The Project Gutenberg EBook of Beauty, by Alexander Walker

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever.  You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at

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

Author: Alexander Walker

Release Date: February 26, 2011 [EBook #35409]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


Produced by Julia Miller and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at (This file was
produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive/American Libraries.)














Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1840,
By J. & H. G. LANGLEY,
in the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of the Southern District of New

13 Chambers Street, New York



[Pg iii]




A department of science, which in many respects must be regarded as new, cannot so properly be dedicated to any one as to the inventor of the best mode of diffusing scientific knowledge among the most meritorious and most oppressed classes of society.

When the enemies of freedom, in order effectually to blind the victims of their spoliation, imposed a tax upon knowledge, you rendered the acquirement of science easy by the establishment of mechanics’ institutions—you gave the first and greatest impulse to that diffusion of knowledge which will render the repetition of such a conspiracy against humanity impossible.

You more than once also wrested a reluctant concession, in behalf of untaxed knowledge, from the men who had evidently succeeded, in some degree, to the spirit, as well as to the office, of the original[Pg iv] conspirators, and who unwisely hesitated between the bad interest which is soon felt by all participators in expensive government, and their dread of the new and triumphant power of public opinion, before which they know and feel that they are but as the chaff before the whirlwind.

For these services, accept this respectful dedication, as the expression of a homage, in which I am sure that I am joined by thousands of Britons.

Nor, in writing this, on a subject of which your extensive knowledge enables you so well to judge, am I without a peculiar and personal motive.

I gratefully acknowledge that, in one of the most earnest and strenuous mental efforts I ever made, in my work on “The Nervous System,” I owed to your cautions as to logical reasoning and careful induction, an anxiety at least, and a zeal in these respects, which, whatever success may have attended them, could not well be exceeded.

I have endeavored to act conformably with the same cautions in the present work. He must be weak-minded, indeed, who can seek for aught in philosophy but the discovery of truth; and he must be a coward who, believing he has discovered it, has any scruple to announce it.


April 10, 1836.



[Pg v]


The present volume completes the series of Mr. Walker’s anthropological works. To say that they have met with a favorable reception from the American public, would be but a very inadequate expression of the unprecedented success which has attended their publication. “Intermarriage,” the first of the series, passed through six large editions within eighteen months, and “Woman,” has met with a sale scarcely less extensive. The numerous calls for the present work, have compelled the publishers to issue it sooner than they had contemplated; and, it is believed, that it will be found not less worthy of attention than the preceding.

All must acknowledge the interesting nature of the subject treated in the present work, as well as its intimate connexion with those which have already passed under discussion. The analysis of beauty on philosophical principles, is attended with numerous difficulties, not the least of which arises from the want of any fixed and acknowledged standard. The term Beauty is, indeed, generally considered as a vague generality, varying according to national, and even individual taste and judgment.

[Pg vi]Mr. Walker claims, in his advertisement, numerous points of originality, some of which, on examination, may perhaps prove to have been proposed previously by other writers. Enough, however, will remain to entitle him to the credit of great ingenuity and acuteness. As treated by him, the subject assumes an aspect very different from that exhibited in any other publication. To trace the connexion of beauty with, and its dependance on, anatomical structure and physiological laws—to show how it may be modified by causes within our control—to describe its different forms and modifications, and defects, as indicated by certain physical signs—to analyze its elements, with a view to its influence on individuals and society, in connexion with its perpetration in posterity—all these were novel topics of vast and exciting interest, and well adapted to the genius, taste, and research of our author.

In preparing the present edition, it has been thought expedient to make some verbal alterations, and omit a few paragraphs, to which a refined taste might perhaps object, and to bring together in the Appendix such collateral matter, as might serve to correct, extend, or illustrate the views presented in the text. With these explanations, the work is confidently commended to the popular as well as philosophical reader, as worthy of studious examination.



[Pg vii]


Preliminary EssayPage ix
English Advertisement1
CHAPTER I.—Importance of the Subject11
CHAPTER II.—Urgency of the Discussion of this Subject in relation to the Interests of Decency and Morality21
CHAPTER III.—Cautions to Youth35
CHAPTER IV.—Nature of Beauty46
CHAPTER V.—Standard of Taste in Beauty56
CHAPTER VI.—The Elements of Beauty72
Section I.—Elements of Beauty in Inanimate Beings74
Section II.—Elements of Beauty in Living Beings88
Section III.—Elements of Beauty in Thinking Beings93
Section IV.—Elements of Beauty as employed in Objects of Art103
Beauty of Useful Objects104
Beauty of Ornamental Objects108
Beauty of Intellectual Objects113
Summary of this Chapter120
Appendix to the Preceding Chapters123
Section I.—Nature of the Picturesque123
Section II.—Cause of Laughter125
Section III.—Cause of the Pleasure received from Representations exciting Pity131
CHAPTER VII.—Anatomical and Physiological Principles139
CHAPTER VIII.—Of the Ages of Women in relation to Beauty152
CHAPTER IX.—Of the Causes of Beauty in Woman166
CHAPTER X.—Of the Standard of Beauty in Woman171
CHAPTER XI.—Of the Three Species of Female Beauty generally viewed185
CHAPTER XII.—First Species of Beauty: Beauty of the Locomotive System189
First Variety or Modification of this Species of Beauty191
[Pg viii]Second Variety or Modification of this Species of Beauty197
Third Variety or Modification of this Species of Beauty198
CHAPTER XIII.—Second Species of Beauty: Beauty of the Nutritive System203
First Variety or Modification of this Species of Beauty208
Second Variety or Modification of this Species of Beauty210
Third Variety or Modification of this Species of Beauty212
CHAPTER XIV.—Third Species of Beauty: Beauty of the Thinking System225
First Variety or Modification of this Species of Beauty226
Second Variety or Modification of this Species of Beauty227
Third Variety or Modification of this Species of Beauty229
CHAPTER XV.—Beauty of the Face in particular238
CHAPTER XVI.—Combinations and Transitions of the Three Species of Female Beauty254
CHAPTER XVII.—Proportion, Character, Expression, &c.259
CHAPTER XVIII.—The Greek Ideal Beauty280
CHAPTER XIX.—The Ideal of Female Beauty307
CHAPTER XX.—Defects of Beauty320
Defects of the Locomotive System320
Defects of the Vital System323
Defects of the Mental System327
CHAPTER XXI.—External Indications, or Art of Determining the precise Figure, the degree of Beauty, the Mind, the Habits, and the Age of Women, notwithstanding the Aids and Disguises of Dress329
External Indications of Figure329
External Indications of Beauty332
External Indications of Mind335
External Indications of Habits337
External Indications of Age339



[Pg ix]



Her beauty hangs upon the cheek of night
Like a rich jewel in an Ethiop’s ear:
Death hath no power yet upon thy beauty—
Thou art not conquered; beauty’s ensign yet
Is crimson on thy lips, and in thy cheeks.—Shakspeare.

It maybe set down, we suppose, as a matter sufficiently settled to become a principle, that men are moved by nothing more generally and certainly than by the power of Beauty—particularly Beauty in Woman. That it has an influence upon all of one sex, like that which Master Shakspeare has given picture of in the lines we have set upon our front, we would not pretend to say: but that the wild bard was no freshman in his knowledge of humanity so far as heart and mind matters were concerned, we feel safe to assert—and feel confident that the passionate language of Romeo trespasses no bounds, and is but a faithful declaration of a power that rules with a milder or a mightier sway in the bosoms of all who answer to the distinctive name of Man.

This may seem a wide assertion. But it is no less true. The reason of the slow belief in this universality is, that men are not always subject to the influence, while the principle of it is always a tenant within them. There is a time—and with the time comes the development. The[Pg x] mind, as it unfolds, becomes acquainted with nothing so calculated to excite its wonder, as its own properties and capabilities—its new perceptions—its new affections. Till progress brings with it this knowledge of ourselves, we remain ignorant of half that is within us to affect us like a spell, and within whose reach we have been unconsciously passing onward and upward, by a Providential ordering, from our childhood at least, if not from our cradles.

Keeping this in view, let us consider for a moment something of the elements of Beauty, and their influence, as a principle, upon the principles of our nature.—And first it must be admitted that they are good—of a good origin—and tend to a good result. They are good elements, we believe, for we find them almost ever associated with what is pleasing, improving, and satisfactory to us. Indeed, in this connexion, we find them a source of consolation and delight, where all else has failed to minister or even suggest them. They are of a good origin—for, if they were not, no such effect would be wrought upon a system so sadly prone to evil and villanous principles, and so little open to pure, and elevating, and comforting ones, that they may be said to come about it, most emphatically, like “angel-visits.” They are elements, again, that tend to a good result, in their operation, for their consequences are almost ever, to make men better satisfied with their condition—where they come in, as an influence upon it, at all—better satisfied with almost everything about them, so long as they are conscious they are creatures of proportions and proprieties, and affected intrinsically by them.

If what we here set down respecting the elements of Beauty be true, it is certainly of an interesting importance in view of the influence of that quality upon the principles of our nature. We call it quality. Perhaps this is not name enough for something so peculiar and powerful in its connexion with the total of our spirits. We will[Pg xi] term it such, however, for want of a wider language—and leave men to feel out such definition as they may deem more good and grateful.

Implanted, then, so deeply as Beauty is in the human heart—so universal, that millions bow to it as something to fear while they worship—so certain, as a principle, that scarcely a human being can be said to walk without the sphere of its influence—it would be needless as well as unphilosophical to deny that the great object of its fixture—its enthronement upon its high place, should be one of no common character, or of a tendency and effect within us, which it would be wrong and inexcusable to overlook.

What then is the design of this singular and mysterious power, in connexion with this sad and unaccountable nature—so often the theme of eulogy and lament—of lofty, long, and desperate satire, among men? The best answer, we think, is rendered in the influence, where operation is open to every one who thinks, observes, reasons, acts, among his fellows.—To enter into particular definitions here, would be needless as well as wearisome. The general effect upon man, as a sentient and moral being, must be the point to which our simple remarks and reasons must be confined.

We have somewhere seen it observed—and have little doubt in the publicity and good sense of the thought—that there was perhaps no one thing which tended so materially to awaken lofty and good sentiments among the people—to qualify the rough outline of character—and soften and harmonize the untaught elements of their nature, as the frequent, unrestrained, and encouraged contemplation of the perfect statuary, which their master sculptors were continually erecting in their temples. This freedom was a perpetual lesson to a nation. The principle was developed, and the power of Beauty had a new, and forming, and mastering sway. A people were[Pg xii] coming into the light of better feeling—better society—better government, under the gradual but no less certain operation of a living principle, brought into great and beautiful action, under the commanding hand of Genius, that seemed to pass at once from the sky, whose perfect things it presented to the sons of earth!—It is not singular, we think, that such a leading forth of Beauty to the contemplation of awakened man, should produce effects like those to which we have adverted. It strikes us that it would have been strange had this consequence not been generated, and noble sculpture thus have stood before a world as cold as the marble from which it was stricken. We believe that Beauty saw a renovating power in the wonder of the Venus—and it would be a sad thing to feel that it had ever ceased in its progress where woman or the chisel were doing such things to advance it. Nor has it ceased. History presents too many instances of the monarch power of Beauty in woman, to permit us to doubt upon this subject. It has passed upon the spirit of Man like a thing of necromance—winning him to its command, and bowing him to its will, until royalty itself has stood powerless in its presence, and the poor mass of mortals, stricken and panting like cornered deer before the inexorable hunter. It has been the salvation and ruin of nations, as well as families and individuals—for queens have obeyed its supremacy as well as maidens, and kings squared their mandates, and regulated their course, by the “line of beauty.” All this is matter of record. Sacred and profane story abounds with instances which admit of no denial, while they excite our wonder. But the wonder ceases, notwithstanding, when we turn from record to our own experience, and see the effect, on others and ourselves, of what we once read about in the curious annals of our species. We now see the finished sculpture that delighted and softened the people of an age, gazed on and admired by every being whom we are accustomed to regard as [Pg xiii]rational. No one pretends to question, much less to deny the beauty of the lovely statue, in which the perfection of woman is portrayed in the finished feature or the swelling form. Insensibility here would properly be regarded as a thing to be ashamed of—as little better than a moral paralysis, which might well exclude the questionable man from the circle of reasonable, enlightened, and rising people, as a sad fellow, and a poor pilgrim on the earth. You will rarely find the roughest nature with a cuticle that will not confess some sensibility in a presence such as this—and I think we may set it down as a thing well ascertained, that the picture or chiselling of a beautiful woman will command the tribute of delight—the acknowledgment—and loud one too—of a whole and hearty worship from the tar, as well as the amateur. The galleries of our artists, in which the principle of Beauty is made to speak and command, sufficiently prove that there is no passing away of this power which has moved, ruled, and regulated, to a degree almost incredible, the world of Man, from the time he came to this school, and this trial of the passions and affections. Let the question be asked of any one, whose spirit is in healthful action, if his experience before the work of art, imbodying the Beauty we speak of, is not of a humanizing—and we will add civilizing, as well as elevating character, and we are willing to abide the issue of his answer, in full support of the position we have taken. Such is our belief on the universality of this influence or element. We have heard it denied, it is certain—but it was even by those who have never tested the power by an application of it to themselves, or a surrender to its mysteries, by an approach to the real presence—and who, like bachelors upon the fearful subject of matrimony, only betray a silliness just in proportion to their ignorance. These are the men who have not yet unfolded. They are in the chrysalis condition—and to be pitied accordingly. They may depend upon it, when they pass from the slough,[Pg xiv] they will be ready to confess they are, alas! too deep in that other “Slough of Despond,” which is too well represented by a sad sensitiveness to the magic of Beauty, and as sad a consciousness that there is no approach for them, which can be crowned by a capture of the citadel, or the least enjoyment of the glorious delights it encloses. When we hear men deteriorating this power, or thanking the gods they never bent knee or uttered vow at its shrine, we are ever ready to believe they have either bowed all their days to far other and sadder principles, and made oath to idols of bad material and worse sculpture, or that they are as much beyond the reach of any good, and proper, and beautiful influence, as the clod of the valley to which they are hastening. They may take pride in denial of such influence—but what is there to boast of in insensibility of any kind, where the very betrayal of admiration is the best evidence of a good taste—a good feeling—a good faith—a good principle? It cannot have escaped common observation, we presume, that a love of Beauty—or, at least, any peculiar sensitiveness to that quality in the female sex, has been held—and by sensible men, too—as a weakness, or an index only of a weak mind, or a feminine spirit. This is certainly very foolish—and a lamentable mistake. But it is easily accounted for. It will be observed that the doctrine is never held save by men who see beauty in things which other persons would hold abhorrent. They are men who are in love with metaphysics, or glory in a mathematical existence. They like, beyond all, the features of a problem, and think only of the good face of a speculation. They see, as they profess, at least, no proportions, save in some cold system of an absurd philosophy, and are only fit for judgment in things either too abstract for the mass of men, or too decidedly “earthy” to be worthy the attention of beings made for a better sphere, and capable of seeing something in much that is around us, which intimates the order and beauty by which that sphere[Pg xv] is distinguished. This is enough to put an end to this objection, in reference to the subtle element of which we are venturing our humble, but we believe, orthodox sentiments. For ourselves, we know of no more sad or senseless mental condition in which we could be placed—we mean in the social relation—than this one of such ungraceful stupidity, as this of which a boast is made by such weary fellows as we have adverted to. If Beauty is an outside principle, which they argue is of no utility, and quite unworthy of one who should look beyond the mere coating of this existence for his reward or his satisfaction, then we say that even an outside of loveliness and grace, is better than an interior of deformity, uselessness, indefiniteness, chaos—even though it pretend to be all spiritual, while it suggests little but nonsense, and is quite certain to end in nothing.

There is another thought in connexion with this element of Beauty in Woman, which certainly deserves consideration. We believe the philosophy which it intimates is founded in very good sense, and withal, in propriety. Insensibility to the power, we have observed, is no index of anything virtuous or elevated. It is rather, in all cases, a bad omen. Men look upon it—and that very rationally—as indicative of something unhealthy in the moral system. It seems to tell of a hardness—bad propensities—a crustaceous nature. In short, man regards his fellow, who is dead to this influence, as rather to be suspected at all times, than to be trusted at any. But this is not his saddest trial—or what should be regarded as such, if he can sign himself a man, with any conscience whatever. His estimation by woman is unqualified and unquestioned. He is set down by her as a creature as unworthy of regard by the sisterhood, as he is devoid of warmth or wit in anything that has to do with the social relations, and, above all, with the mysteries of the passions and affections. He is marked by them with a timble brand. He is set apart[Pg xvi] as a poor thing, who knows nothing of what he was made for, and whose ideas of the graceful and lovely in life are about as defined and worthy as those of the brutes that perish. He is run upon and laughed at by the playful, and satirised and scathed by the witty. In the circle he is treated—not pitied—as a piece of circulating insensibility; in the street he is pointed at as one who might be well set up as a mark at its corners. And this is right. It is well he should be visited by rebuke from her who presents so continually around him the elements of that power he is foolish to resist, and unable, after all, to depreciate. Woman’s opinion, here, is a part of the great system which the influence she defends is meant to support—and we truly hope that she will maintain it aloud as long as she can utter it. Of the power of Beauty, both the world of fact, and the world of fancy, are abounding in instances. The records of ancient story present us with their Helens and their Cleopatras, who wrought upon nations by the magic of their faces. Later times show us the wonder of the power in Mary of Scotland, and many a page might be adverted to, full of the adventures which marked the love passages of kings as well as clowns, originating in this mysterious influence, as developed in the graces and glories of woman.

The power of Beauty operates widely, and everywhere. It takes the good man captive as well as the miscellaneous one, who has no definite rule to guide him on his wanderings. It bows the masters and teachers of men at its shrine, as well as the scholars and children of life. It draws the merchant from his desk—the philosopher from his chair. It gives new utterance to the poet, while it wins the statesman to confess that there is some virtue in the outside of the world, after all, and some attraction apart from the chaos of cabinets and broad seals.

There is a beautiful exemplification of this power given by Florian, in his story of a Theban sculptor. He is a[Pg xvii] wandering orphan in the streets of his native city, and his first entrance into the workshop of the celebrated Praxitiles well proves the truth of what we have set down in the foregoing pages.—“He is suddenly transported on beholding so many masterpieces of art! He gazes upon them—he is lost in admiration! and turning to Praxitiles with an air of grace and juvenile freedom, “Father,” cried he, “give me the chisel, and teach me to become as great as thou art.” Praxitiles stared at the boy, astonished at the fire of enthusiasm which kindled in his eyes, and embracing him with affection, “Yes!” said he, “remain with me; I will now be your master, but my hope shall be that you may soon be mine.”

The pupil soon becomes worthy of his teacher. He becomes the heir of his fortune, and removes to Miletus. There, the daughter of the governor visits his statuary, and from the time of that visit, his destiny is sealed. Love usurps the place of every other passion, and the chisel is cast aside in silence, under that supremacy. The Venus of marble that adorned his study, was no longer a Venus before that living one which filled his eye and his bosom. He felt that he must tell his love, or die. He declares it, in a hurried letter—a slave betrays him—and the indignant father accuses him before the council. He is banished from the city—and embarks in a Cretan vessel.

At this time pirates surprise the city, and pillage the temple of Venus. The statue of that goddess is torn from its pedestal. It was the Palladium of the island, and on its possession hung the happiness of the Milesians. The oracle of Delphos was consulted, and it was answered that Miletus would not be safe till a new statue of Venus, beautiful as the Goddess herself, should replace that ravished by the pirates. The inhabitants were in despair. They accused the governor of unjustly banishing the only man who might now save the city. He is seized, and hurried in chains to a dungeon. Now came the trial of[Pg xviii] the daughter, whose beauty had brought on this fearful crisis. She equips her vessel, and with treasures about her, determines to go in person to Athens—Corinth—Thebes—to find some artist who should emancipate her father. Tempted to land on a delicious island, she there comes suddenly upon her lover, whom she had been taught to believe had been long laid under the waters that lashed the heights of Naxos.

The story is soon told. In the humble cabin of his solitude he had prepared a statue which he said would meet the demand of the sybil. But he claimed to have it placed veiled upon the pedestal in the temple of Miletus, before she should even look upon the marble. She consents—and they embark for that island. The artist is received with shoutings and joy. The statue is borne to its trial on the altar of Venus. It stands erect. He fears nothing—and it is unveiled. The features are not mistaken—and the people utter cries of joy as they behold the image of his mistress! The enamored sculptor had made her, in his loneliness, the model of his Venus!—He is called on to claim his reward. “Release him you have imprisoned,” he cried—“release her father—and I ask no more.”—It is done—and the father gives up the daughter to his preserver, at the foot of her statue.

Can the power of Beauty be better illustrated than in this simple tale? We are not shown simply its effect upon an uneducated, artless individual—upon a mind in its singleness, and just awakened to its own capabilities of suffering and joy—but we see it operating in a wide and unquestioned influence, upon the spirit of a whole people. It was not demanded by fate that there should be merely a replacing of the piece of marble upon the pedestal from which it had been torn—it was required that the statue should be as royal in its Beauty as that was whose place it should supply. Beauty was the spirit-word of the destiny of Miletus. It was Beauty which had been guardian[Pg xix] of the city—and it was Beauty which must now restore it, by her return to her temple.

But we will not dwell upon this story, though it so beautifully exemplifies the position we maintain. There are many instances of frequent occurrence in the world, which tell as strong a tale, of the influence of Grace and Beauty, as is here presented in the Grecian record. We may not witness them—but the power is working ever like fate in the mingled material of our life; and it only requires a sober faith, together with a moderate observation, to convince all men that they are the creatures of Beauty, as much as they are of destiny and dust.

But there is another consideration connected with this subject—an important one, too—and for that reason we have reserved it to the last.

We are settled in our conviction that there is something in Personal Beauty, of a representative and correspondent character. It represents a spiritual beauty—corresponds with a moral symmetry. Though we call it an outward property, still it must be a picture of the internal. It would seem impossible that there can be a speaking expression of grace and loveliness, upon a face that is but a telegraph of an inward deformity and ugliness. Perhaps all this may seem somewhat ideal in its philosophy—and, perhaps, almost transcendental. But we hold it to be true. It certainly appears to us reasonable that the minor should reflect the reality, as well in this heaven-made humanity, as amid the earthy art of our drawing-rooms. That the spirit should speak out in the language of the countenance, is to us as excellent sense as that it should tell its story in protuberances and indentations. Who can deny this—and where will the argument fail? We pause for a reply.

Let us be understood, however. We have no idea of going beyond reason in a theory, which, though it may appear more than plausible to us, may seem far this side[Pg xx] of plausible to others. Yet we think we are borne out by example. We do not maintain, it will be remembered, that beauty of person must necessarily be the representative of moral beauty, according to the best and highest definition of that term. That definition, we presume, would include the virtuous and the heavenly. That these traits are unfailing accompaniments of noble features—the beautiful countenance—the finished form—it would be hazardous and foolish to assert. What we intend to say is this—that we believe external beauty is the representation of an internal and spiritual quality of the same nature. That Beauty may be spiritual, though it may not be moral—the Beauty of Virtue. It may be the beauty of superior and surpassing powers—the Beauty of Genius. It may be the beauty of a mind, uncommon in its attractions, and in its proportions beyond fault or question. It may be the beauty of intellectual symmetry—and this may find its speaking resemblance in the chiseled face and figure, as certainly as the moral loveliness of the heaven-inspired—the emphatically good man. Of what more perfect mental proportions could the human countenance have been indicative, than the countenance of Napoleon? The symmetry of Genius spake there, if it was true—as it certainly was—that moral beauty had no telegraph in that splendid sculpture of the man.

But we have said as much as we can afford to—though the more particular subject of our remarks—or what in good faith should have been, if it has not—Beauty in Woman, would seem to be one on which it would not be deemed unknightly to give way to a pretty expression. We must, however, leave all considerations of gallantry on this score, to others who can amplify better than we can, when we have got to the end of our chapter.



[Pg 1]


There is perhaps no subject more universally or more deeply interesting than that which is the chief subject of the present work. Yet no book, even pretending to science or accuracy, has hitherto appeared upon it. The forms and proportions of animals—as of the horse and the dog—have been examined in a hundred volumes: not one has been devoted to woman, on whose physical and moral qualities the happiness of individuals, and the perpetual improvement of the human race, are dependant.

The cause of this has been, probably, the neglect on the part of individuals, to combine anatomical and physiological knowledge with the critical observation of the external forms of woman; and, perhaps, some repugnance to anthropological knowledge on the part of the public. The last obstacle, if ever it existed, is now gone by, as many circumstances show; and it will be the business of the author, in this work, to endeavor to obviate the former.

The present work, beside giving new views of the theory of beauty, and of its application to the arts, presents an analysis and classification of beauty in woman. A subsequent work will apply the[Pg 2] principles here established to intermarriages and crossings among mankind, and will explain their results in relation to the happiness of individuals, and to the beauty and the freedom from insanity of their offspring. A final work will examine the relations of woman in society, will expose the extravagant hypothesis of writers on this subject who have been ignorant of anthropology, and will describe the reforms which the common interests of mankind demand in this respect.

It is now to be seen, whether a branch of science which is strictly founded on anatomy and physiology—one which entangles the reader in no mystical and delusive hypothesis, and presents to him only indisputable facts—one which is applicable to the subject most universally and deeply interesting to mankind, the critical judgment of female beauty, as founded on necessary functions—and one which unravels the greater difficulties which that subject presents—may not excite and permanently command a great degree of public interest.

A preliminary view of the importance of this subject is given in the first chapter; the urgency of its discussion, in relation to the interests of decency and morality, is established in the second; and some useful cautions as to youth are offered in the third.

In regard to the importance of the subject, I may, even here, avail myself of the highest authorities.

Thomas More, speaking of the people of his commonwealth, says: “They do greatly wonder at[Pg 3] the folly of all other nations, which, in buying a colt (whereas, a little money is in hazard), be so chary and circumspect, that, though he be almost all bare, yet they will not buy him, unless the saddle and all the harness be taken off—lest, under those coverings, be hid some gall or sore. And yet, in choosing a wife, which shall be either pleasure or displeasure to them all their life after, they be so reckless, that, all the residue of the woman’s body being covered with clothes, they esteem her scarcely by one hand-breadth (for they can see no more but her face), and so to join her to them, not without great jeopardy of evil agreeing together—if anything in her body afterward should chance to offend and mislike them.”[1]

Francis Bacon is of similar opinion.

Happily, the advancement of anthropological science in modern times, may, as is here shown, be so applied as to render quite unnecessary the objectionable methods proposed by both these philosophers, in order to carry their doctrines into practice.

Shall I be blamed, because I avail myself of the progress of knowledge to render all that these great men desired on this subject of easy attainment and inoffensive to woman? Shall I be blamed, because I first facilitate that which the still farther advancement of knowledge will inevitably render an everyday occurrence, and the guide of the most important act of human life?—I care not.

[Pg 4]In the details as to female beauty, it will be seen how incorrectly Winckelmann says: “In female figures, the forms of beauty are not so different, nor the gradations so various, as in those of males; and therefore in general they present no other difference than that which is dependant upon age.... Hence, in treating of female beauty, few observations occur as necessary to be made, and the study of the artist is more limited and more easy.... It is to be observed, that, in speaking of the resemblance of nude female figures, I speak solely of the body, without concluding from it that they also resemble each other in the distinctive characters of the head, which are particularly marked in each, whether goddess or heroine.”—The differences, even in the bodies of females, are here shown to be both numerous and capable of distinct classification.

It is right to observe, that this work has nothing to do with an early production of the writer, a consciousness of the small value of which prevented his attaching his name to it, which he now knows to be utterly worthless, and which has since been vamped up with things which are more worthless still.

The most valuable features of the present work are entirely new and original. Others are such as the writer thought not unworthy of preservation from earlier essays. He has also, throughout this work, adopted from other writers, with no other alteration than accuracy required, every view, opinion, or remark, which he thought applicable to[Pg 5] a department of science, of which all the great features are new.

Such being the case, he thinks it just, at once to himself and others, to indicate here the only points on which he can himself lay any claim to originality. These are as follows:—

The more complete establishment of the truth that, in relation to man and woman in particular, beauty is the external sign of goodness in organization and function, and thence its importance.—Chapter I., and the work generally.

The showing that the discussion of this subject, though involving the examination of the naked figure, is urgent in relation to decency (the theory of which is discussed), morality, and happy intermarriage.—Chapter II.

The showing that the ancient religion was the cause of the perfection of the fine arts in Greece, by its personification of simple attributes or virtues, as objects of adoration.—Chapter II.

The exposition of the nature, the kinds, and the characteristics of beauty; and of some errors of Burke, Knight, &c., on this subject.—Chapter IV.

The showing that there are elements of beauty invariable in their nature and effect, and that these are modified and complicated in advancing from simple to complex beings, and the arts relating to them.—Chapter VI.

The pointing out these elements of beauty, and their mode of operation in inanimate beings; and the errors of Knight and Allison on this subject.—Sect. I., Chapter VI.

[Pg 6]The pointing out these elements, and others which are superadded, in living beings; and the errors of Allison on this subject.—Sect. II., Chapter VI.

The pointing out these elements, and others which are farther superadded, in thinking beings; and the errors of Burke and Knight on this subject.—Sect. III., Chapter VI.

The exposition of these elements, as differing, or variously modified, in the useful, ornamental, and intellectual arts, respectively; and some remarks on ornament in architecture, and in female dress.—Sect. IV., Chapter VI.

The explanation of the nature of the picturesque, after the failure of Knight and Price in this respect.—Sect. I., Appendix to preceding chapters.

The vindication of the doctrine of Hobbes, as to the cause of laughter; and exposition of the errors of Campbell and Beattie on this subject.—Sect. II., Appendix.

The explanation of the cause of the pleasure received from representations exciting pity; and of the errors of Burke, &c., on that subject.—Sect. III., Appendix.

The arrangement of anatomy and physiology, and the application of the principles of these sciences to the distinguishing and judging of beauty.—Chapter VII.

The explanation of the difference in the beauty of the two sexes even in the same country.—Chapter IX.

Various arguments establishing the standard of[Pg 7] beauty in woman; and exposure of the sophistry of Knight, on this subject.—Chapter X.

The showing, by the preceding arrangements, that the ancient temperaments are partial or complex views of anthropological phenomena.—Chapter XI., et seq.

The description of the first species of beauty, or that of the locomotive system, and of its varieties, as founded on examination of structure.—Chapter XII.

The description of the second species of beauty, or that of the nutritive system, and of its varieties, as founded on examination of structure.—Chapter XIII.

The description of the third species of beauty, or that of the thinking system, and of its varieties, as founded on examination of structure.—Chapter XIV.

The explanation of the cause of the deformity produced by the obliquely placed eyes of the Chinese, &c.—Chapter XV.

The explanation of the mode in which the action of the muscles of the face becomes physiognomically expressive.—Ibid.

The explanation of the physiognomical character of the different kinds of the hair.—Ibid.

The explanation of the cause of the different effects of the same face, even in a state of repose.—Ibid.

The indication of the faulty feature, and its gradual increase, even in beautiful faces.—Ibid.

[Pg 8]The exposition of the different organization of Greek and Roman heads.—Ibid.

The explanation of the combinations and transitions of beauty.—Chapter XVI.

The explanation of the numerical, geometrical, and harmonic methods of proportion, employed by the ancient Greeks.—Chapter XVII.

Some remarks on character, expression, and detail in art.—Ibid.

Some observations on the Greek forehead, actual as well as ideal.—Chapter XVIII.

The explanation of the reason of the Greek ideal rule, as to the proportion between the forehead and the other parts of the face.—Ibid.

The explanation of the reason of the Greek ideal rule, as to the profile of the forehead and nose, or as to the direction of the mesial line which they form, and the exposition of Winckelmann’s blunder respecting it.—Ibid.

The explanation of the reason why the Greeks suppressed all great degrees of impassioned expression.—Ibid.

The mere indication of the Greek idealizations as applied to the nutritive and locomotive systems, and the explanation of the latter in the Apollo.—Ibid.

The replies to the objections of Burke and Alison, as to ideal beauty.—Ibid.

The enunciation of the ideal in attitude.—Ibid.

Various views as to the Venus de Medici, the conformation of the nose, and the connexion of[Pg 9] 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.

[Pg 10]



[Pg 11]






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,[Pg 12] 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.

[Pg 13]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[Pg 14] 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[Pg 15] 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 and remarkable changes, how important must be the ability to determine, even by walk or gesture, the existence of this condition!

If, in the vital system, the elasticity and freshness of the skin are the characteristics of health, and their absence warns us that the condition of woman is unfavorable to the plan of nature relatively to the maintenance of the species—or, if[Pg 16] the capacity of the pelvis, and the consequent breadth of the haunches, are necessary to all those functions which are most essentially feminine, impregnation, gestation, and parturition, without danger either to parent or to child—of what extreme importance must be the ability to determine this with certainty and ease!

If, in the mental system, the capacity and delicacy of the organs of sense, and the softness and mobility of the nervous system, are necessary to the vivid and varying sensibility of woman—if it is in consequence of this, that woman is enabled to act on man by the continual observation of all that can captivate his imagination or secure his affection, and by the irresistible seduction of her manners—if it is these qualities which enable her to accommodate herself to his taste, to yield, without constraint, even to the caprice of the moment, and to seize the time when observations, made as it were accidentally, may produce the effect which she desires—if it is by these means that she fulfils her first duty, namely, to please him to whom she has united her days, and to attach him to her and to home by rendering both delightful—if all this is the case, of what inexpressible importance must be the ability to determine, in each individual, the possession of the power and the will to produce such effects!

If (descending to still more minute inquiries) external indications as to figure are required as to parts concealed by drapery—if such indications would obviate deception even with regard to those[Pg 17] parts of the figure which are more exposed to observation by the closer adaptation of dress—if, even when the face is seen, the deception as to the degree of beauty, is such that a correct estimate of it is perhaps never formed—if indications as to mind may be derived from many external circumstances—if external indications as to the personal habits of women are both numerous and interesting—if such indications even of age and health are sometimes essential—if all this be the case, let the reader say what other object of human inquiry exceeds this in importance.

Let us not then deceive ourselves respecting the source of those impressions which one sex experiences from the sight of the other. It is evidently nothing else than the more or less delicate and just perception of a certain conformity of means with a want which has been created by nature, and which must be satisfied.

“It is very obvious,” says Dr. Pritchard, “that this peculiarity in the constitution of man must have considerable effects on the physical character of the race, and that it must act as a constant principle of improvement, supplying the place in our own kind of the beneficial control [in the crossing of races] which we exercise over the brute creation.” And he adds: “This is probably the final cause for which the instinctive perception of human beauty was implanted by Providence in our nature.”

We need not wonder, then, that the Greeks should have preferred beauty to all other advantages,[Pg 18] should have placed it immediately after virtue in the order of their affections, or should have made it an object of worship.

Even the practical application of this principle to the improvement of the human race is not a matter of conjecture. We have seen both families and nations ameliorated by the means which it affords. Of this, the Turks are a striking example. Nothing, therefore, can better deserve the researches of the physiologist, or the exertions of the philanthropist, than the fact that there are laws, of which we have yet only a glimpse, according to which we may influence the amelioration of the human race in a manner the most extensive and profound, by acting according to a uniform and uninterrupted system.

Well might Cabanis exclaim: “After having occupied ourselves so curiously with the means of rendering more beautiful and better the races of animals or of plants which are useful or agreeable—after having remodelled a hundred times that of horses and dogs—after having transplanted, grafted, cultivated, in all manners, fruits and flowers—how shameful is it to have totally neglected the race of man! As if it affected us less nearly! as if it were more essential to have large and strong oxen than vigorous and healthy men, highly odorous peaches or finely striped tulips, than wise and good citizens!”

I actually know a man who is so deeply interested in the doctrine of crossing, that every hour of his life is devoted to the improvement of a race[Pg 19] of bantam fowls and curious pigeons, and who yet married a mad woman, whom he confines in a garret, and by whom he has some insane progeny.

Let it not be imagined that the discovery of the precise laws of crossing or intermarriage, and the best direction of physical living forces, in relation both to the vital faculties and to those of the mind, upon which knowledge and skill may operate for the improvement of our race, is a matter of difficulty.

It will be shown in this work, that there exist not only an influence of beauty and defects on offspring, but peculiar laws regulating the resemblance of progeny to parents—laws which regard the mode in which the organization of parents affects that of children, or regulates the organs which each parent respectively bestows.

It will accordingly be shown, that, as, on the size, form, and proportion, of the various organs, depend their functions, the importance of such laws is indescribable—whether we regard intermarriages, and that immunity from mental or bodily disease which, when well directed, they may ensure, or the determination of the parentage of a child—or the education of children, in conformity with their faculties—or the employment of men in society.

I conclude this brief view in the words of the writer just quoted: “It is assuredly time for us to attempt to do for ourselves that which we have done so successfully for several of our companions[Pg 20] in existence, to review and correct this work of nature—a noble enterprise, which truly merits all our cares, and which nature itself appears to have especially recommended to us by the sympathies and the powers which it has given us.”



[Pg 21]



It has now been seen that beauty results from the perfection, chiefly of external forms, and the correspondence of that perfection with superiority of internal functions; on the more or less perfect perception of which, love, intermarriage, and the condition of our race, are dependant.

This mode of considering the elements, the nature, and the consequences of beauty, is equally applicable to the two sexes; but, in woman, the form of the species presents peculiar modifications.

In this work, it is the form of woman which is chosen for examination, because it will be found, by the contrast which is perpetually necessary, to involve a knowledge of the form of man, because it is best calculated to ensure attention from men, and because it is men who, exercising the power of selection, have alone the ability thus to ensure individual happiness, and to ameliorate the species; which are the objects of this work.

Let it not be imagined that the views now taken are less favorable to woman than to man. [Pg 22]Whatever ensures the happiness of one ensures that of the other; and as the variety of forms and functions in man requires as many varieties in woman, it is not to exclusion or rejection with regard to woman that this work tends, but to a reasoned guidance in man’s choice, to the greater suitableness of all intermarriages, and to the greater happiness of woman as well as man, both in herself and in her progeny.

But notwithstanding the importance of any work which is in any degree calculated to promote such an object, some will tell us that the analysis of female beauty, on which it can alone be founded, is indelicate.—I shall, on the contrary, show that decency demands this analysis; that the interests of nature, of truth, of the arts, and of morality, demand it.

Our present notions of sexual decency belong more to art than to nature, and may be divided into artificial and artful decencies.

Artificial decencies are illustrated in the habits of various nations. They have their origin in cold countries, where clothing is necessary, and where a deviation from the degree or mode of clothing constitutes indecency. They could not exist in hot climates, where clothing is scarcely possible.

In hot climates, natural decency can alone exist; and there is not, I believe, one traveller in such countries whose works do not prove that natural decency there exists as much as in cold countries. In exemplification of this, I make a single quotation: it would be easy to make thousands. [Pg 23]Burchell, speaking of the Bushmen Hottentots, says: “The natural bashful reserve of youth and innocence is to be seen as much among these savages, as in more polished nations; and the young girls, though wanting but little of being perfectly naked, evinced as just a sense of modesty as the most rigid and careful education could have given them.”

In mild climates, the half-clothed or slightly-clothed people appear to be somewhat at a loss what to do. Fond of decorations, like all savage or half-civilized people, they seem to be divided between the tatooing and painting of hot climates, and the clothing of cold ones; and when they adopt the latter, they do not rightly know what to conceal.

The works of all travellers afford the same illustrations of this fact. I quote one. Kotzebue describes the custom among the Tartar women of Kasan, of flying or of concealing their countenance from the sight of a stranger. The necessity of conforming to this custom threw into great embarrassment a young woman who was obliged to pass several times before the German traveller. She at first concealed her face with her hands; but, soon embarrassed by that attitude, she removed the veil which covered her bosom, and threw it over her face. “That,” adds Kotzebue, “was, as we say, uncovering Paul to cover Jacques: the bosom remained naked. To cover that, she next showed what should have been concealed; and if anything escaped from her hands, she stooped, and[Pg 24] then,” says Kotzebue, “I saw both one and the other.”

In colder or more uncertain climates, the greatest degree of covering constitutes the greatest degree of artificial decency: fashion and decency are confounded. Among old-fashioned people, of whom a good example may be found in old countrywomen of the middle class in England, it is indecent to be seen with the head unclothed; such a woman is terrified at the chance of being seen in that condition; and if intruded on at such a time, she shrieks with terror and flies to conceal herself. In the equally polished dandy of the metropolis, it is indecent to be seen without gloves. Which of these respectable creatures is the most enlightened, I do not take upon me to say; but I believe that the majority of suffrages would be in favor of the old woman.

So entirely are these decencies artificial, that any number of them may easily be created, not merely with regard to man or woman, but even with regard to domesticated animals. If it should please some persons partially to clothe horses, cows, or dogs, it would ere long be felt that their appearing in the streets without trowsers or aprons was grossly indecent. We might thus create a real feeling of indecency, the perception of a new impurity, which would take the place of the former absence of all impure thought, and once established, the evil would be as real as our whims have made it in other respects.

Moral feeling is deeply injured by this substitution[Pg 25] of impure thoughts, however fancifully founded, for pure ones, or rather for the entire absence of thought about worthless things. Artificial crimes are thus made, which are not the less real because artificial; for if aught of this kind is believed to be right, there is weakness or wrong in its violation. But violated it must be, if it were but accidentally.

To corrupt minds, this very violation of artificial decency in the case of woman affords the zest for the sake of which many of these decencies seem to have been instituted; and thus are created the artful decencies.

The purpose and the zest of artful decency are well illustrated by coquetry. Coquetry adopts a general concealment, which it well knows can alone give a sensual and seductive power to momentary exposure. Coquetry eschews permanent exposure as the bane of sensuality and seduction; and where these are great, as among the women of Spain, the concealment of dress is increased, even in warm climates. Nothing can throw greater light than this does on the nature of these decencies.

That coquetry has well calculated her procedure, does not admit of a doubt. She appeals to imagination, which she knows will spread charms over even ugly forms; she seeks the concealment under which sensuality and lust are engendered; and, in marriage, she at last lifts the veil which gratifies, only to disgust, and repays a sensual hallucination by years of misery.

[Pg 26]Ought religion to claim the right of saying grace to such unveiling of concealment and the nuptial rites that follow it? Ought religion to profit by the impurities of sexual association? Marriage is a civil ceremony in other countries, even in Scotland. Such profane and profitable sanctions have nothing to do with primitive Christianity: they are abhorrent to its letter as well as to its spirit. But worldly and profitable religion is connected in business with government, under the firm of Church and State, and drives a thriving trade, in which the junior partner is contented with the profit arising from the common acts of life, while the senior one draws much of his living from other rites.[2]

What is said here, is no argument for living nudity: that, our climate and our customs forbid; and, in so doing, we can only regret that they are unfavorable to natural purity; while perfect familiarity with the figure ensures that feeling in the highest degree.

A distinguished artist informs me that greater modesty is nowhere to be seen than at the Life academy; and it was an observation of the great Flaxman, that “the students, in entering the academy, seemed to hang up their passions with their hats.” I can, from personal experience, give the same testimony in behalf of medical students at the dissecting-rooms. The familiarity of both these[Pg 27] classes with natural beauty leads them only to seek to inform their minds and to purify their taste.[3]

Sinibaldi observes, that “nothing is more injurious to morals and to health, than the incitements of the women who in such numbers walk our streets,” and that “the laws as to offences against morals ought certainly to affect them the moment their language or actions can be deemed offensive.” But it is not to those who are critically conversant with the highest beauty of the human figure, that defective forms, ill-painted skins, rude manners, and contagious diseases, are at all seductive.

