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certain and changeable, while the beauty of some musical compositions we speak but the common sentiment of mankind in saying it) is imperishable; a fact which seems to be inconsistent with its being founded on an unfixed and evanescent basis.
$36. Of motion as an element of beauty. Motion also, a new and distinct object of contemplation, has usually been reckoned a source of the beautiful, and very justly.—A forest or a field of grain gently waved by the wind, affects us pleasantly. The motion of a winding river pleases; and this, not only because the river is serpentine, but because it is never at rest. We are delighted with the motion of a ship as it cleaves the sea under full sail. We look on as it moves like a thing of life, and are pleased without being able to control our feelings, or to tell why they exist. And the waves, too, around it, which are continually approaching and departing, and curling upward in huge masses, and then breaking asunder into fragments of every shape, present a much more pleasing appearance than they would if profoundly quiet and stagnant.
With what happy enthusiasm we behold the foaming cascade, as it breaks out from the summit of the mountain, and dashes downward to its base! With what pleasing satisfaction we gaze upon a column of smoke ascending from a cottage in a wood : a trait in outward scenery which landscape-painters, who must certainly be accounted good judges of what is beautiful in the aspects of external nature, are exceedingly fond of introducing. It may
be said in this case, we are aware, that the pleasure arising from beholding the ascending smoke of the cottage is caused by the favourite suggestions which are connected with it, of rural seclusion, peace, and abundance. But there is much reason to believe that the feel. ing would be to some extent the same if it were known to ascend from the uncomfortable wigwam of the Savage, from an accidental conflagration, or from the fires of a wandering horde of gipsies.--And if motion, on the limited scale on which we are accustomed to view it, be beautiful, how great would be the ecstasy of our feelings
if we could be placed on some pinnacle of the universe, and could take in at one glance the regular and unbroken movements of the worlds and systems of infinite space.
$ 37. Explanations of the beauty of motion from Kaimes. The author of the Elements of Criticism, who studied our emotions with great care, has the following explanations on this subject : “ Motion is certainly agreeable in all its varieties of quickness and slowness; but motion long, continued admits some exceptions. That degree of continued motion, which corresponds to the natural course of our perceptions, is the most agreeable. The quickest motion is for an instant delightful; but it soon appears to be too rapid : it becomes painful by forcibly accelerating the course of our perceptions. Slow continued motion becomes disagreeable for an opposite reason, that it retards the natural course of our perceptions.
There are other varieties in motion, besides quickness and slowness, that make it more or less agreeable: regular motion is preferred before what is irregular ; witness the motion of the planets in orbits nearly circular: the motion of the comets in orbits less regular, is less agreeable.
“ Motion uniformly accelerated, resembling an ascending series of numbers, is more agreeable than when uniformly retarded; motion upward is agreeable by the elevation of the moving body. What, then, shall we say of downward motion regularly accelerated by the force of gravity, compared with upward motion regularly retarded by the same force? Which of these is the most agreeable? This question is not easily solved.
“ Motion in a straight line is no doubt agreeable; but we prefer undulating motion, as of waves, of a flame, of a ship under sail : such motion is more free, and also more natural. Hence the beauty of a serpentine river.”
38. Of intellectual and moral objects as a source of the beautiful. But we are not to suppose that there is nothing but matter, and its accessories of form, motion, and sound, which are the foundations of the beautiful. The world of mind also, so far as it can be brought before our con
templation, calls forth similar emotions. The human countenance, in itself considered, is a beautiful object. Nature has decidedly given that character to the curving outline of the lips and forehead, the varying tints of the cheek, and the gentle illuminations of the eye. But these interesting traits, additional to what they are in themselves, convey ideas of mind; they may be regarded as natural indications and signs of the soul, which is lodged behind them; and although the human countenance is pleasing of itself
, it is beyond question that the thought, and feeling, and amiability of which it is significant, are pleasing also. We may illustrate what we mean by an instance of this kind. If we fix our attention upon
two men, whose outward appearance is the same, but one of them is far more distinguished than the other for clearness of perception, extent of knowledge, and all the essentials of true wisdom, we certainly look upon him with a higher degree of complacency. And this complacency is greatly heightened if we can add to these intellectual qualities certain qualities of the heart or of the moral character, such as a strong love of truth, justice, and benevolence.
