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ety; and magnanimity, heroism, undaunted courage, rise still higher in our esteem. One would readily think, that the moral virtues should be esteemed according to their importance. Nature has here deviated from her ordinary path, and great wisdom is shown in the deviation : the efficient cause is explained above, and the final cause is explained in the Essays of Morality and Natural Religion.*
We proceed to analyse grace, which being in a good measure an uncultivated field, requires more than ordinary labor.
Graceful is an attribute: grace and gracefulness express that attribute in the form of a noun.
That this attribute is agreeable, no one doubts. As grace is displayed externally, it must be an object of one or other of our five senses. That it is an object of sight, every person of taste can bear witness; and that it is confined to that sense, appears from induction; for it is not an object of smell, nor of taste, nor of touch. Is it an object of hearing? Some music indeed is termed graceful; but that expression is metaphorical, as when we say of other music that it is beautiful: the latter metaphor, at the same time, is more sweet and easy; which shows how little applicable to music or to sound the former is, when taken in its proper sense.
That it is an attribute of man, is beyond dispute. But of what other beings is it also an attribute? We perceive at first sight that nothing inanimate is entitled to that epithet. What animal then, beside man, is entitled ? Surely, not an elephant, nor even a lion. A horse may have a delicate shape with a lofty mien, and all his motions
may be exquisite; but he is never said to be graceful.. Beauty and grandeur are common to man with some other beings; but dignity is not applied to any being inferior to man; and upon the strictest examination, the same appears to hold in grace.
Confining then grace to man, the next inquiry is, whether, like beauty, it makes a constant appearance or in some circumstances only. Does a person display this attribute at rest as well as in motion, asleep as when awake? It is undoubtedly connected with motion ; for when the most graceful person is at rest
, neither moving nor speaking, we lose sight of that quality as much as of color in the dark. Grace then is an agreeable attribute, inseparable from motion as opposed to rest, and as comprehending speech, looks, gestures, and loco-motion.
As some motions are homely, the opposite to graceful, the next inquiry is, with what motions is this attribute connected ? No man appears graceful in a mask; and, therefore, laying aside the expressions of the countenance, the other motions may be genteel, may be elegant, but of themselves never are graceful. À motion adjusted in the most perfect manner to answer its end, is elegant; but still somewhat more is required to complete our idea of grace, or gracefulness.
What this unknown more may be, is the nice point. One thing is clear from what is said, that this more must arise from the expression of the countenance : and from what expressions so naturally as from those which indicate mental qualities, such as sweetness,
* Part 1. essay 2. chap. 4.
benevolence, elevation, dignity? This promises to be a fair analysis; because of all objects mental qualities affect us the most; and the impression made by graceful appearance upon every spectator of taste, is too deep for any cause purely corporeal.
The next step is, to examine what are the mental qualities, that, in conjunction with elegance of motion, produce a graceful appearance. Sweetness, cheerfulness, affability, are not separately sufficient, nor even in conjunction. As it appears to me, dignity alone with elegant motion may produce a graceful appearance; but still more graceful, with the aid of other qualities, those especially that are the most exalted.
But this is not all. The most exalted virtues may be the lot of a person whose countenance has little expression : such a person cannot be graceful. Therefore, to produce this appearance, we must add another circumstance, namely, an expressive countenance, displaying to every spectator of taste, with life and energy, every thing that passes in the mind.
Collecting these circumstances together, grace may be defined, that agreeable appearance which arises from elegance of motion, and from a countenance expressive of dignity. Expressions of other mental qualities are not essential to that appearance, but they heighten it greatly.
Of all external objects, a graceful person is the most agreeable.
Dancing affords great opportunity for displaying grace, and haranguing still more.
I conclude with the following reflection, that in vain will a person attempt to be graceful, who is deficient in amiable qualities. A man, it is true, may form an idea of qualities of which he is destitute; and, by means of that idea, may endeavor to express these qualities by looks and gestures: but such studied expression will be too faint and obscure to be graceful.