Nothing, then, can be more favorable to virtue than the decoration of every house with the beautiful copies of the glorious works of ancient Greece; and it is only humiliating to think that what has been so extensively done in this respect in the best houses, is less owing to our own taste than to the poor wanderers from Lucca or Barga. Experiment on this subject is peculiarly easy in London: let any one spend an hour in the shop of the very able Mr. Sarti, of Dean street, where he will meet the most liberal attention, and let him ask himself, in coming out, whether his moral feeling, as well as his taste, is not improved.

Those who cannot make this experiment, will perhaps be satisfied with the assurance of Hogarth, who says: “The rest of the body, not having advantages in common with the face, would soon [Pg 28]satiate the eye, were it to be as constantly exposed, nor would it have more effect than a marble statue.” Surely this is decisive enough in its way! Now let them mark what follows. “But,” he continues, “when it is artfully clothed and decorated, the mind at every turn resumes its imaginary pursuits concerning it. Thus, if I may be allowed a simile, the angler chooses not to see the fish he angles for, until it is fairly caught.” He meant of course—“the fish chooses not to see the angler, until it is fairly caught!”

Be it known then to all, even the most aristocratic as to sexual association—I say the most aristocratic, and not the most religious, because religion is in some countries made the pander to aristocracy—be it known that the critical judgment and pure taste for beauty are the sole protection against low and degrading connexions.

Home observes that “the sense of beauty does not tend to advance the interests of society, but when in a due mean with respect to strength. Love in particular arising from a sense of beauty, loses, when excessive, its sociable character: the appetite for gratification, prevailing over affection for the beloved object, is ungovernable, and tends violently to its end, regardless of the misery that must follow. Love in this state is no longer a sweet agreeable passion: it becomes painful, like hunger or thirst, and produces no happiness but in the instant of fruition. This discovery suggests a most important lesson, that moderation in our desires and appetites, which fits us for doing our duty, contributes[Pg 29] at the same time the most to happiness: even social passions, when moderate, are more pleasant than when they swell beyond proper bounds.” Payne Knight says: “When, at the age of puberty, animal desire obtrudes itself on a mind already qualified to feel and enjoy the charms of intellectual merit, the imagination immediately begins to form pictures of perfection, by exaggerating and combining in one hypothetic object every excellence that can possibly belong to the whole sex; and the first individual that meets the eye, with any exterior signs of any of these ideal excellences, is immediately decorated with them all, by the creative magic of a vigorous and fertile fancy. Hence, she instantaneously becomes the object of the most fervent affection, which is as instantaneously cooled by possession: for, as it was not the object herself, but a false idea of her raised in heated imagination, that called forth all the lover’s raptures, all immediately vanish at the detection of his delusion; and a degree of disgust proportioned to the disappointment, of which it is the inevitable consequence, instantly succeeds. Thus it happens that what are called love-matches are seldom or ever happy.”

Now, nothing can more effectually prevent even the existence of the mania described by these two philosophers than a critical judgment and a pure taste for beauty, which again therefore are the sole protection against low and degrading connexions.

A just sense of this truth will give high encouragement to sculpture and painting—arts which may everywhere be looked upon as the best tests, as[Pg 30] well as the best records, of civilization. Such encouragement they need in truth; for the monstrous monopoly of landed property and the accumulation of wealth in few hands—the great aim of our political economy—renders art poor, indeed.

I am aware that the vulgar among artists think otherwise; from the few rich they obtain employment; and, like the dog with his master, they look not beyond the hand that doles out their pittance. But the rich are few; and their palaces are already filled. A diffusion of wealth alone can give encouragement to art; nor can this ever be while British industry is crushed under the weight of enormous taxation.

Having removed some objections to art, I would add a few words to artists on the cause of the fine arts in Greece, from a paper I, two years ago, contributed to a monthly periodical.[4]

That the mythology of Greece had an influence over its arts, is generally granted; but I am not aware, that it has either been shown to be exclusively their cause, or that its mode of operation has ever been explained.

Religion, I may observe, is as natural to man as his weakness and helplessness. There is not one of its systems, not even the vilest, which has not afforded him consolation. Of its higher and better systems, some are equally admirable for the grandeur and the beauty of the truths on which they are[Pg 31] founded, the simplicity and the elegance of their ostensible forms, the power and applicability of their symbols, and their sympathy with, and control over, the affections and the imagination.

These high characteristics peculiarly distinguished the religion of ancient Greece.

By bigots, we are indeed told, that, though Homer is our model in epic, Anacreon in lyric, and Æschylus in dramatic poetry—though the music of Greece doubtless corresponded to its poetry in beauty, pathos, and grandeur—though the mere wreck of her sculpture is never overlooked in modern war and negotiation—though the mere sight of her ruined Parthenon is more than a reward for the fatigue or the peril of a journey to the Eternal city—though these products of art are the test of the highest civilization which the world has witnessed—though to these chiefly Rome owed the little civilization of which she was capable, and we ourselves the circumstance that, at this hour, we are not, like our ancestors, covered only with blue paint or the skins of brutes—though all this is true as to the arts of Greece, we are told that, by the strangest exception, the religion of Greece was a base superstition.

That religion, however, was the creator of these arts. They not only could not have existed without it, but they probably could never have been called into existence by any other religion.

The personification of simple Beauty, Valor, Wisdom, or Omnipotence, in Venus, Mars, Minerva, or Jupiter, respectively, was essential to the[Pg 32] purity and the power of expression of these attributes in the worship of the deities to whom they respectively belonged. The union of absolute beauty and valor in one being, is not more impossible than their union in one expression of homage and admiration. Delicacy, elegance, and grace, were as characteristic of the statue, the worship, and the temple, of the goddess of beauty, as attributes nearly opposite to these were of the statue, the worship, and the temple, of the god of war. Thus, were the fine arts in Greece created by the personification of simple attributes or virtues as objects of adoration; and thus is excellence in these fine arts incapable of being elicited by any system of religion in which more than one attribute is ascribed to the god.

They must be ignorant, indeed, of the wonderful people of whom I now speak, who allege, that the Greeks worshipped the mere statue of the god and not the personified virtue. Even the history of their religion proves the reverse. It was the tomb which became the altar, and retained nearly its form. It was the expression of love, of regret, and of veneration for departed virtue, which became divine adoration; and, as individual acts and even individual names were ultimately lost in one transcendent attribute, so were individual forms and features, in its purified and ideal representation. Here, then, instead of finding the worship of men or of their representations, we discover a gradual advance from beings to attributes—from mortal man to eternal virtue—and a corresponding and[Pg 33] suitable advance from simple veneration to divine adoration.

When, in great emergencies of the state, the sages and the soldiers of Athens, in solemn procession repaired to the temple of Minerva, turned their faces toward the statue of the goddess, and prostrated themselves in spirit before her—let the beautiful history of Grecian science tell, whether in the statue they worshipped the mere marble structure, or, in its forms and attributes, beheld and adored a personification of eternal truth and wisdom, and so prepared the mind for deeds which have rendered Greece for ever illustrious. Or, when returning from a Marathon, or a Salamis, the warriors of Athens, followed by trains of maidens, and matrons, and old men, returned thanks to the god of victories—let the immortal record of the long series of glorious achievements which succeeded these, tell, whether gratitude to their heroes was not there identified with homage to the spirit or the divinity that inspired them.

True it is, that, whenever physical or moral principles are personified, the ignorant may be led to mistake the sign for that which is signified; but one of the most admirable characteristics of the Grecian religion is, that, with little effort, every external form may be traced to the spirit which it represents, and every fable may be resolved into a beautiful illustration of physical or moral truth. So that when mystic influences, with increasing knowledge, ceased to sway the imagination, all-powerful truths directed the reason.

[Pg 34]The natural and poetical religion of Greece, therefore, differed from false and vulgar religions in this, that it was calculated to hold equal empire over the minds of the ignorant and the wise; and the initiations of Eleusis were apparently the solemn acts by which the youths and maidens of Greece passed from ignorance and blind obedience to knowledge and enlightened zeal. Thus, in that happy region, neither were the priests knaves, nor the people their dupes.[5]

And what has been the result of this fundamental excellence?—that no interpolated fooleries have been able to destroy it;—that the religion of Greece exists, and must ever exist, the religion of nature, genius, and taste;—and that neither poetry nor the arts can have being without it. Schiller has well expressed this truth in the following lines:—

“The intelligible forms of ancient poets,
The fair humanities of old religion,
The power, the beauty, and the majesty,
That had their haunts in dale, or piny mountains,
Or forest, by slow stream, or pebbly spring,
Or chasms, and watery depths—all these have vanished;
They live no longer in the faith of reason;
But still the heart doth need a language; still
Doth the old instinct bring back the old names;
* * And even, at this day,
’Tis Jupiter who brings whate’er is great,
And Venus who brings everything that’s fair.”



[Pg 35]



In relation to early sexual association, it cannot be doubted, that, when the instinct of reproduction begins to be developed, the reserve which parents, relatives, and instructers, adopt on this subject, is often the means of producing injurious effects; because, a system of concealment on this subject, as observed in the preceding chapter, is quite impracticable. Discoveries made by young persons in obscene books, the unguarded language or shameless conduct of grown-up persons, even the wild flights of an imagination which is then easily excited, will have the most fatal consequences.

Parents or instructers ought, therefore, at that critical period, to give rational explanations as to the nature and the object of the propensity, the mechanism of reproduction in various vegetable and animal beings, and the fatal consequences to which this propensity may lead. Such procedure, if well conducted, cannot but have the most beneficial results; because, in order that a sane person should avoid any danger, it is only necessary that he should see it distinctly.

[Pg 36]The advantage, it has been observed, which the parent, relative, or instructer, derives, from himself in forming the adolescent in the new faculty which is developed in him, is to prevent his choosing, among corrupt servants or ignorant youths of his own age, the confidants of his passion. The parent or instructer, moreover, is then justly entitled to, and has gratefully given to him, the entire confidence of the adolescent; and he is thereby enabled exactly to appreciate the degree of power of the propensity which he desires to divert or to guide.

Such being the case, it is the business of the parent to present a true picture of the effects of too early association of this kind, on the stature, the various development of the figure, the muscular power, the quality of the voice, the health, the moral sense, and especially on the acuteness, the power, the dignity, and the courage, of the mind.

In doing this, it would be as stupid as injurious to employ the slightest degree of false representation, of unjust reprimand, or too much of what is called moralizing, which is often only the contemptible cant of a being who cannot reason, especially when it takes the place of a simple and powerful statement of facts. All of these would only render the young man a dissembler, and would compel him to choose another confidant.

Among other considerations, varying according to the circumstances of the case, those stated below may with advantage be presented.

At a certain period in the life both of plants and animals, varying according to their kind and the[Pg 37] climate they live in, they are fit for and disposed to the reproduction of their species. The sexes in both are then attracted to each other. In plants, the powder termed pollen, in animals a peculiar liquid which, deriving its name by analogy from the seeds of plants, is termed seminal, is secreted by the male plant or animal, and, by organs differently formed in each kind, is cast upon ova or eggs either contained within, or deposited by, the female. The details of this process are among the most beautiful and interesting of the living economy. In mankind, the attainment of this period is termed puberty.

It is with this critical period, and his conduct during it, that all that the youth deems most valuable, all that can decide his fortunes and his happiness in the world, his stature, figure, strength, voice, health, and mental powers, are most intimately connected.

In regard to stature, the body appears to complete its increase in height chiefly at the age of puberty, and during the first years which succeed that age. To be assured of the powerful influence of his own conduct, at this period, upon his stature, the youth has only to compare the tall men and women of the country as in Yorkshire, Lancashire, Westmoreland, Cumberland, and the Scottish borders, where they have not been overworked, with the stunted and dwarfed creatures of the metropolis, where a stranger, when he first enters it, is apt to think he sees so many ugly boys and girls, whereas, they are full-grown London men and women.[Pg 38] Half the population of the metropolis is affected in this way; and it is the obvious consequence of the acceleration of puberty by confinement, stimulating food, indecent plays, and sexual association.

In regard to the perfect development and beauty of the figure, the youth is probably aware that the most beautiful races of horses and dogs rapidly deteriorate, if men do not carefully maintain them by continence as well as by crossing. The too early employment, the depraved abuses, the injury, or the removal, of the sexual organs, are all of them causes still more certain of deformity. The latter of these causes acts, of course, most obviously; and it is evidenced in the almost universal malformation of eunuchs, geldings, &c.

That, in regard to bodily strength, sexual continence adds energy to the muscular fibre, is clearly seen by observing the most ardent quadrupeds previous to the time of the union of their sexes. But, this being past, precisely in the same proportion does the act of reproduction debilitate and break down the strongest animal. Many male animals even fall almost exhausted by a single act of union with the opposite sex.

Every classical student has read the beautiful allegory of Hercules, who, having spun at the knees of Omphale (ομφαλὸς the navel, here put for the most essential part of the female generative organ), thereby lost his strength: this beautifully expresses the abasement of power amid the indulgences of love. Euripides also depicts the terrible Achilles as timid before women, and respectful with [Pg 39]Clytemnestra and Iphigenia. Hence, when a foolish lord reproached the poet Dryden with having given too much timidity toward women to a personage in one of his tragedies, and added that he knew better how to employ his time with the ladies, the poet answered: “You now acknowledge that you are no hero, which I intended that personage to be.”

As to voice, which depends on the muscles of respiration, and more immediately on those of the mouth and throat, as general strength does on the muscles of the whole body, both merely affording expressions of the mind, the influence of the sexual union upon it is prodigious. How entirely it is altered by the removal of the testes in eunuchs is known to every one: in corresponding proportion, is it altered by every act of the generative organs, but especially by sexual indulgence during puberty. The horrible voice of early libertines and prostitutes presents an alarming example of this. To those who value voice in conversation, in the delightful and humanizing exercise of music, or in the grander efforts of public speaking, nothing more need be said.

As to health, the less we are prodigal of life, the longer we preserve it. Every one capable of observing may see that the stag loses his horns and his hair after procreation; that birds fall into moulting and sadness; and that male insects even perish after this effort, as if they yielded their individual life to their progeny. Indeed, everything perishes so much the more readily, as it has thus[Pg 40] transmitted life to its descendants, or has cast it away in vain pleasures.

In mankind, as in other animals, to procreate is in effect to die to one’s self, and to leave one’s life to posterity; especially, if this takes place in early life. It is then that man becomes bald and bent; and that the charms of woman fade. Even in advanced age, epicures are so well aware of this, that they are known to abstain from amorous excess, as the acknowledged cause of premature death.

In relation to mind—as the generative power is the source of several characteristics of genius, the exhaustion of that power at an early age must take away these characteristics. Genius as surely languishes and is extinguished amid early sexual indulgence, as do the faculties of voice and locomotion, which are merely its signs and expressions.

It is thus with all our faculties, locomotive, vital, mental, at an early age. They are strengthened by all that they do not dissipate; and that which their organs too abundantly dispense is not only taken immediately from their own power, and mediately from that of the other organs, but it ensures the permanent debility of the whole.

It is true that the strong passions which are modified or characterized by the sexual impulse, excite the imagination and impel the mind to sublime exertions; but the sole means of either obtaining or preserving such impulsion is, to shun the indulgence of pleasure in early life, and its waste at later periods.

[Pg 41]It has accordingly been observed, that the passion of love appears to be most excessive in animals which least excel in mental faculties. Thus the beasts which are the most lascivious, the ass, the boar, &c., are also the most stupid; and idiots and cretins display a sensuality which brutifies them still more. Hence, the Homeric fable that Circe transformed men into beasts.

It would also appear that the most stupid animals, swine, rabbits, &c., in general produce the greatest number of young; while men of genius have engendered the fewest. It is remarked that none of the greatest men of antiquity were much given to sexual pleasure.

It is, then, of the greatest importance to young men who are ambitious of excellence, to mark well this truth, that the most powerful and distinguished in mental faculties, other things being equal, will be he who wastes them least in early life by sexual indulgence—who most economizes the vital stimulant, in order to excite the mental powers on great occasions. By such means may a man surely surpass others, if he have received from his parents proportional mental energy.

Beside the means already indicated, there is one proposed by an able writer, as serving to divert the instinct of propagation when too early and excessive, and consequently dangerous: that is, the sentiment of love. To employ this means, he observes, “it is necessary to search early, after knowing the character of the adolescent whom it is wished to direct, for a young woman whose beauty and good[Pg 42] qualities may inspire him with attachment. This means will serve, more than can easily be imagined, to preserve the adolescent both from the grosser attractions of libertinism and the disease it entails, and from the more dangerous snares of coquetry. It is,” he adds, “a virtuous young woman and a solid attachment that are here spoken of.”—At some future period I shall probably show how wise this recommendation is, as well as the necessity and the advantages of early marriages, under favorable circumstances.

Having now shown the evils of early sexual association, I may briefly notice those of later libertinism.

If, even in more advanced life, and when the constitution is stronger, the instinct of propagation be not restrained within just limits, it degenerates into inordinate lewdness or real mania: “Repperit obscænas veneres vitiosa libido.” By such depravation, nobleness of character is utterly destroyed.

This scarcely evitable consequence of great fortune and of the facility of indulgence, it has been justly observed, will ever be the ruin of the rich, and a mode of enervating the most vigorous branches of the most powerful house.

The libertine, then, owing to exhaustion, by sexual indulgence, is characterized by physical and moral impotence, or has a brain as incapable of thinking, as his muscles are of acting.

As libertines are enfeebled by indulgence, it follows that they are proportionally distinguished by[Pg 43] fear and cowardice. Nothing, indeed, destroys courage more than sexual abuses.

But, from cowardice, spring cunning, duplicity, lying, and perfidy. These common results of cowardice are uniformly found in eunuchs, slaves, courtiers, and sycophants; while boldness, frankness, and generosity, belong to virtuous, free, and magnanimous men.

Again, cowardice, artifice, falsehood, and perfidy, are the usual elements of cruelty. Men feel more wounded in self-love, as they are conscious of being more contemptible; and they avenge themselves with more malignity upon their enemy, as they find themselves more weak and worthless, and as they consequently dread him more.

These are the causes of that malignant revenge which princes have often shown, as, in ancient times, Tiberius, Caligula, Nero, Domitian, Heliogabalus, &c. In later times, Catharine de Medici solicited the massacre of the Protestants; Paul, Constantine, and Nicholas, of Russia, were happy only when they wallowed in blood; Charles X., equally effeminate and bigoted, perpetrated the massacre of the Parisians; Don Miguel covered Portugal with his assassinations; and nearly all the sovereigns and sycophants in Europe upheld or palliated his atrocities.[7]

The strong and brave man, on the contrary, scarcely feels hurt, and scorns revenge.

It is not cruelty only with which we may [Pg 44]reproach these effeminate individuals: it is every vice which springs from baseness of character.

Libertinism, moreover, is not hurtful only to the health and welfare of these individuals: it is so also to those of their posterity.

Finally, the results of libertinism have constantly marked, not merely the ruin of families, but the degeneration of races, and the decay of empires. The delights of Capua caused the ruin of Hannibal; and the Roman, once so proud before kings, finally transformed himself into the wretched slave of monsters degraded far below the rank of humanity.

So little, however, do men look to remote consequences that perhaps the most frightful punishments of libertinism are the diseases which it inflicts. Man may, then, be said to meet only death on the path of life.

The dangers of promiscuous love are, indeed, far beyond what young men will easily believe. I do not exaggerate when I state, that, out of every three women, and those the least common of the promiscuous, two at least are certainly in a state of disease capable of the most destructive infection. A surgeon in the habit of receiving foul patients at a public hospital tells me, I might safely say that nine out of every ten are in this state.[8]

While writing this, Sir Anthony Carlisle observes to me, that, “the special disease which appears to be a punishment for sexual profligacy, is not only malignant, painful, and hideous, in every stage of[Pg 45] it, but the only remedy known for its cure, mercury, is a poison which generally leaves its own evils for the venom which it destroys. This frightful disease has no natural termination but in a disgusting disgraceful death, after disfiguring the countenance, by causing blindness, loss of the nose, the palate and teeth, and by the spoliation of the sinning organs. The miserables, who thus perish in public hospitals, are so offensive to the more respectable patients, that they are confined to appointed rooms, termed foul wards, where they linger and die in the bloom of life, either of the penalty inflicted by their profligacy, of the poison administered to them, or of incurable consequent diseases, such as consumption, palsy, or madness.”

Hence, it has been observed, that, if we have to deal with a young man incapable of guidance by the nobler motives, of feeling contempt for vice, and horror for debauchery, there yet remain means to be employed. Let him be conducted to the hospital, where he will find collected the poor victims of debauchery—the unhappy women whom, even the day before, he may have seen in the streets, with faces dressed in smiles, amid the torments, the corrosion, and the contagion of disease. This may leave an impression sufficiently deep. But let him also know that these unhappy creatures are a thousand times more pitiable than the libertine who destroys them, and who forfeits the only good we cannot refuse to other wretches, compassion for the misery he endures.[9]



[Pg 46]



In this chapter, my aim is to show that there is more than one kind of beauty, and that much confusion has arisen among writers, from not clearly distinguishing the characteristics of these kinds.

An essential condition, then, of all excitement and action in animal bodies, is a greater or less degree of novelty in the objects impressing them—even if this novelty should arise only from a previous cessation of excitement.

Now, objects of greater or less novelty are the causes of excitement, pleasurable or painful, by means of their various relations.

The lowest degree of bodily pleasure (though, owing to its constancy, immense in its total amount) is that which arises, during health, from those relations of bodies and that excitement which cause the mere local exercise of the organs—a source of pleasure which is seldom the object of our voluntary attention, but which seems to me to be the chief cause of attachment to life amid its more definite and conspicuous evils.

All higher mental emotions consist of pleasure or pain superadded to more or less definite ideas.[Pg 47] Pleasurable emotions arise from the agreeable relations of things; painful emotions, from the disagreeable ones.

The term by which we express the influence which objects, by means of their relations, possess of exciting emotions of pleasure in the mind, is BEAUTY.

Beauty, when founded on the relations of objects, or of the parts of objects, to each other, forms a first class, and may be termed intrinsic beauty.

When beauty is farther considered in relation to ourselves, it forms a second class, and may be termed extrinsic beauty.

We are next led (hitherto this has apparently been done without analyzing or defining the operation) to a division of the latter into two genera; namely, the minor beauty, of which prettiness, delicacy, &c., are modifications, and that which is called grandeur or sublimity.

The characters of the minor beauty or prettiness, with relation to ourselves, are smallness, subordination, and subjection. Hence female beauty, in relation to the male.

The characters of grandeur or sublimity, with relation to ourselves, are greatness, superordination, and power. Hence male beauty, in relation to the female.

By the preceding brief train of analysis and definition, is, I believe, answered the question—“whether the emotion of grandeur make a branch of the emotion of beauty, or be entirely distinct from it.”

[Pg 48]Having, by this concise statement of my own views on these subjects, made the reader acquainted with some of the materials of future consideration here employed, I may now examine the opinions of some philosophers, in order to see how far they accord with these first principles, and what answer can be given to them where they differ.

That beauty, generally considered, has nothing to do with particular size, is very well shown by Payne Knight, who, though he argues incorrectly about it in many other respects, here truly says: “All degrees of magnitude contribute to beauty in proportion as they show objects to be perfect in their kind. The dimensions of a beautiful horse are very different from those of a beautiful lapdog; and those of a beautiful oak from those of a beautiful myrtle; because, nature has formed these different kinds of animals and vegetables upon different scales.

“The notion of objects being rendered beautiful by being gradually diminished, or tapered, is equally unfounded; for the same object, which is small by degrees, and beautifully less, when seen in one direction, is large by degrees, and beautifully bigger, when seen in another. The stems of trees are tapered upward; and the columns of Grecian architecture, having been taken from them, and therefore retaining a degree of analogy with them, were tapered upward too: but the legs of animals are tapered downward, and the inverted obelisks, upon which busts were placed, having a similar analogy to them, were tapered downward also; while [Pg 49]pilasters, which had no analogy with either, but were mere square posts terminating a wall, never tapered at all.”

Speaking of beauty generally, and without seeing the distinctions I have made above, Burke, on the contrary, states the first quality of beauty to be comparative smallness, and says: “In ordinary conversation, it is usual to add the endearing name of little to everything we love;” and “in most languages, the objects of love are spoken of under diminutive epithets.”

This is evidently true only of the objects of minor or subordinate beauty, which Burke confusedly thought the only kind of it, though he elsewhere grants, that beauty may be connected with sublimity! It shows, however, that relative littleness is essential to that first kind of beauty.

With greater knowledge of facts than Burke possessed, and with as feeble reasoning powers, but with less taste, and with a perverse whimsicality which was all his own, Payne Knight similarly, making no distinction in beauty, considered smallness as an accidental association, failed to see that it characterized a kind of beauty, and argued, that “if we join the diminutive to a term which precludes all such affection, or does not even, in some degree, express it, it immediately converts it into a term of contempt and reproach: thus, a bantling, a fondling, a darling, &c., are terms of endearment; but a witling, a changeling, a lordling, &c., are invariably terms of scorn: so in French, ‘mon petit enfant,’ is an expression of endearment; but ‘mon[Pg 50] petit monsieur,’ is an expression of the most pointed reproach and contempt.”

Now, this chatter of grammatical termination and French phrase, though meant to look vastly clever, is merely a blunder. There is no analogy in the cases compared: a “darling” or little dear unites dear, an expression of love, with little, implying that dependance which enhances love; while “witling” or little wit unites wit, an expression of talent, with little, meaning the small quantity or absence of the talent alluded to; and it is because the latter term means, not physical littleness, which well associates with love, but moral littleness and mental degradation, that it becomes a term of contempt.

Even from the little already said, it seems evident that much of the confusion on this subject has arisen from not distinguishing the two genera of beauty, and not seeing that “the emotion of grandeur” is merely “a branch of the emotion of beauty.”

The other genus of beauty, grand or sublime beauty, is well described by the names given to it, grandeur or sublimity. Some have considered sublimity as expressing grandeur in the highest degree: it would perhaps be as well to express the cause of the emotion by grandeur, and the emotion itself by sublimity.

Nothing is sublime that is not vast or powerful, or that does not make him who feels it sensible of its physical or moral superiority.

The simplest cause of sublimity is presented by all objects of vast magnitude or extent—a [Pg 51]seemingly boundless plain, the sky, the ocean, &c.; and the particular direction of the magnitude or extent always correspondingly modifies the emotion—height giving more especially the idea of power, breadth of resistance, depth of danger, &c. Of the objects mentioned above, the ocean is the most sublime, because, to vastness in length and breadth, it adds depth, and a force perpetually active.

Now, that these objects, though sublime, are beautiful, is very evident; and it is therefore also evident how much Burke erred in asserting comparative smallness to be the first character of beauty generally considered. This and similar errors, as already said, have greatly obscured this subject, and have led Burke and others so to modify and qualify their doctrines, as to take from them all precision and certainty.

Hence, in one place, Burke says: “As, in the animal world, and in a good measure in the vegetable world likewise, the qualities that constitute beauty may possibly be united to things of greater dimensions [that is, littleness may be united with bigness!]; when they are so united they constitute a species something different both from the sublime and beautiful, which I have before called, Fine.”

So also he says: “Ugliness I imagine likewise to be consistent enough with an idea of the sublime. But I would by no means insinuate that ugliness of itself is a sublime idea, unless united with such qualities as excite a strong terror.”

Here, he confounds sublimity with terror, as do Blair and other writers, when they say that “exact[Pg 52] proportion of parts, though it enters often into the beautiful, is much disregarded in the sublime.” It is a fact, that exactly in proportion as ugliness is substituted for beauty in vast objects, is sublimity taken away, until at last it is utterly lost in the terrible.

Even Blair shows that sublimity may exist without terror or pain. “The proper sensation of sublimity appears,” he observes, “to be distinguishable from the sensation of either of these, and, on several occasions, to be entirely separated from them. In many grand objects, there is no coincidence with terror at all; as in the magnificent prospect of wide-extended plains, and of the starry firmament; or in the moral dispositions and sentiments, which we view with high admiration; and in many painful and terrible objects also, it is clear, there is no sort of grandeur. The amputation of a limb, or the bite of a snake, is exceedingly terrible, but is destitute of all claim whatever to sublimity.”

Payne Knight shows that terror is even opposed to sublimity: “All the great and terrible convulsions of nature; such as storms, tempests, hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanoes, &c., excite sublime ideas, and impress sublime sentiments by the prodigious exertions of energy and power which they seem to display: for though these objects are, in their nature, terrible, and generally known to be so, it is not this attribute of terror that contributes, in the smallest degree to render them sublime.... Timid women fly to a cellar, or a darkened room, to avoid the sublime effects of a thunder-storm;[Pg 53] because to them they are not sublime, but terrible. To those only are they sublime, ‘qui formidine nulla imbuti spectant,’ who behold them without any fear at all; and to whom, therefore, they are in no degree terrible.”

This farther confirms the distinction which I made of beauty into minor or subordinate, and grand or sublime beauty, although Knight adopted other principles, if principles they may be called, and neglected such distinction.

There is but one other error on this subject which I need to notice. Burke says: “To make anything very terrible, obscurity seems in general to be necessary. When we know the full extent of any danger, when we can accustom our eyes to it, a great deal of the apprehension vanishes. Every one will be sensible of this, who considers how greatly night adds to our dread, in all cases of danger.... Those despotic governments which are founded on the passions of men, and principally upon the passion of fear, keep their chief as much as may be from the public eye. The policy has been the same in many cases of religion. Almost all the heathen temples were dark.”

From what has already been said, it is evident that all this contributes to terror, not to sublimity; and that the same error is made by Blair when he says, “As obscurity, so disorder, too, is very compatible with grandeur, nay, frequently heightens it.”

To expose the weakness and to destroy the authority of some writers on this subject, can only[Pg 54] set the mind free for the investigation of truth. I may, therefore, conclude this chapter by quoting the shrewd remarks of Knight on some of the principles of Burke. I shall afterward be forced critically to examine the notions of Knight in their turn.

Burke states that the highest degree of sublime sensation is astonishment; and the subordinate degrees, awe, reverence, and respect; all which he considers as modes of terror. And Knight observes that this graduated scale of the sublime, from respect to astonishment, cannot, perhaps be better illustrated than by applying it to his own character.

“He was certainly,” says Knight, “a very respectable man, and reverenced by all who knew him intimately. At one period of his life, too, when he became the disinterested patron of remote and injured nations, who had none to help them, his character was truly sublime; but, unless upon those whom he so ably and eloquently arraigned, I do not believe that it impressed any awe.... If, during this period, he had suddenly appeared among the managers in Westminster Hall without his wig and coat, or had walked up St. James’s street without his breeches, it would have occasioned great and universal astonishment; and if he had, at the same time, carried a loaded blunderbuss in his hands, the astonishment would have been mixed with no small portion of terror: but I do not believe that the united effects of these two powerful passions would have produced any sentiment[Pg 55] or sensation approaching to sublime, even in the breasts of those who had the strongest sense of self-preservation and the quickest sensibility of danger.”

Thus, I believe, it now appears that novelty[10] is the exciting cause of pleasurable emotion, and of the consequent perception of beauty in the relations of things, and that the two genera of beauty—the minor or subordinate beauty, and grandeur or sublimity—have distinct characteristics, the confounding of which by writers has led to the obscurity of this part of the subject.



[Pg 56]



The expression, “standard of taste,” is used to signify the basis or foundation of our judgments respecting beauty and deformity, and their consequent certainty.

Setting aside such objection as might be raised to a standard of taste on the doctrine of Berkeley (which I refuted in 1809, and which I need not enter into here), this matter was long ago settled by David Hume; and I have nothing new to say upon the subject (there is probably enough of novelty in other chapters, whatever its worth may be), except that Burke appears to have borrowed all he knew about it from that incomparably more profound philosopher.

As I ought not, however, to omit here a view of the subject, I cannot do better than transcribe the words of Hume and Burke respectively. While this will put the reader in possession of all that I think necessary upon this subject, it will farther tend to show in what Burke’s ability as a philosopher consisted.

I must first, however, observe that the word “taste,” as expressing our judgment of beauty, is[Pg 57] a metaphor whimsically borrowed from the lowest of our senses, and is applied to our exercise of that faculty, as regards both natural objects, and the fine arts which imitate these.

It is not wonderful that the variety and inconstancy of tastes respecting the attributes and the characters of beauty, should have led many philosophers to deny that there exist any certain combinations of forms and of effects to which the term beauty ought to be invariably attached.

In his “Philosophical Dictionary,” Voltaire, after quoting some nonsense from the crazy dreamer who did so much injury to Greek philosophy, says: “I am willing to believe that nothing can be more beautiful than this discourse of Plato; but it does not give us very clear ideas of the nature of the beautiful. Ask of a toad what is beauty, pure beauty, the το καλον; he will answer you that it is his female, with two large round eyes projecting from her little head, a large and flat throat, a yellow belly, and a brown back. Ask the devil, and he will tell you that the beautiful is a pair of horns, four claws, and a tail. Consult, lastly, the philosophers, and they will answer you by rigmarole: they want something conformable to the archetype of the beautiful in essence, to the το καλον.” This is wit, not reason: let us look for that to a deeper thinker—as proposed above.

David Hume says: “It appears that, amid all the variety and caprice of taste, there are certain general principles of approbation or blame, whose influence a careful eye may trace in all operations[Pg 58] of the mind. Some particular forms or qualities from the original structure of the internal fabric, are calculated to please, and others to displease.... If they fail of their effect in any particular instance, it is from some apparent defect or imperfection in the organ.

“In each creature there is a sound and a defective state; and the former alone can be supposed to afford us a true standard of taste and sentiment. If, in the sound state of the organ, there be an entire or a considerable uniformity of sentiment among men, we may thence derive an idea of the perfect beauty; in like manner as the appearance of objects in daylight, to the eye of a man in health, is denominated their true and real color.”

To the same purpose writes Burke, after some preliminary observations:—

“All the natural powers in man, which I know, that are conversant about external objects, are the senses, the imagination, and the judgment.

“First, with regard to the senses. We do and we must suppose, that, as the conformations of their organs are nearly or altogether the same in all men, so the manner of perceiving external objects is in all men the same, or with little difference.

“As there will be little doubt that bodies present similar images to the whole species, it must necessarily be allowed, that the pleasures and the pains which every object excites in one man, it must raise in all mankind, while it operates naturally, simply, and by its proper powers only.

[Pg 59]“Custom, and some other causes, have made many deviations from the natural pleasures or pains which belong to these several tastes; but then the power of distinguishing between the natural and the acquired relish remains to the very last.

“There is in all men a sufficient remembrance of the original natural causes of pleasure, to enable them to bring all things offered to their senses to that standard, and to regulate their feelings and opinions by it.

“Suppose one who had so vitiated his palate as to take more pleasure in the taste of opium than in that of butter or honey, to be presented with a bolus of squills; there is hardly any doubt but that he would prefer the butter or honey to this nauseous morsel, or to any other bitter drug to which he had not been accustomed; which proves that his palate was naturally like that of other men in all things, that it is still like the palate of other men in many things, and only vitiated in some particular points.”

In the same manner, Payne Knight observes that “things, naturally the most nauseous, become most grateful; and things, naturally most grateful, most insipid.

“This extreme effect, however, only takes place where the palate has become morbid and vitiated by continued, and even forced gratification; and even when the metaphors taken from this sense, and employed to express intellectual qualities, show that it is always felt and considered as a corruption,[Pg 60] even by those who are most corrupted: for though there are many who prefer port wine to malmsey, and tobacco to sugar, yet no one ever spoke of a sour or bitter temper as pleasant, or of a sweet one as unpleasant.” By this concession, Knight answers several of his own objections.

“When it is said,” farther observes Burke, very properly, “taste cannot be disputed, it can only mean, that no one can strictly answer what pleasure or pain some particular man may find from the taste of some particular thing. This indeed cannot be disputed; but we may dispute, and with sufficient clearness too, concerning the things which are naturally pleasing or disagreeable to the sense. But when we talk of any peculiar or acquired relish, then we must know the habits, the prejudices, or the distempers of this particular man, and we must draw our conclusions from those.”

Hume proceeds to a second point, by observing that “one obvious cause, why many feel not the proper sentiment of beauty, is the want of that delicacy of imagination which is requisite to convey a sensibility of those finer emotions.

“Where the organs are so fine, as to allow nothing to escape them, and at the same time so exact, as to perceive every ingredient in the composition; this we call delicacy of taste, whether we employ these terms in the literal or metaphorical sense.”

Burke enlarges on this, after preliminary observing that “the power of the imagination is incapable of producing anything absolutely new; it can only vary the disposition of those ideas which it has[Pg 61] received from the senses. Now, the imagination is the most extensive province of pleasure and pain, as it is the region of our fears and our hopes, and of all our passions that are connected with them.

“Since the imagination is only the representation of the senses, it can only be pleased or displeased with the images, from the same principle on which the sense is pleased or displeased with the realities; and consequently there must be just as close an agreement in the imaginations as in the senses of men.

“There are some men formed with feelings so blunt, with tempers so cold and phlegmatic, that they can hardly be said to be awake during the whole course of their lives. Upon such persons, the most striking objects make but a faint and obscure impression. There are others so continually in the agitation of gross and merely sensual pleasures, or so occupied in the low drudgery of avarice, or so heated in the chase of honors and distinction, that their minds, which had been used continually to the storms of these violent and tempestuous passions, can hardly be put in motion by the delicate and refined play of the imagination. These men, though from a different cause, become as stupid and insensible as the former; but whenever either of these happen to be struck with any natural elegance or greatness, or with these qualities in any work of art, they are moved upon the same principle.”

On a third point, Hume says: “But though there be naturally a wide difference in point of delicacy[Pg 62] between one person and another, nothing tends farther to increase and improve this talent, than practice in a particular art, and the frequent survey or contemplation of a particular species of beauty.

“So advantageous is practice to the discernment of beauty, that, before we can give judgment on any work of importance, it will even be requisite that that very individual performance be more than once perused by us, and be surveyed in different lights with attention and deliberation.”

This is well illustrated by Burke, who observes: “It is known that the taste (whatever it is) is improved exactly as we improve our knowledge, by a steady attention to our object, and by frequent exercise.

“To illustrate this—(that there is a difference, not in the causes, nor in the manner of men’s being affected, but in the degree, owing to natural sensibility, or greater attention to the object)—to illustrate this by the procedure of the senses in which the same difference is found, let us suppose a very smooth marble-table to be set before two men; they both perceive it to be smooth, and they are both pleased with it because of this quality. So far they agree.

“But suppose another, and after that another table, the latter still smoother than the former, to be set before them. It is now very probable that these men, who are so agreed upon what is smooth, and in the pleasure thence, will disagree when they come to settle which table has the advantage in point of polish.... Nor is it easy, when such a[Pg 63] difference arises, to settle the point, if the excess or diminution be not glaring.

“In these nice cases, supposing the acuteness of the sense equal, the greater attention and habit in such things will have the advantage. In the question about the tables, the marble-polisher will unquestionably determine the most accurately.

“In the imagination, beside the pain or pleasure arising from the properties of the natural object, a pleasure is perceived from the resemblance which the imitation has to the original.

“All men are nearly equal in this point, as far as their knowledge of the things represented or compared extends.

“The principle of this knowledge is very much accidental, as it depends upon experience and observation, and not on the strength or weakness of any natural faculty; and it is from this difference in knowledge that what we commonly, though with no great exactness, call a difference in taste, proceeds.

“A man to whom sculpture is new sees a barber’s block, or some ordinary piece of statuary; he is immediately struck and pleased, because he sees something like a human figure; and entirely taken up with this likeness, he does not at all attend to its defects. No person, I believe, at the first time of seeing a piece of imitation, ever did. Some time after, we suppose that this novice lights upon a more artificial work of the same nature; he begins to look with contempt on what he admired at first; not that he admired it even then for its [Pg 64]unlikeness to a man, but for that general though inaccurate resemblance which it bore to the human figure. What he admired at different times in these so different figures, is strictly the same; and though his knowledge is improved, his taste is not altered. Hitherto his mistake was from a want of knowledge in art, and this arose from his inexperience; but he may be still deficient, from a want of knowledge in nature. For it is possible that the man in question may stop here, and that the masterpiece of a great hand may please him no more than the middling performance of a vulgar artist; and this not for want of better or higher relish, but because all men do not observe with sufficient accuracy on the human figure, to enable them to judge properly of an imitation of it.”

On other points, Hume makes the following observations:—

“Without being frequently obliged to form comparisons between the several species and degrees of excellence, and estimating their proportion to each other ... a man is indeed totally unqualified to pronounce an opinion with regard to any object presented to him. By comparison alone, we fix the epithets of praise or blame, and learn how to assign the due degree of each.

“But to enable a critic more fully to execute this undertaking, he must preserve his mind free from all prejudice and allow nothing to enter into his consideration, but the very object which is submitted to his examination.

“It is well known, that, in all questions submitted[Pg 65] to the understanding, prejudice is destructive of sound judgment, and perverts all operations of the intellectual faculties: it is no less contrary to good taste; nor has it less influence to corrupt our sentiments of beauty. It belongs to good sense to check its influence in both cases; and in this respect, as well as in many others, reason, if not an essential part of taste, is at least requisite to the operations of this latter faculty. In all the nobler productions of genius, there is a mutual relation and correspondence of parts; nor can either the beauties or blemishes be perceived by him whose thought is not capacious enough to comprehend all those parts, and compare them with each other, in order to perceive the consistence and uniformity of the whole. Every work of art has also a certain end or purpose for which it is calculated; and is to be deemed more or less perfect, as it is more or less fitted to attain this end.”

To a repetition of this, Burke adds some useful remarks:—

“As many of the works of imagination are not confined to representation of sensible objects, nor to efforts upon the passions, but extend themselves to the manners, the characters, the actions, and designs of men, their relations, their virtues and vices, they come within the province of the judgment, which is improved by attention and by the habit of reasoning.

“The cause of a wrong taste is a defect of judgment. And this may arise from a natural weakness of understanding (in whatever the strength of that[Pg 66] faculty may consist), or which is much more commonly the case, it may arise from a want of proper and well-directed exercise, which alone can make it strong and ready. Beside that ignorance, inattention, prejudice, rashness, levity, obstinacy, in short, all those passions, and all those vices which pervert the judgment in other matters, prejudice it no less in this its more refined and elegant province. These causes produce different opinions upon everything which is an object of the understanding, without inducing us to suppose, that there are no settled principles of reason.

“A rectitude of judgment in the arts, which may be called a good taste, does in a great measure depend upon sensibility; because, if the mind has no bent to the pleasures of the imagination, it will never apply itself sufficiently to works of that species to acquire a competent knowledge in them. But though a degree of sensibility is requisite to form a good judgment, yet a good judgment does not necessarily arise from a quick sensibility of pleasure; it frequently happens that a very poor judge, merely by force of a greater complexional sensibility, is more affected by a poor piece, than the best judge by the most perfect; for as everything new, extraordinary, grand, or passionate, is well calculated to affect such a person, and that the faults do not affect him, his pleasure is more pure and unmixed.

“In the morning of our days, when the senses are unworn and tender, when the whole man is awake in every part, and the gloss of novelty fresh[Pg 67] upon all the objects that surround us, how lively at that time are our sensations, but how false and inaccurate the judgments we form of things!

