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Indeed, as many parts of the body are so cona stantly kept covered, the proportion of the whole cana not be equally known; but as stockings are so close and thin a covering, every one judges of the different shapes and proportions of legs with great accuracy. The ladies always speak skilfully of necks, hands and arms; and often will point out such particular beauties or defects in their make, as might easily escape the
observation of a man of science. B.8i Surely, such determinations could not be made
and pronounced with such critical truth, if the eye were not capable of measuring or judging of thicknesses by lengths, with great preciseness. Nay more; in order to determine so nicely as they often do, it must also at the same time trace with some skill those delicate windings upon the surface which have been described in page 64 and 65, which altogether may be observed to include the two general ideas men. tioned at the beginning of this chapter
If so, certainly it is in the power of a man of scis lence, with as observing an eye, to go still further, and conceive, with a very little turn of thought; many other necessary circumstances concerning proportion, as of what size and in what manner the bones help to make up the bulk, and support the other parts; as well as what certain weights or dimensions of muscles are proper (according to the principle of the steelyard) to move such or such a length of arm with this or that degree of swiftness or force.
But though much of this matter may be easily understood by common observation, assisted by science, still I fear it will be difficult to raise a very clear
idea of what constitutes, or composes thoutmost beauty of proportion; such as is seen in the Antinous; which is allowed to be the most perfect in this respect, of any of the antique statues; and though the lovely like wise seems to have been as much the sculptor's aim, as in the Venus; yet a manly strength in its propor- P. 83 tion is equally expressed from head to foot in it.
Let us try, however, and as this master-piece of art is so well known, we will set it up before us as a pattern, and endeavour to fabricate, or put together in the mind, such kind of parts as shall seem to build another figure like it. In doing which, we shall soon find that it is chiefly to be effected by means of the nice sensation we naturally have of what certain quantities or dimensions of parts, are fittest to produce the utmost strength formoving or supporting great weights; and of what are most fit for the utmost light agility, as also for every degree, between these two extremes.
He who hath best perfected his ideas of these matters by common observations, and by the assistance of arts relative thereto, will probably be most precisely just and clear, in conceiving the application of the various parts and dimensions, that will occur to him, in the following descriptive manner of disposing of them, in order to form the idea of a fine-proportioned figure.
Having set up the Antinous as our pattern, we will suppose there were placed on one side of it, the unwieldy elephant-like figure of an Atlas, made up of such thick bones and muscles, as would best fit him for supporting a vast weight, according to his character of extreme heavy strength: and, on the other side, P.93 imagine the slim figure of a Mercury, every where neatly formed for the utmost light agility, with slender bones and taper muscles fit for his nimble bounding from the ground. Both these figures must be supposed of equal height, and not exceeding six foot'.
Our extremes thus placed, now imagine the Atlas throwing off by degrees certain portions of bone and muscle, proper for the attainment of light agility, as if aiming at the Mercury's airy form and quality, whilst on the other hand, see the Mercury augmenting his taper figure by equal degrees, and growing towards an Atlas in equal time, by receiving to the like places from whence they came, the very quantities that the other had been casting off, when, as they approach each other in weight, their forms of course may be imagined to grow more and more alike, till at a certain point of time, they meet in just similitude ; which being an exact medium between the two extremes, we may thence conclude it to be the precise form of exact proportion fittest for perfect active strength or graceful movement; such as the Antinous we proposed to imitate and figure in the mind ?
I am apprehensive that this part of my scheme, for
If the scale of either of these proportions were to exceed six foot in the life, the quality of strength in one, and agility in the other, would gradually decrease, the larger the person grew. There are sufficient proofs of this, both from mechanical reasonings and common observation.
2 The jockey who knows to an ounce what flesh or bone in a horse is fittest for speed or strength, will as easily conceive the like process between the strongest dray-horse and the fleetest racer, and soon conclude, that the fine war-horse must be the medium between the two extremes.
explaining exact proportion, may not be thought so sufficiently determinate as could be wished : be this P. 84 *as it will, I must submit it to the reader as my best resource in so difficult a case : and shall therefore beg leave to try to illustrate it a little more, by observing, that, in like manner, any two opposite colours in the rainbow, form a third between them, by thus imparting to each other their peculiar qualities; as for example, the brightest yellow, and the lively blue that is placed at some distance from it, visibly approach, and blend by interchangable degrees, and, as above, temper rather than destroy each other's vigour, till they meet in one firm compound; whence, at a certain point, the sight of what they were originally, is quite lost; but in their stead, a most pleasing green is found, which colour nature hath chose for the vestment of the earth, and with the beauty of which the eye is never tired.
From the order of the ideas which the description of the above three figures may have raised in the mind, we may easily compose between them, various other proportions. And as the painter, by means of a certain order in the arrangement of the colours upon his pallet, readily mixes up what kind of tint he pleases, so may we mix up and compound in the imagination such fit parts as will be consistent with this or that particular character, or at least be able thereby to discover how such characters are composed when we see them either in art or nature.
But perhaps even the word character, as it relates P. 85 to form, may not be quite understood by every one, though it is so frequently used; nor do I remember to
have seen it explained any where. Therefore on this account-and also as it will further shew the use of thinking of form and motion together, it will not be improper to observe, --that notwithstanding a character, in this sense, chiefly depends on a figure being remarkable as to its form, either in some particular part, or altogether; yet surely no figure, be it ever so singular, can be perfectly conceived as a character, till we find it connected with some remarkable circumstance or cause, for such particularity of appearance; for instance, a fat bloated person doth not call to mind the character of a Silenus, till we have joined the idea of voluptuousness with it; so likewise strength to support, and clumsiness of figure, are united, as well in the character of an Atlas as in a porter.
- When we consider the great weight chairmen often have to carry, do we not readily consent that there is a propriety and fitness in the tuscan order of their legs, by which they properly become characters as to figure ?
Watermen too are of a distinct cast, or character, whose legs are no less remarkable for their smallness : for as there is naturally the greatest call for nutriment to the parts that are most exercised, so of course these, that lie so much stretched out, are apt to dwindle, or
not grow to their full size. There is scarcely a waterP. 56 man that rows upon the Thames, whose figure doth
not confirm this observation. Therefore were I to paint the character of a Charon, I would thus distinguish his make from that of a common man's; and, in spite of the word low, venture to give him a broad pair