Imatges de pÓgina

intended the most exact uniformity, as among individuals of the same kind, there still appears a diversity, which serves readily to distinguish one individual from another. It is indeed admirable, that the human visage, in which uniformity is so prevalent, should yet be so marked, as to leave no room, among millions, for mistaking one person for another; these marks, though clearly perceived, are generally so delicate, that words cannot be found to describe them. A correspondence so perfect between the human mind and the works of nature, is extremely remarkable. The opposition between variety and uniformity is so great that one would not readily imagine they could both be relished by the same palate; at least not in the same object, nor at the same time: it is however true, that the pleasures they afford, being happily adjusted to cach other, and readily mixing in intimate union, are frequently produced by the same individual object. Nay, further, in the objects that touch us the most, uniformity and variety are constantly combined: witness natural objects, where this combination is always found in perfection. Hence it is, that natural objects readily form themselves into groupes, and are agreeable in whatever manner combined : a wood with its trees, shrubs, and herbs, is agreeable: the music of birds, the lowing of cattle, and the murmuring of a brook, are in conjunction delightful; though they strike the ear without modulation or harmony. In short, nothing can be more happily accommodated to the inward constitution of man, than that mixture of uniformity with variety, which the eye discovers in natural objects; and, accordingly, the mind is never more highly gratified than in contemplating a natural landscape.

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Man is superior to the brute, not more by his rational faculties, than by his senses. With respect to external senses, brutes probably yield not to men; and they may also have some obscure perception of beauty: but the more delicate senses of regularity, order, uniformity, and congruity, being connected with morality and religion, are reserved to dignify the chief of the terrestrial creation. Upon that account, no discipline is more suitable to man, nor more congruous to the dignity of his nature, than that which refines his taste, and leads him to distinguish, in every subject, what is regular, what is orderly, what is suitable, and what is fit and proper.*

It is clear from the very conception of the terms congruity and propriety, that they are not applicable to any single object : they imply a plurality, and obviously signify a

* Nec vero illa parva vis naturæ est rationisque, quod unum hoc animal sentit quid sit ordo, quid sit quod deceat in factis dictisque, qui modus, Itaque eorum ipsorum, quæ aspectu sentiuntur, nullum aliud animal, pulchritudinem, venustatem, convenientiam partium sentit. Quam similitudinem natura ratioque ab oculis ad animum transferens, multo etiam magis pulchritudinem, constantiam, ordinem, in consiliis factisque conservandum putat, cavetque ne quid indecore effeminateve faciat; tum in omnibus et opinionibus et factis ne quid libidinose aut faciat aut cogitet. Quibus ex rebus conflatur et efficitur id, quod quærimus, honestum. Cicero de Officiis, l. i.


particular relation between different objects. Thus we say currently, that a decent garb is suitable or proper for a judge, modest behaviour for a young woman, and a lofty style for an epic poem : and, on the other hand, that it is unsuitable or incongruous to see a little woman sunk in an overgrown. farthingale, a coat richly embroidered covering coarse and dirty linen, a mean subject in an elevated style, an elevated subject in a mean style, a first minister darning his wife's stocking, or a reverend prelate in lawn sleeves dancing a hornpipe.

The perception we have of this relation, which seems peculiar to man, cannot proceed from any other cause, but from a sense of congruity or propriety ; for, supposing us destitute of that sense, the terms would be to us unintelligible.*

It is matter of experience, that congruity or propriety, wherever perceived, is agreeable; and that incongruity or impropriety, wherever perceived, is disagreeable. The only difficulty is, to ascertain what are the particular objects that in conjunction suggest these relations; for there are many objects that do not: the sea, for example, viewed in conjunction with a picture, or a man viewed in conjunction with a mountain, suggest not either congruity or incongruity. It seems natural to infer, what will be found true by induction, that we never perceive congruity nor incongruity but among things that are connected by some relation ; such as a man and his actions, a principle and its accessories, a subject and its ornaments. We are indeed so framed by nature, as, among things so connected, to require a certain suitableness or correspondence, termed congruity or propriety; and to be displeased when we find the opposite relation of incongruity or impropriety.*

* From many things that pass current in the world without being generally condemned, one at first view would imagine, that the sense of congruity or propriety hath scarce any foundation in nature, and that it is rather an artificial refinement of those who affect to distinguish themselves from others. The fulsome panegyrics bestowed upon the great and opulent, in epistles dedicatory and other such compositions, would incline us to think so. Did there prevail in the world, it will be said, or did nature suggest, a taste of what is suitable, decent or proper, would any good writer deal in such compositions, or any man of sense receive them without disgust? Can it be supposed that Lewis XIV, of France was endued by nature with any sense of propriety, when, in a dramatic performance pure posely composed for his entertainment, he suffered himself, publicly and in his presence, to be styled the greatest king ever the earth produced? These, it is true, are strong facts; but luckily they do not prove the sense of propriety to be artificial : they only prove, that the sen of proprie

is at times overpowered by pride and vanity ; which is no singular case, for that sometimes is the fate even of the sense of justice,

If things connected be the subject of congruity, it is reasonable beforehand to expect a degree of congruity proportioned to the degree of the connexion. And, upon examination, we find our expectation to be well founded : where the relation is intimate, as between a cause and its effect, a whole and its parts, we require the strictest congruity; but where the relation is slight, or accidental, as among things jumbled together, we require little or no congruity : the strictest propriety is required in behaviour and manner of living; because a man is connected with these by the relation of cause and effect : the relation between an edifice and the ground it stands upon, is of the most intimate kind, and therefore the situation of a great house ought to be lofty : its relation to neighbouring hills, rivers, plains, being that of the propinquity only, demands but a small share of congruity: among members of the same club, the congruity ought to be considerable, as well as among things placed for show in the saine niche: among passengers in a stage-coach we require very little congruity; and less still at a public spectacle.

* In the chapter of beauty, qualities are distinguished into primary and secondary: and to clear some obscurity that may appear in the text, it is proper to be observed, that the same distinction is applicable to relations. Resemblance, equality, uniformity, proximity, 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 only appear such to us, and that have not any external existence like primary relations ; which is the case of congruity, incongruity, propriety, impropriety: these may be properly termed secondary relations. Thus it appears from what is said in the text, that the secondary relations mentioned arise from objects connected by some primary relation. Property is an example of a secondary relation, as it exists no where but in the mind. I purchase a field or a horse: the covenant makes the primary relation; and the secondary relation built on it, is property.

Congruity is so nearly allied to beauty, as commonly to be held a species of it; and yet they differ so essentially, as never to coincide : beauty, like colour, is placed upon a single subject; 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 synonymous terms; and hitherto in opening the subject they have been used indifferently: but they are distinguishable; and the precise meaning of each must be ascertained. Congruity is the genus, of which propriety is a species; for we call nothing propriety, but that congruity or suitableness, which ought to subsist between sensible beings and their thoughts, words, and actions.

In order to give a full view of these secondary relations, I shall trace them through some of the most considerable primary relations. The relation of a part to the whole, being extremely intimate, demands the utmost degree of congruity : even the slightest deviation is disgustful; witness the Lutrin, a burlesque poem, which is closed with a serious and warm panegyric on Lamoignon, one of the King's judges:

Amphora cepit
Institui ; currente rota, cur urceus exit ?

Examples, of congruity and incongruity are furnished in plenty by the relation between a subject and its orna

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