“Every trivial cause of pleasure is apt to affect the man of too sanguine a complexion: his appetite is to keen to suffer his taste to be delicate.... One of this character can never be a refined judge; never what the comic poet calls ‘elegans formarum spectator.’

“The rude hearer is affected by the principles which operate in these arts even in their rudest condition; and he is not skilful enough to perceive the defects. But as arts advance toward their perfection, the science of criticism advances with equal pace, and the pleasure of judges is frequently interrupted by the faults which are discovered in the most finished compositions.”

The chief idea above expressed, is again repeated by Sir J. Reynolds, who says: “The principles of these (the imagination and the passions) are as invariable as the former (the senses), and are to be known and reasoned upon in the same manner, by an appeal to common sense deciding upon the common feelings of mankind.”

These views are thus summed by Hume: “The organs of internal sensation are seldom so perfect as to allow the general principles their full play, and produce a feeling correspondent to those principles. They either labor under some defect, or are vitiated by some disorder; and by that means, excite a sentiment, which may be pronounced erroneous. When the critic has no delicacy, he[Pg 68] judges without any distinction, and is only affected by the grosser and more palpable qualities of the object: the finer touches pass unnoticed and disregarded. Where he is not aided by practice, his verdict is attended with confusion and hesitation. Where no comparison has been employed, the most frivolous beauties, such as rather merit the name of defects, are the object of his admiration. Where he lies under the influence of prejudice, all his natural sentiments are perverted. Where good sense is wanting, he is not qualified to discern the beauties of design and reasoning, which are the highest and most excellent. Under some or other of these imperfections, the generality of men labor; and hence, a true judge in the finer arts is observed, even during the most polished ages, to be so rare a character: strong sense, united to delicate sentiment, improved by practice, perfected by comparison, and cleared of all prejudice, can alone entitle critics to this valuable character; and the joint verdict of such, wherever they are to be found, is the true standard of taste and beauty.”

Taking the principal ideas above, Burke also concludes: “On the whole it appears to me, that what is called taste, in its most general acceptation, is not a simple idea, but is partly made up of a perception of the primary pleasures of sense, of the secondary pleasures of the imagination, and of the conclusions of the reasoning faculty, concerning the various relations of these, and concerning the human passions, manners, and actions.”

[Pg 69]“It is sufficient for our present purpose,” Hume farther observes, “if we have proved that the taste of all individuals is not upon an equal footing, and that some men in general, however difficult to be particularly pitched upon, will be acknowledged by universal sentiment to have a preference above others.

“Though men of delicate taste be rare, they are easily to be distinguished in society by the soundness of their understanding, and the superiority of their faculties above the rest of mankind. The ascendant which they acquire, gives a prevalence to that lively approbation, with which they receive any productions of genius, and renders it generally predominant. Many men, when left to themselves, have but a faint and dubious perception of beauty, who yet are capable of relishing any fine stroke which is pointed out to them. Every convert to the admiration of the real poet or orator, is the cause of some new conversion. And though prejudices may prevail for a time, they never unite in celebrating any rival to the true genius, but yield at last to the force of nature and just sentiment.”

Hume finally obviates some apparent difficulties:—

“But notwithstanding all our endeavors to fix a standard of taste, and reconcile the discordant apprehensions of men, there still remain two sources of variation, which are not sufficient indeed to confound all the boundaries of beauty and deformity, but will often serve to produce a difference in the degrees of our approbation or blame. The one is[Pg 70] the different humors of particular men; the other, the particular manner and opinions of our age and country.

“A young man, whose passions are warm, will be more sensibly touched with amorous and tender images, than a man more advanced in years, who takes pleasure in wise, philosophical reflections concerning the conduct of life and moderation of the passions. At twenty, Ovid may be the favorite author; Horace at forty; and perhaps Tacitus at fifty. Vainly would we, in such cases, endeavor to enter into the sentiments of others, and divest ourselves of those propensities which are natural to us. We choose our favorite author as we do our friend, from a conformity of humor and disposition.

“Such preferences are innocent and unavoidable, and can never reasonably be the object of dispute, because there is no standard by which they can be decided.

“For a like reason, we are more pleased, in the course of our reading, with pictures and characters that resemble objects which are found in our own age or country, than with those which describe a different set of customs.

“A man of learning and reflection can make allowance for these peculiarities of manners; but a common audience can never divest themselves so far of their usual ideas and sentiments, as to relish pictures which nowise resemble them.”

Thus I believe the reader has before him a view, sufficiently clear, of that popular topic, the stan[Pg 71]dard of taste, as well as of the agreement which subsists among the best writers on the subject. In the next chapter, we proceed to a more fundamental and difficult inquiry.



[Pg 72]



On the subject of the preceding chapter, even the reasonings of Hume appear to me to be of too vague and indefinite a kind. It requires the more minute scrutiny into which I shall now enter, in order to place it upon a deeper and more scientific foundation. If I can here show that, in the material qualities of the objects of nature and art, there exist elements of beauty equally invariable in themselves and in the kind of effect they produce upon the mind, it is evident there can be no farther dispute about a standard of beauty.

Many attempts have been made to determine the material elements of beauty, by Hogarth, Home, and others. All have more or less failed, from not observing that these elements are modified, varied, and complicated, as we advance from the most simple to the most complex class of natural beings, or of the arts which relate to these respectively. Many partial views of perfect truth and great [Pg 73]interest have been taken, and by every one of these it will be my duty here to profit: but, from the failure just pointed out, no philosophical and systematic doctrine of beauty, ascending from its origin in elements through its higher combinations, has ever been attained by any of the numerous, deep, acute, and elegant thinkers who have devoted their time to this subject, as the foundation of taste and of the fine or intellectual arts.

Profiting, as I ought to do, by the partial views of these philosophers, I pretend here only to take one larger view—to analyze, to generalize, to systematize, the materials which they present to me.

In the hope of accomplishing this, I shall now endeavor successively to trace the elements of beauty which belong respectively to inanimate, living, and thinking beings, and to the useful, ornamental, and intellectual arts which have a reference to these, the neglect of all which I have described as the fundamental cause of previous failure.

Again, I repeat, it is to this analysis and generalization alone, and to the systemization founded upon it, that I make any pretence. The materials have long been presented by all the great writers on the subject: they have only left them in confusion, and without conclusion. I shall now proceed to employ them.

 [Pg 74]


Though Burke did not accurately trace the elements of beauty in any one class of the objects of nature or art, he yet states a preliminary truth on this subject so well, that I here quote it: “It would be absurd,” he observes, “to say that all things affect us by association only; since some things must have been originally and naturally agreeable or disagreeable, from which the others derive their associated powers; and it would be, I fancy, to little purpose to look for the cause of our passions in association, until we fail of it in the natural properties of things.”

Home, advancing farther, says: “If a tree be beautiful by means of its color, its figure, its size, its motion, it is in reality possessed of so many different beauties, which ought to be examined separately, in order to have a clear notion of the whole.

“When any body is viewed as a whole, the beauty of its figure arises from regularity[12] and simplicity; and viewing the parts with relation to each other, from uniformity[12], proportion, and order.”

[Pg 75]I will here only observe that these are the qualities, as will speedily appear, which Burke should have set down as the fundamental and first characteristics of beauty, instead of relative littleness, which belongs not to beauty generally, but only to the minor or subordinate beauty.

Even Home, having arrived thus far, says: “To inquire why an object, by means of the particulars mentioned, appears beautiful, would, I am afraid, be a vain attempt.”

But he truly adds: “One thing is clear, that regularity, uniformity, order, and simplicity, contribute each of them to readiness of apprehension, and enable us to form more distinct images of objects than can be done, with the utmost attention, where these particulars are not found.” And he subjoins: “This final cause is, I acknowledge, too slight, to account satisfactorily for a taste that makes a figure so illustrious in the nature of man; and that this branch of our constitution has a purpose still more important, we have great reason to believe.”

Now had Home seen that the characteristics of general beauty always are, with regard to the object, accordant and agreeable relations, the importance of the qualities he has just enumerated would have been evident; for, without them, these characteristics of the object could not exist: simplicity, regularity, uniformity, order, &c., are the very elements of accordant and agreeable relations. This is in reality the still more important purpose in which Home believed, and to which the readiness[Pg 76] of apprehension he now alludes to eminently contributes.

As to simplicity, he observes, that “a multitude of objects crowding into the mind at once, disturb the attention, and pass without making any impression, or any lasting impression; and in a group, no single object makes the figure it would do apart, when it occupies the whole attention. For the same reason, even a single object, when it divides the attention by the multiplicity of its parts, equals not, in strength of impression, a more simple object comprehended in a single view: parts extremely complex must be considered in portions successively; and a number of impressions in succession, which cannot unite because not simultaneous, never touch the mind like one entire impression made as it were at one stroke.

“A square is less beautiful than a circle, because it is less simple: a circle has parts as well as a square; but its parts not being distinct like those of a square, it makes one entire impression; whereas, the attention is divided among the sides and angles of a square.... A square, though not more regular than a hexagon or octagon, is more beautiful than either, because a square is more simple, and the attention less divided.

“Simplicity thus contributes to beauty.”

By regularity is meant that circumstance in a figure by which we perceive it to be formed according to a certain rule. Thus, a circle, a square, a parallelogram, or triangle, pleases by its regularity.

“A square,” says Home—(who here furnishes[Pg 77] the best materials to a more general view, because he most frequently assigns physical causes, and whom, with some abbreviation, I therefore continue to quote)—“a square is more beautiful than a parallelogram, because the former exceeds the latter in regularity and in uniformity of parts. This is true with respect to intrinsic beauty only; for in many instances, utility comes in to cast the balance on the side of the parallelogram: this figure for the doors and windows of a dwelling-house, is preferred because of utility; and here we find the beauty of utility prevailing over that of regularity and uniformity.”

Thus regularity and uniformity contribute to intrinsic beauty.

“A parallelogram, again, depends for its beauty on the proportion [or relation of quantity] of its sides. Its beauty is lost by a great inequality of these sides: it is also lost by their approximating toward equality; for proportion there degenerates into imperfect uniformity, and the figure appears an unsuccessful attempt toward a square.”

Thus proportion contributes to beauty.

“An equilateral triangle yields not to a square in regularity nor in uniformity of parts, and it is more simple. Its inferiority in beauty is at least partly owing to inferiority of order in the position of its parts: the sides of an equilateral triangle incline to each other in the same angle, which is the most perfect order they are susceptible of; but this order is obscure, and far from being so perfect as the parallelism of the sides of a square.”

[Pg 78]Thus order contributes to the beauty of visible objects.

“A mountain, it may be objected, is an agreeable object, without so much as the appearance of regularity; and a chain of mountains is still more agreeable, without being arranged in any order. But though regularity, uniformity, and order, are causes of beauty, there are also other causes of it, as color; and when we pass from small to great objects, and consider grandeur instead of beauty, very little regularity is required.”

It follows, from all that has been here said, and this has been shown by Burke, that any rugged, any sudden projection, any sharp angle, is in the highest degree contrary to the idea of beauty. Such projections and angles are destitute of all the qualities which have just been enumerated—simplicity, regularity, uniformity, proportion, order; and conformably to the principles I have laid down in a previous chapter, they can present only relations which are naturally disagreeable. This view is corroborated by the fact, that all very sharp, broken, or angular objects, were disagreeable to the boy couched by Cheselden, as they are to all eyes of very nice sensibility.

Now, as angular forms give, to the sense of touch, sharpness, roughness, or harshness, so do opposite forms give smoothness or fineness. Hence, Burke makes smoothness his second characteristic of beauty, and that far more truly than he makes littleness its first, for, as he observes, “smoothness is a quality so essential to beauty, that I do[Pg 79] not now recollect anything beautiful that is not smooth.”

Such being really the case, I am bound to expose Knight’s sophistry on this point. “This elegant author,” says he, “has expatiated upon the gratifications of feeling smooth and undulating surfaces in general: but, I believe, these gratifications have been confined to himself; and probably to his own imagination acting through the medium of his favorite system: for, except in the communication of the sexes, which affords no general illustration, and ought therefore to be kept entirely out of the question, I have never heard of any person being addicted to such luxuries; though a feeling-board would certainly afford as cheap and innocent a gratification, as either a smelling-bottle, a picture, or a flute, provided it were capable of affording any gratification at all.”

This is a good specimen of the kind of perverted reasoning, which peculiarly distinguishes Knight.

A man affecting the character of philosopher, ought calmly to have observed that, by young people before puberty, and, consequently, when there is not the slightest sexual bias, smooth objects are generally found to be agreeable, and rough or harsh ones to be the reverse. This would at once have set him right upon this point.

If, to such a man, it should for a moment have appeared worth while to ask why we do not make use of feeling-boards, as well as of smelling-bottles, he ought to have sought the solution of his difficulty in the nature of the senses; and then, with a trifle[Pg 80] more of ability than Payne Knight hereby shows himself to have possessed, he would have seen that smoothness affords us as much pleasure as any smell, but that, as it would have been always troublesome, and often impossible, to apply our fingers to smooth surfaces, we generally receive the varied and incessant pleasure it affords, by means of sight; that it is borne by light to the eye, as smell is by the air; and that this is the reason why, except when contact is indispensable, we have no need of anything in the way of a feeling-board.

But Knight says: “Smoothness being properly a quality, perceivable only by the touch, and applied metaphorically to the objects of the other senses, we often apply it, very improperly, to those of vision; assigning smoothness as a cause of visible beauty, to things which, though smooth to the touch, cast the most sharp, harsh, and angular reflections of light upon the eyes; and these reflections are all that the eye feels, or naturally perceives.... Such are all objects of cut-glass or polished metal; as may be seen by the manner in which painters imitate them: for, as the imitations of painting extend only to the visible qualities of bodies, they show those visible qualities fairly and impartially.... Yet the imitative representation of such objects in painting is far less harsh and dazzling than the effects of them in reality: for there are no materials that a painter can employ, capable of expressing the sharpness and brilliancy of those angular reflections of the collected and condensed[Pg 81] rays, which are emitted from the surfaces of polished metals.”

It seems, to me, scarcely possible to find sophistry more worthless than this, or rather a more contemptible quibble; for that which, availing himself of our technicalities about light, he calls angularity, sharpness, &c., has no analogy with disagreeable angularity of form. To produce the brilliance and splendor which he calls angular, and describes as so offensive, we polish crystalline and metallic bodies in the highest degree!—we value precisely those which thus admit of greatest splendor!—and, on that very account, the diamond (rightly or wrongly, is not the question) is deemed the most valuable object on earth!

So much for those elements of beauty, in inanimate things, which fall under the cognizance of our fundamental sense, or that of touch.

As to sight and its objects, it is true that, as this organ varies in different persons, their taste is modified, with regard to colors. But the preference of light and delicate colors to dark and glaring ones, is almost universal among persons of sensibility.

Alison, indeed, ascribes the effects of all colors to association. “White,” he says, “as it is the color of day, is expressive to us of the cheerfulness or gayety which the return of day brings: black, as the color of darkness [night], is expressive of gloom and melancholy.” And he adds: “Whether some colors may not of themselves produce agreeable sensations, and others disagreeable sensations,[Pg 82] I am not anxious to dispute.” But this is the very point into which Alison ought to have inquired. Nature does nothing without foundation in the simplest principles; and this foundation is not only anterior to, but is the cause of all association.

That, independent of any association, blackness is naturally disagreeable, if not painful, is happily determined by the case of the boy restored to sight by Cheselden, who tells us that the first time the boy saw a black object, it gave him great uneasiness; and that, some time after, upon accidentally seeing a negro-woman, he was struck with great horror at the sight. This appears to be perfectly conclusive.

Knight indeed says: “As to the uneasiness which the boy, couched by Cheselden, felt at the first sight of a black object, it arose either from the harshness of its outline, or from its appearing to act as a partial extinguisher applied to his eyes, which, as every object that he saw, seemed to touch them, would, of course, be its effect.” It is highly probable that black operates in both these ways; and it has therefore natural effects, independent of all association.

As to sounds, Alison observes, that the cries of some animals are sublime, as the roar of the lion, the scream of the eagle, &c.; and he thinks they become so, because we associate them with the strength and ferocity of the animals which utter them. By opposite associations, he accounts for the beauty of the notes of birds. And he says, that there is a similar sublimity or beauty, in the tones[Pg 83] of the human voice, and that “such sounds are associated, in our imaginations, with the qualities of mind of which they are in general expressive, and naturally produce in us the conception of these qualities.”

This writer endeavors to establish his views on this subject, by observing, that “grandeur or sublimity of sound, can no otherwise arise from its loudness, than as that loudness excites an idea of power in the sonorous object, or in some other associated with it in the mind: for a child’s drum, close to the ear, fills it with more real noise, than the discharge of a cannon a mile off; and the rattling of a carriage in the street, when faintly and indistinctly heard, has often been mistaken for thunder at a distance. Yet no one ever imagined the beating of a child’s drum, or the rattling of a carriage over the stones, to be grand or sublime; which, nevertheless, they must be, if grandeur or sublimity belong at all to the sensation of loudness. But artillery and lightning are powerful engines of destruction; and with their power we sympathize, whenever the sound of them excites any sentiments of sublimity.”

Now, all this is directly opposed to the doctrine it is meant to support. It distinctly implies that loudness is so natural and so frequent a result of the violent contact of bodies, that we sometimes mistakenly ascribe power to objects, of which we have not correctly distinguished the sounds, owing to imitation, distance, &c. The occasional mistake implies the general truth.

[Pg 84]Alison, himself, notwithstanding his doctrine of association, is accordingly led to observe, that “there are some philosophers who consider these as the natural signs of passion or affection, and who believe that it is not from experience, but by means of an original faculty, that we interpret them: and this opinion is supported by great authorities.”

He adds the following observations, which, notwithstanding the error they involve, are too much to the purpose to be omitted here, and which in reality illustrate a natural and true theory, better than they do his own:—

“It is natural, however, to suppose, that in this, as in every case, our experience should gradually lead to the formation of some general rules, with regard to this expression.

“The great divisions of sound are into loud and low, grave and acute, long and short, increasing and diminishing. The two first divisions are expressive in themselves: the two last, only in conjunction with others.

“Loud sound is connected with ideas of power and danger. Many objects in nature which have such qualities, are distinguished by such sounds; and this association is farther confirmed from the human voice, in which all violent and impetuous passions are expressed in loud tones.

“Low sound has a contrary expression, and is connected with ideas of weakness, gentleness, and delicacy. This association takes its rise, not only from the observation of inanimate nature, or of animals, where, in a great number of cases, such[Pg 85] sounds distinguish objects with such qualities, but particularly from the human voice, where all gentle, or delicate, or sorrowful affections are expressed by such tones.

“Grave sound is connected with ideas of moderation, dignity, solemnity, &c., principally, I believe, from all moderate, or restrained, or chastened affections being distinguished by such tones in the human voice.

“Acute sound is expressive of pain, or fear, or surprise, &c., and generally operates by producing some degree of astonishment. This association, also, seems principally to arise from our experience of such connexions in the human voice.

“Long or lengthened sound seems to me to have no expression in itself, but only to signify the continuance of that quality which is signified by other qualities of sound. A loud or a low, a grave or an acute sound prolonged expresses to us no more than the continuance of the quality which is generally signified by such sounds.

“Short or abrupt sound has a contrary expression, and signifies the sudden cessation of the quality thus expressed.

“Increasing sound signifies, in the same manner, the increase of the quality expressed.

“Decreasing sound signifies the gradual diminution of such qualities.

“Motion furnishes another sort of beauty.

“Figure, color, and motion, readily blend in one object, and one general perception of beauty. In[Pg 86] many beautiful objects they all unite, and render the beauty greater.”

These characteristics are too universal not to support the doctrine of natural appropriation and power, of which association is merely a consequence.

It may be said, that all this chiefly regards mere geometrical forms, not objects in nature. But, on referring to inanimate objects, it will be found that they everywhere present these forms.

The round, the simplest form appears to characterize all elementary bodies and all that are free from compression, to be in fact the most elementary and the most readily assumed in nature. This form, accordingly, is presented by the drops of water and of every liquid, by every atom probably of oxygen, hydrogen, and azote, by the smallest as well as the largest bodies, even the innumerable celestial orbs.

All the other, the angular forms are presented by inanimate bodies under compression, or by mineral crystals.

Thus, then, do these simple geometrical forms characterize the simplest bodies in nature; and it appears that this first kind of beauty is peculiarly their own. It will, in the sequel, be as clearly seen, that each of the other classes of natural beings presents beauty of a different kind, which similarly characterizes it. Hence, no rational theory of beauty could be formed by writers, who indiscriminatingly jumbled together the characteristics of all[Pg 87] the kinds of beauty, and expected to find them everywhere.

As, then, from all that has been said, it appears that all the elements of beauty which have thus been noticed, belong to inanimate beings, and as this is shown by the passages I have quoted from the best writers, it seems surprising, not merely that they should not have seen this to be the case, but, that it should not have led them to observe, that there exists also a second beauty, of living beings, and third, of thinking beings, as well as others of the useful, the ornamental, and the intellectual arts respectively, in each of which some new element was only added to the characters of the preceding species.

It seems still more surprising that Alison, who deviates so widely from all fundamental principles, should have actually stumbled upon an observation of a few of the characteristics of inanimate beings, and traced them as they pass upward through some living and thinking beings—whose new characteristics, however, he did not discriminate. He observes, that “the greater part of those bodies in nature, which possess hardness, strength, or durability, are distinguished by angular forms. The greater part of those bodies, on the contrary, which possess weakness, fragility, or delicacy, are distinguished by winding or curvilinear forms. In the mineral kingdom, all rocks, stones, and metals, the hardest and most durable bodies we know, assume universally angular forms. In the vegetable kingdom, all strong and durable plants are in general[Pg 88] distinguished by similar forms. The feebler and more delicate race of vegetables, on the contrary, are mostly distinguished by winding forms. In the animal kingdom, in the same manner, strong and powerful animals are generally characterized by angular forms; feeble and delicate animals, by forms of the contrary kind.”[13]



I have now to show that, in living beings, while the characters of the first and fundamental beauty, that of inanimate beings, are still partially continued, new characteristics are added to them.

Plants accordingly possess both rigid parts, like some of those described in the preceding section, and delicate parts, which, in ascending through the classes of natural beings from the simplest to the most complex, are the very first to present to us new and additional characters totally distinct from those of the preceding class.

I. To begin as nature does, then, we find the trunks and stems of plants, which are near the ground, resembling most in character the inanimate bodies from among which they spring. They assume the simplest and most universal form in nature, the round one; but as growth is their great[Pg 89] function, they extend in height and become cylindrical.

Even the branches, the twigs, and the tendrils, continue this elementary character; but it is in them, or in the stem when, like them, it is tender, that such elementary characters give way to the purposes of life, namely, growth and reproduction, and that we discover the new and additional characters of beauty which this class presents to us.

II. To render this matter plain, I must observe that the formation of rings, which unite in tubes, appears to be almost universally the material condition of growth and reproduction. Every new portion of these tubes, moreover, and every superadded ring, is less than that which preceded it.

It is from this that results the first characteristic of this second kind of beauty, namely, fineness or delicacy. Hence, Burke made the possession of a delicate frame, without any remarkable appearance of strength, his fifth condition in beauty; and he here erred only from that want of discrimination which led him to confound together all the conditions of beauty, and prevented his seeing that they belonged to different genera.

Now, as fine and delicate bodies, which are growing, will shoot in that direction where space, air, and light, can best be had, and as this, amid other twigs and tendrils, will greatly vary, so will their productions rarely continue long in the same straight line, but will, on the contrary, bend. Hence, the curved or bending form is the second characteristic of this kind of beauty.

[Pg 90]It is worthy of remark, that, as the trunks, stems, twigs, and tendrils, of plants assume the simplest and most universal form in nature, the round one, so their more delicate parts have again the tendency to bend into a similar form.

In the young and feeble branches of plants, it is observed by Alison, that the bending form is “beautiful, when we perceive that it is the consequence of the delicacy of their texture, and of their being overpowered by the weight of the flower.... In the smaller and feebler tribe of flowers, as in the violet, the daisy, or the lily of the valley, the bending of the stem constitutes a very beautiful form, because we immediately perceive that it is the consequence of the weakness and delicacy of the flower.”

From the circumstances now described, it results that all the parts of plants present the most surprising variety. They vary their direction every moment, as Burke observes, and they change under the eye by a deviation continually carrying on, but for whose beginning or end you will find it difficult to ascertain a point.

Variety is therefore the third characteristic of this second kind of beauty; and in the indiscriminating views of Burke, he made two similar conditions, viz: “Thirdly, to have a variety in the direction of the parts; but, fourthly, to have those parts not angular, but melted as it were into each other;” thus applying these to beauty generally, to which they are not applicable, but in a confused and imperfect way.

[Pg 91]It is scarcely necessary to observe that variety, as a character of beauty, owes its effect to the need of changing impressions, in order to enliven our sensibility, which does not fail to become inactive under the long-continued impression of the same stimulant.

It is connected with this variety that unequal numbers are preferred, as we see in the number of flowers and of their petals, in that of leaves grouped together, and in the indentations of these leaves.

From all this springs the fourth and last characteristic of this second species of beauty, namely, contrast. This strikes us when we at once look at the rigid stem and bending boughs, and all the variety which the latter display.

It will be observed, that, of all the characteristics of beauty, none tend to render our perceptions so vivid as variety and contrast.

I conclude this section with a few remarks on the errors which Alison has committed on this subject.

“In the rose,” says that writer, “and the white lily, and in the tribe of flowering shrubs, the same bending form assumed by the stem is felt as a defect; and instead of impressing us with the idea of delicacy, leads us to believe the operation of some force to twist it into this direction.”—This, however, is no defect arising from the bending form not being abstractly more beautiful, but from its being contrary to the nature of the stem of flowering shrubs to bend, from its being, as he himself observes, the result of some force to twist it.

[Pg 92]He asserts, however, that in plants, angular forms are beautiful, when they are expressive of fineness, of tenderness, of delicacy, or such affecting qualities; and he thinks that this may perhaps appear from the consideration of the following instances:—

“The myrtle, for instance, is generally reckoned a beautiful form, yet the growth of its stem is perpendicular, the junction of its branches form regular and similar angles, and their direction is in straight or angular lines. The known delicacy, however, and tenderness of the vegetable, at least in this climate, prevail over the general expression of the form, and give it the same beauty which we generally find in forms of a contrary kind.”—The mistake here committed is in supposing the beauty of the myrtle to depend on its angularity, instead of its being evergreen, fragrant, and suggesting pleasures of association.

“How much more beautiful,” he says, “is the rose-tree when its buds begin to blow, than afterward, when its flowers are full and in their greatest perfection! yet, in this first situation, its form has much less winding surface, and is much more composed of straight lines and of angles, than afterward when the weight of the flower weighs down the feeble branches, and describes the easiest and most varied curves.”—But he answers himself by adding: “The circumstance of its youth, a circumstance in all cases so affecting, the delicacy of its blossom, so well expressed by the care which Nature has taken in surrounding the opening bud with leaves, prevail so much upon our imagination,[Pg 93] that we behold the form itself with more delight in this situation than afterward, when it assumes the more general form of delicacy.”

“There are few things in the vegetable world,” he says, “more beautiful than the knotted and angular stem of the balsam, merely from its singular transparency, which it is impossible to look at without a strong impression of the fineness and delicacy of the vegetable.”—But it is its transparency, not its angularity, that is beautiful.

The beauty of color is not less conspicuous than that of form in this class of beings.



I have next to show that, in thinking beings, while the characters of inanimate, and those of living beauty, are still more or less continued, new characteristics are also added to them.

I. In animals, accordingly, the bones bear a close analogy to the wood of plants. They generally assume the same rounded form; but, as thinking beings are necessarily moving ones, their bones are hollow to combine lightness with strength, and they are separated by joints to permit flexion and extension.

II. As animals, like plants, grow and reproduce, a portion of their general organization, their [Pg 94]vascular system, which serves the purpose of growth and reproduction, consists, like plants, of trunks, branches, &c.; and the surface of their bodies, the skin, is formed by a tissue of these vessels. Accordingly, both the vessels themselves, and the tissue which they form, present the delicacy, the bending, the variety, and the contrast, which are the characters of the preceding species of beauty.

The undulating and serpentine lines which art seeks always to design in its most beautiful productions, exist in greater number at the surface of the human body than at that of any other animal. Wherever, as Hogarth observes, “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 outlines to be beautiful; nature 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.”

It is principally in the features of the face, as has often been observed, and on the surface of the torso and of the members of a beautiful woman, that these delicate, bending, varied, and contrasted lines are multiplied: by their union, they mark the outlines of different parts, as in the region of the neck, of the bosom, at the shoulders, on the surface of the[Pg 95] abdomen, on the sides, and principally in the gradual transitions from the head to the neck, and from the loins to the inferior extremities.

These lines vary under different circumstances; much enbonpoint producing round lines, and leanness or old age producing straight ones.

Woman and man stand pre-eminent among animals as to this kind of beauty; and to them succeed the swifter animals, as the horse, the stag, &c.

The animals, on the contrary, of which the surface presents right lines and square forms, are correspondingly deprived of beauty; as the toad, the hog, and all the animals which seem to us ugly.

In all animals, also, the beauty of color, even when slightly varied, becomes extremely interesting.—In human beauty, considerable variety is produced by the different shades of the skin.

Such, indeed, is the variety resulting from all this, that some degree even of intricacy is produced. The undulating lines which cross in every direction, and the tortuous paths of the eye, are the means of an agreeable complication.

Hence Burke, following Hogarth, says: “Observe that part of a beautiful woman where she is perhaps the most beautiful, about the neck and breasts: the smoothness, the softness, the easy and insensible swell, the variety of the surface, which is never for the smallest space the same, the deceitful maze, through which the unsteady eye slides giddily, without knowing where to fix, or whither it is carried. Is not this a demonstration of that change of surface, continual, and yet hardly perceptible at[Pg 96] any point, which forms one of the great constituents of beauty?

The hair affords an excellent instance of this agreeable complication. Soft curls agitated by the wind have been the theme of every poet. And yet, says Hogarth, “to show how excess ought to be avoided in intricacy, as well as in every other principle, the very same head of hair, wisped and matted together, would make the most disagreeable figure; because the eye would be perplexed, and at a fault, and unable to trace such a confused number of uncomposed and entangled lines.”

III. But animals have a higher system of organs and functions which peculiarly distinguishes them, and which presents new and peculiar characteristics of beauty. This consists of the organs by which they receive impressions from, and react upon the objects around them—the first organs which Nature presents having altogether external relations, and the first, consequently, in which we look for fitness for any purpose.

The importance of fitness to the beauty of such objects is learned imperceptibly. Lines and forms, though the most elegant, fail to please us, if ill distributed in this respect: and objects, to a great extent destitute of the other characters of natural beauty, become beautiful when regarded in relation to fitness. Thus would this sense appear to be so powerful, as in some measure to regulate our other perceptions of beauty.

It is fitness which leads us to admire in one animal, what would displease us if found in another.[Pg 97] “The variety,” says Barry, “and union of parts, which we call beautiful in a greyhound, are pleasing in consequence of the idea of agility which they convey. In other animals, less agility is united with more strength; and, indeed, all the different arrangements please because they indicate either different qualities, different degrees of qualities, or the different combinations of them.”

In relation to the various fitness of the human body, the same writer says: “We should not increase the beauty of the female bosom, by the addition of another protuberance; and the exquisite undulating transitions from the convex to the concave tendencies, could not be multiplied with any success. In fine, our rule for judging of the mode and degree of this combination of variety and unity, seems to be no other than that of its fitness and conformity to the designation of each species.”

But it is less necessary for me to adduce authorities in support of this truth, than to answer the objections that have been made to it by some of the ablest writers on the subject—objections which have generally their origin in the narrow views which these men have taken, and in those partial hypotheses which, even when true, led them to reject all other truth.

“It is said,” observes Burke, “that the idea of a part’s being well adapted to answer its end, is one cause of beauty, or indeed beauty itself.... In framing this theory, I am apprehensive that experience was not sufficiently consulted. For, on that principle, the wedgelike snout of a swine with its[Pg 98] tough cartilage at the end, the little sunk eyes, and the whole make of the head, so well adapted to its offices of digging and rooting, would be extremely beautiful.”—And so they are, when the beauty of fitness for their purpose is considered; but that purpose being the mere growth and fattening of an animal of sensual and dirty habits, it is a fallacy to represent this, without explanation, as a fair proof of the absence of connexion between fitness and beauty.

“If beauty in our species,” says the same writer, “was annexed to use, men would be much more lovely than women; and strength and agility would be considered as the only beauties.”—Burke was a stringer of fine words, not for woman, but for queens, when that served a selfish and venal purpose. The sentence just quoted shows that his gallantry was as ignorant as it was mean. He here asserts by implication that women are less useful than men, although it is to women that the care of the whole human race, during its most helpless years, is committed, and although they take upon themselves all that half of the duties of life which men are as little capable of performing, as women are of performing the portion suited to men.

“And,” says he, “I appeal to the first and most natural feelings of mankind, whether, on beholding a beautiful eye, or a well-fashioned mouth, or a well-turned leg, any ideas of their being well fitted for seeing, eating, or running, ever present themselves.”—Is running, then, the proper use of the leg in woman! Rousseau more truly thought its[Pg 99] use was to fail in running, or not to run! Is eating the only use of her mouth! This, too from the man who deplored that “the age of chivalry was gone!”—Nevertheless, I will venture to assert that such things never were and never will be seen, without suggesting ideas of fitness of some kind or other.

“There is,” he proceeds, “another notion current, pretty closely allied to the former; that perfection is the constituent cause of beauty. This opinion has been made to extend much farther than to sensible objects. But in these, so far is perfection, considered as such, from being the cause of beauty, that this quality, where it is highest in the female sex, almost always carries with it an idea of weakness and imperfection.”—For this plain reason, that female perfection is utterly incompatible with great muscular perfection or strength, which would indeed be injurious to the performance of every feminine function.

We may now advance another step in the subject under discussion. What, then, are the peculiar physical characters of beings thus possessing sense and motion, and thus characterized by fitness?

“It must be remembered,” says Knight, “that irregularity is the general characteristic of trees, and regularity that of animals.”—It would have been more correct to say that symmetry is this peculiar characteristic. There is little resemblance between the parts of one side; and it is symmetry which results from the uniform disposition of double parts, and from the regular division of single ones.

[Pg 100]Hence an agreeable impression is produced by the corresponding disposition and the exact resemblance of the eyes, of the eyebrows, of the ears, of the hemispheres of the bosom, and of the different parts of which the limbs are composed; and the forehead, the nose, the mouth, the abdomen, the back, are agreeably distinguished by means of the median line which divides them.

It appears that the eye is pleased by the exactness of corresponding parts; and that symmetry is the first character of beauty in thinking beings.

Occasional irregularity makes us better appreciate the importance of symmetry. The oblique direction of the eyes, squinting, twisting of the nose or lips, unequal magnitude of the hemispheres of the bosom, or unequal length of the limbs, disfigure the most beautiful person.

But how does symmetry contribute to fitness, or why is it necessary?

“All our limbs and organs,” says Payne Knight, “serve us in pairs, and by mutual co-operation with each other: whence the habitual association of ideas has taught us to consider this uniformity as indispensable to the beauty and perfection of the animal form. There is no reason to be deduced from any abstract consideration of the nature of things, why an animal should be more ugly and disgusting for having only one eye, or one ear, than for having only one nose or one mouth; yet if we were to meet with a beast with one eye, or two noses, or two mouths, in any part of the world, we should, without inquiry, decide it to be a [Pg 101]monster, and turn from it with abhorrence: neither is there any reason, in the nature of things, why a strict parity, or relative equality, in the correspondent limbs and features of a man or a horse, should be absolutely essential to beauty, and absolutely destructive of it in the roots and branches of a tree. But, nevertheless, the Creator having formed the one regular, and the other irregular, we habitually associate ideas of regularity to the perfection of one, and ideas of irregularity to the perfection of the other; and this habit has been so unvaried, as to have become natural.”

This is the common cant of every weak man at loss for a reason. Now, it is not by any “habitual association” with “our limbs and organs serving us in pairs,” that we are “taught to consider this uniformity indispensable to beauty,” but because, independent of all association, we could not conveniently walk upon one leg, or, indeed, on any unequal number of legs: and there being two sides in the moving organs, there are necessarily two in the sensitive organs, which are mere portions of the same general system. Thus it is locomotion to be performed that renders “a strict parity, or relative equality, in the correspondent limbs and features of a man or a horse” absolutely essential to beauty; and it is the absence of locomotion which renders it utterly worthless, and therefore very rare, in “the roots and branches of a tree.”

In animals, proportion is not less essential than symmetry. It is indeed the second character of this kind of beauty. As this part of the subject[Pg 102] has been perfectly well treated by Mr. Alison, I need only quote what he has said:—

“It is this expression of fitness which is, I apprehend, the source of the beauty of what is strictly and properly called proportion in the parts of the human form.

“We expect a different form, and a different conformation of limbs, in a running footman and a waterman, in a wrestler and a racing groom, in a shepherd and a sailor, &c.

“They who are conversant in the productions of the fine arts, must have equally observed, that the forms and proportions of features, which the sculptor and the painter have given to their works, are very different, according to the nature of the character they represent, and the emotion they wish to excite. The form or proportions of the features of Jove are different from those of Hercules; those of Apollo, from those of Ganymede; those of the Fawn, from those of the Gladiator. In female beauty, the form and proportions in the features of Juno are very different from those of Venus; those of Minerva, from those of Diana; those of Niobe, from those of the Graces. All, however, are beautiful; because all are adapted with exquisite taste to the characters they wish the countenance to express.”

In “the Hercules and the Antinous, the Jupiter and the Apollo, we find that not only the proportions of the form, but those of every limb, are different; and that the pleasure we feel in these proportions arises from their exquisite fitness for[Pg 103] the physical ends which the artists were consulting.

“The illustration, however, may be made still more precise; for, even in the same countenance, and in the same hour, the same form of feature may be beautiful or otherwise.”



I divide the arts into the useful, the ornamental, and the intellectual, commonly called the fine arts; and I shall endeavor to show, that the objects of each of these are characterized by a peculiar kind of beauty, corresponding to one of those already described.

I shall endeavor to show that the objects of the useful arts are characterized by the simple geometrical forms which belong to inanimate beings; that those of the ornamental arts are characterized by the delicate, bending, varied, and contrasted forms of living beings; and that those of the intellectual arts are, in their highest efforts, characterized chiefly by thinking forms, as in gesture, sculpture, painting, or by functions of mind actually exercised, in oratory, poetry, music.

In all these arts, purpose is implied—not purpose in the hypothetical sense, as applied to the existence, conditions, and objects, of natural [Pg 104]beings—but in the common intelligible sense of the word, as expressing the intention of men in the pursuit of these arts.

Beauty of Useful Objects.

Here the purpose being utility, this kind of beauty arises from the perception of means as adapted to an end, which of course implies, the parts of anything being fitted to answer the purpose of the whole.

This implies an act of understanding and judgment; for of no product of useful art can we perceive the extrinsic beauty, until we know its destination, and the relations which that involves.

When these are known, so powerful is the sense of utility, that, though deviation from the elementary beauty never ceases to be felt, yet that sense sanctions it to a great extent. Hence it is that an irregular dwelling-house may become beautiful, when its convenience is striking. Hence it is that, in the forms of furniture, machines, and instruments, their beauty arises chiefly from this consideration; and that every form becomes beautiful by association, where it is perfectly adapted to its end.

The greater, however, the elementary beauty, that can be introduced in useful objects, the more obvious will their utility be, and the more beautiful will they universally appear. This will be granted the moment I mention simplicity.

Of all the elements of beauty already spoken[Pg 105] of—of all the means of producing accordant and agreeable relations—simplicity appears to be the most efficient; and in all the useful arts, no elementary consideration recommends their objects so much.

This implies all the rest, regularity, uniformity, proportion, order, &c., as far as is compatible with purpose.

Thus, in regard to uniformity, says some one, a number of things destined for the same purpose, as chairs, spoons, &c., cannot be too uniform, because they are adapted to uniform purposes; but it would be absurd to give to objects destined for one purpose the form suited to those destined for another.

So also the objects of useful art will resemble in form precisely as they resemble in purpose; and where the purpose is similar, and the deviation which is admissible is slight, this becomes a subject of great nicety, and, if ornament be at the same time admissible, a subject of exquisite taste.

It was by the transcendent exercise of these qualities, that the Greeks succeeded in fixing the orders of architecture. The most beautiful columns would have shocked the sight, if their mass had not corresponded to that of the edifice which they sustained; and the difference which existed in this respect, required a difference of ornament.

Home indeed observes, that “writers on architecture insist much upon the proportions of a column, and assign different proportions to the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian; but no architect will [Pg 106]maintain, that the most accurate proportions contribute more to use, than several that are less accurate and less agreeable.”

That such a man should have committed such an error is surprising. It seems evident that the different proportion in the columns of these orders is admirably suited to the different quantity of matter in their entablatures. A greater superincumbent mass, required shorter and thicker columns; a less superincumbent mass, longer and slender ones. Many experiments, much observation, were requisite to determine this; but the Greeks had the means of making them, and solved every problem on the subject; and the result of the perfection they attained is, that all err who depart from the truth they have determined.

It was, again, the differing quantities of matter in the entablatures, and the accurately-corresponding dimensions of the columns that determined, of course amid infinite experiment and observation, the nature of their ornaments. Hence, the Doric is distinguished by simplicity; the Ionic by elegance; and the Corinthian by lightness, in ornament as well as in proportion.

Even, therefore, if we were to destroy all the associations of elegance, of magnificence, of costliness, and, still more than all, of antiquity, which are so strongly connected with such forms, the pleasure which their proportions would afford, would remain, as in all cases where means are best adapted to their end.

In his objections to proportion as an element of[Pg 107] beauty, Burke only confounds this kind of beauty with that which I have next to describe.

“The effects of proportion and fitness,” he says, “at least so far as they proceed from a mere consideration of the work itself, produce approbation, the acquiescence of the understanding, but not love, nor any passion of that species. When we examine the structure of a watch, when we come to know thoroughly the use of every part of it, satisfied as we are with the fitness of the whole, we are far enough from perceiving anything like beauty in the watchwork itself; but let us look on the case, the labor of some curious artist in engraving, with little or no idea of use, we shall have a much livelier idea of beauty than we ever could have had from the watch itself, though the masterpiece of Graham.”

It is an emotion of pleasure which is the inevitable result of the perception of beauty, not love, nor any passion of the kind. These will or will not follow, according to the nature of the object, and of the mind of the observer. A hill, a valley, or a rivulet, may be beautiful, and it will excite an emotion of pleasure when its beauty is discerned; but it may produce no desire or passion of love. There may exist, then, the beauty of utility, as to the structure of the watch, and that of ornament as to its case; and some minds will more readily perceive the one; others, the other.

When Burke adds, “In beauty, the effect is previous to any knowledge of the use; but to judge of proportion, we must know the end for which[Pg 108] any work is designed;” he forgets, that, in the instance of the barber’s block, &c., he showed that the perception of beauty, as well as proportion, required observation, experience, and reflection.

Beauty of Ornamental Objects.

There are three great arts which, under circumstances of high civilization, become ornamental, namely, landscape-gardening, architecture, and dress—the particular arts by which our persons are more or less closely invested;[14] and all of them, then, require beauty of the second kind, that which belongs particularly to vegetable beings, and is characterized by delicate, bending varied, and contrasted forms.

