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mark, that the sources of associated beauty are necessarily as wide as the unexplored domain of human joy. There are, however, a few of its elements which seem to be worthy of a separate and specific notice.
45. Of fitness considered as an element of associated beauty. In conformity with what has just been said, we proceed to remark, that the degree of the emotion of beauty will be likely to vary in accordance with the suggestions of congruity or fitness which attend the beautiful object, considered in its relations with other objects.--In regard to the origin of the idea of congruity or fitness, it is proper to remark, that the state of the mind thus denominated, which is intellectual rather than sensitive, naturally and necessarily arises on the contemplation of those objects where such fitness actually exists. It arises, therefore, in the first place, on the contemplation of natural objects. As creation comes from the hand of a God of order and not of confusion, everything has its appropriate character, its appropriate place and time. And as the human mind is obviously, in its very structure, adapted to this state of things, suggestions of congruity or fitness, when the works of nature constitute the object in view, are constantly arising.
They arise also in connexion with the works of human skill
. It is in these works particularly that we find the application of the remark, that the degree of beauty will vary in accordance with the suggestions of congruity which attend the object, considered in relation to other objects. Whatever may be the beauty of an object in itself considered, if we distinctly perceive in it an incongruity with other objects, such as result, for instance, from an entire discordance of time and place, the displeasure or disgust which we feel in view of such want of fitness is so great as to diminish, and perhaps to annul entirely, the emotions of pleasure which would otherwise exist.
It is in accordance with these views that Hogarth has been led to remark, that twisted columns, which naturally convey an idea of weakness, always displease when they are employed to support anything which is bulky, or has
a heavy appearance. “ The bulks and proportions of objects," he immediately adds,“ are governed by fitness and propriety. It is this that has established the size and proportion of chairs, tables, and all sorts of utensils and furniture. It is this that has fixed the dimensions of pillars, arches, &c., for the support of great weight, and so regulated all the orders in architecture, as well as the sizes of windows and doors, &c. Thus, though a building were ever so large, the steps of the stairs, the seats in the windows must be continued of their usual heights, or they would lose their beauty with their fitness: and in ship-building, the dimensions of every part are confined and regulated by fitness for sailing. When a vessel sails well, the sailors always call her a beauty; the two ideas have such a connexion !"
46. Of utility as an element of associated beauty. Another element of associated beauty is the perception of utility. Some writers, among others Mr. Hume, have imagined that they were able to discover the origin or foundation of all emotions of beauty in this perception; understanding, by the term utility a fitness or adaptation of the beautiful object to some beneficial
purpose. And it is undoubtedly true, that we contemplate this quality, whenever we discern it, with a degree of complacency and approbation. Many objects, when their use or adap
tation to some beneficial purpose has become known to * us, have at once been clothed with an interest which they did not before possess. We do not hesitate, therefore, to admit, that a share of our emotions of associated beauty may be traced to this source.
But when the perception of utility (that is to say, of the fitness of the object for some profitable ends) is proposed as the ground and origin of all emotions of beauty, including those that are original as well as those that are associated, the doctrine evidently cannot be sustained.
Mr. Burke, in his Treatise on the Sublime and Beautiful, has paid some attention to this doctrine. He rejects it altogether, considered as the universal basis of beauty. If it be admitted to be true, he considers it a fair inference from it that the wedgelike snout of the swine, with
its tough cartilage at the end, and the general make of its head, so well adapted to digging and rooting, are extremely beautiful; and that hedgehogs and porcupines, which are so admirably secured against all assaults by their prickly hides, can justly be considered creatures of no small elegance.
On the theory, therefore, which proposes the perception of utility as the true ground of all emotions of beauty, both associated and original, it is enough for us to say that it goes too far. It does, indeed, in connexion with the laws of association, suggest a happy explanation of many such emotions coming under the class of associated; but by no means of all even of these.