A ridiculous object, both improper and risible-Burlesque is of two kinds; that
which excites laughter, and that which excites derision-Humor connected with ridicule-It belongs to an author who pretends to be grave, but who paints his subject so as to excite laughter-Irony consists in laughing at a man under the disguise of appearing to speak well of him— The effect of parody–Ridicule the test of truth.
To define ridicule has puzzled and vexed every critic. The definition given by Aristotle is obscure and imperfect. * Cicero handles it at great length it but without giving any satisfaction : he wanders in the dark, and misses the distinction between risible and ridiculous. Quintilian is sensible of the distinction, but has not attempted to * Poet. cap. 5.
+ L. 2. De Oratore. # Ideoque anceps ejus rei ratio est, quod a derisu non procul abest risus; lib. 6. Therefore the reason of this is doubtful, that laughter is not far from ridicule.
cap. 3. & i.
explain it Luckily this subject lies no longer in obscurity: a risible object produces an emotion of laughter merely:* a ridiculous object is improper as well as risible; and produces a mixt emotion, which is vented by a laugh of derision or scorn.f
Having therefore happily unravelled the knotty part, I proceed to other particulars.
Burlesque, though a great engine of ridicule, is not confined to that subject; for it is clearly distinguishable into burlesque that excites laughter merely, and burlesque that provokes derision or ridicule. A grave subject in which there is no impropriety, may be brought down by a certain coloring so as to be risible; which is the case of Virgil Travestie ; f and also the case of the Secchia Rapita :$ the authors laugh first, in order to make their readers laugh." The Lutrin is a burlesque poem of the other sort, laying hold of a low and trifling incident, to expose the luxury, indolence, and contentious spirit of a set of monks. Boileau, the author, gives a ridiculous air to the subject, by dressing it in the heroic style, and affecting to consider it as of the utmost dignity and importance. In a composition of this kind, no image professedly ludicrous ought to find quarter, because such images destroy the contrast ; and, accordingly, the author shows always the grave face, and never once betrays a smile.
Though the burlesque that aims at ridicule, produces its effect by elevating the style far above the subject, yet it has limits beyond which the elevation ought not to be carried: the poet, consulting the imagination of his readers, ought to confine himself to such images as are lively, and readily apprehended : a strained elevation, soaring above an ordinary reach of fancy, makes not a pleasant impression: the reader, fatigued with being always upon the stretch, is soon disgusted; and if he persevere, becomes thoughtless and indifferent. Farther, a fiction gives no pleasure unless it be painted in colors so lively as to produce some perception of reality; which never can be done effectually where the images are formed with labor or difficulty. For these reasons, I cannot avoid condemning the Batrachomuomachia, said to be the composition of Homer: it is beyond the power of imagination to form a clear and lively image of frogs and mice, acting with the dignity of the highest of our species; nor can we form a conception of the reality of such an action, in any manner so distinct as to interest our affections even in the slightest degree.
The Rape of the Lock is of a character clearly distinguishable from those now mentioned : it is not properly a burlesque performance, but what may rather be termed an heroi-comical poem : it treats a gay and familiar subject with pleasantry, and with a moderate degree of dignity: the author puts not on a mask like Boileau, nor professes to make us laugh like Tassoni. The Rape of the Lock is a genteel species of writing, less strained than those mentioned : and is pleasant or ludicrous without having ridicule for its chief aim; giving way however to ridicule where it arises naturally from a particular character, such as that of Sir Plume. Addison's Spec
• See Chap. 7. + See Chap. 10. # Scarron. § Tassoni.
tator upon the exercise of the fan* is extremely gay and ludicrous, resembling in its subject the Rape of the Lock.
Humour belongs to the present chapter, because it is connected with ridicule. Congreve defines humor to be “a singular and unavoidable manner of doing or saying any thing, peculiar and natural to one man only, by which his speech and actions are distinguished from those of other men.”. Were this definition just, a majestic and commanding air, which is a singular property, is humor; as also a natural flow of correct and commanding eloquence, which is no less singular. Nothing just or proper is denominated humor; nor any singularity of character, words, or actions, that is valued or respected. When we attend to the character of an humorist, we find that it arises from circumstances both risible and improper, and therefore that it lessens the man in our esteem, and makes him in some measure ridiculous.
Humor in writing is very different from humor in character. When an author insists upon ludicrous subjects with a professed purpose to make his readers laugh, he may be styled a ludicrous writer; but is scarcely entitled to be styled a writer of humor. This quality belongs to an author, who affecting to be grave and serious, paints his objects in such colors as to provoke mirth and laughter. A writer that is really an humorist in character, does this without design: if not, he must affect the character in order to succeed. Swift and Fontaine were humorists in character, and their writings are full of humor. Addison was not an humorist in character; and yet in his prose writings a most delicate and refined humor prevails. Arbuthnot exceeds them all in drollery and humorous painting; which shows a great genius, because, if I am not misinformed, he had nothing of that peculiarity in his character.
There remains to show by examples the manner of treating subjects, so as to give them a ridiculous appearance.
Il ne dit jamais, je vous donne, mais, je vous prete le bon jour. Moliere.
Henry V. Shakspeare. He never broke any man's head but his own, and that was against a post when he was drunk.
Ibid. Millament. Sententious Mirabell! pr’ythee don't look with that violent and inflexible wise face, like Solomon at the dividing of the child in an old tapestry hanging
Way of the World. A true critic, in the perusal of a book, is like a dog at a feast, whose thoughts and stomach are wholly set upon what the guests fling away, and consequently is apt to snarl most when there are the fewest bones.
Tale of a Trub. In the following instances, the ridicule arises from absurd conceptions in the persons introduced.
Mascarille. Te souvient-il, vicomte de cette demilune, que nous emportàmes sur les ennemis au siege d'Arras ?
* No. 102.
Jodelet. Que veux tu dire avec ta demi-lune ? c'étoit bien une lune tout entiere.
Moliere les Precieuses Ridicules, Sc. 11. Slender. I came yonder at Eaton to marry Mrs. Anne Page; and she's a great lubberly boy.
Page. Upon my life then you took the wrong.
Slender. What need you tell me that ? I think so when I took a boy for a girl; if I had been marry'd to him, for all he was in woman's apparel, I would not have had him.
Merry Wives of Windsor. Valentine. Your blessing, Sir.
Sir Sampson. You've had it already, Sir; I think I sent it you to-day in a bill for four thousand pound; a great deal of money, Brother Foresight.
Foresight. Ay indeed, Sir Sampson, a great deal of money for a young man ; I wonder what can he do with it.
Love for Love, Act II. Sc. 7. Millament. I nauseate walking; 'tis a country-diversion; I lothe the country, and every thing that relates to it. Sir Wilful. Indeed ! hah! look ye, look ye, you do ? nay, 'tis like you may
-here are choice of pastimes here in town, as plays and the like; that must be confess'd indeed.
Millement. Ah l'etourdie! I hate the town too.
Sir Wilful. Dear heart, that's much -hah! that you should hate 'em both! hah! 'tis like you may; there are some can't relish the town, and others can't away with the country -'tis like you may be one of these, Cousine.
Way of the World, Act IV. Sc. 4. Lord Froth. I assure you, Sir Paul, I laugh at nobody's jests but my own, or a lady's: I assure, you, Sir Paul.
Brisk. How? how, my Lord? what, affront my wit ! Let me perish, do I never say any thing worthy to be laugh'd at ?
Lord Froth. O foy, don't misapprehend me, I don't say so, for 1 often smile at your conceptions. But there is nothing more unbecoming a man of quality than io laugh ; 'tis such a vulgar expression of the passion ! every body can laugh. Then especially to laugh at the jest of an inferior person, or when any body else of the same quality does not laugh with one; ridiculous ! To be pleas'd with what pleases the crowd! Now, when I laugh I always laugh alone.
Double Dealer, Act I. Sc. 4. So sharp-sighted is pride in blemishes, and so willing to be gratified, that it takes up with the very slightest improprieties: such as a blunder by a foreigner in speaking our language, especially if the blunder can bear a sense that reflects on the speaker :
Quickly. The young man is an honest man.
Caius. What shall de honest man do in my closet ? dere is no honest man dat shall come in my closet.
Merry Wives of Windsor. Love-speeches are finely ridiculed in the following passage.
Quoth he, My faith as adamantine,