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قراءة كتاب Beauty: Illustrated Chiefly by an Analysis and Classificatin of Beauty in Woman

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‏اللغة: English
Beauty: Illustrated Chiefly by an Analysis and Classificatin of Beauty in Woman

Beauty: Illustrated Chiefly by an Analysis and Classificatin of Beauty in Woman

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 8

odor with love, in animals and plants.—Chapter XIX.

Some remarks on the Venus de Medici.—Ibid.

The pointing out and explanation of various defects in beauty.—Chapter XX.

The pointing out and explanation of various external indications of figure, beauty, mind, habits, and age.—Chapter XXI.

The writer may possibly be mistaken as to the originality of one or two of these points; but, leaving the critical reader to deduct as many of these as it is in his power to do, enough of novelty would remain for the writer’s ambition, in this respect, if he had done no more than exposed the errors of Burke, Knight, Alison, &c., and established the true doctrine of beauty, in the first chapters—given an analysis and classification of beauty in woman, in the chapters which follow—and applied this to the fine arts, and solved the difficulty of Leonardo da Vinci, &c., in the last chapters.








It is observed by Home, in his “Elements of Criticism,” that a perception of beauty in external objects is requisite to attach us to them; that it greatly promotes industry, by promoting a desire to possess things that are beautiful; and that it farther joins with utility, in prompting us to embellish our houses and enrich our fields. “These, however,” he says, “are but slight effects, compared with the connexions which are formed among individuals in society by means of this singular mechanism: the qualifications of the head and heart are undoubtedly the most solid and most permanent foundations of such connexions; but as external beauty lies more in view, and is more obvious to the bulk of mankind, than the qualities now mentioned, the sense of beauty possesses the more universal influence in forming these connexions; at any rate, it concurs in an eminent degree, with mental qualifications, to produce social intercourse, mutual good-will, and, consequently, mutual aid and support, which are the life of society.”

Dr. Pritchard similarly observes, that “the perception of beauty is the chief principle in every country which directs men in their marriages.”

Advancing a step farther, Sir Anthony Carlisle thinks a taste for beauty worthy of being cultivated. “Man,” he observes, “dwells with felicity even on ideal female attributes, and in imagination discovers beauties and perfections which solace his wearied hours, far beyond any other resource within the scope of human life. It cannot, then, be unwise to cultivate and refine this natural tendency, and to enhance, if possible, these charms of life. We increase and heighten all our pleasures by awakening and cultivating reflections which do not exist in a state of ignorance. Thus, the botanist perceives elegances in plants and flowers unknown and unfelt by the vulgar, and the landscape-painter revels in natural or imaginary scenery, with feelings which are unknown to the multitude. It would be absurd to pretend that the more exquisite and more deeply attractive beauty of woman is not worthy of more profound, as well as more universal cultivation.”

Such are the observations of philosophical anthropologists, who, nevertheless, in these remarks, consider mere physical beauty independent of its connexion with corresponding functions or moral qualities.

If, however, the external beauty of woman, calculated as it is to flatter the most experienced eye, limited its effect to a local impression, to an optical enjoyment, the sentiment of beauty would be far from having all its extent and value. Happily, ideas of goodness, of suitableness, of sympathy, of progressive perfection, and of mutual happiness, are, by an intimate and inevitable association, connected with the first impression made by the sight of beauty.

The foundation of this feeling is well expressed by Dr. Pritchard, in his observation that “the idea of beauty of person is synonymous with that of health and perfect organization.”

Hence, it has been observed, the great ideal models of beauty please us, not merely because their forms are disposed and combined so as to affect agreeably the organ of sight, but because their exterior appears to correspond to admirable qualities, and to announce an elevation in the condition of humanity. Such do the Greek monuments appear to physiologists and philosophical artists, whose minds pass rapidly from the beauty of forms to that locomotive, vital, or mental excellence which it compels them to suppose.

Goodness and beauty in woman will accordingly be found to bear a strict relation to each other; and the latter will be seen always to be the external sign of the former.

There are, however (slightly to anticipate what must afterward be explained), different kinds, both of beauty and of goodness, which are confounded by vulgar observers; or rather there are beauty and goodness belonging to different systems of which the body is composed, and which ought never to be confounded with each other.

Where, consequently, one of these kinds of beauty and of goodness is wanting, even in a remarkable degree, others may be found; and, as the vulgar do not distinguish, it is this which leads to the gross error that these qualities have no strict relations to their signs.

Want of beauty, then, in any one of the systems of which the body is composed, indicates want of goodness only in that system; but it is not less a truth, and scarcely of less importance, on that account.—I will now illustrate this by brief examples.

There may, in any individual, exist deformity of limbs; and this will assuredly indicate want of goodness in the locomotive system, of that or general motion. There may exist coarseness of skin, or paleness of complexion; and either of these will as certainly indicate want of goodness in the vital system, or that of nutrition. There may exist a malformation of the brain, externally evident; and this no less certainly will indicate want of goodness in the mental system, or that of thought.

It follows that even the different kinds and combinations of beauty, which are the objects of taste to different persons, are founded upon the same general principle of organic superiority. Nay, even the preferences which, in beauty, appear to depend most on fancy, depend in reality on that cause; and the impression which every degree and modification of beauty makes on mankind, has as a fundamental rule only their sentiment, more or less delicate and just, of physical advantage in relation to each individual. Such is the foundation of all our sentiments of admiration and of love.

The existence or non-existence of these advantages, and the power of determining this, or the judgment of beauty, are therefore of transcendent importance to individuals and to families. Such judgment can be attained by analysis and classification alone. Nothing, therefore, can more nearly affect all human interests than that analysis and classification of beauty which are here proposed.

To place beyond a doubt, and to illustrate more minutely, the extraordinary importance of this subject, as regards advantages real to the species, I may anticipate some of the more minute applications of my doctrine.

If, in the locomotive system of the female, much of the delicacy of form, and the ease and grace of her movements, depend upon the more perfect development of the muscles of the pelvis, and its easily adapting itself to great