovernable; and tends violently to its end, regardless of the misery that must follow. Love, in that state, is no longer a sweet agreeable passion: it becomes painful, like hunger or thirst; and produces no happiness but in the instant of fruition. This discovery suggests a most important lesson; that moderation in our desires and appetites, which fits us for doing our duty, contributes at the same time the most to happiness: even social passions, when moderate, are more pleasant than when they swell beyond proper bounds.
GRANDEUR AND SUBLIMITY.
The mind of man attached to things great and elevated-Elevation of an objec affects us as well as magnitude-The effect of a great object; and also of an elevated one Emotions produced by great and elevated objects, are grandeur and sublimity-Greatness, considered abstractly, is agreeable-Regularity, proportion, order, and color, assist in causing grandeur-Greatness distinguishes grandeur from beauty-Difference between an emotion of grandeur and of beauty -The former is serious, the latter gay and weak-Regularity, proportion, and order, not so essential to grandeur as to beauty-Not so distinctly perceived in a great as in a small object-The mind occupied with the capital parts-These observations applied to sublimity—An agreeable object made sublime by placing it high-Littleness and lowness of place not disagreeable, are indifferent-If they were agreeable, greatness and elevation would not be so—a mental progression from less to greater, more agreeable than from greater to less-Grandeur and sublimity figurative-These terms applicable to persons and charactersThe same in music-An ascending series of thought, or climax, agreeableThe grandest emotion is when the whole object is seen at one view-The sublime may be carried too far-The effort is too great; and it is difficult to descendGrandeur in manner, consists in presenting the most important circumstancesA good description often affects more than a real view-Abstract terms to be avoided-An emotion of grandeur raised by reiterated impressions -Grandeur indirectly applied, depresses the mind-The bombast-Imaginary beings, without propriety of action.
NATURE has not more remarkably distinguished us from other animals by an erect posture, than by a capacious and aspiring mind, attaching us to things great and elevated. The ocean, the sky, seize the attention, and make a deep impression:* robes of state are made large and full, to draw respect: we admire an elephant for its magnitude, notwithstanding its unwieldiness.
The elevation of an object affects us no less than its magnitude: a high place is chosen for the statue of a deity or hero: a tree growing on the brink of a precipice looks charming when viewed from the plain below: a throne is erected for the chief magistrate; and a chair with a high seat for the president of a court. Among all nations, heaven is placed far above us, hell far below us.
In some objects, greatness and elevation concur to make a complicated impression: the Alps and the Peak of Teneriffe are proper examples; with the following difference, that in the former greatness seems to prevail, elevation in the latter.
The emotions raised by great and by elevated objects, are clearly distinguishable, not only in internal feeling, but even in their external expressions. A great object makes the spectator endeavor to enlarge his bulk; which is remarkable in plain people, who give way to nature without reserve; in describing a great object, they naturally expand themselves by drawing in air with all their
• Longinus observes, that nature inclines us to admire, not a small rivulet, however clear and transparent, but the Nile, the Ister, the Rhine, or still more the ocean. The sight of a small fire produces no emotion; but we are struck with the boiling furnaces of Etna, pouring out whole rivers of liquid flame. Treatise of the Sublime, chap. 29.
force. An elevated object produces a different expression; it makes the spectator stretch upward, and stand a-tiptoe.
Great and elevated objects considered with relation to the emotions produced by them, are termed grand and sublime. Grandeur and sublimity have a double signification they commonly signify the quality or circumstance in objects by which the emotions of grandeur and sublimity are produced; sometimes the emotions themselves.
In handling the present subject, it is necessary that the impression made on the mind by the magnitude of an object, abstracting from its other qualities, should be ascertained. And because abstraction is a mental operation of some difficulty, the safest method for judging is, to choose a plain object that is neither beautiful nor deformed, if such a one can be found. The plainest that occurs, is a huge mass of rubbish, the ruins, perhaps, of some extensive building, or a large heap of stones, such as are collected together for keeping in memory a battle or other remarkable event. Such an object, which in miniature would be perfectly indifferent, makes an impression by its magnitude, and appears agreeable. And supposing it so large, as to fill the eye, and to prevent the attention from wandering upon other objects, the impression it makes will be so much the deeper.*
But, though a plain object of that kind be agreeable, it is not termed grand: it is not entitled to that character, unless, together with its size, it be possessed of other qualities that contribute to beauty, such as regularity, proportion, order, or color: and according to the number of such qualities combined with magnitude, it is more or less grand. Thus, St. Peter's church at Rome, the great pyramid of Egypt, the Alps towering above the clouds, a great arm of the sea, and, above all, a clear and serene sky, are grand, because, beside their size, they are beautiful in an eminent degree. On the other hand, an overgrown whale, having a disagreeable appearance, is not grand. A large building, agreeable by its regularity and proportions, is grand, and yet a much larger building destitute of regularity, has not the least tincture of grandeur. A single regiment in battle array, makes a grand appearance; which the surrounding crowd does not, though perhaps ten for one in number. And a regiment where the men are all in one livery, and the horses of one color, makes a grander appearance, and consequently strikes more terror, than where there is confusion of colors and of dress. Thus greatness or magnitude is the circumstance that distinguishes grandeur from beauty: agreeableness is the genus, of which beauty and grandeur are species.
The emotion of grandeur, duly examined, will be found an additional proof of the foregoing doctrine. That this emotion is pleasant in a high degree, requires no other evidence than once to have seen a grand object; and if an emotion of grandeur be pleasant, its cause or object, as observed above, must infallibly be agreeable in proportion.
The qualities of grandeur and beauty are not more distinct, than the emotions are which these qualities produce in a spectator. It is * See Appendix, Terms defined, sect. 33.