Page images
PDF
EPUB

to mention just now would, perhaps, appear far from being unintelligible to you. To own the Truth, I have thought on this Subject (which is usually rather viewed with too much Pleasure, than considered with any thing of Judgment) more gravely at least, I dare fay, than ever you have : And if you were to provoke me a little farther, I do not know whether I could not lay down to you a sort os Scheme on it; which might go a good Way not only toward clearing up this, but most of the other Difficulties that so often occur in talking of it."—I -should as soon think of dissecting a Rainbow, fays Milesius, asof forming grave and punctual Notions of Beauty. Who, for Heaven's Sake, can reduce to Rules, what is lo quick, and so variable, as to be shifting its Appearances every Moment, on the most delightful Faces r"—" And why are those Faces the most delightful, in which that happens?" fays Crito. —Nay, that is one of the very things I could least pretend to account for, replied Mili.sius. I am fatisfied with seeing that they are so; 'tis a Subject that I never yet had a single Desire to reason upon; and I can very willingly leave it to.you, to be a Philosopher in Love.—But seriously, interposed Timanthes, turning toward Crito, if you have ever found Leisure and Calmness enough to think steadily on so uncertain, and so engaging a Subject; why should not you oblige us with the Result of your Thoughts upon it? Let me beg it cf you, as a Favour to both of us; for I am sure it will be agreeable to both: And if you refuse me, I am resolved to join with Milesius in beA 5 sieving, lieving, that it is incapable of having any thing faid systematically, or even regularly, about it."—- . "You know, fays Crito, how little I love to have all the Talk to myself; and what you propose may take me up an Hour, or Two: But if I must launch out into so wide a Subject, it will be very necesfary, that I should begin with telling you what I chiefly propose to consider, and what not,

rVERY Object that is pleasing to the Eye, when looked upon, or delightful to the Mind, orf Recollection, may be called beautiful; so that Beauty, in general, may stretch as wide as the visible Creation, or even as far as the Imagination can go; which is a sort of new or secondary Creation. Thus we speak not only of the Beauties of an engaging Prospect, of the rising or setting Sun, or of a fine starry Heaven; but of those of a Picture, Statue, or Building .; and even of the Actions, Characters, or Thoughts of Men. In the greater Part of these, there may be almost as many false Beauties, as there are real; according to the different Tastes of Nations, and Men; so that if any one was to consider Beauty in its fullest Extent, it could not be done without the greatest Confusion. I shall therefore confine my Subject to visible Beauty; and of that, to such only as may be called personal, or human Beauty; and that again, to such as is natural or real, and not such as is only national or c.ustomary; for I would not have you imagine, that I would

have

have any thing to do with the beautiful thick Lips of the good People of Bantam, or the excessive small Feet of the Ladies of Quality in China.

I am apt to think, that every Thing belonging to Beauty (by which I need not repeat to you,- at every Turn, that I mean real personal Beauty,) would fall under one or other of these ;Four Heads; Color, Form, Expression, and Grace. The Two former of which I shall look upon as the Body, and the Two latter as the Soul, of Beauty.

• THO' Color be the lowest of all the constituent Parts of Beauty, yet it is vulgarly the most striking, and the most observed. For which there is a very obvious Reason to be given; that "every Body can see, and very few can judge the Beauties of Color requiring much less of Judgment, then. either of the. other Threes 'I shall therefore have much less to fay of it, than of each of the others; and shall only give you Two or Three Observations," relating rb it.;

As to the Color of the Body in general, the most beautiful perhaps that ever was imagined, was that which Apelles expressed in His samous Venus; and which, though the Picture itself be lost, Cicero has, in some Degree preserved to u?, in his [«] excellent Description of il. It wa*

...; "Y. '>

[a] Illud video pugnare te, species ut quædam sit Deorum; quæ nihil concern Jiabeat, nihil. folidi, nihil expredi, nihil eminentis: sit'que'pura, levis, perlucida. Dicemus ergo idem, quod in Venere Coa 5 corpui non est, fed simile corpori: nee ille siisus et candore mixtu* ... '"' rubir (as we learn from him) a fine Red, beautifully Intermixed and incorporated with White; and diffused, in its due Proportions, through each Part of the Body. Such are the Descriptions .of a most beautiful Skin, in [£] several of the Rothan Poets; and such often is the Coloring of Titian, and particularly, in his sleeping Venus, or whatever other Beauty that charming Piece was meant to represent.

The Reason-why these Colors please so much is not only their natural Liveliness, "nor the much greater Charrfas they obtain from their being properlyblended together, but is also owing in some Degree to the Idea they carry with them of good Health [f]; .without which, all Beauty grows

rubor fanguis est, sed quaadaiii fanguiais simititudo. Ciccro di Natura Deor. lib. j. . H

m Thus Virgil, in the Bludi of his Lavinia; Accepit vocem lacrymis Lavinia matris, FJagranies perfufa genas i cui plurimus ignem Subject rubor, & calefacta per ora eucttrrk: Induin fanguineo veluti violaverit ostro "fci quis ebur, aat mixta rubent ubi lilia multS Alba rod ; tales vhgo dabat ore colores. Æn. xii. 69, -Onid, in his Narcifjui i

luipubesque genas, et eburnea colla, deculque Oris i & in niveo miltum candore ruborem. Met. iif. -And Tibullus, in his Afoih; \AZZ' Caador erat, .qualem præsert Latonia luna;

Et color in niveo corpore purpureus.
Ut juveni primum virgo deducta marito

Inficitnr teneras ore rubente genas i
Ut qnum contexunt amaranthis alba puellæ

LHia i & autumno Candida mala rubent. Lib. I?.

[El. 3. 11.

[c] Venustas et pulchritndo corporis secerni non potest a yr.'ttudiire. Cictn de OJficiis, I b. i. § 95.

languid languid and less engaging; and with which it always recovers an additional Life and Lustre.

As to the Color of the Face in particular, 4 great deal of its Beauty is owing (beside the Causes I have already mentioned) to Variety; that being designed by Nature for the greatest Concourse of different Colors, of any Part in the human Body. Colors please by Opposition; and it is in the Face . that they are the most diversified, and the most opposed.

You would laugh out perhaps, if I was to tell you, that the fame Thing, which makes a fine Evening, makes a fine Face (I mean as to the particular Part of Beauty lam now speaking of;) and yet this, I believe, is very true.

The Beauty of an Evening Sky, about the Setting of the Sun, is owing to the Variety of Colors that are scattered along the Face of the Heavens. It is the fine red Clouds, intermixed with white, and sometimes darker ones, with the azure Bottom appearing here and there between them, which make all that beautiful Composition, that delights the Eye so much, and gives such a serene Pleasure to the Heart. In the fame Manner, if you consider some beautiful Faces, you may observe, that it is much the fame Variety of Colors, which gives them that pleasing Lock;N which is so apt to attract the Eye, and but too often to engage the Heart. For all this Sort of Beauty is resolvable into a proper Variation of Flesh Color and Red, with the clear Blueness of the Veins, pleasingly intermixed about the

. ~ Tempka

« PreviousContinue »