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ferred. For the same reason, the oval is preferred before the circle ; and painters, in copying buildings or any regular work, give an air of variety, by representing the subject in an angular view: we are pleased with the variety, without lofing sight of the regularity. In a landscape representing animals, those especially of the fame kind, contrast ought to prevail : to draw one lleeping, another awake; one fitting, another in motion; one moving toward the spectator, another from him, is the life of such a performance.
In every sort of writing intended for amusement, variety is necessary in proportion to the length of the work. Want of variety is sensibly felt in Davila's history of the civil wars of France: the events are indeed important and various'; but the reader languishes by a tiresome monoto. ny of character, every person engaged being figured a consummate politician, governed by interest only. It is hard to say, whether Ovid disgusts more by too great variety, or too great uniformity: his stories are all of the same kind, concluding invariably with the transformation of one being into another; and so far he is tiresome by excess in uniformity : he is not less fatiguing by excess in variety, hurrying his reader' incessantly from story to story. Ariosto is still more fatiguing than Ovid, by exceeding the just bounds of variety: not satisfied, like Ovid, with a succession in his stories, he distracts the reader, by jumbling together a multitude of them withX 2
out out any connection. Nor is the Orlando Furioso less tiresome by its uniformity than the Metamorphoses, though in a different manner : after a story is brought to a crisis, the reader, intent on the catastrophe, is suddenly snatched away to a new story, which makes no impression so long as the mind is occupied with the former. This tantalizing method, from which the author never once swerves during the course of a long work, beside its uniformity, had another bad effect : it prevents that sympathy, which is rai. sed by an interesting , event when the reader meets with no interruption.
The emotions produced by our perceptions in à train, have been little considered, and less understood ; the subject therefore required an elaborate discussion. It may surprise fome readers to find variety treated as only contributing to make a train of perceptions pleasant, when it is commonly held to be a necessary ingredient in beauty of whatever kind; according to the definition, “ That beauty consists in uniformity “ amid variety.” But, after the subject is explained and illustrated as above, I presume it will be evident, that this definition, however applicable to one or other species, is far from be. ing just with respect to beauty in general : va. riety contributes no share to the beauty of a moral action, nor of a mathematical theorem : and numberless are the beautiful objects of fight that have little or no variety in them; a globe, the
most uniform of all figures, is of all the most beautiful ; and a square, though more beautiful than a trapezium, hath less variety in its conftituent parts. The foregoing definition, which at best is but obscurely expressed, is only applicable to a number of objects in a group or in succesfion, among which indeed a due mixture of uniformity and variety is always agreeable ; provided the particular objects, separately confidered, be in any degree beautiful, for uniformity amid variety among ugly objects, affords no pleafure. This circumstance is totally omitted in the definition, and indeed to have mentioned it, would at the very first glance have shown the definition to be imperfect : for to define beauty as arising from beautiful objects blended together in a due proportion of uniformity and variety, would be too gross to pass current: as nothing can be more gross, than to employ in a definition the very term that is to be explained.
APPENDIX TO CHAP. IX,
Concerning the Works of Nature, chiefly with re.
Spect to Uniformity and Variety.
TN things of Nature's workmanship, whether I we regard their internal or external structure, beauty and design are equally conspicuous, X 3
We shall begin with the outside of nature, as what first presents itself.
The figure of an organic body is generally regular. The trunk of a tree, its branches, and their ramifications, are nearly round, and form a series regularly decreasing from the trunk to the smallest fibre: uniformity is no where more remarkable than in the leaves, which, in the same species, have all the same colour, size, and shape: the seeds and fruits are all regular figures, approaching for the most part to the globular form. Hence a plant, especially of the larger kind, with its trunk, branches, foliage, and fruit, is a charming object.
In an animal, the trunk, which is much larger than the other parts, occupies a chief place: its shape, like that of the stem of plants, is nearly round; a figure which of all is the most agreeable : its two sides are precisely similar : several of the under parts go off in pairs; and the two individuals of each pair are accurately uniform : the single parts are placed in the middle : the limbs bearing a certain proportion to the trunk, serve to support it, and to give it a proper elevation : upon one extremity are disposed the neck and head, in the direction of the trunk: the head being the chief part, possesses with great propriety the chief place. Hence, the beauty of the whole figure, is the result of many equal and proportional parts orderly disposed; and the smallest variation in number, equality, pro
ture, the magnet word,
portion, or order, never fails to produce a perception of deformity.
Nature in no particular seems more profuse of ornament, than in the beautiful colouring of her works. The flowers of plants, the furs of beafts, and the feathers of birds, vie with each other in the beauty of their colours, which in lustre as well as in harmony are beyond the power of imitation. Of all natural appearances, the colouring of the human face is the most exquisite: it is the strongest instance of the inef. fable art of nature, in adapting and proportioning its colours to the magnitude, figure, and pofition, of the parts. In a word, colour seems to live in nature only, and to languish under the finest touches of art.
When we examine the internal structure of a plant or animal, a wonderful subtilty of mechanism is displayed. Man, in his mechanical operations, is confined to the surface of bodies; but the operations of nature are exerted through the whole substance, so as to reach even the elementary parts. Thus the body of an animal, and of a plant, are composed of certain great vessels; these of smaller ; and thefe again of still smaller, without end, as far as we can discover. This power of diffusing mechanism through the most intimate parts, is peculiar to nature, and distinguishes her operations, most remarkably, from every work of art. Such texture, continued from the grosser parts to the most minute, preserves all along the