cause of a certain effect, if the effect is produ

SECTION III ced by different or opposite measures and relations; or if these measures and relations may PROPORTION NOT THE CAUSE OF BEAUTY IN exist, and yet the effect may not be produced. These are the rules which I have chiefly followed, whilst I examined into the power of pro- That proportion has but a small share in portion considered as a natural cause; and the formation of beauty, is ful las evident among these, if he thinks them just, I request the rea- animals. Here the greatest variety of shapes ter to carry with him throughout the following and dispositions of parts, are well fitted to discussion; whilst we enquire in the first place, excite this idea. The swan, confessedly a in what things we find this quality of beauty: beautiful bird, has a neck longer than the rest next, to see whether in these we can find any of his body, and but a very short tail : is this a assignable proportions, in such a manner as beautiful proportion? we must allow that it is. ought to convince us that our idea of beauty But then what shall we say to the peacock, results from them. We shall consider this who has comparatively but a short neck, with pleasing power, as it appears in vegetables, in a tail longer than the neck and the rest of the the inferiour animals, and in man. Turning body taken together? How many birds are our eyes to the vegetable creation, we find no- there that vary infinitely from each of these thing there so beautiful as flowers; but flowers standards, and from every other which you are almost of every sort of shape, and of every can fix; with proportions different, and often sort of disposition; they are turned and fash- directly opposite to each other! and yet many ioned into an infinite variety of forms ; and of these birds are extremely beautiful; when from these forms botanists have given them upon considering them we find nothing in

any their names, which are almost as various. one part that might determine us à priori, ta What proportion do we discover between the say what the others ought to be, nor indeed to stalks and the leaves of flowers, or between the guess any thing about them, but what experileaves and the pistils ? How does the slender ence might shew to be full of disappointment stalk of the rose agree with the bulky head and mistake. And with regard to the colours under which it bends ? but the rose is a beau- either of birds or flowers, for there is sometiful flower; and can we undertake to say that thing similar in the colouring of both, whether t does not owe a great deal of its beauty even they are considered in their extension or grato that disproportion; the rose is a large flower, dation, there is nothing of proportion to be yet it grows upon a small-shrub; the flower of observed. Some are of but one single colour, the apple is very small, and grows upon a large others have all the colours of the rainbow, tree ; yet the rose and the apple blossom are some are of the primary colours, others are of both beautiful, and the plants that bear them the mixt; in short, an attentive observer may are most engagingly attired, notwithstanding soon conclude, that there is as little of proporthis disproportion. What by general consent tion in the colouring as in the shapes of these is allowed to be a more beautiful object than objects. Turn next to beasts; examine the an orange tree, flourishing at once with its head of a beautiful horse ; find what proportion leaves, its blossoms, and its fruit? but it is in that bears to his body, and to his limbs, and vain that we search here for any proportion what relations these have to each other; and between the height, the breadth, or any thing when you have settled these proportions as a else concerning the dimensions of the whole, standard of beauty, then take a dog or cat, or or concerning the relation of the particular any other animal, and examine how far the parts to each other. I grant that we may ob- same proportions between their heads and serve in many flowers, something of a regular their necks, between those and the body, and figure, and of a methodical disposition of the so on, are found to hold; I think we may safely leaves. The rose has such a figure and such a say, that they differ in every species, yet that disposition of its petals ; but in an oblique there are individuals found in a great many view, when this figure is in a good measure species so differing, that have a very striking lost, and the order of the leaves confounded, beauty. Now, if it be allowed that very differit yet retains its beauty; the rose is even more ent, and even contrary, forms and dispositions beautiful before it is full blown; and the bud, are consistent with beauty, it amounts I believe before this exact figure is formed; and this is to a concession, that no certain measures, not the only instance wherein method and exact- operating from a natural principle, are neces ness, the soul of proportion are found rather pre- sary to produce at least so far the bruto judicial than serviceable to the rause of beauty. species is concerned,




