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we fhould be fo formed, as to require among connected objects a degree of congruity proportioned to the degree of the relation. And upon examination we find this to hold in fact. Where the relation is strong and intimate as betwixt a cause and its effect, a body and its members, we require that the things be fuited to each other in the ftrictest manner. On the other hand, where the relation is flight, or accidental, as among things jumbled together in the fame place, we demand little or no congruity. The strictest propriety is required in behaviour and manner of living; because a man is connected with these by the relation of cause and effect. The fituation of a great houfe ought to be lofty; for the relation betwixt an edifice and the ground it stands upon, is of the most intimate kind. Its relation to neighbouring hills, rivers, plains, being that of propinquity only, demands but a small share of congruity. Among members of the fame club, the congruity ought to be confiderable, as well as among things placed for fhow in the fame niche. Among paffengers in a stage-coach, we require very
ry little congruity; and less still at a public fpectacle.
Congruity is fo nearly allied to beauty, as commonly to be held a fpecies of it. And yet they differ fo effentially, as never to coincide. Beauty, like colour, is placed upon a fingle fubject; congruity upon a plurality. Further, a thing beautiful in itself, may, with relation to other things, produce the strongest sense of incongruity.
Congruity and propriety are commonly reckoned fynonymous terms; and hitherto in opening the fubject they are used indifferently. But they are distinguishable; and the precise meaning of each must be ascertained. Congruity is the genus, of which propriety is a fpecies. For we call nothing propriety, but that congruity or fuitableness which ought to fubfift betwixt fenfible beings and their thoughts, words, and actions.
In order to give a full view of this fubject, I fhall trace it through fome of the most confiderable relations. The relation of a part to the whole, being extremely intimate, demands the utmost degree of congruity. For that reason, the flightest devia
tion is disgustful. Every one must be senfible of a grofs incongruity in the Lutrin, a burlesque poem, being closed with a serious and warm panegyric on Lamoignon, one of the King's judges:
Amphora cœpit Institui; currente rota, cur urceus exit?
No relation affords more examples of congruity and incongruity, than that betwixt a subject and its ornaments. A literary performance intended merely for amusement, is fufceptible of much ornament, as well as a mufic-room or a play-houfe. In gaiety, the mind hath a peculiar relish for show and decoration. The most gorgeous apparel, however unfuitable to an actor in a regular tragedy, disgusts not at an opera. 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 any thing natural in those which are acceffory. On the other hand, a serious and important fubject, admits not much or VOL. II. B...
nament*: nor a fubject that of itself is extremely beautiful. And a fubject that fills the mind with its loftinefs and grandeur, appears best in a dress altogether plain.
To a perfon of a mean appearance, gorgeous apparel is unfuitable: which, befide the incongruity, has a bad effect; for by contraft it shows the meanness of appearance in the strongest light. Sweetnefs of look and manner, requires fimplicity of drefs joined with the greatest elegance. A stately and majestic air requires fumptuous apparel, which ought not to be gaudy, or crowded with little ornaments. A woman of confummate beauty can bear to be highly adorned, and yet shows best in a plain drefs:
Needs not the foreign aid of ornament,
*Contrary to this rule, the introduction to the third vo lume of the Characteristics, is a continued chain of metaphors. These in fuch profufion are too florid for the subject; and have befide the bad effect of removing our attention from the principal fubject, to fix it upon fplendid trifles...
In judging of the propriety of ornament, we must attend, not only to the nature of the fubject that is to be adorned, but also to the circumftances in which it is placed. The ornaments that are proper for a ball, will appear not altogether fo decent at public worship; and the fame perfon ought to dress differently for a marriage-feast and for a burial.
Nothing is more intimately related to a man, than his fentiments, words, and actions; and therefore we require here the ftrictest conformity. When we find what we thus require, we have a lively fenfe of propriety: when we find the contrary, our fense of impropriety is not lefs lively. Hence the univerfal diftafte of affectation, which confifts in making a fhew of greater delicacy and refinement than is fuited either to the character or circumftances of the perfon. Nothing hath a worse effect in a story than impropriety of manners. In Corneille's tragedy of Cinna, Æmilia, a favourite of Auguftus, receives daily marks of his affection, and is loaded with benefits; yet all the while is laying plots to affaffinate her beB 2 nefactor,