Images de page
PDF
ePub

teo has more beauty, and the passions more activity and force. Thus, as to liaired and affection in particular, the look that was formerly supposed to carry an infection with it from malignant eyes, was a slanting regard, like that which Milton gives to Satan when he is viewing the happiness of our first parents in Paradise,

Aside the Devil turn’d
For envy; yet with jealous eye malign,
Ey'd them askance.

The'fascination also, or stroke of love, is most usually conveyed in a side glance.

It is owing to the great force of pleasingness which attends all the kinder passions, that lovers do not only seem, but are really more beautiful to each other, than to the rest of the world; because, when they are together, the most pleasing passions are frequently pourtrayed in their faces, There is in them (as a certain French writer well expresses it) “ A soul upon their countenances,” which does not appear when they are absent from each other; or even when they are together conversing with other persons that are indifferent to them, or rather lay a restraint upon their features.

Thus we see the preference which the beauty of the passions bas over the colour and form;

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

ness.

and if any one was not thoroughly convinced of it, I should beg him to consider a little the following particulars, of which every body must have met with several instances.

There is a great deal of difference in the same face, as the person is in a better or worse humour, and a greater or less degree of liveli

The best complexion, the finest features, and the exactest sliape, without any thing of the mind expressed on the face, is as insipid and unmoving as the waxen figure of the fine Duchess of Richmond, in Westminster Abbey. A face without any good features, and with a very indifferent coinplexion, shall have a very taking air; from the sensibility of the eyes, the general good humourial turn of the look, and perhaps a litile agreeable smile about the mouth. And these three things would perhaps account for the J ne szui grci, or that inexplicable pleasingness

i face with is so often talked of, and so 1 tood; as the greater part, and perBatang guid bile rest of it, would fall under the next article, that of grace.

I once knew a very fine woman, who was much admired, and scarce ever loved. This was rccasioned by a want of all the pleasing passions in her face, and an appearance of the displeasing ones, particularly those of pride and ill nature.

Nero, of old, seems to have had this unpleasing sort of handsomeness; the goodness of his features being overlaid by the ugliness of the pas sions which appeared on his face. The finest eyes in the world, with an excess of malice or rage in them, will grow as shocking as they are in that fine face of the Medusa, on the famous seal of the Strozzi family at Rome.

Thus, it is evident, that the passions can give beauty without the assistance of colour or form; and take it away, where they have united the most strongly to give it, and it was this which induced me to describe this part of beauty as so highly superior to the other two. This may help us to account for the justness of what Pliny asserts in speaking of the famous statue of Laocoon, and his two sons.

He says it was the finest piece of art in Rome, and to be preferred to all the other statues and pictures of which they had so noble a collection in his time. It had no beauties of color to vie with the paintings; other statues, particularly the Apollo Belvedere and the Venus de Medici, were as tinely proportioned; but the Laocoon had much greater variety of expression even than these fine statues; and, on that account alone, it must have been preferable to them, and to all the rest. Before I conclude I will just advert to two

things which I mentioned before; that the chief beauty of the passions is moderation, and that the part in which they appear most strongly is in the eyes. There love holds all his tenderest language: ihere virtue commands, modesty charms, joy.enlivens, sorrow engages, and inclination fires the hearts of the beholders. There even fear and anger and confusion can be charming. But all these to be charming, must be kept within their due bounds and limits; for too sullen an appearance of virtue, a violent swell of passion, a rustic and over-whelming modesty, a deep sadness, a too wild and impetuous joy, become all either oppressive or disagreeable.

ESSAY 76.

GRACE

(Spence.)

THE last finishing and noblest part of beauty is grace, of which every body is accustomed to speak as a thing inexplicable; and in a great measure, I believe it is so. We know that the soul is, but we scarcely know what it is; every judge of beauty can point out grace; but no one has ever yet defined it.

Grace often depends upon very little incidents in a fine face; and in actions it consists more in the manner of doing things, than in the things themselves. It perpetually varies its appearances, and is therefore much more difficult to be considered than any thing fixed and steady. While we look upon one grace, it steals from under the

eye

of the observer, and is succeeded perhaps by another, that flits away as soon and as imperceptibly.

On this account grace is better to be studied

« PrécédentContinuer »