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If things connected be the fubject of congruity, it is reasonable beforehand to expect, that a degree of congruity fhould be required proportioned to the degree of the connection. And upon examination we find this to hold in fact: where the relation is intimate, as between a caufe and its effect, a whole and its parts, we require the ftricteft congruity; but where the relation is flight, or accidental, as among things jumbled together in the fame place, we require little or no congruity: the stricteft propriety is required in behaviour and manner of living; because a man is connected with thefe by the relation of caufe and effect: the relation between an edifice and the ground it ftands upon, is of the most intimate kind, and therefore the fituation of a great houfe ought to be lofty; its relation to neighbouring hills, rivers, plains, being that of propinquity only, de
in the text, it is proper to be obferved, that the fame diftinction is applicable to relations. Refemblance, equality, uniformity, pro. ximity, are relations that depend not on us, but exist equally whether perceived or not; and upon that account may justly be termed primary relations. But there are other relations, that to us only appear fuch, and that have not any external existence like primary relations; which is the cafe of congruity, incongruity, propriety, impropriety thefe may be properly termed fecondary relations. Thus it appears from what is faid in the text, that the secondary relations mentioned, arife from objects connected together by fome primary relation. Property is an example of a fecondary relation, that ferves finely to illuftrate their nature: this relation plainly exifts no where but in the mind; for between a man and his field, or his horfe, there is no external or primary relation but what may exist between him and a field or a horse belonging to another.
mands but a fmall fhare of congruity: among members of the fame club, the congruity ought to be confiderable, as well as among things placed for fhow in the fame niche: among paffengers in a stage-coach, we require very little congruity; and less still at a public spectacle.
Congruity is fo nearly allied to beauty as commonly to be held a fpecies of it; and yet they differ fo effentially, as never to coincide: beauty, like colour, is placed upon a single fubject; congruity upon a plurality: further, a thing beautiful in itself, may, with relation to other things, produce the strongest sense of incongruity.
Congruity and propriety are commonly reckoned fynonymous terms; and hitherto in opening the fubject they are used indifferently: but they are distinguishable; and the precife meaning of each must be afcertained. Congruity is the genus, of which propriety is a fpecies; for we call nothing propriety, but that congruity or fuitablenefs, which ought to fubfift between fenfible beings and their thoughts, words, and actions.
In order to give a full view of thefe fecondary relations, I fhall trace them through fome of the most confiderable primary relations. The relation of a part to the whole, being extremely intimate, demands the utmost degree of congruity: even the flightest deviation is difguftful; witness the Lutrin, a burlefque poem, which is closed
with a serious and warm panegyric on Lamoignon, one of the King's judges:
Amphora cœpit Inftitui; currente rota, cur urceus exit ?
Examples of congruity and incongruity are furnished in plenty by the relation between a subject and its ornaments. A literary performance intended merely for amusement, is fufceptible of much ornament, as well as a mufic-room or a play-house; for in gaiety, the mind hath a peculiar relish for fhow and decoration. The most gorgeous apparel, however improper in tragedy, is not unfuitable to opera-actors: the truth is, an opera, in its prefent form, is a mighty fine thing; but as it deviates from nature in its capital circumstances, we look not for nature nor propriety in those which are acceffory. On the other hand, a ferious and important fubject, admits not much ornament *; nor a fubject that of itself is extremely beautiful: and a fubject that fills the mind with its loftinefs and grandeur, appears beft in a drefs altogether plain.
To a perfon of a mean appearance, gorgeous apparel is unfuitable; which, befide the incon
Contrary to this rule, the introduction to the third volume of the Characteristics, is a continued chain of metaphors: thefe in fuch profufion are too florid for the fubject; and have befide the bad effect of removing our attention from the principal fubject, to fix it upon fplendid trifles.
gruity, has a bad effect; for by contraft it shows the meannefs of appearance in the strongest light. Sweetness of look and manner, requires fimplicity of drefs joined with the greatest elegance. A ftately and majestic air requires fumptuous apparel, which ought not to be gaudy, nor crowded with little ornaments. A woman of confummate beauty can bear to be highly adorned, and yet fhows beft in a plain dress:
Congruity regulates not only the quantity of ornament, but alfo the kind. The ornaments that embellish a dancing-room ought to be all of them gay. No picture is proper for a church, but what has religion for its fubject. All the ornaments upon a shield ought to relate to war; and Virgil, with great judgment, confines the carvings upon the fhield of Æneas, to the military history of the Romans: but this beauty is overlooked by Homer; for the bulk of the fculpture upon the fhield of Achilles, is of the arts of peace in general, and of joy and feftivity in particular: the author of Telemachus betrays the fame inattention, in defcribing the fhield of that young hero.
In judging of propriety with regard to ornaments, we must attend, not only to the nature of the fubject that is to be adorned, but also
to the circumstances in which it is placed the ornaments that are proper for a ball, will appear not altogether fo tlecent at public worship; and the fame perfon ought to dress differently for a marriage-feaft and for a burial.
Nothing is more intimately related to a man, than his fentiments, words, and actions; and therefore we require here the ftrictest conformity. When we find what we thus require, we have a lively sense of propriety: when we find the contrary, our fenfe of impropriety is not lefs lively. Hence the univerfal diftaste of affectation, which confifts in making a fhew of greater delicacy and refinement than is fuited either to the character or circumftances of the perfon. Nothing shows worse in a story than impropriety of manners. In Corneille's tragedy of Cinna, Emilia, a favourite of Auguftus, receives daily marks of his affection, and is loaded with benefits; yet all the while is laying plots to affaffinate her benefactor, directed by no other motive but to avenge her father's death*: revenge against a benefactor founded folely upon filial piety, must be directed by justice, and therefore never can suggest unlawful means; and yet the crime here attempted, a treacherous murder, is what even a miscreant will scarce attempt against his bitterest enemy.
What is faid may be thought fufficient to explain the relations of congruity and propriety..
See act 1. fc. 2.