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ground of its not being picturesque, would it not have been more agreeable to common language, to have objected to it on the ground of its not being beautiful ? For my own part, I am inclined to admit asperity, sharp angles, and irregularity (when introduced in their proper places), among the constituents of Beauty, as well as their opposites; and I would study the art of combining them happily, not in the arbitrary definitions of theorists, but in the great volume of Nature herself. The conjectures of various modern writers concerning the principles upon which different forms produce their ef. fects, and the conclusions of some of them (particularly of Hogarth) with respect to the waving line, do great honour to their ingenuity, and may probably admit, in some of the arts, of very useful practical applications; but philosophical distinctness, as well as universal practice, requires that the meaning of the word Beauty, instead of being restricted in conformity to any partial system whatever, should continue to be the generic word for expressing every quality which, in the works either of Nature or of Art, contributes to render them agreeable to the eye. I would not therefore restrict, even to Hogarth's line, the appellation of the line of beauty, if that phrase be understood to imply anything more than that this line seems, from an examination of many of Nature's most pleasing productions, to be one of her favourite forms. Before dismissing the theories of Hogarth and Burke, I think it proper again to remind my readers, that I do not dispute their practical value in
some of the fine arts. I only object to such systems when they profess to embrace all the principles on which the complicated charms of Nature depend; or when, without any reference to a particular design, they are converted into universal maxims, arising out of the very definition of Beauty; and to which, of consequence, artists may conceive it to be incumbent on them to adhere, in order to insure success. In works which are merely ornamental, they are much more likely to hold, than when some further end is proposed; for, in cases of the latter sort, the pleasing or disagreeable effects connected with material forms, considered abstractly, are so easily overpowered by the more weighty considerations suggested by views of fitness and utility, that the maxims adapted to one art will seldom be found of much use when applied to another: the maxims, for example, of architecture, when applied to landscape-gardening; or those of landscape-gardening, when applied to architecture. The beauty of a winding approach to a house, when the easy deviations from the straight line are all accounted for by the shape of the ground, or by the position of trees, is universally acknowledged; but what more ridiculous than a road meandering through a plain, perfectly level and open 2 In this last case, I am inclined to refer the disagreeable effect to the principle of the sufficient reason already mentioned. The slightest apology for a sweep 'satisfies the taste at once. It is enough that the designer has the appearance of humouring Nature, U
and not of indulging his own caprice. The pleasing
kind, when I say, that nothing is more beautiful than a highly dressed field. Such, too, I am happy to add, was the opinion of Cicero. “Agro bene “culto, nil potest esse, nec usu uberius, nec specie “ ornatius.”
CONTINUATION OF THE SAME SUBJECT.
To the latitude in the use of the word Beauty, of which I have been thus attempting to vindicate the propriety, it has been objected, both by Mr Burke and Mr Price, that it has a tendency to produce a confusion of ideas, and to give rise to ill-judged applications of the term. The inconveniencies, however, of which they complain, appear to have arisen entirely from their own inattention to a very important distinction among the various elements, or ingredients, which may enter into the composition of the Beautiful. Of these elements, there are some which are themselves intrinsically pleasing, without a reference to anything else; there are others which please only in a state of combination. There are certain colours which every person would pronounce to be pleasing, when presented singly to the eye; there are others, which, without possessing any such recommendation, produce a pleasing effect when happily assorted. The beauty of the former may be said to be absolute or intrinsic; that of the latter to be only relative.