« ForrigeFortsett »
both of which observations have been often made. From the various principles of beauty, and the agreeable combinations, of which the face gives intelligence, spring that variety found in the style of beauty.
Complexion is a kind of beauty that is only pleasing by association. The brown, the fair, the black, are not any of them original beauty, but when the complexion is united in one picture on the imagination, with the assemblage that forms the image of the tender passions, with gentle smiles, and kind endearments, it is then inseparable from our idea of beauty, and forms a part of it. From the same cause, a national set of features appear amiable to the inhabitants, who have been accustomed to see the amiable dispositions through them. This observation resolves a difficulty, that often occurs in the reflections of men on our present subject. We all speak of beauty as if it were acknowledged and settled by a public standard; yet we find, in fact, that people, in placing their affections, ofteu have little regard to the common notions of beauty. The truth is, complexion and form being the charms that are visible and conspicuous, the common standard of beauty is generally restrained to those general at. tractions; but since personal grace and the engaging passions, although they cannot be delineated, have a more universal and uniform power, it is no wonder people, in resigning their hearts, 30 often contradict the common received standard. Accordingly, as the engaging passions and the address are discovered in conversation, the tender attachments of people are generally fixed by an
intercourse of sentiment, and seldom by a transient view, except in romances and novels. It is further to be observed, that when once the afo fections are fixed, a new face with a higher degree of beauty, will not always have a higher degree of power to reinove them, because our affections arise from a source within ourselves, as well as from external beauty; and when the tender pas. sion is attached by a particular object, the imagination surrounds that object with a thousand ideal embellishments, that exist only in the mind of the lover.
• The history of the short life of beauty may be collected from what I have said. In youth that borders on infancy, the passions are in a state of vegetation, they only appear in full bloom in maturity; for which reason the beauty of youth is no more than the dawn and promise of future beauty. The features, as we grow into years, gradually form along with the mind : different sensibilities gather into the countenance, and become beauty there, as colours mount in a tulip, and enrich it. When the eloqnent force and delicacy of sentiment bas continued some little time, age begins to stiffen the features, and destroy the engaging variety and vivacity of the counte. nance, the eye gradually loses its fire, and is no longer the mirror of the agreeable passions. Fi. nally, old age furrows the face with wrinkles, as a barbarous conqueror overturns a city from the foundation, and transitory beauty is extinguished.
Beauty and elegance are nearly related, their difference consists in this, that elegance is the image of the mind displayed in motion and de
portment; beauty is an image of the mind in the countenance and form; consequently beauty is of a more fixed nature, and owes less to art and habit.
When I speak of beauty, it is not wholly out of my way to make a singular observation on the tender passion in our species. Innocent and virtuous love casts a beauteous hue over human nature: it quickens and strengthens our admiration of virtue, and our detestation of vice; it opens our eyes to our imperfections, and gives us a pride in excelling; it inspires us with heroic sentiments, generosity, a contempt of life, a boldness for enterprise, chastity, and purity of sentiment. It takes a similitude to devotion, and almost deifies the object of passion. People whose breasts are dulled with vice, or stupified by nature, call this passion romantic love; but when it was the mode, it was the diagnostic of a virtuous age. These symptoms of heroism spring from an obscure principle, that in a noble mind unites itself with every passionate view in life : this nameless principle is distinguished by endowing people with extraordinary powers and enthusiasm in the pursuit of their favourite wishes, and by disgust and disappointment when we arrive at the point where our wishes seem to be completed. It has made great conquerors despise dangers and death in their way to victory, and sigh afterwards when they had no more to conquer.
ON MONESTY IN DRESS.
MODESTY in dress is a powerful attractive to honourable love. The male heart is a study, in which your sex are supposed to be a good deal conversant. Yet in this study, you must give me leave to say, many of them seem to me but indifferent proficients. To gain men's affections, women in general are naturally desirous. They need not deny, they cannot conceal it. The sexes were made for each other. We wish for a place in your hearts : why should not you wish for one in ours? But how much are you deceived, my fair friends, if you dream of taking that fort by storm! When you show a sweet solicitude to please by every decent, gentle, unaffected attrac. tion, we are soothed, we are subdued, we yield ourselves your willing captives. But if at any time by a forward appearance you betray a confidence in your charms, and by throwing them out upon ns all at once you seem resolved, as it were, to force our admiration; that moment we are on our guard, and your assaults are vain, provided at least we have any spirit or sentiment. In reality, they who have very little of either, I might have said they who have none, even the silliest, even the loosest men shall in a sober mood be taken with the bashful air, and reserved dress, of an amiable young woman, infinitely more than they ever were with all the open blaze of laboured beauty, and arrogant claims of undisguised allurement; the human heart, in its better sensations, being still formed to the love of virtue.
Let me add, that the human imagination hates to be confined. We are never highly delighted, where something is not left us to fancy. This last observation holds true throughout all nature, and all art. But when I speak of these, I must subjoin, that art being agreeable no further than as it is conformed to nature, the one will not be wanted in the case before us, if the other be allowed its full influence. What I mean is this ; posing a young lady to be deeply possessed with a regard for 'whatsoever things are pure, venerable, and of a good report, it will lead to decorum spontaneously, and flow with unstudied propriety through every part of her attire and demeanour. Let it be likewise added, that simplicity, the inseparable companion both of genuine grace, and of real modesty, if it do not always strike at first (of which it seldom fails) is sure however, when it does strike, to produce the deepest and most permanent impressions.
CHASTITY AN ADDITIONAL ORNAMENT TO
There is no charm in the female sex, that can supply the place of virtue. Without innocence, beauty is unlovely, and quality contemptible; good breeding degenerates into wantonness, and wit into impudence. It is observed, that all the virtues are represented, by both painters and statuaries, under female shapes; but if any one of