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end proposed: an ornamental composition was no part of his scheme, otherwise than as a polish might be necessary; if ornaments are required to be added to mend its shape, care must be taken that they are no obstruction to the movement itself, and the more as they would be superfluous, as to the main design.
But in nature's machines, how wonderfully do we see beauty and use go hand in hand !
· Had a machine for this purpose been nature's work, the whole and every individual part might have had exquisite beauty of form without danger of destroying the exquisiteness of its motion, even as if ornament had been the sole aim; its movements too might have been graceful, without one superfluous tittle added for either of these lovely purposes. Now this is that curious difference between the fitness of nature's machines (one of which is man) and those made by mortal hands: which distinction is to lead us to our main point proposed; I mean to the shewing what constitutes the utmost beauty of proportion,
There was brought from France some years ago, a little clock-work machine, with a duck's head and legs fixt to it, which was so contrived as to have some resemblance to that animal standing upon one foot, and stretching back its leg, turning its head, opening and shutting its bill, moving its wings, and shaking its tail; all of them the plainest and easiest directions P.72 in living movements: yet for the poorly performing of these few motions, this silly, but much extolled machine, being uncovered, appeared a most complicated, confused and disagreeable object : nor would its being covered with a skin closely adhering to its
parts, as that of a real duck's doth, have much mended
The finny race of animals, as they have fewer motions than other creatures, so are their forms less remarkable for beauty. It is also to be noted of every species, that the handsomest of each move best: birds of a clumsy make seldom fly well, nor do lumpy fish glide so well through the water as those of a neater make; and beasts of the most elegant form always excel in speed; of this, the horse and greyhound are beautiful examples: and even among themselves, the most elegantly made seldom fail of being the swiftest. . The war-horse is more equally made for strength
than the race-horse, which surplus of power in the · P.73 former, if supposed added to the latter, as it would
throw more weight into improper parts for the business of mere speed, so of course it would lessen, in some degree, that admirable quality, and partly destroy that delicate fitness of his make; but then a quality in movement, superior to that of speed, would be given to him by the addition, as he would be rendered thereby more fit to move with ease in such varied, or graceful directions, as are so delightful to the
eye in the carriage of the fine managed war-horse; and as at the same time, something stately and graceful would be added to his figure, which before could only be said to have an elegant neatness. This noble creature stands foremost amongst brutes;. and it is but consistent with nature's propriety, that the most useful animal in the brute-creation, should be thus signalized also for the most beauty. ' ;
Yet, properly speaking, no living creatures are capable of moving in such truly varied and graceful directions, as the human species; and it would be needless to say how much superior in beauty their forms and textures likewise are. And surely also after what has been said relating to figure and motion, it it is plain and evident that nature has thought fit to make beauty of proportion and beauty of movement necessary to each other: so that the observation before made on animals, will hold equally good with regard to man: i. e, that he who is most exquisitely well-proportioned is most capable of exquisite movements, such as ease and grace in deportment, or in dancing. . It may be a sort of collateral confirmation of P.74 what has been said of this method of nature's working, as well as otherwise worth our notice, that when any parts belonging to the human body are concealed, and not immediately concerned in movement, all such ornamental shapes, as evidently appear in the muscles and bones', are totally neglected as unneces
sary, for nature doth nothing in vain! this is plainly 'the case of the intestines, none of them having the
See chap. ix. on Compositions with the Serpentine-line.'
least beauty, as to form, except the heart; which noble part, and indeed kind of first mover, is a simple and well varied figure; conformable to which, some of the most elegant Roman urns and vases have been fashioned.
Now, thus much being kept in remembrance, our next step will be to speak of, first, general measurements; such as the whole height of the body to its breadth, or the length of a limb to its thickness : and, secondly, of such appearances of dimensions as are too intricately varied to admit of a description by lines.
The former will be confined to a very few straight lines, crossing each other, which will easily be understood by every one; but the latter will require some what more attention, because it will extend to the precision of every modification, bound, or limit, of the human figure.
To be somewhat more explicit. As to the first part, I shall begin with shewing what practicable sort P.75 of measuring may be used in order to produce the
most proper variety in the proportions of the parts of any body. I say, practicable, because the vast variety of intricately situated parts, belonging to the human form, will not admit of measuring the distances of one part by another, by lines or points, beyond a certain degree or number, without great perplexity in the operation itself, or confusion to the imagination: For instance, say, a line representing one breadth and an half of the wrist, would be equal to the true breadth of the thickest part of the arm above the elbow; may it not then be asked, what part of the wrist is meant? for if you place a pair of calipers a little nearer or further from the hand, the distance of the points will differ, and so they will if they are moved close to the wrist all round, because it is flatter one way than the other; but suppose, for argument sake, one certain diameter should be fixed upon; may it not again be asked, how is it to be applied, if to the flattest side of the arm or the roundest, and how far from the elbow, and must it be when the arm is extended or when it is bent ? for this also will make a sensible difference, because in the latter position, the muscle, called the biceps, in the front of that part of the arm, swells up like a ball one way, and narrows itself another; nay all the muscles shift their appearances in different movements, so that whatever may have been pretended by some authors, no exact mathematical measurements by lines can be given for the true proportion of a human body.
It comes then to this, that no longer than whilst P.76 we suppose all the lengths and breadths of the body, or limbs, to be as regular figures as cylinders, or as the leg, figure 68 in plate 1, which is as round as a rolling stone, are the measures of lengths to breadths practicable, or of any use to the knowledge of propor. tion: so that as all mathematical schemes are foreign to this purpose, we will endeavour to root them quite out of our way: therefore I must not omit taking notice, that Albert Durer, Lamozzo, (see two tasteless figures taken from their books of proportion *) and some others, have not only puzzled mankind with a