All these, regarded as ornamental arts, have chiefly bodily and sensual pleasures for their purpose; and this I consider as distinguishing them from the intellectual arts, which have a higher purpose.

Of landscape-gardening, the materials are plants, and therefore its beauty is evidently dependant on, or rather composed of, theirs.

The same kind of beauty will be found in every ornamental art. Hence, Alison says: “The greater part of beautiful forms in nature, are to be found in the vegetable kingdom, in the forms of flowers, of foliage, of shrubs, and in those assumed by the[Pg 109] young shoots of trees. It is from them, accordingly, that almost all those forms have been imitated, which have been employed by artists for the purposes of ornament and elegance.”

On this kind of beauty, mistaking it for the only one, Hogarth founded his peculiar doctrine. “He adopts two lines, on which, according to him, the beauty of figure principally depends. One is the waving line, or a curve bending gently in opposite directions. This he calls the line of beauty; and he shows how often it is found in flowers, shells, and various works of nature; while it is common also in the figures designed by painters and sculptors, for the purpose of decoration. The other line, which he calls the line of grace, is the former waving line, twisted round some solid body. Twisted pillars and twisted horns exhibit it. In all the instances which he mentions, variety plainly appears to be so important an element of this kind of beauty, that he states a portion of the truth, when he defines the art of drawing pleasing forms to be the art of varying well; for the curve line, so much the favorite of painters, derives much of its beauty from its perpetual bending and variation from the stiff regularity of the straight line.” It is evident, however, that in this, he mistakes one kind of beauty for all.

Of architecture, considered as a fine art, much of the beauty depends on the imitation of vegetable forms. Employing materials which require the best characteristics of the first kind of beauty, it, in its choicest and ornamented parts, imitates both[Pg 110] the rigid trunks, and the delicate and bending forms of plants. Its columns, tapering upward, are copied from the trunks of trees; and their decorations are suited with consummate art to their dimensions, and the weight they support. The simple Doric has little ornament; the elegant Ionic has more; the light Corinthian has most.

On the subject of these finely-calculated ornaments, some observations have struck me, which I have not seen mentioned elsewhere. The Doric presents only columns, without any other ornament than that of which their mere form admits. The Ionic expresses increased lightness, by the interposition of its volute, as if the superincumbent weight had but gently pressed a soft solid into a scroll. The Corinthian expresses the utmost lightness, by forming its capitals of foliage, as if the weight above them could not crush even a leaf. The Composite expresses gayety, by adding flowers to the foliage. It is from imperfect views of this, that the meaning and effect of caryatides have been mistaken: instead of being oppressed by weight, they seem, when well employed, to have no weight to support.

In nearly all internal architectural decorations, it is the delicate, bending, varied, and contrasted vegetable forms which are imitated.

“There is scarce a room, in any house whatever,” says Hogarth, “where one does not see the waving line employed in some way or other. How inelegant would the shapes of all our moveables be without it? how very plain and unornamental the[Pg 111] mouldings of cornices and chimney-pieces, without the variety introduced by the ogee member, which is entirely composed of waving lines.”

The distinctions I have here made, are farther illustrated by the remarks of Alison, who says: “These ornaments being executed in a very hard and durable substance, are in fact only beautiful when they appear but as minute parts of the whole. The great constituent parts of every building require direct and angular lines, because in such parts we require the expression of stability and strength. It is only in the minute and delicate parts of the work, that any kind of ornament is attempted with propriety; and whenever ornaments exceed in size, in their quantity of matter, or in the prominence of their relief, that proportion which, in point of lightness or delicacy, we expect them to hold with respect to the whole of the building, the imitation of the most beautiful vegetable forms does not preserve them from the censure of clumsiness and deformity.”

In dress, considered as an ornamental art, and, as practised by the sex which chiefly studies it, the chief beauty depends on the adoption of winding forms in drapery, and of wreaths of flowers for the head, &c. These are essential to the variety and contrast, as well as to the gayety which that sex desires.

“Uniformity,” says Hogarth, “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 color.[Pg 112] 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.”

These irregular, varying, and somewhat complicated draperies excite that active curiosity, and those movements of imagination, to which skilful women never neglect to address themselves in modern costume.

It is with the same feeling and intention, whether these be defined or not, that, in the head-dress, they seek for bending lines and circumvolutions, and that they combine variously the waves and the tresses of the hair.

For the same reason, a feather or a flower is never placed precisely over the middle of the forehead; and if two are employed, great care is taken that their positions are dissimilar.

It has sometimes struck me as remarkable, that precious stones are almost always arranged differently from flowers. While the latter are placed irregularly, and in waving lines, not only on the head, but the bosom, and the skirt of the dress, the former are in general regularly placed, either on the median line of the person, as the middle of the forehead and, in Eastern countries, of the nose, or symmetrically in similar pendants from each ear, and bracelets on the arms and wrists.

The instinctive feeling which gives origin to this is, that flowers adorn the system of life and reproduction, and by their color and smell, associate with its emotions, which they also express and communicate to others—they, therefore, assume[Pg 113] the varied forms of that system; whereas, diamonds, attached generally to mental organs, or organs of sense, are significant of mental feelings, love of splendor, distinction, pride, &c.—they, therefore, assume the symmetrical form of these organs. Hence, too, flowers are recommended to the young; diamonds are permitted only to the old.

Beauty of Intellectual Objects.

I have already said, that the intellectual arts are, in their highest efforts, characterized chiefly by animal forms, as in gesture, sculpture, and painting, or by animal functions actually exercised, in oratory, poetry, and music.

In the useful arts, the purpose is utility; in the ornamental arts, it is bodily or sensual pleasure; and in the intellectual arts, it is the pleasure of imagination.

The first elements of beauty, however, are not forgotten in these arts. As simplicity is conspicuous in the works of nature, so is it a condition of beauty in all the operations of mind. In philosophy, general theorems become beautiful from this simplicity; and polished manners receive from it dignity and grace. The intellectual arts are especially dependant upon it: it has been a striking character of their most illustrious cultivators, and of their very highest efforts.

How much the characters and accidents of elementary beauty influence intellectual art, has been well shown by Mr. Knight.

“In the higher class of landscapes,” he says,[Pg 114] “whether in nature or in art, the mere sensual gratification of the eye is comparatively so small, as scarcely to be attended to: but yet, if there occur a single spot, either in the scene or the picture, offensively harsh and glaring—if the landscape-gardener, in the one, or the picture-cleaner, in the other, have exerted their unhappy talents of polishing, all the magic instantly vanishes, and the imagination avenges the injury offered to the sense. The glaring and unharmonious spot, being the most prominent and obtrusive, irresistibly attracts the attention, so as to interrupt the repose of the whole, and leaves the mind no place to rest upon.”

“It is, in some respects,” he observes, “the same with the sense of hearing. The mere sensual gratification, arising from the melody of an actor’s voice, is a very small part, indeed, of the pleasure which we receive from the representation of a fine drama: but, nevertheless, if a single note of the voice be absolutely cracked and out of tune, so as to offend and disgust the ear, it will completely destroy the effect of the most skilful acting, and render all the sublimity and pathos of the finest tragedy ludicrous.”

This, I may observe, is a concession of much that he elsewhere inconsistently contends for; for sensual beauty could never act thus powerfully, if it possessed not fundamental importance as an element even in the most complex beauty.

That the second kind of beauty also enters into the acts or products of intellectual beauty, is sufficiently illustrated by the observation of Hogarth,[Pg 115] who on this subject observes, that all the common and necessary motions for the business of life are performed by men in straight or plain lines, while all the graceful and ornamental movements are made in waving lines.

As Alison has given the best view of the history and character of beauty in the intellectual arts, as that indeed constitutes the most valuable portion of his work, I shall conclude this section by a greatly abridged view of these as nearly as possible in his own words.

There is no production of taste, which has not many qualities of a very indifferent kind; and our sense of the beauty or sublimity of every object accordingly depends upon the quality or qualities of it which we consider.

This, Mr. Alison might have observed, is in great measure dependant upon our will. We can generally, when we please, confine our consideration of it to the qualities that least excite pleasurable or painful emotion, and that can least interest the imagination.

It is in consequence of this, that the exercise of criticism always destroys, for the time, our sensibility to the beauty of every composition, and that habits of this kind generally destroy the sensibility of taste.

When, on the other hand, the emotions of sublimity or beauty are produced, it will be found that some affection is uniformly first excited by the presence of the object; and whether the general impression we receive is that of gayety, or tenderness,[Pg 116] or melancholy, or solemnity, or terror, &c., we have never any difficulty of determining.

But whatever may be the nature of that simple emotion which any object is fitted to excite, if it produce not a train of kindred thought in our minds, we are conscious only of that simple emotion.

In many cases, on the contrary, we are conscious of a train of thought being immediately awakened in the imagination, analogous to the character of expression of the original object.

“Thus, when we feel either the beauty or sublimity of natural scenery—the gay lustre of a morning in spring, or the mild radiance of a summer-evening—the savage majesty of a wintry storm, or the wild magnificence of the tempestuous ocean—we are conscious of a variety of images in our minds, very different from those which the objects themselves present to the eye. Trains of pleasing or of solemn thought arise spontaneously within our minds; our hearts swell with emotions, of which the objects before us seem to afford no adequate cause; and we are never so much satiated with delight, as when, in recalling our attention, we are unable (little able, perhaps, and less disposed) to trace either the progress or the connexion of those thoughts, which have passed with so much rapidity through our imagination.

“The effect of the different arts of taste is similar. The landscapes of Claude Lorraine, the poetry of Milton, the music of the greatest masters, excite feeble emotions in our minds when our[Pg 117] attention is confined to the qualities they present to our senses, or when it is to such qualities of their composition that we turn our regard. It is then only we feel the sublimity or beauty of their productions, when our imaginations are kindled by their power, when we lose ourselves amid the number of images that pass before our minds, and when we waken at last from this play of fancy, as from the charm of a romantic dream.

“The degree in which the emotions of sublimity or beauty are felt, is in general proportioned to the prevalence of those relations of thought in the mind, upon which this exercise of imagination depends. The principal relation which seems to take place in those trains of thought that are produced by objects of taste, is that of resemblance; the relation, of all others the most loose and general, and which affords the greatest range of thought for our imagination to pursue. Wherever, accordingly, these emotions are felt, it will be found, not only that this is the relation which principally prevails among our ideas, but that the emotion itself is proportioned to the degree in which it prevails.

“What, for instance, is the impression we feel from the scenery of spring? The soft and gentle green with which the earth is spread, the feeble texture of the plants and flowers, the young of animals just entering into life, and the remains of winter yet lingering among the woods and hills—all conspire to infuse into our minds somewhat of that fearful tenderness with which infancy is usually beheld. With such a sentiment, how innumerable[Pg 118] are the ideas which present themselves to our imagination! ideas, it is apparent, by no means confined to the scene before our eyes, or to the possible desolation which may yet await its infant beauty, but which almost involuntarily extend themselves to analogies with the life of man, and bring before us all those images of hope or fear, which, according to our peculiar situations, have the dominion of our heart!—The beauty of autumn is accompanied with a similar exercise of thought.

“Whatever increases this exercise or employment of imagination, increases also the emotion of beauty or sublimity.

“This is very obviously the effect of all associations. There is no man who has not some interesting associations with particular scenes, or airs, or books, and who does not feel their beauty or sublimity enhanced to him by such connexions. The view of the house where one was born, of the school where one was educated, and where the gay years of infancy were passed, is indifferent to no man.

“In the case of those trains of thought, which are suggested by objects either of sublimity or beauty, it will be found, that they are in all cases composed of ideas capable of exciting some affection or emotion; and that not only the whole succession is accompanied with that peculiar emotion which we call the emotion of beauty or sublimity, but that every individual idea of such a succession is in itself productive of some simple emotion or other.

“Thus the ideas suggested by the scenery of spring, are ideas productive of emotions of cheer[Pg 119] fulness, of gladness, and of tenderness. The images suggested by the prospect of ruins, are images belonging to pity, to melancholy, and to admiration. The ideas, in the same manner, awakened by the view of the ocean in a storm, are ideas of power, of majesty, and of terror.”

To prevent circumlocution, such ideas may be termed ideas of emotion; and the effect which is produced upon the mind, by objects of taste, may be considered as consisting in the production of a regular or consistent train of ideas of emotion.

“In those trains which are suggested by objects of sublimity or beauty, however slight the connexion between individual thoughts may be, it will be found, that there is always some general principle of connexion which pervades the whole, and gives them some certain definite character. They are either gay, or pathetic, or melancholy, or solemn, or awful, or elevating, &c., according to the nature of the emotion which is first excited. Thus the prospect of a serene evening in summer, produces first an emotion of peacefulness and tranquillity, and then suggests a variety of images corresponding to this primary impression. The sight of a torrent, or of a storm, in the same manner, impresses us first with sentiments of awe or solemnity, or terror, and then awakens in our minds a series of conceptions allied to this peculiar emotion.”

The intellectual, or fine arts are those whose objects are thus addressed to the imagination; and the pleasures they afford are described, by way of distinction, as the pleasures of the imagination.

 [Pg 120]


Thus, by analysis, generalization, and systematization, of the materials which the best writers present, I have, in this chapter, endeavored to take new and larger views; and, by an examination of the elements of beauty, I have endeavored to fix its doctrines upon an immoveable basis.

I have shown that there exist elements of beauty equally invariable in themselves, and in the kind of effect they produce upon the mind; that these elements are modified, varied, and complicated, as we advance from the most simple to the most complex class of natural beings, or of the arts which relate to these respectively; that the elements of beauty in inanimate beings, consist in the simplicity, regularity, uniformity, proportion, order, &c., of those geometrical forms which are so intimately connected with mere existence; that the elements of beauty in living beings, consist in adding to the preceding the delicacy, bending, variety, contrast, &c., which are connected with growth, and reproduction; that the elements of beauty in thinking beings, consist in adding to the preceding the symmetry, proportion,[15] &c., which are connected with fitness for sense, thought, and motion; that the elements of beauty in the objects of useful art, consist in the same simplicity, [Pg 121]regularity, uniformity, proportion, order, of geometrical forms which belong to inanimate beings; that the elements of beauty in the objects of ornamental art consist in the same delicacy, bending, variety, contrast, which belong to living beings; and that the elements of beauty in the objects of intellectual art consist in thinking forms, in gesture, sculpture, and painting, or in functions of mind actually exercised, in oratory, poetry, and music.

The elements of beauty have hitherto been confounded by many writers, as more or less applicable to objects of all kinds; and as this general and confused application was easily disproved as to many objects, uncertainty and doubt have been thrown over the whole. The remaining writers have consequently been led to adopt, as characters of beauty, only one or two of these elements, which were consequently capable of application only to one or two classes of its objects. Hence, no subject of human inquiry has hitherto been left in a more disgraceful condition than this, the very foundation of taste.

I do not hesitate to state that, owing to the near approximations to truth, and the insensible transitions into error, which I have found in every writer, and the immense mass of confused materials which they present, this subject has cost me more trouble than any one I have ever investigated, except that of my work on the mind;[16] nor without[Pg 122] some physiological knowledge, do I think tasks of this kind at all practicable. Generally speaking, each branch of knowledge is most surely advanced by acquaintance with its related branches; and philosophers cannot too much bear in mind the words of Cicero: “Etenim omnes artes quæ ad humanitatem pertinent, habent quoddam commune vinculum, et quasi cognatione quadam inter se continentur.”



[Pg 123]




In landscape, the nature of the beautiful and the sublime seems to be better understood than that of the picturesque. There are few disputes as to the former; many as to the latter. These disputes, moreover, are not as to what is picturesque, but as to what picturesque is.

Payne Knight asserts, that the picturesque has no distinctive character, and merely designates what a painter would imitate. Price, on the contrary, has given so many admirable illustrations of it, that its characteristics are before every reader. Strange to tell, its nature or essence has not been penetrated, because these characteristics have not been rigidly analyzed.

Price has, indeed, generalized considerably on this subject, by showing that irregularity, roughness, &c., enter into all scenes of a picturesque[Pg 124] description; and the examination of any one of them will certainly verify the truth of his observation.

Thus, on a remote country-road, we often observe the deep ruts on its surface which in winter would render it impassable—the huge and loose moss-grown stone, ready to encumber it by falling from the bank—the stunted pollard by its side, whose roots are exposed by the earth falling away from it, and which must itself be swept away by the first wind that may blow against it in an unfavorable direction—the almost ruined cottage, above and beyond these, whose gable is propped up by an old and broken wheel, and whose thatched roof, stained with every hue of moss or lichen, has, at one part, long fallen in—the shaggy and ragged horse that browses among the rank weeds around it—and the old man, bent with age, who leans over the broken gate in front of it.

Here, in every circumstance, is verified the irregularity and roughness which Price ascribes to the picturesque. But he has failed to observe, that the irregularity and roughness are but the signs of that which interests the mind far more deeply, namely, the universal DECAY which causes them. This is the essence of the picturesque—the charm in it which begets our sympathy.

Confining his remark merely to ruins, the author of “Observations on Gardening,” says: “At the sight of a ruin, reflections on the change, the decay, and the desolation, before us naturally occur; and they introduce a long succession of others, all[Pg 125] tinctured with that melancholy which these have inspired; or if the monument revive the memory of former times, we do not stop at the simple fact which it records, but recollect many more coeval circumstances which we see, nor perhaps as they were, but as they are come down to us, venerable with age, and magnified by fame.”—What is here said of ruins, and is indeed as to them sufficiently striking, is true of the picturesque universally, and it is only surprising that, amid such disputes, this simple and obvious truth should not have been observed.

In landscape, therefore, the picturesque stands in the same relation to the beautiful and sublime, that the pathetic does to them in poetry. Hence, speaking also of ruins only, Alison says: “The images suggested by the prospect of ruins, are images belonging to pity, to melancholy, and to admiration.”

A thousand illustrations might be given in support of this truth and the principle which it affords; but I think it better to leave these to the suggestion or the choice of every reader.



This has been partly explained by Beattie, partly by Hobbes; and it is chiefly to vindicate the latter, who knew much more of the human mind than the[Pg 126] people who have attacked him, that I write the pages immediately following.

Speaking of the quality in things, which makes them provoke the pleasing emotion or sentiment of which laughter is the external sign, Beattie says: “It is an uncommon mixture of relation and contrariety, exhibited, or supposed to be united, in the same assemblage.” And elsewhere he says: “Laughter arises from the view of two or more inconsistent, unsuitable, or incongruous parts or circumstances, considered as united in one complex object or assemblage, or as acquiring a sort of mutual relation from the peculiar manner in which the mind takes notice of them.”

“The latter may arise from contiguity, from the relation of cause and effect, from unexpected likeness, from dignity and meanness, from absurdity, &c.

“Thus, at first view, the dawn of the morning and a boiled lobster seem utterly incongruous, but when a change of color from black to red is suggested, we recognise a likeness, and consequently a relation, or ground of comparison.

“And here let it be observed, that the greater the number of incongruities that are blended in the same assemblage, the more ludicrous it will probably be. If, as in the last example, there be an opposition of dignity and meanness, as well as of likeness and dissimilitude, the effect of the contrast will be more powerful, than if only one of these oppositions had appeared in the ludicrous idea.”

[Pg 127]The first part of the subject seems, indeed, so clear as to admit of no objection.

Hobbes, viewing more particularly the act of the mind, defines laughter to be a “sudden glory, arising from a sudden conception of some eminency in ourselves, by comparison with the infirmity of others, or with our own formerly.” And elsewhere he says: “Men laugh at jests, the wit whereof always consisteth in the elegant discovering and conveying to our minds, some absurdity of another.”[18]

Dr. Campbell objects that “contempt may be raised in a very high degree, both suddenly and unexpectedly, without producing the least tendency to laugh.” But if there exist that incongruity in the same assemblage described as the fundamental cause of this sudden conception of our own superiority, laughter, as Beattie has shown, “will always, or for the most part, excite the risible emotion, unless when the perception of it is attended with some other emotion of greater authority,” dependant on custom, politeness, &c.

Dr. Campbell also observes, that “laughter may be, and is daily, produced by the perception of incongruous associations, when there is no contempt.

“We often smile at a witty performance or passage, such as Butler’s allusion to a boiled lobster, in his picture of the morning, when we are so far from conceiving any inferiority or turpitude in the[Pg 128] author, that we greatly admire his genius, and wish ourselves possessed of that very turn of fancy which produced the drollery in question.

“Many have laughed at the queerness of the comparison in these lines,

‘For rhyme the rudder is of verses,
With which like ships they steer their courses,’

who never dreamed that there was any person or party, practice or opinion, derided in them.

“If any admirer of the Hobbesian philosophy should pretend to discover some class of men whom the poet here meant to ridicule, he ought to consider, that if any one hath been tickled with the passage to whom the same thought never occurred, that single instance would be sufficient to subvert the doctrine, as it would show that there may be laughter where there is no triumph or glorying over anybody, and, consequently, no conceit of one’s own superiority.

Now, the class of men laughed at in both cases is the same, namely, poets, whose lofty allusions are ridiculed by the former, and silly rhymes by the latter; nor can any one duly appreciate or be pleased with either, to whom this intention of the writer is not obvious. Who ever dreamed of “turpitude in the author,” as Dr. Campbell supposes!

“As to the wag,” says Beattie, “who amuses himself on the first of April with telling lies, he must be shallow, indeed, if he hope, by so doing, to acquire any superiority over another man whom he[Pg 129] knows to be wiser and better than himself; for, on these occasions, the greatness of the joke, and the loudness of the laugh, are, if I rightly remember, in exact proportion to the sagacity of the person imposed on.”—No doubt; but it is because he is thrown into an apparent and whimsical, though momentary inferiority; and the greater his sagacity, the more amusing does this appear.

“Do we not,” says he, “sometimes laugh at fortuitous combinations, in which, as no mental energy is concerned in producing them, there cannot be either fault or turpitude? Could not one imagine a set of people jumbled together by accident, so as to present a laughable group to those who know their characters?”—Undoubtedly; but then the slouch of one, and the rigidity of the other, &c., make both contemptible, as to physical characteristics at least, and there is no need of turpitude in either.

The strongest apparent objection, however, is that of Dr. Campbell, who says: “Indeed, men’s telling their own blunders, even blunders recently committed, and laughing at them, a thing not uncommon in very risible dispositions, is utterly inexplicable upon Hobbes’s system. For, to consider the thing only with regard to the laugher himself, there is to him no subject of glorying, that is not counterbalanced by an equal subject of humiliation (he being both the person laughing, and the person laughed at), and these two subjects must destroy one another.”

But he overlooks the precise terms employed by Hobbes, who says: “The passion of laughter is[Pg 130] nothing else but sudden glory, arising from a sudden conception of some eminency in ourselves, by comparison with the infirmity of others, or with our own formerly. For men laugh at the follies of themselves past, when they come suddenly to remembrance, except they bring with them any present dishonor.”

It is not therefore true, as Dr. Campbell says, that “with regard to others, he appears solely under the notion of inferiority, as the person triumphed over.” He, on the contrary, appears as achieving a very glorious triumph, that, namely, over his own errors.

This shows also the error of Addison’s remarks, that “according to this account, when we hear a man laugh excessively, instead of saying that he is very merry, we ought to tell him that he is very proud.”—A man may contemn the errors both of himself and others, without pride: and, indeed, in contemning the former, he proves himself to be far above that sentiment, and verifies Dr. Campbell’s remark that no two characters more rarely meet in the same person, than that of a very risible man, and a very self-conceited supercilious man.

It is curious to see a great man, like Hobbes, thus attacked by less ones, who do not even understand him.

 [Pg 131]


Many hypotheses have been proposed to explain this cause.

According to the Abbé Du Bos,[19] in order to get rid of listlessness, the mind seeks for emotions; and the stronger these are the better. Hence, the passions which in themselves are the most distressing, are, for this purpose, preferable to the pleasant, because they most effectually relieve the mind from the less endurable languor which preys upon it during inaction.

The sophistry of this explanation is evident. Pleasant passions, as Dr. Campbell has shown, ought in every respect to have the advantage, because, while they preserve the mind from this state of inaction, they convey a feeling which is agreeable. Nor is it true that the stronger the emotion is, so much the fitter for this purpose; for if we exceed a certain measure, instead of a sympathetic and delightful sorrow, we excite only horror and aversion. The most, therefore, that can be concluded from the Abbé’s premises, is, that it is useful to excite passion of some kind or other, but not that the distressing ones are the fittest.

According to Fontenelle,[20] theatrical representation[Pg 132] has almost the effect of reality: but yet not altogether. We have still a certain idea of falsehood in the whole of what we see. We weep for the misfortunes of a hero to whom we are attached. In the same instant, we comfort ourselves by reflecting, that it is nothing but a fiction.

The short answer to this is, that we are conscious of no such alternation as that here described.

According to David Hume, whose hypothesis is a kind of supplement to the former two, that which “when the sorrow is not softened by fiction, raises a pleasure from the bosom of uneasiness, a pleasure which still retains all the features and outward symptoms of distress and sorrow, is that very eloquence with which the melancholy scene is represented.”

In reply, Dr. Campbell has shown that the aggravating of all the circumstances of misery in the representation, cannot make it be contemplated with pleasure, but must be the most effectual method for making it give greater pain; that the detection of the speaker’s talents and address, which Hume’s hypothesis implies, is in direct opposition to the fundamental maxim, that “it is essential to the art to conceal the art;” and that the supposition that there are two distinct effects produced by the eloquence on the hearers, one the sentiment of beauty, or of the harmony of oratorical numbers, the other the passion which the speaker purposes to raise in their minds, and that when the first predominates, the mixture of the two effects becomes exceedingly pleasant, and the[Pg 133] reverse when the second is superior, is altogether imaginary.

According to Hawkesworth,[21] the compassion in question may be “resolved into that power of imagination, by which we apply the misfortunes of others to ourselves;” and we are said “to pity no longer than we fancy ourselves to suffer, and to be pleased only by reflecting that our sufferings are not real; thus indulging a dream of distress, from which we can awake whenever we please, to exult in our security, and enjoy the comparison of the fiction with the truth.”

This hypothesis is evidently too gross to need reply.

Dr. Campbell has answered the preceding hypotheses at great length, and quite satisfactorily. I regret to say that his own is as worthless, as well as remarkably confused and unintelligible.

To Burke, who wrote at a later period, it falls to my lot to reply at greater length.

“To examine this point concerning the effect of tragedy in a proper manner,” says that writer, “we must previously consider how we are affected by the feelings of our fellow-creatures in circumstances of real distress. I am convinced we have a degree of delight, and that no small one, in the real misfortunes and pains of others; for, let the affection be what it will in appearance, if it does not make us shun such objects, if on the contrary it induces us to approach them, if it makes us dwell upon[Pg 134] them, in this case I conceive we must have a delight or pleasure of some species or other in contemplating objects of this kind.... Our delight in cases of this kind is very greatly heightened, if the sufferer be some excellent person who sinks under an unworthy fortune.... The delight we have in such things hinders us from shunning scenes of misery; and the pains we feel, prompt us to relieve ourselves, in relieving those who suffer.... In imitated distress, the only difference is the pleasure resulting from the effects of imitation.”

A more monstrous doctrine than this was never perhaps enunciated. A very little analysis will expose its fallacy.

In relation to events of this kind, there are three very distinct cases—real occurrence, subsequent inspection or historical narration, and dramatic representation; in each, the affection of the mind is very different; and nearly all the errors on this subject seem to have occurred from confounding them. Burke has done this in the greatest degree.

The real occurrence of unmerited suffering is beheld with no delight, but with unmixed pain, by every well-constituted mind. Hume,[22] therefore, justly observes, that “the same object of distress, which pleases in a tragedy, were it really set before us, would give the most unfeigned uneasiness.” It is only by confounding this with the next case, of subsequent inspection or historical narration, that Burke gets into error here.

[Pg 135]“We do not,” says Burke, “sufficiently distinguish what we would by no means choose to do [or to see done—he should have added] from what we should be eager enough to see if it was once done. We delight in seeing things [after they are done—he should have added], which, so far from doing, our heartiest wishes would be to see redressed.”

That the additions I have made, more truly state the case, seems as evident, as it is, that they afford a very different conclusion from Burke’s, of our beholding unmerited suffering with delight. But he himself proves this by the very instance which he gives in illustration of his doctrine.

“This noble capital,” he says, “the pride of England and of Europe, I believe no man is so strangely wicked as to desire to see destroyed by a conflagration or an earthquake, though he should be removed himself to the greatest distance from the danger. But suppose such a fatal accident to have happened, what numbers from all parts would crowd to behold the ruins, and among them many who would have been content never to have seen London in its glory!”

Here the words which I have put in italics clearly show that I was right in the additions I suggested in his previous statement, and that he there confounded delight in seeing the infliction of unmerited suffering, with delight in seeing it after infliction, or of seeing it historically narrated; for, in this his illustration, it is the latter, and not the former, that he supposes—nay he now says “no man is so strangely wicked as to desire to see destroyed!” [Pg 136]&c. Indeed, it is quite plain that, supposing an attempt made to destroy London, so far would every one be from being delighted to see it done, that he would eagerly prevent it. There is here, therefore, on the part of this writer, only his common and characteristic confusion of ideas.

“Choose a day,” he says, “on which to represent the most sublime and affecting tragedy we have; appoint the most favorite actors; spare no cost upon the scenes and decorations; unite the greatest efforts of poetry, painting, and music; and when you have collected your audience, just at the moment when their minds are erect with expectation, let it be reported that a state-criminal, of high rank, is on the point of being executed in the adjoining square; in a moment the emptiness of the theatre would demonstrate the comparative weakness of the imitative arts, and proclaim the triumph of the real sympathy.”

This presents only another instance of want of discrimination. If the “state-criminal, of high rank,” were not a real criminal—if he were an unmerited sufferer, the place of execution, supposing his rescue impossible, would assuredly be fled from by every person of feeling and honor; as we read of in the public papers, lately, when a murder of that kind was perpetrating by some one of the base little jailor-princes of Germany. And we know that, in the case of legal perpetrations of that kind in England, even upon real criminals, none but the most degraded wretches go to witness such scenes.

[Pg 137]In tragic representation, then, we know that the suffering is not real, else should we fly. There have, indeed, in such cases, been instances of a sort of momentary deception, but it is only children, and very simple people, utter strangers to theatrical amusements, who are apt to be so deceived; and as their case always excites the surprise and laughter of every one, it clearly proves that others are under no sort of deception.

Even Burke, notwithstanding his want of discrimination, and his monstrous hypothesis, says: “Imitated distress is never so perfect, but we can perceive it is imitation, and on that principle are somewhat pleased with it.” And his case of desertion of the theatre, if it occur under any circumstances, illustrates this.

Burke adds, indeed: “But then I imagine we shall be much mistaken if we attribute any considerable part of our satisfaction in tragedy to the consideration that tragedy is a deceit, and its representations no realities. [We seek no satisfaction of the kind: we know it to be a deceit throughout!] The nearer it approaches the reality, and the farther it removes us from all idea of fiction, the more perfect is its power.”

The nearest possible approach to reality, is only necessary to the success of fiction, to the pleasure of imagination. He himself has said: “Imitated distress is never so perfect, but we can perceive it is imitation!” Again, therefore, here is only Burke’s characteristic confusion of ideas.

[Pg 138]My own doctrine on this subject is already obvious from the remarks made on others. We never cease to know that tragic representation is a mere deception; our reason is never imposed upon; our imagination is alone engaged; we are perfectly conscious that it is so; and we have all the sensibility, fine feeling, and generosity of pity, as well as the satisfaction of being thereby raised wonderfully in our own esteem, at the small cost of three shillings!

It is not a little curious, that this should not have been evident to those who have written so much about it. Dr. Campbell, alone, has approached it. “So great,” he says, “is the anomaly which sometimes displays itself in human characters, that it is not impossible to find persons who are quickly made to cry at seeing a tragedy, or reading a romance, which they know to be fictions, and yet are both inattentive and unfeeling in respect of the actual objects of compassion who live in their neighborhood, and are daily under their eye.... Men may be of a selfish, contracted, and even avaricious disposition, who are not what we should denominate hard-hearted, or unsusceptible of sympathetic feeling. Such will gladly enjoy the luxury of pity (as Hawkesworth terms it) when it nowise interferes with their more powerful passions; that is, when it comes unaccompanied with a demand upon their pockets.”—This should have led him to the simple truth, and should have prevented his framing the most confused, unintelligible, and worthless hypothesis upon this subject.



[Pg 139]



To any inquiry respecting the beauty of woman, the replies are, in general, various, inconsistent, or contradictory. The assertion might, therefore, appear to be true, that, even under the same climate, beauty is not always the same.

Our vague perceptions, however, and our vague expressions respecting beauty, will be found to be, in a great measure, owing to the inaccuracy of our mode of examining it, and, in some measure, to the imperfect nomenclature which we possess for describing it.

Beauty, and even true taste, respecting it, are always the same; but, in the first place, we observe beauty partially and imperfectly; and in the second place, our actual preferences are dependant on our particular wants, and will be found to differ only because these wants differ in every individual, and even in the same individual at different periods of life.

The laws regulating beauty in woman, and taste respecting it in man, have not been attempted to be explained, except in the worthless work alluded[Pg 140] to in the advertisement. Yet nothing perhaps is more universally interesting.

As, in this view, the kinds of beauty demand the first and chief attention, the following illustrations are necessary:—

We observe a woman possessing one species of beauty:—Her face is generally oblong; her neck is rather long and tapering: her shoulders, without being angular, are sufficiently broad and definite; her bosom is of moderate dimensions; her waist, remarkable for fine proportion, resembles in some respects an inverted cone; her haunches are moderately expanded; her thighs, proportional; her arms, as well as her limbs, are rather long and tapering; her hands and feet are moderately small; her complexion is often rather dark; and her hair is frequently abundant, dark, and strong.—The whole figure is precise, striking, and brilliant. Yet, has she few or none of the qualities of the succeeding species.

We observe, next, another species of beauty:—Her face is generally round; her eyes are generally of the softest azure; her neck is often rather short; her shoulders are softly rounded, and owe any breadth they may possess rather to the expanded chest, than to the size of the shoulders themselves; her bosom, in its luxuriance, seems laterally to protrude on the space occupied by the arms; her waist, though sufficiently marked, is, as it were, encroached on by the enbonpoint of all the contiguous parts; her haunches are greatly expanded; her thighs are large in proportion; but her limbs[Pg 141] and arms, tapering and becoming delicate, terminate in feet and hands which, compared with the ample trunk, are peculiarly small; her complexion has the rose and lily so exquisitely blended, that we are surprised it should defy the usual operation of the elements; and she boasts a luxuriant profusion of soft and fine flaxen or auburn hair.—The whole figure is soft and voluptuous in the extreme. Yet has she not the almost measured proportions and the brilliant air of the preceding species; nor has she the qualities of the succeeding one.

We observe, then, a beauty of a third species:—Her face is generally oval; her high and pale forehead announces the intellectuality of her character; her intensely expressive eye is full of sensibility; in her lower features, modesty and dignity are often united; she has not the expanded bosom, the general embonpoint, or the beautiful complexion, of the second species; and she boasts easy and graceful motion, rather than the elegant proportion of the first.—The whole figure is characterized by intellectuality and grace.

Such are the three species of beauty of which all the rest are varieties.

Now, as it is in general one only of these species which characterizes any one woman, and as each of these species is suited to the wants of, and is consequently agreeable to, a different individual, it is obvious why the common vague reports of the beauty of any woman are always so various, inconsistent, or contradictory.

In the more accurate study of this subject, it is[Pg 142] indispensable that the reader should understand the scientific principles on which the preceding brief analysis of female beauty, as reducible to three species, is founded.

To attain this knowledge, and to acquire facility in the art of distinguishing and judging of beauty in woman, a little general knowledge of anatomy is absolutely essential. The writer begs, therefore, attention to the following sketch. It may not at first seem interesting to the general reader; but it is the sole basis of a scientific knowledge of female beauty; the study of it during one hour is sufficient to apprehend it in all its bearings; and it will obviate every future difficulty.

In viewing the human organs in a general manner, a class of these organs at once obtrudes itself upon our notice, from its consisting of an apparatus of levers, from its performing motion from place to place or locomotion, and from these motions being of the most obvious kind.—A little more observation presents to us another class, which is distinguished from the preceding by its consisting of cylindrical tubes, by its transmitting and transmuting liquids, performing vascular action or nutrition, and by its motions being barely apparent.—Farther investigation discovers a third, which differs essentially from both these, in its consisting of nervous particles, in its transmitting impressions from external objects, performing nervous action or thought, and in that action being altogether invisible.

Thus, each of these classes of organs is distinguished from another by the structure of its parts,[Pg 143] by the purposes which it serves, and by the greater or less obviousness of its motions.

The first consists of levers; the second, of cylindrical tubes; and the third, of nervous particles. The first performs motion from place to place or locomotion; the second transmits and transmutes liquids, performing vascular action or nutrition; and the third transmits impressions from external objects, performing nervous action or thought. The motion of the first is extremely obvious; that of the second is barely apparent; and that of the third is altogether invisible.

Not one of them can be confounded with another: for, considering their purposes only, it is evident that that which performs locomotion, neither transmits liquids nor sensations; that which transmits liquids, neither performs locomotion nor is the means of sensibility; and that which is the means of sensibility, neither performs locomotion nor transmits liquids.

Now, the organs employed in locomotion are the bones, ligaments, and muscles; those employed in transmitting liquids or in nutrition, are the absorbent, circulating, and secreting vessels; and those employed about sensations or in thought, are the organs of sense, cerebrum, and cerebel, with the nerves which connect them.

The first class of organs may, therefore, be termed locomotive, or (from their very obvious action) mechanical; the second, vascular or nutritive, or (as even vegetables, from their possessing vessels, have life) they may be termed vital; and[Pg 144] the third may be named nervous or thinking, or (as mind results from them) mental.

The human body, then, consists of organs of three kinds. By the first kind, locomotive or mechanical action is effected; by the second, nutritive or vital action is maintained; and by the third, thinking or mental action is permitted.

Anatomy is, therefore, divided into three parts, namely, that which considers the mechanical or locomotive organs; that which considers the nutritive or vital organs; and that which considers the thinking or mental organs.

Under the mechanical or locomotive organs are classed, first, the bones or organs of support; second, the ligaments or organs of articulation; and third, the muscles or organs of motion.

Under the nutritive or vital organs are classed, first, the absorbent vessels or organs of absorption; second, the bloodvessels, which derive their contents from the absorbed lymph, or organs of circulation; and third, the secreting vessels, which separate various matters from the blood, or organs of secretion.[23]

[Pg 145]Under the thinking or mental organs are classed, first, the organs of sense, where impressions take place; second, the cerebrum or organ of thought, properly so called, where these excite ideas, emotions, and passions; and third, the cerebel or organ[Pg 146] of volition, where acts of the will result from the last.[24]

We may now more particularly notice the functions of these organs, which are the subject of physiology.

In the locomotive functions, the bones at once give support, and form levers for motion; the ligaments form articulations, and afford the points of support; and the muscles are the moving powers. To the first, are owing all the symmetry and elegance of human form; to the second, its beautiful flexibility; and to the third, all the brilliance and grace of motion which fancy can inspire, or skill can execute.

In the nutritive functions, the food, having passed into the mouth, is, after mastication, aided by mixture with the saliva, thrown back, by the tongue and contiguous parts, into the cavity behind, called fauces and pharynx; this contracting, presses it into the œsophagus or gullet; this also contracting, propels it into the stomach, which, after its due digestion aided by the gastric juice, similarly contracting, transmits whatever portion of it, now called chyme, is sufficiently comminuted to pass through its lower opening, the pylorus, into the intestines; these, at the commencement of which it receives the bile and pancreatic juice, similarly pressing it on all sides, urge forward its most solid part to the anus; while its liquid portion partly escapes from the pressure into the mouths of the [Pg 147]absorbents. The absorbents arising by minute openings from all the internal surfaces, and continuing a similar contractile motion, transmit it, now called chyle, by all their gradually-enlarging branches, and through their general trunk, the thoracic duct, where it is blended with the lymph brought from other parts, into the great veins contiguous to the heart, where it is mixed with the venous or returning and dark-colored blood, and whence it flows into the anterior side of that organ. The anterior side of the heart, forcibly repeating this contraction, propels it, commixed with the venous blood, into the lungs, which perform the office of respiration, and in some measure of sanguification; there, giving off carbonaceous matter, and assuming a vermilion hue and new vivifying properties, it flows back as arterial blood, into the posterior side of the heart. The posterior side of the heart, still similarly contracting, discharges it into the arteries; these, maintaining a like contraction, carry it over all the system; and a great portion of it, impregnated with carbon, and of a dark color, returns through the veins in order to undergo the same course. Much, however, of its gelatinous and fibrous parts is retained in the cells of the parenchyma, or cellular, vascular, and nervous substance forming the basis of the whole fabric, and constitutes nutrition, properly so called; while other portions of it become entangled in the peculiarly-formed labyrinths of the glands, and form secretion and excretion—the products of the former contributing to the exercise of other functions, and[Pg 148] those of the latter being rejected. As digestion precedes the first, so generation follows the last of these functions, and not only continues the same species of action, but propagates it widely to new existences in the manner just described.

In the thinking functions, the organs of sense receive external impressions, which excite in them sensations; the cerebrum, having these transmitted to it, performs the more complicated functions of mental operation, whence result ideas, emotions, and passions; and the cerebel, being similarly influenced, performs the function of volition, or causes the acts of the will.

It is not unusual to consider the body as being divided into the head, the trunk, and the extremities; but, in consequence of the hitherto universal neglect of the natural arrangement of the organs and functions into locomotive, nutritive, and thinking, the beauty and interest which may be attached to this division, have equally escaped the notice of anatomists.

It is a curious fact, and strongly confirmative of the preceding arrangements, that one of these parts, the extremities, consists almost entirely of locomotive organs, namely, of bones, ligaments, and muscles; that another, the trunk, consists of all the greater nutritive organs, namely, absorbents, bloodvessels, and glands; and that the third, the head, contains all the thinking organs, namely, the organs of sense, cerebrum, and cerebel.[25]

[Pg 149]It is a fact not less curious, nor less confirmative of the preceding arrangements, that, of these parts, those which consist chiefly of locomotive or mechanical organs—organs which, as to mere structure, and considered apart from the influence of the nervous system over them, are common to us with the lowest class of beings, namely, minerals[26]—are placed in the lowest situation, namely, the extremities; that which consists chiefly of nutritive or vital organs—organs common to us with a higher class of beings, namely, vegetables[27]—is placed in a higher situation, namely, the trunk; and that which consists chiefly of thinking or mental organs—organs peculiar to the highest class of beings, namely, animals[28]—is placed in the highest situation, namely, the head.

It is not less remarkable, that this analogy is supported even in its minutest details; for, to choose the nutritive organs contained in the trunk as an illustration, it is a fact, that those of absorption and secretion, which are most common to us[Pg 150] with plants, a lower class of beings, have a lower situation—in the cavity of the abdomen; while those of circulation, which are very imperfect in plants,[29] and more peculiar to animals, a higher class of beings, hold a higher situation—in the cavity of the thorax.

