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is ever to be attended to, as it is one part of beauty, as has been already said: but that what I mean by distinctness of parts in this place may be better understood, it will be proper to explain it by an example.
When you would compose an object of a great variety of parts, let several of those parts be distinguished by themselves, by their remarkable difference from the next adjoining, so as to make each of them as it were one well-shaped quantity or part, as is marked by the dotted lines in figure* (these are like what they call passages in music, and in writing paragraphs) by which means, not only the whole, but even every part, will be better understood by the eye: for confusion will hereby be avoided when the object is seen near, and the shapes will seem well varied, though fewer in number, at a distance; as figure | supposed to be the same as the former, but removed so far off that the eye loses sight of the smaller members.
The parsley-leaf f, in like manner, from whence a beautiful foliage in ornament was originally taken, is divided into three distinct passages; which are again divided into other odd numbers; and this method is P.se observed, for the generality, in the leaves of all plants and flowers, the most simple of which are the trefoil and cinquefoil. .
Light and shade, and colours, also must have their distinctness to make objects completely beautiful; but of these in their proper places only I will give you a general idea of what is here meant by the
beauty of distinctness of forms, lights, shades, and
If the general parts of objects are preserved large at first, they will always admit of farther enrichments of a small kind, but then they must be so small as not to confound the general masses or quantities.—Thus you see variety is a check upon itself when overdone, which of course begets what is called a petit taste and a confusion to the eye.
It will not be amiss next to shew what effects an object or two will have that are put together without, or contrary to these rules of composing variety. Figure * is taken from one of those branches fixt to the sides of common old-fashioned stove-grates by way of ornament, wherein you see how the parts have been varied by fancy only, and yet pretty well: close to which f is another, with about the like number of parts; but as the shapes neither are enough varied as to their contents, nor in their sitúations with each other, but one shape follows its exact likeness : it is therefore a disagreeable and tasteless figure, and for the same reason the candlestick, fig. I is still worse, as there is less variety in it. Nay, it
would be better to be quite plain, as figure *, than
These few examples, well understood, will, I ima-
Hitherto, with regard to composition, little else P, 45 but forms made up of straight and curved lines have been spoken of, and though these lines have but little variety in themselves, yet by reason of the great diversifications that they are capable of in being joined with one another, great variety of beauty of the more useful sort is produced by them, as in neces
sary utensils and building: but in my opinion, build-
Have not many gothic buildings a great deal of consistent beauty in them? perhaps acquired by a series of improvements made from time to time by the natural persuasion of the eye, which often very near answers the end of working by principles; and sometimes begets them. There is at present such a thirst after variety, that even paltry imitations of Chinese buildings have a kind of vogue, chiefly on account of their novelty : but not only these, but
any other new-invented characters of building might P. 46 be regulated by proper principles. The mere orna
ments of building, to be sure, at least might be
Nature, in shells and flowers, &c. affords an infinite choice of elegant hints for this purpose ; as the original of the Corinthian capital was taken from nothing more, as is said, than some dock-leaves growing
up against a basket. Even a capital composed of the awkward and confined forms of hats and periwigs, as fig. * in a skilful hand might be made to have some beauty.
However, though the moderns have not made many additions to the art of building, with respect to mere beauty or ornament, yet it must be confessed, they have carried simplicity, convenience, and neatness of workmanship, to a very great degree of perfection, particularly in England; where plain good sense hath preferred these more necessary parts of beauty, which every body can understand, to that richness of taste which is so much to be seen in other countries, and so often substituted in their room.
St. Paul's cathedral is one of the noblest instances that can be produced of the most judicious application of every principle that has been spoken of. There you may see the utmost variety without confusion, simplicity without nakedness, richness without taudriness, distinctness without hardness, and quantity without excess. Whence the eye is entertained throughout P.47 with the charming variety of all its parts together; the noble projecting quantity of a certain number of them, which presents bold and distinct parts at a distance, when the lesser parts within them disappear; and the grand few, but remarkably well-varied parts that continue to please the eye as long as the object is discernible, are evident proofs of the superior skill of Sir Christopher Wren, so justly esteemed the prince of architects,
* Fig. 48. P. 1,