Sidor som bilder

No. LXXXII. Saturday, August 18. 1753.

Nun fcio quid fit amor.


Now know I what is love...

THOUGH the danger of disappointment is always in proportion to the height of expectation, yet I this day. claim the attention of the ladies, and profess to teach an art by which all inay obtain what has hitherto been deemed the prerogative of a few; an art by which their predominant pafsion may be gratificd, and their conquests not only extended but secured; " The art of “ being pretty."

But though my subject may intereft the ladies, it may, perhaps, offend those profound moralifts, who have long fince determined, that beauty ought rather to be defpised than defired; that, like strength, it is a mere natural excellence, the effect of causes wholly out of our power, and not intended either as the pledge of happiness, or the diflinction of mesit,

Το | To thefe gentlemen I shall remark, that beauty is among those qualities, which no effort of human wit could ever bring into contempt : it is therefore to be wilhed at least, that beauty was in fome de. gree dependent upon sentiment and manners, that so high a privilege might not be poffessed by the unworthy, and that human reason might no longer suffer the mortification of those who are compelled to adorn an idol, which differs from a stone or a log only by the kill of the artificer: and if they cannot themselves behold beauty with indifference, they must surely approve an attempt to shew that it merits their regard.

I shall, however, principally consider that species of beauty which is expressed in the countenance ; for this alone is peculiar to human beings, and is not less complicated than their nature. In the countenance there are but two requisites to perfect beauty, which are wholly produced by external causes, colour and proportion : and it will appear, that even in common estimation these are not the chief, but that though there may be beauty without them, yet there cannot be beau. ty without something more.

The finest features, ranged in the most exact fym. metry, and heightened by the moit blooming com. plexion, must be animated before they can strike ; and when they are animated, will generally excite the same passions which they express. If they are fixed in the dead calm of insensibility, they will be examined without emotion, and if they do not express kindness, they will be beheld without love. Looks of contempt, disdain or malevolence, will be reflected as from a mirJor, by every countenance on which they are turned ;


and if a wanton aspect excites desire, it is but like that of a favage for his prey, which cannot be gratified without the destruction of its object.

Among particular graces the dimple has always been allowed the pre-eminence, and the reason is evident; dimples are produced by a smile, and a smile is an expression of complacency : fo the contraction of the brows into a frown, as it is an indication of a contrary temper, has always been deemed a capital defect.

The lover is generally at a loss to define the beauty, by which his passion was fuddenly and irresistiby determined to a particular object ; but this could never happen, if it depended upon any known rule of proportion, upon the shape or disposition of the features, or the colour of the skin : he tells you, thas it is something which he cannot fully exprels, something not fixed in any part, but diffufed over the whole ; he calls it a sweetness, a softness, a placid fenfibility, or gives it some other appellation which connects beauty with fentiment, and expresses a charm which is not peculiar to any set of features, but is perhaps possible to all.

This beauty, however, does not always consist in smiles, but varies, as expreflions of meekness and kindness vary with their objects ; it is extremely forcible in the filent complaint of patient fufferance, the tender folicitude of friendship, and the glow of filial obedi. ence; and in tears, whether of joy, of pity, or of grief, it is almost irresistible.

This is the charm which captivates without the aid of nature, and without which her utmost bounty is ineffectual. But it cannot be assumed as a mask to conceal insensibility or malevolence ; it must be the genuine effect of corresponding sentiments, or it will im


press upon the countenance a new and more disgusting deformity, affectation; it will produce the grin, the fimper, the stare, the languilh, the pout, and innumerable other grimaces, that render fully ridiculous, and change pity to contempt. By fome, indeed, this fpecies of hypocrisy has been practised with such kill as to deceive fuperficial observers, though it can deceive even these but for a moment. Looks which do not correspond with the heart, cannot be assumed without labour, nor continued without pain ; the motive to relinquish them must, therefore, foon preponderate, and the aspect and apparel of the visit will be laid by together; the smiles and the languishments of art will vanish, and the fierceness of rage, or the gloom of difcontent, will either obscure or deftroy all the elegance of symmetry and complexion.

The artificial aspect is, indeed, as wretched a fuhftitute for the expression of fentiment, as the smear of paint for the blulhes of health : it is not only equally tranfient, and equally liable to detection; but as paint leaves the countenance yet more withered and ghaftly, the passions burst oat with more violence after restraint, the features become more distorted, and excite more determined aversion.

Beauty, therefore, depends principally upon the mind, and consequently may be influenced by education. It has been remarked, that the predominant pallion may generally be discovered in the countenance ; because the muscles by which it is expressed, being almost perpetually contracted, lose their tone, and never totally relax; so that the expression remains when the passion is suspended : thus, an angry, a disdainful, a subtle, and a fufpicious temper, is displayed in characters that

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are almost universally understood. It is equally true of the pleafing and the softer paffions, that they leave their signatures upon the countenance when they ccafe to act : the prevalence of these paffions, therefore, produces a mechanical effect upon the afpect, and gives a turn and cast to the features, which makes a more favourable and forcible impreffion upon the mind of others, than any charm produced by mere external causes.

Neither does the beauty which depends upon teme. per and sentimento equally endanger the poffeffor ; “It is,” to use an eastern metaphor, like " the towers " of a city, not only an orpament, but a defence:" if it excites defire, it at once controuls, aad refines it ; it. repreffes with awe, it softens with delicacy, and it wins to imitation. The love of reason and, of virtue is. mingled with the love of beauty, because this beauty is little more than the emanation of intellectual excel.. lence, which is not an object of corporeal appetite. As it excites a purer passion, it also more forcibly en.. gages to fidelity : every man finds himself more power.. fully restrained from giving, pain to goodness than to beauty; and every look of a countenance in which they are blended, in which beauty is the expression of goodness, is a filent reproach of the first irregular wish; and the purpose immediately appears to be digngenu. ous and cruel, by which the tender hope of ineffable affection would be disappointed, the placid confidence of unsuspecting fimplicity abused, and the peace even of virtue endangered by the most sordid infidelity, and. the breach of the Atrongest obligations.

But the hope of the hypocrite must perish. When the factious beauty has laid by her smiles; when the lgstre of her eyes and the bloom of her cheeks have


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