It is, moreover, worthy of remark, and still illustrative of the preceding arrangements, that, in each of these three situations, the bones differ both in, position and in form. In the extremities, they are situated internally to the soft parts, and are generally of cylindrical form; in the trunk, they begin to assume a more external situation and a flatter form, because they protect nutritive and more important parts, which they do not, however, altogether cover; and, in the head, they obtain the most external situation and the flattest form, especially in its highest part, because they protect thinking and most important organs, which, in some parts, they completely invest.

The loss of such general views is the consequence of arbitrary methods.[30]

[Pg 151]We may now apply these anatomical and physiological views to the art of distinguishing and judging of beauty in woman.

It is evidently the locomotive or mechanical system which is highly developed in the beauty whose figure is precise, striking, and brilliant.

It is evidently the nutritive or vital system which is highly developed in the beauty whose figure is soft and voluptuous.

It is not less evidently the thinking or mental system which is highly developed in the beauty whose figure is characterized by intellectuality and grace.

Thus can anatomical principles alone at once illustrate and establish the accuracy of the three species of beauty which I have analytically described.



[Pg 152]



The variations of the organization of woman do not distinctly mark the seasons of life. Many connected phenomena glide on imperceptibly; and we can distinguish the strong characters of different and distinct ages, only at periods remote from each other. Although, therefore, woman is perpetually changing, it requires some care to discriminate the principal epochs of her life.

The first age of woman extends from birth to the period of puberty.

In beginning the career of life, woman is not yet truly woman; the characters of her sex are not yet decided; she is an equivocal being, who does not differ from the male of the same age even by the delicacy of the organs; and we observe between them a perfect identity of wants, functions, and movements. Their existence is, then, purely individual; we perceive none of the relations which afterward establish between them a mutual dependance; each lives only for self.

This conformity and independence of the sexes are the more remarkable, the earlier the age and the less advanced the development.

[Pg 153]Confining our view to woman alone, it is not only in dimensions that, at this age, her person differs from that in which the growth is terminated: it presents another model. The various parts have not, in relation to each other, the same proportions.

The head is much more voluminous; and this is not a result of the extent of the face, for that is small and contracted, because the apparatus of smell and of mastication are not yet developed. Nor is the head only more voluminous; it is also more active, and forms a centre toward which is directed all the effort of life.

The spine of the back has not either the minuter prominences or the general inflexions which favor the action of the extensor muscles, a circumstance which is opposed to standing perpendicularly during the first months. The infant consequently can only crawl like a quadruped.

Little distinction can then be drawn, and that with difficulty, from the comparative width of the haunches, and magnitude of the pelvis. That part is scarcely more developed in the female than in the male; its general form is the same; and its different diameters have similar relations to each other.

The length of the trunk is great in proportion to the limbs, which are slightly and imperfectly developed.

Owing to the great length of the chest, and the imperfection of the inferior members, the middle of the body then corresponds to the region of the[Pg 154] umbilicus. An infant having other proportions, would appear to be deprived of the characters of its age.

In the locomotive system, the muscles have not yet acted with sufficient power and frequency to modify the direction of the bones, and to bestow a peculiar character upon their combination in the skeleton. The fleshy and other soft parts do not yet appear to differ from those of the male, either as to form or as to relative volume.

The vital functions of digestion, of circulation and respiration, of nutrition, secretion, and excretion, are performed in the same manner. The want of nourishment is unceasingly renewed, and the movements of the pulse, and of inspiration and expiration, are rapidly performed, owing to the extreme irritability of all the organs.

The mental functions present the same resemblance; the ideas, the appetites, the passions, have the greatest analogy; and similar moral dispositions prevail. Little girls, it has been observed, have in some measure the petulance of little boys, and these have in some measure the mobility and the inconstancy of little girls.

Owing to the pelvis not being yet developed, little girls walk nearly like children of the other sex.

These points of resemblance do not continue during a long period: the female begins to acquire a distinct physiognomy, and traits which are peculiar to her, long before we can discern any of the symptoms of puberty; and although the especial[Pg 155] marks which distinguish her sex do not yet show themselves, the general forms which characterize it may be perceived. These differences, however, are only slight modifications, more easily felt than determined.

The cartilaginous extremities of the bones appear to enlarge; and the mucous substance, which ultimately gives the soft reliefs which distinguish woman, is not yet secreted. She is now perhaps more easily distinguished by the nature of her inclinations and the general character of her mind: while man now seeks to make use of his strength, woman endeavors to acquire agreeable arts. The movements, the gait, of the little girl begin to change.

These shades are so much the more sensible as the development is more advanced. Still, woman, in advancing toward puberty, appears to remove less than man from her primitive constitution; she always preserves something of the character proper to children; and the texture of her organs never loses all its original softness.

At the near approach to puberty, woman becomes daily more perfect.

We observe a predominance of the action of the lungs and the arteries; the pelvis enlarges; the haunches are rounded; and the figure acquires elegance.

There is in particular a remarkable increase of the capacity of the pelvis, of which the circumference at last presents the circular form; it being no longer, as in the little girl and in man, the [Pg 156]anteroposterior diameter which is the greatest, but the transverse one. It has been observed that the same occurs in the females of the greater quadrupeds. The pelvis, however, does not acquire, till the moment of perfect puberty, its proper form and dimensions.

The changes which the same cause produces at the surface, are a general development of the cellular tissue, the delicacy of all the outlines, the fineness and the animation of the skin, and the new state of the bosom.

The fire of the eyes, and the altogether new expression of the physiognomy, show that there now also exists the sensation of a new want, which various circumstances may for a time enfeeble or silence, but can never entirely stifle; and with it come those tastes, that direction of the mind, and those habits, which are the effect of an internal power now called into activity.

The gait and bearing of woman are now no longer the same; and the voice changes as well as the physiognomy.

In all that has yet occurred, it will be observed that nutrition and growth take place with great rapidity in woman. Her internal structure, her external form, her faculties, are all developed promptly. It would appear that the parts which compose her body, being less, less compact, and less strong, than those of man, require less time to attain their complete development.

Woman consequently arrives earlier at the age of puberty, and her body is commonly, at twenty[Pg 157] years of age, as completely formed as that of a man at thirty. Thus beauty and grace, as has been observed, seem to demand of nature less labor and time than the attributes of force and grandeur.

In many women, however, nutrition languishes even until the sexual organs enter into action, and determine a revolution under the influence of which growth is accomplished.

Still it is certain that, for several years, the locomotive system predominates in young women, even in figures promising the ultimate development of the vital system in the highest degree.

The second age of woman extends from puberty to the cessation of the menses, or, we may say, from the period of full growth, the general time of bearing children, to the time of ceasing to bear—generally perhaps from twenty to forty.

It is at the beginning of this period that woman has acquired all her attributes, her most seducing graces. She is not now distinguished merely by the organs which are the direct instruments of reproduction: many other differences of structure, having a relation to her part in life, present themselves to our view.

At this maturer age, the whole figure is, in the female, smaller and slenderer than in the male. The ancients accordingly gave seven heads and a half to the Venus, and eight heads and some modules to the Apollo.

The relations between the dimensions of the different parts differ also in the two sexes.

In woman, the head, shoulders, and chest, are[Pg 158] small and compact, while the haunches, the hips, the thighs, and the parts connected with the abdomen, are ample and large. Hence, her body tapers upward, as her limbs taper downward. And this is the most remarkable circumstance in her general form.

Owing to smaller stature, and to greater size of the abdominal region, the middle point, which is at the pubis in the male, is situated higher in the female. This is the next remarkable circumstance in a general view.

The inferior members still continue shorter.

In general, woman is not only less in stature, and different in her general proportions, but her haunches are more apart, her hips more elevated, her abdomen larger, her members more rounded, her soft parts less compact, her forms more softened, her traits finer.

During youth, especially, and among civilized nations, woman is farther distinguished by the softness, the smoothness, the delicacy, and the polish, of all the forms, by the gradual and easy transitions between all the parts, by the number and the harmony of the undulating lines which these present in every view, by the beautiful outline of the reliefs, and by the fineness and the animation of the skin.

The soft parts which enter into the composition of woman, and the cellular tissue which serves to unite them, are also more delicate and more supple than those of man.

All these circumstances indicate very clearly[Pg 159] the passive state to which nature has destined woman, and which will be fully illustrated in a future volume.

If, in a living body, any part liable to be distended had too much firmness, or even elasticity, it might press against some essential organ; and the liquids being impeded in their course, would in that case be speedily altered, if the neighboring parts offered not flexible vessels for their reception.

Now, in the body of woman, certain parts are exposed to suffer great distentions and compressions. It is therefore necessary that her organs should be of such structure as to yield readily to these impressions, and to supply each other when their respective functions are impeded.

From this it follows, that woman never enjoys existence better, than when a moderate plumpness bestows on her organs, without too much weakening them, all the suppleness of which they are capable.

This leads to the consideration of the natural mobility of the organs of woman.

Their mobility is a necessary consequence, in the first place, of their littleness. The movements of all animals, appear to be executed with more rapidity, the less their bulk. It has been observed, that the arteries of the ox beat only thirty-five times, while those of the sheep beat sixty, and that the pulse of women is smaller and more rapid than that of men.

A second physical quality, which concurs to[Pg 160] render more mobile the various parts of woman, is their softness.

A certain feebleness is the necessary consequence of these two circumstances. But it is thence that spring woman’s suppleness and lightness of movement, and her capacity for grace of attitude.

It has been conjectured, that even the elements of the parts which constitute woman, have a particular organization, on which depends the elegance of the forms, the vivacity of the sensations, and the lightness of the movements, which characterize her.

The result of these circumstances is that, while man possesses force and majesty, woman is distinguished by beauty and grace. The characteristics of woman are less imposing and more amiable; they inspire less admiration than love. As has been observed, a single trait of rudeness, a severe air, or even the character of majesty, would injure the effect of womanly beauty. Lucian admirably represents to us the god of love frightened at the masculine air of Minerva.

While man, by force and activity, surmounts the obstacles which embarrass him, woman, by yielding, withdraws from their action, and adds to beauty, a gentle and winning grace which places all the vaunted power of man at her disposal.

It is evidently the influence of the organs distinguishing the two sexes, which is the primary cause of their peculiar beauty.

As the liquid which, in man, is secreted in [Pg 161]certain vessels for the purpose of reproduction, communicates a general excitement and activity to the character, so when, in woman, the periodical excretion appears, the breasts expand, the eyes sparkle, the countenance becomes more expressive, but at the same time more timid and reserved, and a character of flexibility and grace distinguishes every motion.

Conformably with this view, the appearance and the manners of eunuchs approach to those of women, by the softness and feebleness of their organization, as well as by their timidity, and by their acute voice.

The very opposite is naturally the result of the extirpation of the ovaries in women. Pott, giving an account of the case of a female, in whom both the ovaries were extirpated, says, the person “has become thinner, and more apparently muscular; her breasts, which were large, are gone; nor has she ever menstruated since the operation, which is now some years.” Haighton found that, by dividing the Fallopian tubes, which connect the ovaries with the womb, sexual feelings were destroyed, and the ovaries gradually wasted.

The women, also, in whom the uterus and the ovaries remain inert during life, approximate in forms and habits to men. It is stated, in the Philosophical Transactions for 1805, that an adult female, in whom the ovaries were defective, presented a corresponding defect in the state of the constitution.

To the same general principle, it has been [Pg 162]observed, we must refer the partial growth of a beard on females in the decline of life, and the circumstance that female-birds, when they have ceased to lay eggs, occasionally assume the plumage, and, to a certain extent, the other characters of the male.

Under the influence of this cause, the first exercise of her new faculty determines remarkable modifications in woman. Her neck swells and augments in size—

“Non illam nutrix orienti luce revisens
Hesterno collum poterit circumdare filo;[31]

her voice assumes another expression; her moral habits totally change: and many women owe to love and marriage more splendid beauty.

The women thus happily constituted are not those of hot climates, but those of cooler regions and calmer temperament, whose placid features and more elastic forms announce a gentler and more passive love.

Impassioned women, on the contrary, do not so long preserve their freshness: the expansive force,[Pg 163] from which the organs derived their form and coloring, abates; and a less agreeable flaccidity succeeds to the elasticity with which they were endowed, if the plumpness which adult age commonly brings does not sustain them.

During pregnancy and suckling, the firstmentioned class of women retain a remarkable freshness and plumpness.

The lastmentioned class of women most frequently become meager, and lose their freshness during the continuance of these states.

If, however, during these states, suitable precautions and preservative cares be not employed, it is the first class who most suffer from traces of maternity.

Conception, pregnancy, delivery, and suckling, being renewed more or less frequently during the second age, hasten debility in feeble and ill-constituted women; especially if misery or an improper mode of life increase the influence of these causes.

In the third age of woman, extending generally from forty to sixty, the physical form does not suddenly deteriorate; and, as has often been observed, “when premature infirmities or misfortunes, the exercise of an unfavorable profession, or a wrong employment of life, have not hastened old age, women during the third age preserve many of the charms of the preceding one.”

At this period, in well-constituted women, the fat, being absorbed with less activity, is accumulated in the cellular tissue under the skin and elsewhere; and this effaces any wrinkles which might[Pg 164] have begun to furrow the skin, rounds the outlines anew, and again restores an air of youth and freshness. Hence, this period is called “the age of return.”

This plumpness, though juvenile lightness and freshness be wanting, sustains the forms, and sometimes confers a majestic air, which, in women otherwise favorably organized, still interests for a number of years.

The shape certainly is no longer so elegant; the articulations have less elasticity; the muscles are more feeble; the movements are less light; and in plump women we observe those broken motions, and in meager ones that stiffness, which mark the walk or the dance at that age.

At this period occurs a remarkable alteration in the organs of voice. Women, therefore, to whom singing is a profession, ought to limit its exercise.

When women pass happily from the third to the fourth age, their constitution, as every one must have observed, changes entirely; it becomes stronger: and nature abandons to individual life all the rest of existence.

Beauty, however, is no more; form and shape have disappeared; the plumpness which supported the reliefs has abandoned them; the sinkings and wrinkles are multiplied; the skin has lost its polish; color and freshness have fled for ever.

These injuries of time, it has been observed, commonly begin by the abdomen, which loses its polish and its firmness; the hemispheres of the bosom no longer sustain themselves; the clavicles[Pg 165] project; the neck becomes meager; all the reliefs are effaced; all the forms are altered from roundness and softness to angularity and hardness.

That which, amid these ruins, still survives for a long time, is the entireness of the hair, the placidity or the fineness of the look, the air of sentiment, the amiable expression of the countenance, and, in women of elegant mind and great accomplishments, caressing manners and charming graces, which almost make us forget youth and beauty.

Finally, and especially in muscular or nervous women, the temperament changes, and the constitution of woman approaches to that of man; the organs become rigid; and, in some unhappy cases, a beard protrudes.

Old age and decrepitude finally succeed.



[Pg 166]



The crossing of races is often spoken of as a means of perfecting the form of man, and of developing beauty; and we are told that it is in this manner that the Persians have become a beautiful people, and that many tribes of Tartar origin have been improved, especially the Turks, who now present to us scarcely anything of the Mongol.

In these general and vague statements, however, the mere crossing of different races is always deemed sufficient; whereas, every improvement depends on the circumstance that the organization of the races subjected to this operation is duly suited to each other. It is in that way only, that we can explain the following facts stated by Moreau:—

In one of the great towns of the north of France, the women, half a century ago, were rather ugly than pretty; but a detachment of the guards being quartered there, and remaining during several years, the population changed in appearance, and, favored by this circumstance, the town is now indebted to strangers for the beauty of the most interesting portion of its inhabitants.

The monks of Citeaux exercised an influence no[Pg 167] less remarkable upon the beauty of the inhabitants of the country around their monastery; and it may be stated, as the result of actual observation, that the young female-peasants of their neighborhood were much more beautiful than those of other cantons. And, adds this writer, “there can be no doubt that the same effect occurred in the different places whither religious houses attracted foreign inmates, whom love and pleasure speedily united with the indigenous inhabitants!”

The other circumstances which contribute to female beauty, are, a mild climate, a fertile soil, a generous but temperate diet, a regular mode of life, favorable education, the guidance and suppression of passions, easy manners, good moral, social, and political institutions, and occupations which do not injure the beautiful proportions of the body.

Beauty, accordingly, is more especially to be found in certain countries. Thus, as has often been observed, the sanguine temperament is that of the nations of the north; the phlegmatic is that of cold and moist countries; and the bilious is that of the greater part of the inhabitants of southern regions. Each of these has its degree and modification of beauty.

The native country of beauty is not to be found either in regions where cold freezes up the living juices, or in those where the animal structure is withered by heat. A climate removed from the excessive influence of both these causes constitutes an essential condition in the production of beauty;[Pg 168] and this, with its effect, we find between the 35th and 65th degree of northern latitude, in Persia, the countries bordering upon Caucasus, and principally Tchercassia, Georgia and Mongrelia, Turkey in Europe and Asia, Greece, Italy, some part of Spain, a very small part of France, England, Holland, some parts of Germany, Poland, Denmark, Sweden, and a part of Norway and even of Russia.

Even under the same degree of latitude, it is observed that the position of the place, its elevation, its vicinity to the sea, the direction of the winds, the nature of the soil, and all the peculiarities of locality which constitute the climate proper to each place, occasion great differences in beauty.

In relation to the causes of beauty, some observations which seem to be important, arise out of the remarks of de Pauw on the Greeks.

De Pauw endeavored to show, that, though the men of ancient Greece were handsome, the women of that country were never beautiful. He thence accounted for the excessive admiration which there prevailed of courtesans from Ionia, &c.

This, however, was so contrary to the notions formed of the beauty of that people from what was known of their taste, that it was considered as a paradox. Travellers, accordingly, sought for such beauty in the women of modern Greece. They were disappointed in not finding it.

What rendered this the more remarkable was, that in various places they found the ancient and beautiful cast of countenance among the men, and not among the women of that country—thus[Pg 169] corroborating in all respects the doctrine of de Pauw.

On considering that doctrine, however, and comparing it with more extended observations, it would seem to be only a particular application of a more general law unknown to de Pauw—that, in most countries, one of the sexes excels the other in beauty.

Thus, in some parts of the highlands of Scotland, we find the men as remarkable for beauty as the women for ugliness; while, in some eastern counties of England, we find precisely the reverse. The strong features, the dark curled hair and the muscular form, of the highlander, are as unsuitable to the female sex, as the soft features, the flaxen hair, and the short and tapering limbs, of the woman of the eastern coast, are unsuitable to the male.

If the soil, climate, and productions, of these countries be considered, we discover the causes of the differences alluded to. The hardships of mountain life are favorable to the stronger development of the locomotive system, which ought more or less to characterize the male; and the luxuriance of the plains is favorable to those developments of the nutritive system, which ought to characterize the female.

This is illustrated even in inferior animals. Oxen become large-bodied and fat in low and rich soils, but are remarkable for shortness of legs; while, in higher and drier situations, the bulk of the body is less, and the limbs are stronger and more muscular.

[Pg 170]The quantity and quality of the aliments are another cause, not less powerful in regard to beauty. Abundance, or rather a proper mediocrity, as to nutritious food, contributes to perfection in this respect.

Beauty is also, in some measure, a result of civilization. Women, accordingly, of consummate beauty, are found only in civilized nations.

Professions can rarely be said to favor beauty; but they do not impede its development when their exercise does not compel to laborious employments an organization suited only to sedentary occupations.



[Pg 171]



The ideas of the beautiful vary in different individuals, and in different nations. Hence, many men of talent have thought them altogether relative and arbitrary.

“Ask,” says Voltaire, “a Negro of Guinea [what is beauty]: the beautiful is for him a black oily skin, deep-seated eyes, and a broad flat nose.”

“Perfect beauty,” says Payne Knight, “taking perfect in its most strict, and beauty in its most comprehensive signification, ought to be equally pleasing to all; but of this, instances are scarcely to be found: for, as to taking them, or, indeed, any examples for illustration, from the other sex of our own species, it is extremely fallacious; as there can be little doubt that all male animals think the females of their own species the most beautiful productions of nature. At least we know this to be the case among the different varieties of men, whose respective ideas of the beauty of their females are as widely different as those of man, and any other animal, can be. The sable Africans view with pity and contempt the marked deformity of the Europeans; whose mouths are compressed, their noses[Pg 172] pinched, their cheeks shrunk, their hair rendered lank and flimsy, their bodies lengthened and emaciated, and their skins unnaturally bleached by shade and seclusion, and the baneful influence of a cold humid climate.... Who shall decide which party is right, or which is wrong; or whether the black or white model be, according to the laws of nature, the most perfect specimen of a perfect woman?... The sexual desires of brutes are probably more strictly natural inclinations, and less changed or modified by the influence of acquired ideas, or social habits, than those of any race of mankind; but their desires seem, in general, to be excited by smell, rather than by sight or contact. If, however, a boar can think a sow the sweetest and most lovely of living creatures, we can have no difficulty in believing that he also thinks her the most beautiful.”

“Among the various reasons,” says Reynolds, “why we prefer one part of nature’s works to another, the most general, I believe, is habit and custom; custom makes, in a certain sense, white black, and black white; it is custom alone determines our preference of the color of the Europeans to the Ethiopians, and they, for the same reason, prefer their own color to ours. I suppose nobody will doubt, if one of their painters were to paint the goddess of beauty, but that he would represent her black, with thick lips, flat nose, and woolly hair; and it seems to me, he would act very unnaturally if he did not; for by what criterion will any one dispute the propriety of his idea? We indeed say,[Pg 173] that the form and color of the European are preferable to those of the Ethiopian; but I know of no other reason we have for it, but that we are more accustomed to it.”

The coquetry of several tribes, it has been observed, leads them to mutilate and disfigure themselves, to flatten their forehead, to enlarge their mouth and ears, to blacken their skin, and cover it with the marks of suffering.—We make ugliness in that way, says Montaigne.

But, to confine our observations to individual nations, and these civilized ones; we every day see irregular or even common figures preferred to those which the enlightened judge deems beautiful.

How, then, it is asked, amid these different tastes, these opposite opinions, are we to admit ideas of absolute beauty?

These are the strongest objections against all ideas of absolute and essential beauty in woman.

To establish, in opposition to these objections, a standard of womanly beauty, equal talent has been employed; but the reasoning, though sufficient for such objections, has been rather of a vague description. As, however, the subject is of great importance, I shall endeavor to abridge and concentrate the arguments of which it consists, before I point out the surer method which is founded on the Elements of Beauty already established.

To refute these objections, it has been thought sufficient to examine the chief conditions which are necessary, in order to appreciate properly the impression of those combinations, which woman [Pg 174]presents, and to expose the principal circumstances which are opposed to the accuracy of opinions, and judgments respecting them.

The conditions necessary to enable us to pronounce respecting the real attributes of beauty, are, first, a temperate climate, under which nature brings to perfection all her productions, and gives to their forms and functions, generally, and to those of man in particular, all the development of which they are capable, without excess in the action of some, and defect in that of others;—secondly, in man in particular, a brain capable of vigorous thought, sound judgment, and exquisite taste;—and thirdly, a very advanced civilization, without which these faculties cannot be duly exercised or attain any perfection.

It is evident enough that none of these conditions are to be met with in the whimsical judgments and tastes of many nations.

The consequence of the absence of these conditions, in relation to the uncivilized and ignorant inhabitants of hot climates, is marked in their deeming characteristics of beauty, the thick lips of Negresses, the long and pendent mammæ of the women in several nations both of Africa and America, or the gross forms of those of Egypt.

The consequence of the absence of these conditions, in relation to the uncivilized and ignorant inhabitants of cold climates, is equally marked in their deeming characteristics of beauty the short figures of the women of icy regions, in which, deprived of the vivifying action of heat and light, living beings appear only in a state of deformity[Pg 175] and alteration; and in their similarly deeming beautiful the obliquely-placed eyes of the Chinese and Japanese, and the crushed nose of the Calmucs, &c., &c.

Those who take these views, which are true, though somewhat vague and inconclusive, should, I think, have seen and added, that the deviations from beauty in the forms of the women of hot climates are commonly in excess, owing to the great development of organs of sense or of sex; while the deviations from beauty, in the forms of the women of cold climates, are commonly in defect, owing to the imperfect development of organs of sense, and of the general figure.

This view renders it more clear that both these kinds of deviation are deformities, incompatible with the consistent and harmonious development of the whole. And without this view, the preceding arguments are indeed too vague to be easily tenable.

In relation more especially to the second of the preceding conditions, the possession of a brain capable of vigorous thought, sound judgment, and exquisite taste, Hume observes that the same excellence of faculties which contributes to the improvement of reason, the same clearness of conception, the same exactness of distinction, the same vivacity of apprehension, are essential to the operations of true taste.

Here, again, those who take these true, but vague and inconclusive views, should, I think, have seen and added that this excellence of the thinking faculties is incompatible with the obviously constricted[Pg 176] brain, which is a defect common both to the Negro and the Mongol—a defect which is incompatible with beauty either of form or function, and which I have shown, in my work on physiognomy, to be intimately connected with climate. This renders the argument sufficiently strong.

Those who employ these arguments as to a standard of beauty in woman, proceed to show the modes in which defects of this kind unfit persons to judge of beauty; and though their farther arguments are similarly vague, they nevertheless tend to support the truth.

If, say they, among the forms and the features which we compare, some are associated by us with certain qualities or sentiments which please us, they equally lead us to a predilection or prejudice, in consequence of which the most common or the least beautiful figure is preferred to the most perfect. In this case, the imagination has perverted the judgment.

Winckelmann truly observes, that young people are most exposed to such errors: placed under the influence of sentiment and of illusion, they often regard, as very beautiful, women who have nothing capable of charming, but an animated physiognomy, in which breathe desire, voluptuousness, and languor. The results of this as to life may easily be foreseen.

Of the excess to which such prejudice may go, a good instance is adduced in Descartes, who preferred women who squinted to the most perfect beauties, because squinting was one of the most[Pg 177] remarkable features of the woman who was the first object of his affections.

Winckelmann observes that even artists themselves have not always an exquisite sentiment of beauty: their first impressions have often an influence which they cannot overcome, nor even weaken, especially when, at a distance from the admirable productions of the ancients, they cannot rectify their first judgments.

Circumstances of profession, it is truly observed, may also lead to associations of ideas capable of deceiving us in our opinions respecting beauty. Men are apt to refer everything to their exclusive knowledge and the mode of judging which it employs. The “what does that prove” of the mathematician, when judging the finest products of imagination, has passed into a proverb. And every one knows of that other cultivator of the same science, who declared that he never could discover anything sublime in Milton’s Paradise Lost, but that he could never read the queries at the end of one of the books in Newton’s Optics, without his hair standing on end and his blood running cold.

The necessity of the third condition, namely, advanced civilization, to a right judgment respecting a standard of beauty in woman, is evident, when we consider that it requires a taste formed by the habit of bringing things together and of comparing them.

One accustomed to see, says Hume, “and examine, and weigh the several performances, admired in different ages and nations, can alone rate[Pg 178] the merits of a work exhibited to his view, and assign its proper rank among the productions of genius.”

From all this, it is certainly evident—not merely that that which pleases us is not always beautiful; that numerous causes may form so many sources of diversity and of error on this subject; and that we cannot thence conclude that the ideas of beauty are relative and arbitrary—but that certain conditions are indispensable to form the judgment respecting beauty; and that the principal of these conditions are, a temperate climate and fertile soil, a well-developed brain, sound judgment, and delicate taste, and a highly-advanced civilization.

This is perfectly conformable with the practical fact that it was under a most delightful climate, among a people of unrivalled judgment, genius, and taste, and amid a civilization which the world has never since witnessed, that the laws of Nature as to beauty were discovered, and applied to the production of those immortal forms which the unfavorable accidents occurring to the existence of all beings, have never permitted Nature herself to combine in any one individual.

Though I have endeavored to amend these arguments respecting a standard of beauty in woman, I prefer those which may be founded on the doctrine I have laid down respecting the Elements of Beauty. It will be found that the greatest number of these elements are combined in the woman whom we commonly deem the most beautiful.

[Pg 179]To illustrate this, it will be sufficient to examine their most striking and distinctive characteristic, namely, their fair complexion, which is intimately connected with all their other characteristics, and which gives increased splendor and effect to their form and features.

It is remarkable that even Alison, though the advocate of all beauty being dependant on association, grants that the pure white of the countenance is expressive to us, according to its different degrees, of purity, fineness, gayety; that the dark complexion, on the other hand, is expressive to us of melancholy, gloom, or sadness; and that so far is this from being a fanciful relation, that it is generally admitted by those who have the best opportunities of ascertaining it, the professors of medical science. He also observes that black eyes are commonly united with the dark, and blue eyes with the fair complexion; and that, in the color of the eyes, blue, according to its different degrees, is expressive of softness, gentleness, cheerfulness, or severity; and black, of thought, or gravity, or of sadness.

Even this, however, is less conclusive than the pathological or physiological facts stated by Cheselden, as to the boy restored by him to sight, namely, that the first view of a black object gave him great pain, and that that of a negro-woman struck him with horror.

Independently of this, white, as every one is aware, is the color which reflects the greatest number of luminous rays; and, for that reason, it [Pg 180]bestows the brilliance and splendor upon beautiful forms with which all are charmed.

Winckelmann, indeed, observes that the head of Scipio the elder, in the Palazzo Rospigliosi, executed in basalt of a deep green, is very beautiful. But, in that case, it is the form, not the color, of the head, that is beautiful. While greenness of complexion would not be beautiful in a man, it would certainly be hideously ugly in a woman.

Moreover, while, in a dead black or any dark color of face, it cannot be pretended that, considering its color only, we should have more than blackness or darkness for admiration, it is evident that, in a fair complexion, we have, in addition to its general brilliance or splendor, the infinite variety of its teints, their exquisite blendings, and the beautiful expression of every transient emotion.

I have now only to expose the sophistry which Payne Knight has employed upon this subject.

“I am aware,” he says, “indeed, that it would be no easy task to persuade a lover that the forms upon which he dotes with such rapture, are not really beautiful, independent of the medium of affection, passion, and appetite, through which he views them. But before he pronounces either the infidel or the skeptic guilty of blasphemy against nature, let him take a mould from the lovely features or lovely bosom of this masterpiece of creation, and cast a plum-pudding in it (an object by no means disgusting to most men’s appetite), and I think he will no longer be in raptures with the form, whatever he may be with the substance.”

[Pg 181]Now, it happens that a grosser incongruity can scarcely be supposed than that which exists between lovely features or a lovely bosom and a plum-pudding, or between the sentiment of love and the propensity to gluttony; and therefore to place the substance of the pudding, in which internal composition is alone of importance, and shape of none, under the form of features or a bosom, in which internal structure is unknown or unthought of, and shape or other external properties are alone considered, is a gross and offensive substitution, intended, not to enlighten judgment respecting form, but to pervert it, and to degrade the higher object by comparison with the lower one. The shape, moreover, is a true sign in the one case, and a false one in the other.—Of nearly similar character is the following:—

“If a man, perfectly possessed both of feeling and sight—conversant with, and sensible to the charms of women—were even to be in contact with what he conceived to be the most beautiful and lovely of the sex, and at the moment when he was going to embrace her, he was to discover that the parts which he touched only were feminine or human; and that, in the rest of her form, she was an animal of a different species, or a person of his own sex, the total and instantaneous change of his sentiments from one extreme to another, would abundantly convince him that his sexual desires depended as little upon that abstract sense of touch, as upon that of sight.”

That, in detecting an imposture of this kind,[Pg 182] admiration would give place to disgust, only proves that the external qualities which were admired were the natural and appropriate signs of the internal qualities expected to be found under them, and that they now cease to interest only because they have become, not naturally less the signs of these qualities, but because they have by a mere trick been rendered insignificant, because truth and nature have been violated, and because the mind feels only disgust at the imposture. I cannot help saying that if Knight was in earnest when he framed such arguments, his mind was sometimes dull as well as perverse.

“The redness of any morbid inflammation,” he says, “may display a gradation of teint, which, in a pink or a rose, we should think as beautiful as ‘the purple light of love and bloom of young desire;’ and the cadaverous paleness of death or disease, a degree of whiteness, which, in a piece of marble or alabaster, we should deem to be as pure, as that of the most delicate skin of the fairest damsel of the frigid zone: consequently, the mere visible beauty is in both the same; and the difference consists entirely in mental sympathies, excited by certain internal stimuli, and guided by habit.”

There is here the same confusion of heterogeneous and inconsistent objects, as in the preceding cases. To judge of beauty in simple objects, each quality may be separately considered; and in this view, if the inflammation presented the same teint as the pink or the rose, then, as a mere[Pg 183] teint, abstracted from every other quality of the respective objects, it would be precisely as beautiful in the one as in the other; but as the color of a rose on the human body would indicate that flow of blood to the skin which can result only from excessive action, it ceases to be considered intrinsically, and is regarded only as a sign of disease. The same observations are applicable to the other case here adduced.

“The African black,” he says, “when he first beholds an European complexion, thinks both its red and white morbid and unnatural, and of course disgusting. His sunburnt beauties express their modesty and sensibility by variations in the sable teints of their countenances, which are equally attractive to him, as the most delicate blush of red to us.”

In treating of the Elements of Beauty, I have endeavored to show, that the more those simpler elements of beauty, which characterize inanimate bodies, are retained in more compound ones, the more beautiful these become; but that the latter retain these elements in very different degrees, dependant upon internal or external circumstances, and that such elementary beauty is often sacrificed to the higher ones of life or mind. Now, in the case of the African, he is born whitish, like the European, but he speedily loses such beauty for that of adaptation, by his color, to the hot climate in which he exists. The latter beauty is the higher and more important one, and forms for the African a profitable exchange; but the European is still[Pg 184] more fortunate, because, in the region he inhabits, the simple and elementary beauty is compatible with that of adaptation to climate. The climate of Africa, the cerebral structure of its inhabitants, and the degree of their civilization, are as unfavorable to the existence of beauty as to the power of judging respecting it. What he adds as to variation in sable countenances is a mere exaggeration.

“Were it possible for a person to judge of the beauty of color in his own species, upon the same principles and with the same impartiality as he judges of it in other objects, both animal, vegetable, and mineral, there can be no doubt that mixed teints would be preferred; and a pimpled face have the same superiority over a smooth one, as a zebra has over an ass, a variegated tulip over a plain one, or a column of jasper or porphyry over one of a common red or white marble.”

Here the same mistake is committed. Elementary beauty is preferred to that of adaptation to climate, fitness for physiognomical expression, &c. Knight’s other arguments all involve similar errors, and admit of similar answers.



[Pg 185]



These have been already briefly mentioned. They are repeated and illustrated here.

The view which is given of them will throw light on the celebrated temperaments of the ancients. It will appear that all the disputes which have occurred respecting these, have arisen from their being founded, not on precise data, but on empirical observation, at a time when the great truths of anatomy and physiology were unknown; that, to the rectification of the doctrine of temperaments, the arrangement of these sciences, laid down in a preceding chapter, is indispensable; that some of these temperaments are comparatively simple, and consist in an excessive or a defective action of locomotive, nutritive, or thinking organs; that others, which have been confounded with these, are, on the contrary, compound; and that, from this want of classification, their nature has been imperfectly understood.

To make this clear, it is necessary to lay before the reader a succinct view of the doctrine of temperaments.

[Pg 186]The ancients classed individuals in one or other of four temperaments, founded on the hypothesis of four humors, of which the blood was supposed to be composed—the red part, phlegm, yellow and black bile. These were regarded as the elements of the body, and their respective predominance passed for the cause of the differences which it presented. Hence were derived the names of the sanguine, the phlegmatic, the choleric, and the melancholic temperament.

Although the hypothesis on which this doctrine was founded is universally discarded, the phenomena which observation had taught the ancients, and which they had hypothetically connected with these elements, were so true, that that classification has been more or less employed in all the hypotheses which have since been invented to explain their cause; and their nomenclature has continued in use to the present day.

A temperament may be defined a peculiar state of the system, depending on the relative proportion of its different masses, and the relative energy of its different functions, by which it acquires a tendency to certain actions.

The predominance of any particular organ or system of organs, its excess of force, extends its sphere of activity to all the other functions, and modifies them in a peculiar manner. Thus, conforming in the illustration to the preceding arrangement, in one person, the muscles are more frequently employed than the brain; in another, the stomach or the organs of reproduction are[Pg 187] more employed than the muscles; and in a third, the brain and nerves are more employed than either. This predominance or excess establishes the temperament.

The relative feebleness of any organ or system of organs, similarly forms modifications not less important. Thus in one person, the organs of the abdomen are less employed; in another, those of the chest; in a third, the brain.

Disease, it is observed, “commonly enters into the organization by these feeble points: death even attacks them first; extends afterward from one to another; and makes progress more or less rapid, according to the importance of the organ primitively affected.”

Temperaments, however, vary infinitely. It may be said that every individual has a peculiar one, to which he owes his mode of existence and his degree of health, ability, and happiness.

The temperament, moreover, of each individual is not always characterized by well-marked symptoms; and even where it has been strongly marked by nature, education, age, the influence of climate, the exercise of professions and trades, and various habits, produce in it infinite changes.

Temperaments also combine together, so that all men are, in some degree, at once sanguine and bilious, or otherwise compound. Thus all intermediate shades of temperament are produced; and it is often difficult, or, under particular circumstances, impossible, to determine under which temperament individuals may be classed.

[Pg 188]The simple temperaments are therefore abstractions, which it is difficult to realize; and the influence of any temperament is sometimes undiscoverable except in some extraordinary circumstances of disorder or disease, during which it may be observed.

Cullen admits the four temperaments of Hippocrates, and remarks concerning them, that it is probable they were first founded upon observation, and afterward adapted to the theory of the ancients, since we find they “have a real existence.”

Dr. Prichard remarks, that “this division of temperaments is by no means a fanciful distinction.”

To the four temperaments of Hippocrates, Gregory adds a fifth, the nervous temperament.

Thus are formed five temperaments generally admitted, namely, 1st, the phlegmatic or relaxed; 2d, the sanguine arterial; 3d, the sanguine venous or bilious; 4th, the nervous; and, 5th, the muscular or athletic.

Some writers join to these the partial temperaments which determine the ascendency of the functions exercised by particular organs; whence principally come the temperaments which they call the cerebral, epigastric, abdominal, hepatic, genital, &c.

As already said, it will in the sequel appear that some of these temperaments are comparatively simple, that others are compound, and that from this want of classification, their nature has been imperfectly understood.[32]



[Pg 189]



The average stature of woman, as already said, is two or three inches less than that of man.

The bones of woman remain always smaller than those of man; the cylindrical ones being more slender, and the flat ones thinner, while the former are also rounder. The muscles render the surfaces of the bones less uneven; the projections of the latter are less; and all their cavities and impressions have less depth. The bones of woman have likewise less hardness than those of man.

Such being the solid and fundamental parts of this system in woman, the most remarkable circumstances in their combination should next be noticed.

In woman, the magnitude of the pelvis or lower part of the trunk, has the greatest influence on the apparent proportion of parts, and on the general figure.

The most remarkable differences between the two sexes, in relation to this system, are consequently those presented by the inferior and superior part of the trunk in each. The breast and the[Pg 190] haunches are in an inverse proportion in the two sexes. Man has the breast larger and wider than that of woman: woman has the haunches less circumscribed than those of man.

The upper part of the body is also less prominent, and the lower part more prominent, in woman than in man; and therefore, when they stand upright, or lie on the back, the breast is most prominent in the male, and the pubes in the female. The indication this affords of the fitness of woman for impregnation, gestation, and parturition, is obvious.

From the same cause, the back of woman is more hollow.

Still farther to increase the capacity of the lower part of the body, woman has the loins more extended than man. This portion of her body is in every way enlarged at the expense of neighboring parts. Hence, the chest is shorter above; and the thighs and legs are shorter below.

The thigh-bones of woman are also more separated superiorly; the knees are more approximated; the feet are smaller; and the base of support is less extended.

The reader desirous of thoroughly understanding these matters, should compare the beautiful plates of the male and female skeletons by Albinus and Sœmmerring.

Beauty of the locomotive system in woman, depends especially upon these fundamental facts, and those tendencies of structure which thus distinguish her from man.

In the woman possessing THIS SPECIES of beauty,[Pg 191] therefore, the face is generally somewhat bony and oblong;—the neck, less connected with the nutritive system, is rather long and tapering;—the shoulders, without being angular, are sufficiently broad and definite for muscular attachments;—the bosom, a vital organ, is of but moderate dimensions;—the waist, enclosing smaller nutritive organs, is remarkable for fine proportion, and resembles, in some respects, an inverted cone;—the haunches, for the same reason, are but moderately expanded;—the thighs are proportional;—the arms, as well as the limbs, being formed chiefly of locomotive organs, are rather long and moderately tapering;—the hands and feet are moderately small;—the complexion, owing to the inferiority of the nutritive system, is often rather dark;—and the hair is frequently dark and strong.—The whole figure is precise, striking, and often brilliant.—From its proportions, it sometimes seems almost aerial; and we would imagine, that, if our hands were placed under the lateral parts of the tapering waist of a woman thus characterized, the slightest pressure would suffice to throw her into the air.

To this class belong generally the more firm, vigorous, and even actively-impassioned women: though it may doubtless boast many of greatly modified character.

First Variety or Modification of this Species of Beauty.

It may here be observed, that the varieties or modifications of each species of beauty naturally[Pg 192] correspond with the greater or less development of some one of the various organs on which the species is founded. Thus, the modifications of beauty of the locomotive system correspond with the greater or less development of the bones, the ligaments, or the muscles; those of the nutritive system correspond with the greater or less development of the absorbents, the bloodvessels, or the glands; and those of the thinking system correspond with the greater or less development of the organs of sense, the brain, or the cerebel. A little reflection will show, that some of these modifications will be more, and others less beautiful.

To understand the present variety, the bony structure on which it especially depends, must now be more minutely described.

Commencing with the trunk of the body—the chest in woman is shorter but more expanded; the breast-bone is shorter but wider; the two upper ribs are flatter; the collar-bones are more straight or less curved, and do not present that prominent relief which appears on the chest of man; the shoulders are carried farther back, and project less from the trunk.

The haunches, as already stated, are proportionally wider in woman than in man, and the interior cavity of the pelvis, which is between them, being adapted to gestation, is more capacious. This greater capacity of the pelvis arises from the lateral parts having in woman more convexity outward; from the bones called ossa pubis, which form the anterior part, touching at a smaller number of[Pg 193] points, and running obliquely or forming a greater angle, to enlarge the space which is between them and the inferior extremity of the posterior part of the pelvis; from the arch of the pubis being larger; from the greater concavity and breadth of the os sacrum or posterior bone of the pelvis, its posterior part forming a greater prominence outward; and from the whole pelvis being thus wider and less deep, its circumference approaching more to the circular form. The cavities, it may be added, in which the heads of the thigh-bones are received, are of course farther apart: they are also oblique and less deep.

The arms of woman are shorter than in man.—As these members are well marked in beauty of the locomotive system, they may the more fully be considered here.—The arms, and especially their extremities, are susceptible of a degree of beauty of which we see few examples. Their bases, the bones, ligaments, and muscles, belong to the locomotive system; and their fundamental beauty consequently depends upon its proportions; but to the nutritive system are owing the circumstances that, in woman, the arm is fatter and more rounded, has softer forms and more flowing and purer outlines. The hand in woman is smaller, more plump, more soft, and more white. It is peculiarly beautiful when full; when it is gently dimpled over the first joints; when the fingers are long, round, tapering toward the ends; when the other joints are marked by slight reliefs and shadows; and when the fingers are delicate and[Pg 194] flexible. Beauty of the hand becomes the more precious, because it is the principal organ of a sense which may be considered as the most valuable of all.

