Imatges de pÓgina

poreal pleasures dignified over and above with a place in a high class, they would infallibly disturb the balance of the mind, by outweighing the social affections. This is a satisfactory final cause for refusing to these pleasures any degree of dignity: and the final cause is no less evident of their meanness, when they are indulged to excess. The more refined pleasures of external sense, conveyed by the eye and the ear from natural objects and from the fine arts, deserve a high place in our esteem, because of their singular and extensive utility: in some cases they rise to a considerable dignity; and the very lowest pleasures of the kind are never esteemed mean or grovelling. The pleasure arising from wit, humour, ridicule, or from what is simply ludicrous, is useful, by relaxing the mind after the fatigue of more manly occupation : but the mind, when it surrenders itself to pleasure of that kind, loses its vigour, and sinks gradually into sloth.* The place this pleasure occupies in point of dignity, is adjusted to these views; to make it useful as a relaxation, it is not branded with meanness; to prevent its usurpation, it is removed from that place but a single degree: no man values himself for that pleasure, even during gratification ; and if it have engrossed more of his time than is requisite for relaxation, he looks back with some degree of shame.

In point of dignity, the social emotions rise above the selfish, and much above those of the eye and ear: man is by his nature a social being, and to qualify him for society, it is wisely contrived, that he should value himself more for being social than selfish.

* Neque enim ita generati a natura sumus, ut ad ludum et jocum facti esse videamur, sed ad severitatem potius et ad quædam studia graviora atque majora. Ludo autem et joco, uti illis quidem licet, sed sicut somno et quietibus cæteris, tum cum gravibus seriisque rebus satisfecerimus.

Cicero de offic. lib. 1. + For the same reason, the selfish emotions, that are founded upon a so


The excellency of man is chiefly discernable in the great improvements he is susceptible of in society: these, by perseverance, may be carried on progressively above any assignable limits; and, even abstracting from revelation, there is great probability, that the progress begun here will be completed in some future state. Now, as all valuable improvements proceed from the exercise of our rational faculties, the author of our nature, in order to excite us to a due use of these faculties, hath assigned a high rank to the pleasures of the understanding : their utility, with respect to this life as well as a future, entitles them to that rank.

But as action is the aim of all our improvements, virtuous actions justly possess the highest of all the ranks. These, we find, are by nature distributed into different classes, and the first in point of dignity assigned to actions that appear not the first in point of use: generosity, for example, in the sense of mankind is more respected than justice, though the latter is undoubtedly more essential to society; and magnanimity, heroism, undaunted courage, rise still higher in our esteem. One would readily think that the moral virtues should be esteemed according to their importance. Nature has here deviated from her ordinary path, and great wisdom is shown in the deviation : the efficient cause is explained above, and the final cause explained in the Essays of Morality and Natural Religion.*

We proceed to analyse grace, which being in a good measure an uncultivated field, requires more than ordina

ry labour.

Graceful is an attribute: grace and gracefulness express that attribute in the form of a noun.

cial principle, rise higher in our esteem than tlose that are founded upon a selfish principle. As which see above, p. 52.

* Part I. essay ii. Chapter 4. Vol. I.


That this attribute is agreable, 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 indụction ; 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 sense.

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 à delicate shape with a lofty mein, and all his motions may be exquisite; but he is never said to be graceful. Beauty and grandeur are common 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 appearance, or in some circumstances only. 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 graceful 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 gentcel, 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 mustarise 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 apppearance; 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


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 harranguing still more.

I conclude with the following reflection, That in vain will

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 those qualities by looks and gestures: but such studied expression will be too faint and obscure 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; † but without giving any satisfaction : he wanders in the dark, and misses the distinction between risible and ridiculous. Quintilian is sensible of the distinction, but has not attempted to explain it. Luckily this subject lies no longer

* Poet. cap. v.

† L. ii De Oratore. # Ideoque anceps ejus rei ratio est, quod a derisu non procul abest risus; lib. VI. cap. iii. sect. 1.

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