It is true, that in the present life intellectual and moral objects are brought before our contemplation only in a comparatively small degree, surrounded and almost encumbered, as we are, with material things; but they are, nevertheless, proper objects of knowledge, and are among the great sources of beauty. There is no object of contemplation more pleasing and even enrapturing than the Supreme Being; but, in contemplating the Deity, we do not contemplate an outward and accessible picture, or a statue of wood and stone, but merely a complex internal conception, which embraces certain intellectual and moral qualities and powers, and excludes everything of a purely material kind. Now when we dwell upon the parts of this great and glorious conception, and follow them out into the length and breadth of infinite wisdom, of infinite benevolence, of unsearchable power and justice, and of other attributes, which are merged together and assimilated in this great sun of moral perfection, we find such a splendour and such a fitness in them that we cannot but
be filled with delight. The object before us, unless we may more properly speak of it as sublime, is obviously one of transcendent natural and moral beauty.
$ 39. Of a distinct sense or faculty of beauty. From the views which have been presented in this chapter, we are prepared, in some degree, to estimate the opinion of those writers who are understood to maintain that there is a distinct SENSE or faculty of beauty. The doctrine referred to is, that, by means of this sense or faculty of beauty, which seems to be regarded as entirely analogous to the external senses of sight and feeling, the mind experiences the emotions of beauty constantly, or almost constantly, whenever a particular object is present. That is, having this supposed sense, we can no more be without the appropriate emotion whenever the beautiful object is presented, than we can be without sight or feeling when our eyes are open to behold objects, or when our hands are impressed upon them. And, moreover, the beauty which is thus discovered has, according to this system, a precise and definite character, concerning which there cannot ordinarily be any possible mistake.
There are some parts, undoubtedly, of this doctrine of emotions of beauty, to which it is by no means necessary to object. Its advocates hold, with good reason, that certain objects give us pleasure of themselves; and also that the emotions arise in the mind at once whenever the objects are presented to it, and therefore, in some degree, the same as when vision follows the opening of the eyelids. But here it cannot be denied that the analogy between the susceptibility of emotions of beauty and the external senses ceases.
The opinion that we have a distinct sense or faculty of beauty would give to its appropriate emotions a character more exact and particular than is justified by what is known to be the fact; there would in this case be no more difference of opinion concerning the beauty and deformity of objects than concerning their sensible qualities, their taste, sound, or colour. If this doctrine, taken in its full extent, were true, the peasant, who can tell whether the taste of the apple be sweet or sou,
whether the colour of the clouds of heaven be bright or dark, can sit in judgment on the beauty of the works of nature and art, no less than persons of the most critical taste.
While, therefore, we contend that there is in the mind an original susceptibility of emotions of beauty, it is to be regarded as something quite different in its nature from the external senses; and these emotions, therefore, much more than our sensations, will differ in vividness or degree with a variety of circumstances.
40. Associated beauty implies an antecedent or intrinsic beauty.
The views on the subject of beauty which we think it important to enforce, involve the positions, FIRST, that there is an original or intrinsic beauty; and, SECOND, that there is a beauty dependant on association.-In opposition to those persons who may be disposed to maintain that no object is beautiful of itself, but that all its beauty depends on association, we wish, in this connexion, to introduce what we regard as an important remark of Mr. Stewart. “The theory," he remarks," which resolves the whole effects of beautiful objects into Association, must necessarily involve that species of paralogism to which logicians give the name of reasoning in a circle. It is the province of association to impart to one thing the agreeable or the disagreeable effect of another ; but association can never account for the origin of a class of pleasures different in kind from all the others we know. İf there was nothing originally and intrinsically pleasing or beautiful, the associating principle would have no materials on which it could operate."*
This remark, if it be true, appears to be decisive on the subject before us. And that it is true, we think must
* Essay on the Beautiful, chap. vi.