In regard to the lower extremities, it has been observed, that the lateral convexity of the pelvis causes the bones of the thighs attached to them to be farther separated from each other; and this separation of the bones of the thighs causes an increase of the size of the haunches. It is over the posterior part of the space thus produced, that we observe the reliefs which the inferior members present superiorly, and which unite them with the trunk, by forms so beautifully rounded. The thighs are also proportionally larger, on account of this separation: they are more rounded, as well as much more voluminous: they are also more curved before than in man. At their inferior part, they approximate; and the knees project a little inward. It has been truly observed, that this conformation manifests, relatively to gestation and parturition, advantages of which the exterior expression is not found in the women who are commonly regarded as well made, and who, however, are not so, if the best conformation or beauty result from a direct and well-marked relation between the form of the organs and their functions. It is owing to the thighs of woman being thus carried more inward when she walks, that the change of the point of gravity which marks each step, is in her much more remarkable. All the other parts of the inferior members are in general distinguished[Pg 195] by forms more softly rounded; the leg is remarkable for its delicacy; the long line of the anterior bone is entirely hid under its envelope; its inferior part is shaped with more elegance; the foot is smaller; and the base of support is less extended. The feet, like the hands, are susceptible of a kind of beauty of which nature is sparing.

From all this it appears that the only bones which nature tends to enlarge in woman are those of the pelvis; that all the rest are small; and that they proportionally diminish in size, as we pass from that central part to the extremities.

The FIRST MODIFICATION, therefore, of this species of beauty, is that in which the development of the bones, those of the pelvis excepted, is proportionally small.

This character will be especially apparent where the long bones approach the surface; as in the arm immediately above the wrist, and, in the leg, immediately above the ankle. Its effect will be proportionally delicate and feminine.

Various subordinate modifications of this kind of beauty are found in various countries, and under the influence of various circumstances.

The women of Rome, we are told, present beauty of the shoulders in the highest degree, when they arrive at that period of life in which plumpness succeeds to juvenile elasticity.

It has been suggested, that the Greek or Ionian women, whose arms were of so perfect a form, owed that beauty in some measure to the custom of leaving them nude, or covered only by loose[Pg 196] drapery: as in that case, no pressure constricted the roundness of the fleshy parts, and prevented their development; no ligature, binding the upper part of the arm, altered the color of the skin; and the arm, being always uncovered, received at the toilet the same attention as other parts. Hence, it is supposed antique statuary has left us such admirable models of the beauty of this part.

It is certainly not improbable that we may attribute the absence of this beauty, in some measure, to a custom which, in many cases, medicine may approve, but which is unfavorable to the arm, that of wearing long sleeves; but want of exercise is its great cause.

The form of the hand often announces the occupation of the person to whom it belongs, and sometimes even her particular capabilities. There certainly are hands that we may call intellectual; and there are others that we may call foolish or stupid. Of the hand, Lavater says, that, whether in movement or in repose, its expression cannot be mistaken: its most tranquil position indicates our natural dispositions; its flexions, our actions and our passions.

The ancients, it has been observed, attached much importance to the form of the feet: the philosophers did not neglect it in the general view of the physiognomy; and the historians as well as the poets made mention of their beauty, in speaking of Polyxene, Aspasia, and others; as they did of their deformities in speaking of the emperor Domitian.

[Pg 197]Perfection or deformity of the feet is no doubt in general hereditary; but good management will preserve the former of these, and repair the latter. We commonly deform these parts by means of our shoes: the second toe, observes a writer on this subject, which naturally projects most, as we see from the antique, is arrested in its development, and the foot, which ought, in the outline of its extremity, to approach to the elegant form of the ellipsis, is rounded without beauty, and is disfigured by our ridiculous compressions.[33]

Second Variety or Modification of this Species of Beauty.

The joints generally are small in woman, and especially so in the extremities. The elbow joint is softly rounded; and the various joints of the fingers are marked chiefly by little reliefs and faint shadows. The articulation of the knee is feebly indicated; the ankles are disposed in such a manner as to offer only agreeable outlines; and there are dimples over the first joints of the toes, with exceedingly gentle indications of the other joints.

The SECOND MODIFICATION, therefore, of this species of beauty, is that in which the development of the ligaments and the articulations they form, is proportionally small.

This conformation will be especially apparent—in the arm, at the wrist—and, in the leg, at the ankle. Its effect will be proportionally handsome.

[Pg 198]Third Variety or Modification of this Species of Beauty.

The muscles of women are more slender and feeble than those of man; their bundles are rounder; their fibres are finer, more humid, soft, and delicate, and less compact; their central parts or bellies are less prominent; their reliefs do not appear in any strength at the surface of the body; but being, on the contrary, surrounded on all sides by a loose cellular tissue, they only render that surface beautifully rounded.

Although, however, the muscular system of woman is weaker, and the muscles proportionally smaller, yet, as already said, in some parts the muscular system is more developed than in man. This, owing to the magnitude of the pelvis, is most remarkable about the thighs. The muscles of these parts having larger origins from the pelvis, and being less compressed by reciprocal contact, have more liberty to extend themselves. It is from this, that results much of the delicacy of the female form, as well as the ease, suppleness, and capability of grace in its movements.

It is otherwise in all parts remote from the pelvis. Women, accordingly, can less be said to have calves, than legs which, like their arms and fingers, gently taper.

The THIRD MODIFICATION, therefore, of this species of beauty, is that in which the development of the muscles is proportionally large around the pelvis, and delicate elsewhere.

[Pg 199]This conformation being concealed by the drapery, may nevertheless be conjectured from the imperfect view of the hip, or of the calf of the leg, or more accurately by means of the external indications of forms which are given in a subsequent chapter. Its effect will be proportionally elegant.

Woman’s power of muscular motion being thus limited to the vicinity of the pelvis, that of her extremities is generally feeble.

Other causes contribute to this. Thus, with regard to the upper extremities, it has been observed, that the collar-bone, not separating so much the arm from the axis of the body, the extent of its movements is limited; and this circumstance explains why women, who wish to overcome great resistances with the superior members, experience difficulty in doing so—why, for example, when they wish to throw a stone, they are obliged to turn the body on the foot opposite to the arm with which they throw.

Thus also the largeness of the pelvis, and the approximation of the knees, influence the gait of woman, and render it vacillating and unsteady. Conscious of this, women, in countries where the nutritive system in general and the pelvis in particular are large, affect a greater degree of this vacillation and unsteadiness. An example of this is seen in the lateral and rotary motion which is given to the pelvis in walking, by certain classes of the women of London.

For the same reason, united to a smaller foot, and some other circumstances, women, it is [Pg 200]observed, who execute gentle and light movements with so much skill, do not attempt with advantage great evolutions, run with difficulty and without grace, and fly—in order to be caught, as Rousseau has said.

In woman, however, the muscular fibre is thus soft, yielding, feeble, and incapable of great evolutions, because it is necessary that it should easily adapt itself to remarkable changes.

From all this, from women having more address in the use of their fingers, from their aptitude for little and light domestic works, the care of children, and sedentary occupations, it is evident that they cannot devote themselves to toilsome labors without struggling against their organization, and suffering proportionally.

The voice being connected with the motive organs, it may here be noticed that the larynx or flute part of the throat in woman is more contracted and less prominent than in man; that the glottis does not enlarge in the same proportion; that the tongue-bone is much smaller; and that the tongue, its muscles, and the organs of speech in general, being, like all the other parts, more mobile, young girls articulate and pronounce much more quickly. Their voice is also so much more acute, that if man and woman sing in unison, there is always between them the relation of an octave, which forms the most natural and most agreeable consonance.

[Pg 201]It is evidently the UNION of all that is good in these varieties which renders beauty in the locomotive system perfect.

This is perfectly represented in the Diana of Grecian sculpture, in which, with admirable taste, it is neither the nutritive nor the thinking, but the locomotive system, which is developed.

I have already said, that the temperaments of the ancients are only partial views of some of the varieties I am now describing. The athletic temperament falls under the last of these varieties; and it is the only one that falls under this species. Happily, it does not occur in woman.

This temperament results from a great development of the bones and muscles, and it is that of mere physical strength. It is marked by all the outward signs of strength: the head is small, the neck thick behind, the shoulders broad, the chest expanded, the haunches firm, the intervals of the muscles deeply marked, the tendons apparent through the skin, and all the joints not covered by muscles, seemingly small.

In this temperament, muscular strength prevails over the functions of the other organs, and especially usurps the energies necessary to the production of thought; the perceptions are deficient in quickness, delicacy, accuracy, and strength; and all the mental functions are with difficulty excited; but the body is capable of great exertion, and it surmounts great physical resistance when roused.

The Farnese Hercules, says a French physiologist,[Pg 202] exhibits a model of the physical attributes of this constitution; and that which fabulous antiquity relates of the exploits of this demi-god, gives us the idea of the moral dispositions that accompany it. In the history of his twelve labors, without reflection, and as by instinct, we see him courageous, because he is strong, seeking obstacles to conquer them, certain of overwhelming whatever resists him, but joining to such strength so little subtlety, that he is cheated by all the kings he serves, and by all the women he loves.



[Pg 203]



With the vital system of woman, the capacity of the pelvis, and the consequent breadth of the haunches, are still more connected than with the locomotive system; for, with these, all those functions which are most essentially feminine—impregnation, gestation, and parturition—are intimately connected.

Camper, in a memoir on physical beauty, read to the Academy of Design, at Amsterdam,[34] showed, that, in tracing the forms of the male and female within two elliptical areas of equal size, the female pelvis extended beyond the ellipsis, while the shoulders were within; and the male shoulders reached beyond their ellipsis, while the pelvis was within.—The pelvis of the African woman is said by some to be greater than that of the European.

The abdominal and lumbar portion of the trunk, as already said, is longer in woman. In persons above the common stature, there is almost half a[Pg 204] face more in the part of the body which is between the mammæ and the bifurcation of the trunk.

The abdomen, placed below the chest, has more projection and roundness in woman than in man: but it has little fulness in a figure capable of serving as a model; and the slightest alteration in its outlines or its polish is injurious.

The waist, which is most distinctly marked in the back and loins, owes all its advantages to its elegance, softness, and flexibility.

The neck should, by the gentlest curvature, form an almost insensible transition between the body and the head. It should also present fulness sufficient to conceal the projection of the flute part of the throat in front, and of the two large muscles which descend from behind the ears toward the pit above the breast-bone.[35]

Over all these parts, the predominance of the cellular tissue, and the soft and moderate plumpness which is connected with it, are a remarkable characteristic of the vital system in woman. While this facilitates the adaptation of the locomotive system to every change, it at the same time obliterates the projection of the muscles, and invests the whole figure with rounded and beautiful forms.

It has been well observed that the principal [Pg 205]effect of such forms upon the observer must be referred to the faculties which they reveal; for, as remarked by Roussel, if we examine the greater part of the attributes which constitute beauty, if reason analyze that which instinct judges at a glance, we shall find that these attributes have a reference to real advantages for the species. A light shape, supple movements, whence spring brilliance and grace, are qualities which please, because they announce the good condition of the individual who possesses them, and the greater degree of aptitude for the functions which that individual ought to fulfil.

Beauty, then, of the nutritive system in woman, depends especially upon these fundamental facts, and those tendencies of structure which thus distinguish her from man.

In the woman possessing THIS SPECIES of beauty, therefore, the face is generally rounded, to give greater room to the cavities connected with nutrition;—the eyes are generally of the softest azure, which is similarly associated;—the neck is often rather short, in order intimately to connect the head with the nutritive organs in the trunk;—the shoulders are softly rounded, and owe any breadth they may possess rather to the expanded chest, containing these organs, than to any bony or muscular size of the shoulders themselves;—the bosom, a vital organ, in its luxuriance seems laterally to protrude on the space occupied by the arms;—the waist, though sufficiently marked, is, as it were, encroached on by that plumpness of all the contiguous[Pg 206] parts, which the powerful nutritive system affords;—the haunches are greatly expanded for the vital purposes of gestation and parturition;—the thighs are large in proportion;—but the locomotive organs, the limbs and arms, tapering and becoming delicate, terminate in feet and hands which, compared with the ample trunk, are peculiarly small;—the complexion, dependant upon nutrition, has the rose and lily so exquisitely blended, that we are surprised it should defy the usual operation of the elements;—and there is a luxuriant profusion of soft and fine flaxen or auburn hair.—The whole figure is soft and voluptuous in the extreme.

To this class belong all the more feminine, soft, and exquisitely-graceful women.

The kind of beauty thus characterized is seen chiefly in the Saxon races of our eastern coast; and it is certainly more frequent in women of short stature.

The vital system is peculiarly the system of woman; and so truly is this the case, that any great employment, either of the locomotive or mental organs, deranges the peculiar functions of woman, and destroys the characteristics of her sex.

Women who greatly occupy the locomotive organs, acquire a coarse and masculine appearance; and so well is this incompatibility of power, in the use of locomotive organs with the exercise of vital ones, known to the best female dancers, that, during the time of their engagements, they generally live apart from their husbands.

As to intellectual ladies, they either seldom [Pg 207]become mothers, or they become intellectual when they cease to be mothers.

These few facts are worth a thousand hypotheses and dreams, however amiable they may be.

The vital system is relatively largest in little women, especially after they have been mothers. The shorter stature of woman ensures, indeed, in almost all, a relative excess of the vital system after, if not before, they become mothers; for, whatever the stature, the mammæ, abdomen, &c., necessarily expand. In those of short stature, these parts, of course, become nearly as large as in the tall; and this circumstance causes them to touch on the limits of each other in little women.

As, in pregnancy and suckling, the abdomen and mammæ necessarily expand, and as they would afterward collapse and become wrinkled, were not a certain degree of plumpness acquired, that acquisition is essential to beauty in mothers. Meagerness in them, accordingly, becomes deformity.

A French writer indeed says: “Most of our fashionables are extremely slender; they have constituted this an essential to beauty; leanness is in France necessary to the air élégant.” It must be remembered, however, that the vital system—that which we have just said is peculiarly the system of woman—is, in its most beautiful parts, peculiarly defective in France; and that, owing in a great measure to that circumstance, the women of France are among the ugliest in Europe.—But of that in its proper place.

[Pg 208]First Variety or Modification of this Species of Beauty.

It may here be observed, that the varieties of beauty of the locomotive system, and also those of beauty of the mental system, are easily explicable, because these systems are, in some respects, more limited and simple. The varieties of beauty of the vital system are, on the contrary, more difficult of explanation, because that system is, in some respects, more diffused and complicated.

Even the preparatory vital organs and functions differ somewhat in the two sexes.

Woman has frequently a smaller number of molar teeth than man; those called wisdom teeth not always appearing. Mastication is also less energetic in woman.

The stomach, in woman, is much smaller; the appetite for food is less; hunger does not appear to press her so imperiously; and her consumption of food is much less considerable.[36] Hence, indubitable cases of long abstinence from food, have generally occurred in females.

In the choice and the preference of certain aliments, woman also differs much from man. In general, women prefer light and agreeable food, which flatters the palate by its perfume and its savor. Their appetites are also much more varied.

Women, whom vicious habits have not depraved,[Pg 209] use also beverages less abundantly than men. Fermented, vinous, and spirituous beverages are indeed used only by the monsters engendered in the corruptions of towns—amid the insane dissipation of the rich, or the wretched and pitiable suffering of the poor; and both are then brought to one humiliating level, marked by the red and pimpled, or the pallid face, the swimming eye, the haggard features, the pestilential breath. The scarf-skin in these cases divides all that may be worthy from all that is utterly worthless: the worthy part may be external to the cuticle, in substantial, though polluted clothing; the worthless is the yet living portion, which, whether called body or soul, is no longer worth picking off a dunghill.[37]

Digestion in woman is made, however, with great rapidity; and the whole canal interested in that process, possesses great irritability.

The absorbent vessels in woman are much more developed, and seem to enjoy a more active vitality. The circumstances of pregnancy and suckling, appear also to augment the energy of these vessels.

The FIRST MODIFICATION, therefore, of this species of beauty, is that in which the digestive and absorbent system is small but active; for the great purpose of life in woman is secretion, whether it regard the formation of the superficial adipose substance which invests her with beautiful and attractive[Pg 210] forms, or the nutrition of the new being which is the object of her attractions and of her life.

Hence it is, that women naturally and instinctively affect abstemiousness and delicacy of appetite. Hence it is, that they compress the waist, and endeavor to render it slender.

Second Variety or Modification of this Species of Beauty.

Women have, in greater abundance than men, several of the fluids which enter into the composition of the body. They appear to have a greater quantity of blood; and they certainly have more frequent and more considerable hemorrhages. There is less force in the circulation and respiration; but the heart beats more rapidly. The pulse also is less full, but it is quicker.

In woman, the purer lily and more vivid rose of complexion, depend on various causes.

It would appear that, in women, the blood is in general carried less abundantly to the surface and to the extremities, where also the white vessels are more developed; and that, to this, as well as to the subjacent adipose substance, the skin owes its whiteness.

In youth, however, one of the constituent parts of the skin, the reticular tissue, or whatever the substance under the scarf-skin may be called, appears to be more expanded, especially in women; and it would seem that this tissue is then filled with a blood which is less dark, and which forms the coloring of youth. This, differently modified[Pg 211] by the scarf-skin, gives the blue, the purple, and all the teints formed by these and the color of the skin. Where the vessels are more patent, and the skin more thin, delicate, and transparent, as in the cheeks, the hue of the rose is cast over that of the lily. In addition to this, the slightest emotions of surprise, of pleasure, of love, of shame, of fear, often diversify all these teints.

Lightness of complexion, however, is probably dependant more particularly on the arterial circulation, and darkness of complexion on the venous circulation; for we know that in fairer woman the arteries possess greater energy, while in darker man the veins are more developed, larger, and fuller.

Farther confirmation of this is afforded by an observation, which physiologists have neglected to make, that the kidneys, receiving arterial blood, are the artery-relieving glands, while the liver, receiving venous blood, is the vein-relieving gland. Now, it is certain that, in cold climates, the urinary secretion and fairness prevail; while, in hot climates, the hepatic secretion and darkness prevail. Many physiologists have indeed made the insulated remark, that the dark complexion has much to do with the hepatic secretion. The more abundant urinary and hepatic secretions, however, may not be the causes, but only concomitant effects of the same cause with fairness and darkness of complexion.

The SECOND MODIFICATION, therefore, of this species of beauty, is that in which the circulating vessels,[Pg 212] being moderately active and finely ramified, bestow upon the skin a whiteness, a transparency, and a complexion, which are necessary to beauty.

The whiteness, the transparency, and the color of the skin, have, in all highly civilized nations, been deemed essential conditions of beauty.

The ancients regarded whiteness, in particular, as the distinctive character of beauty; and they estimated that character so highly, that the name of Venus, from the Celtic ven, ben, or ban, signifies white, or whiteness; and Venus herself is said to be fair and golden-haired.

Among the civilized moderns, also a taste which women seek always to satisfy, is that for whiteness of the skin: hence, the white lily, new-fallen snow, white marble, or alabaster, are the images which poetry employs, when the color of a woman is its subject. So greatly, indeed, does whiteness contribute to beauty, that many women deemed beautiful by us, have little other right to that epithet except what they derive from a beautiful skin.

Third Variety or Modification of this Species of Beauty.

The branches of the great artery of the body, the aorta, supplying the abdomen and pelvis, are larger in woman than in man, as well as more habitually liable to variation in the quantity of their contents. The quantity of blood, also, which passes to the abdomen, is greater.

At the same time, the excretions are generally less in woman. Hippocrates says: “Nam corpus[Pg 213] muliebre minus dissipatur quam virile;” the expenditure of the body of woman is less than that of man.

It is evident, then, that the secretions, nutrition, in particular, must be greater. We actually know them to be so.

But the nourishment of the organs concerned in locomotion is less active, and that of the cellular and adipose substance is generally more active, than in man. And on this, important consequences depend.

Woman is subject to crises which would destroy all her organs, if they offered too powerful a resistance. Some parts of her body are exposed to great shocks, to alternate extensions, compressions, and reductions, which could not take place with impunity, but by means of this predominance of the cellular and adipose structure.

The cellular expansion, the general basis of the structure, appears then to be more abundant in woman, more lax and yielding, more dilated and fuller of liquids; and it is by yielding gradually, by decomposing and weakening shocks by means of the general suppleness of the different organs, thus procured, that nature seems, in woman, to avoid, or to destroy, every hurtful effort.

It is observed, moreover, that certain parts, naturally more loose, receive into all their vessels a more considerable quantity of liquid, and assume a particular enlargement, at the moment when their sympathy with the uterus causes them to enter into action in concert with it; and it is also[Pg 214] observed that they dilate more easily during pregnancy.

It is thus, then, that nature gives to all the parts of woman that suppleness which renders her capable of easily yielding to the great revolutions which affect her organization in regard to reproduction, as well as mark the different periods of her life.

The great development of the cellular and fatty tissue in woman is illustrated by the remarkable fact, that anciently the Romans, in order to burn the bodies of dead men, were obliged to join to them those of women, the fat of which greatly facilitated combustion.

Now, with the great purposes described above, beauty is naturally associated. It is principally this excess of the cellular and fatty tissues which gives to the members of woman those round and beautiful outlines, that soft and polished surface, which the body of man does not possess.

In every part, however, of the human figure, as observed by Reynolds, “when not spoiled by too great corpulency, will be found distinctness, the parts never appearing uncertain or confused, or as a musician would say, slurred; and all those smaller parts which are comprehended in the larger compartment are still found to be there, however marked.”

Now, while all this is the case, it appears that the true skin is much thinner and more delicate in woman than in man, and that it derives more or less of its clear whiteness from the quantity of fat[Pg 215] which is below it; for meagerness inevitably tarnishes and dries it. Hence, to possess a fine, soft, white, and fresh skin, it is also indispensable to possess plumpness.

In relation to this purer white, it must also be observed, that transpiration, which might soil it, appears to be much less abundant in woman; and that the liver or vein-relieving gland, is very large. The excretions of the skin in women are indeed chiefly limited to certain parts; and it is thence that it has, in various parts, an odor which a French writer observes “it is difficult to describe, but which an exercised sense of smell easily succeeds in distinguishing in women who fully enjoy all the attributes of their sex, and who are women even in the atmosphere which exhales from them.”

While the skin is thus more white in women, it is also more transparent. The reticular tissue, or substance interposed between the true skin and scarf-skin, appears to have more clearness and turgescence, especially on the face, where, under the influence of various emotions, it easily permits a passage to the blood, as we see in blushing. It is in youth that this turgescence and clearness are most evident.

Hence, the skin in woman less conceals the veins, of which the color, only enfeebled or modified by the skin, “gives all those shades of azure which the charmed eye follows with so much pleasure on the surface of the bosom and of all the parts where the skin has least of thickness.”

All this constitutes freshness, or animation,[Pg 216] which is nearly synonymous with health, and without which there is no beauty. When that quality, as observed by Roussel, “is wanting, all other attractions strike but feebly, because the prompt judgment, which instinct suggests, warns us that the woman whose person does not present all the characters of perfect health, is in a disposition little favorable to the plan of nature, relatively to the maintenance of the species.”

The whiteness and the animation of the skin, however, do not alone constitute its beauty: there is still another quality which is absolutely necessary to it. This is the softness and the polish which, as the reader has seen, is one of the first conditions of physical beauty. In woman, this is probably derived from a slight degree of oleaginous secretion. Hence, she has few asperities of the skin, especially on the surface of the bosom, and other parts, where the skin is excessively smooth.

Brown women, who probably have more of this oleaginous secretion, are said to possess in a greater degree the polish of skin which gives impressions so agreeable to the organ of touch; and hence, Winckelmann has said that persons who prefer brown women to fair ones allow themselves to be captivated by the touch rather than the sight. There is reason, however, to doubt the accuracy of this. Brown women appear to have greater softness, but less smoothness of skin.

The body of woman is nearly deprived of hairs upon all parts, except the head, axillæ, &c.; and[Pg 217] the hair of her head is generally long, fine, and flexible.

The quantity and the color of the hair are always in relation to the constitution of the individual to which it belongs, and generally to the temperature of the place. The people of northern countries have the hair of a silken fineness and of surprising length.

The hair which is most admired is not only very fine and flexible, but light colored. Fair golden hair was, of all its teints, that which the ancient artists preferred.

In woman, the hair of the head whitens and falls later than in man.

It is curious that, in regard to the hair, the distinctive characters of the sexes should not always have been preserved. Though nature gives long hair to woman, it has sometimes been the fashion to wear it short; and though man has naturally shorter hair, it has sometimes been the fashion to cherish its growth, and to shave the beard from his face. The latter has especially been the case in degenerate and effeminate times; and this has sometimes been accompanied by remarkable consequences.

One of the greatest misfortunes, says a French writer, which France ever had to lament, the divorce of Louis le Jeune from Elinor of Guyenne, resulted from the fashion, which this prince wished to introduce, of shaving his chin and cropping his head. The queen, his wife, who appears to have possessed, with a masculine beauty, considerable acuteness of[Pg 218] intellect, observed with some displeasure, that she imagined herself to have espoused a monarch, not a monk. The obstinacy of Louis in shaving himself, and the horror conceived by Elinor at the sight of a beardless chin, occasioned France the loss of those fine provinces which constituted the dowry of this princess; and which, devolving to England by a second marriage, became the source of wars which desolated France during four hundred years.

The habit of wearing the beard is a manly and noble one. Nature made it distinctive of the male and female; and its abandonment has commonly been accompanied not only by periods of general effeminacy, but even by the decline and fall of states. They were bearded Romans who conquered the then beardless Greeks; they were bearded Goths who vanquished the then beardless Romans; and they are bearded Tartars who now promise once more to inundate the regions occupied by the shaven and effeminate people of western Europe.

In farther illustration of the manliness of this habit we may observe, that throughout Europe, wars have generally led to its temporary and partial introduction, as at the present day. Those assuredly blunder, who ridicule the wearing of the beard. Silly affectation, on the contrary, is imputable only to those who, by removing the beard, take the trouble so far to emasculate themselves! and who think themselves beautified by an unnatural imitation of the smoother face of woman!

As appendages of the skin, the nails may here[Pg 219] be noticed. Their beauty consists in their figure, their surface, and their color.

By their figure, they serve as a defence to the delicate extremities of the fingers, which would otherwise be easily hurt against hard bodies. They form at once shields and supporting arches to the fingers; and they give facility in laying hold of bodies which would escape from their smallness. They ought accordingly to be arched, and to extend as far as the flesh which terminates the fingers.—The form of the nails depends much on the care employed in cutting them during infancy, and still more on the mode of employing the hand.

The nails ought also to be smooth and polished, somewhat transparent, and rose-colored. Their rosy color seems to show that their texture has less density and more transparence.

It is in this view of the nutritive system and the characteristics which render it beautiful, and especially after this portion of it which regards the organs and functions of secretion, that the mammæ and their beauty should be considered.

In woman, the bust is smaller and more rounded than in man; and it is distinguished by the volume and the elegant form of the bosom.

The external and elevated position of the mammæ is by far the most suitable for a nursling, which, no longer deriving subsistence from within the mother, nor yet able of itself to find it without, must be gently and softly borne toward her; an admirable position, says a French writer, “which,[Pg 220] in keeping the infant under the eyes and in the arms of the mother, establishes between them an interesting exchange of tenderness, of cares, and of innocent caresses, which enables the one the better to express its wants, and the other to enjoy the sacrifices which she makes, in continually contemplating their object.”

According to Buffon, in order that the mammæ be well placed, it is necessary that the space between them should be as great as that from the mammæ to the middle of the depression between the clavicles, so that these three points form an equilateral triangle.

The two portions of the mammæ should be well detached. The whole presents, in beautiful models, more elegance than volume; and the areola, it may be observed, is red in fair women and deeper colored in brown ones.

Winckelmann observes that, in the antique statues, the mammæ terminate gently in a point, and that they have always virginal forms, as a consequence of the system of the ancient artists, which consists in not recalling in the ideal the wants and the accidents of humanity.

Finally on this particular head, I must observe that the reproduction of the species is, in woman, the most important object of life, and that every thing in her physical organization has evident reference to it. Of all the passions in woman, says Richerand, “love has the greatest sway: it has even been said to be her only passion. All the others are modified by it, and receive from it a[Pg 221] peculiar cast, which distinguishes them from those of man.... Fontenelle used to say of the devotion of some women, ‘One may see that love has been here.’ It has been said, in speaking of St. Theresa, ‘To love God, is still to love.’ Thomas maintains that, ‘With women a man is more than a nation.’—‘Love,’ says Madame de Stael, ‘is but an episode in the life of man; it is the whole history of the life of woman.’”

The THIRD MODIFICATION, therefore, of this species of beauty, is that in which the secreting vessels being active, not only cause the plumpness, &c., necessary to beauty, but furnish the mammary and uterine secretions, on which progeny is dependant. This must inevitably be followed by moderate excretions.

It should not pass unobserved that there exist, in some women, a fair skin and dark hair, forming a rather extraordinary and striking combination. As such women have the skin remarkably smooth and moist, this is probably connected with some peculiarity of secretion and excretion.

It is evidently the UNION of all that is good in these varieties which renders beauty in the vital system perfect.

This union is nowhere so frequently to be seen, as in England and in Holland.

It is curious that cleanliness among women seems necessarily to increase with the development of this system; and that, in general slovenliness and filth increase as we pass from England[Pg 222] and Holland, toward France, Italy, Spain, and Portugal, even among women of the highest condition.

Of the temperaments of the ancients, which, as already said, are only partial views of some of the varieties I am now describing, two, the phlegmatic temperament and the sanguine temperament, appear to belong fundamentally to this species. It has been supposed, that the first affects the absorbent, the second the circulating system. They appear to me to be exactly opposite affections of the whole nutritive system at least.

The phlegmatic temperament may exist in both sexes. The causes which tend to develop it, are infancy, humidity with cold, the absence of light, indolence, and the feeble influence of the reproductive functions upon the general system.

In this temperament, there exists an excess in the proportions of the absorbent vessels; the pulse is weak, slow, and soft; there is a turgescence of the cellular tissue, and a more marked development of the glands; the internal stimulants, having less energy than in the other temperaments, life is less active, and all its actions are more or less languid; even the uterus is not endowed with suitable energy.

But these characteristics are not confined to the nutritive system: they extend to the thinking one. The attention is not continuous; the perceptions succeed with some difficulty; the memory is not to be trusted; the imagination is weak; and the propensities, the appetites, and the passions, are so[Pg 223] languid, as to be scarcely capable of troubling the quietude and the indolence which depend on such a constitution.

These characteristics of the phlegmatic temperament, present to us forms more rounded and less expressive, a general softness, a feeble color of the skin, a sort of etiolation, a pale countenance, a light and abundant hair, and, generally, an insurmountable inclination to sloth, averse alike to labors of the mind and body.

It has been observed, that the sanguine temperament, so generally met with among northern nations, is the necessary consequence of the continual and very energetic reaction of the powers of circulation, against the effects of external cold; that it is only by the constant activity of the heart and vessels that calorification can be effected with the necessary vigor: and that the effects of this redoubled action are the same to the organs of circulation as to the muscles, under the influence of volition; exertion in both increasing the power of the organs exerted.

In the sanguine temperament, the lymphatic, circulating, and secreting systems appear to be in a sort of equilibrium; the chest is larger, and the lungs more voluminous; the circulation is more rapid, the arterial predominance is obvious; the pulse is sharp, frequent, and regular; the complexion is ruddy; all the vital actions are extremely easy; and the health is rarely altered.

The mental functions correspond. The conception is quick; the memory is prompt; the [Pg 224]imagination is lively; the judgment has more readiness than depth and extent; the mind, easily affected by the impressions of outward objects, passes rapidly from one idea to another; the tastes, propensities, appetites, passions, are equally ephemeral; and there is much activity, but the strength is soon exhausted.

In persons of this temperament, the countenance is animated; the hair is fair, and inclining to chestnut; the shape is good; the form is softened, though distinct; and the muscles are of tolerable consistence, and moderate development. The whole appearance is generally so amiable, that this temperament may be called that of health, beauty, and happiness.

In the women who present the attributes of their sex with the greatest unity, we distinguish, especially during youth and adult age, the traits of the sanguine temperament, which may be regarded as the most suitable to the organization of woman.



[Pg 225]



In woman, the organs of sense are proportionally larger, and the sensibility is more quick and delicate than in man.

Hence, also, the mental quickness and delicacy of woman are greater. Her perceptions succeed with rapidity and intenseness; and the last of them generally predominates. In well-organized women, accordingly, the forehead and the observing faculties are peculiarly developed.

The general nervous system of woman is likewise far more mobile than that of man.

Beauty of the thinking system in woman depends especially upon these fundamental facts, and those tendencies of structure, which thus distinguish her from man.

In the woman possessing THIS SPECIES of beauty, accordingly, the greater development of its upper part gives to the head, in every view, a pyriform appearance;—the face is generally oval;—the high and pale forehead announces the excellence of the observing faculties;—the intensely expressive eye is full of sensibility;—in the lower features, modesty and dignity are often united;—she[Pg 226] has not the expanded bosom, the general plumpness, or the beautiful complexion, of the second species of beauty;—and she boasts easy and graceful motion, rather than the elegant proportion of the first.—The whole figure is characterized by intellectuality and grace.

This species of beauty is less proper to woman, less feminine, than the preceding. It is not the intellectual system, but the vital one, which is, and ought to be most developed in woman.

First Variety or Modification of this Species of Beauty.

In woman, the nervous extremities appear to be larger than in man; a pulpy appearance is more remarkable in them; and the papillæ in which they terminate, appear to have less rigidity.

The organs of sense are proportionally larger, and more delicately outlined. There is indeed in woman more development in the organs of sensation, than in that of understanding, reasoning, and judging; while the contrary is the case in man. The sensations, accordingly, are in woman more acute, and their minute differences are more easily discerned. Man reflects more than he feels: woman always feels more than she reflects.

The FIRST MODIFICATION, therefore, of this species of beauty, is that in which the development of the organs of sense is proportionally large, and the sensibility greater.

It ought to be observed, that though, in woman, when well organized, the whole head is [Pg 227]proportionally less than in man, yet, the organs of sense will be found to be proportionally larger. This sufficiently indicates the importance of such proportional development. Upon it, indeed, depend that increased sensibility and quickness of observation, which are essential to the female character.

Second Variety or Modification of this Species of Beauty.

Of all parts of the brain in woman, when well formed, the forehead, especially, is found to be large. Without this, she would have sensibility without observation, a most unhappy condition of the nervous system.

In woman, the brain partakes of the softness of all the other parts of her structure. The cellular tissue which covers it, and which descends between its convolutions, is more abundant, mucous, and loose.

The mind, correspondingly, is more impressed by any new object of thought; the whole nervous system is more extensively affected by impressions on the brain; the propensity to emotion is stronger, and women are more habitually under its influence.

The intimate connexion of the thinking, with a peculiar modification of the reproductive faculties, inspires in woman the want of maternity, which is more powerful than life, and which renders her capable of every sacrifice. Associated with this, are her affection, tenderness, and compassion.

Upon the whole, sensibility in woman is greater than understanding; the involuntary play of the[Pg 228] imagination, more active than its regulated combinations; and passion, generally of the gentler kind, predominates rather than resolve or determination. She has, therefore, more finesse and activity, than depth or force of thought; and her nervous system is also more frequently deranged by accidents unknown to man.

The extent of the brain, anteriorly, is measured by the different degrees of the opening of an angle, which Camper has called the facial angle; and so far it is favorable to woman well conformed; but it gives no notion of the magnitude of the brain superiorly, posteriorly, or laterally.[38]

The brain of woman, however, in general, extends a good deal posteriorly as well as anteriorly, though it narrows in the former of these directions; and, to the proportional length thus acquired, is owing that intensity in her functions, which I have just described. Superiorly, centrally, and laterally, the brain of woman is generally much less than that of man; and hence the want of elevation, depth, and endurance, in her mental faculties.[39]

Upon the whole, the brain of woman is less than that of man, and it is especially less in its superior, central, and, intellectually considered, more important portions.

The SECOND MODIFICATION, therefore, of this species of beauty, is that in which the development of[Pg 229] the brain is proportionally small. This is an evident corollary from what we have just stated as to the first modification of this species; for it is not possible that the organs of sense should be proportionally large, without the rest of the head being proportionally small.

This is not quite conformable with the wishes of phrenology; but we must leave any dispute between that art and nature to its own issue. A Venus, moreover, with a small, yet beautifully proportioned head, is often seen to be the mother of a boy who has a large head; the difference of sex causing a vast modification and difference of development.

Third Variety or Modification of this Species of Beauty.

From what has been already said, it may be concluded that, in action or conduct, women are less guided by intellect, and are more biased by feeling and emotion; and it may also be concluded, that all their movements to fulfil the purposes of feeling and emotion, are made in a manner more easy and more prompt, though less sustained. This is increased by the ready obedience of the muscular fibre, and the relative shortness of the stature.

This more easy and less forcible action is perfectly conformable physically with the small and elongated form of the cerebel, or organ of the will, in woman; as it is morally with the part which woman performs in life, and her desire to please, while it is that of man to protect and to defend.

[Pg 230]Conformably with the smaller size of the cerebel, and especially with its smaller breadth (the influence of which is explained in the work last referred to), the disposition of woman to sustained exertion, whether mental or bodily, is much less; and hence the character “varium et mutabile semper fœmina.”

It is, then, the prompt and easily-affected sensibility of woman, not her understanding or force of mind, which renders her so eminently fit to be interested in infancy, which enables her to surmount maternal pains by the sentiment of affection and pity, and which makes agreeable to her the cares and the details of housekeeping; and it is this which sometimes renders nothing too irksome or too painful for a mother, a wife, or a mistress, to endure.

Hence, the constitution of woman is perfectly adapted to these functions; hence, her existence is more sedentary than man’s; hence, she has more gentleness of character than he; and hence, she is less acquainted with great crimes.

The THIRD MODIFICATION, therefore, of this species of beauty, is that in which the development of the cerebel or organ of the will, as well as the muscles which it actuates, is proportionally small.

The situation of this considerable organ is in the back and lower part of the head, and may be pretty accurately indicated by saying, that a line passing through it would complete, posteriorly, a longer line passing backward from the nose through the lower part of the ear.

[Pg 231]When this organ, which is that of the will, is high, and more especially when it is large, a determination and force seem to be given by it to the character, which render it the reverse of feminine.

Having spoken here of the ready exercise of the will in woman, and its adaptation to her wish to please, it seems to be here that some circumstances dependant on these should be noticed.

With this ready exercise of the will and desire to please, are evidently connected the light carelessness, the graceful ease, and the gentle softness, which add so much to the power of beauty. Hence, artists give to woman the bending form which associates so well with all her characteristics; for all feel with Hogarth that undulating lines are more or less formed in all movements executed with the intention of expressing sentiments of courtesy, respect, benevolence, or love.

But it is grace that we must especially consider here—grace which directly emanates from this ready exercise of the will and desire to please, especially when combined with observing faculties so perfect and so perpetually active as those of woman.

“Gracefulness,” says Burke, “is an idea not very different from beauty; it consists in much the same thing.... Gracefulness is an idea belonging to posture and motion. In both these, to be graceful, it is requisite that there be no appearance of difficulty; there is required a small inflexion of the body; and a composure of the parts in such a manner, as not to encumber each other, nor to appear divided by sharp and sudden angles. In this[Pg 232] ease, this roundness, this delicacy of attitude and motion, it is that all the magic of grace consists, and what is called ‘je ne scais quoi.’”

It is not in these mere physical qualities, that all the magic of grace consists, which, in the state of Burke’s knowledge, he might indeed well call “je ne scais quoi!” Let the reader hear what is said on this subject by a man who could look a little deeper than Burke, and who owed no fame to the little art of substituting a flash of words for depth of thought, and serving by it a venal purpose as little as the art itself.

“What grace,” says Smith, “what noble propriety do we not feel in the conduct of those who exert that recollection and self-command which constitute the dignity of every passion, and which bring it down to what others can enter into! We are disgusted with that clamorous grief, which, without any delicacy, calls upon our compassion with sighs and tears, and importunate lamentation. But we reverence that reserved, that silent and majestic sorrow, which discovers itself only in the swelling of the eyes, in the quivering of the lips and cheeks, and in the distant, but affecting address of the whole behavior. It imposes the like silence upon us; we regard it with respectful attention, and watch over our whole behavior, lest, by any impropriety, we should disturb that concerted tranquillity which it requires so great an effort to support.” This is eloquence, indeed.

Alison duly appreciates this earliest definition of grace. “It is,” he says, “this ‘recollection and[Pg 233] self-command,’ which in such scenes constitute what even in common language is called the graceful in behavior or deportment; and it is the expression of the same qualities in the attitude and gesture, which constitutes, in my apprehension, the grace of such gestures or attitudes.... Wherever, in the movements of the form, self-command or self-possession is expressed, some degree of grace, at least, is always produced.... Whenever in such motions grace is actually perceived, I think it will always be found to be in slow, and, if I may use the expression, in restrained or measured motions.

“The motions of the horse, when wild in the pasture, are beautiful; when urged to his speed, and straining for victory, they may be felt as sublime; but it is chiefly in movements of a different kind that we feel them as graceful, when, in the impatience of the field, or in the curvetting of the manege, he seems to be conscious of all the powers with which he is animated, and yet to restrain them, from some principle of beneficence or of dignity. Every movement of the stag almost is beautiful, from the fineness of his form and the ease of his gestures; yet it is not in these or in the heat of the chase that he is graceful: it is when he pauses upon some eminence in the pursuit, when he erects his crested head, and when, looking with disdain upon the enemy who follows, he bounds to the freedom of his hills. It is not, in the same manner, in the rapid speed of the eagle when he[Pg 234] darts upon his prey, that we perceive the grace of which his motions are capable. It is when he soars slowly upward to the sun, or when he wheels with easy and continuous motion in airy circles in the sky.

“In the personification which we naturally give to all inanimate objects which are susceptible of movement, we may easily perceive the influence of the same association. We speak commonly, for instance, of the graceful motions of trees, and of the graceful movements of a river. It is never, however, when these motions are violent or extreme, that we apply to them the term of grace. It is the gentle waving of the tree in slow and measured cadence which is graceful, not the tossing of its branches amid the storm. It is the slow and easy winding which is graceful in the movements of the river, and not the burst of the cataract, or the fury of the torrent.

“It is only in the perfection of the human system, in the age when the form has assumed all its powers, and the mind is awake to the consciousness of all the capacities it possesses, and the lofty obligations they impose, that the reign of physical grace commences; and that the form is capable of expressing, under the dominion of every passion or emotion, the high and habitual superiority which it possesses, either to the allurements of pleasure or the apprehensions of pain. It is this age, accordingly, which the artists of antiquity have uniformly represented, when they sought to display the perfection of grace, and when they succeeded in leaving[Pg 235] their compositions as models of this perfection to every succeeding age.”

It is evidently the UNION of all that is good in the varieties now described which renders beauty, in the thinking system, perfect.

This is well illustrated in the Minerva of the Giustiniani gallery, which, in this respect, is scarcely the less valuable because it is draped, for it is the head that ever bears the greatest impress of intellectuality.

