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We proceed to analyse grace, which being in a good measure an uncultivated field, requires more than ordinary labour.
Graceful is an attribute: grace and gracefulness express that attribute in the form of a noun.
That this attribute is agreeable, no one doubts.
As grace is displayed externally, it must be an object of one or other of our five senses. That it is an object of sight, every person of taste can bear witness; and that it is confined to that sense, appears from induction ; for it is not an object of smell, nor of taste, nor of touch. Is it an object of hearing? Some music indeed is termed graceful; but that expression is metaphorical, as when we say of other music that it is beautiful : the latter metaphor, at the same time, is more sweet and easy ; which shows how little applicable to music or to sound the former is, when taken in its proper
That it is an attribute of man, is beyond dispute. But of what other beings is it also an attribute? We perceive at first sight that nothing inanimate is entitled to that epithet. What animal then, beside man, is entitled ? Surely, not an elephant, nor even a lion. A horse may have a delicate shape with a lofty mein, and all his motions may be exquisite; but he is never said to be gracefol. Beauty and grandeur are coinmon to man with some other beings; but dignity is not applied to any being inferior to man; and upon the strictest examination, the same appears to hold in grace.
Confining then grace to man, the next inquiry is, whether, like beauty, it makes a constant appear. ance or in some circumstances ouly. Does a person display this attribute at rest as well as in motion, asleep as when awake? It is undoubtedly connected with motion; for when the most grace.
ful person is at rest, neither moving nor speaking, we lose sight of that quality as much as of colour in the dark. Grace then is an agreeable attribute, inseparable from motion as opposed to rest, and as comprehending speech, looks, gestures, and locomotion.
As some motions are homely, the opposite to graceful, the next inquiry is, with what motions is this attribute connected ? No man appears graceful in a mask; and, therefore, laying aside the expressions of the countenance, the other motions may be genteel, may be elegant, but of themselves never are graceful. A motion adjusted in the most perfect manner to answer its end, is elegant; but still 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 said, that this more must arise from the expression of the countenance : and from what expressions so naturally as from those which indicate mental qualities, such as sweetness, benevolence, elevation, dignity? This promises to be a fair analysis; because of all objects mental qualities affect us the most; and the impression made by graceful appearance upon every spectator of taste, is too deep for any cause purely corporeal.
The next step is, to examine what are the mental qualities, that, in conjunction with elegance of motion, produce a graceful appearance. Sweetness, cheerfulness, affability, are not separately sufficient, 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 person whose countenance has little expression : such a person cannot be graceful. Therefore, to produce this appearance, we must add another circumstance, namely, an expressive countenance, displaying to every spectator of taste, with life and energy, every thing that passes in the mind.
Collecting these circumstances together, grace may be defined, that agreeable appearance which arises from elegance of motion, and from a countenance expressive of dignity. Expressions of other mental qualities are not essential to that appearance, but they heighten it greatly.
Of all external objects, a graceful person is the most agreeable.
Dancing affords great opportunity for displaying grace, and harangoing still more.
I conclude with the following reflection, That in vain will a person attempt to be graceful, who is deficient in amiable qualities. A man, it is true, may form an idea of qualities he is destitute of; and, by means of that idea, may endeavour to express these qualities by looks and gestures : but such studied expression will be too faint and obscare to be graceful.
To define ridicule has puzzled and vexed every critic. The definition given by Aristotle is obscure and imperfect. * Cicero handles it at great length ;t but without giving any satisfaction: he wanders in the dark, and misses the distinction between risible and ridiculous. Quintilian is sensi. ble of the distinction, but has not attempted to explain it. Luckily this subject lies no longer in obscurity : 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 derision or scorn.l.
Having therefore happily unravelled the knotty part, I proceed to other particulars.
Burlesque, though a great engine of ridicule, is not confined to that subject; for it is clearly distinguishable into burlesque that excites laughter merely, and burlesque that provokes derision or ridicule. A grave subject in which there is no impropriety, may be brought down by a certain colouring so as to be risible; which is the case of Virgil Travestie ; and also the case of the Secchia Rapita :** the authors laugh first, in order to make their readers laugh. The Lutrin is a burlesque poem of the other sort, laying hold of a low and
* Poet. cap. v.
+ L. ii. De Oratore. # Ideoque anceps ejus rei ratio est, quod a derisu non procul abest risis ; lib. VI. cap. iii. sect. 1. § See Chapter VII.
|| See Chapter X. Scarron.
trifling incident, to expose the luxury, indolence, and contentious spirit of a set of monks. Boileau, the author, gives a ridiculous air to the subject, by dressing it in the heroic style, and affecting to con. sider it as of the utmost dignity and importance. In a composition of this kind, no image professedly ludicrous ought to find quarter, because such images destroy the contrast ; and, accordingly, the author shows always the grave face, and never once betrays a smile.
Thongh the burlesque that aims at ridicule, produces its effect by elevating the style far above the subject, yet it has limits beyond which the elevation ought not to be carried : the poet, consulting the imagination of his readers, ought to confine himself to such images as are lively, and readily apprehended : a strained elevation, soaring above an ordinary reach of fancy, makes not a pleasant impression : the reader, fatigued with being always upon the stretch, is soon disgusted ; and if he persevere, becomes thoughtless and indifferent. Further, a fiction gives no pleasure unless it be painted in colours so lively as to produce some perception of reality; wbich never can be done effectually where the images are formed with labour or difficulty. For these reasons, I cannot avoid condemning the Batrachomuomachia, said to be the compo. sition of Homer: it is beyond the power of imagination to form a clear and lively image of frogs and mice, acting with the dignity of the highest of our species ; nor can we form a conception of the reality of such an action, in any manner so distinct as to interest our affections even in the slightest degree.
The Rape of the Lock is of a character clearly distinguishable from those now mentioned: it is