Page images

respect of their proceeding from different causes : The first kind is derived from real existences that have been objects of our senses : language is the cause of the second, or any other sign that has the same power with language ; and a man's imagination is to himself the cause of the third. It is scarce necessary to add, that an idea, originally of imagination, being conveyed to others by language or any other vehicle, becomes in their mind an idea of the second kind ; and again, that an idea of this kind, being afterward recalled to the mind, becomes in that circumstance an idea of memory.

21. We are not so constituted as to perceive objects with indifference : these, with very few exceptions, appear agreeable or disagreeable ; and at the same time raise in us pleasant or painful emotions. With respect to external objects in particular, we distinguish those which produce organic impressions, from those which affect us from a distance. When we touch a soft and smooth body, we have a pleasant feeling as at the place of contact; which feeling we distinguish not, at least not accurately, from the agreeableness of the body itself; and the same holds in general with regard to all organic impressions. It is otherwise in hearing and seeing : a sound is perceived as in itself agreeable, and raises in the hearer a pleasant emotion : an object of sight appears in itself agreeable, and raises in the spectator a pleasant emotion. These are accurately distinguished : the pleasant emotion is felt as within the mind; the agreeableness of the pbject is placed upon the object, and is perceived


as one of its qualities or properties. The agreeable appearance of an object of sight is termed beauty; and the disagreeable appearance of such an object is termed ugliness.

22. But though beauty and ugliness, in 'their proper and genuine signification, are confined to objects of sight, yet in a more lax and figurative signification, they are applied to objects of the other senses : they are sometimes applied even to abstract terms; for it is not unusual to say, a beautiful theorem, a beautiful constitution of government.

23. A line composed by a single rule, is perceived and said to be regular : a straight line, a parabola, a hyperbola, the circumference of a circle, and of an ellipse, are all of them regular lines. A figure composed by a single rule, is perceived and said to be regular : a circle, a square, a hexagon, an equilateral triangle, are regular figures, being composed by a single rule, that determines the form of each. When the form of a line or of a figure is ascertained by a single rule that leaves nothing arbitrary, the line and the figure are said to be perfectly regular ; which is the case of the figures now mentioned, and the case of a straight line, and of the circumference of a circle. A figure and a line that require more than one rule for their construction, or that have any of their parts left arbitrary, are not perfectly regular :'a parallelogram and a rhomb are less regular than a square ; the parallelogram being subjected to no rule as to the length of sides, other than that the opposite sides be equal ; the rhomb being subjected to no rule as to

its angles, other than that the opposite angles be equal : for the same reason, the circumference of an ellipse, the form of which is susceptible of much varietý, is less regular than that of a circle.

24. Regularity, properly speaking, belongs, like beauty, to objects of sight; and, like beauty, it is also applied figuratively to other objects: thus we say, a regular government, a regular composition of music, and, regular discipline.

25. When two figures are composed of similar parts, they are said to be uniform. Perfect uniformity is where the constituent parts of two figures are equal : thus two cubes of the same dimensions are perfectly uniform in all their parts. Uniformity less perfect is, where the parts mutually correspond, but without being equal : the uniformity is imperfect between two squares or cubes of unequal dimensions, and still more so between a square and a parallelogram.

26. Uniformity is also applicable to the constituent parts of the same figure. The constituent parts of a square are perfectly uniform ; its sides are equal and its angles are equal. Wherein then differs regularity from uniformity ? for a figure composed of uniform parts must undoubtedly be regular. Regularity is predicated of a figure considered as a whole composed of uniform parts: uniformity is predicated of these parts as related to each other by resemblance: we say, a square a regular, not an uniform, figure; but with respect to the constituent parts of a square, we say not, that they are regular, but that they are uniform.


27. In things destined for the same use, as legs, arms, eyes, windows, spoons, we expect uniformity. Proportion ought to govern parts intended for different uses : we require a certain proportion between a leg and an arm; in the base, the shaft, the capital of a pillar; and in the length, the breadth, the height of a room : some proportion is also required in different things intimately connected, as between a dwelling-house, the garden, and the stables ; but we require no proportion among things slightly connected, as between the table a man writes on and the dog that follows him. Proportion and uniformity never coincide : things equal are uniform ; but proportion is never applied to them : the four sides and angles of a square are equal and perfectly uniform ; but we say not that they are proportional. Thus, proportion always implies inequality or difference; but then it implies it to a certain degree only: the most agreeable proportion resembles a maximum in mathematics a greater or less inequality or difference is less agreeable.

28. Order regards various particulars. First, in tracing or surveying objects, we are directed by a sense of order : we perceive it to be more orderly, that we should pass from a principle to its accessories, and from a whole to its parts, than in the contrary direction. Next, with respect to the position of things, a sense of order directs us to place together things intimately connected. Thirdly, in placing things that have no natural connexion, that order appears the most perfect, where the par

[ocr errors]

ticulars are made to bear the strongest relation to each other that position can give them. Thus parallelism is the strongest relation that position can bestow upon straight lines : if they be so placed as by production to intersect, the relation is less perfect. A large body in the middle, and two equal bodies of less size, one on each side, is an order that produces the strongest relation the bodies are susceptible of by position : the relation between the two equal bodies would be stronger by juxtaposition ; but they would not both have the same relation to the third. · 29. The beauty or agreeableness of a visible object, is perceived as one of its qualities; which holds, not only in the primary perception, but also in the secondary perception or idea : and hence the pleasure that arises from the idea of a beautiful object. An idea of imagination is also pleasant, though in a lower degree than an idea of memory, where the objects are of the same kind ; for an evident reason, that the former is more distinct and lively than the latter. But this inferiority in ideas of imagination, is more than compensated by their greatness and variety, which are boundless for by the imagination, exerted without controul, we can fabricate ideas of finer visible objects, of more noble and heroic actions, of greater wicked

, ness, of more surprising events, than ever in fact existed: and in communicating such ideas by words, painting, sculpture, &c. the influence of the imagination is no less extensive than great,

« PreviousContinue »