beauty agreed among themselves about the proportions of the human body? some hold it to be seven heads; some make it eight; whilst others extend it even to ten; a vast difference

in such a small number of divisions! Others THERE are some parts of the human body, take other methods of estimating the proporthat are observed to hold certain proportions to tions, and all with equal success. But are these each other; but before it can be proved, that proportions exactly the same in all handsome the efficient cause of beauty lies in these, it men? or are they at all the proportions founo must be shewn, that wherever these are found in beautiful women ? nobody will say that they exact, the person to whom they belong is beau- are; yet both sexes are undoubtedly capable of tiful: I mean in the effect produced on the beauty, and the female of the greatest; which view, either of any member distinctly consi- advantage I believe will hardly be attributed to dered, or of the whole body together. It must the superiour exactness of proportion in the fair be likewise shewn, that these parts stand in sex. Let us rest a moment on this point; and such a relation to each other, that the com- consider how much difference there is between parison between them may be easily made, and the measures that prevail in many similar parts that the affection of the mind may naturally of the body, in the two sexes of this single speresult from it. For my part, I have at several cies only. If you assign any determinate protimes very carefully examined many of those portions to the limbs of a man, and if you limit proportions, and found them hold very nearly, human beauty to these proportions, when you or altogether alike in many subjects, which find a woman who differs in the make and meawere not only very different from one another, sures of almost every part, you must conclude but where one has been very beautiful, and the her not to be beautiful, in spite of the suggesother very remote from beauty. With regard tions of your imagination; or, in obedience to the parts which are found so proportioned, to your imagination, you must renounce your they are often so remote from each other, in rules; you must lay by the scale' and compass, situation, nature, and office, that I cannot see and look out for some other cause of beauty, how they admit of any comparison, nor conse- For if beauty be attached to certain measures quently how any effect owing to proportion can which operate from a principle in nature, why result from them. The neck, say they in beau- should similar parts with different measures of tiful bodies, should measure with the calf of the proportion be found to have beauty, and this too leg; it should likewise be twice the circum- in the very same species? but to open our view ference of the wrist. And an infinity of obser- a little, it is worth observing, that almost all rations of this kind are to be found in the animals have parts of very much the same nawritings and conversations of many. But what ture, and destined nearly to the same purposes? relation has the calf of the leg to the neck; or an head, neck, body, feet, eyes, ears, nose, and either of these parts to the wrist? These pro- mouth; yet Providence, to provide in the best portions are certainly to be found in handsome manner for their several wants, and to display bodies. They are as certainly in ugly ones; the riches of his wisdom and goodness in his as any who will take the pains to try may find. creation, has worked out of these few and simiNay, I do not know but they may be least per- lar organs, and members, a diversity hardly feci in some of the most beautiful. You may short of infinite in their disposition, measures, assign any proportions you please to every part and relation. But, as we have before observed, of the human body; and I undertake that a amidst this infinite diversity, one particular is painter shall religiously observe them all, and common to many species: several of the innotwithstanding produce, if he pleases, a very dividuals which compose them are capable of agly figure. The same painter shall considere affecting us with a sense of loveliness; and ably deviate from these proportions, and pro- whilst they agree in producing this effect, they duce a very beautiful one. And indeed it may differ extremely in the relative measures of be observed in the master-pieces of the ancient those parts which have produced it. These and modern statuary, that several of them differ considerations were sufficient to induce me to very widely from the proportions of others, in reject the notion of any particular proportions parts very conspicuous and of great consider that operated by nature to produce a pleasing ation; and that they differ no less from the effect; but those who will agree with me with proportions we find in living men, of forms regard to a particular proportion, are strongly ext nely striking and agreeable. And after prepossessed in favour of one more indefinite all, how are the partisans of proportional They imagine, that although beauty in genera is annexed to no certain measures