Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

almost equally made giddy by it. But our sensation differs much from either of these unpleasant ones, when we observe the curling worm, into which the worm-wheel is fixed * : for this is always pleasing, either at rest or in motion, and whether that motion is slow or quick.

That it is accounted so, when it is at rest, appears by the ribbon, twisted round a stick (represented on one side of this figure) which has been a long-established ornament in the carvings of frames, chimneypieces, and door-cases; and called by the carvers the stick 'and ribbon ornament: and when the stick through the middle is omitted, it is called the ribbon edge ; both to be seen in almost every house of fashion.

But the pleasure it gives the eye is still more lively when in motion. I never can forget my frequent strong attention to it, when I was very young, and that its beguiling movement gave me the same kind of sensation then, which I since have felt at seeing a country-dance ; though perhaps the latter might be somewhat more engaging ; particularly when my eye eagerly pursued a favourite dancer, through all the windings of the figure, who then was bewitching to, the sight, as the imaginary ray, we were speaking of, P.28 was dancing with her all the time.

This single example might be sufficient to explain what I mean by the beauty of a composed intricacy of form; and how it may be said, with propriety, to lead the eye a kind of chase.

[ocr errors]

But the hair of the head is another very obvious instance, which, being designed chiefly as an ornament, proves more or less so, according to the form it naturally takes, or is put into by art. The most amiable in itself is the flowing curl ; and the many waving and contrasted turns of naturally intermingling locks ravish the eye with the pleasure of the pursuit, especially when they are put in motion by a gentle breeze. The poet knows it, as well as the painter, and has described the wanton ringlets waving in the wind.

And yet to shew how excess ought to be avoided in intricacy, as well as in every other principle, the very same head of hair, whisped, and matted together would make the most disagreeable figure ; because the eye would be perplexed, and at a fault, and unable to trace such a confused number of uncomposed and entangled lines; and yet notwithstanding this, the present fashion the ladies have gone into, of wearing a part of the hair of their heads braided together from behind, like intertwisted serpents, arising thick

est from the bottom, lessening as it is brought forP.29. ward, and naturally conforming to the shape of the

rest of the hair it is pinned over, is extremely picturesque. Their thus interlacing the hair in distinct varied quantities is an artful way of preserving as much of intricacy, as is beautiful.

CHAPTER VI.

OF QUANTITY.

Forms of magnitude, although ill-shaped, will however, on account of their vastness, draw our attention and raise our admiration.

Huge shapeless rocks have a pleasing kind of horror in them, and the wide ocean awes us with its vast contents; but when forms of beauty are presented to the eye in large quantities, the pleasure increases on the mind, and horror is softened into reverence.

How solemn and pleasing are groves of high grown trees, great churches, and palaces? has not even a single spreading oak, grown to maturity, acquired the character of the venerable oak?

Windsor castle is a noble instance of the effect of quantity. The hugeness of its few distinct parts strikes the eye with uncommon grandeur at a distance, as well as nigh. It is quantity, with simplicity, which makes it one of the finest objects in the kingdom, though void of any regular order of architecture.

The Façade of the old Louvre at Paris is also re. P. 30 markable for its quantity. This fragment is allowed to be the finest piece of building in France, though there are many equal, if not superior, to it in all other respects, except that of quantity.

Who does not feel a pleasure when he pictures in his mind the immense buildings which once adorned

[merged small][ocr errors]

the lower Egypt, by imagining the whole complete, and ornamented with colossal statnes ?

Elephants and whales please us with their un. wieldy greatness. Even large personages, merely for being so, command respect: nay, quantity is an addition to the person which often supplies a deficiency in his figure.

The robes of state are always made large and full, because they give a grandeur of appearance, suitable to the offices of the greatest distinction. The judge's robes have an awful dignity given thein by the quantity of their contents, and when the train is held up, there is a noble waving line descending from the shoulders of the judge to the hand of his train-bearer. So when the train is gently thrown aside, it generally falls into a great variety of folds, which again employ the eye, and fix its attention.

The grandeur of the Eastern dress, which so far surpasses the European, depends as much on quantity as on costliness.

In a word, it is quantity which adds greatness to grace. But then excess is to be avoided, or quantity will become clumsy, heavy, or ridiculous.

The full-bottom wig, like the lion's mane, hath something noble in it, and adds not only dignity, but sagacity to the countenance *: but were it to be worn as large again, it would become a burlesque; or was an improper person to put it on, it would then too be ridiculous.

When improper, or incompatible excesses meet, they always excite laughter; more especially when the

* Fig. 16. p. 1.

forms of those excesses are inelegant, that is, when they are composed of unyaried lines.

For example, the figure referred to in the margin *, represents a fat grown face of a man, with an infant's cap on, and the rest of the child's dress stuffed, and so well placed under his chin, as to seem to belong to that face. This is a contrivance I have seen at Bartliolomew-fair, and always occasioned a roar of laughter. The next t is of the same kind, a child with a man's wig and cap on. In these you see the ideas of youth and age jumbled together, in forms without beauty.

So a Roman general f, dressed by a modern tailor and peruke-maker for tragedy, is a comic figure.

The dresses of the times are mixed, and the lines which compose them are straight or only round.

Dancing-masters, representing deities, in their grand ballets on the stage, are no less ridiculous. See the Jupiter Ş.

Nevertheless custom and fashion will, in length of time, reconcile almost every absurdity whatever, to the eye, or make it over-looked.

It is from the same joining of opposite ideas that P.32 makes us laugh at the owl and the ass, for under their awkward forms, they seem to be gravely musing and meditating, as if they had the sense of human beings.

A monkey too whose figure, as well as most of

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »