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Title: The Analysis of Beauty - Written with a view of fixing the fluctuating ideas of taste
Author: Hogarth, William
Language: English
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Written with a view of fixing the fluctuating IDEAS of TASTE.


    _So vary'd he, and of his tortuous train
    Curl'd many a wanton wreath, in sight of Eve,
    To lure her eye_.----Milton.

[Illustration: Variety]


Printed by J. REEVES for the AUTHOR, And Sold by him at his House in



If a preface was ever necessary, it may very likely be thought so to
the following work; the title of which (in the proposals publish'd
some time since) hath much amused, and raised the expectation of the
curious, though not without a mixture of doubt, that its purport
could ever be satisfactorily answered. For though beauty is seen and
confessed by all, yet, from the many fruitless attempts to account for
the cause of its being so, enquiries on this head have almost been
given up; and the subject generally thought to be a matter of too
high and too delicate a nature to admit of any true or intelligible
discussion. Something therefore introductory ought to be said at the
presenting a work with a face so entirely new; especially as it will
naturally encounter with, and perhaps may overthrow, several long
received and thorough establish'd opinions: and since controversies
may arise how far, and after what manner this subject hath hitherto
been consider'd and treated, it will also be proper to lay before the
reader, what may be gathered concerning it, from the works of the
ancient and modern writers and painters.

It is no wonder this subject should have so long been thought
inexplicable, since the nature of many parts of it cannot possibly come
within the reach of mere men of letters; otherwise those ingenious
gentlemen who have lately published treatises upon it (and who have
written much more learnedly than can be expected from one who never
took up the pen before) would not so soon have been bewilder'd in
their accounts of it, and obliged so suddenly to turn into the
broad, and more beaten path of moral beauty; in order to extricate
themselves out of the difficulties they seem to have met with in
this: and withal forced for the same reasons to amuse their readers
with amazing (but often misapplied) encomiums on deceased painters
and their performances; wherein they are continually discoursing of
effects instead of developing causes; and after many prettinesses, in
very pleasing language, do fairly set you down just where they first
took you up; honestly confessing that as to GRACE, the main point in
question, they do not even pretend to know any thing of the matter. And
indeed how should they? when it actually requires a practical knowledge
of the whole art of painting (sculpture alone not being sufficient)
and that too to some degree of eminence, in order to enable any one to
pursue the chain of this enquiry through all its parts: which I hope
will be made to appear in the following work.

It will then naturally be asked, why the best painters within these
two centuries, who by their works appear to have excelled in grace
and beauty, should have been so silent in an affair of such seeming
importance to the imitative arts and their own honour? to which I
answer, that it is probable, they arrived at that excellence in their
works, by the mere dint of imitating with great exactness the beauties
of nature, and by often copying and retaining strong ideas of graceful
antique statues; which might sufficiently serve their purposes as
painters, without their troubling themselves with a farther enquiry
into the particular causes of the effects before them. It is not
indeed a little strange, that the great Leonardo da Vinci (amongst the
many philosophical precepts which he hath at random laid down in his
treatise on painting) should not have given the least hint of any thing
tending to a system of this kind; especially, as he was cotemporary
with Michael Angelo, who is said to have discover'd a certain principle
in the trunk only of an antique statue, (well known from this
circumstance by the name of Michael Angelo's Torso, or Back, fig. 54 p.
I) which principle gave his works a grandeur of gusto equal to the best
antiques. Relative to which tradition, Lomazzo who wrote about painting
at the same time, hath this remarkable passage, vol. I. book I.

[Illustration: Fig. 54]

"And because in this place there falleth out a certaine precept of
_Michael Angelo_ much for our purpose, I wil not conceale it, leaving
the farther interpretation and vnderstanding thereof to the iudicious
reader. It is reported then that _Michael Angelo_ vpon a time gaue this
observation to the Painter _Marcus de Sciena_ his scholler; _that he
should alwaies make a figure Pyramidall, Serpentlike, and multiplied
by one two and three_. In which precept (in mine opinion) the whole
mysterie of the arte consisteth. For the greatest grace and life that
a picture can haue, is, that it expresse _Motion_: which the Painters
call the _spirite_ of a picture: Nowe there is no forme so fitte to
expresse this _motion_, as that of the flame of fire, which according
to _Aristotle_ and the other Philosophers, is an elemente most actiue
of all others: because the forme of the flame thereof is most apt for
motion: for it hath a _Conus_ or sharpe pointe wherewith it seemeth to
divide the aire, that so it may ascende to his proper sphere. So that a
picture having this forme will bee most beautifull."[1]

[1] See Haydock's translation printed at Oxford, 1598.

Many writers since Lomazzo have in the same words recommended the
observing this rule also; without comprehending the meaning of it: for
unless it were known systematically, the whole business of grace could
not be understood.

Du Fresnoy, in his art of painting, says "large flowing, gliding
outlines which are in waves, give not only a grace to the part, but
to the whole body; as we see in the Antinous, and in many other of
the antique figures: a fine figure and its parts ought always to have
a serpent-like and flaming form: naturally those sort of lines have
I know not what of life and seeming motion in them, which very much
resembles the activity of the flame and of the serpent." Now if he had
understood what he had said, he could not, speaking of grace, have
expressed himself in the following contradictory manner.--"But to say
the truth, this is a difficult undertaking, and a rare present, which
the artist rather receives from the hand of heaven than from his own
industry and studies[2]." But De Piles, in his lives of the painters,
is still more contradictory, where he says, "that a painter can only
have it (meaning grace) from nature, and doth not know that he hath it,
nor in what degree, nor how he communicates it to his works: and that
grace and beauty are two different things; beauty pleases by the rules,
and grace without them."

[2] See Dryden's translation of his latin poem on Painting, verse
28, and the remarks on these very lines, page 155, which run thus,
"It is difficult to say what this grace of painting is, it is to be
conceiv'd, and understood much more easy than to be expressed by words;
it proceeds from the illuminations of an excellent mind, (but not to be
acquired) by which we give a certain turn to things, which makes them

All the English writers on this subject have echo'd these passages;
hence _Je ne sçai quoi_, is become a fashionable phrase for grace.

By this it is plain, that this precept which Michael Angelo deliver'd
so long ago in an oracle-like manner, hath remain'd mysterious down to
this time, for ought that has appear'd to the contrary. The wonder that
it should do so will in some measure lessen when we come to consider
that it must all along have appeared as full of contradiction as the
most obscure quibble ever deliver'd at Delphos, because, _winding lines
are as often the cause of deformity as of grace_, the solution of
which, in this place, would be an anticipation of what the reader will
find at large in the body of the work.

[Illustration: Fig. between Figs. 22 and 105]

There are also strong prejudices in favour of straight lines, as
constituting true beauty in the human form, where they never should
appear. A middling connoisseur thinks no profile has beauty without a
very straight nose, and if the forehead be continued straight with it,
he thinks it is still more sublime. I have seen miserable scratches
with the pen, sell at a considerable rate for only having in them a
side face or two, like that between fig. 22, and fig. 105, plate I,
which was made, and any one might do the same, with the eyes shut.
The common notion that a person should be straight as an arrow, and
perfectly erect is of this kind. If a dancing-master were to see his
scholar in the easy and gracefully-turned attitude of the Antinous
(fig. 6, plate I,) he would cry shame on him, and tell him he looked
as crooked as a ram's horn, and bid him hold up his head as he himself
did. See fig. 7, plate I.

[Illustration: Figs. 6 and 7]

The painters, in like manner, by their works, seem to be no less
divided upon the subject than the authors. The French, except such
as have imitated the antique, or the Italian school, seem to have
studiously avoided the serpentine line in all their pictures,
especially Anthony Coypel, history painter, and Rigaud, principal
portrait painter to Lewis the 14th.

Rubens, whose manner of designing was quite original, made use of a
large flowing line as a principle, which runs through all his works,
and gives a noble spirit to them; but he did not seem to be acquainted
with what we call the _precise line_; which hereafter we shall be
very particular upon, and which gives the delicacy we see in the best
Italian masters; but he rather charged his contours in general with too
bold and S-like swellings.

Raphael, from a straight and stiff manner, on a sudden changed his
taste of lines at sight of Michael Angelo's works, and the antique
statues; and so fond was he of the serpentine line, that he carried it
into a ridiculous excess, particularly in his draperies: though his
great observance of nature suffer'd him not long to continue in this

Peter de Cortone form'd a fine manner in his draperies of this line.

We see this principle no where better understood than in some pictures
of Corregio, particularly his Juno and Ixion: yet the proportions of
his figures are sometimes such as might be corrected by a common sign

Whilst Albert Durer, who drew mathematically, never so much as
deviated into grace, which he must sometimes have done in copying the
life, if he had not been fetter'd with his own impracticable rules of

But that which may have puzzled this matter most, may be, that Vandyke,
one of the best portrait painters in most respects ever known, plainly
appears not to have had a thought of this kind. For there seems not to
be the least grace in his pictures more than what the life chanced to
bring before him. There is a print of the Dutchess of Wharton (fig. 52,
plate II,) engraved by Van Gunst, from a true picture by him, which is
thoroughly divested of every elegance. Now, had he known this line as
a principle, he could no more have drawn all the parts of this picture
so contrary to it, than Mr. Addison could have wrote a whole spectator
in false grammar; unless it were done on purpose. However, on account
of his other great excellencies, painters chuse to stile this want of
grace in his attitudes, &c. _simplicity_, and indeed they do often very
justly merit that epithet.

[Illustration: Fig. 52]

Nor have the painters of the present times been less uncertain and
contradictory to each other, than the masters already mentioned,
whatever they may pretend to the contrary: of this I had a mind to be
certain, and therefore, in the year 1745, published a frontispiece
to my engraved works, in which I drew a serpentine line lying on a
painter's pallet, with these words under it, THE LINE OF BEAUTY. The
bait soon took; and no Egyptian hierogliphic ever amused more than it
did for a time, painters and sculptors came to me to know the meaning
of it, being as much puzzled with it as other people, till it came to
have some explanation; then indeed, but not till then, some found it
out to be an old acquaintance of theirs, tho' the account they could
give of its properties was very near as satisfactory as that which a
day-labourer who constantly uses the leaver, could give of that machine
as a mechanical power.

Others, as common face painters and copiers of pictures, denied that
there could be such a rule either in art or nature, and asserted it
was all stuff and madness; but no wonder that these gentlemen should
not be ready in comprehending a thing they have little or no business
with. For though the _picture copier_ may sometimes to a common eye
seem to vye with the original he copies, the artist himself requires no
more ability, genius, or knowledge of nature, than a journeyman-weaver
at the goblins, who in working after a piece of painting, bit by
bit, scarcely knows what he is about, whether he is weaving a man or
a horse, yet at last almost insensibly turns out of his loom a fine
piece of tapestry, representing, it may be, one of Alexander's battles
painted by Le Brun.

As the above-mention'd print thus involved me in frequent disputes
by explaining the qualities of the line, I was extremely glad to
find it (which I had conceiv'd as only part of a system in my mind)
so well supported by the above precept of Michael Angelo: which was
first pointed out to me by Dr. Kennedy, a learned antiquarian and
connoisseur, of whom I afterwards purchased the translation, from which
I have taken several passages to my purpose.

Let us now endeavour to discover what light antiquity throws upon the
subject in question.

Egypt first, and afterward Greece, have manifested by their works
their great skill in arts and sciences, and among the rest painting,
and sculpture, all which are thought to have issued from their great
schools of philosophy. Pythagoras, Socrates, and Aristotle, seem to
have pointed out the right road in nature for the study of the painters
and sculptors of those times (which they in all probability afterwards
followed through those nicer paths that their particular professions
required them to pursue) as may be reasonably collected from the
answers given by Socrates to Aristippus his disciple, and Parrhasius
the painter, concerning FITNESS, the first fundamental law in nature
with regard to beauty.

I am in some measure saved the trouble of collecting an historical
account of these arts among the ancients, by accidentally meeting
with a preface to a tract, call'd the _Beau Ideal_: this treatise[3]
was written by Lambert Hermanson Ten Kate, in French, and translated
into English by James Christopher le Blon; who in that preface
says, speaking of the Author, "His superior knowledge that I am now
publishing, is the product of the Analogy of the ancient Greeks; or the
true key for finding all harmonious proportions in painting, sculpture,
architecture, musick, &c. brought home to Greece by Pythagoras. For
after this great philosopher had travell'd into Phoenicia, Egypt and
Chaldea, where he convers'd with the learned; he return'd into Greece
about Anno Mundi 3484. Before the christian æra 520, and brought with
him many excellent discoveries and improvements for the good of his
countrymen, among which the Analogy was one of the most considerable
and useful.

[3] Publish'd in 1732, and sold by A. Millar.

"After him the Grecians, by the help of this Analogy, began (and not
before) to excel other nations in sciences and arts; for whereas before
this time they represented their _Divinities_ in plain human figures,
the Grecians now began to enter into the Beau Ideal; and Pamphilus,
(who flourish'd A. M. 3641, before the christian æra 363, who taught,
that no man could excel in painting without mathematicks) the scholar
of Pausias and master of Apelles, was the first who artfully apply'd
the said Analogy to the art of painting; as much about the same time
the sculpturers, the architects, &c. began to apply it to their several
arts, without which science, the Grecians had remain'd as ignorant as
their forefathers.

"They carried on their improvements in drawing, painting, architecture,
sculpture, &c. till they became the wonders of the world; especially
after the Asiaticks and Egyptians (who had formerly been the teachers
of the Grecians) had, in process of time and by the havock of war, lost
all the excellency in sciences and arts; for which all other nations
were afterwards obliged to the Grecians, without being able so much as
to imitate them.

"For when the Romans had conquered Greece and Asia, and had brought
to Rome the best paintings and the finest artists, we don't find they
discovered the great key of knowledge, the Analogy I am now speaking
of, but their best performances were conducted by Grecian artists,
who it seems cared not to communicate their secret of the Analogy;
because either they intended to be necessary at Rome, by keeping
the secret among themselves, or else the Romans, who principally
affected universal dominion, were not curious enough to search after
the secret, not knowing the importance of it, nor understanding that,
without it, they could never attain to the excellency of the Grecians:
though nevertheless it must be owned that the Romans used well the
proportions, which the Grecians long before had reduced to certain
fixed rules according to their ancient Analogy; and the Romans could
arrive at the happy use of the proportions, without comprehending the
Analogy itself."

This account agrees with what is constantly observed in Italy,
where the Greek, and Roman work, both in medals and statues, are as
distinguishable as the characters of the two languages.

As the preface had thus been of service to me, I was in hopes from the
title of the book (and the assurance of the translator, that the author
had by his great learning discovered the secret of the ancients) to
have met with something there that might have assisted, or confirmed
the scheme I had in hand; but was much disappointed in finding nothing
of that sort, and no explanation, or even after-mention of what at
first agreeably alarmed me, the word _Analogy_. I have given the reader
a specimen, in his own words, how far the author has discovered this
grand secret of the ancients, or _great key of knowledge_, as the
translator calls it.

"The sublime part that I so much esteem, and of which I have begun to
speak, is a real _Je ne sçai quoi_, or an unaccountable something to
most people, and it is the most important part to all the connoisseurs,
I shall call it an harmonious propriety, which is a touching or moving
unity, or a pathetick agreement or concord, not only of each member to
its body, but also of each part to the member of which it is a part:
_It is also an infinite variety of parts_, however conformable, with
respect to each different subject, so that all the attitude, and all
the adjustment of the draperies of each figure ought to answer or
correspond to the subject chosen. Briefly, it is a true decorum, a
bienseance or a congruent disposition of ideas, as well for the face
and stature, as for the attitudes. A bright genius, in my opinion,
who aspires to excel in the ideal, should propose this to himself, as
what has been the principal study of the most famous artists. 'Tis
in this part that the great masters cannot be imitated or copied but
by themselves, or by those that are advanced in the knowledge of the
ideal, and who are as knowing as those masters in the rules or laws of
the pittoresque and poetical nature, altho' inferior to the masters in
the high spirit of invention."

The words in this quotation "_It is also an infinite variety of
parts_," seem at first to have some meaning in them, but it is entirely
destroy'd by the rest of the paragraph, and all the other pages are
filled, according to custom, with descriptions of pictures.

Now, as every one has a right to conjecture what this discovery of the
ancients might be, it shall be my business to shew it was a key to the
thorough knowledge of variety both in form, and movement. Shakespear,
who had the deepest penetration into nature, has sum'd up all the
charms of beauty in two words, INFINITE VARIETY; where, speaking of
Cleopatra's power over Anthony, he says,

    ----Nor custom stale
    Her infinite variety:----Act 2. Scene 3.

It has been ever observed, that the ancients made their doctrines
mysterious to the vulgar, and kept them secret from those who were
not of their particular sects, and societies, by means of symbols,
and hieroglyphics. Lomazzo says, chap. 29, book 1. "The Grecians in
imitation of antiquity searched out the truly renowned proportion,
wherein the exact perfection of most exquisite beauty and sweetness
appeareth; dedicating the same in a triangular glass unto Venus the
goddess of divine beauty, from whence all the beauty of inferior things
is derived."

If we suppose this passage to be authentic, may we not also imagine it
probable, that the symbol in the triangular glass, might be similar to
the line Michael Angelo recommended; especially, if it can be proved,
that the triangular form of the glass, and the serpentine line itself,
are the two most expressive figures that can be thought of to signify
not only beauty and grace, but the whole _order of form_.

There is a circumstance in the account Pliny gives of Apelles's
visit to Protogenes, which strengthens this supposition. I hope I may
have leave to repeat the story. Apelles having heard of the fame of
Protogenes, went to Rhodes to pay him a visit, but not finding him at
home asked for a board, on which he drew a _line_, telling the servant
maid, that line would signify to her master who had been to see him;
we are not clearly told what sort of a line it was that could so
particularly signify one of the first of his profession: if it was only
a stroke (tho' as fine as a hair as Pliny seems to think) it could not
possibly, by any means, denote the abilities of a great painter. But if
we suppose it to be a line of some extraordinary quality, such as the
serpentine line will appear to be, Apelles could not have left a more
satisfactory signature of the complement he had paid him. Protogenes
when he came home took the hint, and drew a finer _or rather more
expressive line_ within it, to shew Apelles if he came again, that he
understood his meaning. He, soon returning, was well-pleased with the
answer Protogenes had left for him, by which he was convinced that
fame had done him justice, and so correcting the line again, perhaps
by making it more precisely elegant, he took his leave. The story thus
may be reconcil'd to common sense, which, as it has been generally
receiv'd, could never be understood but as a ridiculous tale.

[Illustration: Fig. over Fig. 4]

Let us add to this, that there is scarce an Egyptian, Greek, or Roman
deity, but hath a twisted serpent, twisted cornucopia, or some symbol
winding in this manner to accompany it. The two small heads (over the
busto of the Hercules, fig. 4, in plate I) of the goddess Isis, one
crowned with a globe between two horns, the other with a lily[4], are
of this kind. Harpocrates, the god of silence, is still more remarkably
so, having a large twisted horn growing out of the side of his head,
one cornucopia in his hand, and another at his feet, with his finger
placed on his lips, indicating secrecy: (see Montfaucon's antiquities)
and it is as remarkable, that the deities of barbarous and gothic
nations never had, nor have to this day, any of these elegant forms
belonging to them. How absolutely void of these turns are the pagods
of China, and what a mean taste runs through most of their attempts in
painting and sculpture, notwithstanding they finish with such excessive
neatness; the whole nation in these matters seem to have but one eye:
this mischief naturally follows from the prejudices they imbibe by
copying one anothers works, which the ancients seem seldom to have done.

[4] The leaves of this flower as they grow, twist themselves various
ways in a pleasing manner, as may be better seen by figure 43, in plate
I, but there is a curious little flower called the Autumn Syclamen,
fig. 47, the leaves of which elegantly twist one way only.

[Illustration: Figs. 43 and 47]

Upon the whole, it is evident, that the ancients studied these arts
very differently from the moderns: Lomazzo seems to be partly aware of
this, by what he says in the division of his work, page 9, "There is
a two-folde proceeding in all artes and sciences: the one is called
the order of nature, and the other of teaching. Nature proceedeth
ordinarily, beginning with the unperfect, as the particulars, and
ending with the perfect, as the universals. Now if in searching out the
nature of things, our understanding shall proceede after that order,
by which they are brought forth by nature, doubtlesse it will be the
most absolute and ready method that can bee imagined. For we beginne to
know things by their first and immediate principles, &c. and this is
not only mine opinion but Aristotles also," yet, mistaking Aristotle's
meaning, and absolutely deviating from his advice, he afterwards says,
"all which if we could comprehend within our understanding, we should
be most wise; but it is _impossible_," and after having given some dark
reasons why he thinks so, he tells you "he resolves to follow the order
of teaching," which all the writers on painting have in like manner
since done.

Had I observed the foregoing passage, before I undertook this
essay, it probably would have put me to a stand, and deterred me from
venturing upon what Lomazzo calls an impossible task: but observing
in the foremention'd controversies that the torrent generally ran
against me; and that several of my opponents had turn'd my arguments
into ridicule, yet were daily availing themselves of their use,
and venting them even to my face as their own; I began to wish the
publication of something on this subject; and accordingly applied
myself to several of my friends, whom I thought capable of taking up
the pen for me, offering to furnish them with materials by word of
mouth: but finding this method not practicable, from the difficulty
of one man's expressing the ideas of another, especially on a subject
which he was either unacquainted with, or was new in its kind, I was
therefore reduced to an attempt of finding such words as would best
answer my own ideas, being now too far engaged to drop the design.
Hereupon, having digested the matter as well as I could, and thrown
it into the form of a book, I submitted it to the judgment of such
friends whose sincerity and abilities I could best rely on, determining
on their approbation or dislike to publish or destroy it: but their
favourable opinion of the manuscript being publicly known, it gave such
a credit to the undertaking, as soon changed the countenances of those,
who had a better opinion of my pencil, than my pen, and turn'd their
sneers into expectation: especially when the same friends had kindly
made me an offer of conducting the work through the press. And here
I must acknowledge myself particularly indebted to one gentleman for
his corrections and amendment of at least a third part of the wording.
Through his absence and avocations, several sheets went to the press
without any assistance, and the rest had the occasional inspection
of one or two other friends. If any inaccuracies shall be found in
the writing, I shall readily acknowledge them all my own, and am, I
confess, under no great concern about them, provided the matter in
general may be found useful and answerable in the application of it to
truth and nature; in which material points, if the reader shall think
fit to rectify any mistakes, it will give me a sensible pleasure, and
be doing great honour to the work.


_For the more easy finding the figures referred to in the two prints
belonging to this work, the references are for the most part placed in
the margin. Fig._ T p. I _signifies the top of plate_ I. L p. I _the
left side_. R p. I _the right side_. B. p. I. _the bottom. And where a
figure is referred to in the middle of either print, it is only mark'd
thus, fig._ p. I _or fig._ p. II.

[Transcriber's note: In this digital edition, these marginal references
have been incorporated into the text within square brackets, e.g. [fig.
1 T p. I]. The two prints were not originally bound into the book; they
are reproduced in their entirety below. Reproductions of the individual
figures have also been incorporated into the text at the appropriate

[Illustration: PLATE I]

[Illustration: PLATE II]



  PREFACE.                                     iii

  _The plates and figures_.                    xxii

  _The use and advantage of considering
  solid objects as only thin shells composed
  of lines, like the outer-coat of an onion_.  1

  _Of FITNESS_,                                13

  _Of VARIETY_,                                16

  SYMMETRY_,                                   18

  DISTINCTNESS_,                               21

  _Of INTRICACY_,                              24

  _Of QUANTITY_,                               29

  _Of LINES_,                                  37

  _Of what sort of parts and how PLEASING
  FORMS are composed_,                         39

  _Of COMPOSITIONS with the
  WAVING LINE_,                                48

  _Of COMPOSITIONS with the
  SERPENTINE LINE_,                            50

  _Of PROPORTION_,                             67

  _Of LIGHT and SHADE, and
  the manner in which objects are explained
  to the eye by them_,                         93

  _Of COMPOSITION with regard to LIGHT,
  SHADE, and COLOURS_,                         106

  _Of COLOURING_.                              113

  _Of the FACE_.
  1. _In the highest taste, and the reverse_.
  2. _As to character and expression_.
  3. _Of the manner in which the lines of the
  Face alter from infancy upwards, and shew
  the different Ages_,                         122

  _Of ATTITUDE_,                               135

  _Of ACTION_.
  1. _A new method of acquiring an easy and
  graceful movement of the hand and arms_.
  2. _Of the head, &c._
  3. _Of dancing, particularly the minuet_.
  4. _Of country-dancing, and, lastly, of
  stage-action_.                               138

  _Prints Publish'd by_ W. HOGARTH.

  FIGURES _referr'd to in the_ BOOK.


[Transcriber's note: Hogarth's corrections are now incorporated within
the text.]


I now offer to the public a short essay, accompanied with two
explanatory prints, in which I shall endeavour to shew what the
principles are in nature, by which we are directed to call the forms
of some bodies beautiful, others ugly; some graceful, and others the
reverse; by considering more minutely than has hitherto been done, the
nature of those lines, and their different combinations, which serve
to raise in the mind the ideas of all the variety of forms imaginable.
At first, perhaps, the whole design, as well as the prints, may seem
rather intended to trifle and confound, than to entertain and inform:
but I am persuaded that when the examples in nature, referr'd to in
this essay, are duly consider'd and examined upon the principles laid
down in it, it will be thought worthy of a careful and attentive
perusal: and the prints themselves too will, I make no doubt, be
examined as attentively, when it is found, that almost every figure in
them (how odly soever they may seem to be group'd together) is referr'd
to singly in the essay, in order to assist the reader's imagination,
when the original examples in art, or nature, are not themselves before

And in this light I hope my prints will be consider'd, and that the
figures referr'd to in them will never be imagined to be placed there
by me as examples themselves, of beauty or grace, but only to point out
to the reader what sorts of objects he is to look for and examine in
nature, or in the works of the greatest masters. My figures, therefore,
are to be consider'd in the same light, with those a mathematician
makes with his pen, which may convey the idea of his demonstration,
tho' not a line in them is either perfectly straight, or of that
peculiar curvature he is treating of. Nay, so far was I from aiming at
grace, that I purposely chose to be least accurate, where most beauty
might be expected, that no stress might be laid on the figures to the
prejudice of the work itself. For I must confess, I have but little
hopes of having a favourable attention given to my design in general,
by those who have already had a more fashionable introduction into
the mysteries of the arts of painting, and sculpture. Much less do I
expect, or in truth desire, the countenance of that set of people, who
have an interest in exploding any kind of doctrine, that may teach us
to _see with our own eyes_.

It may be needless to observe, that some of the last-mention'd, are
not only the dependents on, but often the only instructors and leaders
of the former; but in what light they are so consider'd abroad, may
be partly seen by [Fig. 1 T p. I] a burlesque representation of them,
taken from a print publish'd by Mr. Pond, design'd by Cavr. Ghezzi at

[Illustration: Fig. 1]

To those, then, whose judgments are unprejudiced, this little work
is submitted with most pleasure; because it is from such that I have
hitherto received the most obligations, and now have reason to expect
most candour.

Therefore I would fain have such of my readers be assured, that
however they may have been aw'd, and over-born by pompous terms of
art, hard names, and the parade of seemingly magnificent collections
of pictures and statues; they are in a much fairer way, ladies, as
well as gentlemen, of gaining a perfect knowledge of the elegant and
beautiful in artificial, as well as natural forms, by considering them
in a systematical, but at the same time familiar way, than those who
have been prepossess'd by dogmatic rules, taken from the performances
of art only: nay, I will venture to say, sooner, and more rationally,
than even a tolerable painter, who has imbibed the same prejudices.

The more prevailing the notion may be, that painters and connoisseurs
are the only competent judges of things of this sort; the more it
becomes necessary to clear up and confirm, as much as possible, what
has only been asserted in the foregoing paragraph: that no one may be
deterr'd, by the want of such previous knowledge, from entring into
this enquiry.

The reason why gentlemen, who have been inquisitive after knowledge in
pictures, have their eyes less qualified for our purpose, than others,
is because their thoughts have been entirely and continually employ'd
and incumber'd with considering and retaining the various _manners_ in
which pictures are painted, the histories, names, and characters of the
masters, together with many other little circumstances belonging to the
mechanical part of the art; and little or no time has been given for
perfecting the ideas they ought to have in their minds, of the objects
themselves in nature: for by having thus espoused and adopted their
first notions from nothing but _imitations_, and becoming too often
as bigotted to their faults, as their beauties, they at length, in a
manner, totally neglect, or at least disregard the works of nature,
merely because they do not tally with what their minds are so strongly
prepossess'd with.

Were not this a true state of the case, many a reputed capital picture,
that now adorns the cabinets of the curious in all countries, would
long ago have been committed to the flames: nor would it have been
possible for the Venus and Cupid, represented by the figure [under Fig.
49 T p. I], to have made its way into the principal apartment of a

[Illustration: Fig. under Fig. 49]

It is also evident that the painter's eye may not be a bit better
fitted to receive these new impressions, who is in like manner too
much captivated with the works of art; for he also is apt to pursue
the shadow, and drop the substance. This mistake happens chiefly to
those who go to Rome for the accomplishment of their studies; as they
naturally will, without the utmost care, take the infectious turn of
the connoisseur, instead of the painter: and in proportion as they
turn by those means bad proficients in their own arts, they become the
more considerable in that of a connoisseur. As a confirmation of this
seeming paradox, it has ever been observ'd at all auctions of pictures,
that the very worst painters sit as the most profound judges, and are
trusted only, I suppose, on account of their _disinterestedness_.

I apprehend a good deal of this will look more like resentment, and a
design to invalidate the objections of such as are not likely to set
the faults of this work in the most favourable light; than merely for
the encouragement, as was said above, of such of my readers, as are
neither painters, nor connoisseurs: and I will be ingenuous enough to
confess something of this may be true; but, at the same time, I cannot
allow that this alone would have been a sufficient motive to have made
me risk giving offence to any; had not another consideration, besides
that already alledg'd, of more consequence to the purpose in hand, made
it necessary. I mean the setting forth, in the strongest colours, the
alterations objects seemingly undergo through the prepossessions and
prejudices contracted by the mind.----Fallacies, strongly to be guarded
against by such as would learn to see objects truly!

Altho' the instances already given are pretty flagrant, yet it is
certainly true, (as a farther confirmation of this, and for the
consolation of those, who may be a little piqued at what has been said)
that painters of every condition are stronger instances of the almost
unavoidable power of prejudice, than any people whatever.

What are all the _manners_, as they are call'd, of even the greatest
masters, which are known to differ so much from one another, and all
of them from nature, but so many strong proofs of their inviolable
attachment to falshood, converted into establish'd truth in their own
eyes, by self-opinion? Rubens would, in all probability, have been
as much disgusted at the dry manner of Poussin, as Poussin was at
the extravagant of Rubens. The prejudices of inferior proficients in
favour of the imperfections of their own performances, is still more
amazing.----Their eyes are so quick in discerning the faults of others,
at the same time they are so totally blind to their own! Indeed it
would be well for us all, if one of Gulliver's flappers could be placed
at our elbows to remind us at every stroke how much prejudice and
self-opinion perverts our sight.

From what has been said, I hope it appears that those, who have no
bias of any kind, either from their own practice, or the lessons of
others, are fittest to examine into the truth of the principles laid
down in the following pages. But as every one may not have had an
opportunity of being sufficiently acquainted with the instances, that
have been given: I will offer one of a familiar kind, which may be a
hint for their observing a thousand more. How gradually does the eye
grow reconciled even to a disagreeable dress, as it becomes more and
more the fashion, and how soon return to its dislike of it, when it is
left off, and a new one has taken possession of the mind?--so vague is
taste, when it has no solid principles for its foundation!

Notwithstanding I have told you my design of considering minutely the
variety of lines, which serve to raise the ideas of bodies in the mind,
and which are undoubtedly to be consider'd as drawn on the surfaces
only of solid or opake bodies: yet the endeavouring to conceive, as
accurate an idea as is possible, of the _inside_ of those surfaces, if
I may be allow'd the expression, will be a great assistance to us in
the pursuance of our present enquiry.

In order to my being well understood, let every object under our
consideration, be imagined to have its inward contents scoop'd out
so nicely, as to have nothing of it left but a thin shell, exactly
corresponding both in its inner and outer surface, to the shape of
the object itself: and let us likewise suppose this thin shell to be
made up of very fine threads, closely connected together, and equally
perceptible, whether the eye is supposed to observe them from without,
or within; and we shall find the ideas of the two surfaces of this
shell will naturally coincide. The very word, shell, makes us seem to
see both surfaces alike.

The use of this conceit, as it may be call'd by some, will be seen to
be very great, in the process of this work: and the oftner we think of
objects in this shell-like manner, we shall facilitate and strengthen
our conception of any particular part of the surface of an object we
are viewing, by acquiring thereby a more perfect knowledge of the
whole, to which it belongs: because the imagination will naturally
enter into the vacant space within this shell, and there at once,
as from a center, view the whole form within, and mark the opposite
corresponding parts so strongly, as to retain the idea of the whole,
and make us masters of the meaning of every view of the object, as we
walk round it, and view it from without.

Thus the most perfect idea we can possibly acquire of a sphere, is
by conceiving an infinite number of straight rays of equal lengths,
issuing from the center, as from the eye, spreading every way alike;
and circumscribed or wound about at their other extremities with close
connected circular threads, or lines, forming a true spherical shell.

But in the common way of taking the view of any opake object, that
part of its surface, which fronts the eye, is apt to occupy the mind
alone, and the opposite, nay even every other part of it whatever,
is left unthought of at that time: and the least motion we make to
reconnoitre any other side of the object, confounds our first idea, for
want of the connexion of the two ideas, which the complete knowledge of
the whole would naturally have given us, if we had considered it in the
other way before.

Another advantage of considering objects thus merely as shells
composed of lines, is, that by these means we obtain the true and full
idea of what is call'd the _out-lines_ of a figure, which has been
confin'd within too narrow limits, by taking it only from drawings
on paper; for in the example of the sphere given above, every one of
the imaginary circular threads has a right to be consider'd as an
out-line of the sphere, as well as those which divide the half, that
is seen, from that which is not seen; and if the eye be supposed to
move regularly round it, these threads will each of them as regularly
succeed one another in the office of out-lines, (in the narrow and
limited sense of the word:) and the instant any one of these threads,
during this motion of the eye, comes into sight on one side, its
opposite thread is lost, and disappears on the other. He who will thus
take the pains of acquiring perfect ideas of the distances, bearings,
and oppositions of several material points and lines in the surfaces of
even the most irregular figures, will gradually arrive at the knack of
recalling them into his mind when the objects themselves are not before
him: and they will be as strong and perfect as those of the most plain
and regular forms, such as cubes and spheres; and will be of infinite
service to those who invent and draw from fancy, as well as enable
those to be more correct who draw from the life.

In this manner, therefore, I would desire the reader to assist his
imagination as much as possible, in considering every object, as if
his eye were placed within it. As straight lines are easily conceiv'd,
the difficulty of following this method in the most simple and regular
forms will be less than may be first imagined; and its use in the more
compounded will be greater: as will be more fully shewn when we come to
speak of composition.

But as [Fig. 2 L p. I] may be of singular use to young designers in
the study of the human form, the most complex and beautiful of all, in
shewing them a mechanical way of gaining the opposite points in its
surface, which never can be seen in one and the same view; it will be
proper to explain the design of it in this place, as it may at the same
time add some weight to what has been already said.

[Illustration: Fig. 2]

It represents the trunk of a figure cast in soft wax, with one wire
pass'd perpendicularly through its center, another perpendicularly to
the first, going in before and coming out in the middle of the back,
and as many more as may be thought necessary, parallel to and at equal
distances from these, and each other; as is mark'd by the several
dots in the figure.--Let these wires be so loose as to be taken out
at pleasure, but not before all the parts of them, which appear out
of the wax, are carefully painted close up to the wax, of a different
colour from those, that lie within it. By these means the horizontal
and perpendicular _contents_ of these parts of the body (by which I
mean the distances of opposite points in the surface of these parts)
through which the wires have pass'd, may be exactly known and compared
with each other; and the little holes, where the wires have pierced the
wax, remaining on its surface, will mark out the corresponding opposite
points on the external muscles of the body; as well as assist and guide
us to a readier conception of all the intervening parts. These points
may be mark'd upon a marble figure with calibers properly used.

The known method, many years made use of, for the more exactly and
expeditiously reducing drawings from large pictures, for engravings; or
for enlarging designs, for painting cielings and cupolas, (by striking
lines perpendicular to each other, so as to make an equal number of
squares on the paper design'd for the copy, that hath been first made
on the original; by which means, the situation of every part of the
picture is mechanically seen, and easily transferred) may truly be said
to be somewhat of the same kind with what has been here proposed, but
that one is done upon a flat surface, the other upon a solid; and that
the new scheme differs in its application, and may be of a much more
useful and extensive nature than the old one.

But it is time now to have done with the introduction: and I shall
proceed to consider the fundamental principles, which are generally
allowed to give elegance and beauty, when duly blended together, to
compositions of all kinds whatever; and point out to my readers, the
particular force of each, in those compositions in nature and art,
which seem most to _please and entertain the eye_, and give that grace
and beauty, which is the subject of this enquiry. The principles I
QUANTITY;----_all which co-operate in the production of beauty,
mutually correcting and restraining each other occasionally_.



Fitness of the parts to the design for which every individual thing
is form'd, either by art or nature, is first to be consider'd, as it
is of the greatest consequence to the beauty of the whole. This is so
evident, that even the sense of seeing, the great inlet of beauty,
is itself so strongly bias'd by it, that if the mind, on account of
this kind of value in a form, esteem it beautiful, tho' on all other
considerations it be not so; the eye grows insensible of its want of
beauty, and even begins to be pleas'd, especially after it has been a
considerable time acquainted with it.

It is well known on the other hand, that forms of great elegance often
disgust the eye by being improperly applied. Thus, twisted columns are
undoubtedly ornamental; but as they convey an idea of weakness, they
always displease, when they are improperly made use of as supports to
any thing that is bulky, or appears heavy.

The bulks and proportions of objects are govern'd by fitness and
propriety. It is this that has establish'd the size and proportion of
chairs, tables, and all sorts of utensils and furniture. It is this
that has fix'd the dimensions of pillars, arches, &c. for the support
of great weight, and so regulated all the orders in architecture, as
well as the sizes of windows and doors, &c. Thus though a building were
ever so large, the steps of the stairs, the seats in the windows must
be continued of their usual heights, or they would lose their beauty
with their fitness: and in ship-building the dimensions of every part
are confin'd and regulated by fitness for sailing. When a vessel sails
well, the sailors always call her a beauty; the two ideas have such a

The general dimensions of the parts of the human body are adapted thus
to the uses they are design'd for. The trunk is the most capacious on
account of the quantity of its contents, and the thigh is larger than
the leg, because it has both the leg and foot to move, the leg only the
foot, &c.

Fitness of parts also constitutes and distinguishes in a great measure
the characteristics of objects; as for example, the race-horse differs
as much in quality, or character, from the war-horse, as to its figure,
as the Hercules from the Mercury.

The race-horse, having all its parts of such dimensions as best fit the
purposes of speed, acquires on that account a consistent character of
one sort of beauty. To illustrate this, suppose the beautiful head and
gracefully-turn'd neck of the war-horse were placed on the shoulders
of the race-horse, instead of his own aukward straight one: it would
disgust, and deform, instead of adding beauty; because the judgment
would condemn it as unfit.

[Illustration: Fig. 3]

The Hercules, by Glicon [Fig. 3 p. I], hath all its parts finely fitted
for the purposes of the utmost strength, the texture of the human form
will bear. The back, breast and shoulders have huge bones, and muscles
adequate to the supposed active strength of its upper parts; but as
less strength was required for the lower parts, the judicious sculptor,
contrary to all modern rule of enlarging every part in proportion,
lessen'd the size of the muscles gradually down towards the feet; and
for the same reason made the neck larger in circumference than any
part of the head [Fig. 4 p. I]; otherwise the figure would have been
burden'd with an unnecessary weight, which would have been a draw-back
from his strength, and in consequence of that, from its characteristic

[Illustration: Fig. 4]

These seeming faults, which shew the superior anatomical knowledge as
well as judgment of the ancients, are not to be found in the leaden
imitations of it near Hyde-park. These saturnine genius's imagin'd they
knew how to correct such apparent _disproportions_.

These few examples may be sufficient to give an idea of what I mean
(and would have understood) by the beauty of fitness, or propriety.



How great a share variety has in producing beauty may be seen in the
ornamental part of nature.

The shapes and colours of plants, flowers, leaves, the paintings in
butterflies wings, shells, &c. seem of little other intended use, than
that of entertaining the eye with the pleasure of variety.

All the senses delight in it, and equally are averse to sameness. The
ear is as much offended with one even continued note, as the eye is
with being fix'd to a point, or to the view of a dead wall.

Yet when the eye is glutted with a succession of variety, it finds
relief in a certain degree of sameness; and even plain space becomes
agreeable, and properly introduced, and contrasted with variety, adds
to it more variety.

I mean here, and every where indeed, a composed variety; for variety
uncomposed, and without design, is confusion and deformity.

Observe, that a gradual lessening is a kind of varying that gives
beauty. The pyramid diminishing from its basis to its point, and the
scroll or voluta, gradually lessening to its center, are beautiful
forms. So also objects that only seem to do so, though in fact they do
not, have equal beauty: thus perspective views, and particularly those
of buildings, are always pleasing to the eye.

The little ship, between figure 47 and 88 [p. I], suppos'd moving
along the shore even with the eye, might have its top and bottom
bounded by two lines at equal distances all the way, as A; but if the
ship puts out to sea, these lines at top and bottom would seem to
vary and meet each other by degrees, as B, in the point C, which is
in the line where the sky and water meets, call'd the horizon. Thus
much of the manner of perspectives adding beauty, by seemingly varying
otherwise unvaried forms, I thought, might be acceptable to those, who
have not learnt perspective.

[Illustration: Fig. between Figs. 47 and 88]



It may be imagined that the greatest part of the effects of beauty
results from the symmetry of parts in the object, which is beautiful:
but I am very well persuaded, this prevailing notion will soon appear
to have little or no foundation.

It may indeed have properties of greater consequence, such as
propriety, fitness, and use; and yet but little serve the purposes of
pleasing the eye, merely on the score of beauty.

We have, indeed, in our nature a love of imitation from our infancy,
and the eye is often entertained, as well as surprised, with mimicry,
and delighted with the exactness of counterparts: but then this always
gives way to its superior love of variety, and soon grows tiresom.

If the uniformity of figures, parts, or lines were truly the chief
cause of beauty, the more exactly uniform their appearances were kept,
the more pleasure the eye would receive: but this is so far from being
the case, that when the mind has been once satisfied, that the parts
answer one another, with so exact an uniformity, as to preserve to the
whole the character of fitness to stand, to move, to sink, to swim, to
fly, &c. without losing the balance: the eye is rejoiced to see the
object turn'd, and shifted, so as to vary these uniform appearances.

Thus the profile of most objects, as well as faces, are rather more
pleasing than their full fronts.

Whence it is clear, the pleasure does not arise from seeing the exact
resemblance, which one side bears the other, but from the knowledge
that they do so on account of fitness, with design, and for use. For
when the head of a fine woman is turn'd a little to one side, which
takes off from the exact similarity of the two halves of the face,
and somewhat reclining, so varying still more from the straight and
parallel lines of a formal front face: it is always look'd upon as most
pleasing. This is accordingly said to be a graceful air of the head.

It is a constant rule in composition in painting to avoid regularity.
When we view a building, or any other object in life, we have it in our
power, by shifting the ground, to take that view of it which pleases
us best; and in consequence of this, the painter if he is left to his
choice, takes it on the angle rather than in front, as most agreeable
to the eye; because the regularity of the lines is taken away by their
running into perspective, without losing the idea of fitness: and when
he is of necessity obliged to give the front of a building, with all
its equalities and parallelisms, he generally breaks (as it is term'd)
such disagreeable appearances, by throwing a tree before it, or the
shadow of an imaginary cloud, or some other object that may answer the
same purpose of adding variety, which is the same with taking away

If uniform objects were agreeable, why is there such care taken to
contrast, and vary all the limbs of a statue?

[Illustration: Figs. 72, 6 and 7]

The picture of Henry the Eighth [Fig. 72 p. II], would be preferable to
the finely contrasted figures of Guido or Correggio; and the Antinous's
easy sway [Fig. 6 p. I], must submit to the stiff and straight figure
of the dancing-master [Fig. 7 p. I]; and the uniform out-lines of the
muscles in the figure [Fig. 55 p. I] taken from Albert Durer's book of
proportions, would have more taste in them than those in the famous
part of an antique figure [Fig. 54 p. I] from which Michael Angelo
acquired so much of his skill in grace.

[Illustration: Figs. 55 and 54]

In short, whatever appears to be fit, and proper to answer great
purposes, ever satisfies the mind, and pleases on that account.
Uniformity is of this kind. We find it necessary, in some degree, to
give the idea of rest and motion, without the possibility of falling.
But when any such purposes can be as well effected by more irregular
parts, the eye is always better pleased on the account of variety.

How pleasingly is the idea of firmness in standing convey'd to the eye
by the three elegant claws of a table, the three feet of a tea-lamp, or
the celebrated tripod of the ancients?

Thus you see regularity, uniformity, or symmetry, please only as they
serve to give the idea of fitness.



Simplicity, without variety, is wholly insipid, and at best does only
not displease; but when variety is join'd to it, then it pleases,
because it enhances the pleasure of variety, by giving the eye the
power of enjoying it with ease.

There is no object composed of straight lines, that has so much
variety, with so few parts, as the pyramid: and it is its constantly
varying from its base gradually upwards in every situation of the eye,
(without giving the idea of sameness, as the eye moves round it) that
has made it been esteem'd in all ages, in preference to the cone, which
in all views appears nearly the same, being varied only by light and

Steeples, monuments, and most compositions in painting and sculpture,
are kept within the form of the cone or pyramid, as the most eligible
boundary on account of their simplicity and variety. For the same
reason equestrian statues please more than the single figures.

The authors (for there were three concern'd in the work) of as fine
a group of figures in sculpture, as ever was made, either by ancients
or moderns, (I mean Laocoon and his two sons) chose to be guilty of
the absurdity of making the sons of half the father's size, tho' they
have every other mark of being design'd for men, rather than not bring
their composition within the boundary of a pyramid [Fig. 9 T p. I].
Thus if a judicious workman were employ'd to make a case of wood, for
preserving it from the injuries of the weather, or for the convenience
of carriage; he would soon find by his eye, the whole composition would
readily fit and be easily pack'd up, in one of a pyramidal form.

[Illustration: Fig. 9]

Steeples, &c. have generally been varied from the cone, to take
off from their too great simplicity, and instead of their circular
bases, polygons of different, but even numbers of sides, have been
substituted, I suppose for the sake of uniformity. These forms however
may be said to have been chosen by the architect, with a view to the
cone, as the whole compositions might be bounded by it.

Yet, in my mind, odd numbers have the advantage over the even ones,
as variety is more pleasing than uniformity, where the same end
is answer'd by both; as in this case, where both polygons may be
circumscrib'd by the same circle, or in other words, both compositions
bounded by the same cone.

And I can't help observing, that nature in all her works of fancy, if
I may be allow'd the expression, where it seems immaterial whether even
or odd numbers of divisions were prefer'd, most frequently employs the
odd; as for example, in the indenting of leaves, flowers, blossoms, &c.

The oval also, on account of its variety with simplicity, is as much
to be prefer'd to the circle, as the triangle to the square, or the
pyramid to the cube; and this figure lessen'd at one end, like the egg,
thereby being more varied, is singled out by the author of all variety,
to bound the features of a beautiful face.

[Illustration: Fig. 10]

When the oval has a little more of the cone added to it than the egg
has, it becomes more distinctly a compound of those two most simple
varied figures. This is the shape of the pine-apple [Fig. 10 T p. I],
which nature has particularly distinguish'd by bestowing ornaments of
rich mosaic upon it, composed of contrasted serpentine lines, and the
pips [Fig. 11 T p. I], as the gardiners call them, are still varied by
two cavities and one round eminence in each.

[Illustration: Fig. 11]

Could a more elegant simple form than this have been found; it is
probable that judicious architect, Sir Christopher Wren, would not
have chosen the pine-apples for the two terminations of the sides
of the front of St. Paul's: and perhaps the globe and cross, tho' a
finely varied figure, which terminates the dome, would not have had
the preference of situation, if a religious motive had not been the

Thus we see simplicity gives beauty even to variety, as it makes it
more easily understood, and should be ever studied in the works of art,
as it serves to prevent perplexity in forms of elegance; as will be
shewn in the next chapter.



The active mind is ever bent to be employ'd. Pursuing is the business
of our lives; and even abstracted from any other view, gives pleasure.
Every arising difficulty, that for a while attends and interrupts the
pursuit, gives a sort of spring to the mind, enhances the pleasure, and
makes what would else be toil and labour, become sport and recreation.

Wherein would consist the joys of hunting, shooting, fishing, and
many other favourite diversions, without the frequent turns and
difficulties, and disappointments, that are daily met with in the
pursuit?--how joyless does the sportsman return when the hare has not
had fair play? how lively, and in spirits, even when an old cunning one
has baffled, and out-run the dogs!

This love of pursuit, merely as pursuit, is implanted in our natures,
and design'd, no doubt, for necessary, and useful purposes. Animals
have it evidently by instinct. The hound dislikes the game he so
eagerly pursues; and even cats will risk the losing of their prey to
chase it over again. It is a pleasing labour of the mind to solve the
most difficult problems; allegories and riddles, trifling as they are,
afford the mind amusement: and with what delight does it follow the
well-connected thread of a play, or novel, which ever increases as the
plot thickens, and ends most pleas'd, when that is most distinctly

The eye hath this sort of enjoyment in winding walks, and serpentine
rivers, and all sorts of objects, whose forms, as we shall see
hereafter, are composed principally of what, I call, the _waving_ and
_serpentine_ lines.

Intricacy in form, therefore, I shall define to be that peculiarity
in the lines, which compose it, that _leads the eye a wanton kind of
chace_, and from the pleasure that gives the mind, intitles it to the
name of beautiful: and it may be justly said, that the cause of the
idea of grace more immediately resides in this principle, than in the
other five, except variety; which indeed includes this, and all the

That this observation may appear to have a real foundation in nature,
every help will be requir'd, which the reader himself can call to his
assistance, as well as what will here be suggested to him.

To set this matter in somewhat a clearer light, the familiar instance
of a common jack, with a circular fly, may serve our purpose better
than a more elegant form: preparatory to which, let the figure [Fig. 14
T p. I] be consider'd, which represents the eye, at a common reading
distance viewing a row of letters, but fix'd with most attention to the
middle letter A.

[Illustration: Fig. 14]

Now as we read, a ray may be supposed to be drawn from the center of
the eye to that letter it looks at first, and to move successively with
it from letter to letter, the whole length of the line: but if the eye
stops at any particular letter, A, to observe it more than the rest,
these other letters will grow more and more imperfect to the sight, the
farther they are situated on either side of A, as is express'd in the
figure: and when we endeavour to see all the letters in a line equally
perfect at one view, as it were, this imaginary ray must course it to
and fro with great celerity. Thus though the eye, strictly speaking,
can only pay due attention to these letters in succession, yet the
amazing ease and swiftness, with which it performs this task, enables
us to see considerable spaces with sufficient satisfaction at one
sudden view.

Hence, we shall always suppose some such principal ray moving along
with the eye, and tracing out the parts of every form, we mean to
examine in the most perfect manner: and when we would follow with
exactness the course any body takes, that is in motion, this ray is
always to be supposed to move with the body.

In this manner of attending to forms, they will be found, whether
_at rest_, or _in motion_, to give _movement_ to this imaginary ray;
or, more properly speaking, to the eye itself, affecting it _thereby_
more or less _pleasingly_, according to their different _shapes_ and
_motions_. Thus, for example, in the instance of the jack, whether the
eye (with this imaginary ray) moves slowly down the line, to which the
weight is fix'd, or attends to the slow motion of the weight itself,
the mind is equally fatigu'd: and whether it swiftly courses round the
circular rim of the flyer, when the jack stands; or nimbly follows one
point in its circularity whilst it is whirling about, we are almost
equally made giddy by it. But our sensation differs much from either
of these unpleasant ones, when we observe the curling worm, into which
the worm-wheel is fixt [Fig. 15 L p. I]: for this is always pleasing,
either at rest or in motion, and whether that motion is slow or quick.

[Illustration: Fig. 15]

That it is accounted so, when it is _at rest_, appears by the ribbon,
twisted round a stick (represented on one side of this figure) which
has been a long-establish'd ornament in the carvings of frames,
chimney-pieces, and door-cases; and call'd by the carvers, _the stick
and ribbon ornament_: and when the stick, through the middle is
omitted, it is call'd the _ribbon edge_; both to be seen in almost
every house of fashion.

But the pleasure it gives the eye is still more lively when _in
motion_. I never can forget my frequent strong attention to it, when I
was very young, and that its beguiling movement gave me the same kind
of sensation then, which I since have felt at seeing a country-dance;
tho' perhaps the latter might be somewhat more engaging; particularly
when my eye eagerly pursued a favourite dancer, through all the
windings of the figure, who then was bewitching to the sight, as the
imaginary ray, we were speaking of, was dancing with her all the time.

This single example might be sufficient to explain what I mean by _the
beauty of a composed intricacy of form_; and how it may be said, with
propriety, to _lead_ the eye a _kind of chace_.

But the hair of the head is another very obvious instance, which, being
design'd chiefly as an ornament, proves more or less so, according to
the form it naturally takes, or is put into by art. The most amiable in
itself is the flowing curl; and the many waving and contrasted turns
of naturally intermingling locks ravish the eye with the pleasure of
the pursuit, especially when they are put in motion by a gentle breeze.
The poet knows it, as well as the painter, and has described the wanton
ringlets waving in the wind.

And yet to shew how excess ought to be avoided in intricacy, as well
as in every other principle, the very same head of hair, wisp'd, and
matted together, would make the most disagreeable figure; because
the eye would be perplex'd, and at a fault, and unable to trace
such a confused number of uncomposed and entangled lines; and yet
notwithstanding this, the present fashion the ladies have gone into, of
wearing a part of the hair of their heads braided together from behind,
like intertwisted serpents, arising thickest from the bottom, lessening
as it is brought forward, and naturally conforming to the shape of the
rest of the hair it is pin'd over, is extremely picturesque. Their thus
interlacing the hair in distinct varied quantities is an artful way of
preserving as much of intricacy, as is beautiful.



Forms of magnitude, although ill-shaped, will however, on account of
their vastness, draw our attention and raise our admiration.

Huge shapeless rocks have a pleasing kind of horror in them, and the
wide ocean awes us with its vast contents; but when forms of beauty are
presented to the eye in large quantities, the pleasure increases on the
mind, and horror is soften'd into reverence.

How solemn and pleasing are groves of high grown trees, great churches,
and palaces? has not even a single spreading oak, grown to maturity,
acquir'd the character of the venerable oak?

Windsor castle is a noble instance of the effect of quantity. The
hugeness of its few distinct parts strikes the eye with uncommon
grandeur at a distance, as well as nigh. It is quantity, with
simplicity, which makes it one of the finest objects in the kingdom,
tho' void of any regular order of architecture.

The Façade of the old Louvre at Paris is also remarkable for its
quantity. This fragment is allow'd to be the finest piece of building
in France, tho' there are many equal, if not superior, to it in all
other respects, except that of quantity.

Who does not feel a pleasure when he pictures in his mind the immense
buildings which once adorn'd the lower Egypt, by imagining the whole
complete, and ornamented with colossal statues?

Elephants and whales please us with their unwieldy greatness. Even
large personages, merely for being so, command respect: nay, quantity
is an addition to the person which often supplies a deficiency in his

The robes of state are always made large and full, because they give
a grandeur of appearance, suitable to the offices of the greatest
distinction. The judge's robes have an awful dignity given them by the
quantity of their contents, and when the train is held up, there is a
noble waving line descending from the shoulders of the judge to the
hand of his train-bearer. So when the train is gently thrown aside, it
generally falls into a great variety of folds, which again employ the
eye, and fix its attention.

The grandeur of the Eastern dress, which so far surpasses the European,
depends as much on quantity as on costliness.

In a word, it is quantity which adds greatness to grace. But then
excess is to be avoided, or quantity will become clumsy, heavy, or

[Illustration: Fig. 16]

The full-bottom wig, like the lion's mane, hath something noble in
it, and adds not only dignity, but sagacity to the countenance [fig.
16 p. I]: but were it to be worn as large again, it would become a
burlesque; or were an improper person to put it on, it would then too
be ridiculous.

When improper, or _incompatible_ excesses meet, they always excite
laughter; more especially when the forms of those excesses are
inelegant, that is, when they are composed of unvaried lines.

[Illustration: Figs. 17 and 18]

For example, the figure refer'd to in the margin [Fig. 17 p. I],
represents a fat grown face of a man, with an infant's cap on, and the
rest of the child's dress stuff'd, and so well placed under his chin,
as to seem to belong to that face. This is a contrivance I have seen at
Bartholomew-fair, and always occasion'd a roar of laughter. The next
[Fig. 18 p. I] is of the same kind, a child with a man's wig and cap
on. In these you see the ideas of youth and age jumbled together, in
forms without beauty.

[Illustration: Fig. 19]

So a Roman general [Fig. 19 p. I], dress'd by a modern tailor and
peruke-maker, for tragedy, is a comic figure.----The dresses of the
times are mix'd, and the lines which compose them are straight or only

Dancing-masters, representing deities, in their grand ballets on the
stage, are no less ridiculous. See the Jupiter [Fig. 20 p. I].

[Illustration: Fig. 20]

Nevertheless custom and fashion will, in length of time, reconcile
almost every absurdity whatever, to the eye, or make it over-look'd.

It is from the same joining of opposite ideas that makes us laugh at
the owl and the ass, for under their aukward forms, they seem to be
gravely musing and meditating, as if they had the sense of human beings.

A monkey too whose figure, as well as most of his actions, so odly
resembles the human, is also very comical; and he becomes more so when
a coat is put on him, as he then becomes a greater burlesque on the man.

There is something extremely odd and comical in the rough shock dog.
The ideas here connected are the inelegant and inanimate figure of a
thrum mop, or muff, and that of a sensible, friendly animal; which is
as much a burlesque of the dog, as the monkey when his coat is on, is
of the man.

What can it be but this inelegance of the figure, join'd with
impropriety, that makes a whole audience burst into laughter, when they
see the miller's sack, in Dr. Faustus, jumping across the stage? was
a well-shap'd vase to do the same, it would equally surprise, but not
make every body laugh, because the elegance of the form would prevent

For when the forms, thus join'd together, are each of them elegant,
and composed of agreeable lines, they will be so far from making us
laugh, that they will become entertaining to the imagination, as
well as pleasing to the eye. The sphinx and siren have been admired
and accounted ornamental in all ages. The former represents strength
and beauty join'd; the latter, beauty and swiftness, in pleasing and
graceful forms.

The griffin, a modern hieroglyphic, signifying strength and swiftness,
united in the two noble forms of the lion and eagle, is a grand object.
So the antique centaur hath a savage greatness as well as beauty.

These may be said to be monsters, it's true, but then they convey
such noble ideas, and have such elegance in their forms as greatly
compensates for their being unnaturally join'd together.

I shall mention but one more instance of this sort, and that the most
extraordinary of all, which is an infant's head of about two years old,
with a pair of duck's-wings placed under its chin, supposed always to
be flying about, and singing psalms [Fig. 22 R p. I].

[Illustration: Fig. 22]

A painter's representation of heaven would be nothing without swarms
of these little inconsistent objects, flying about, or perching on the
clouds; and yet there is something so agreeable in their form, that the
eye is reconciled and overlooks the absurdity, and we find them in the
carving and painting of almost every church. St. Paul's is full of them.

       *       *       *       *       *

As the foregoing principles are the very ground work of what is to
follow; we will, in order to make them the more familiar to us, just
speak of them in the way they are daily put in practice, and may be
seen, in every dress that is worn; and we shall find not only that
ladies of fashion, but that women of every rank, who are said to
dress prettily, have known their force, without considering them as

       *       *       *       *       *

I. Fitness is first considered by them, as knowing that their dresses
should be useful, commodious, and fitted to their different ages; or
rich, airy, and loose, agreeable to the character they would give out
to the public by their dress.

       *       *       *       *       *

II. Uniformity is chiefly complied with in dress on account of fitness,
and seems to be extended not much farther than dressing both arms
alike, and having the shoes of the same colour. For when any part of
dress has not the excuse of fitness or propriety for its uniformity of
parts, the ladies always call it _formal_.

For which reason, when they are at liberty to make what shapes they
please in ornamenting their persons, those of the best taste choose the
irregular as the more engaging: for example, no two patches are ever
chosen of the same size, or placed at the same height; nor a single one
in the middle of a feature, unless it be to hide a blemish. So a single
feather, flower, or jewel is generally placed on one side of the head;
or if ever put in front, it is turn'd awry to avoid formality.

It was once the fashion to have two curls of equal size, stuck at the
same height close upon the forehead, which probably took its rise from
seeing the pretty effect of curls falling loosely over the face.

A lock of hair falling thus cross the temples, and by that means
breaking the regularity of the oval, has an effect too alluring to be
strictly decent, as is very well known to the loose and lowest class of
women: but being pair'd in so stiff a manner, as they formerly were,
they lost the desired effect, and ill deserv'd the name of favourites.

       *       *       *       *       *

III. Variety in dress, both as to colour and form, is the constant
study of the young and gay----But then,

       *       *       *       *       *

IV. That taudriness may not destroy the proper effect of variety,
simplicity is call'd in to restrain its superfluities, and is often
very artfully made use of to set native beauty off to more advantage.
I have not known any set of people, that have more excell'd in this
principle of simplicity, or plainness, than the Quakers.

       *       *       *       *       *

V. Quantity, or fulness in dress has ever been a darling principle;
so that sometimes those parts of dress, which would properly admit of
being extended to a great degree, have been carried into such strange
excesses, that in the reign of Queen Elizabeth a law was made to put a
stop to the growth of ruffs: nor is the enormous size of the hoops at
present, a less sufficient proof of the extraordinary love of quantity
in dress, beyond that of convenience or elegance.

       *       *       *       *       *

VI. The beauty of intricacy lies in contriving winding shapes, such as
the antique lappets belonging to the head of the sphinx [Fig. 21 p. I],
or as the modern lappet when it is brought before. Every part of dress,
that will admit of the application of this principle, has an air (as it
is term'd) given to it thereby; and altho' it requires dexterity and a
taste to execute these windings well, we find them daily practised with

[Illustration: Fig. 21]

This principle also recommends modesty in dress, to keep up our
expectations, and not suffer them to be too soon gratified. Therefore
the body and limbs should all be cover'd, and little more than certain
hints be given of them thro' the cloathing.

The face indeed will bear a constant view, yet always entertain and
keep our curiosity awake, without the assistance either of a mask, or
veil; because vast variety of changing circumstances keeps the eye
and the mind in constant play, in following the numberless turns of
expression it is capable of. How soon does a face that wants expression
grow insipid, tho' it be ever so pretty?--The rest of the body, not
having these advantages in common with the face, would soon satiate the
eye, were it to be as constantly exposed, nor would it have more effect
than a marble statue. But when it is artfully cloath'd and decorated,
the mind at every turn resumes its imaginary pursuits concerning it.
Thus, if I may be allow'd a simile, the angler chooses not to see the
fish he angles for, until it is fairly caught.



It may be remember'd that in the introduction, the reader is desired to
consider the surfaces of objects as so many shells of lines, closely
connected together, which idea of them it will now be proper to call to
mind, for the better comprehending not only this, but all the following
chapters on composition.

The constant use made of lines by mathematicians, as well as painters,
in describing things upon paper, hath establish'd a conception of them,
as if actually existing on the real forms themselves. This likewise
we suppose, and shall set out with saying in general--That _the
straight line_, and _the circular line_, together with their different
combinations, and variations, &c. bound, and circumscribe all visible
objects whatsoever, thereby producing such endless variety of forms, as
lays us under the necessity of dividing, and distinguishing them into
general classes; leaving the intervening mixtures of appearances to the
reader's own farther observation.

First, [Fig. 23 T p. I] objects composed of straight lines only, as
the cube, or of circular lines, as the sphere, or of both together, as
cylinders and cones, &c.

[Illustration: Fig. 23]

Secondly, [Fig. 24 T p. I] those composed of straight lines, circular
lines, and of lines partly straight, and partly circular, as the
capitals of columns, and vases, &c.

[Illustration: Fig. 24]

Thirdly, [Fig. 25 T p. I] those composed of all the former together
with an addition of the waving line, which is a line more productive of
beauty than any of the former, as in flowers, and other forms of the
ornamental kind: for which reason we shall call it the line of beauty.

[Illustration: Fig. 25]

Fourthly, [Fig. 26 T p. I] those composed of all the former together
with the serpentine line, as the human form, which line hath the power
of super-adding grace to beauty. Note, forms of most grace have least
of the straight line in them.

[Illustration: Fig. 26]

It is to be observed, that straight lines vary only in length, and
therefore are least ornamental.

That curved lines as they can be varied in their degrees of curvature
as well as in their lengths, begin on that account to be ornamental.

That straight and curv'd lines join'd, being a compound line, vary more
than curves alone, and so become somewhat more ornamental.

That the waving line, or line of beauty, varying still more, being
composed of two curves contrasted, becomes still more ornamental and
pleasing, insomuch that the hand takes a lively movement in making it
with pen or pencil.

And that the serpentine line, by its waving and winding at the same
time different ways, leads the eye in a pleasing manner along the
continuity of its variety, if I may be allowed the expression; and
which by its twisting so many different ways, may be said to inclose
(tho' but a single line) varied contents; and therefore all its
variety cannot be express'd on paper by one continued line, without
the assistance of the imagination, or the help of a figure; see [Fig.
26 T p. I] where that sort of proportion'd, winding line, which will
hereafter be call'd the precise serpentine line, or _line of grace_,
is represented by a fine wire, properly twisted round the elegant and
varied figure of a cone.


_Of what sort of PARTS, and how PLEASING FORMS are composed_.

Thus far having endeavoured to open as large an idea as possible of the
power of variety, by having partly shewn that those lines which have
most variety in themselves, contribute most towards the production of
beauty; we will next shew how lines may be put together, so as to make
pleasing figures or compositions.

In order to be as clear as possible, we will give a few examples of
the most familiar and easy sort, and let them serve as a clue to be
pursued in the imagination: I say in the imagination chiefly, for the
following method is not meant always to be put in practice, or follow'd
in every case, for indeed that could hardly be, and in some it would be
ridiculously losing time if it could----Yet there may be cases where
it may be necessary to follow this method minutely; as for example, in

I am thoroughly convinc'd in myself, however it may startle some, that
a completely new and harmonious order of architecture in all its parts,
might be produced by the following method of composing, but hardly with
certainty without it; and this I am the more apt to believe, as upon
the strictest examination, those four orders of the ancients, which are
so well established for beauty and true proportion, perfectly agree
with the scheme we shall now lay down.

This way of composing pleasing forms, is to be accomplished by making
choice of variety of lines, as to their shapes and dimensions; and then
again by varying their situations with each other, by all the different
ways that can be conceived: and at the same time (if a solid figure be
the subject of the composition) the contents or space that is to be
inclosed within those lines, must be duly consider'd and vary'd too, as
much as possible, with propriety. In a word, it may be said, the art of
composing well is the art of varying well. It is not expected that this
should at first be perfectly comprehended, yet I believe it will be
made sufficiently clear by the help of the examples following.

[Illustration: Fig. 29]

The figure [Fig. 29 T p. I], represents the simple and pleasing figure
of a bell; this shell, as we may call it, is composed of waving lines,
encompassing, or bounding within it, the varied space marked with
dotted lines: here you see the variety of the space within is equal to
the beauty of its form without, and if the space, or contents, were to
be more varied, the outward form would have still more beauty.

[Illustration: Figs. 30, 31 and 32]

As a proof, see a composition of more parts, and a way by which those
parts may be put together by a certain method of varying: i. e. how the
one half of the socket of the candlestick A [Fig. 30 T p. I], may be
varied as the other half B. Let a convenient and fit height be first
given for a candlestick, as [Fig. 31 T p. I], then let the necessary
size of the socket be determined, as at (a) [Fig. 32] after which,
in order to give it a better form, let every _distance_ or length of
divisions differ from the length of the socket, as also vary in their
distances from each other, as is seen by the points on the line under
the socket (a); that is let any two points, _signifying distance_, be
plac'd farthest from any other two near points, observing always that
there should be one distance or part larger than all the rest; and you
will readily see that variety could not be so complete without it.--In
like manner, let the horizontal distances (always keeping within the
bounds of fitness) be varied both as to distances and situations, as
on the opposite side of the same figure (b); then unite and join all
the several distances into a complete shell, by applying several parts
of curves and straight lines; varying them also by making them of
different sizes, as (c): and apply them as at (d) in the same figure,
and you have the candlestick [Fig. 33 T p. I], and with still more
variations on the other side. If you divide the candlestick into many
more parts, it will appear crouded, as [Fig. 34 T p. I] it will want
distinctness of form on a near view, and lose the effect of variety at
a distance: this the eye will easily distinguish on removing pretty far
from it.

[Illustration: Figs. 33 and 34]

Simplicity in composition, or distinctness of parts, is ever to be
attended to, as it is one part of beauty, as has been already said: but
that what I mean by distinctness of parts in this place, may be better
understood, it will be proper to explain it by an example.

When you would compose an object of a great variety of parts, let
several of those parts be distinguish'd by themselves, by their
remarkable difference from the next adjoining, so as to make each of
them, as it were, one well-shap'd quantity or part, as is marked by
the dotted lines in figure [35 T p. I] (these are like what they call
passages in music, and in writing paragraphs) by which means, not only
the whole, but even every part, will be better understood by the eye:
for confusion will hereby be avoided when the object is seen near, and
the shapes will seem well varied, tho' fewer in number, at a distance;
as figure [36 p. I] supposed to be the same as the former, but removed
so far off that the eye loses sight of the smaller members.

[Illustration: Figs. 35 and 36]

The parsley-leaf [Fig. 37 T p. I], in like manner, from whence a
beautiful foliage in ornament was originally taken, is divided into
three distinct passages; which are again divided into other odd
numbers; and this method is observ'd, for the generality, in the leaves
of all plants and flowers, the most simple of which are the trefoil and

[Illustration: Fig. 37]

Light and shade, and colours, also must have their distinctness to
make objects completely beautiful: but of these in their proper
places----only I will give you a general idea of what is here meant by
the beauty of distinctness of forms, lights, shades, and colours, by
putting you in mind of the reverse effects in all them together.

Observe the well-composed nosegay how it loses all its distinctness
when it dies; each leaf and flower then shrivels and loses its distinct
shape; and the firm colours fade into a kind of sameness: so that the
whole gradually becomes a confused heap.

If the general parts of objects are preserv'd large at first, they will
always admit of farther enrichments of a small kind, but then they must
be so small as not to confound the general masses or quantities.--thus
you see variety is a check upon itself when overdone, which of course
begets what is call'd a _petit taste_ and a confusion to the eye.

[Illustration: Figs. 38 and 39]

It will not be amiss next to shew what effects an object or two
will have that are put together without, or contrary to these rules
of composing variety. Figure [38 L p. I], is taken from one of those
branches fixt to the sides of common old-fashion'd stove-grates by way
of ornament, wherein you see how the parts have been varied by fancy
only, and yet pretty well: close to which [Fig. 39 L p. I] is another,
with about the like number of parts; but as the shapes, neither are
enough varied as to their contents, nor in their situations with each
other, but one shape follows its exact likeness: it is therefore
a disagreeable and tasteless figure, and for the same reason the
candlestick, fig. [40 T p. I] is still worse, as there is less variety
in it. Nay, it would be better to be quite plain, as figure [41 T p.
I], than with such poor attempts at ornament.

[Illustration: Figs. 40, 41 and 42]

These few examples, well understood, will, I imagine, be sufficient
to put what was said at the beginning of this chapter out of all
doubt, viz. that _the art of composing well_ is no more than the _art
of varying well_; and to shew, that the method which has been here
explain'd, must consequently produce a pleasing proportion amongst
the parts; as well as that all deviations from it will produce the
contrary. Yet to strengthen this latter assertion, let the following
figures, taken from the life, be examin'd by the above rules for
composing, and it will be found that the Indian-fig or torch-thistle,
figure [42 T p. I], as well as all that tribe of uncouth shaped
exotics, have the same reasons for being ugly, as the candlestick, fig.
40; as also that the beauties of the Lily [Fig. 43 T p. I] and the
calcidonian Iris [Fig. 44 T p. I] proceeds from their being composed
with great variety, and that the loss of variety, to a certain degree,
in the imitations of those flowers underneath them (fig. 45 and 46) is
the cause of the meanness of their shapes, tho' they retain enough to
be call'd by the same names.

[Illustration: Figs. 43 and 44]

[Illustration: Figs. 45 and 46]

Hitherto, with regard to composition, little else but forms made up of
straight and curv'd lines have been spoken of, and though these lines
have but little variety in themselves, yet by reason of the great
diversifications that they are capable of in being join'd with one
another; great variety of beauty of the more useful sort is produced
by them, as in necessary utensils and building: but in my opinion,
buildings as I before hinted, might be much more varied than they are,
for after _fitness_ hath been strictly and mechanically complied with,
any additional ornamental members, or parts, may, by the foregoing
rules, be varied with equal elegance; nor can I help thinking, but that
churches, palaces, hospitals, prisons, common houses and summer houses,
might be built more in distinct characters than they are, by contriving
orders suitable to each; whereas were a modern architect to build a
palace in Lapland, or the West-Indies, Paladio must be his guide, nor
would he dare to stir a step without his book.

Have not many gothic buildings a great deal of consistent beauty
in them? perhaps acquired by a series of improvements made from
time to time by the natural persuasion of the eye, which often very
near answers the end of working by principles; and sometimes begets
them. There is at present such a thirst after variety, that even
paltry imitations of Chinese buildings have a kind of vogue, chiefly
on account of their novelty: but not only these, but any other
new-invented characters of building might be regulated by proper
principles. The mere ornaments of buildings, to be sure, at least might
be allow'd a greater latitude than they are at present; as capitals,
frizes, &c. in order to increase the beauty of variety.

Nature, in shells and flowers, &c. affords an infinite choice of
elegant hints for this purpose; as the original of the Corinthian
capital was taken from nothing more, as is said, than some dock-leaves
growing up against a basket. Even a capital composed of the aukward and
confin'd forms of hats and periwigs, as fig. [48 p. I] in a skilful
hand might be made to have some beauty.

[Illustration: Fig. 48]

However, tho' the moderns have not made many additions to the art of
building, with respect to mere beauty or ornament, yet it must be
confess'd, they have carried simplicity, convenience, and neatness of
workmanship, to a very great degree of perfection, particularly in
England; where plain good sense hath prefer'd these more necessary
parts of beauty, which every body can understand, to that richness of
taste which is so much to be seen in other countries, and so often
substituted in their room.

St. Paul's cathedral is one of the noblest instances that can be
produced of the most judicious application of every principle that
has been spoken of. There you may see the utmost variety without
confusion, simplicity without nakedness, richness without taudriness,
distinctness without hardness, and quantity without excess. Whence the
eye is entertain'd throughout with the charming variety of all its
parts together; the noble projecting quantity of a certain number of
them, which presents bold and distinct parts at a distance, when the
lesser parts within them disappear; and the grand few, but remarkably
well-varied parts that continue to please the eye as long as the
object is discernable, are evident proofs of the superior skill of Sir
Christopher Wren, so justly esteem'd the prince of architects.

It will scarcely admit of a dispute, that the outside of this building
is much more perfect than that of St. Peter's at Rome: but the inside,
though as fine and noble, as the space it stands on, and our religion
will allow of, must give way to the splendor, shew, and magnificence
of that of St. Peter's, on account of the sculptures and paintings, as
well as the greater magnitude of the whole, which makes it excel as to

There are many other churches of great beauty, the work of the same
architect, which are hid in the heart of the city, whose steeples
and spires are raised higher than ordinary, that they may be seen at
a distance above the other buildings; and the great number of them
dispers'd about the whole city, adorn the prospect of it, and give it
an air of opulence and magnificence: on which account their shapes will
be found to be particularly beautiful. Of these, and perhaps of any in
Europe, St. Mary-le-Bow is the most elegantly varied. St. Bride's in
Fleet-street diminishes sweetly by elegant degrees, but its variations,
tho' very curious when you are near them, not being quite so bold, and
distinct, as those of Bow, it too soon looses variety at a distance.
Some gothic spires are finely and artfully varied, particularly the
famous steeple of Strasburg.

Westminster-Abbey is a good contrast to St. Paul's, with regard to
simplicity and distinctness, the great number of its filligrean
ornaments, and small divided and subdivided parts appear confused
when nigh, and are totally lost at a moderate distance; yet there is
nevertheless such a consistency of parts altogether in a good gothic
taste, and such propriety relative to the gloomy ideas, they were then
calculated to convey, that they have at length acquir'd an establish'd
and distinct character in building. It would be look'd upon as an
impropriety and as a kind of profanation to build places for mirth and
entertainment in the same taste.



There is scarce a room in any house whatever, where one does not see
the waving-line employ'd in some way or other. How inelegant would
the shapes of all our moveables be without it? how very plain and
unornamental the mouldings of cornices, and chimney-pieces, without the
variety introduced by the _ogee_ member, which is entirely composed of

[Illustration: Figs. 49 and 50]

Though all sorts of waving-lines are ornamental, when properly applied;
yet, strictly speaking, there is but one precise line, properly to be
called the line of _beauty_, which in the scale of them [Fig. 49 T p.
I] is number 4: the lines 5, 6, 7, by their bulging too much in their
curvature becoming gross and clumsy; and, on the contrary, 3, 2, 1, as
they straighten, becoming mean and poor; as will appear in the next
figure [50 T p. I] where they are applied to the legs of chairs.

[Illustration: Fig. 53]

A still more perfect idea of the effects of the precise waving-line,
and of those lines that deviate from it, may be conceived by the row
of stays, figure [53 B p. I], where number 4 is composed of precise
waving-lines, and is therefore the best shaped stay. Every whale-bone
of a good stay must be made to bend in this manner: for the whole
stay, when put close together behind, is truly a shell of well-varied
contents, and its surface of course a fine form; so that if a line, or
the lace were to be drawn, or brought from the top of the lacing of
the stay behind, round the body, and down to the bottom peak of the
stomacher; it would form such a perfect, precise, serpentine-line,
as has been shewn, round the cone, figure 26 in plate I.----For this
reason all ornaments obliquely contrasting the body in this manner,
as the ribbons worn by the knights of the garter, are both genteel
and graceful. The numbers 5, 6, 7 and 3, 2, 1, are deviations into
stiffness and meanness on one hand, and clumsiness and deformity on the
other. The reasons for which disagreeable effects, after what has been
already said, will be evident to the meanest capacity.

[Illustration: Fig. 26]

It may be worth our notice however, that the stay, number 2, would
better fit a well-shaped man than number 4; and that number 4, would
better fit a well-form'd woman, than number 2; and when on considering
them, merely as to their forms, and comparing them together as you
would two vases, it has been shewn by our principles, how much finer
and more beautiful number 4 is, than number 2: does not this our
determination enhance the merit of these principles, as it proves at
the same time how much the form of a woman's body surpasses in beauty
that of a man?

From the examples that have been given, enough may be gathered to carry
on our observations from them to any other objects that may chance to
come in our way, either animate or inanimate; so that we may not only
_lineally_ account for the ugliness of the toad, the hog, the bear, and
the spider, which are totally void of this waving-line, but also for
the different degrees of beauty belonging to those objects that possess



The very great difficulty there is in describing this line, either in
words, or by the pencil (as was hinted before, when I first mention'd
it) will make it necessary for me to proceed very slowly in what I have
to say in this chapter, and to beg the reader's patience whilst I lead
him step by step into the knowledge of what I think the sublime in
form, so remarkably display'd in the human body; in which, I believe,
when he is once acquainted with the idea of them, he will find this
species of lines to be principally concern'd.

First, then, let him consider fig. [56 B p. II], which represents a
straight horn, with its contents, and he will find, as it varies like
the cone, it is a form of some beauty, merely on that account.

[Illustration: Fig. 56]

Next let him observe in what manner, and in what degree the beauty of
this horn is increas'd, in fig. [57 B p. II], where it is supposed to
be bent two different ways.

[Illustration: Fig. 57]

And lastly, let him attend to the vast increase of beauty, even to
grace and elegance, in the same horn, fig. [58 B p. II], where it is
supposed to have been twisted round, at the same time, that it was bent
two different ways, (as in the last figure).

[Illustration: Fig. 58]

In the first of these figures, the dotted line down the middle
expresses the straight lines of which it is composed; which, without
the assistance of curve lines, or light and shade, would hardly shew it
to have contents.

The same is true of the second, tho' by the bending of the horn, the
straight dotted line is changed into the beautiful waving-line.

But in the last, this dotted line, by the twisting as well as
the bending of the horn, is changed from the waving into the
serpentine-line; which, as it dips out of sight behind the horn in the
middle, and returns again at the smaller end, not only gives play to
the imagination, and delights the eye, on that account; but informs it
likewise of the quantity and variety of the contents.

I have chosen this simple example, as the easiest way of giving a plain
and general idea of the peculiar qualities of these serpentine-lines,
and the advantages of bringing them into compositions, where the
contents you are to express, admit of grace and elegance.

And I beg the same things may be understood of these serpentine-lines,
that I have said before of the waving-lines. For as among the vast
variety of waving-lines that may be conceiv'd, there is but one that
truly deserves the name of _the line of beauty_, so there is only one
precise serpentine-line that I call _the line of grace_. Yet, even when
they are made too bulging, or too tapering, though they certainly lose
of their beauty and grace, they do not become so wholly void of it,
as not to be of excellent service in compositions, where beauty and
grace are not particularly design'd to be express'd in their greatest

Though I have distinguish'd these lines so particularly as to give
them the titles of _the lines of beauty and grace_, I mean that the
use and application of them should still be confined by the principles
I have laid down for composition in general; and that they should be
judiciously mixt and combined with one another, and even with those
I may term _plain_ lines, (in opposition to these) as the subject in
hand requires. Thus the cornu-copia, fig. [59 B p. II], is twisted
and bent after the same manner, as the last figure of the horn; but
more ornamented, and with a greater number of other lines of the same
twisted kind, winding round it with as quick returns as those of a

[Illustration: Fig. 59]

This sort of form may be seen with yet more variations, (and therefore
more beautiful) in the goat's horn, from which, in all probability, the
ancients originally took the extremely elegant forms they have given
their cornu-copias.

There is another way of considering this last figure of the horn I
would recommend to my reader, in order to give him a clearer idea of
the use both of the waving and serpentine-lines in composition.

This is to imagine the horn, thus bent and twisted, to be cut
length-ways by a very fine saw into two equal parts; and to observe
one of these in the same position the whole horn is represented in;
and these two observations will naturally occur to him. First, that
the edge of the saw must run from one end to the other of the horn
in the line of beauty; so that the edges of this half of the horn
will have a beautiful shape: and, secondly, that wherever the dotted
serpentine-line on the surface of the whole horn dips behind, and is
lost to the eye, it immediately comes into sight on the hollow surface
of the divided horn.

The use I shall make of these observations will appear very
considerable in the application of them to the human form, which we are
next to attempt.

It will be sufficient, therefore, at present only to observe, first,
that the whole horn acquires a beauty by its being thus genteely bent
two different ways; secondly, that whatever lines are drawn on its
external surface become graceful, as they must all of them, from the
twist that is given the horn, partake in some degree or other, of the
shape of the serpentine-line: and, lastly, when the horn is split, and
the inner, as well as the outward surface of its shell-like form is
exposed, the eye is peculiarly entertained and relieved in the pursuit
of these serpentine-lines, as in their twistings their concavities
and convexities are alternately offer'd to its view. Hollow forms,
therefore, composed of such lines are extremely beautiful and pleasing
to the eye; in many cases more so, than those of solid bodies.

Almost all the muscles, and bones, of which the human form is
composed, have more, or less of these kind of twists in them; and give
in a less degree, the same kind of appearance to the parts which cover
them, and are the immediate object of the eye: and for this reason it
is that I have been so particular in describing these forms of the
bent, and twisted, and ornamented horn.

There is scarce a straight bone in the whole body. Almost all of
them are not only bent different ways, but have a kind of twist,
which in some of them is very graceful; and the muscles annex'd
to them, tho' they are of various shapes, appropriated to their
particular uses, generally have their component fibres running in
these serpentine-lines, surrounding and conforming themselves to the
varied shape of the bones they belong to: more especially in the limbs.
Anatomists are so satisfied of this, that they take a pleasure in
distinguishing their several beauties. I shall only instance in the
thigh-bone, and those about the hips.

[Illustration: Figs. 64 and 62]

The thigh-bone fig. [62 R p. II], has the waving and twisted turn
of the horn, 58: but the beautiful bones adjoining, call'd the ossa
innominata [Fig. 60 B p. II], have, with greater variety, the same
turns and twists of that horn when it is cut; and its inner and outward
surfaces are exposed to the eye.

[Illustration: Figs. 60, 61 and 63]

How ornamental these bones appear, when the prejudice we conceive
against them, as being part of a skeleton, is taken off, by adding
a little foliage to them, may be seen in fig. [61 B p. II]----such
shell-like winding forms, mixt with foliage, twisting about them, are
made use of in all ornaments; a kind of composition calculated merely
to please the eye. Divest these of their serpentine twinings, and they
immediately lose all grace, and return to the poor gothic taste they
were in an hundred years ago [Fig. 63 B p. II].

[Illustration: Figs. 64 and 62]

Fig. [64 B p. II] is meant to represent the manner, in which most of
the muscles, (those of the limbs in particular) are twisted round the
bones, and conform themselves to their length and shape; but with
no anatomical exactness. As to the running of their fibres, some
anatomists have compared them to skains of thread, loose in the middle,
and tight at each end, which, when they are thus consider'd as twisted
contrary ways round the bone, gives the strongest idea possible of a
composition of serpentine-lines.

[Illustration: Figs. 65, 66 and 67]

Of these fine winding forms then are the muscles and bones composed,
and which, by their varied situations with each other, become more
intricately pleasing, and form a continued waving of winding forms from
one into the other, as may be best seen by examining a good anatomical
figure, part of which you have here represented, in the muscular leg
and thigh, fig. [65 p. I]: which shews the serpentine forms and varied
situations of the muscles, as they appear when the skin is taken off.
It was drawn from a plaster of paris figure cast off nature, the
original of which was prepared for the mould by Cowper, the famous
anatomist. In this last figure, as the skin is taken off the parts are
too distinctly traced by the eye, for that intricate delicacy which is
necessary to the utmost beauty; yet the winding figures of the muscles,
with the variety of their situations, must always be allow'd elegant
forms: however, they lose in the imagination some of the beauty, which
they really have, by the idea of their being flayed; nevertheless,
by what has already been shewn both of them and the bones, the human
frame hath more of its parts composed of serpentine-lines than any
other object in nature; which is a proof both of its superior beauty
to all others, and, at the same time, that its beauty proceeds from
those lines: for although they may be required sometimes to be bulging
in their twists, as in the thick swelling muscles of the Hercules, yet
elegance and greatness of taste is still preserved; but when these
lines lose so much of their twists as to become almost straight, all
elegance of taste vanishes.

Thus fig. [66 p. I], was also taken from nature, and drawn in the same
position, but treated in a more dry, stiff, and what the painters call,
_sticky manner_, than the nature of flesh is ever capable of appearing
in, unless when its moisture is dryed away: it must be allowed, that
the parts of this figure are of as right dimensions, and as truly
situated, as in the former; it wants only the true twist of the lines
to give it taste.

To prove this further, and to put the mean effect of these plain or
unvaried lines in a stronger light, see fig. [67 p. I], where, by the
uniform, unvaried shapes and situation of the muscles, without so much
as a waving-line in them, it becomes so wooden a form, that he that
can fashion the leg of a joint-stool may carve this figure as well as
the best sculptor. In the same manner, divest one of the best antique
statues of all its serpentine winding parts, and it becomes from an
exquisite piece of art, a figure of such ordinary lines and unvaried
contents, that a common stone-mason or carpenter, with the help of his
rule, calipers, and compasses, might carve out an exact imitation of
it: and were it not for these lines a turner, in his lathe, might turn
a much finer neck than that of the grecian Venus, as according to the
common notion of a beautiful neck, it would be more truly round. For
the same reason, legs much swoln with disease, are as easy to imitate
as a post, having lost their _drawing_, as the painters call it; that
is, having their serpentine-lines all effaced, by the skin's being
equally puffed up, as figure [68].

[Illustration: Fig. 68]

If in comparing these three figures one with another, the reader,
notwithstanding the prejudice his imagination may have conceiv'd
against them, as anatomical figures, has been enabled only to perceive
that one of them is not so disagreeable as the others; he will easily
be led to see further, that this tendency to beauty in one, is not
owing to any greater degree of exactness in the _proportions_ of its
parts, but merely to the more _pleasing turns, and intertwistings of
the lines,_ which compose its external form; for in all the three
figures the same proportions have been observ'd, and, on that account,
they have all an equal claim to beauty.

And if he pursues this anatomical enquiry but a very little further,
just to form a true idea of the elegant use that is made of the
skin and fat beneath it, to conceal from the eye all that is hard
and disagreeable, and at the same time to preserve to it whatever
is necessary in the shapes of the parts beneath, to give grace and
beauty to the whole limb: he will find himself insensibly led into the
principles of that grace and beauty which is to be found in well-turn'd
limbs, in fine, elegant, healthy life, or in those of the best
antique statues; as well as into the reason why his eye has so often
unknowingly been pleased and delighted with them.

Thus, in all other parts of the body, as well as these, wherever, for
the sake of the necessary motion of the parts, with proper strength
and agility, the insertions of the muscles are too hard and sudden,
their swellings too bold, or the hollows between them too deep, for
their out-lines to be beautiful; nature most judiciously softens these
hardnesses, and plumps up these vacancies with a proper supply of fat,
and covers the whole with the soft, smooth, springy, and, in delicate
life, almost transparent skin, which, conforming itself to the external
shape of all the parts beneath, expresses to the eye the idea of its
contents with the utmost delicacy of beauty and grace.

The skin, therefore, thus tenderly embracing, and gently conforming
itself to the varied shapes of every one of the outward muscles of the
body, soften'd underneath by the fat, where, otherwise, the same hard
lines and furrows would appear, as we find come on with age in the
face, and with labour, in the limbs, is evidently a shell-like surface
(to keep up the idea I set out with) form'd with the utmost delicacy
in nature; and therefore the most proper subject of the study of every
one, who desires to imitate the works of nature, _as a master should
do_, or to judge of the performances of others _as a real connoisseur

I cannot be too long, I think, on this subject, as so much will be
found to depend upon it; and therefore shall endeavour to give a clear
idea of the different effect such anatomical figures have on the eye,
from what the same parts have, when cover'd by the fat and skin; by
supposing a small wire (that has lost its spring and so will retain
every shape it is twisted into) to be held fast to the out-side of the
hip (fig. 65. plate I) and thence brought down the other side of the
thigh obliquely over the calf of the leg, down to the outward ancle
(all the while press'd so close as to touch and conform itself to the
shape of every muscle it passes over) and then to be taken off. If this
wire be now examined it will be found that the general uninterrupted
flowing twist, which the winding round the limbs would otherwise have
given to it, is broken into little better than so many separate plain
curves, by the sharp indentures it every where has receiv'd on being
closely press'd in between the muscles.

[Illustration: Figs. 65, 66 and 67]

Suppose, in the next place, such a wire was in the same manner twisted
round a living well-shaped leg and thigh, or those of a fine statue;
when you take it off you will find no such sharp indentures, nor any of
those regular _engralings_ (as the heralds express it) which displeased
the eye before. On the contrary, you will see how _gradually_ the
changes in its shape are produced; how imperceptibly the different
curvatures run into each other, and how easily the eye glides along
the varied wavings of its sweep. To enforce this still further, if
a line were to be drawn by a pencil exactly where these wires have
been supposed to pass, the point of the pencil, in the muscular leg
and thigh, would perpetually meet with stops and rubs, whilst in the
others it would flow from muscle to muscle along the elastic skin, as
pleasantly as the lightest skiff dances over the gentlest wave.

This idea of the wire, retaining thus the shape of the parts it passes
over, seems of so much consequence, that I would by no means have it
forgot; as it may properly be consider'd as one of the threads (or
outlines) of the shell (or external surface) of the human form: and
the frequently recurring to it will assist the imagination in its
conceptions of those parts of it, whose shapes are most intricately
varied: for the same sort of observations may be made, with equal
justice, on the shapes of ever so many such wires twisted in the same
manner in ever so many directions over every part of a well made man,
woman, or statue.

And if the reader will follow in his imagination the most exquisite
turns of the chisel in the hands of a master, when he is putting the
finishing touches to a statue; he will soon be led to understand what
it is the real judges expect from the hand of such a master, which
the Italians call, the little more, Il poco piu, and which in reality
distinguishes the original master-pieces at Rome from even the best
copies of them.

An example or two will sufficiently explain what is here meant; for
as these exquisite turns are to be found, in some degree of beauty
or other, all over the whole surface of the body and limbs: we may
by taking any one part of a fine figure (though so small a one that
only a few muscles are express'd in it) explain the manner in which so
much beauty and grace has been given to them, as to convince a skilful
artist, almost at sight, that it must have been the work of a master.

[Illustration: Fig. 76]

I have chosen, for this purpose, a small piece of the body of a statue,
fig. [76 T p. II], representing part of the left side under the arm,
together with a little of the breast, (including a very particular
muscle, which, from the likeness its edges bear to the teeth of a saw,
is, if consider'd by itself, void of beauty) as most proper to the
point in hand, because this its regular shape more peculiarly requires
the skill of the artist to give it a little more variety than it
generally has, even in nature.

[Illustration: Fig. 77]

First, then, I will give you a representation of this part of the
body, from an anatomical figure [Fig. 77 T p. II], to show what a
sameness there is in the shapes of all the teeth-like insertions of
this muscle; and how regularly the fibres, which compose it, follow the
almost parallel out-lines of the ribs they partly cover.

[Illustration: Fig. 78]

From what has been said before of the use of the natural covering of
the skin, &c. the next figure [78 T p. II] will easily be understood to
mean so tame a representation of the same part of the body, that tho'
the hard and stiff appearance of the edges of this muscle is taken off
by that covering, yet enough of its regularity and sameness remains to
render it disagreeable.

Now as regularity and sameness, according to our doctrine, is want of
elegance and true taste, we shall endeavour in the next place to show
how this very part (in which the muscles take so very regular a form)
may be brought to have as much variety as any other part of the body
whatever. In order to this, though some alteration must be made in
almost every part of it, yet it should be so inconsiderable in each,
that no remarkable change may appear in the shape and situation of any.

[Illustration: Figs. 79, 80 and 81]

Thus, let the parts mark'd 1, 2, 3, 4, (which appear so exactly
similar in shape, and parallel in situation in the muscular figure
77) and not much mended in fig. 78, be first varied in their sizes,
but not gradually from the uppermost to the lowest, as in fig. [79 T
p. II], nor alternately one long and one short, as in fig. [80 T p.
II], for in either of these cases there would still remain too great
a formality. We should therefore endeavour, in the next place, to
vary them every way in our power, without losing entirely the true
idea of the parts themselves. Suppose them then to have changed their
situations a little, and slip'd beside each other irregularly, (some
how as is represented in fig. [81 T p. II], merely with regard to their
situation) and the external appearance of the whole piece of the body,
now under our consideration, will assume the more varied and pleasing
form, represented in fig. 76, easily to be discern'd by comparing the
three figures, 76, 77, 78, one with another; and it will as easily be
seen, that were lines to be drawn, or wires to be bent, over these
muscles, from one to the other, and so on to the adjoining parts; they
would have a continued waving flow, let them pass in any direction

The unskilful, in drawing these parts after the life, as their
regularities are much more easily seen and copied than their fine
variations, seldom fail of making them more regular and poor than they
really appear even in a consumptive person.

The difference will appear evident by comparing fig. 78, purposely
drawn in this tasteless manner, with fig. 76. But will be more
perfectly understood by examining this part in the Torso of Michael
Angelo [Fig. 54 p. I], whence this figure was taken.

[Illustration: Fig. 54]

Note, there are casts of a small copy of that famous trunk of a body
to be had at almost every plaster-figure makers, wherein what has been
here described may be sufficiently seen, not only in the part which
figure 76 was taken from, but all over that curious piece of antiquity.

I must here again press my reader to a particular attention to the
windings of these superficial lines, even in their passing over every
joint, what alterations soever may be made in the surface of the skin
by the various bendings of the limbs: and tho' the space allow'd for
it, just in the joints, be ever so small, and consequently the lines
ever so short, the application of this principle of varying these
lines, as far as their lengths will admit of, will be found to have its
effect as gracefully as in the more lengthen'd muscles of the body.

It should be observ'd in the fingers, where the joints are but short,
and the tendons straight; and where beauty seems to submit, in some
degree, to use, yet not so much but you trace in a full-grown taper
finger, these little winding lines among the wrinkles, or in (what
is more pretty because more simple) the dimples of the nuckles. As
we always distinguish things best by seeing their reverse set in
opposition with them; if fig. 82 T p. II, by the straightness of its
lines, shews fig. 83 T p. II, to have some little taste in it, tho' it
is so slightly sketch'd; the difference will more evidently appear when
you in like manner compare a straight coarse finger in common life with
the taper dimpled one of a fine lady.

[Illustration: Figs. 82 and 83]

There is an elegant degree of plumpness peculiar to the skin of the
softer sex, that occasions these delicate dimplings in all their
other joints, as well as these of the fingers; which so perfectly
distinguishes them from those even of a graceful man; and which,
assisted by the more soften'd shapes of the muscles underneath,
presents to the eye all the varieties in the whole figure of the body,
with gentler and fewer parts more sweetly connected together, and with
such a fine simplicity as will always give the turn of the female
frame, represented in the Venus [Fig. 13 p. I], the preference to that
of the Apollo [Fig. 12 p. I].

[Illustration: Figs. 13 and 12]

Now whoever can conceive lines thus constantly flowing, and delicately
varying over every part of the body even to the fingers ends, and will
call to his remembrance what led us to this last description of what
the Italians call, Il poco piu (_the little more_ that is expected from
the hand of a master) will, in my mind, want very little more than what
his own observation on the works of art and nature will lead him to, to
acquire a true idea of the word _Taste_, when applied to form; however
inexplicable this word may hitherto have been imagined.

We have all along had recourse chiefly to the works of the ancients,
not because the moderns have not produced some as excellent; but
because the works of the former are more generally known: nor would
we have it thought, that either of them have ever yet come up to the
utmost beauty of nature. Who but a bigot, even to the antiques, will
say that he has not seen faces and necks, hands and arms in living
women, that even the Grecian Venus doth but coarsely imitate?

And what sufficient reason can be given why the same may not be said of
the rest of the body?



If anyone should ask, what it is that constitutes a fine-proportion'd
human figure? how ready and seemingly decisive is the common answer: _a
just symmetry and harmony of parts with respect to the whole_. But as
probably this vague answer took its rise from doctrines not belonging
to form, or idle schemes built on them, I apprehend it will cease to be
thought much to the purpose after a proper enquiry has been made.

Preparatory to which, it becomes necessary in this place, to mention
one reason more which may be added to those given in the introduction,
for my having persuaded the reader to consider objects scoop'd out like
thin shells; which is, that partly by this conception, he may be the
better able to separate and keep asunder the two following _general
ideas_, as we will call them, belonging to form; which are apt to
coincide and mix with each other in the mind, and which it is necessary
(for the sake of making each more fully and particularly clear) should
be kept apart, and consider'd singly.

First, the _general ideas_ of what hath already been discussed in the
foregoing chapters, which only comprehends the surface of form, viewing
it in no other light than merely as being ornamental or not.

Secondly, that _general idea_, now to be discussed, which we commonly
have of form altogether, as arising chiefly from a fitness to some
design'd purpose or use.

Hitherto our main drift hath been to establish and illustrate the
first idea only, by shewing, first the nature of variety, and then its
effects on the mind; with the manner how such impressions are made by
means of the different feelings given to the eye, from its movements in
tracing and coursing[5] over surfaces of all kinds.

[5] See Chapter V, page 25.

The surface of a piece of ornament, that hath every turn in it that
lines are capable of moving into, and at the same time no way applied,
nor of any manner of use, but merely to entertain the eye, would be
such an object as would answer to this first idea alone.

The figure like a leaf, at the bottom of plate I, near to fig. 67, is
something of this kind; it was taken from an ash-tree, and was a sort
of Lusus naturæ, growing only like an excressence, but so beautiful
in the lines of its shell-like windings, as would have been above the
power of a Gibbons to have equalled, even in its own materials; nor
could the graver of an Edlinck, or Drevet, have done it justice on

[Illustration: Fig. near Fig. 67]

Note, the present taste of ornaments seems to have been partly taken
from productions of this sort, which are to be found about autumn among
plants, particularly asparagus, when it is running to seed.

I shall now endeavour to explain what is included in what I have called
for distinction sake, the second _general idea_ of form, in a much
fuller manner than was done in Chapter I, of Fitness. And begin with
observing, that though surfaces will unavoidably be still included, yet
we must no longer confine ourselves to the particular notice of them as
surfaces only, as we heretofore have done; we must now open our view to
general, as well as particular bulk and solidity; and also look into
what may have filled up, or given rise thereto, such as certain _given_
quantities and dimensions of parts, for inclosing any substance, or for
performing of _motion, purchase, stedfastness,_ and other matters of
use to living beings, which, I apprehend, at length, will bring us to a
tolerable conception of the word _proportion_.

As to these _joint-sensations_ of bulk and motion, do we not at first
sight almost, even without making trial, seem to _feel_ when a leaver
of any kind is too weak, or not long enough to make such or such a
purchase? or when a spring is not sufficient? and don't we find by
experience what weight, or dimension should be given, or taken away, on
this or that account? if so, as the general as well as particular bulks
of form, are made up of materials moulded together under mechanical
directions, for some known purpose or other; how naturally, from these
considerations, shall we fall into a judgment of _fit proportion_;
which is one part of beauty to the mind tho' not always so to the eye.

Our necessities have taught us to mould matter into various shapes,
and to give them fit proportions for particular uses, as bottles,
glasses, knives, dishes, &c. Hath not offence given rise to the
form of the sword, and defence to that of the shield? And what else
but proper fitness of parts hath fix'd the different dimensions of
pistols, muskets, great guns, fowling-pieces and blunderbusses; which
differences as to figure, may as properly be called the different
characters of fire-arms, as the different shapes of men are called
characters of men.

We find also that the profuse variety of shapes, which present
themselves from the whole animal creation, arise chiefly from the
nice fitness of their parts, designed for accomplishing the peculiar
movements of each.

And here I think will be the proper place to speak of a most curious
difference between the living machines of nature, in respect of
fitness, and such poor ones, in comparison with them, as men are only
capable of making; by means of which distinction, I am in hopes of
shewing what particularly constitutes the utmost beauty of proportion
in the human figure.

A clock, by the government's order, has been made, and another
now making, by Mr. Harrison, for the keeping of true time at sea;
which perhaps is one of the most exquisite movements ever made.
Happy the ingenious contriver! although the form of the whole, or of
every part of this curious machine, should be ever so confused, or
displeasingly shaped to the eye; and although even its movements should
be disagreeable to look at, provided it answers the end proposed. An
ornamental composition was no part of his scheme, otherwise than as
a pollish might be necessary. If ornaments are required to be added
to mend its shape, care must be taken that they are no obstruction to
the movement itself, and the more as they would be superfluous, as to
the main design.--But in nature's machines, how wonderfully do we see
beauty and use go hand in hand!

Had a machine for this purpose been nature's work, the whole and every
individual part would have had exquisite beauty of form without danger
of destroying the exquisiteness of its motion, even as if ornament had
been the sole aim; its movements too would have been graceful, without
one superfluous tittle added for either of these lovely purposes.--Now
this is that curious difference between the fitness of nature's
machines (one of which is man) and those made by mortal hands: which
distinction is to lead us to our main point proposed; I mean, to the
shewing what constitutes the utmost beauty of proportion.

There was brought from France some years ago, a little clock-work
machine, with a duck's head and legs fixt to it, which was so contrived
as to have some resemblance of that animal standing upon one foot,
and stretching back its leg, turning its head, opening and shutting
its bill, moving its wings, and shaking its tail; all of them the
plainest and easiest directions in living movements: yet for the
poorly performing of these few motions, this silly, but much extoll'd
machine, being uncover'd, appeared a most complicated, confused, and
disagreeable object: nor would its being covered with a skin closely
adhering to its parts, as that of a real duck's doth, have much
mended its figure; at best, a bag of hob-nails, broken hinges, and
patten-rings, would have looked as well, unless by other means it had
been stuffed out to bring it into form.

Thus again you see, the more variety we pretend to give to our trifling
movements, the more confused and unornamental the forms become; nay
chance but seldom helps them.--How much the reverse are nature's! the
greater the variety her movements have, the more beautiful are the
parts that cause them.

The finny race of animals, as they have fewer motions than other
creatures, so are their forms less remarkable for beauty. It is also
to be noted of every species, that the handsomest of each move best:
birds of a clumsy make seldom fly well, nor do lumpy fish glide so well
through the water as those of a neater make; and beasts of the most
elegant form, always excel in speed; of this, the horse and greyhound
are beautiful examples: and even among themselves, the most elegantly
made seldom fail of being the swiftest.

The war-horse is more equally made for strength than the race-horse,
which surplus of power in the former, if suppos'd added to the latter,
as it would throw more weight into improper parts for the business
of mere speed, so of course it would lessen, in some degree, that
admirable quality, and partly destroy that delicate fitness of his
make; but then a quality in movement, superior to that of speed, would
be given to him by the addition, as he would be render'd thereby more
fit to move with ease in such varied, or graceful directions, as are so
delightful to the eye in the carriage of the fine manag'd war-horse;
and as at the same time, something stately and graceful would be added
to his figure, which before could only be said to have an elegant
neatness. This noble creature stands foremost among brutes; and it is
but consistent with nature's propriety, that the most useful animal in
the brute-creation, should be thus signalized also for the most beauty.

Yet, properly speaking, no living creatures are capable of moving in
such truly varied and graceful directions, as the human species; and
it would be needless to say how much superior in beauty their forms
and textures likewise are. And surely also after what has been said
relating to figure and motion, it is plain and evident that nature
has thought fit to make beauty of proportion, and beauty of movement,
necessary to each other: so that the observation before made on
animals, will hold equally good with regard to man: i. e. that he who
is most exquisitely well-proportion'd is most capable of exquisite
movements, such as ease and _grace in deportment_, or in dancing.

It may be a sort of collateral confirmation of what has been said of
this method of nature's working, as well as otherwise worth our notice,
that when any parts belonging to the human body are conceal'd, and
not immediately concern'd in movement, all such ornamental shapes, as
evidently appear in the muscles and bones[6], are totally neglected as
unnecessary, for nature doth nothing in vain! this is plainly the case
of the intestines, none of them having the least beauty, as to form,
except the _heart_; which noble part, and indeed kind of first mover,
is a simple and well-varied figure; conformable to which, some of the
most elegant Roman urns and vases have been fashion'd.

[6] See Chapter IX on Compositions with the Serpentine-line.

Now, thus much being kept in remembrance, our next step will be to
speak of, first, general measurements; such as the whole height of the
body to its breadth, or the length of a limb to its thickness: and,
secondly, of such appearances of dimensions as are too intricately
varied to admit of a description by lines.

The former will be confined to a very few straight lines, crossing each
other, which will easily be understood by everyone; but the latter
will require somewhat more attention, because it will extend to the
precision of every modification, bound, or limit, of the human figure.

To be somewhat more explicit. As to the first part, I shall begin
with shewing what practicable sort of measuring may be used in order
to produce the most proper variety in the proportions of the parts of
any body. I say, _practicable_, because the vast variety of intricately
situated parts, belonging to the human form, will not admit of
measuring the distances of one part by another, by lines or points,
beyond a certain degree or number, without great perplexity in the
operation itself, or confusion to the imagination. For instance, say, a
line representing one breadth and an half of the wrist, would be equal
to the true breadth of the thickest part of the arm above the elbow;
may it not then be ask'd, what part of the wrist is meant? for if you
place a pair of calipers a little nearer or further from the hand, the
distance of the points will differ, and so they will if they are moved
close to the wrist all round, because it is flatter one way than the
other; but suppose, for argument sake, one certain diameter should be
fix'd upon; may it not again be ask'd, how is it to be apply'd, if to
the flattest side of the arm or the roundest, and how far from the
elbow, and must it be when the arm is extended or when it is bent?
for this also will make a sensible difference, because in the latter
position, the muscle, call'd the biceps, in the front of that part of
the arm, swells up like a ball one way, and narrows itself another; nay
all the muscles shift their appearances in different movements, so that
whatever may have been pretended by some authors, no exact mathematical
measurements by lines, can be given for the true proportion of a human

[Illustration: Figs. 68 and 55]

It comes then to this, that no longer than whilst we suppose all
the lengths and breadths of the body, or limbs, to be as regular
figures as cylinders, or as the leg, figure 68 in plate I, which is
as round as a rolling-stone, are the measures of lengths to breadths
practicable, or of any use to the knowledge of proportion: so that as
all mathematical schemes are foreign to this purpose, we will endeavour
to root them quite out of our way: therefore I must not omit taking
notice, that Albert Durer, Lomazzo, (see two tasteless figures taken
from their books of proportion [Fig. 55 p. I]) and some others, have
not only puzzled mankind with a heap of minute unnecessary divisions,
but also with a strange _notion_ that those divisions are govern'd by
the laws of music; which mistake they seem to have been led into, by
having seen certain uniform and consonant divisions upon one string
produce harmony to the ear, and by persuading themselves, that similar
distances in lines belonging to form, would, in like manner, delight
the eye. The very reverse of which has been shewn to be true, in
Chapter III, on Uniformity. "The length of the foot," say they, "in
respect to the breadth, makes a _double suprabipartient_, a _diapason_,
and a _diatesseron_[7]:" which, in my opinion, would have been full as
applicable to the ear, or to a plant, or to a tree, or any other form
whatsoever; yet these sort of _notions_ have so far prevail'd by time,
that the words, _harmony of parts_, seem as applicable to form, as to

[7] Note, these authors assure you, that this curious method of
measuring, _will produce beauty far beyond any nature doth afford_.
Lomazzo, recommends also another scheme, with a triangle, to
correct the _poverty of nature_, as they express themselves. These
_nature-menders_ put one in mind of Gulliver's tailor at Laputa,
who, having taken measure of him for a suit of clothes, with a rule,
quadrant, and compasses, after a considerable time spent, brought them
home ill-made.

Notwithstanding the absurdity of the above schemes, such measures
as are to be taken from antique statues, may be of some service to
painters and sculptors, especially to young beginners, but nothing nigh
of such use to them, as the measures, taken the same way, from ancient
buildings, have been, and are, to architects and builders; because the
latter have to do with little else but plain geometrical figures: which
measures, however, serve only in copying what has been done before.

The few measures I shall speak of, for the setting out the general
dimensions of a figure, shall be taken by straight lines only, for the
more easy conception of what may indeed be properly call'd, _gaging the
contents of the body_, supposing it solid like a marble statue, as the
wires were described to do [Fig. 2 p. I] in the introduction: by which
plain method, clear ideas may be acquir'd of what _alone_ seem to me to
require measuring, of what certain lengths to what breadths make the
most eligible proportions in general.

[Illustration: Fig. 2]

The most general dimensions of a body, or limbs, are lengths,
breadths, or thicknesses: now the whole gentility of a figure,
according to its character, depends upon the first proportioning these
lines or wires (which are its measures) properly one to another; and
the more varied these lines are, with respect to each other, the more
may the future divisions be varied likewise, that are to be made
on them; and of course the less varied these lines are, the parts
influenced by them, as they must conform themselves to them, must have
less variety too. For example, the exact cross [Fig. 69 R p. II] of two
equal lines, cutting each other in the middle, would confine the figure
of a man, drawn conformable to them, to the disagreeable character
of his being as broad as he is long. And the two lines crossing each
other, to make the height and breadth of a figure, will want variety
a contrary way, by one line being very short in proportion to the
other, and therefore, also incapable of producing a figure of tolerable
variety. To prove this, it will be very easy for the reader to make
the experiment, by drawing a figure or two (tho' ever so imperfectly)
confin'd within such limits.

[Illustration: Fig. 69]

There is a medium between these, proper for every character, which the
eye will easily and accurately determine.

[Illustration: Fig. 70]

Thus, if the lines, fig. [70 R p. II], were to be the measure of the
extreme length and breadth, set out either for the figure of a man or a
vase, the eye soon sees the longest of these is not quite sufficiently
so, in proportion to the other, for a genteel man; and yet it would
make a vase too taper to be elegant; no rule or compasses would decide
this matter either so quickly or so precisely as a good eye. It may be
observed, that minute differences in great lengths, are of little or
no consequence as to proportion, because they are not to be discerned;
for a man is half an inch shorter when he goes to bed at night, than
when he rises in the morning, without the possibility of its being
perceived. In case of a wager the application of a rule or compasses
may be necessary, but seldom on any other occasion.

Thus much I apprehend is sufficient for the consideration of general
lengths to breadths. Where, by the way, I apprehend I have plainly
shewn, that there is no practicable rule, by lines, for minutely
setting out proportions _for_ the human body, and if there were, the
eye alone must determine us in our choice of what is most pleasing to

Thus having dispatch'd general dimension, which we may say is almost
as much of proportion, as is to be seen when we have our cloaths on: I
shall in the second, and more extensive method proposed for considering
it, set out in the familiar path of common observation, and appeal as I
go on to our usual feeling, or joint-sensation, of figure and motion.

Perhaps by mentioning two or three known instances it will be found
that almost every one is farther advanced in the knowledge of this
speculative part of proportion than he imagines; especially he who hath
been used to observe naked figures doing bodily exercise, and more
especially if he be any way interested in the success of them; and
the better he is acquainted with the nature of the exercise itself,
still the better judge he becomes of the figure that is to perform
it. For this reason, no sooner are two boxers stript to fight, but
even a butcher, thus skill'd, shews himself a considerable critic in
proportion; and on this sort of judgment, often gives, or takes the
odds, at bare sight only of the combatants. I have heard a blacksmith
harangue like an anatomist, or sculptor, on the beauty of a boxer's
figure, tho' not perhaps in the same terms; and I firmly believe, that
one of our common proficients in the athletic art, would be able to
instruct and direct the best sculptor living, (who hath not seen, or is
wholly ignorant of this exercise) in what would give the statue of an
English-boxer, a much better proportion, as to character, than is to
be seen, even in the famous group of antique boxers, (or as some call
them, Roman wrestlers) so much admired to this day.

Indeed, as many parts of the body are so constantly kept cover'd, the
proportion of the whole cannot be equally known; but as stockings are
so close and thin a covering, every one judges of the different shapes
and proportions of legs with great accuracy. The ladies always speak
skilfully of necks, hands, and arms; and often will point out such
particular beauties or defects in their make, as might easily escape
the observation of a man of science.

Surely, such determinations could not be made and pronounced with such
critical truth, if the eye were not capable of measuring or judging of
thicknesses by lengths, with great preciseness. Nay more, in order to
determine so nicely as they often do, it must also at the same time,
trace with some skill those delicate windings upon the surface which
have been described in page 64 and 65, which altogether may be observ'd
to include the two general ideas mention'd at the beginning of this

If so, certainly it is in the power of a man of science, with as
observing an eye, to go still further, and conceive, with a very
little turn of thought, many other necessary circumstances concerning
proportion, as of what size and in what manner the bones help to make
up the bulk, and support the other parts; as well as what certain
weights or dimensions of muscles are proper (according to the principle
of the steelyard) to move such or such a length of arm with this or
that degree of swiftness or force.

But though much of this matter, may be easily understood by common
observation, assisted by science, still I fear it will be difficult to
raise a very clear idea of what constitutes, or composes the _utmost
beauty of proportion_; such as is seen in the Antinous; which is
allowed to be the most perfect in this respect, of any of the antique
statues; and tho' the lovely likewise seems to have been as much the
sculptor's aim, as in the Venus; yet a manly strength in its proportion
is equally express'd from head to foot in it.

[Illustration: Fig. 6]

Let us try, however, and as this master-piece of art is so well known,
we will set it up before us as a pattern, and endeavour to fabricate,
or put together in the mind, such kind of parts as shall seem to build
another figure like it. In doing which, we shall soon find that it is
chiefly to be effected by means of the nice sensation we naturally
have of what certain quantities or dimensions of parts, are fittest to
produce the utmost strength for moving, or supporting great weights;
and of what are most fit for the utmost light agility, as also for
every degree, between these two extremes.

He who hath best perfected his ideas of these matters by common
observations, and by the assistance of arts relative thereto,
will probably be most precisely just and clear, in conceiving the
application of the various parts and dimensions, that will occur to
him, in the following descriptive manner of disposing of them, in order
to form the idea of a fine-proportion'd figure.

Having set up the Antinous as our pattern, we will suppose there were
placed on one side of it, the unwieldy elephant-like figure of an
Atlas, made up of such thick bones and muscles, as would best fit him
for supporting a vast weight, according to his character of extreme
heavy strength. And, on the other side, imagine the slim figure of a
Mercury, every where neatly formed for the utmost light agility, with
slender bones and taper muscles fit for his nimble bounding from the
ground.--Both these figures must be supposed of equal height, and not
exceeding six foot[8].

[8] If the scale of either of these proportions were to exceed six
foot in the life, the quality of strength in one, and agility in the
other, would gradually decrease, the larger the person grew. There are
sufficient proofs of this, both from mechanical reasonings and common

Our _extremes_ thus placed, now imagine the Atlas throwing off by
degrees, certain portions of bone and muscle, proper for the attainment
of light agility, as if aiming at the Mercury's airy form and quality,
whilst on the other hand, see the Mercury augmenting his taper figure
by equal degrees, and growing towards an Atlas in equal time, by
receiving to the like places from whence they came, the very quantities
that the other had been casting off, when, as they approach each other
in weight, their forms of course may be imagined to grow more and more
alike, till at a certain point of time, they meet in just similitude;
which being an exact medium between the two extremes, we may thence
conclude it to be the precise form of exact proportion, fittest for
perfect active strength or graceful movement; such as the Antinous we
proposed to imitate and figure in the mind[9].

[9] The jocky who knows to an ounce what flesh or bone in a horse is
fittest for speed or strength, will as easily conceive the like process
between the strongest dray-horse and the fleetest racer, and soon
conclude, that the fine war-horse must be the medium between the two

I am apprehensive that this part of my scheme, for explaining exact
proportion, may not be thought so sufficiently determinate as could
be wished: be this as it will, I must submit it to the reader, as my
best resource in so difficult a case: and shall therefore beg leave
to try to illustrate it a little more, by observing, that, in like
manner, any two opposite colours in the _rainbow_, form a third between
them, by thus imparting to each other their peculiar qualities; as for
example, the brightest yellow, and the lively blue that is placed at
some distance from it, visibly approach, and blend by interchangable
degrees, and, as above, _temper_ rather than destroy each other's
vigour, till they meet in one firm compound; whence, at a certain
point, the sight of what they were originally, is quite lost; but in
their stead, a most pleasing green is found, which colour nature hath
chose for the vestment of the earth, and with the beauty of which the
eye is never tired.

From the order of the ideas which the description of the above three
figures may have raised in the mind, we may easily compose between
them, various other proportions. And as the painter, by means of a
certain order in the arrangement of the colours upon his pallet,
readily mixes up what kind of tint he pleases, so may we mix up and
compound in the imagination such fit parts as will be consistent with
this or that particular character, or at least be able thereby to
discover how such characters are composed, when we see them either in
art or nature.

But perhaps even the word _character, as it relates to form,_ may
not be quite understood by every one, tho' it is so frequently used:
nor do I remember to have seen it explained any where. Therefore on
this account--and also as it will further shew the use of thinking of
form and motion together, it will not be improper to observe,--that
notwithstanding a character, in this sense, chiefly depends on a figure
being remarkable as to its form, either in some particular part, or
altogether; yet surely no figure, be it ever so singular, can be
perfectly conceived as a character, till we find it connected with some
remarkable circumstance or cause, for such particularity of appearance;
for instance, a fat bloted person doth not call to mind the character
of a Silenus, till we have joined the idea of voluptuousness with it;
so likewise strength to support, and clumsiness of figure, are united,
as well in the character of an Atlas as in a porter.

When we consider the great weight chairmen often have to carry, do we
not readily consent that there is a propriety and fitness in the tuscan
order of their legs, by which they properly become _characters_ as to

Watermen too, are of a distinct cast, or character, whose legs are
no less remarkable for their smallness: for as there is naturally the
greatest call for nutriment to the parts that are most exercised, so of
course these that lye so much stretched out, are apt to dwindle, or not
grow to their full size. There is scarcely a waterman that rows upon
the Thames, whose figure doth not confirm this observation. Therefore
were I to paint the character of a Charon, I would thus distinguish
his make from that of a common man's; and, in spite of the word _low_,
venture to give him a broad pair of shoulders, and spindle shanks,
whether I had the authority of an antique statue, or basso-relievo, for
it or not.

May be, I cannot throw a stronger light on what has been hitherto
said of proportion, than by animadverting on a remarkable beauty in
the Apollo-belvedere; which hath given it the preference even to the
Antinous: I mean a super-addition of _greatness_, to at least as much
beauty and grace, as is found in the latter.

These two master-pieces of art, are seen together in the same palace
at Rome, where the Antinous fills the spectator with admiration only,
whilst the Apollo strikes him with surprise, and, as travellers
express themselves, with an appearance of something _more than
human_; which they _of course_ are always at a loss to describe: and
this effect, they say, is the more astonishing, as upon examination
its disproportion is evident even to a common eye. One of the best
sculptors we have in England, who lately went to see them, confirm'd to
me what has been now said, particularly as to the legs and thighs being
too long, and too large for the upper parts. And Andrea Sacchi, one of
the great Italian painters, seems to have been of the same opinion,
or he would hardly have given his Apollo, crowning Pasquilini the
musician, the exact proportion of the Antinous, (in a famous picture of
his now in England) as otherwise it seems to be a direct copy from the

Although in very great works we often see an inferior part neglected,
yet here it cannot be the case, because in a fine statue, just
proportion is one of its essential beauties: therefore it stands
to reason, that these limbs must have been lengthened on purpose,
otherwise it might easily have been avoided.

So that if we examine the beauties of this figure thoroughly, we
may reasonably conclude, that what has been hitherto thought so
unaccountably _excellent_ in its general appearance, hath been owing to
what hath seem'd a _blemish_ in a part of it: but let us endeavour to
make this matter as clear as possible, as it may add more force to what
has been said.

Statues by being bigger than life, (as this is one, and larger than
the Antinous) always gain some nobleness in effect, according to the
principle of quantity[10] but this alone is not sufficient to give what
is properly to be called, _greatness_ in proportion; for were figures
17 and 18, in plate I, to be drawn or carved by a scale of ten feet
high, they would still be but pigmy proportions, as, on the other hand,
a figure of but two inches, may represent a gigantic height.

[Illustration: Figs. 17 and 18]

[10] See Chapter VI.

Therefore _greatness_ of proportion must be considered, as depending
on the application of _quantity_ to those parts of the body where it
can give more scope to its grace in movement, as to the neck for the
larger and swan-like turns of the head, and to the legs and thighs, for
the more ample sway of all the upper parts together.

By which we find that the Antinous's being equally magnified to the
Apollo's height, would not sufficiently produce that superiority of
effect, as to greatness, so evidently seen in the latter. The additions
necessary to the production of this _greatness_ in proportion, as it
there appears added to grace, must then be, by the proper application
of them, to the parts mention'd only.

I know not how further to prove this matter than by appealing to the
reader's eye, and common observation, as before.

The Antinous being allowed to have the justest proportion possible, let
us see what addition, upon the principle of quantity, can be made to
it, without taking away any of its beauty.

If we imagine an addition of dimensions to the head, we shall
immediately conceive it would only deform--if to the hands or feet,
we are sensible of something gross and ungenteel,--if to the whole
lengths of the arms, we feel they would be dangling and aukward--if by
an addition of length or breadth to the body, we know it would appear
heavy and clumsy--there remains then only the _neck_, with the _legs_
and _thighs_ to speak of; but, to these we find, that not only certain
additions may be admitted without causing any disagreeable effect, but
that thereby _greatness_, the last perfection as to proportion, is
given to the human form; as is evidently express'd in the Apollo: and
may still be further confirmed by examining the drawings of Parmigiano,
where these particulars are seen in excess; yet on this account his
works are said, by all true connoisseurs, to have an inexpressible
greatness of taste in them, though otherwise very incorrect.

Let us now return to the two general ideas we set out with at the
beginning of this chapter, and recollect that under the first, on
surface, I have shewn in what manner, and how far human proportion
is measureable, by varying the contents of the body, conformable to
the given proportion of two lines. And that under the second and more
extensive general idea of form, as arising from fitness for movement,
&c. I have endeavour'd to explain, by every means I could devise, that
every particular and minute dimension of the body, should conform to
such purposes of movement, &c. as have been first properly considered
and determined: on which conjunctively, the true proportion of every
character must depend; and is found so to do, by our joint-sensation
of bulk and motion. Which account of the proportion of the human
body, however imperfect, may possibly stand its ground, till one more
plausible shall be given.

As the Apollo [Fig. 12 p. I] has been only mention'd on account of
the greatness of its proportion, I think in justice to so fine a
performance; and also as it is not foreign to the point we have been
upon, we may subjoin an Observation or two on its perfections.

[Illustration: Fig. 12]

Besides, what is commonly allow'd, if we consider it by the rules here
given for constituting or composing character, it will discover the
author's great sagacity, in choosing a proportion for this deity, which
has served two noble purposes at once; in that these very dimensions
which appear to have given it so much dignity, are the same that are
best fitted to produce the utmost speed. And what could characterise
the god of day, either so strongly or elegantly, to be expressive in a
statue, as superior swiftness, and beauty dignify'd? and how poetically
doth the action it is put into, carry on the allusion to speed,[11] as
he is lightly stepping forward, and seeming to shoot his arrows from
him; if the arrows may be allowed to signify the sun's rays? This at
least may as well be supposed as the common surmise, that he is killing
the dragon, Python; which certainly is very inconsistent with so erect
an attitude, and benign an aspect[12].

[11]----the sun: which cometh forth as a bridegroom out of his chamber,
and rejoiceth as a giant to run his course. Psalm xix. 5.

[12] The accounts given, in relation to this statue, make it so highly
probable that it was the great Apollo of Delphos, that, for my own
part, I make no manner of doubt of its being so.

Nor are the inferior parts neglected: the drapery also that depends
from his shoulders, and folds over his extended arm, hath its treble
office. As first, it assists in keeping the general appearance within
the boundary of a pyramid, which being inverted, is, for a single
figure, rather more natural and genteel than one upon its basis.
Secondly, it fills up the vacant angle under the arm, and takes off the
straightness of the lines the arm necessarily makes with the body in
such an action; and, lastly, spreading as it doth, in pleasing folds,
it helps to satisfy the eye with a noble quantity in the composition
altogether, without depriving the beholder of any part of the beauties
of the naked: in short, this figure might serve, were a lecture to be
read over it, to exemplify every principle that hath been hitherto
advanced. We shall therefore close not only all we have to say on
proportion with it, but our whole lineal account of form, except what
we have particularly to offer as to the face; which it will be proper
to defer, till we have spoken of _light_ and _shade_ and _colour_.

As some of the ancient statues have been of such singular use to me, I
shall beg leave to conclude this chapter with an observation or two on
them in general.

It is allowed by the most skilful in the imitative arts, that
tho' there are many of the remains of antiquity, that have great
excellencies about them; yet there are not, moderately speaking, above
twenty that may be justly called _capital_. There is one reason,
nevertheless, besides the blind veneration that generally is paid
to antiquity, for holding even many very imperfect pieces in some
degree of estimation: I mean that _peculiar taste of elegance_ which
so visibly runs through them all, down to the most incorrect of their
basso-relievos: which _taste_, I am persuaded, my reader will now
conceive to have been entirely owing to the perfect knowledge the
ancients must have had of the use of the precise serpentine-line.

But this cause of _elegance_ not having been since sufficiently
understood, no wonder such effects should have appear'd mysterious, and
have drawn mankind into a sort of religious esteem, and even bigotry,
to the works of antiquity.

Nor have there been wanting of artful people, who have made good profit
of those whose unbounded admiration hath run them into enthusiasm.
Nay there are, I believe, some who still carry on a comfortable
trade in such originals as have been so defaced and maimed by time,
that it would be impossible, without a pair of _double-ground_
connoisseur-spectacles, to see whether they have ever been good or
bad: they deal also in cook'd-up copies, which they are very apt to
put off for originals. And whoever dares be bold enough to detect such
impositions, finds himself immediately branded, and given out as one of
low ideas, ignorant of the true sublime, self-conceited, envious, &c.

But as there are a great part of mankind that delight most in what
they least understand; for ought I know, the emolument may be equal
between the _bubler_ and the _bubled_: at least this seems to have been
Butler's opinion:

Doubtless the pleasure is as great
In being cheated, as to cheat.


_Of LIGHT and SHADE, and the manner in which objects are explained to
the eye by them_.

Although both this and the next chapter may seem more particularly
relative to the art of painting, than any of the foregoing; yet, as
hitherto, I have endeavour'd to be understood by every reader, so here
also I shall avoid, as much as the subject will permit, speaking of
what would only be well-conceived by painters.

There is such a subtile variety in the nature of appearances, that
probably we shall not be able to gain much ground by this enquiry,
unless we exert and apply the full use of every sense, that will convey
to us any information concerning them.

So far as we have already gone, the sense of feeling, as well as that
of seeing, hath been apply'd to; so that perhaps a man born blind,
may, by his better touch than is common to those who have their sight,
together with the regular process that has been here given of lines, so
feel out the nature of forms, as to make a tolerable judgment of what
is beautiful to sight.

Here again our other senses must assist us, notwithstanding in this
chapter we shall be more confined to what is communicated to the eye by
rays of light; and tho' things must now be consider'd as appearances
only; produced and made out merely by means of _lights, shades,_ and

By the various circumstances of which, every one knows we have
represented on the flat surface of the looking-glass, pictures equal to
the originals reflected by it. The painter too, by proper dispositions
of lights, shades, and colours, on his canvas, will raise the like
ideas. Even prints, by means of lights and shades alone, will perfectly
inform the eye of every shape and distance whatsoever, in which even
lines must be consider'd as narrow parts of shade, a number of them,
drawn or engrav'd neatly side by side, called _hatching_, serve as
shades in prints, and when they are artfully managed, are a kind of
pleasing _succedaneum_ to the delicacy of nature's.

Could mezzo-tinto prints be wrought as accurately as those with the
graver, they would come nearest to nature, because they are done
without strokes or lines.

I have often thought that a landskip, in the process of this way of
representing it, doth a little resemble the first coming on of day.
The copper-plate it is done upon, when the artist first takes it into
hand, is wrought all over with an edg'd-tool, so as to make it print
one even black, like night: and his whole work after this, is merely
introducing the lights into it; which he does by scraping off the rough
grain according to his design, artfully smoothing it most where light
is most required: but as he proceeds in burnishing the lights, and
clearing up the shades, he is obliged to take off frequent impressions
to prove the progress of the work, so that each proof appears like the
different times of a foggy morning, till one becomes so finish'd as to
be distinct and clear enough to imitate a day-light piece. I have given
this description because I think the whole operation, in the simplest
manner, shews what lights and shades alone will do.

As light must always be supposed, I need only speak of such privations
of it as are called shades or shadows, wherein I shall endeavour to
point out and regularly describe a certain order and arrangement in
their appearance, in which order we may conceive different kinds of
softnings and modulations of the rays of light which are said to fall
upon the eye from every object it sees, and to cause those more or
less-pleasing vibrations of the optic nerves, which serve to inform the
mind concerning every different shape or figure that presents itself.

The best light for seeing the shadows of objects truly, is, that which
comes in at a common sized window, where the sun doth not shine; I
shall therefore speak of their order as seen by this kind of light:
and shall take the liberty in the present and following chapter, to
consider colours but as variegated shades, which together with common
shades, will now be divided into two general parts or branches.

The first we shall call PRIME TINTS, by which is meant any colour or
colours on the surfaces of objects; and the use we shall make of these
different hues will be to consider them as shades to one another. Thus
gold is a shade to silver, &c. exclusive of those additional shades
which may be made in any degree by the privation of light.

The second branch may be called RETIRING SHADES, which gradate or go
off by degrees, as figs. [84 and 85 T p. II]. These shades, as they vary
more or less, produce beauty, whether they are occasioned by the
privation of light, or made by the pencilings of art or nature.

[Illustration: Figs. 84 and 85]

When I come to treat of colouring, I shall particularly shew in what
manner the gradating of prime tints serve to the making a beautiful
complexion; in this place we shall only observe how nature hath by
these gradating shades ornamented the surfaces of animals; fish
generally have this kind of shade from their backs downward; birds have
their feathers enriched with it; and many flowers, particularly the
rose, shew it by the gradually-increasing colours of their leaves.

The sky always gradates one way or other, and the rising or setting
sun exhibits it in great perfection, the imitating of which was Claud.
de Loraine's peculiar excellence, and is now Mr. Lambert's: there is so
much of what is called harmony to the eye to be produced by this shade,
that I believe we may venture to say, in art it is the painter's gamut,
which nature has sweetly pointed out to us in what we call the eyes of
a peacock's tail: and the nicest needle-workers are taught to weave it
into every flower and leaf, right or wrong, as if it was as constantly
to be observed as it is seen in flames of fire; because it is always
found to entertain the eye. There is a sort of needle-work called
Irish-stitch, done in these shades only; which pleases still, tho' it
has long been out of fashion.

There is so strict an analogy between shade and sound, that they
may well serve to illustrate each other's qualities: for as sounds
gradually decreasing and increasing give the idea of progression from,
or to the ear, just so do retiring shades shew progression, by figuring
it to the eye. Thus, as by objects growing still fainter, we judge
of distances in prospects, so by the decreasing noise of thunder, we
form the idea of its moving further from us. And with regard to their
similitude in beauty, like as the gradating shade pleases the eye, so
the increasing, or swelling note, delights the ear.

I have call'd it the retiring shade, because by the successive,
or continual change in its appearance, it is equally instrumental
with converging lines[13], in shewing how much objects, or any parts
of them, retire or recede from the eye; without which, a floor, or
horizontal-plane, would often seem to stand upright like a wall. And
notwithstanding all the other ways by which we learn to know at what
distances things are from us, frequent deceptions happen to the eye on
account of deficiencies in this shade: for if the light chances to be
so disposed on objects as not to give this shade its true gradating
appearance, not only spaces are confounded, but round things appear
flat, and flat ones round.

[13] See p. 17. The two converging lines from the ship, to the point C,
under fig. 47, plate I.

[Illustration: Fig. 94]

But although the retiring shade hath this property, when seen with
converging lines, yet if it describes no particular form, as none
of those do in fig. 94, on top of plate II, it can only appear as a
flat-pencil'd shade; but being inclosed within some known boundary or
out-line, such as may signify a wall, a road, a globe, or any other
form in perspective where the parts retire, it will then shew its
retiring quality: as for example, the retiring shade on the floor, in
plate II, which gradates from the dog's feet to those of the dancer's,
shews, that by this means a level appearance is given to the ground:
so when a cube is put into true perspective on paper, with lines only,
which do but barely hint the directions every face of it is meant to
take, these shades make them seem to retire just as the perspective
lines direct; thus mutually compleating the idea of those recessions
which neither of them alone could do.

[Illustration: gradated shade]

Moreover, the out-line of a globe is but a circle on the paper; yet,
according to the manner of filling up the space within it, with this
shade, it may be made to appear either flat, globular, or concave, in
any of its positions with the eye; and as each manner of filling up the
circle for those purposes must be very different, it evidently shews
the necessity of distinguishing this shade into as many species or
kinds, as there are classes or species of lines, with which they may
have a correspondence.

In doing which, it will be found, that, by their correspondency with,
and conformity to objects, either composed of straight, curved, waving,
or serpentine lines, they of course take such appearances of variety as
are adequate to the variety made by those lines; and by this conformity
of shades we have the same ideas of any of the objects composed of
the above lines in their front aspects, as we have of them by their
profiles; which otherwise could not be without feeling them.

Now instead of giving engraved examples of each species of shade, as I
have done of lines, I have found that they may be more satisfactorily
pointed out and described by having recourse to the life.

But in order to the better and more precisely fixing upon what may be
there seen, as the distinct species, of which all the shades of the
retiring kind in nature partake, in some degree or other, the following
scheme is offered, and intended as an additional means of making such
simple impressions in the mind, as may be thought adequate to the four
species of lines described in Chapter VII. Wherein we are to suppose
imperceptible degrees of shade gradating from one figure to another.

The first species to be represented by, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
the second by, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
and the third by, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
gradating from the dots underneath, repeated either way.

As the first species varies or gradates but one way, it is therefore
least ornamental, and equal only to straight lines.

The second gradating contrary ways, doubling the others variety, is
consequently twice as pleasing, and thereby equal to curved lines.

The third species gradating doubly contrary ways, is thereby still
more pleasing in proportion to that quadruple variety which makes it
become capable of conveying to the mind an equivalent in shade, which
expresses the beauty of the waving line, when it cannot be seen as a

The retiring shade, adequate to the serpentine line, now should follow;
but as the line itself could not be expressed on paper, without the
figure of a cone [Fig. 26 p. I], so neither can this shade be described
without the assistance of a proper form, and therefore must be deferred
a little longer.

[Illustration: Fig. 26]

When only the ornamental quality of shades is spoken of, for the sake
of distinguishing them from retiring shades, let them be considered as
pencilings only; whence another advantage will arise, which is, that
then all the intervening mixtures, with their degrees of beauty between
each species, may be as easily conceived, as those have been between
each class of lines.

And now let us have recourse to the experiments in life, for such
examples as may explain the retiring power of each species; since, as
has been before observed, they must be considered together with their
proper forms, or else their properties cannot be well distinguished.

All the degrees of obliquity that planes, or flat surfaces are capable
of moving into, have their appearances of recession perfected by the
first species of retiring shades, which may evidently be seen by
setting opposite a door, as it is opening outwards from the eye, and
fronting one light.

But it will be proper to premise, that when it is quite shut, and
flat or parallel to the eye and window, it will have only a penciling
shade gradating upon it, and spreading all around from the middle, but
which will not have the power of giving the idea of recession any way,
as when it opens, and the lines run in perspective to a point; because
the square figure or parallel lines of the door, do not correspond with
such shade; but let a door be circular in the same situation, and all
without side, or round about it, painted of any other colour, to make
its figure more distinctly seen, and it will immediately appear concave
like a bason, the shade continually retiring; because this circular
species of shade would then be accompanied by its corresponding form, a

[14] Note, if the light were to come in at a very little hole not far
from the door, so as to make the gradation sudden and strong, like what
may be made with a small candle held near a wall or a wainscot, the
bason would appear the deeper for it.

Note also, that when planes are seen parallel to the eye in open
day-light, they have scarce any round gradating or penciling shade
at all, but appear merely as uniform prime tints, because the rays
of light are equally diffused upon them. Nevertheless, give them but
obliquity, they will more or less exhibit the retiring shade.

But to return; we observ'd that all the degrees of obliquity in the
moving of planes or flat surfaces, have the appearances of their
recession perfected to the eye by the first species of retiring shade.
For example, then; when the door opens, and goes from its parallel
situation with the eye, the shade last spoken of, may be observed to
alter and change its round gradating appearance, into that of gradating
one way only; as when a standing water takes a current upon the least
power given it to descend.

Note, if the light should come in at the door-way, instead of the
window, the gradation then would be reversed but still the effect of
recession would be just the same, as this shade ever complies with the
perspective lines.

In the next place, let us observe the _ovolo_, or quarter-round in
a cornice, fronting the eye in like manner, by which may be seen an
example of the second species; where, on its most projecting part, a
line of light is seen, from whence these shades retire contrary ways,
by which the curvature is understood.

And, perhaps, in the very same cornice may be seen an example of the
third species, in that ornamental member called by the architects _cyma
recta_, or talon, which indeed is no more than a larger sort of waving
or ogee moulding; wherein, by the convex parts gently gliding into the
concave, you may see four contrasted gradating shades, shewing so many
varied recessions from the eye; by which we are made as sensible of its
waving form as if we saw the profile out-line of some corner of it,
where it is miter'd, as the joiners term it. Note, when these objects
have a little gloss on them these appearances are most distinct.

Lastly, the serpentine shade may be seen (light and situation as
before) by the help of the following figure, as thus; imagine the horn,
figure 57, plate II, to be of so soft a nature, that with the fingers
only, it might be pressed into any shape; then beginning gently from
the middle of the dotted line, but pressing harder and harder all the
way up the lesser end, by such pressure there would be as much concave
above, as would remain convex below, which would bring it equal in
variety or beauty to the ogee moulding; but after this, by giving the
whole a twist, like figure 58, these shades must unavoidably change
their appearances, and in some measure, twist about as the concave and
convex parts are twisted, and consequently thereby add that variety,
which of course will give this species of shade, as much the preference
to the foregoing, as forms composed of serpentine lines have, to those
composed only of the waving. See Chapter IX and Chapter X.

[Illustration: Figs. 57 and 58]

I should not have given my reader the trouble of compleating, by the
help of his imagination, the foregoing figure, but as it may contribute
to the more ready and particular conception of that intricate variety
which twisted figures give to this species of shade, and to facilitate
his understanding the cause of its beauty, wherever it may be seen on
surfaces of ornament, when it will be found no where more conspicuous
than in a fine face, as will be seen upon further enquiry.

The dotted line [Fig. 97 B p. I], which begins from the concave part,
under the arch of the brow, near the nose, and from thence winding
down by the corner of the eye, and there turning obliquely with the
round of the cheek, shews the course of that twist of shades in a face,
which was before described by the horn; and which may be most perfectly
seen in the life, or in a marble busto, together with the following
additional circumstances still remaining to be described.

[Illustration: Fig. 97]

As a face is for the most part round, it is therefore apt to receive
reflected light on its shadowy side[15], which not only adds more
beauty by another pleasing tender gradation, but also serves to
distinguish the roundness of the cheeks, &c. from such parts as sink
and fall in: because concavities do not admit of reflections, as convex
forms do[16].

[15] Note, though I have advised the observing objects by a front
light, for the sake of the better distinguishing our four fundamental
species of shades, yet objects in general are more advantagiously,
and agreeably seen by light coming side-ways upon them, and therefore
generally chose in paintings; as it gives an additional reflected
softness, not unlike the gentle tone of an echo in music.

[16] As an instance that convex and concave would appear the same, if
the former were to have no reflection thrown upon, observe the ovolo
and cavetto, or channel, in a cornice, placed near together, and seen
by a front light, when they will each of them, by turns, appear either
concave, or convex, as fancy shall direct.

I have now only to add, that as before observed, Chapter IV, page 23,
that the oval hath a noble simplicity in it, more equal to its variety
than any other object in nature; and of which the general form of a
face is composed; therefore, from what has been now shewn, the general
gradation-shade belonging to it, must consequently be adequate thereto,
and which evidently gives a delicate softness to the whole composition
of a face; insomuch that every little dent, crack, or scratch, the
form receives, its shadows also suffer with it, and help to shew the
blemish. Even the least roughness interrupts and damages that soft
gradating play of shades which fall upon it. Mr. Dryden, describing the
light and shades of a face, in his epistle to Sir Godfrey Kneller the
portrait painter, seems, by the penetration of his incomparable genius,
to have understood that language in the works of nature, which the
latter, by means of an exact eye and a strict obeying hand, could only
faithfully transcribe; when he says,

    Where light to shades descending, plays, not strives,
    Dies by degrees, and by degrees revives.



Under this head I shall attempt shewing what it is that gives the
appearance of that hollow or vacant space in which all things move so
freely; and in what manner light, shade and colours, mark or point out
the distances of one object from another, and occasion an agreeable
play upon the eye, called by the painters a fine keeping, and pleasing
composition of light and shade. Herein my design is to consider this
matter as a performance of nature _without_, or before the eye; I mean,
as if the objects with their shades, &c. were in fact circumstanced
as they appear, and as the unskill'd in optics take them to be. And
let it be remarked throughout this chapter, that the pleasure arising
from composition, as in a fine landskip, &c. is chiefly owing to the
dispositions and assemblages of light and shades, which are so order'd
by the principles called OPPOSITION, BREADTH and SIMPLICITY, as to
produce a just and distinct perception of the objects before us.

Experience teaches us that the eye may be subdued and forced into
forming and disposing of objects even quite contrary to what it would
naturally see them, by the prejudgment of the mind from the better
authority of feeling, or some other persuasive motive. But surely this
extraordinary perversion of the sight would not have been suffer'd,
did it not tend to great and necessary purposes, in rectifying some
deficiencies which it would otherwise be subject to (tho' we must own
at the same time, that the mind itself may be so imposed upon as to
make the eye see falsely as well as truly) for example, were it not
for this controul over the sight, it is well known, that we should not
only see things double, but upside down, as they are painted upon the
retina, and as each eye has a distinct sight. And then as to distances;
a fly upon a pane of glass is sometimes imagined a crow, or larger
bird afar off, till some circumstance hath rectified the mistake, and
convinced us of its real size and place.

Hence I would infer, that the eye generally gives its assent to such
space and distances as have been first measured by the feeling, or
otherwise calculated in the mind: which measurements and calculations
are equally, if not more, in the power of a blind man, as was fully
experienced by that incomparable mathematician and wonder of his age,
the late professor Sanderson.

By pursuing this observation on the faculties of the mind, an idea
may be formed of the means by which we attain to the perception or
appearance of an immense space surrounding us; which cavity, being
subject to divisions and subdivisions in the mind, is afterwards
fashioned by the limited power of the eye, first into a hemisphere, and
then into the appearance of different distances, which are pictured to
it by means of such dispositions of light and shade as shall next be
described. And these I now desire may be looked upon, but as so many
_marks_ or _types_ set upon these distances, and which are remember'd
and learnt by degrees, and when learnt, are recurred to upon all

If permitted then to consider light and shades as _types of
distinction_, they become, as it were, our materials, of which _prime
tints_ are the principal; by these, I mean the fixed and permanent
colours of each object, as the green of trees, &c. which serve the
purposes of separating and relieving the several objects by the
different strengths or shades of them being opposed to each other [Fig.
86 T p. II].

[Illustration: Fig. 86]

The other shades that have been before spoken of, serve and help to
the like purposes when properly opposed; but as in nature they are
continually fleeting and changing their appearances, either by our or
their situations, they sometimes oppose and relieve, and sometimes not,
as for instance; I once observed the tower-part of a steeple so exactly
the colour of a light cloud behind it, that, at the distance I stood,
there was not the least distinction to be made, so that the spire (of a
lead-colour) seemed suspended in the air; but had a cloud of the like
tint with the steeple, supplied the place of the white one, the tower
would then have been relieved and distinct, when the spire would have
been lost to the view.

Nor is it sufficient that objects are of different colours or shades,
to shew their distances from the eye, if one does not in part hide or
lay over the other, as in fig. 86.

[Illustration: Fig. 90]

For as fig. [90 T p. II] the two equal balls, tho' one were black and
the other white, placed on the separate walls, supposed distant from
each other twenty or thirty feet, nevertheless, may seem both to rest
upon one, if the tops of the walls are level with the eye; but when
one ball hides part of the other, as in the same figure, we begin
to apprehend they are upon different walls, which is determin'd by
the perspective[17]: hence you will see the reason, why the steeple
of Bloomsbury-church, in coming from Hampstead, seems to stand upon
Montague-house, tho' it is several hundred yards distant from it.

[17] The knowledge of perspective is no small help to the seeing
objects truly, for which purpose Dr. Brook Taylor's Linear perspective
made easy to those who are unacquainted with geometry, proposed to be
publish'd soon by Mr. Kirby of Ipswich, may be of most service.

Since then the opposition of one prime tint or shade to another,
hath so great a share in marking out the recessions, or distances in
a prospect, by which the eye is led onward step by step, it becomes a
principle of consequence enough to be further discussed, with regard to
the management of it in compositions of nature, as well as art. As to
the management of it, when seen only from one point, the artist hath
the advantage over nature, because such fix'd dispositions of shades as
he hath artfully put together, cannot be displaced by the alteration
of light, for which reason, designs done in two prime tints only, will
sufficiently represent all those recessions, and give a just keeping to
the representation of a prospect, in a print; whereas, the oppositions
in nature, depending, as has been before hinted, on accidental
situations and uncertain incidents, do not always make such pleasing
composition, and would therefore have been very often deficient, had
nature worked in two colours only; for which reason she hath provided
an infinite number of materials, not only by way of prevention, but to
add lustre and beauty to her works.

By an infinite number of materials, I mean colours and shades of
all kinds and degrees; some notion of which variety may be formed by
supposing a piece of white silk by several dippings gradually dyed to
a black; and carrying it in like manner through the prime tints of
yellow, red, and blue; and then again, by making the like progress
through all the mixtures that are to be made of these three original
colours. So that when we survey this infinite and immense variety, it
is no wonder, that, let the light or objects be situated or changed
how they will, oppositions seldom miss; nor that even every incident
of shade should sometimes be so completely disposed as to admit of no
further beauty, as to composition; and from whence the artist hath by
observation taken his principles of imitation, as in the following

[Illustration: Fig. 89]

Those objects which are intended most to affect the eye, and come
forwardest to the view, must have large, strong, and smart oppositions,
like the fore-ground in fig. [89 p. II], and what are designed to be
thrown further off, must be made still weaker and weaker, as expressed
in figures 86, 92, and 93, which receding in order make a kind of
gradation of oppositions; to which, and all the other circumstances
already described, both for recession, and beauty, nature hath
added what is known by the name of aerial perspective; being that
interposition of air, which throws a general soft retiring tint over
the whole prospect; to be seen in excess at the rising of a fog. All
which again receives still more distinctness, as well as a greater
degree of variety, when the sun shines bright, and casts broad shadows
of one object upon another; which gives the skilful designer such hints
for shewing broad and fine oppositions of shades, as give life and
spirit to his performances.

[Illustration: Figs. 92 and 93]

BREADTH of SHADE is a principle that assists in making distinction
more conspicuous; thus fig. [87 p. I], is better distinguish'd by its
breadth or quantity of shade, and view'd with more ease and pleasure
at any distance, than fig. [88 p. I], which hath many, and these but
narrow shades between the folds. And for one of the noblest instances
of this, let Windsor-castle be viewed at the rising or setting of the

[Illustration: Figs. 87 and 88]

Let breadth be introduced how it will, it always gives great repose to
the eye; as on the contrary, when lights and shades in a composition
are scattered about in little spots, the eye is constantly disturbed,
and the mind is uneasy, especially if you are eager to understand every
object in the composition, as it is painful to the ear when any one is
anxious to know what is said in company, where many are talking at the
same time.

SIMPLICITY (which I am last to speak of) in the disposition of a great
variety, is best accomplished by following nature's constant rule,
of dividing composition into three or five parts, or parcels, see
Chapter IV on simplicity: the painters accordingly divide theirs into
fore-ground, middle-ground, and distance or back-ground; which simple
and distinct quantities _mass_ together that variety which entertains
the eye; as the different parts of base, tenor, and treble, in a
composition in music, entertain the ear.

Let these principles be reversed, or neglected, the the light and shade
will appear as disagreeable as fig. [91 T p. II], whereas, was this to
be a composition of lights and shades only, properly disposed, tho'
ranged under no particular figures, it might still have the pleasing
effect of a picture. And here, as it would be endless to enter upon the
different effects of lights and shades on lucid and transparent bodies,
we shall leave them to the reader's observation, and so conclude this

[Illustration: Fig. 91]



By the beauty of colouring, the painters mean that disposition of
colours on objects, together with their proper shades, which appear
at the same time both distinctly varied and artfully united, in
compositions of any kind; but, by way of pre-eminence, it is generally
understood of flesh-colour, when no other composition is named.

To avoid confusion, and having already said enough of retiring
shades, I shall now only describe the nature and effect of the prime
tint of flesh; for the composition of this, when rightly understood,
comprehends every thing that can be said of the colouring of all other
objects whatever.

And herein (as has been shewn in Chapter VIII, of the manner of
composing pleasing forms) the whole process will depend upon the art of
varying; i. e. upon an artful manner of varying every colour belonging
to flesh, under the direction of the six fundamental principles there
spoken of.

But before we proceed to shew in what manner these principles conduce
to this design, we shall take a view of nature's curious ways of
producing all sorts of complexions, which may help to further our
conception of the principles of varying colours, so as to see why they
cause the effect of beauty.

It is well known, the fair young girl, the brown old man, and the
negro; nay, all mankind, have the same appearance, and are alike
disagreeable to the eye, when the upper skin is taken away: now to
conceal so disagreeable an object, and to produce that variety of
complexions seen in the world, nature hath contrived a transparent
skin, called the cuticula, with a lining to it of a very extraordinary
kind, called the cutis; both which are so thin any little scald
will make them blister and peel off. These adhering skins are more
or less transparent in some parts of the body than in others, and
likewise different in different persons. The cuticula alone is like
gold-beaters-skin, a little wet, but somewhat thinner, especially
in fair young people, which would shew the fat, lean, and all the
blood-vessels, just as they lie under it, as through Isinglass, were it
not for its lining the cutis, which is so curiously constructed, as to
exhibit those things beneath it which are necessary to life and motion,
in pleasing arrangements and dispositions of beauty.

