« AnkstesnisTęsti »
That this attribute is agreeable, no perfon doubts.
As grace is difplay'd externally, it must be an object of one or other of our five fenfes. That it is an object of fight, every man of taste can bear witness; and that it is confined to that sense, appears from induction; for it is not an object of fmell, nor of tafte, nor of touch. Is it an object of hearing? Some mufic indeed is termed graceful; but this expreffion is metaphorical, as when we fay of other mufic that it is beautiful: the latter metaphor, at the fame time, is more fweet and eafy; which fhews how little applicable to mufic or to found the former is, when taken in it's proper fenfe.
That it is an attribute of man, is beyond difpute. But of what other beings is it also an attribute? We perceive at first fight, that nothing inanimate is intitled to that epithet. What other animal then, befide man, is intitled? Surely, not an elephant, and not even a lion. A horfe may have a delicate fhape with a lofty mien, and all his motions may be exquifite; but he is never faid to be graceful. Beauty and grandeur are common to man with fome other beings: but dignity is not apply'd to any being inferior to man; and upon the, ftricteft examination, the fame appears to hold in grace.
Confining then grace to man, the next inquiry is, whether like beauty it make a conftant appearance, or in fome circumftances only. Does
a perfon difplay this attribute at reft as well as in motion, asleep as when awake? It is undoubtedly connected with motion; for when the most graceful perfon is at reft, neither moving nor fpeaking, we lofe fight of that quality as much as of colour in the dark. Grace then is an agreeable attribute, infeparable from motion as opposed to rest, and as comprehending fpeech, looks, geftures, and loco-motion.
As fome motions are homely, the oppofite to graceful, the next inquiry is, with what motions is this attribute connected. No man appears graceful in a mask; and therefore, laying afide the expreffions of the countenance, the other motions may be genteel, but of themselves never are graceful. A motion adjusted in the most perfect manner to answer its end, is elegant; but ftill somewhat more is required to complete our idea of grace or gracefulness.
What this unknown more may be, is the nice point. One thing is clear from what is faid, that this more must arise from the expreffions of the countenance and from what expreffions fo naturally as from those which indicate mental qualities, fuch as fweetness, benevolence, elevation, dignity? This promises to be a fair analysis; becaufe of all objects mental qualities affect us the moft; and the impreffion made by graceful appearance upon every spectator of tafte, is too deep for any caufe purely corporeal,
The next step is, to examine what are the mental
tal qualities, that in conjunction with elegance of motion, produce a graceful appearance. Sweetnefs, chearfulness, affability, fenfe, are not feparately fufficient, nor even in conjunction. As it appears to me, dignity alone with elegant motion may produce a graceful appearance; but still more graceful, with the aid of other qualities, those especially that are the most exalted. But this is not all. The most exalted virtues may be the lot of a perfon whofe countenance has little expreffion: fuch a perfon cannot be graceful. Therefore to produce this appearance, we must add another circumftance, viz. an expreffive countenance, difplaying to every spectator of taste, with life and energy, every thing that paffes in the mind.
Collecting these circumftances together, grace may be defined, that agreeable appearance which arifes from elegance of motion and from a countenance expreffive of dignity. The expreffion of any other mental quality, is not effential to this appearance, but they heighten it greatly.
Of all external objects, a graceful person is the most agreeable.
Dancing affords great opportunity for difplaying grace, and haranguing ftill more.
I conclude with the following reflection, that in vain will a perfon attempt to be graceful, who is deficient in amiable qualities. A man, it is true, may form an idea of qualities he is destitute
deftitute of; and, by means of that idea, may endeavour to express these qualities by looks and geftures: but fuch ftudied expreffion, will be too faint and obfcure to be graceful.
CHA P. XII
His fubject has puzzled and vexed all the critics. Ariftotle's definition of ridicule, is obfcure and imperfect *. Cicero handles it at great length; but without giving any fatisfaction: he wanders in the dark, and miffes the diftinction between rifible and ridiculous. Quintilian is fenfible of this diftinction ; but has not attempted to explain it. Luckily this fubject lies no longer in obfcurity: a risible object produceth an emotion of laughter merely a ridiculous object is improper as well as risible; and produceth a mixt emotion, which is vented by a laugh of derifion or fcorn **.
Having therefore happily unravelled the knotty part, I proceed to what may be thought further neceffary upon this fubject.
Burlefque, though a great engine of ridicule, is not confined to that fubject; for it is clearly distinguishable into burlefque that excites laughter merely, and burlesque that provokes derifion
*Poet. cap. 5.
+ L. 2. De oratore.
Ideoque anceps cjus rei ratio eft, quod a derifu non procul abeft rifus. Lib. 6. cap. 3. § 1.
See chap. 7.
** See chap. 10.