This union is by no means perfect in the English female head, although, from the considerable development of the forehead and the moderate one of the backhead, the general form of that head is beautiful. As to the French female head, a Frenchman, writing under the name of Count Stendhal, scruples not to say: “The form of the head in Paris is ugly; the cranium approaches to that of the ape; and this occasions the women to have the appearance of age very early in life.” The women of Paris differ not, in this respect, from those of France generally. Nearly all have the character here described.

It is under this species that the nervous temperament falls, which is constituted by great sensibility and corresponding mobility, and therefore belongs to the first and the last of those varieties; a temperament chiefly to be found among women.

This temperament scarcely exists in the athletic, is weak in the phlegmatic, is moderate in the sanguine, and is rather active in the bilious.

[Pg 236]It is characterized by the smallness and the emaciation of the muscles, the quickness and intensity of the sensations, and the suddenness and fickleness of the determinations.

It is seldom natural, but commonly depends on a sedentary and inactive life, on a diseased condition of the brain produced by reading works of imagination, and on habits of sensual indulgence. In confirmation of this, we are told that the Roman ladies became subject to nervous affections only in consequence of those depraved manners which marked the decline of the empire; and that these affections were extremely common in France in the licentious times preceding the fall of the corrupt and corrupting monarchy.

Another partial view falling under this species, and properly under the second variety, is the cerebral temperament, which results from the energy and influence of the brain.

This temperament, being thus determined by an excess in the power of the brain, has been called the temperament of genius. When it is increased by education and habits, the other organs are generally more feeble.

In woman, the cerebral temperament is more particularly characterized by a predominance of imagination, which is evidently dependant on the organization which has already been described.

It has been truly observed, that to contribute to the perfection of reason as well as to the preservation of health, the brain ought to be exercised and developed in every direction; that the mere [Pg 237]exercise of memory carried too far renders persons foolish; that the predominance of imagination disposes to nervous affections, and even to alienation; that meditation alters the digestive functions; and that the dry and minute contention which business requires, disposes, when joined to a defect of exercise (and I may add the vinous excesses in which men of business indulge), to apoplexy and to paralysis.



[Pg 238]



“It is probable,” says Dr. Prichard, “that the natural idea of the beautiful in the human person has been more or less distorted in almost every nation. Peculiar characters of countenance, in many countries, accidentally enter into the ideal standard. This observation has been made particularly of the negroes of Africa, who are said to consider a flat nose and thick lips as principal ingredients of beauty; and we are informed by Pallas that the Kalmucs[40] esteem no face as handsome, which has not the eyes in angular position, and the other characteristics of their race. The Aztecs of Mexico have ever preferred a depressed forehead,[41] which forms the strongest contrast to the majestic contour of the Grecian busts: the former represented their divinities with a head more flattened than it is ever seen among the Caribs, and the Greeks, on the contrary, gave to[Pg 239] their gods and heroes a still more unnatural elevation.”

Knowing, as the reader now does, what constitutes the worth, the dignity, and the beauty, of the various organs, this statement tends to show the value of that standard of beauty which we owe to the Greeks. I proceed to illustrate it in regard to the FACE.

The beauty of the human countenance is described by various writers, as including the beauty of form, in the various features of the face; the beauty of color, in the shades of the complexion; the beauty of character, in some distinctive and permanent relations; and the beauty of expression, in some immediate and temporary feeling.

In regard to the form of the face, considered as a whole, the opening of the facial angle of Camper, in measuring geometrically the extent of the upper part of the head, marks the development of the brain or organ of thought, and shows the proportion which it bears to the middle and lower part of the face, or to the organs of sense and expression.

This development of the upper part of the head contributes essentially to beauty, by giving to the whole head that pyriform appearance already described, by which in every view it is larger at the superior part, diminishes gradually as it descends, and terminates by the agreeable outline of the chin.

In the most beautiful race of men, the facial angle extends to eighty-five degrees, acquiring an [Pg 240]increase of ten degrees above the inferior varieties; the face is diminished; the eyes are better placed; the nose assumes a more elegant form; and all appearance of muzzle vanishes.

In the Greek ideal head, the development presenting a facial angle of ninety degrees, confers the highest beauty of the form of the head, the majesty of the forehead, the position of the eyes upon a line which divides the face into two equal parts, the elegant projection of the nose, the absence of all tumidity of the lips.—But of that, in the sequel.

In the face, generally, as observed by Winckelmann, beauty of form depends greatly upon the profile, and particularly on the line described by the forehead and nose, by the greater or less degree of the concavity or declivity of which, beauty is increased or diminished. The nearer the profile approaches to a straight line, the more majestic, and at the same time softer, does the countenance appear, the unity and simplicity of this line being, as in everything else, the cause of this grand, yet soft harmony.

The face being the seat of several organs, each must be examined in its turn.

Winckelmann observes, that “a large high FOREHEAD [an excess, in this respect] was regarded by the ancients as a deformity.”—And “Arnobius says, that those women who had a high forehead, covered a part of it with a fillet.” The reason of this will afterward be pointed out.

The sense of TOUCH resides in all parts of the[Pg 241] face, but especially in the lips. It is most perfect, however, at the tips of the fingers.

A thinner skin permits to the touch of woman, more vivacity, delicacy, and profoundness. It seizes the details which generally escape the touch of man. It is more easily hurt by hard, rough and angular, cold or hot bodies.

Hence, woman requires vestments which are light and smooth; and she enjoys more than man the pleasure of reposing on flocculent substances which softly resist her pressure.

In the face, the lips are peculiarly the organ of touch.

Of all the organs of sense, the mouth admits, I believe, of the greatest beauty and the greatest deformity. Considered in repose, nothing certainly is more lovely than this organ when beautifully formed in a beautiful woman. And in action, during speech, the simplest words passing through it receive a charm altogether peculiar.

The mouth ought to be small, and not to extend much beyond the nostrils: a large mouth and thick lips are contrary to beauty. The curve of the upper lip is said to have served as a model to the ancient artists for the bow of Love. The lower lip should be most developed, rounded and turned outward; so as to produce, between it and the chin, that beautiful hollow which assists so much in giving the latter a more perfect rotundity. Both, but especially the upper, should become thin toward the angle of the mouth.

Although we see many lips without evident and[Pg 242] offensive defects, there are very few of them really beautiful; and indeed it is only persons of great delicacy and of refined taste who attach the highest value to perfect beauty of the lips.

Lips of beautiful form and of vermillion hue, teeth which are small, equal, slightly rounded, white, clean, and well arranged, and a pure breath, are the circumstances which constitute a beautiful mouth.

The sense of TASTE is more delicate and more exquisite in woman than in man. She accordingly seeks for savors which are less rough and irritating than those which are agreeable to him.

The NOSE is the most prominent and conspicuous feature of the face; it is the central fixed point around which are arranged all its other parts; and it is thus essential to the regularity of the features. When these, moreover, are in action, the nose, by its immobility, marks the degree of change which they undergo, and renders intelligible all the movements produced by admiration, joy, sadness, fear, &c.

To perfect beauty of the nose, it is necessary that it should be nearly in the same direction with the forehead, and should unite with that part, without leaving more than a slight inflexion to be seen. This constitutes the Greek profile; and the various degrees of deviation from it constitute, as to this organ, the various degenerations from beauty the most consummate to ugliness the most disgusting.

Nature says Winckelmann, is sparing of this[Pg 243] beauty both in burning climates and in frozen regions.[42]

The same writer says: “The flat compressed nose of the Kalmucs, Chinese, and other distant nations, is also a defect, because it destroys the harmony of forms, according to which all the other parts are constructed: nor is there any reason why nature should compress and hollow it, instead of continuing the straight line begun in the forehead.” The fact is true; the reasoning false, as will be seen in a subsequent chapter, to which this point properly belongs.

Under the influence of passion, the nostrils expand and are drawn upward; and these two motions are the only ones of which the lower and moveable part of the nose is capable.

The sense of smell, like that of taste, is more delicate and more exquisite in woman than in man. Woman accordingly enjoys more, and suffers more, by that sense than man does; and its influence is said to dispose her more than man to those pleasures which have remarkable relations to that sense.

To beauty of the EYE, magnitude and elongated form contribute more perhaps than color: if its form be bad, no color will render it beautiful. In woman, however, the most beautiful eyes, in relation to color, are those which appear to be blue,[Pg 244] hazel, or black. But no color of the eye is beautiful without clearness in every part.

“The more obliquely, and at an angle to each other,” says Winckelmann, “that the eyes are placed, as in cats, the more their position is removed from the base, or from the fundamental lines of the human face, which form a cross that divides it into four parts, the nose dividing it perpendicularly into two equal parts, and the eyes dividing it horizontally. When the eyes are placed obliquely, they form an angle with a line parallel to that which we suppose to pass through their centre. And this indeed is doubtless the reason why it displeases us to see a mouth which goes awry, because it generally offends the eye to see two lines diverging from each other without any reason. Thus eyes placed obliquely, as may be seen sometimes among ourselves, and commonly among the Chinese, Japanese, and in Egyptian heads, are an irregularity and a deformity.”

Here, again, Winckelmann’s fact is true, and his reasoning false, or rather, perhaps, superficial. The real cause of the deformity of obliquely-placed eyes is, that the vital parts of the head preponderate. The cavities of the upper jaw, which open into the internal nose, are, in the Mongelic races, so large, that they raise the cheek-bones, throw the orbit upward at its lateral part, and encroach apparently upon the space which should contain a nobler organ, the brain. The causes assigned by Winckelmann are but consequences of this.

The eyelids in woman, when well formed, [Pg 245]present the gentlest inflexions. The eyelashes, when long and silky, form a sign of gentleness, and sometimes of softness. The eyebrows ought to be furnished with fine hairs, arched, and separated: if they are too thin, they do not sufficiently protect the organ of sight: if they unite, they render the physiognomy sombre; their too-marked approximation, and their extreme separation, are real deformities.

The sense of sight in woman is rapid and active; yet, in her, the slow and languid motion of the eye is generally employed, and is more beautiful than a brisk one. Woman requires a mild light, and colors of moderate vividness, rather than otherwise.

The beauty of the EAR is too little regarded. To an experienced eye it presents great beauties, and great deformities, in form, magnitude, and projection.

The size and prominence of the ear, which characterize several nomadic tribes, are contrary to beauty, not merely because they alter the regularity of the oval of the head, and surcharge its outline with prominences, but because they are in themselves ugly, indicating rather the coarse strength common to inferior animals than the delicacy to be found in man.

In woman, the ear is also more delicate, more sensible, but more feeble, than in man. Strong sounds, loud noises, which may be agreeable to the ear of man, are offensive to her. She prefers soft[Pg 246] and tender, gay, or pathetic music, to every other; and whatever may be the perfection of her musical education, she also prefers sweet and tender melody to the most complicated Sclavonic harmony.

Such are the organs of sense or those of impression, which form the first and most important portion of the face of woman.—The organs of expression, the MUSCLES of the face, on the contrary, are feeble in her; and correspondingly feeble and rounded are the bony points to which they are attached.

Woman presents very little prominence of the frontal sinuses; the cheek-bones display beautiful curves; the edges of the alveoli containing the teeth are much more elliptical than in man; and the chin is softly rounded. Of the chin, it should be observed that it is a distinctive character of the human species, and is not found in any other animal. When well formed, it is full, united, and generally without a dimple; and it passes gently and almost insensibly into the neighboring parts. In woman especially, the chin ought to be finely rounded; for when projecting, it expresses, owing to its connexion with muscular action and power, a firmness and a determination which we do not wish to discover in her character. “The apparent convexity of the cheeks,” says Winckelmann, “which in many heads appears greater than natural, contributes to this rotundity: it is not, however, ideal, but taken from natural beauty.”

The muscles of the face express all the shades of emotion and passion, not because such expression[Pg 247] is the primary, or the proper object of their motion, but because their various motions adapt the organs to the farther purposes required of them in consequence of preceding impressions; and these motions become expressive to us only because we are thus enabled to infer the feeling and purpose of the person in whom they occur. This is a fundamental principle of physiognomy; and its not being understood has led to many of our errors in that science.

In woman, the countenance is more rounded, as well as more abundantly furnished with that cellular and, fatty tissue which fills all the chasms, effaces, all the angles, and unites all the parts by the gentlest transitions. At the same time, the muscles are feebler, more mobile, resigned for a shorter time to the same contraction, and as inconstant as the emotions and passions which their rapid play expresses.

The result of all this is, that the muscles do not profoundly modify the face, which consequently has not so much of permanent character as that of a man, and which permits us more difficultly to discover, through the rounded, short, and shifting parts, the nature of her various feelings. As, however, the abundance of the cellular tissue diminishes with age, and as the sentiments become at the same time less ephemeral, the physiognomical character and expression of woman become more decided.

As to COLOR of the face, it may be observed that the forehead, the temples, the eyelids, the nose,[Pg 248] the upper part of the superior lip, and the lower part of the inferior lip, ought in woman to be of a beautiful and rather opaque white. The approach to the cheeks and the middle of the chin ought to have a slight teint of rose-color, and the middle of the cheeks ought to be altogether rosy, but of a delicate hue.—Cheeks of an animated white are preferable to those of a red color, although less beautiful than those of rosy hue.

With regard to the HAIR, it may be observed, that sometimes, rising from its bulbs, it turns in irregular rings, and, by displaying a forehead rather large, confers a certain sanguine, as well as open air upon the physiognomy. This, however, is most frequently seen in men, and chiefly in men of exuberant vitality, rather than intellectuality: it indeed depends entirely on the former.

In other men, and almost always in women, the hair generally divides in a line extending from the crown to the forehead, and falls over the temples. The line thus formed, uniting with the median line, of the face in general, and that of the nose in particular, gives to the whole of the features a peculiar symmetry and beauty.

I have said, already, that symmetry is a characteristic of thinking beings, and I have explained the reason of this. The present case admirably illustrates it. This symmetrical arrangement of the hair bestows an intellectual air; and it well may, for, when natural, it derives its tendency to fall on each side, from the top of the head, either from the general elevation of the calvarium, or from the [Pg 249]particular elevation of the forehead, which is characteristic of beauty in woman.

It accordingly announces in the individual higher observing faculties: hence, the ancient sculptors never omitted this in their highest personages: hence, we find it in the heads of Raffaelle and Guido.

“A fair hue, ξανθὸς,” says Winckelmann, “has ever been regarded as the most beautiful; and flaxen-colored hair was assigned to the most beautiful, not only among the gods, as Apollo [χρυσοκόμαν Απόλλωνα, golden-haired Apollo] and Bacchus, but also among the heroes: Alexander the Great had flaxen hair.” The modern Italians call Cupid “Il biondo Dio.”

Having concluded what I have here to say of the parts of the face, I may observe, that the different effects of the same face, even in a state of repose, have often been observed, never explained. I have, however, in another work, shown that the face is composed of motive, nutritive, and thinking parts or organs. Now, circumstances bring these variously into action; and the different effects alluded to, in reality depend on the motive, or the nutritive, or the intellectual expression being at the time, respectively, most apparent, or most attended to by us. The study of this subject, which I have not space here to develop, is of infinite importance to the man of taste, the physiognomist, and the artist. The latter cannot easily excel without understanding it.

Another curious fact, not hitherto observed, is,[Pg 250] that though beauty of face is, owing to the power of the vital system, almost universal at a certain age, there is always a faulty feature, which the physiognomist may observe, and which ever continues to exaggerate, until it terminate in relative ugliness. Thus we scarcely observe the long upper lip during youth, in some women; and yet it afterward gives to them the sober grimace of baboons. We admire in youth the spirit of the piercing eye, and aquiline nose in others, to whom these afterward give the look of so many old hawks. In others, still, we are charmed with the round, rosy, and innocent cheeks, which, when they become paler and more pendent, confer on them the aspect either of seals or of mastiffs, according to other circumstances of temper and disposition. I could easily trace these, and many more, from youth to middle age, and illustrate them convincingly, by drawings: but I have no room for it here.

Each, indeed, of the subjects of the two immediately preceding paragraphs, is worthy of a volume; for the first is as essential to all judgment of existing beauty at the instant of its being before us, as the second is to all prescience of what beauty will very soon be—to all who have no love for a leap in the dark.

I add to this chapter but a few words on the very different organization of the head and face, and the very different mind, of the Greeks and Romans.

Whoever, for the purpose of comparing the heads of these two nations, may walk into the British[Pg 251] Museum, will be struck with the difference between them.

The forehead is almost always rather narrow, and rather high, in the most illustrious Greeks; and this could not so uniformly have been so represented, in sculpture, unless it had been so also in fact. This is verified, in the third room of the Townley collection, by the heads of Homer, Hippocrates, Epicurus, Pericles, &c.—by the almost universal conformation of Greek heads, to which there are but few exceptions: Sophocles, in this room, and Demosthenes, in the eleventh, are rather broader.

On the contrary, the forehead, the face, the jaws, are excessively broad, and the cranium is depressed and low, in the Romans—in Severus, Nero, Caracalla, &c., in the sixth room, and in Tiberius and Augustus, in the eleventh; nor is this owing to the circumstance that these generally were men degraded in feeling or intellect, for nearly the same configuration is found in Trajan, Hadrian, &c., in the fourth, sixth, and other rooms. The faces of the Romans are not less ugly than their heads; and those of their women are absolutely detestable, as may be seen in Faustina, Plautilla, Sabina, Domitia, &c., in the sixth of these rooms.

If farther illustration of this be wanting, it may be found in the circumstance that, while the Greeks preferred the rather high forehead, and invented the ideal one, the Romans, on the contrary, preferred a little forehead and united eyebrows. Ovid assures us that the women of his time painted their[Pg 252] eyebrows in such a manner, that they might appear to form only one.

In the work so often referred to, I have shown that the intensity of functions is as the length of their organs, and the permanence of functions as the breadth of their organs. No truth can be better illustrated than this is, in the organization and the faculties of the Greeks and Romans. With the higher and larger head of the Greeks was united an intensity of genius, which no other people has yet rivalled; and with the broader head of the Romans, a perseverance, equally obstinate and unfeeling, which has been similarly unrivalled.

A good illustration of the vaunted Roman virtue is recorded in Porcia, the daughter of Cato, the wife of Brutus, who plunged a toilet-knife into her thigh, and kept it eight days in the wound, without complaining, to prove to her husband that her courage and her discretion rendered her worthy of entering into the conspiracy, which he meditated; and who also destroyed herself by swallowing burning coals, when she heard of his defeat. Obstinacy and insensibility were great sources of the crimes either perpetrated, or, by their lying historians, pretended to be perpetrated, under the name of Roman virtue.

It would be out of place, here, to enter farther into the character and expression of the face. Those whom these remarks dispose to do so, may refer to the physiognomical work, which I have[Pg 253] been so often compelled to allude to.[43] To those who are satisfied, neither with the vague, though tasteful inspirations of Lavater, nor with the empyrical or unreasoned manifestations of Gall and Spurzheim, but who desire the assignment of a reason for every description of physiognomical character or expression, that work may afford some satisfaction.

That the Greeks, either intuitively or reasonedly, distinguished the three species of beauty as to the figure, has been already seen. The heads of Diana, Venus, and Minerva, respectively present beauty of the locomotive, vital, and mental systems.



[Pg 254]



As to the COMBINATIONS of beauty, it must now be observed, that some one of these species of beauty always characterize the same individual during every stage of life; and, to the experienced observer, it never is difficult to say which of them predominates. Attention to the preceding principles will render this easy.

It is right to mention here the cause of this general predominance of one species of beauty over the rest. It depends on this, that the slightest original or accidental preponderance of strength in one system above that of the rest, though unobserved at first, leads to a more frequent employment of its functions, and therefore to a more perfect development of its organs, until at last the disproportion between these and those of the other systems, becomes characteristic of the individual.

In a truly beautiful woman, none of the systems described can exist in a great degree of degradation; but of the three, the nutritive or vital system is to woman the most essential. In England, from thirty to forty is generally the age of its highest perfection.

[Pg 255]It often, however, occurs, that two, or even the whole of these species of beauty, are blended in considerable perfection. In those females in which it is found, the locomotive system is well developed in the length and elegance of the limbs; the vital or nutritive system everywhere presents soft forms, and rounds both body and limbs; and the mental or thinking system displays a capability of grace in action, notwithstanding the constrained attitude assumed to conceal the face.

Although there can indeed be no great degree of beauty in which this combination is not more or less the case, yet a union of all the three species of beauty, in the greatest compatible degree, is to be found only in some of those immortal images of ideal beauty, which were created by the genius and the chisel of the Greeks.

Having briefly spoken of these combinations, I may notice also those combinations which similarly occur among the temperaments, which, as already said, constitute partial views of the varieties I have been describing.

In relation to a combination of the phlegmatic and nervous temperament, I may refer to Richerand, who says, that, “among the moderns, the easy Michael Montaigne, all of whose passions were so moderate, who reasoned on everything, even on feeling, was truly pituitous. But in him the predominance of the lymphatic system was not carried so far, but that he joined to it a good deal of nervous susceptibility.”

Of women, more especially, it is observed, that[Pg 256] they rarely present examples of the lymphatic temperament, unmodified by nervous mobility; whence come extreme vivacity in the sensations with great feebleness, determinations equally precipitate and unsteady, excited imagination and ephemeral tastes, absolute will, &c.

The sanguine temperament is similarly combined with the nervous one. Hence, the physiologist above quoted says, that “to the extreme love of pleasure, sanguine men join, when circumstances require it [he should have said, in some cases], great elevation of thought and character, and can bring into action the highest talents in every department: the history of Henry IV., of Mirabeau, and others, proves that.”

The ancients gave the name of bilious, to a temperament in which the sanguineous system is energetic, the pulse strong, hard, and frequent, the subcutaneous veins prominent, the development of the liver excessive, the superabundance of bile remarkable, the sensibility easily excited, yet capable of dwelling upon one object, the passions violent, the movements abrupt and impetuous, and the character inflexible. This is evidently a very compound temperament, and should never have been classed, any more than the two preceding, with the simple temperaments, the athletic or muscular, the phlegmatic or lymphatic, the sanguine, and the nervous, which I have noticed under the heads to which they belong.

In persons of this temperament, the skin is of a yellowish brown, the hair black, the muscles[Pg 257] marked, the form harshly expressed. “Bold in the conception of a project,” says Richerand, “constant and indefatigable in its execution, it is among men of this temperament, that we find those who, in different ages, have governed the destinies of the world: full of courage, boldness, and activity, they have signalized themselves by great virtues or great crimes, and have been the terror or admiration of the universe. Such were Alexander, Julius Cesar, Brutus, Mahomet, Charles XII., the Czar Peter, Cromwell, Sixtus V., Cardinal Richelieu [and, he should have added, Bonaparte].... To attain to results of such importance, the profoundest dissimulation and the most obstinate constancy are equally necessary; and these are the most eminent qualities of the bilious.”

A still more compound temperament is the melancholic, in which disease is added to the bilious temperament, a derangement of the functions of the nervous system, and the diseased obstruction of some one of the organs of the abdomen, so that the nutritive functions are feebly or irregularly performed, the bowels sluggish, the pulse hard and contracted, the excretions difficult, the imagination gloomy, the disposition suspicious.

In persons of this temperament, the skin is of a still deeper hue, and the look uneasy and gloomy. Rousseau and Tiberius are excellent examples of this temperament, as associated with genius and virtue in one, and with truly royal vice in the other. In women, this temperament is rarely so intense as in men.

[Pg 258]Of the TRANSITIONS of beauty, I have now to observe, that, though one species of beauty always characterizes the same individual during every stage of life, yet it is remarkable, that the young woman (whatever species of beauty predominates) has always a tendency to beauty of the locomotive system;—that the middle-aged woman has always a tendency to beauty of the nutritive system;—and that the woman of advanced age has always a tendency to beauty of the thinking system.

Some women would seem, in the progress of life, to pass through all these systems (and the more perfect the whole organization, the more will this seem to be the case); but the accurate observer will always see the predominance of the same system.



[Pg 259]



Winckelmann says: “I cannot imagine beauty without the PROPORTION which is always its foundation.—The drawing of the naked figure is founded upon the idea and the knowledge of beauty; and this idea consists partly in measures and relations, and partly in forms, the beauty of which was, as Cicero observes, the object of the first Grecian artists: the latter determine the figure; the former fix the proportions.”

The great variety of proportions presented by the human body causes much difficulty in determining with precision what are the best. The difficulty becomes quite insurmountable if we attempt to assign precise dimensions to the details of configuration or to minute parts.

Many circumstances are opposed to the exactness of these measures. Even in the same person, one part is rarely in all respects similar to the corresponding part; we are taller in the morning than in the evening; and the proportions change at different periods of life. In different individuals, the differences are still more evident. Moreover, habits, professions, trades, all unite to oppose regularity in the proportions.

[Pg 260]It has farther been observed that, in the conformation of woman, both as regards the whole and as regards the various parts, nature still more rarely approaches determinate proportions than in man.

It is remarked by Hogarth, whose views I now abridge, that in society we every day hear women pronounce perfectly correct opinions as to the proportions of the neck, the bosom, the hands, and the arms of other women, whom they have an interest in observing with severity. It is evident that, for such an examination, they ought to be capable of seizing, with great precision, the relation of length and thickness, and of following the slight sinuosities, the swellings, the depressions, almost insensible and continually varying, at the surface of the parts observed. If so, it is certainly in the power of a man of science, with as observing an eye, to go still farther, and conceive many other necessary circumstances concerning proportion.

But he says: “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.... 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.”

[Pg 261]After some illustrations of this, which naturally leave the method very vague, he adds: “I am apprehensive that this part of my scheme, for explaining exact proportion, may not be thought so sufficiently determinate as could be wished.” So that Hogarth’s method as to proportions, both general and particular, reduces itself to the employment of the eye and the nice sensation we have of quantities or dimensions.

But the Greek artists had not only done what Hogarth thus vaguely speaks of, but advanced much farther; and indeed all that has been done on this important subject belongs rather to the history of art than that of nature.

“It is not,” says Buffon, “by the comparison of the body of one man with that of another man, or by measures actually taken in a great number of subjects, that we can acquire this knowledge [that of proportion]: it is by the efforts which have been made exactly to copy and imitate nature; it is to the art of design that we owe all that we know in this respect. Feeling and taste have done all that mechanics could not do; the rule and the compass have been quitted in order to profit by the eye; all the forms, all the outlines, and all the parts of the human body, have been realized in marble; and we have known nature better by the representation than by nature itself. It is by great exercise of the art of design and by an exquisite sentiment, that great statuaries have succeeded in making us feel the just proportions of the works of nature. The Greeks have formed such admirable statues,[Pg 262] that with one consent they are regarded as the most exact representation of the most perfect human body. These statues, which were only copies from man, are become originals, because these copies were not made from any individual, but from the whole human species well observed, so well indeed, that no man has been found whose figure is so well proportioned as these statues: it is then from these models that the measures of the human body have been taken.”

It is now necessary to lay before the reader the principles of the Greeks, as to the proportions of the human body. Much has been well done on this subject by Winckelmann, Bossi, and others; but, at the same time, from want of enlarged anatomical and physiological views, they have overlooked some fundamental considerations, and have failed to unravel the greatest difficulties which the subject presents. That the reader may be satisfied of the accuracy of my representations, I shall lay the statements of these writers before him in their own words, rendering them only as succinct as possible.[44]

Of the first epoch of art among the Etruscans and Greeks, Mengs says: “They preferred the most necessary things to those which were less so; and therefore they directed their attention first to the muscles, and next to proportion, these [Pg 263]constituting the two parts the most useful and necessary of the human form; and this is, throughout, the character of their primitive taste. All this we observe in history, and in the divine and human figures which they have represented.

“In these figures,” he farther observes, “we find a proportion, impossible to be known and practised, without an art which furnishes sure rules. These rules could not be founded otherwise than in proportion, which was invented and practised by the Greeks.”

In this, Flaxman agrees, when he says: “It must not be supposed that those simple geometrical forms of body and limbs, in the divinities and heroes of antiquity, depended upon accidental choice, or blind and ignorant arbitration. They are, on the contrary, a consequence of the strict and extensive examination of nature, of rational inquiry into its most perfect organization and physical well-being, expressed in outward appearance.”

“That the Greeks,” says Bossi, “wrote much on this subject [their doctrine respecting symmetry] we have ample evidence in Pliny, Vitruvius himself, Philostratus the younger, and others.

“Polycletus did not confine himself to giving a commentary upon this fundamental point, but, in illustration of his treatise, according to Galen, made an admirable statue that confirmed the precepts laid down in the work; and ‘The Rule of Polycletus,’ the name given to this statue, became so famous for its beauty, that it passed into a proverb[Pg 264] to express a perfect body, as we may find in Lucian.

“But of so many writings, which ought at least to equal the works that remain to us, and probably were superior, inasmuch as it is easier to lay down precepts than to put them in execution—of so many treatises, I say, not a fragment remains [except the few lines of Vitruvius], nor is there, now, any hope that a vestige will be found, unless something may remain for posterity among the papyri of Herculaneum.”

Now, to approach to the ancients in excellence is quite impossible, until some one shall explain the great principles on which they acted. Assuredly they are, in some of the most important respects, unknown at present. Servile imitation will never answer the purpose; and to learn as the ancients did, and reach perfection, perhaps, in as many ages, is not very rational, when we can avail ourselves of their practice to discover their principles. I will, in this chapter, endeavor to point out some of these principles in the practice of art, as I have already done in the general theory of beauty.

“It is probable,” says Winckelmann, “that the Grecian artists, in imitation of the Egyptians, had fixed, by well-determined rules, not only the largest, but even the very smallest proportions, and the measure of the length proper to every age and to every kind of contour; and probably all these rules were learned by young persons, from books that treated of symmetry.”

These rules, we know, were of three [Pg 265]kinds—numerical, geometrical, and harmonic; and we shall see, in the sequel, that the loss of them has been much deplored. It is not a little curious, however, that the numerical and geometrical methods are, in some measure, actually practised even at the present day, and that the harmonic method (the loss of which has caused the greatest confusion) is easily deducible from anatomical and physiological principles, as I shall endeavor to show.

As to the NUMERICAL METHOD, it is evidently that of which Vitruvius has preserved some notions, and which is at present practised by artists.

“As it is the painter’s business,” says Bossi, “to imitate a great variety of human bodies, and as the difference of parts in beautiful bodies is generally slight, and becomes, as it were, imperceptible, in the most usual imitations less than life, Leonardo perceived it was necessary for the artist to use a general measure, for the purpose of preparing historical compositions quickly. He required that the figure to be employed should be carefully selected on the model of some natural body, the proportions of which were generally considered beautiful.—This measure, he required, should be employed solely for length, and not for width, which requires more evident variety.”

“It has been observed,” says Flaxman, “that Vitruvius, from the writings of the most eminent Greek painters and sculptors, informs us that they made their figures eight heads high, or ten faces, and he instances different parts of the figure measured according to that rule, which the great[Pg 266] Michael Angelo adopted, as we see by a print from a drawing of his.”

Winckelmann, however, shows that the foot served the Greeks as a measure for all their larger dimensions, and that their sculptors regulated their proportions by it, in giving six times its length, as the model of the human figure. Vitruvius says, “Pes vero altitudinis corporis sextæ.”

“The foot,” says Winckelmann, “which among the ancients was used as the standard of measures of every magnitude (for a given measure of fluids was also called by this name), was very useful to sculptors in fixing the proportions of the body, and with reason; for the foot was a more determinate measure than that of the head or face, of which the moderns generally make use. The ancient artists regulated the size of their statues by the length of the foot, making them, according to Vitruvius, six times the length of the foot. Upon this principle, Pythagoras determined the height of Hercules, by the length of the feet with which he measured the Olympic stadium at Elis.

“This proportion of six to one between the foot and the body, is founded upon experience of nature, even in slender figures: it is found correct, not only in the Egyptian statues, but also in the Grecian; and it will be discovered in the greater part of the ancient figures where the feet are preserved.”

“We would not omit mentioning,” says Bossi, “the erroneous opinion of those, who esteem the feet of females beautiful in proportion to their smallness. The beauty of the feet consists in the[Pg 267] handsomeness and neatness of their shape, not in their being short, or extremely small: were it otherwise, the feet of the Chinese and Japanese women would be beautiful, and those of the Venus de Medici frightful.”

Such, then, is evidently the numerical method of the ancients.—Of the GEOMETRICAL METHOD, we have many illustrations.

A man standing upright, with his arms extended, is, as Leonardo da Vinci has shown, enclosed in a square, the extreme extent of his arms being equal to his height. This is evidently the most general measure of the latter kind.

Of the latter kind, also, is Camper’s ellipsis for measuring the relative size of the shoulders in the male, and the pelvis in the female.

So also is the measure from the centre of one mammæ to that of the other, as equal to the distance from each to the pit over the breast-bone.

We now approach the chief difficulty, which evidently formed a stumbling-block even to Leonardo da Vinci—that HARMONIC METHOD which, strange as it may appear, will be found to afford rules that are at once perfectly precise, and yet infinitely variable. The apparent impossibility indeed of such a rule seems to have embarrassed every one. And the statement which Bossi makes in regard to Leonardo da Vinci, in this respect, is exceedingly interesting.

“He thought,” says Bossi, “but little of any general measure of the species; and that the true proportion admitted by him, and acknowledged to[Pg 268] be of difficult investigation, is solely the proportion of an individual in regard to himself, which, according to true imitation, should be different in all the individuals of a species, as is the case in nature. Thus, says he, ‘all the parts of any animal should correspond with the whole; that which is short and thick, should have every member short and thick; that which is long and thin, every member long and thin; and that which is between the two, members of a proportionate size.’ From this and other precepts, it follows, that, when he speaks of proportion, he is to be understood as referring to the harmony of the parts of an individual, and not to the general rule of imitation in reference to dimensions.”—How clearly (notwithstanding the error as to all being short and thick) does this point to the harmonic method of proportion forthwith to be explained?

“It would seem he felt within himself that he did not reach the perfection of those wonderful ancients of whom he professed himself the admirer and disciple.

“It became, therefore, Leonardo’s particular care and study to approach as nearly as he could to the ancients in the true imitation of beautiful nature under the guidance of philosophy.

“But whether from want of great examples, or from not sufficiently penetrating, as he himself thought, into these artifices, or from comprehending them too late, he modestly laments that he did not possess the ancient art of proportions. He then protests that he has done the little he was able[Pg 269] to do, and asks pardon of posterity that he has not done more. Such are the sentiments that Platino exhibits in the following epitaph:

“Leonardus Vincia (sic) Florentinus
Statuarius Pictor que nobilissimus
de se parce loquitur.

“Non sum Lysippus; nec Apelles; nec Policletus,
Nec Zeuxis; nec sum nobilis ære Myron.
Sum Florentinus Leonardus Vincia proles;
Mirator veterum discipulusque memor.
Defuit una mihi symmetria prisca: peregi
Quod potui: veniam da mihi posteritas.”

“It is evident that these sentiments are not to be attributed to the imagination of the poet.”

Bossi, having no glimpse of the great principles for which Leonardo sought in vain, says: “Since, then, this great man could not satisfy himself in the difficult task of dimensions, while on other points he seems to dread no censure, it should give us a strong idea of the difficulty of determining the laws of beautiful symmetry, and preserving it in works with that harmony which is felt, but cannot be explained, and which varies in every figure, according to the age, circumstances, and particular character of each.

“And when we recollect that, though Leonardo sought successfully in Vitruvius the proportions which Vitruvius himself seems to have drawn from the Greeks, he yet lamented that he did not possess the ancient symmetry, it is easily seen that he did not mean by this science, as already stated, a determinate general measure for man, but that [Pg 270]harmony of parts which is suited to each individual, according to the respective circumstances of sex, age, character, and the like.” Again, how clearly does this point to the harmonic method of proportion to be presently explained!

“But,” Bossi proceeds, “how difficult it is to combine the beautiful and elegant, with easy and harmonic measures, may be judged from the vain attempts of many otherwise ingenious men, as I will here relate for the benefit of artists. The difficulty will be still more evident if we reflect how arduous a task it is to make the proportions that the Greeks denominated numerical, harmonic, and geometrical, agree together, and to apply them thus agreeing, to the formation of rules and measures of a visible object so various in its component parts as the human body.”—In despair, Bossi tries to show its absolute impossibility!

“In the second place, to penetrate completely the natural reason of the proportions of the human body, would require a knowledge of physics, which it is not in man’s power to obtain. The universal equilibrium of the numerous constituent parts of the human machine, every one of which eminently attains the end for which it was destined, without interrupting the course that every other part takes to its respective end, in which true proportion seems to consist, is more easily stated than understood. And even if an artist could arrive at such a knowledge of man as to be able, so to speak, to compose him, he would have done but little, because he would have made but one man. By the[Pg 271] alteration of only one of the infinite parts that compose the human frame, the equilibrium and respective relation of the others are necessarily altered: in short, each separate individual would be the subject of a totally new study.

“Every human habit, of whatever nature it may be, has an influence over the human figure, and from the indefinable variety and incalculable mixture of such habits, there results an infinite variety of figures. Thus, it is evident that true general proportions cannot be laid down without violating nature, which it is the object of art to imitate.”—If, by “general proportions,” Bossi here means proportions applicable to all or to a great number, he completely loses sight of the object of the great man on whose opinions he comments; for he sought a rule for the harmony of parts in each distinct individual!

Again, Bossi abandons, as impossible, the finding of the harmonic rule, which was the great object of Leonardo.—“From what has been said, we may finally conclude that large proportions only can be established, and that placing too much confidence in measures, retards, rather than favors the arts.

“It was written of Raphael, and is seen, that he had as many proportions as he made figures. Michael Angelo did the same, and it was his saying, that he who had not the compasses in his eye, would never be able to supply the deficiency by artificial means. Vincentio Danti, who treasured the doctrine of Michael Angelo, asserts in his[Pg 272] work, that the proportions do not fall under any measure of quantity. We have seen the infinite exceptions of Leonardo, respecting the measurement of man, and his own few works confirm it. I speak no more of inferior persons among the moderns; but turning to the ancients, I find that the proportions of every good statue are different.”—And this will be found conformable to the harmonic rule.

“And speaking generally of works in relievo, what canons can determine the largeness or smallness of some parts, so as to obtain a greater effect according to the circumstances of light, distance, material, visual point, &c.? Certainly none.”—This was not to be expected from the rule sought for.

“I shall deem that I have gained some recompense for the toil of wading through so many tedious works, if it shall induce any faith in the advice I now give, namely, that ‘every student of painting should himself measure many bodies of acknowledged beauty, compare them with the finest imitations in painting and sculpture, and from these measures make a canon for himself, dividing it in the manner best suited to his genius and memory. If this plan were more generally adopted, art and its productions would both be gainers.’”—It might do so, among as ingenious a people as the Greeks, in as many ages as the same method cost them to do it in! Leonardo da Vinci wanted to abridge the time, instead of beginning again!

Winckelmann as little understands this great[Pg 273] man’s object, when, after saying, “As the ancients made ideal beauty their principal study, they determined its relations and proportions,” he adds “from which, however, they allowed themselves to deviate, when they had a good reason, and yielded themselves to the guidance of their genius.” Why, the whole purpose of the rule sought for was to regulate every possible deviation, as will now be seen.

The harmonic method of the Greeks—that measure which Leonardo calls the “true proportion”—“the proportion of an individual in regard to himself”—“which should be different in all the individuals of a species,” but in which “all the parts of any animal should correspond with the whole,” which constitutes “the harmony of the parts of an individual,” and which, as Bossi adds, “varies in every figure, according to the age, circumstances, and particular character of each”—in short, this method for the harmony of parts in each distinct individual—this method presenting rules, perfectly precise, and yet infinitely variable, has, in all its elements, been clearly laid before the reader (though not enunciated as a rule)—in the relative proportions of the locomotive, nutritive, and thinking systems, or, generally speaking, of the limbs, trunk, and head, and in the three species of beauty which are founded on them.

These, it is evident, present to the philosophic observer, the sole means of judging of beauty by harmonic rule, the great object of Leonardo da Vinci’s desires and regrets. They present the[Pg 274] great features of the Greek method—if that method conformed to truth and nature, as it undoubtedly did. This will be rendered still clearer by a single example.

Thus, if any individual be characterized by the development of the nutritive system, this harmonic rule of nature demands not only that, as in the Saxon-English, the Dutch, and many Germans, the trunk shall be large, but consequently, that the other two portions, the head and the limbs, shall be relatively small; that the calvarium shall be small and round, and the intellectual powers restricted; that the head shall, nevertheless, be broad, because the vital cavities of the head are large, and because large jaws and muscles of mastication are necessary for the supply of such a system; that the neck shall be short, because the locomotive system is little developed; that it shall be thick, because the vessels which connect the head to the trunk are large and full, the former being only an appendage of the latter; that the lower limbs shall be both short and slender; that the calves of the legs shall be small and high;[45] that the feet shall be little turned out, &c., &c.

So also, if any individual be characterized by the development of the locomotive system, the harmonic rule demands, not only that the limbs shall be large, but, consequently, that the other[Pg 275] two portions, the head and the trunk, shall be relatively small; that the calvarium shall be small and long, and the intellectual powers limited; that the head shall be long, because the jaws and their muscles are extended, &c., &c.

So likewise, if any individual be characterized by the development of the thinking system, the harmonic rule demands, not only that the head shall be large, but, consequently, that the other two portions, the trunk and limbs, shall be relatively small; that the head shall not only be large, but that its upper part, the calvarium, shall be largest, giving a pyramidal appearance to the head; that the trunk and limbs, however elegantly formed, shall be relatively feeble, the former often liable to disease, the latter to accident, as we have seen in the most illustrious examples, &c., &c.

It must be borne in mind, however, as already explained, that there may be innumerable combinations and modifications of these characteristics; certain greater ones, nevertheless, generally predominating.

Such, doubtless, was the harmonic method of the Greeks; whether, by them, it was thus clearly founded on anthropology, or not.

It is curious that several writers, and Winckelmann among the rest, should have adopted a triple division of the body—without, however, duly founding it in anthropology. Thus Winckelmann says “the entire body is divided into three parts, and the principal members are also divided into three. The parts of the body are the trunk, the[Pg 276] thighs, and the legs!”—a distribution and division founded neither in nature nor in truth.

That the Greeks were more or less aware of the principles here stated, though their writings have not descended to us, is proved by their idealizations founded upon them.

“If different proportions,” says Winckelmann, “are sometimes met with in any figure, as for example, in the beautiful trunk of a naked female figure in the possession of Signior Cavaceppi at Rome, in which the body from the navel to the sexual parts is of an uncommon length, it is most probable that such figures have been copied from nature, that is, from persons so formed.”—Nothing certainly would be better founded in natural tendency than such idealization.

All the three Greek methods of proportion being now before the reader, I must briefly notice other circumstances.

In the head in particular, may be observed CHARACTER, or a permanent and invariable form, which defines its capabilities, and EXPRESSION, or temporary and variable forms, which indicate its actual functions.

The teachers of anatomy for artists have not, that I know of, clearly described the causes of these. I may therefore observe, that as character is permanent and invariable, it depends fundamentally on permanent and invariable parts—the bones; and as expression is temporary and variable, it depends on shifting and variable parts—the muscles.

It is well observed by Mengs that, in relation to[Pg 277] character, “the peculiar distinction of the ancients is, that from one part of the face, we may know the character of the whole.” And, of expression, Winckelmann observes that “the portion which possesses beauty of expression or action, or beauty of both added to the figure of any person, is like the resemblance of one who views himself in a fountain; the reflection is not seen plainly unless the surface of the water be still, limpid, and clear; quiet and tranquillity are as suitable to beauty as to the sea. Expression and action being, in art as in nature, the evidence of the active or passive state of the mind, perfect beauty can never exist in the countenance unless the mind be calm and free from all agitation, at least from everything likely to change and disturb the lineaments of which beauty is composed.”