47. Of proportion as an element of associated beauty. There are some who imagine they find the source of beauty in a certain symmetry and determinate proportion of parts. This idea has been particularly advocated by artists, who seem to have supposed that the elements of beauty might not only be discovered, but even measured in the great models of architecture, statuary, and painting. They assign, perhaps, to the height of a column, the measurement of six or seven of its own diameters, and designate to an inch the length and breadth which constitute the beautiful in other cases. Mr. Burke has examined this opinion also; directing his inquiries to vegetables, the inferior animals, and man. He has shown that, in all cases, there are no certain measures on which the beautiful can justly be said to depend.
For instance, in the vegetable creation we find nothing more beautiful than flowers, but there is a very great variety in their shape, and in the disposition of the parts which pertain to them. In the rose, the stalk is slender, but the flower is large. The flower or blossom of the apple, on the other hand, is very small, but the tree large. Now if one of these be in proportion, the other wants it; and yet, by general consent, both the rose and the apple blossom possess beauty; and the bush of the one and the tree of the other allowedly present a very engaging appearance.—If, again, we inquire in respect to man and in respect to the inferior animal creation, we are brought to the same result, viz., that beauty does not depend upon a fixed relative size of the parts, that is, upon proportion.
It is proper to remark, however, that the word proportion is sometimes used, not to signify something which is definite, fixed, and invariable, but as synonymous with a fitness or propriety which is gathered up from the general relations and aspects of the object, and is represented by a state of the mind itself. This subject we have already briefly considered. And we readily admit, wherever there is a distinct suggestion of such an idea of fitness, there is also an additional sentiment of the beautiful; and, wherever there is a perception of unfitness or want of propriety, there is a diminution of it.
“The sense of propriety," says Kaimes, in some remarks on Gardening and Architecture,“ dictates the following rule, That every building ought to have an expression corresponding to its destination. A palace ought to be sumptuous and grand; a private dwelling neat and modest; a playhouse gay and splendid; and a monument gloomy and melancholy.” And it is entirely obvious, whenever this sense of propriety is violated, whether in these cases or in others like them, we fail to experience that pleasure, or to regard the object with that degree of complacency which we otherwise should.
48. Relation of emotions of beauty to the fine arts. The remarks of the last section lead us further to observe, that the study of this part of our constitution is exceedingly important in its applications to the fine arts. As a general statement, the true measurement of beauty in outward objects is the amount of pleasure or satisfaction which is caused within ourselves. The fine arts are outward representations, addressed in the first instance to the senses of sight and hearing in particular, and through them to that susceptibility of the beautiful which exists in the interior of the soul; and we can judge of their excellence only by their effects in relation to that susceptibility. How great ignorance, therefore, must we discover in all inquiries where the fine arts are concerned, if
we are not thoroughly acquainted with this part of our sentient nature !
Perhaps these remarks should be accompanied with a precautionary suggestion. The observation we wish to make is this. We are not at liberty, as a general thing, to pass a positive judgment on works of art, founded on our own emotions merely, and wholly exclusive of any consideration of the feelings of others. Some accidental circumstance, or some casual association of a more permanent kind, may either unduly increase or diminish the precise effects which would otherwise have been produced; and we shall not be likely to be sensible of this perversion of feeling if we rely on ourselves alone. Although, therefore, it is important that we should correct our own judgments by comparing them with the emotions and judgments of others, it will still remain true that the great grounds of decision, in all cases of beauty or deformity in the works of art, will be found in ourselves.
$ 49. Differences of original susceptibility of this emotion. Supposing it to be true that we possess an original susceptibility of emotions of beauty, independently of what we derive from association, it seems, however, to be the fact, that this susceptibility is found existing in different degrees in different persons.
Let the same beautiful object be presented to two persons, and one will be found to be not only affected, but ravished, as it were, with feelings of beauty; while the other will have the same kind of emotions, but in a very diminished degree.-A great degree of susceptibility of emotions of beauty, with a somewhat restricted import of the word, is usually termed SENSIBILITY.
The differences of men in this respect may justly be thought, where we cannot account for it by anything in their education or mental culture, to be constitutional. Nor is it more strange that men should be differently affected by the same beautiful objects, in consequence of some difference of constitution, than that they should constitutionally have different passions; that one should be choleric, another of a peaceable turn; that one should be mild and yielding, another inflexible.