The cutis is composed of tender threads like network, fill'd with
different colour'd juices. The white juice serves to make the very fair
complexion;--yellow, makes the brunnet;--brownish yellow, the ruddy
brown;--green yellow, the olive;--dark brown, the mulatto;--black, the
negro;--These different colour'd juices, together with the different
_meshes_ of the network, and the size of its threads in this or that
part, causes the variety of complexions.

A description of this manner of its shewing the rosy colour of the
cheek, and, in like manner, the bluish tints about the temple, &c. see
in the profile [fig. 95 T p. II], where you are to suppose the black
strokes of the print to be the white threads of the network, and where
the strokes are thickest, and the part blackest, you are to suppose the
flesh would be whitest; so that the lighter part of it stands for the
vermilion-colour of the cheek, gradating every way.

[Illustration: Fig. 95]

Some persons have the network so equally wove over the whole body, face
and all, that the greatest heat or cold will hardly make them change
their colour; and these are seldom seen to blush, tho' ever so bashful,
whilst the texture is so fine in some young women, that they redden, or
turn pale, on the least occasion.

I am apt to think the texture of this network is of a very tender
kind, subject to damage many ways, but able to recover itself again,
especially in youth. The fair fat healthy child of 3 or 4 years old
hath it in great perfection; most visible when it is moderately warm,
but till that age somewhat imperfect.

It is in this manner, then, that nature seems to do her work.--And
now let us see how by art the like appearance may be made and penciled
on the surface of a uniform coloured statue of wax or marble; by
describing which operation we shall still more particularly point out
what is to our present purpose: I mean the reason why the order nature
hath thus made use of should strike us with the idea of beauty; which
by the way, perhaps may be of more use to some painters than they will
care to own.

[Illustration: Fig. 94]

There are but three original colours in painting besides black and
white, viz. red, yellow and blue. Green, and purple, are compounded;
the first of blue and yellow, the latter of red and blue: however these
compounds being so distinctly different from the original colours,
we will rank them as such. Fig. [94 T p. II], represents mixt up, as
on a painter's pallet, scales of these five original colours divided
into seven classes--1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.--4, is the medium, and most
brillant class, being that which will appear a firm red, when those of
5, 6, 7, would deviate into white, and those of 1, 2, 3, would sink
into black, either by twilight or at a moderate distance from the
eye, which shews 4 to be brightest, and a more permanent colour than
the rest. But as white is nearest to light it may be said to be equal
if not superior in value as to beauty, with class 4. Therefore the
classes 5, 6, 7, have also, almost equal beauty with it too, because
what they lose of their brillancy and permanency of colour, they gain
from the white or light; whereas 3, 2, 1, absolutely lose their beauty
by degrees as they approach nearer to black, the representative of

Let us then, for distinction and pre-eminence sake, call class 4 of
each colour, _bloom tints_, or if you please, virgin tints, as the
painters call them; and once more recollect, that in the disposition
of colours as well as of forms, variety, simplicity, distinctness,
intricacy, uniformity and quantity, direct in giving beauty to the
colouring of the human frame, especially if we include the face, where
uniformity and strong opposition of tints are required, as in the eyes
and mouth, which call most for our attention. But for the general hue
of flesh now to be described, variety, intricacy and simplicity, are
chiefly required.

The value of the degrees of colour being thus consider'd and ranged in
order upon the pallet, figure 94, let us next apply them to a busto,
fig. [96 R p. II], of white marble, which may be supposed to let every
tint sink into it, like as a drop of ink sinks in and spreads itself
upon course paper, whereby each tint will gradate all around.

[Illustration: Fig. 96]

If you would have the neck of the busto tinged of a very florid and
lively complexion, the pencil must be dipt in the bloom tints of
each colour as they stand one above another at No. 4.--if for a less
florid, in those of No. 5--if for a very fair, from No. 6--and so on
till the marble would scarce be ting'd at all: let therefore No. 6, be
our present choice, and begin with penciling on the red, as at r, the
yellow tint at y, the blue tint at b, and the purple or lake tint at p.

These four tints thus laid on, proceed to covering the whole neck and
breast, but still changing and varying the situations of the tints with
one another, also causing their shapes and sizes to differ as much as
possible; red must be oftenest repeated, yellow next often, purple red
next, and blue but seldom, except in particular parts as the temples,
backs of the hands, &c. where the larger veins shew their branching
shapes (sometimes too distinctly) still varying those appearances.
But there are no doubt infinite variations in nature, from what may
be called the most beautiful order and disposition of the colours in
flesh, not only in different persons, but in different parts of the
same, all subject to the same principles in some degree or other.

Now if we imagine this whole process to be made with the tender tints
of class 7, as they are supposed to stand, red, yellow, blue, green and
purple, underneath each other; the general hue of the performance will
be a seeming uniform prime tint, at any little distance, that is a very
fair, transparent and pearl-like complexion; but never quite uniform as
snow, ivory, marble or wax, like a poet's mistress, for either of these
in living-flesh, would in truth be hideous.

As in nature, by the general yellowish hue of the cuticula, the
gradating of one colour into another appears to be more delicately
soften'd and united together; so will the colours we are supposed to
have been laying upon the busto, appear to be more united and mellowed
by the oils they are ground in, which takes a yellowish cast after a
little time, but is apt to do more mischief hereby than good; for which
reason care is taken to procure such oil as is clearest, and will best
keep its colour[18] in oil painting.

[18] Notwithstanding the deep-rooted notion, even among the majority of
painters themselves, that time is a great improver of good pictures,
I will undertake to shew, that nothing can be more absurd. Having
mention'd above the whole effect of the oil, let us now see in what
manner time operates on colours themselves; in order to discover if any
changes in them can give a picture more union and harmony than has been
in the power of a skilful master, with all his rules of art, to do.
When colours change at all it must be somewhat in the manner following,
for as they are made some of metal, some of earth, some of stone,
and others of more perishable materials, time cannot operate on them
otherwise than as by daily experience we find it doth, which is, that
one changes darker, another lighter, one quite to a different colour,
whilst another, as ultramarine, will keep its natural brightness
even in the fire. Therefore how is it possible that such different
materials, ever variously changing (visibly after a certain time)
should accidentally coincide with the artist's intention, and bring
about the greater harmony of the piece, when it is manifestly contrary
to their nature, for do we not see in most collections that much time
disunites, untunes, blackens, and by degrees destroys even the best
preserved pictures.

But if for argument sake we suppose, that the colours were to fall
equally together, let us see what advantage this would give to any sort
of composition. We will begin with a flower-piece: when a master hath
painted a rose, a lily, an african, a gentianella, or violet, with
his best art, and brightest colours, how far short do they fall of
the freshness and rich brillancy of nature; and shall we wish to see
them fall still lower, more faint, sullied, and dirtied by the hand
of time, and then admire them as having gained an additional beauty,
and call them mended and heightened, rather than fouled, and in a
manner destroy'd; how absurd! Instead of mellow and softened therefore,
always read yellow and sullied, for this is doing time the destroyer,
but common justice. Or shall we desire to see complexions, which in
life are often, literally, as brillant as the flowers above-mention'd,
served in the like ungrateful manner. In a landskip, will the water
be more transparent, or the sky shine with a greater lustre when
embrown'd and darken'd by decay? surely no. I own it would be a pity
that Mr. Addison's beautiful description of time at work in the gallery
of pictures, and the following lines of Mr. Dryden, should want a
sufficient foundation;--

    For time shall with his ready pencil stand,
    Retouch your figures with his ripening hand;
    Mellow your colours, and imbrown the tint;
    Add every grace which time alone can grant;
    To future ages shall your fame convey,
    And give more beauties than he takes away.   Dryden to Kneller.

were it not that the error they are built upon, hath been a continual
blight to the growth of the art, by misguiding both the proficient,
and the encourager; and often compelling the former, contrary to his
judgment, to imitate the damaged hue of decayed pictures; so that when
his works undergo the like injuries, they must have a double remove
from nature; which puts it in the power of the meanest observer to see
his deficiencies. Whence another absurd notion hath taken rise, viz.
that the colours now-a-days do not stand so well as formerly; whereas
colours well prepared, in which there is but little art or expence,
have, and will always have, the same properties in every age, and
without accidents, as damps, bad varnish, and the like (being laid
separate and pure,) will stand and keep together for many years in
defiance of time itself.

In proof of this, let any one take a view of the cieling at
Greenwich-hospital, painted by Sir James Thornhil, forty years ago,
which still remains fresh, strong and clear as if it had been finished
but yesterday: and altho' several french writers have so learnedly,
and philosophically proved, that the air of this island is too thick,
or--too something, for the genius of a painter; yet France in all
her palaces can hardly boast of a nobler, more judicious, or richer
performance of its kind. Note, the upper end of the hall where the
royal family is painted, was left chiefly to the pencil of Mr. Andrea
a foreigner, after the payment originally agreed upon for the work was
so much reduced, as made it not worth Sir James's while to finish the
whole with his own more masterly hand.

Upon the whole of this account we find, that the utmost beauty of
colouring depends on the great principle of varying by all the means
of varying, and on the proper and artful union of that variety; which
may be farther proved by supposing the rules here laid down, all or any
part of them reversed.

I am apt to believe, that the not knowing nature's artful, and
intricate method of uniting colours for the production of the
variegated composition, or prime tint of flesh, hath made colouring,
in the art of painting, a kind of mystery in all ages; insomuch, that
it may fairly be said, out of the many thousands who have labour'd to
attain it, not above ten or twelve painters have happily succeeded
therein, Corregio (who lived in a country-village, and had nothing but
the life to study after) is said almost to have stood alone for this
particular excellence. Guido, who made beauty his chief aim, was always
at a loss about it. Poussin scarce ever obtained a glimpse of it, as
is manifest by his many different attempts: indeed France hath not
produced one remarkably good colourist[19].

[19] The lame excuse writers on painting have made for the many great
masters that have fail'd in this particular, is, that they purposely
deaden'd their colours, and kept them, what they affectedly call'd
_chaste_, that the correctness of their outlines might be seen to
greater advantage. Whereas colours cannot be too brillant if properly
disposed, because the distinction of the parts are thereby made more
perfect; as may be seen by comparing a marble busto with the variegated
colours of the face either in the life, or well painted: it is true,
uncomposed variety, either in the features or the limbs, as being
daubed with many, or one colour, will so confound the parts as to
render them unintelligible.

Rubens boldly, and in a masterly manner, kept his bloom tints bright,
separate, and distinct, but sometimes too much so for easel or cabinet
pictures; however, his manner was admirably well calculated for great
works, to be seen at a considerable distance, such as his celebrated
cieling at Whitehall-chapel[20]: which upon a nearer view, will
illustrate what I have advanc'd with regard to the separate brightness
of the tints; and shew, what indeed is known to every painter, that
had the colours there seen so bright and separate, been all smooth'd
and absolutely blended together, they would have produced a dirty grey
instead of flesh-colour. The difficulty then lies in bringing _blue_
the third original colour, into flesh, on account of the vast variety
introduced thereby; and this omitted, all the difficulty ceases; and a
common sign-painter that lays his colours smooth, instantly becomes, in
point of colouring, a Rubens, a Titian, or a Corregio.

[20] The front of this building by Inigo Jones, is an additional
exemplification of the principles for varying the parts in building;
(explained by the candlesticks, &c. Chapter VIII) which would appear
to be a stronger proof still, were a building formed of squares, on
squares; with squares uniformly cut in each square to be opposed to it,
to shew the reverse.


_Of the FACE_.

Having thus spoken briefly of light, shade, and colour, we now return
to our lineal account of form, as proposed (page 91) with regard to
the face. It is an observation, that, out of the great number of faces
that have been form'd since the creation of the world, no two have
been so exactly alike, but that the usual and common discernment of
the eye would discover a difference between them: therefore it is not
unreasonable to suppose, that this discernment is still capable of
further improvements by instructions from a methodical enquiry; which
the ingenious Mr. Richardson, in his treatise on painting, terms _the
art of seeing_.

[Illustration: Fig. 97]

1. I shall begin with a description of such lines as compose the
features of a face of the highest taste, and the reverse. See fig. [97,
B p. I], taken from an antique head, which stands in the first rank of
estimation: in proof of this, Raphael Urbin, and other great painters
and sculptors, have imitated it for the characters of their heroes
and other great men; and the old man's head, fig. [98, L p. I] was
model'd in clay, by Fiamingo (and not inferior in its taste of lines,
to the best antique) for the use of Andrea Sacchi, after which model he
painted all the heads in his famous picture of St. Romoaldo's dream;
and this picture hath the reputation of being one of the best pictures
in the world[21].

[21] Note, I must refer the reader to the casts of both these pieces
of sculpture, which are to be found in the hands of the curious;
because it is impossible to express all that I intend, with sufficient
accuracy, in a print of this size, whatever pains might have been taken
with it; or indeed in any print were it ever so large.

[Illustration: Fig. 98]

These examples are here chosen to exemplify and confirm the force
of serpentine lines in a face; and let it also be observed, that in
these master-pieces of art, all the parts are otherwise consistent
with the rules heretofore laid down: I shall therefore only shew the
effects and use of the line of beauty. One way of proving in what
manner the serpentine line appears to operate in this respect, may be
by pressing several pieces of wire close up and down the different
parts of the face and features of those casts; which wires will all
come off so many serpentine lines, as is partly marked in figure 97, by
the dotted lines. The beard and hair of the head, fig. 98, being a set
of loose lines naturally, and therefore disposable at the painter's or
sculptor's pleasure, are remarkably composed in this head of nothing
else but a varied play of serpentine lines, twisting together in a
flame-like manner.

But as imperfections are easier to be imitated than perfections, we
shall now have it in our power to explain the latter more fully; by
shewing the reverse in several degrees, down to the most contemptible
meanness that lines can be form'd into.

[Illustration: Figs. 99-105]

Figure 99, is the first degree of deviation from figure 97; where the
lines are made straighter, and reduced in quantity; deviating still
more in figure 100, more yet in figure 101, and yet more visibly in
102; figure 103, still more so; figure 104 is totally divested of all
lines of elegance, like a barber's block; and 105 is composed merely
of such plain lines as children make, when of themselves they begin to
imitate in drawing a human face. It is evident, the inimitable Butler
was sensible of the mean and ridiculous effect of such kind of lines,
by the description he gives of the shape of Hudibras's beard, fig. [106
L p. I],

    In cut and dye so like a tile,
    A sudden view it would beguile.

[Illustration: Fig. 106]

2. With regard to character and expression; we have daily many
instances which confirm the common received opinion, that the face is
the index of the mind; and this maxim is so rooted in us, we can scarce
help (if our attention is a little raised) forming some particular
conception of the person's mind whose face we are observing, even
before we receive information by any other means. How often is it
said, on the slightest view, that such a one looks like a good-natur'd
man, that he hath an honest open countenance, or looks like a cunning
rogue; a man of sense, or a fool, &c. And how are our eyes riveted
to the aspects of kings and heroes, murderers and saints; and as we
contemplate their deeds, seldom fail making application to their looks.
It is reasonable to believe that aspect to be a true and legible
representation of the mind, which gives everyone the same idea at first
sight; and is afterwards confirm'd in fact: for instance, all concur in
the same opinion, at first sight, of a down-right idiot.

There is but little to be seen by childrens faces, more than that
they are heavy or lively; and scarcely that unless they are in motion.
Very handsom faces of almost any age, will hide a foolish or a wicked
mind till they betray themselves by their actions or their words: yet
the frequent aukward movements of the muscles of the fool's face, tho'
ever so handsom, is apt in time to leave such traces up and down it,
as will distinguish a defect of mind upon examination: but the bad
man, if he be a hypocrite, may so manage his muscles, by teaching them
to contradict his heart, that little of his mind can be gather'd from
his countenance, so that the character of an hypocrite is entirely out
of the power of the pencil, without some adjoining circumstance to
discover him, as smiling and stabbing at the same time, or the like.

It is by the natural and unaffected movements of the muscles, caused
by the passions of the mind, that every man's character would in some
measure be written in his face, by the time he arrives at forty years
of age, were it not for certain accidents which often, tho' not always
prevent it. For the ill-natur'd man, by frequently frowning, and
pouting out the muscles of his mouth, doth in time bring those parts to
a constant state of the appearance of ill-nature, which might have been
prevented by the constant affectation of a smile; and so of the other
passions: tho' there are some that do not affect the muscles at all
simply of themselves, as love and hope.

But least I should be thought to lay too great a stress on outward
shew, like a physiognomist, take this with you, that it is acknowledg'd
there are so many different causes which produce the same kind of
movements and appearances of the features, and so many thwartings by
accidental shapes in the make of faces, that the old adage, fronti
nulla fides, will ever stand its ground upon the whole; and for very
wise reasons nature hath thought fit it should. But, on the other
hand, as in many particular cases, we receive information from the
expressions of the countenance, what follows is meant to give a lineal
description of the language written therein.

It may not be amiss just to look over the passions of the mind, from
tranquillity to extreme despair; as they are in order described in the
common drawing-book, called, Le Brun's passions of the mind; selected
from that great master's works for the use of learners; where you may
have a compendious view of all the common expressions at once. And
altho' these are but imperfect copies, they will answer our purpose in
this place better than any other thing I can refer you to; because the
passions are there ranged in succession, and distinctly marked with
lines only, the shadows being omitted.

Some features are formed so as to make this or that expression
of a passion more or less legible; for example, the little narrow
chinese eye suits a loving or laughing expression best, as a large
full eye doth those of fierceness and astonishment; and round-rising
muscles will appear with some degree of chearfulness even in sorrow:
the features thus suiting with the expressions that have been often
repeated in the face, at length mark it with such lines as sufficiently
distinguish the character of the mind.

The ancients in their lowest characters have shewn as much judgment,
and as great a degree of taste in the management and twisting of the
lines of them, as in their statues of a sublimer kind; in the former
varying only from the precise line of grace in some parts where the
character or action required it. The dying gladiator and the dancing
fawn, the former a slave, the latter a wild clown, are sculptored in
as high a taste of lines as the Antinous or the Apollo; with this
difference, that the precise line of grace abounds more in the two
last: notwithstanding which it is generally allow'd there is equal
merit in the former, as there is near as much judgment required for
the execution of them. Human nature can hardly be represented more
debased than in the character of the Silenus, fig. [107 p. I], where
the bulging-line figure 49, No. 7, runs through all the features of the
face, as well as the other parts of his swinish body: whereas in the
satyr of the wood, tho' the ancients have joined the brute with the
man, we still see preserved an elegant display of serpentine lines,
that make it a graceful figure.

[Illustration: Figs. 107 and 49]

Indeed the works of art have need of the whole advantage of this line
to make up for its other deficiencies: for tho' in nature's works the
line of beauty is often neglected, or mixt with plain lines, yet so
far are they from being defective on this account, that by this means
there is exhibited that infinite variety of human forms which always
distinguishes the hand of nature from the limited and insufficient
one of art; and as thus she for the sake of variety upon the whole,
deviates sometimes into plain and inelegant lines, if the poor artist
is but able now and then to correct and give a better taste to some
particular part of what he imitates, by having learnt so to do from
her more perfect works, or copying from those that have, ten to one
he grows vain upon it, and fancies himself a nature-mender; not
considering, that even in these, the meanest of her works, she is never
wholly destitute of such lines of beauty and other delicacies, as are
not only beyond his narrow reach, but are seen wanting even in the most
celebrated attempts to rival her. But to return,

As to what we call plain lines, there is this remarkable effect
constantly produced by them, that being more or less conspicuous in any
kind of character or expression of the face, they bring along with them
certain degrees of a foolish or ridiculous aspect.

It is the inelegance of these lines which more properly belonging to
inanimate bodies, and being seen where lines of more beauty and taste
are expected, that renders the face silly and ridiculous. See Chapter
VI, p. 31.

Children in infancy have movements in the muscles of their faces
peculiar to their age, as an uninformed and unmeaning stare, an open
mouth, and simple grin: all which expressions are chiefly formed of
plain curves, and these movements and expressions ideots are apt to
retain; so that in time they mark their faces with these uncouth lines;
and when the lines coincide and agree with the natural forms of the
features, it becomes a more apparent and confirmed character of an
ideot. These plain shapes last mentioned, sometimes happen to people of
the best sense, to some when the features are at rest, to others when
they are put into motion; which a variety of constant regular movements
proceeding from a good understanding, and fashioned by a genteel
education, will often by degrees correct into lines of more elegance.

That particular expression likewise of the face, or movement of a
feature which becomes one person, shall be disagreeable in another,
just as such expressions or turns chance to fall in with lines of
beauty, or the reverse; for this reason there are pretty frowns and
disagreeable smiles: the lines that form a pleasing smile about the
corners of the mouth have gentle windings, as fig. [108 L p. II],
but lose their beauty in the full laugh, as fig. [109 L p. II], the
expression of excessive laughter, oftener than any other, gives a
sensible face a silly or disagreeable look, as it is apt to form
regular plain lines about the mouth, like a parenthesis, which
sometimes appears like crying; as, on the contrary, I remember to
have seen a beggar who had clouted up his head very artfully, and
whose visage was thin and pale enough to excite pity, but his features
were otherwise so unfortunately form'd for his purpose, that what he
intended for a grin of pain and misery, was rather a joyous laugh.

[Illustration: Figs. 108 and 109]

It is strange that nature hath afforded us so many lines and shapes to
indicate the deficiencies and blemishes of the mind, whilst there are
none at all that point out the perfections of it beyond the appearance
of common sense and placidity. Deportment, words, and actions, must
speak the good, the wise, the witty, the humane, the generous, the
merciful, and the brave. Nor are gravity and solemn looks always signs
of wisdom: the mind much occupied with trifles will occasion as grave
and sagacious an aspect, as if it were charged with matters of the
utmost moment; the balance-master's attention to a single point, in
order to preserve his balance, may look as wise at that time as the
greatest philosopher in the depth of his studies. All that the ancient
sculptors could do, notwithstanding their enthusiastic endeavours to
raise the characters of their deities to aspects of sagacity above
human, was to give them features of beauty. Their god of wisdom
hath no more in his look than a handsom manliness; the Jupiter is
carried somewhat higher, by giving it a little more severity than
the Apollo, by a larger prominency of brow gently bending in seeming
thoughtfulness, with an ample beard, which being added to the noble
quantity of its other lines, invests that capital piece of sculpture
with uncommon dignity, which, in the mysterious language of a profound
connoisseur, is stiled a divine idea, inconceivably great, and above

3dly and lastly, I shall shew in what manner the lines of the face
alter from infancy upwards, and specify the different ages. We are now
to pay most attention to _simplicity_, as the difference of ages we are
about to speak of, turn chiefly upon the use made of this principle in
a greater or less degree, in the form of the lines.

From infancy till the body has done growing, the contents both of the
body and the face, and every part of their surface, are daily changing
into more variety, till they obtain a certain medium (see page 78 on
proportion) from which medium, as fig. [113 B p. II], if we return back
to infancy, we shall see the variety decreasing, till by degrees that
simplicity in the form, which gave variety its due limits, deviates
into sameness; so that all the parts of the face may be circumscribed
in several circles, as fig. [116 L p. II].

[Illustration: Figs. 113 and 116]

But there is another very extraordinary circumstance, (perhaps never
taken notice of before in this light) which nature hath given us to
distinguish one age from another by; which is, that tho' every feature
grows larger and longer, till the whole person has done growing, the
sight of the eye still keeps its original size; I mean the pupil, with
its iris or ring; for the diameter of this circle continues still the
same, and so becomes a fixt measure by which we, as it were, insensibly
compare the daily perceiv'd growings of the other parts of the face,
and thereby determine a young person's age. You may sometimes find this
part of the eye in a new-born infant, full as large as in a man of six
foot; nay, sometimes larger, see fig. [110 B p. II], [114 B p. II] and
[115 T p. I] which represents three different sizes of the pupil of the
eye; the least, was exactly taken from the eye of a large-featur'd man,
aged 105, the biggest, from one of twenty, who had this part larger
than ordinary, and the other is the common size. If this part of the
eye in the pictures of Charles II. and James II. painted by Vandyke at
Kensington, were to be measured with a pair of compasses, and compared
with their pictures painted by Lilly when they were men, the diameters
would be found in both pictures respectively the same.

[Illustration: Figs. 110, 114 and 115]

In infancy the faces of boys and girls have no visible difference, but
as they grow up the features of the boy get the start, and grow faster
in proportion to the ring of the eye, than those of the girl, which
shews the distinction of the sex in the face. Boys who have larger
features than ordinary, in proportion to the rings of their eyes, are
what we call manly-featured children; as those who have the contrary,
look more childish and younger than they really are. It is this
proportion of the features with the eyes, that makes women, when they
are dressed in mens-cloaths, look so young and boyish: but as nature
doth not always stick close to these particulars, we may be mistaken
both in sexes and ages.

By these obvious appearances, and the differences of the whole size,
we easily judge of ages till twenty, but not with such certainty
afterwards; for the alterations from that age are of a different kind,
subject to other changes by growing fatter or leaner, which it is well
known, often give a different turn to the look of the person, with
regard to his age.

The hair of the head, which encompasses a face as a frame doth a
picture, and contrasts with its uniform colour, the variegated inclosed
composition, adding more or less beauty thereto, according as it is
disposed by the rules of art, is another indication of advanced age.

