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In matural objects, too, which are of so great a magnitude that we never think of subjecting them to the examination of touch, as well as in artificial objects, which are intended to be placed at an altitude beyond our reach, roughness, and even ruggedness, may often be considered as ingredients of beauty; as in rock-scenery, fretted ceilings, and various other cases. The fantastic forms of frostwork, and the broken surface of shell-work in artificial grottos, are obvious illustrations of the same remark.
In some of these last instances, the beauty of roughness arises, in part, from the very same cause which, in other cases, gives beauty to smoothness; the aptitude of the object to reflect, in an agreeable manner, the rays of light. Hence, too, the beauty of the brilliant cut in diamonds, and of the numberless angular forms (so contrary to Mr Burke's theory) in ornaments of cut crystal.
“itself.”—“Among the foreign oaks, maples, &c. those are “ particularly esteemed whose leaves (according to a common, “ though perhaps contradictory phrase) are Beautifully Jag“GED.”— “The vine leaf has, in all respects, a strong resemblance to “ the leaf of the plane, and that extreme richness of effect, which “everybody must be struck with in them both, is greatly owing “to those sharp angles, those sudden variations, so contrary to “ the idea of beauty, when considered by itself.”—“The ef. “fect of these jagged points and angles is more strongly marked “in sculpture, especially of vases of metal, where the vine leaf, “if imprudently handled, would at least prove that sharpness is “very contrary to the beautiful in feeling.”—Price on the Picturesque, p. 94, et seq.
The agreeable effect of the “smooth shaven “green” in gardens, seems also to arise from circumstances foreign to the sense of sight; particularly from the ideas of comfort connected with the use which is to be made of them; and the intimations they convey of the industry, attention, and art, employed in forming them and in keeping them in order. The same smoothness and trim regularity would make a very different impression, if we should meet with them out of their proper place ;-on the surface, for example, of a sheep-walk, or of a deer-park; or (where we have sometimes the misfortune to see them) in the immediate neighbourhood of a venerable ruin.
In the section immediately following that to which I have now referred, Mr Burke observes further, “That, as perfectly beautiful bodies are not com“posed of angular parts, so their parts never con“tinue long in the same right line. They vary “their direction every moment, and they change “under the eye, by a deviation continually carrying “on, but for whose beginning or end you will find “it difficult to ascertain a point.” He afterwards adds: “I do not find any natural object which is “angular, and at the same time beautiful. Indeed, “few natural objects are entirely angular. But I “think those which approach the most nearly to it “are the ugliest.”
To the disagreeable effect which is here ascribed to angles, the same remark may be extended which was formerly made upon roughness; that it is con
which we know, from experience, would offend or injure the sense of touch. It is felt, too, in some cases, in which objects are considered in relation to certain uses or purposes for which they are intended; as in the sharp and inconvenient turnings of a road. But, abstracting from these and other analogous exceptions, it does not occur to me that angles, and other sudden variations, are offensive to the eye. I have already mentioned the angular forms of cut crystal, and of gems which have passed through the hands of the lapidary; and also the more irregular and broken shapes of rock scenery. The same thing is still more strongly illustrated in such spectacles as belong to the sense of sight exclusively; as in fireworks; in the painting and gilding of the clouds; and, above all, in the zig-zag course of the ragged Iightning. A sharp angle is offensive in a river, partly because the gentle progress of the stream is too abruptly and rudely forced into a new direction; but chiefly because the usual and natural course of rivers exhibits a different appearance, in consequence of the gradual influence of the current in wearing whatever is angular into an easy and sweeping curvature. For the same reason, habit, co-operating with (what is always agreeable) a clear perception of the physical cause by which a geological effect is produced, bestows a beauty on the regular correspondence of the saliant and re-entering angles of the opposite banks. ‘It is, however, curious, and a strong confirmation of the truth of these remarks, that we judge of the beauty of a lake on principles perfectly different; and that nothing in nature can be conceived more pleasing, than when its shores are deeply indented by bays and creeks; or when sharp promontories advance boldly towards each other from opposite sides of the water. On this circumstance (as the Abbé de Lille has well remarked) is founded the characteristical difference between the beauties of a lake and those of a river. “Autant que la rivière en sa molle souplesse “D'un rivage anguleux redoute la rudesse, “Autant les bords aigus, les longs, enfoncemens “Sont d'un lac Čtendu les plus beaux ornémens. “Que la terre tantôt s'avance au sein des ondes, “Tantôt qu’elle ouvre aux flots des retraites profondes; “Et qu’ainsi s'appellant d'un mutuel amour, “Et la terre et les eaux se cherchent tour-a-tour. “Ces aspects variés amusent votre vue.” "
The doctrine which I have been now controverting, with respect to the effects of smoothness and of asperity, is entitled to more than common attention, as it forms the ground-work of a very ingenious and elegant Essay on the Picturesque, which, for several years past, has deservedly attracted a great deal of public attention. Indeed, it was chiefly with a view to this work (the author of which seems to me to have been misled in his phraseology, and in some of his theoretical opinions, by too implicit an acquies
* Les Jardins.—The same observation had been previously made by Mr Wheatley, in his Observations on Modern Gardening, 4th edit. p. 66.-" In a lake, just the reverse of a river, “creeks, bays, recesses of every kind, are always in character, “sometimes necessary, and generally beautiful: the objections “ to them in the one, are recommendations of them in the other."
cence in Mr Burke's conclusions) that I was led to