cominon toly, several buildings are by no means of the form tho several kinds of pleasing plants and ani- of that particular square, which are notwithmals; yet that there is a certain proportion in standing planned by the best architects, and each ies absolutely essential to the beauty produce an effect altogether as good, and perof that particular kind. If we consider the ani- haps a better. And certainly nothing could be mal world in general, we find beauty confined more unaccountably whimsical, than for an ar. to no certain measures; but as some peculiar chitect to model his performance by the human measure and relation of parts is what distin- figure, since no two things can have less resemguishes each peculiar class of animals, it must blance or analogy, than a man, and an house of necessity be, that the beautiful in each kind or temple: do we need to observe, that their will be found in the measures and proportions purposes are entirely different? What I am of that kind; for otherwise it would deviate from apt to suspect is this: that these analogies its proper species, and become in some sort were devised to give a credit to the works of monstrous : however, no spccies is so strictly art, by shewing a conformity between them and confined to any certain proportions, that there the noblest works in nature; not that the latter is not a considerable variation among the in- served at all to supply hints for the perfection dividuals; and as it has been shewn of the of the former. And I am the more fully conhuman, so it may be shewn of the brute vinced, that the patrons of proportion have kinds, that beauty is found indifferently in all transferred their artificial ideas to nature, and the proportions which each kind can admit, not borrowed from thence the proportions they without quitting its common form; and it is this use in works of art; because in any discussion idea of a common form that makes the propor- of this subject they always quit as soon as postion of parts at all regarded, and not the ope- sible the open field of natural beauties, the aniration of any natural cause: indeed a little mal and vegetable kingdoms, and fortify themconsideration will make it appear, that it is not selves within the artificial lines and angles of measure but manner that creates all the beauty architecture. For there is in mankind an which belongs to shape. What light do we unfortunate propensity to make themselves, borrow from these boasted proportions, when we their views, and their works, the measure of study ornamental design? It seems amazing to excellence in every thing whatsoever. Thereme, that artists, if they were as well convinced fore having observed that their dwellings were as they pretend to be, that proportion is a prin- most commodious and firm when they were cipal cause of beauty, have not by them at all thrown into regular figures, with parts answer. times accurate measurements of all sorts of able to each other; they transferred these ideas beautiful animals to help them to proper pro- to their gardens; they turned their trees into portions, when they would contrive any thing pillars, pyramids, and obelisks; they formed elegant, especially as they frequently assert, their hedges into so many green walls, and that it is from an observation of the beautiful in fashioned their walks into squares, triangles, nature they direct their practice. I know that and other mathematical figures, with exaciness it has been said long since, and echoed back- and symmetry; and they thought, if they were ward and forward from one writer to another a not imitating, they were at least improving na thousand times, that the proportions of building ture, and teaching her to know her business have been taken from those of the human body. But nature has at last escaped from their dis To make this forced analogy complete, they cipline and their fetters; and our gardens, if represent a man with his arms raised and ex. nothing else, declare, we begin to feel thal tended at full length, and then describe a sort mathematical ideas are not the true measures of square, as it is formed by passing lines of beauty. And surely they are full as little so along the extremities of this strange figure. in the animal, as in the vegetable world. For But it appears very clearly to me, that the is it not extraordinary, that in these fine dehuman figure never supplied the architect with scriptive pieces, these innumerable odes and any of his ideas. For in the first place, men elegies which are in the mouths of all the world, are very rarely seen in this strained posture ; it and many of which have been the entertaine is not natural to them; neither is it at all be- ment of ages, that in these pieces which de coming. Secondly, the view of the human scribe love with such a passionate energy, and figure so disposed, does not naturally suggest represent its object in such an infinite variety the idea of a square, but rather of a cross; as of lights, not one word is said of proportion, if that large space between the arms and the it be, what some insist it is, the principal com.