What remains to be said on the different appearances of ages, being
less pleasing than what has gone before, shall be described with more
brevity. In the age from twenty to thirty, barring accidents, there
appears but little change, either in the colours or the lines of the
face; for tho' the bloom tints may go off a little, yet on the other
hand, the make of the features often attain a sort of settled firmness
in them, aided by an air of acquired sensibility; which makes ample
amends for that loss, and keeps beauty till thirty pretty much upon a
par; after this time, as the alterations grow more and more visible,
we perceive the sweet simplicity of many rounding parts of the face,
begin to break into dented shapes, with more sudden turns about the
muscles, occasioned by their many repeated movements; as also by
dividing the broad parts, and thereby taking off the large sweeps of
the serpentine lines; the shades of beauty also consequently suffering
in their softnesses. Something of what is here meant between the two
ages of thirty and fifty, see in figures [117 and 118 B p. II], and
what further havock time continues to make after the age of fifty, is
too remarkable to need describing: the strokes and cuts he then lays on
are plain enough; however, in spite of all his malice, those lineaments
that have once been elegant, retain their flowing turns in venerable
age, leaving to the last a comely piece of ruins.

[Illustration: Figs. 117 and 118]



Such dispositions of the body and limbs as appear most graceful when
seen at rest, depend upon gentle winding contrasts, mostly govern'd
by the precise serpentine line, which in attitudes of authority, are
more extended and spreading than ordinary, but reduced somewhat below
the medium of grace, in those of negligence and ease: and as much
exaggerated in insolent and proud carriage, or in distortions of pain
(see figure 9, plate I) as lessen'd and contracted into plain and
parallel lines, to express meanness, aukwardness, and submission.

[Illustration: Fig. 9]

The general idea of an action, as well as of an attitude, may be given
with a pencil in very few lines. It is easy to conceive that the
attitude of a person upon the cross, may be fully signified by the two
straight lines of the cross; so the extended manner of St. Andrew's
crucifixion is wholly understood by the X-like cross.

Thus, as two or three lines at first are sufficient to shew the
intention of an attitude, I will take this opportunity of presenting
my reader (who may have been at the trouble of following me thus far)
with the sketch of a country-dance, in the manner I began to set out
the design; in order to shew how few lines are necessary to express the
first thoughts, as to different attitudes; see fig. [71 T p. II], which
describe in some measure, the several figures and actions, mostly of
the ridiculous kind, that are represented in the chief part of plate II.

[Illustration: Fig. 71]

The most amiable person may deform his general appearance by throwing
his body and limbs into plain lines, but such lines appear still in
a more disagreeable light in people of a particular make, I have
therefore chose such figures as I thought would agree best with my
first score of lines, fig. 71.

[Illustration: The dancers]

The two parts of curves next to 71, served for the figures of the old
woman and her partner at the farther end of the room. The curve and
two straight lines at right angles, gave the hint for the fat man's
sprawling posture. I next resolved to keep a figure within the bounds
of a circle, which produced the upper part of the fat woman, between
the fat man and the aukward one in the bag wig, for whom I had made
a sort of an X. The prim lady, his partner, in the riding-habit, by
pecking back her elbows, as they call it, from the waste upwards, made
a tolerable D, with a straight line under it, to signify the scanty
stiffness of her peticoat; and a Z stood for the angular position the
body makes with the legs and thighs of the affected fellow in the
tye-wig; the upper part of his plump partner was confin'd to an O, and
this chang'd into a P, served as a hint for the straight lines behind.
The uniform diamond of a card, was filled up by the flying dress, &c.
of the little capering figure in the spencer-wig; whilst a double L
mark'd the parallel position of his poking partner's hands and arms:
and lastly, the two waving lines were drawn for the more genteel turns
of the two figures at the hither end.

The best representation in a picture, of even the most elegant dancing,
as every figure is rather a suspended action in it than an attitude,
must be always somewhat unnatural and ridiculous; for were it possible
in a real dance to fix every person at one instant of time, as in a
picture, not one in twenty would appear to be graceful, tho' each were
ever so much so in their movements; nor could the figure of the dance
itself be at all understood.

[Illustration: The statues and pictures]

The dancing-room is also ornamented purposely with such statues and
pictures as may serve to a farther illustration. Henry viii. fig. [72
p. II], makes a perfect X with his legs and arms; and the position of
Charles the first, fig. [51 p. II], is composed of less-varied lines
than the statue of Edward the sixth, fig. [73 p. II]; and the medal
over his head is in the like kind of lines; but that over Q. Elizabeth,
as well as her figure, is in the contrary; so are also the two other
wooden figures at the end. Likewise the comical posture of astonishment
(expressed by following the direction of one plain curve, as the dotted
line in a french print of Sancho, where Don Quixote demolishes the
puppet shew, fig. [75 R p. II])is a good contrast to the effect of the
serpentine lines in the fine turn of the Samaritan woman, fig. [74 L p.
II], taken from one of the best pictures Annibal Carrache ever painted.

[Illustration: Figs. 75 and 74]



To the amazing variety of forms made still infinitely more various in
appearance by light, shade and colour, nature hath added another way
of increasing that variety, still more to enhance the value of all her
compositions. This is accomplished by means of action; the fullest
display of which is put into the power of the human species, and which
is equally subject to the same principles with regard to the effects of
beauty, or the reverse, as govern all the former compositions; as is
partly seen in Chapter XI on proportion. My business here shall be, in
as concise a manner as possible, to particularise the application of
these principles to the movement of the body, and therewith finish this
_system_ of variety in forms and actions.

There is no one but would wish to have it in his power to be genteel
and graceful in the carriage of his person, could it be attained with
little trouble and expence of time. The usual methods relied on for
this purpose among well-bred people, takes up a considerable part of
their time: nay even those of the first rank have no other resource in
these matters, than to dancing-masters, and fencing-masters: dancing
and fencing are undoubtedly proper, and very necessary accomplishments;
yet are they frequently very imperfect in bringing about the business
of graceful deportment. For altho' the muscles of the body may
attain a pliancy by these exercises, and the limbs, by the elegant
movement in dancing, acquire a facility in moving gracefully, yet for
want of knowing the meaning of every grace, and whereon it depends,
affectations and misapplications often follow.

Action is a sort of language which perhaps one time or other, may
come to be taught by a kind of grammar-rules; but, at present, is only
got by rote and imitation: and contrary to most other copyings or
imitations, people of rank and fortune generally excel their originals,
the dancing-masters, in easy behaviour and unaffected grace; as a sense
of superiority makes them act without constraint; especially when their
persons are well turn'd. If so, what can be more conducive to that
freedom and necessary courage which make acquired grace seem easy and
natural, than the being able to demonstrate _when_ we are actually just
and proper in the least movement we perform; whereas, for want of such
certainty in the mind, if one of the most finish'd gentlemen at court
was to appear as an actor on the public stage, he would find himself
at a loss how to move properly, and be stiff, narrow, and aukward, in
representing even his own character: the uncertainty of being right
would naturally give him some of that restraint which the uneducated
common people generally have when they appear before their betters.

It is known that bodies in motion always describe some line or other
in the air, as the whirling round of a fire-brand apparently makes a
circle, the water-fall part of a curve, the arrow and bullet, by the
swiftness of their motions, nearly a straight line; waving lines are
formed by the pleasing movement of a ship on the waves. Now in order
to obtain a just idea of action at the same time to be judiciously
satisfied of being in the right in what we do, let us begin with
imagining a line formed in the air by any supposed point at the end
of a limb or part that is moved, or made by the whole part, or limb;
or by the whole body together. And that thus much of movements may be
conceived at once is evident, on the least recollection, for whoever
has seen a fine arabian war-horse, unback'd and at liberty, and in a
wanton trot, cannot but remember what a large waving line his rising,
and at the same time pressing forward, cuts through the air; the equal
continuation of which, is varied by his curveting from side to side;
whilst his long mane and tail play about in serpentine movements.

After thus having form'd the idea of all movements being as lines, it
will not be difficult to conceive, that grace in action depends upon
the same principles as have been shewn to produce it in forms.

The next thing that offers itself to our consideration is the force of
_habit_ and custom in action; for a great deal depends thereon.

The peculiar movements of each person, as the gate in walking, are
particularised in such lines as each part describes by the habits they
have contracted. The nature and power of habit may be fully conceived
by the following familiar instance, as the motions of one part of the
body may serve to explain those of the whole.

Observe that whatever habit the fingers get in the use of the pen,
you see exactly delineated to the eye by the shapes of the letters.
Were the movements of every writer's fingers to be precisely the same,
one hand-writing would not be known from another, but as the fingers
naturally fall into, or acquire different habits of moving, every
hand-writing is visibly different. Which movements must tally with
the letters, tho' they are too quick and too small to be as perfectly
traced by the eye; but this shews what nice differences are caused, and
constantly retained by habitual movements.

It may be remark'd, that all useful habitual motions, such as are
readiest to serve the necessary purposes of life, are those made up of
plain lines, i. e. straight and circular lines, which most animals have
in common with mankind, tho' not in so extensive a degree: the monkey
from his make hath it sufficiently in his power to be graceful, but as
reason is required for this purpose, it would be impossible to bring
him to move genteelly.

Though I have said that the ordinary actions of the body are performed
in plain lines, I mean only comparatively so with those of studied
movements in the serpentine line, for as all our muscles are ever ready
to act, when one part is moved, (as an hand, or arm, by its proper
movers, for raising up or drawing down) the adjacent muscles act in
some degree in correspondence with them: therefore our most common
movements are but seldom performed in such absolutely mean lines, as
those of jointed dolls and puppets. A man must have a good deal of
practice to be able to mimic such very straight or round motions, which
being incompatible with the human form, are therefore ridiculous.

Let it be observed, that graceful movements in serpentine lines,
are used but occasionally, and rather at times of leisure, than
constantly applied to every action we make. The whole business of life
may be carried on without them, they being properly speaking, only
the ornamental part of gesture; and therefore not being naturally
familiarised by necessity, must be acquired by precept or imitation,
and reduced to habit by frequent repetitions. _Precept_ is the means I
should recommend as the most expeditious and effectual way. But before
we proceed to the method I have to propose, for the more ready and sure
way of accustoming the limbs to a facility in the ornamental way of
moving; I should observe, that quick time gives it spirit and vivacity,
as slow time, gravity, and solemnity, and further, that the latter of
these allows the eye an opportunity of seeing the line of grace to
advantage, as in the address of heroes on the stage, or in any solemn
act of ceremony; and that although time in movement is reduced to
certain rules for dancing, it is left more at large and at discretion
for deportment.

We come now to offer an odd, but perhaps efficacious method of
acquiring a habit of moving in the lines of grace and beauty.

[Illustration: Figs. 119 and 120]

1. Let any one chalk the line fig. [119 L p. II], on a flat surface,
beginning at either end, and he will move his hand and arm in a
beautiful direction, but if he chalks the same sort of line on an
ogee-moulding of a foot or two in breadth, as the dotted line on figure
[120 L p. II], his hand must move in that more beautiful direction,
which is distinguished by the name of grace; and according to the
quantity given to those lines, greatness will be added to grace, and
the movement will be more or less noble.

Gentle movements of this sort thus understood, may be made at any time
and any where, which by frequent repetitions will become so familiar to
the parts so exercised, that on proper occasion they make them as it
were of their own accord.

The pleasing effect of this manner of moving the hand, is seen when a
snuff-box, or fan is presented gracefully or genteely to a lady, both
in the hand moving forward and in its return, but care must be taken
that the line of movement be but gentle, as No. 3, fig. 49, plate I,
and not too S-like and twirling, as No. 7 in the same figure: which
excess would be affected and ridiculous.

[Illustration: Fig. 49]

Daily practising these movements with the hands and arms, as also with
such other parts of the body as are capable of them, will in a short
time render the whole person graceful and easy at pleasure.

2. As to the motions of the _head_; the awe most children are in
before strangers, till they come to a certain age, is the cause of
their dropping and drawing their chins down into their breasts, and
looking under their foreheads, as if conscious of their weakness,
or of something wrong about them. To prevent this aukward shyness,
parents and tutors are continually teasing them to hold up their heads,
which if they get them to do it is with difficulty, and of course
in so constrain'd a manner that it gives the children pain, so that
they naturally take all opportunities of easing themselves by holding
down their heads; which posture would be full as uneasy to them were
it not a relief from restraint: and there is another misfortune in
holding down the head, that it is apt to make them bend too much in
the back; when this happens to be the case, they then have recourse
to steel-collars, and other iron-machines; all which shacklings are
repugnant to nature, and may make the body grow crooked. This daily
fatigue both to the children and the parents may be avoided, and an
ugly habit prevented, by only (at a proper age) fastening a ribbon to a
quantity of platted hair, or to the cap, so as it may be kept fast in
its place, and the other end to the back of the coat, as fig. [121 L
p. II], of such a length as may prevent them drawing their chins into
their necks; which ribbon will always leave the head at liberty to move
in any direction but this aukward one they are so apt to fall into.

[Illustration: Fig. 121]

But till children arrive at a reasoning age it will be difficult by any
means to teach them more grace than what is natural to every well made
child at liberty.

The grace of the upper parts of the body is most engaging, and
sensible well made people in any station naturally have it in a great
degree, therefore rules unless they are simple and easily retain'd and
practis'd, are of little use; nay, rather are of disservice.

Holding the head erect is but occasionally right, a proper recline of
it may be as graceful, but true elegance is mostly seen in the moving
it from one position to another.

And this may be attain'd by a sensibility within yourself, tho' you
have not a sight of what you do by looking in the glass, when with your
head assisted by a sway of the body in order to give it more scope, you
endeavour to make that very serpentine line in the air, which the hands
have been before taught to do by the help of the ogee-moulding: and I
will venture to say, a few careful repetitions at first setting out
will make this movement as easy to the head as to the hands and arms.

The most graceful bow is got by the head's moving in this direction,
as it goes downward and rises up again. Some aukward imitators of this
elegant way of bowing, for want of knowing what they were about, have
seem'd to bow with wry necks. The low solemn bow to majesty should
have but a very little twist, if any, as more becoming gravity and
submission. The clownish nod in a sudden straight line is quite the
reverse of these spoken of.

The most elegant and respectful curtesy hath a gentle, or small degree
of the above graceful bowing of the head as the person sinks, and
rises, and retreats. If it should be said, that a fine curtesy consists
in no more than in being erect in person at the time of sinking and
rising; Madam Catherine in clock-work, or the dancing bears led about
the streets for a shew, must be allow'd to make as good a curtesy as

N. B. It is necessary in bowing and curtesying to shun an exact
sameness at all times; for however graceful it may be on some
occasions, at other times it may seem formal and improper. Shakespear
seems to have meant the above spoken of ornamental manner of bowing, in
Enobarbus's description of Cleopatra's waiting-women.----

    ----And made their bends adornings.    Act 2.

3. Of _Dancing_. The minuet is allowed by the dancing-masters
themselves to be the perfection of all dancing. I once heard an
eminent dancing-master say, that the minuet had been the study of
his whole life, and that he had been indefatigable in the pursuit of
its beauties, yet at last he could only say with Socrates, _he knew
nothing_: adding, that I was happy in my profession as a painter, in
that some bounds might be set to the study of it. No doubt, as the
minuet contains in it a composed variety of as many movements in the
serpentine lines as can well be put together in distinct quantities, it
is a fine composition of movements.

[Illustration: Fig. 122]

The ordinary undulating motion of the body in common walking (as may
be plainly seen by the waving line, which the shadow a man's head
makes against a wall as he is walking between it and the afternoon
sun) is augmented in dancing into a larger quantity of _waving_ by
means of the minuet-step, which is so contrived as to raise the body
by gentle degrees somewhat higher than ordinary, and sink it again in
the same manner lower in the going on of the dance. The figure of the
minuet-path on the floor is also composed of serpentine lines, as fig.
[122 T p. II], varying a little with the fashion: when the parties by
means of this step rise and fall most smoothly in time, and free from
sudden starting and dropping, they come nearest to Shakespear's idea of
the beauty of dancing, in the following lines,

    ----What you do,
    Still betters what is done,----
    ----When you do dance, I wish you
    A wave o' th' sea, that you might ever do
    Nothing but that; move still, still so,
    And own no other function.        WINTER'S TALE.

The other beauties belonging to this dance, are the turns of the head,
and twist of the body in passing each other, as also gentle bowing and
presenting hands in the manner before described, all which together,
displays the greatest variety of movements in serpentine lines
imaginable, keeping equal pace with musical time.

There are other dances that entertain merely because they are composed
of variety of movements and performed in proper time, but the less
they consist of serpentine or waving lines, the lower they are in the
estimation of dancing-masters: for, as has been shewn, when the form of
the body is divested of its serpentine lines it becomes ridiculous as a
human figure, so likewise when all movements in such lines are excluded
in a dance, it becomes low, grotesque and comical; but however, being
as was said composed of variety, made consistent with some character,
and executed with agility, it nevertheless is very entertaining. Such
are Italian peasant-dances, &c. But such uncouth contortions of the
body as are allowable in a man would disgust in a woman; as the extreme
graceful, so very alluring in this sex, is nauseous in the other; even
the minuet-grace in a man would hardly be approved, but as the main
drift of it represents repeated addresses to the lady.

There is a much greater consistency in the dances of the Italian
theatre than of the French, notwithstanding dancing seems to be the
genius of that nation; the following distinctly marked characters were
originally from Italy; and if we consider them lineally as to their
particular movements, we shall see wherein their humour consists.

The attitudes of the harlequin are ingeniously composed of certain
little, quick movements of the head, hands, and feet, some of which
shoot out as it were from the body in straight lines, or are twirled
about in little circles.

Scaramouch is gravely absurd as the character is intended, in
over-stretch'd tedious movements of unnatural lengths of lines: these
two characters seem to have been contrived by conceiving a direct
opposition of movements.

Pierrott's movements and attitudes, are chiefly in perpendiculars and
parallels, so is his figure and dress.

Punchinello is droll by being the reverse of all elegance, both as to
movement, and figure, the beauty of variety is totally, and comically
excluded from this character in every respect; his limbs are raised and
let fall almost altogether at one time, in parallel directions, as if
his seeming fewer joints than ordinary, were no better than the hinges
of a door.

Dances that represent provincial characters, as these above do,
or very low people, such as gardeners, sailors, &c. in merriment,
are generally most entertaining on the stage: the Italians have
lately added great pleasantry and humour to several french dances,
particularly the wooden-shoe dance, in which there is a continual
shifting from one attitude in plain lines to another; both the man
and the woman often comically fix themselves in uniform positions,
and frequently start in equal time, into angular forms, one of which
remarkably represents two W's in a line, as over figure 122, plate II,
these sort of dances a little raised, especially on the woman's side,
in expressing elegant wantonness (which is the true spirit of dancing)
have of late years been most delightfully done, and seem at present to
have got the better of pompous unmeaning grand ballets; serious dancing
being even a contradiction in terms.

[Illustration: Fig. over Fig. 122]

4thly, Of _Country Dancing_. The lines which a number of people
together form in country or figure dancing, make a delightful play
upon the eye, especially when the whole figure is to be seen at one
view, as at the playhouse from the gallery; the beauty of this kind of
mystic dancing, as the poets term it, depends upon moving in a composed
variety of lines, chiefly serpentine, govern'd by the principles of
intricacy, &c. The dances of barbarians are always represented without
these movements, being only composed of wild skiping, jumping, and
turning round, or running backward and forward, with convulsive shrugs,
and distorted gestures.

One of the most pleasing movements in country dancing, and which
answers to all the principles of varying at once, is what they call the
hay; the figure of it altogether, is a cypher of S's, or a number of
serpentine lines interlacing, or intervolving each other, which suppose
traced on the floor, the lines would appear as fig. [123 T p. II].
Milton in his Paradise lost, describing the angels dancing about the
sacred hill, pictures the whole idea in words;

    Mystical dance!----
    ----Mazes intricate,
    Eccentric, intervolv'd, yet regular
    Then most, when most irregular they seem.

[Illustration: Fig. 123]

I shall venture, lastly, to say a word or two of stage-action. From
what has been said of habitually moving in waving lines, it may
possibly be found that if stage-action, particularly the graceful,
were to be studied lineally, it might be more speedily and accurately
acquired by the help of the foregoing principles than the methods
hitherto taken. It is known that common deportment, such as may
pass for elegant and proper off the stage, would no more be thought
sufficient upon it than the dialogue of common polite conversation,
would be accurate or spirited enough for the language of a play. So
that trusting to chance only will not do. The actions of every scene
ought to be as much as possible a compleat composition of well varied
movements, considered as such abstractedly, and apart from what may
be merely relative to the sense of the words. Action consider'd with
regard to assisting the authors meaning, by enforcing the sentiments
or raising the passions, must be left entirely to the judgment of the
performer, we only pretend to shew how the limbs may be made to have an
equal readiness to move in all such directions as may be acquired.

What I would have understood by action, abstractedly and apart from
its giving force to the meaning of the words, may be better conceived
by supposing a foreigner, who is a thorough master of all the effects
of action, at one of our theatres, but quite ignorant of the language
of the play; it is evident his sentiments under such limitations,
would chiefly arise from what he might distinguish by the lines of the
movements belonging to each character; the actions of an old man, if
proper, or not, would be visible to him at once, and he would judge of
low and odd characters, by the inelegant lines which we have already
shewn to belong to the characters of punch, harlequin, pierrott, or
the clown; so he would also form his judgment of the graceful acting
of a fine gentleman, or hero, by the elegance of their movements in
such lines of grace and beauty as have been sufficiently described. See
chapters V, VI, VII, VIII, on the composition of forms. Where note,
that as the whole of beauty depends upon _continually varying_ the same
must be observed with regard to genteel and elegant acting: and as
plain space makes a considerable part of beauty in form, so cessation
of movement in acting is as absolutely necessary; and in my opinion
much wanted on most stages, to relieve the eye from what Shakespear
calls, _continually sawing the air_.

The actress hath sufficient grace with fewer actions, and those in
less extended lines than the actor; for as the lines that compose the
Venus are simpler and more gently flowing, than those that compose the
Apollo, so must her movements be in like proportion.

And here it may not be improper to take notice of a mischief that
attends copied actions on the stage; they are often confin'd to certain
sets and numbers, which being repeated, and growing stale to the
audience, become at last subject to mimickry and ridicule, which would
hardly be the case, if an actor were possest of such general principles
as include a knowledge of the effects of all the movements that the
body is capable of.

The comedian, whose business it is to imitate the actions belonging
to particular characters in nature, may also find his account in the
knowledge of lines; for whatever he copies from the life, by these
principles may be strengthened, altered, and adjusted as his judgment
shall direct, and the part the author has given him shall require.


_Prints Publish'd by_ W. HOGARTH, _and are to be had at his House in_
Leicester Fields.

                                             l. s. d.

Marriage a-la-mode, in six prints            1  11 6

Harlot's Progress, in six prints             1  1  0

Rake's Progress, in eight prints             2  2  0

Four Times of the Day, in four prints        1  0  0

Strolling Actresses dressing in a Barn.      0  5  0

Midnight Conversation                        0  5  0

Southwark Fair                               0  5  0

Bishop of Winchester                         0  3  0

Calais, or the Roast Beef of Old England     0  5  0

Before and After, two prints                 0  5  0

Distress'd Poet                              0  3  0

Enraged Musician                             0  3  0

Various Characters of Heads, in five groups  0  2  6

Beer Street and Gin Lane, two prints         0  3  0

Four Stages of Cruelty, four prints          0  6  0

Moses brought to Pharoah's Daughter          0  7  6

Paul before Felix                            0  7  6

Paul before Felix in the manner of Rembrant  0  0  0

The Effects of Idleness and Industry,
exemplified in the Conduct of two
Fellow-Prentices, in twelve prints           0  12 0

Lord Lovat                                   0  1  0

Country-Inn Yard                             0  1  0

Sleeping Congregation                        0  1  0

March to Finchley                            0  10 6

Mr. Garrick in the Character of King
Richard the third                            0  7  6

Columbus breaking the Egg                    0  1  0

Frontispiece                                 0  3  0

N. B. If any one purchases the whole together, they will have them
deliver'd bound, at the Price of ten Guineas, and a sufficient Margin
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FIGURES _referr'd to in the_ BOOK.


Figure               Page
1,                   3
2,                   10, 77
3-4,                 15
Fig. over Fig. 4,    xix
6,                   vi, viii, 20, 81, 82, 83, 86, 88, 128
7,                   viii, 20
9,                   22, 135
10-11,               23
12,                  66, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 128, 153
13,                  66, 152
14,                  25, 26
15,                  27
16,                  31
17-18,               31, 87
19-20,               31
21,                  36
22,                  33
Fig. bet'n 22 & 105  viii
23,                  37
24-25,               38
26,                  38, 39, 100
29,                  40
30-32,               41
33-37,               42
38,                  43
39-42                44
43,                  xix, 44
44-46                44
47,                  xix, 19
Fig. bet'n 47 & 88,  17, 97
48,                  46
49,                  49, 128, 143
Fig. under 49,       4
50,                  49
53,                  49, 50
54,                  v, 20, 64
55,                  20, 76
65,                  56, 60
66-67,               57
Fig. near 67,        68
68,                  58, 76
87-88,               111
97,                  104, 123, 124
98,                  123, 124
99-105,              124
106,                 125
107,                 128
115,                 133


Figure               Page
51,                  137
52,                  x
56,                  51
57,                  51, 103
58,                  51, 55, 103
59,                  53
60-63,               55
64,                  56
69-70,               78
71,                  136
72,                  20, 137
73,                  137
74,                  138
75,                  137
76,                  62, 64
77,                  62, 63, 64
78,                  63, 64
79-80,               63
81,                  64
82-83,               65
84-85,               96
86,                  108, 109, 111
89,                  111
90,                  109
91,                  112
92,                  111
93,                  111
94,                  98, 116, 117, 118
95,                  115
96,                  117
108-109,             130
110,                 133
113,                 132
114,                 133
116,                 132
117-118,             134
119-120,             143
121,                 144
122,                 147
123,                 151

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