Page images

and Ill-nature. Nero, of old, seems [p] to have had this unpleasing Sort of Handsomeness, and probably from much the fame Cause; the Goodness of his Features being overlaid by the Ugliness of the Passions that appeared on his Face.

The finest Eyes in the World, with an Excess of Malice or Rage in them, will grow as shocking as they are in that fine Face of Medusa, on the famous Seal in the Strozzi Family at Rome.

Thus you fee, that the Passions can give Beauty, without the Assistance of Color or Form; and take it away, where they have united the most strongly 10 give it: And it was this that made me assort, at first, that this Part of Beauty was so extremely superior to the other Two.

This, by the way, may help-us to account for the Justness of what Pliny asserts in speaking of the famous Statue of Laocoon, and his Two Sons: He fays, It was the finest Piece of Art in Rome; and [q] to be preferred to all the other Statues and Pictures, of which they had so noble a Collection in his time. It had no Beauties of Color, to vie with the Paintings; and other Statues there (a-s the Apollo Belvedere, and the Venus of Medici, in particular) were as finely proportioned as the Laocoon: But this had a much greater Variety of Expression, even than those fine ones j and it must

\p] Suetonius, in his Lise of that Emperor, fays, "That he had a Look which might rather be called "handsome than pleasing :" Vnltu.pulchre magis quant venusto- Cap. li.

[y] Sicut in Laocoonte, qui est in Titi Imperatoris domo; opus, omnibus et picturæ et statuarræ artis præferendum. PUn. Nat. Hist. lib. xxxvi. cap. 5.

be on that Account alone, that it could have beea

preferable to them, and all the rest.

Before I quit this Head, I would just remind you of Two Things that I have mentioned before: That the chief Rule of the Beauty of the Passions, is Moderation; and that the Part in which they appear most strongly, is the Eyes. It is there that Love holds all his tenderest Language: It is there that Virtue commands, Mo. desty charms, Joy enlivens, Sorrow engages, and Inclination fires the Hearts of the Beholders: It is there that even Fear, and Anger, and Confusion, can be charming. But all these, to be charming, must be kept within their due Bounds and Limits; for too sullen an Appearance of Virtue, a violent and prostitute Swell of Passion, a rustic and overwhelming Modesty, a deep Sadness, or too wild and impetuous a Joy, become all either oppressive or difagreeable.

The last finishing and noblest Part of Beauty is Grace; which every body is accustomed to speak of as a Thing [r] inexplicable; and, in a great Measure, I believe, it is so. We know that the Soul is, but we scarce know what it is; every Judge of Beauty can point out Grace; but no one

[r] Decorum quoddam arcanum, atque selicitas; cujus effectum in multis videmus quotidie i caufam vexo reddere nemo potest. Erasmus in his Philodoxus.

Horace thought it so far from being explicable, that ke does not even venture to give it any Name, in some >ery pretty Lines of his on this Subject.

Quo siigit Venus,heu ! quove Color? Decens

Quo motus? Quid habes Mius, illius, 5sæ spirabat amores,

Quæ me surpuerat mihi ?—.-Lib. iv. Od. i3 20.


that I know of has ever yet fixt upon a Definition for it.

Grace often depends on some very little Incidents in a fine Face ; and in Actions, it consists more in the Manner of doing Things, than in the things themselves. It is perpetually varying its Appearances, and is therefore much more difficult to be considered, than any thing fixt and steady. While you look upon one, it steals from under the Eye of the Observer; and is succeeded perhaps by another, that flits away as soon, and as imperceptibly.

It is on this Account that Grace is better to be studied in Corregio's, Guidi'i, and Rapbael's Pictures, than in real Life. Thus, for Instance, if I wanted to discover what it is that makes Anger graceful, in a Set of Features full of the greatest Sweetness j I should rather endeavour to find it. out in Guido's St. Michael, than in Mrs. P* * ft Face, if that ever had any Anger in it; because, in the pictured Angel, one has full Leisure to consider it; but, in the living one, it would be too transient and'changeable to be the Subject of any steady Observation.

But though one cannot punctually fay what Grace is, we may point out the Parts and Thing3 in which it is most apt to appear.

The chief Dwelling-place of Grace is about the Mouth; though, at Times, it may visit every Limb or Part of the Body. But the Mouth is the chief Seat of Grace [1] ; as much as the chief Seat for the Beauty of the Passions is in the Eyes.

[i] Thus when the French use the Expression of une louche sort gracieuse, they mean it properly os Grace; but when they fay, desyeux tres gracieux, it then falls to the Share of the Passions; and means kind or favourable.

In a very graceful Face, by which I do not so much mean a majestic, as a soft and pleasing one, there is no'w-and-then (for no Part of Beauty is either so engaging, or so uncommon) a certain Deliciousness that almost always lives about the Mouth, in something not quite enough to be called a Smile, but rather an Approach toward one; which varies gently about the different Lines there, like a little fluttering Cupid; and, perhaps, sometimes discovers a little Dimple, that after just lightening upon you difappears, and appears again by Fits. This I take to be one of the most pleasing Sorts of Grace of any; but you will understand what I mean by your own Memory, better than by any Expressions I could possibly use to describe it.

The Grace os Attitudes may belong to the Position of each Part, as well as to the Carriage or Disposition of the whole Body; but how much more it belongs to the Head, than to any other Parr, may be seen in the Pieces of the most celebrated Painters; and particularly, in those os Guide; who has been rather too lavifli in bestowing this Beauty on almost all his fine Women, whereas Nature has given it in so high a Degree but to very sew.

The Turns of the Neck are extremely capable of Grace; and are very easy to be observed, and very difficult to be accounted for. - How much of this Grace may belong to the Arms and Feet, as well as to the Neck and Head, may be seen in dancing; but it is not only in genteel Motions, that a very pretty Woman will be graceful; and Ovid (who wa3 so great a Master ia all the Parts of Beauty) had very good Reason for faying [r], That when Venus, to please her Gallant, imitated the hobbling Gait of her Husband, her very Lameness had a great deal of Prettiness and Grace in it.

"Every [0] Motion of a graceful Woman (fays another Writer of the fame Age) is full of Grace." She designs nothing by it perhaps, and may even not be sensible of it herself; and indeed she should not be- so too much; for the Moment that any Gesture or Action appears to be affected, it ceases to be graceful.

Horace [xj and Virgil seem to extend Grace so

[/] NecVenus oranti (neque enim Dea moiliov ullaest)

Rustica Gradivo difficilifve suit*
Ah quoties lasciva pedes risiffe mariti

Dicitur, & duras arte vel ignemanus?
Mane patam, fimulat Vulcanum: imitnta decebat;
Multaque cum forma gratia mista suit.

Ovid. de Arte Amandi, 2. 570. [a] Illam, quicquid agit, quoquo vestigia vertk, Componit furtim subsequiturque decor.

Tibullus, lib. iv. El. 2. 8.

[x] Crine decorum. Horace, lib. i. Od. 32. is.

Intonsosque agitaret Apollinis aura capilJos. Id. Epod.

15 9

Ipsejugis Cvnthi graditur; mollique fluentem
Fronde premit crinem fingens, atque implicat auro:
Tela sonant humeris. Haud illo iegnior ibat
Æneas; tantum egrcgio decus enitet ore. Virgil Æn.

iv. 150.

And again of the lame:
Os humerosoueDeo iimilis: namque ipse decoram
Caesariem nato gentrix, luroenque juventæ • . .
PurpuKum, & læros oculis asstarat honores Æn. i 59r.

B 5 Sw.

« PreviousContinue »