must be filled with some ing before it ponent of beauty; whilst at the ime, can make any body think of a square. Third- several other qualities are very frequently and

are in

warmiy mentioned? But if proportion has not no means wait until custom had settled an idea this power, it may appear odd how men came of proportion, before we decided concerning its originally to be so prepossessed in its favour. beauty or ugliness: which shews that the geIt arose, I imagine, from the fondness I have neral idea of beauty can be no more owing to just mentioned, which men bear so remarkably customary than to natural proportion. Deforto their own works and notions ; it arose from mity arises from the want of the common profalse reasonings on the effects of the customary portions; but the necessary result of their exfigure of animals; it arose from the Platonic istence in any object is not beauty. If we theory of fitness and aptitude. For which rea- suppose proportion in natural things to be relason, in the next section, I shall consider the tive to custom and use, the nature of use and effects of custom in the figure of animals; and custom will shew, that beauty, which is a posiafterwards the idea of fitness: since if propor- tive and powerful quality, cannot result from it. tion does not operate by a natural power attend We are so wonderfully formed, that, whilst we ing some measures, it must be either by custom, are creatures vehemently desirous of novelty, or the idea of utility; there is no other way. we are as strongly attached to habit and custom.

But it is the nature of things which hold us by custom, to affect us very little whilst

possession of them, but strongly when they are SECTION V.

absent. I remember to have frequented a cer

tain place, every day for a long time together; PROPORTION FURTHER CONSIDERED,

and I may truly say, that so far from finding IF I am not mistaken, a great deal of the pleasure in it, I was affected with a sort of prejudice in favour of proportion has arisen, weariness and disgust; I came, I went, I renot so much from the observation of any certain turned, without pleasure; yet if by any means measures found in beautiful bodies, as from a I passed by the usual time of my going thither, wrong idea of the relation which deformity bears I was remarkably uneasy, and was not quiet to beauty, to which it has been considered as till I had got into my old track. They who use the opposite; on this principle it was conclud- snuff, take it almost without being sensible that ed, that where the causes of deformity were they take it, and the acute sense of smell is removed, beauty must naturally and necessarily deadened, so as to feel hardly any thing from be introduced. This I believe is a mistake. so sharp a stimulus; yet deprive the snuff-taker For deformity is opposed not to beauty, but to of his box, and he is the most uneasy mortal in the complete, common form. If one of the legs the world. Indeed so far are use and habit of a man be found shorter than the other, the from being causes of pleasure, merely as such, man is deformed; because there is something that the effect of constant use is to make ali wanting to complete the whole idea we form of things of whatever kind entirely unaffecting. a man; and this has the same effect in natural For as use at last takes off the painful effect of faults, as maiming and mutilation produce from many things, it reduces the pleasurable effect accidents. So if the back be humped, the man in others in the same manner, and brings both is deformed; because his back has an unusual to a sort of mediocrity and indifference. Very figure, and what carries with it the idea of justly is use called a second nature ; and our some disease or misfortune; so if a man's neck natural and common state is one of absolute be considerably longer or shorter than usual, indifference, equally prepared for pain or pleawe say he is deformed in that part, because But when we are thrown out of this men are not commonly made in that manner. state, or deprived of any thing requisite to But surely every hour's experience may con- maintain us in it; when this chance does not vince us, that a man may have his legs of an happen by pleasure from some mechanical equal length, and resembling each other in all cause, we are always hurt. It is so with the respects, and his neck of a just size, and his second nature, custom, in all things which reback quite straight, without having at the same

late to it. Thus the want of the usual proportime the least perceivable beauty. Indeed beau- tions in men and other animals is sure to disty is so far from belonging to the idea of custom, gust, though their presence is by no means any that in reality what affects us in that manner is cause of real pleasure. It is true, that the proextremely rare and uncommon. The beautiful portions laid down as causes of beauty in the striker us as much by its novelty as the deform- human body, are frequently found in beąutiful ed itsef. It is thus in those species of animals ones, because they are generally found in all with which we are acquainted ; and if one of nd; but if it can be shewn too, that they a new species were represented, we should by are found without beauty, and that beauty free



quently exists without them, and that this beau- need say little on the trunk of the elephant, of ty, where it exists, always can be assigned to such various usefulness, and which is so far other less equivocal causes, it will naturally from contributing to his beauty. How well ead us to conclude, that proportion and beauty fitted is the wolf for running and leaping! how are not ideas of the same nature. The true admirably is the lion armed for battle! but will opposite to beauty is not disproportion or de- any one therefore call the elephant, the wolf, formity, but ugliness ; and as it proceeds from and the lion, beautiful animals? I believe no causes opposite to those of positive beauty, we body will think the form of a man's leg so well cannot consider it until we come to treat of adapted to running, as those of an horse, a that. Between beauty and ugliness there is a dog, a deer, and several other creatures, at sort of mediocrity, in which the assigned pro- least they have not that appearance: yet, I beportions are most commonly found; but this lieve, a well-fashioned human leg will be allowhas no effect upon the passions.

able far to exceed all these in beauty. If the fitness of parts was what constituted the loveliness of their form, the actual employment of

them would undoubtedly much augment it; but SECTION VI.

this, though it is sometimes so upon another principle, is far from being always the case A bird on the wing is not so beautiful as when

it is perched; nay, there are several of the doIt is said that the idea of utility, or of a part's mestic fowls which are seldom seen to fly, and being well adapted to answer its end, is the which are nothing the less beautiful on that cause of beauty, or indeed beauty itself. If it account; yet birds are so extremely different were not for this opinion, it had been impossi- in their form from the beast and human kinds, ble for the doctrine of proportion to have held that you cannot, on the principle of fitness, its ground very long; the world would be soon allow them any thing agreeable, but in considweary of hearing of measures which related to eration of their parts being designed for quite nothing, either of a natural principle, or of a other purposes. I never in my life chanced to fitness to answer some end; the idea which see a peacock fly; and yet before, very long mankind most commonly conceive of propor- before I considered any aptitude in his form for tion, is the suitableness of means to certain the aërial life, I was struck with the extreme ends, and, where this is not the question, very beauty which raises that bird above many of seldom trouble themselves about the effect of the best flying fowls in the world; though, for different measures of things. Therefore it any thing I saw, his way of living was much was necessary for this theory to insist that not like that of the swine, which fed in the farmonly artificial, but natural objects took their yard along with him. The same may be said beauty from the fitness of the parts for their of cocks, hens, and the like; they are of the several purposes. But in framing this theory, flying kind in figure: in their manner of moI am apprehensive that experience was not suf- ving not very different from men and beasts. ficiently consulted. For, on that principle, the To leave these foreign examples; if beauty in wedge-like snout of a swine, with its tough our own species was annexed to use, men cartilage at the end, the little sunk eyes, and would be much more lovely than women ; and the whole make of the head, so well adapted to strength and agility would be considered as the its offices of digging and rooting, would be only beauties. But to call strength by the extremely beautiful. The great bag hanging name of beauty, to have but one denomination to the bill of a pelican, a thing highly useful to for the qualities of a Venus and Hercules, so this animal, would be likewise as beautiful in totally different in almost all respects, is surely our eyes.

The hedgehog, so well socured a strange confusion of ideas, or abuse of words. against all assaults by his prickly hide, and the The cause of this confusion, I imagine, proporcupine with his missile quills, would be ceeds from our frequently perceiving the parts then considered as creatures of no small ele of the human and other animal bodies to be at gance. There are few animals whose parts once very beautiful, and very well adapted to are better contrived than those of a monkey; their purposes; and we are deceived by a he has the hands of a man, joined to the springy sophism, which makes us take that for a cause limbs of a beast ; he is admirably calculated which is only a concomitant: this is the sophfor running, leaping, grappling, and climbing; ism of the fly; who imagined he raised a great and yet there are few animals which seem to dust, because he stood upon the chariot that have less beauty in the eves of all mankind. I really raised it. The stomach, the lungs, the

« ForrigeFortsett »