Now the details which, during the period of perfection in art, were so skilfully employed, were these very means of expression or circumstances attending and indicating them—minuter forms which are universal, and without which nature is imperfectly represented—minuter forms of the highest order, because the means of expressing intellect, emotion, and passion, if required.

These higher details we find, for instance, in the turn of the inner end of the eyebrow, or constriction and elevation of the under eyelid, or a hundred other traits dependant on subjacent muscles. We find them in slight risings of mere cutaneous parts, when they lie over and are elevated by the attachment of muscles, as at the inner angles of the eyes,[Pg 278] the corners of the mouth, and elsewhere. We find them in depressions or furrows, when they are drawn down by contiguous muscles. These are of higher character, because they belong to expression or its means; and there is a corresponding want of completeness, of truth, of nature, without them.

Between these intellectual means, these higher details, and those of a lower order, accidental details, the great artists of Greece distinguished. Accidental details have nothing to do with expression or the means of expression; they depend upon an inferior system, that merely of life, and constitute all the depositions, excrescences, and growths, which confuse the vision of the inexperienced, and embarrass that of the most discriminating, in the examination of higher beauty.

These lower details we find, for instance, in the puffings of adipose substance which project from the spaces between the muscles of the face, and from other accidents of the vital system, as wrinkles or folds from the absence of adipose substance, fulness or emptiness of the vessels, projecting veins, peculiar conditions of the skin, turbidity of the eyes, hairs of the head, beard, or skin, &c. These have always characterized inferior artists and inferior periods of art.

From these observations, it will be seen that such unqualified statements as the following by Azara, lead only to misconception: “A human face, for example, is composed of the forehead, brows, eyes, nose, cheeks, mouth, chin, and beard. These are the great parts; but each of these [Pg 279]contains many other minor parts, which also contain an infinity of others still less. If the painter will content himself to express well the great parts which I have taken notice of, he will have a grand style; if he depicts also the second, his style will be that of mediocrity; and if he pretends to introduce the last, his style will be insignificant and ridiculous.”



[Pg 280]



On this important doctrine of art, of which Winckelmann says: “The ideal is as much more noble than the mechanical as the mind is superior to the body,” I shall follow, so far as I can advantageously, the great writers on this subject, in order that the reader may have all the confidence in its recognised portions that authority can bestow, and that he may the better distinguish them from the new views which are here added.

“There are,” says Winckelmann, “two kinds of beauty, individual and ideal: the former is a combination of the beauties of an individual; the latter, a selection of beautiful parts from several.

“The formation of beauty was begun from some beautiful individual, that is, from the imitation of some beautiful person, as in the representation of some divinity. Even in the ages when the arts were flourishing, the goddesses were formed from the models of beautiful women, and even from those who publicly sold their charms: such was Theodota, of whom Xenophon speaks. Nor was any one scandalized at it, for the opinion of the ancients on these matters was very different from ours.”

[Pg 281]Winckelmann adds: “There is rarely or never, a body without fault, all the parts of which are such that it is impossible to find or draw them more perfect in other persons. The wisest artists, being aware of this ... did not confine themselves to copying the forms of beauty from one individual ... but seeking what is beautiful from various objects, they endeavored to combine them together, as the celebrated Parrhasius says in his discourse with Socrates. Thus, in the formation of their figures, they were not guided by any personal affections, by which we are frequently led, in the pursuit of beauty that pleases us, to abandon true beauty.

“From the selection of the most beautiful parts and their harmonious union in one figure, arises ideal beauty: nor is this a metaphysical idea, because all the portions of the human figure taken separately are not ideal; but merely the entire figure.” And he elsewhere says: “It is called ideal, not as regards its parts, but as a whole, in which nature can be surpassed by art.”

With deeper observation still, he adds that, “though nature tends to perfection in the formation of individuals, yet she is so constantly thwarted by the numerous accidents to which humanity is subject, that she cannot attain the end proposed; so that it is in a manner impossible to find an individual in whom all parts of the body are perfectly beautiful.”

It was to the same purport that Proclus had in ancient times said: “He who takes for his model such forms as nature produces, and confines [Pg 282]himself to an exact imitation of them, will never attain to what is perfectly beautiful. For the works of nature are full of disproportion, and fall very short of the true standard of beauty. So that Phidias, when he formed his Jupiter, did not copy any object ever presented to his sight, but contemplated only that image which he had conceived in his mind from Homer’s description.”[46]

In short, while the Greek artists perpetually studied nature, they discovered her best and highest tendencies even in her most perfect forms; their works accordingly present nothing foreign to that which is strictly beautiful; they present not only no inferior forms, but no idle ornaments; and everything in them is accordingly at once simple and sublime.

Barry[47] affords me the means of continuing the view I now wish to present. “In all individuals,” he says, “of every species, there is necessarily a visible tendency to a certain point or form. In this point or form, the standard of each species[Pg 283] rests. The deviations from this, either by excess or deficiency, are of two kinds: first, deviations indicating a more peculiar adaptation of certain characters of advantage and utility, such as strength, agility, and so forth; even mental as well as corporeal, since they sometimes result from habit and education, as well as from original conformation. In these deviations, are to be found those ingredients which, in their composition and union, exhibit the abstract or ideal perfection in the several classes or species of character. The second kind of deviation is that which, having no reference to anything useful or advantageous, but rather visibly indicating the contrary, as being useless, cumbersome, or deficient, is considered as deformity; and this deformity will be always found different in the several individuals, by either not being in the same part, in the same manner, or in the same degree. The points of agreement which indicate the species, are therefore many; of difference which indicate the deformity, few.”

Barry, however, wrongly says: “Mere beauty, then, though always interesting, is, notwithstanding, vague and indeterminate; as it indicates no particular expression either of body or mind.” But it indicates the highest character, the capability of all noble expression, and this is better than its sacrifice to actuality in one.

I am now led to the greater rules which their ideal method suggested to the Greeks. Payne Knight indeed says: “Precise rules and definitions, in matters of this sort, are merely the playthings[Pg 284] or tools of system-builders;” and, unchecked by any recollection of the practical and unrivalled excellence of the founders of these rules, he adds a great deal of narrow-minded and mistaken nonsense upon the subject, never distinguishing between rules in themselves rational, and the stretching of them to utter inapplicability. On this subject, even Reynolds properly observes, that “some of the greatest names of antiquity, and those who have most distinguished themselves in works of genius and imagination, were equally eminent for their critical skill. Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, and Horace; and among the moderns, Boileau, Corneille, Pope, and Dryden, are at least instances of genius not being destroyed by attention or subjection to rules and science.”

But the grossest errors on this subject have been committed by Alison, who says: “Artists, in every age, have taken pains to ascertain the most exact measurement of the human form, and of all its parts.... If the beauty of form consisted in any original proportion, the productions of the fine arts would everywhere have testified it; and, in the works of the statuary and the painter, we should have found only this sole and sacred system of proportion. The fact however is, as every one knows, that, in such productions, no such rule is observed; that there is no one proportion of parts which belongs to the most beautiful productions of these arts; that the proportions of the Apollo, for instance, are different from those of the Hercules, the Antinous, the Gladiator, &c.; and that there are not,[Pg 285] in the whole catalogue of ancient statues, two, perhaps, of which the proportions are actually the same.”

Now, I believe, we may say that this original or most perfect proportion is presented in the Apollo, which is not, as generally supposed, an example of peculiar, but of universal beauty—the locomotive system presenting as much strength as is compatible with agility, and as much agility as is compatible with strength, and any other modification of either ensuring diminution of power; while the vital and mental systems are equally perfect. Wherever this model is deviated from by the ancient artists it is peculiar beauty, I believe, that is represented.

He farther says: “They have imagined also various standards of this measurement; and many disputes have arisen, whether the length of the head, of the foot, or of the nose, was to be considered as this central and sacred standard. Of such questions and such disputes, it is not possible to speak with seriousness, when they occur in the present times.” So also Burke says: “It must be likewise shown, that these parts stand in such a relation to each other, that the comparison between them may be easily made, and that the affection of the mind may naturally result from it.”

Now, no man in his senses ever cared which of these measures was adopted, except as a matter of convenience, or ever imagined that peculiar virtue resided in any of them.

The following are some of the principal rules[Pg 286] which either by intuition or with due definition, resulted from and guided the practice of the ancient Greeks.

First, in regard to the THINKING SYSTEM, when the ancient artists, either from taste or from principle, gave greater opening to the facial angle than eighty degrees, they believed that an increase of intelligence corresponded to that conformation. By increasing the angle beyond eighty-five degrees, they impressed upon their figures the grandest character, as we see in the heads of the Apollo, the Venus, and others whose facial angle extends to or exceeds ninety degrees.

In regard to the forehead, then, this afforded their rule for distinguishing beings of a superior kind. How well they observed the tendency of nature to increase that angle with the increase of some of the thinking faculties, we now know. This ideal rule was, therefore, admirably founded.

Whoever reflects on the nature of this angle will perceive that its increase tended nowise to raise the forehead, but to throw it forward, and therefore to lengthen the head. This conforms to the metaphor by which a long head is used for a wise head, and which has not yet given place to a broad head, preferred by the German craniologists, in compliment to their own organization.

With regard to the height of the forehead, it has already been observed that it was, among the ancient Greeks, more considerable than its breadth, as may be seen by the busts of their most illustrious men. Still, neither the natural nor the ideal[Pg 287] forehead much exceeded the space from the forehead to the bottom of the nose, or that from the nose to the bottom of the chin.

Winckelmann accordingly says: “The forehead to be beautiful should be low [meaning, as his expressions elsewhere show, no higher than the other two spaces just mentioned]; and its lowness was so fixed among the ideas of beauty by the Grecian artists, that it serves as a mark to distinguish modern heads from ancient. The reason of this appears founded in the very rules of proportion, which, as in the whole human body, was among the ancients tripartite: thus, the face also was divided into three parts; so that the forehead should be of the same length as the nose, and the remainder of the face to the chin of the same length likewise. This proportion was founded on observation, and we may at any time convince ourselves of it in any individual with a low forehead, by covering with a finger the hair at the top of the forehead, so as to render it so much higher, and we shall then see a want of harmony of proportion and how detrimental a high forehead is to beauty.”

These views of Winckelmann, the ideal rule which they illustrate, and, above all, the actual dimension of the forehead among the philosophers, the poets, and the legislators of Greece, whose genius has been unequalled in modern times, show the folly of the craniological hypothesis. The reason of the ideal rule has not, indeed, been assigned: it appears to me to be this, that the three parts of the face which, as I have shown both here and[Pg 288] in my work on physiognomy, are respectively connected with ideas, emotions, and passions, should be equal one to another, or that these acts of the organs of sense and brain should be in due proportion and harmony. While, therefore, I do not, with the craniologists, seek the predominance of any one of them, neither do I, with Giovani de Laet, take no notice of the space between the top of the head and the commencement of the forehead, and say this part is not to be considered in the height of a man, quia pars excrementosa est!

Their next rule regarded the form of the nose, in nearly the same line with the forehead, and with little indentation between these parts.

The foundation of this rule I have not seen pointed out; and it was indeed difficult of discovery, without previous knowledge of the physiological fact first mentioned in my physiognomical work, namely, that the nose is the inlet of vital emotion or pleasure, as the eye is of mental emotion; while the passions connected with nutrition and thought respectively, depend upon other organs, the mouth and the ear. Anatomists know how closely associated are the nose and the eyes, and the mouth and the ears, respectively.

Now, as in these ideal representations, their object was to increase the means of emotion, but not those of passion, the organs of the former, the nose and the eyes, were all, at the same time, enlarged by raising the junction of the forehead and the nose; while those of passion, the mouth and the ears, were relatively decreased. Not only was the[Pg 289] passage of nose or of the olfactory nerves to the brain strikingly dilated by this elevation of the intermediate part, but the orbits of the eyes were enlarged. As then we naturally associate the increase of organs with the increase of their sensations and with corresponding effects upon the brain, and as the tendency to such configuration is as conspicuous in the countries they inhabited, as is the energy of the emotions with which they are connected, this rule was as admirably founded as the former in natural tendencies.

I deem this a pendant to Camper’s discovery of the facial angle, and one too which was not quite so obvious or so easy to be made. It disposes of this middle or intermediate part of the face, and shows that the Greeks in beings of the highest character, desired the gradual predominance of emotion over passion, and of ideas or intellect over emotion.

A vague feeling of the curious fact I have here explained, Alison, as a man of taste, had, when he said: “Apply, however, this beautiful form, to the countenance of the warrior, the bandit, the martyr, &c., or to any countenance which is meant to express deep or powerful passion, and the most vulgar spectator would be sensible of dissatisfaction, if not disgust.”

In endeavoring to assign a reason for the configuration which I have just explained, Winckelmann, in ascribing it to the mere production of effect, is driven into a ridiculous inconsistency. He thinks that for large statues seen at a distance, it[Pg 290] was necessary, and so came to be used for small medals seen near, for which it was not necessary.

“In the heads of statues, and particularly in ideal heads, the eyes are deeper set: the bulb remains more deep than is usual in nature, in which sunken eyes render the countenance austere and cunning instead of calm and joyful. In this respect, art has departed with reason from nature; for, in figures placed to be seen at a distance, if the bulb of the eye were level with the edge of the orbit, there would be no effect produced of light and shade; and the eye itself, placed under the eyebrows which do not project, would be dull and inexpressive. This maxim, adopted for large statues, became in time universal; so that it may be observed even on medals, not only in ideal heads but in portraits.” And elsewhere he says: “Art subsequently established it as a rule to give this form to the eyes even in small figures, as may be seen in the heads on coins.”

Thus Winckelmann’s reason avowedly explains only the half of that to which it is applied, and in reality explains nothing, because it leaves a gross inconsistency, of which Greek genius was incapable.

Of the general outline thus formed of the face, Winckelmann more truly says: “In the formation of the face, the Greek profile is the principal characteristic of sublime beauty. This profile is produced by the straight line, or the line but very slightly indented, which the forehead and nose form in youthful faces, especially female ones.[Pg 291] Nature seems less disposed to accord this form to the face in cold than in mild and temperate climes; but wherever this profile is found, it is always beautiful. The straight full line expresses a kind of greatness, and, gently curved, it presents the idea of agreeable delicacy. That in these profiles exists one cause of beauty is proved by the character of the opposite line; for the greater the inflection of the nose, the less beautiful is the face; and if, when seen sidewise, it presents a bad profile, it is useless to look for beauty in any other view.”

A third rule of the Greek artists, in heads of the highest character, is greatly illustrated by the new views just stated. If, in these, they desired to render ideas and intellect more dominant than emotions of pleasure or pain, and emotions more dominant than passion, it becomes evident why they equally sought to avoid the convulsions of impassioned expression.

A very beautiful object of this, is mistaken by Winckelmann. I quote his words:—

“Taken in either sense [of action or of passion], expression changes the features of the face, and the disposition of the body, and, consequently, the forms which constitute beauty; and the greater the change, the greater the loss of beauty. Therefore, the state of tranquillity and repose was considered as a fundamental point in the art. Tranquillity is the state proper to beauty.

“The handsomest men are generally the most mild and the best disposed.

“Besides, tranquillity and repose, both in men[Pg 292] and animals, is the state which allows us best to examine and represent their nature and qualities; as we can see the bottom of the sea or rivers only when the waves are tranquil and the stream runs smoothly.

“Therefore, the Grecian artists, wishing to depict, in their representations of their deities, the perfection of human beauty, strove to produce, in their countenances and actions, a certain placidity without the slightest change or perturbation, which, according to their philosophy, was at variance with the nature and character of the gods. The figures produced in this state of repose, expressed a perfect equilibrium of feeling.

“But, as complete tranquillity and repose cannot exist in figures in action, and even the gods are represented in human form, and subject to human affections, we must not always expect to find in them the most sublime idea of beauty. This is then compensated for by expression. The ancient artists, however, never lost sight of it: it was always their principal object, to which expression was in some sort made subservient.

“Beauty without expression would be insignificant, and expression without beauty would be unpleasing; but, from their influence over each other, from combining together their apparently discordant qualities, results an eloquent, persuasive, and interesting beauty.”

Some of these remarks are true and beautiful; but the great object of the Greeks, in suppressing the convulsions of impassioned expression, was the [Pg 293]bestowal of grace, the highest quality in all representation. It is surprising that this should have been so universally overlooked, that, even among artists, nothing is more common than to hear regrets that the Greeks gave so little expression to their figures! Let the reader now peruse again Dr. Smith’s and Mr. Alison’s account of grace, and if he is acquainted with the productions of ancient art, he will see that the Greeks suppressed impassioned expression only to bestow the highest degree of grace. Those, therefore, who complain of this, show themselves ignorant of the best object of their art.

If the explanation of this great purpose be clearly borne in mind, the remaining observations of Winckelmann will receive a better application than that to which he limited them:—

“Repose and tranquillity may be regarded as the effect of that composed manner which the Grecians studied to show in their actions and gestures. Among them, a hurried gait was regarded as contrary to the idea of decent deportment, and partaking somewhat of expressive boldness.... While on the other hand, slow and regulated motions of the body were proofs among the ancients of a great mind.

“The highest idea of tranquillity and composure is found expressed in the representations of the divinities; so that from the father of the gods to the inferior deities, their figures appear free from the influence of any affection. The greatest of the poets thus describes Jupiter as making all Olympus[Pg 294] tremble by merely moving his eyebrow or shaking his locks.... All the figures of Jupiter are not however made in the same style.

“The Vatican Apollo represents this god quiet and tranquil after the death of the serpent Python which he had slain with a dart, and should also express a certain contempt for a victory so easy to him. The skilful artist, who wished to imbody the most beautiful of the gods, has depicted anger in the nose, which according to the most ancient poets was the seat of it, and contempt in the lips: contempt is expressed by the drawing up of the under lip, and anger by the expansion of the nostrils.

“The expression of the passions in the face should accord with the attitude and gestures of the body; and the latter should be suitable to the dignity of the gods in their statues and figures: from this results its propriety.

“In representing the figures of heroes, the ancient artist exercised equal care and judgment; and expressed only those human affections which are suitable for a wise man, who represses the violence of his passions, and scarcely allows a spark of the internal flame to be seen, so as to leave to those who are desirous of it, the trouble of finding out what remains concealed.

“We have examples of this in two of the most beautiful works of antiquity, one of which is the image of the fear of certain death, the other of suffering exceeding anguish.

“Niobe and her daughters, against whom Diana shot her fatal arrows, are represented as seized with[Pg 295] terror and horror, in that state of indescribable anguish, when the sight of instant and inevitable death deprives the mind of the power of thought. Of this state of stupor and insensibility, the fable gives us an idea in the metamorphosis of Niobe into a stone; and hence Æschylus introduces her in his tragedy as stunned and speechless. In such a moment, when all thought and feeling ceases, in a state bordering upon insensibility, the appearance is not altered nor any feature of the face disturbed, and the mighty artist could here depict the most sublime beauty, and has indeed done so. Niobe and her daughters are, and ever will be, the most perfect models of beauty.

“Laocoon is the image of the most acute grief, that puts the nerves, the muscles, and the veins, in action. His blood is in a state of extreme agitation from the venomous bite of the serpents; every part of his body evinces pain and suffering; and the artist has put in motion, so to speak, all the springs of nature, and thus made known the extent of his art and the depth of his knowledge. In the representation, however, of this excessive torment, we can still recognise the conduct of a brave man struggling against his misfortunes, stifling the emotions of his anguish, and striving to repress them.”

“The ancient artists have preserved this air of composure even in their dancing figures, except the Bacchanals; and thus an opinion obtained that the action of their figures should be modelled on the manners adopted in their ancient dances, and therefore, in their later dances, the ancient figures[Pg 296] served as a model to the performers to prevent their overstepping the bounds of a modest deportment:

Molli diducunt candida gestu
Brachia. Propert.

“No immoderate or violent passions are ever found expressed in the public works of the ancients.

“The knowledge of the ancients cannot be better known than by comparing their performances with the majority of those of the moderns, in which a little is expressed by much, instead of much by a little. This is what the Greeks call παρενθύρσος; a word that aptly expresses the defect produced by too much expression in modern artists. Their figures resemble in action the comedians of the ancient theatre, who, to render themselves visible even to the most distant portion of the audience, were compelled to exceed the limits of nature and truth; and the faces of modern figures are like the ancient masks, which for the same reason, the increase of expression, became hideous.

“This excess of expression is taught in a book which goes into the hands of all young artists, ‘A Treatise on the Passions,’ by Carlo Le Brun, and in the annexed drawings, not only is the highest degree of passion expressed on the face, but in some even to madness.”

Hence, we may say with Azara, that “the Greeks possessed that art in such perfection, that in their statues one scarcely discovers that they had thought of expression, and nevertheless each says that which it ought to say. They are in a repose which shows[Pg 297] all the beauty without any alteration; and a soft and sweet motion, of the mouth, the eyes, or the mere action, expresses the effect, enchanting at once the mind and the senses.”

In the inferior beings, however, when passion is expressed, the features are varied by the Greek artists as they are in nature.

Such are the great ideal rules with regard to the head and the functions of thought.

With regard to the body and the NUTRITIVE SYSTEM, the Greeks similarly idealized. “Seeking for images of worship, consequently of a nature superior to our own, so that they might awaken in the mind veneration and love, they thought that the representations most worthy of the Divinity, and most likely to attract the attention of man, would be those expressing the continuance of the gods in eternal youth and in the prime of life.

“To the idea derived from the poets, of the eternal youth of the deities, whether male or female, was added another by which they supposed the female divinities should have all the appearance of virgins.

“The form of the breast in the figures of the divinities, is like that of a virgin, which, to be beautiful, must possess a moderate fulness. This was particularly shown in the breasts, which the artists represented without nipples, like those of young girls, whose cincture, in the poet’s phrase, Lucina has not yet undone.

On their treatment of the limbs and LOCOMOTIVE SYSTEM, Hogarth throws light; and, as I am not[Pg 298] aware that he was anticipated in this respect, I quote him:—

“May be,” he says, “I cannot throw a stronger light on what has been hitherto said of proportion, than by animadverting on a remarkable beauty in the Apollo Belvidere, which hath given it the preference even to the Antinous: I mean a superaddition of greatness, to at least as much beauty and grace as is found in the latter.

“These two masterpieces of art are seen together in the same apartment at Rome, where the Antinous fills the spectator with admiration only, while 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, confirmed to me what has been now said, particularly as to the legs and thighs being too long, and too large for the upper parts.

“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 have been easily avoided.

“So that if we examine the beauties of this figure thoroughly we may reasonably conclude,[Pg 299] that what has been hitherto thought so unaccountably excellent in its general appearance, has been owing to what has seemed a blemish in a part of it: but let us endeavor 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 one is, and larger than the Antinous), always gain some nobleness in effect, according to the principle of quantity, but this alone is not sufficient to give what is properly to be called greatness in proportion.... 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 swanlike 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 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 mentioned only.

“I know not how farther 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,[Pg 300] 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 awkward—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 the proportion, is given to the human form, as is evidently expressed in the Apollo.”

This is well done by Hogarth. It required but a little anatomical knowledge to see the reason of this. The length of the neck, by which the head is farther detached from the trunk, shows the independence of the higher intellectual system upon the lower one of mere nutrition; and the length of limbs shows that the mind had ready obedience in locomotive power.

I have now to obviate some OBJECTIONS to the existence of simple, pure, high, and perfect ideal beauty, objections, which writers on this subject have hitherto neglected.

Alison says: “The proportions of the form of the infant are very different from those of youth; these again from those of manhood; and these again perhaps still more from those of old age and[Pg 301] decay.... Yet every one knows, not only that each of these periods is susceptible of beautiful form, but, what is much more, that the actual beauty in every period consists in the preservation of the proportions peculiar to that period, and that these differ in every article almost from those that are beautiful in other periods of the life of the same individual.”

But the beauty of the infant is not perfect beauty: it is that, on the contrary, of mere promise, not that of fulfilment. So also the beauty of old age is not perfect beauty: it is that, on the contrary, which affects and interests us chiefly by the regret we feel that its perfection has passed, or is gradually vanishing.

“The same observation,” says Alison, “is yet still more obvious with regard to the difference of sex. In every part of the form, the proportions which are beautiful in the two sexes are different; and the application of the proportions of the one to the form of the other, is everywhere felt as painful and disgusting.” So also says Burke: “Let us rest a moment on this point; and consider how much difference there is between the measures that prevail in many similar parts of the body, in the two sexes of this single species only. If you assign any determinate proportions to the limbs of man, and if you limit human beauty to these proportions, when you find a woman who differs in the make and measure of almost every part, you must conclude her not to be beautiful in spite of the suggestions of your imagination; or[Pg 302] in obedience to your imagination you must renounce your rules; you must lay by the scale and compass, and look out for some other cause of beauty. For, if beauty be attached to certain measures which operate from a principle in nature, why should similar parts with different measures of proportion be found to have beauty, and this, too, in the very same species?”

To this I might say the beauty of woman is not the highest beauty: it is beauty of the nutritive more than of the higher thinking system. But there is another and a better answer: the difference of sex which affects all the higher animals is a greater difference than that which subsists between some of their varieties or even of their species; and the same laws of ideal beauty are as inapplicable to different sexes as to different species.

“We see, every day, around us,” says Alison, “some forms of our species which affect us with sentiments of beauty. In our own sex, we see the forms of the legislator, the man of rank, the general, the man of science, the private soldier, the sailor, the laborer, the beggar, &c. In the other sex, we see the forms of the matron, the widow, the young woman, the nurse, the domestic servant, &c.... We expect different proportions of form from the painter, in his representation of a warrior and a shepherd, of a senator and of a peasant, of a wrestler and a boatman, of a savage and of a man of cultivated manners.... We expect, in the same manner, from the statuary, very different [Pg 303]proportions in the forms of Jove and of Apollo [this should have been excepted], of Hercules and of Antinous, of a Grace and of Andromache, of a Bacchanal and of Minerva,” &c.

That, in all these cases, the beauty is partial, is evident from the circumstance that what is found in one is wanting in another; and partial beauty is not perfect beauty. But this last point has been well stated by Reynolds and Barry.

“To the principle I have laid down,” says Reynolds, “that the idea of beauty in each species of being is an invariable one, it may be objected, that in every particular species there are various central forms which are separate and distinct from each other, and yet are undeniably beautiful; that in the human figure, for instance, the beauty of Hercules is one, of the Gladiator another, of the Apollo another [again the same error]; which makes so many different ideas of beauty.... It is true, indeed, that these figures are each perfect in their kind, though of different character and proportions; but still none of them is the representation of an individual, but of a class. And as there is one general form, which, as I have said, belongs to the human kind at large, so in each of these classes there is one common idea and central form, which is the abstract of the various individual forms belonging to that class. Thus, though the forms of childhood and age differ exceedingly, there is a common form in childhood, and a common form in age, which is the more perfect, as it is more remote from all peculiarities. But I must[Pg 304] add farther, that though the most perfect forms of each of the general divisions of the human figure are ideal, and superior to any individual form of that class, yet the highest perfection of the human figure is not to be found in any one of them. It is not in the Hercules, nor in the Gladiator, nor in the Apollo, but in that form which is taken from all, and which partakes equally of the activity of the Gladiator, of the delicacy of the Apollo, and of the muscular strength of the Hercules. For perfect beauty in any species must combine all the characters which are beautiful in that species. It cannot consist in any one to the exclusion of the rest: no one, therefore, must be predominant, that no one may be deficient.”

“A high degree of particular character,” says Barry, “cannot be superinduced upon pure or simple beauty without altering its constituent parts; this is peculiar to grace only; for particular characters consist, as has been observed before, in those deviations from the general standard for the better purpose of effecting utility and power, and become so many species of a higher order; where nature is elevated into grandeur, majesty, and sublimity.”

There is AN IDEAL IN ATTITUDE as well as in the form of the head and body.

This ideal is exactly opposed to the academical rule mentioned by Dufresnoy, Reynolds, and others, namely, that the right leg and left arm, or the left leg and right arm, should be advanced or withdrawn together. These are the mere attitudes of progression, not those of expression; and the[Pg 305] academical rule is only an academical blunder. To anything but walking—to the free and unembarrassed expressions of the body, it is, indeed, quite inapplicable, and could produce only contortion.

The rule of ideal attitude, which I long ago deduced, both from physiological principles, and from the practice of the Greek artists, is that all the parts of one side of the body should be advanced or withdrawn together; that when one side is advanced, the other should be withdrawn; and that when the right arm is elevated, extended, or bent forward, the left leg should be elevated, extended, or bent backward—in all respects the reverse of the academical rule, so complacently mentioned by Dufresnoy, Reynolds, &c.

The foundation of this rule in the necessary balance of the body, and that distribution of motion which equally animates every part, must be obvious to every one. It is illustrated by the finest statues of the Greeks, wherever the expression intended was free and unembarrassed, and even in those, as the Laocoon and his sons, where, though the action was constrained and convulsive, the sculptor was yet at liberty to employ the most beautiful attitude. It is abandoned in these great works, when either action embarrassed by purpose, or clownishness, as in the Dancing Faun, are expressed.[48]

[Pg 306]I have now only to add, with Moreau, that individual beauty, the most perfect, differs always greatly from the ideal, and that which is least removed from it, is very difficult to be found. Hence, in all languages, the epithet rare is attached to beauty; and the Italians even call it pellegrina, foreign, to indicate that they have not frequently an opportunity of seeing it: they speak of “bellezze pellegrine,”—“leggiadria singolare e pellegrina.”



[Pg 307]



“Hominum divûmque voluptas, alma Venus.”

Of this, the most perfect models have been created by Grecian art. Few, we are told, were the living beauties, from whom such ideal model could be framed. The difficulty of finding these among the women of Greece, must have been considerable, when Praxiteles and Apelles were obliged to have recourse, in a greater or less degree, to the same person, for the beauties of the Venus of Cnidos, executed in white marble, and the Venus of Cos, painted in colors. It is asserted by Athenæeus, that both these productions were, in some measure, taken from Phryne of Thespia, in Bœotia, then a courtesan at Athens.

Both productions are said to have represented Phryne coming out of the sea, on the beach of Sciron, in the Saronic gulf, between Athens and Eleusis, where she was wont to bathe.

It is said, that there, at the feast of Neptune, Phryne, in the presence of the people of Eleusis, having cast aside her dress, and allowing her long hair to fall over her shoulders, plunged into the[Pg 308] sea, and sported long amid its waves. An immense number of spectators covered the shore; and when she came out of it, all exclaimed, “It is Venus who rises from the waters!” The people would actually have taken her for the goddess, if she had not been well known to them.

Apelles and Praxiteles, we are told, were both upon the shore; and both resolved to represent the birth of Venus according to the beautiful model which they had just beheld.

Such is said to have been the origin of two of the greatest works of antiquity. The work of Apelles, known under the name of Venus Anadyomene, was placed by Cesar in the temple of Venus Genitrix, after the conquest of Greece. An idea of the sculpture of Praxiteles is supposed to have been imperfectly preserved to modern times in the Venus de Medici.

We are farther told, that, after having studied several attitudes, Phryne fancied to have discovered one more favorable than the rest for displaying all her perfections; and that both painter and sculptor were obliged to adopt her favorite posture. From this cause, the Venus of Cnidos, and the Venus of Cos, were so perfectly alike, that it was impossible to remark any difference in their features, contour, or more particularly in their attitude.

The painting of Apelles, it is added, was far from exciting so much enthusiasm among the Greeks, as the sculpture of Praxiteles. They fancied that the marble moved; that it seemed to speak; and their illusion, says Lucian, was so great, that they[Pg 309] ended by applying their lips to those of the goddess.[49]

“Praxiteles,” says Flaxman, “excelled in the highest graces of youth and beauty. He is said to have excelled not only other sculptors, but himself, by his marble statues in the Ceramicus of Athens; but his Venus was preferable to all others in the world, and many sailed to Cnidos for the purpose of seeing it. This sculptor having made two statues of Venus, one with drapery, the other without, the Coans preferred the clothed figure, on account of its severe modesty, the same price being set upon each. The citizens of Cnidos took the rejected statue, and afterward refused it to King Nicomedes, who would have forgiven them an immense debt in return; but they were resolved to suffer anything so long as this statue by Praxiteles ennobled Cnidos.... This figure is known by the descriptions of Lucian and Cedrenus, and it is represented on a medal of Caracalla and Plautilla, in the imperial cabinet of France. This Venus was still in Cnidos during the reign of the emperor Alcadius, about four hundred years after Christ.[Pg 310] This statue seems to offer the first idea of the Venus de Medici, which is likely to be the repetition of another Venus, the work of this artist.” He elsewhere says of the Venus of Praxiteles, it was “the most admired female statue of all antiquity, whose beauty is as perfect as it is elevated, and as innocent as perfect; from which the Medicean Venus seems but a deteriorated variety.”

Flaxman states that he himself had seen, in the stables of the Braschi palace, a statue which he supposed might be the original work of Praxiteles. Strange to tell, nothing is now known of its fate! A supposed cast from this, or from a copy of it, conforming to the figure on the model of Caracalla, is to be seen at the Royal Academy.

Of the Venus de Medici, Flaxman says, it “was so much a favorite of the Greeks and Romans, that a hundred ancient repetitions of this statue have been noticed by travellers. The individual figure is said to have been found in the forum of Octavia. The style of sculpture seems to have been later than Alexander the Great.

Let us now briefly examine this Model of Female Beauty.

The Venus de Medici represents woman at that age when every beauty has just been perfected. “The Venus de Medici at Florence,” says Winckelmann, “is like a rose which, after a beautiful daybreak, expands its leaves to the first ray of the sun, and represents that age when the limbs assume a more finished form and the breast begins to develop itself.”

[Pg 311]The size of the head is sufficiently small to leave that predominance to the vital organs in the chest, which, as already said, makes the nutritive system peculiarly that of woman. This is the first and most striking proof of the profound knowledge of the artist, the principles of whose art taught him that the vast head, on the contrary, was the characteristic of a very different female personage.[50]—In mentioning the head, it is scarcely possible to avoid noticing the rich curls of the hair.

The eyes next fix our attention by their soft, sweet, and glad expression. This is produced with exquisite art. To give softness, the ridges of the eyebrows are rounded. To give sweetness, the under eyelid, which I would call the expressive one, is slightly raised. “The eyes of Venus,” says Winckelmann, “are smaller, and the slight elevation of the lower eyelid produces that languishing look called by the Greeks ὑγρὸν.” To give the expression of gladness or of pleasure, the opening of the eyelids is diminished, in order to diminish, or partially to exclude, the excess of those impressions, which make even pleasure painful. Other exquisite details about those eyes, confer on them unparalleled beauty. Still, as observed by the same[Pg 312] writer, this look is far from those traits indicative of lasciviousness, with which some modern artists have thought to characterize their Venuses. Love was considered by the ancient masters, as by the wise philosophers of those times, to use the expression of Euripides, as the counsellor of wisdom: τῆ σοφία παρέδρους ἔρωτας. One thing must be observed: there is not here, as in some less happy representations of Venus, any downcast look, but that aspect of which Metastasio, in his Inno a Venere, says:

“Tu colle lucide
Pupille chiare,
Fai lieta e fertile
La terra e’l mare.”

And again:

“Presto à tuoi placidi
Astri ridenti,
Le nubi fuggono,
Fuggono i venti.”[51]

Art still profounder was perhaps shown in the configuration of the nose. The peculiar connexion of this sense with love was evidently well understood by the great artist; and it is only gross ignorance that has made some persons question the appropriateness of that development of the organ which is here represented. Not only is smell peculiarly associated with love, in all the higher [Pg 313]animals, but it is associated with reproduction in plants, the majority of which evolve delicious odors only when the flowers or organs of fructification are displayed.[52]—Connected, indeed, with the capacity of the nose, and the cavities which open into it, is the projection of the whole middle part of the face.

In the mouth, also, is transcendent art displayed. It is rendered sweet and delicate by the lips being undeveloped at their angles,[53] and by the upper lip continuing so, for a considerable portion of its length. It expresses love of pleasure by the central development of both lips, and active love by the especial development of the lower lip.[54] By the slight opening of the lips, it expresses desire.[55]

These exquisite details, and the omission of nothing intellectually expressive that nature presents, have led some to imagine the Venus de Medici to be a portrait. In doing so, however, they see not the profound calculation required for nearly every feature thus imbodied. More strangely still, they forget the ideal character of the whole: the notion of this ideal head being too small, is[Pg 314] especially opposed to such an opinion. If more is wanting, it will surely be enough that the other works which we are supposed to possess of Praxiteles, the Faun and the Cupid, present similar fine details.[56]

Withal, the look is amorous and languishing, without being lascivious, and is as powerfully marked by gay coquetry, as by charming innocence.

The young neck is exquisitely formed. Its beautiful curves show a thousand capabilities of motion; and its admirably-calculated swell over the organ of voice, results from, and marks, the struggling expression of still mysterious love.

In short, I know no antique figure that displays such profound knowledge, both physiological and physiognomical, even in the most minute details; and all who are capable of appreciating these[Pg 315] things, may well smile at those who pretend to compare with this any other head of Venus now known to us.

“With regard to the rest of the figure, the admirable form of the mammæ, which, without being too large, occupy the bosom, rise from it with various curves on every side, and all terminate in their apices, leaving the inferior part in each precisely as pendent as gravity demands; the flexile waist gently tapering little farther than the middle of the trunk; the lower portion of it beginning gradually to swell out higher even than the umbilicus; the gradual expansion of the haunches, those expressive characteristics of the female, indicating at once her fitness for the office of generation and that of parturition—expansions which increase till they reach their greatest extent at the superior part of the thighs; the fulness behind their upper part, and on each side of the lower part of the spine, commencing as high as the waist, and terminating in the still greater swell of the distinctly-separated hips; the flat expanse between these, and immediately over the fissure of the hips, relieved by a considerable dimple on each side, and caused by the elevation of all the surrounding parts; the fine swell of the broad abdomen which, soon reaching its greatest height, immediately under the umbilicus, slopes gently to the mons veneris, but, narrow at its upper part, expands more widely as it descends, while, throughout, it is laterally distinguished by a gentle depression from the more muscular parts on the sides of the pelvis; the beautiful[Pg 316] elevation of the mons veneris; the contiguous elevation of the thighs which, almost at their commencement, rise as high as it does; the admirable expansion of these bodies inward, or toward each other, by which they almost seem to intrude upon each other, and to exclude each from its respective place; the general narrowness of the upper, and the unembraceable expansion of the lower part thus exquisitely formed;—all these admirable characteristics of female form, the mere existence of which in woman must, one is tempted to imagine, be, even to herself, a source of ineffable pleasure—these constitute a being worthy, as the personification of beauty, of occupying the temples of Greece; present an object finer, alas! than nature seems even capable of producing; and offer to all nations and ages a theme of admiration and delight.

Well might Thomson say:—

“So stands the statue that enchants the world,
So bending tries to veil the matchless boast,
The mingled beauties of exulting Greece.”

And Byron, in yet higher strain:—

“There, too, the goddess loves in stone, and fills
The air around with beauty;
within the pale
We stand, and in that form and face behold
What Mind can make, when Nature’s self would fail;
And to the fond idolaters of old
Envy the innate flash which such a soul could mould:

We gaze and turn away, and know not where,
Dazzled and drunk with beauty, till the heart
Reels with its fulness; there—for ever there—
Chained to the chariot of triumphal Art,
We stand as captives, and would not depart.”

 [Pg 317]


Has seven heads, seven parts, and three minutes in height.

From the top of the head to the root of the hair, three parts.

From the root of the hair to the eyebrows, three parts.

From the eyebrows to the bottom of the nose, three parts.

From the bottom of the nose, to that of the chin, three parts.

From the bottom of the chin to the depression between the clavicles, four parts, three minutes and a half.

From the depression between the clavicles to the lowest part of the breast, ten parts, five minutes.

From the lowest part of the breast to the middle of the navel, eight parts, three minutes.

From the middle of the navel to the base of the belly and beginning of the thighs, eleven parts, four minutes and a half.

From the bottom of the belly to the middle of the kneepan, eighteen parts, two minutes.

From the middle of the kneepan to the beginning of the flank, twenty-seven parts, three minutes.

From the middle of the kneepan to the ground, twenty-five parts, three minutes.

The greatest height of the foot, three parts, five minutes and a half.

From the neck of the leg to the end of the toes, nine parts and half a minute.

From the commencement of the humerus to the elbow, twenty parts, two minutes.

From the elbow to the beginning of the hand, fourteen parts.

The greatest breadth of the forearm, five parts.

The greatest breadth of the arm, four parts, five minutes.

From the depression between the clavicles to the beginning of the deltoid, six parts, four minutes.

[Pg 318]

From the depression between the clavicles to the point of the nipple, ten parts and half a minute.

Between the points of the nipples, eleven parts, two minutes.

The breadth of the torso, at the level of the lowest part of the breast, fifteen parts, four minutes and a half.

The least breadth of the torso, at the commencement of the flanks, fourteen parts, one minute.

The greatest breadth of the torso, at the bottom of the flanks, seventeen parts, five minutes.

The breadth from the trochanter of one thigh to that of the other, nineteen parts, three minutes.

The greatest breadth of the thigh, nine parts, five minutes.

The greatest breadth of the knee, six parts.

The greatest breadth of the calf of the leg, six parts, three minutes and a half.

The breadth from one ankle to another, four parts.

The least breadth of the foot, three parts, three minutes and a half.

The greatest breadth of the foot, five parts and one minute.

The arms of the Venus de Medici, it should be observed, are of modern construction, and unworthy of the figure.

The Venus of Naples is of altogether a different species of beauty.

That figure represents an ample and rather voluptuous matron, in an attitude of scarcely surpassable grace. The character of the face is beautiful, in profile especially, and its expression is grave. The mouth has much of nature about it, resembling greatly in character that feature as seen[Pg 319] in Southern Europe; but its expression, though tender, is somewhat serious or fretful.

It presents, however, many faults. The head is monstrous. The neck is equally so, as well as coarse. The forehead, eyes, nose, and cheeks, present none of the finely-calculated details, which surprise and delight us in the Venus de Medici. The mammæ are not true.

After these, the androgynous being, called the Venus of Arles, is scarcely worthy of being mentioned. She derives some grandeur from antique character and symmetry, and some from her masculine features. The head is monstrous; the neck horrid; the nose heavy; the mouth contemptuous.

Upon the whole, neither the graceful matron of Naples, nor the manlike woman of the Louvre, can be brought into competition with the Venus de Medici.



[Pg 320]



Defects of the Locomotive System.

1. If the whole figure be either too broad or too tall; because, the first is inelegant, and the last unfeminine. Persons who are too tall are generally ill at ease and destitute of grace, a greater misfortune to a woman than to a man.—Too low a stature is a defect less disagreeable, especially for women. If, however, on the one side, it gives prettiness, on the other, it deprives of all imposing appearance.

2. If the bones, except those of the pelvis, be not proportionally small; because, in woman, this portion of the locomotive system ought to be completely subordinate to the vital.

3. If the ligaments, and the articulations they form, be not proportionally small; because, in woman, this portion of the locomotive system ought also to be completely subordinate to the vital.

Either of the last two defects will produce what is termed clumsiness.

4. If the muscles, generally more slender, feeble, soft and yielding than in man, be not large around the pelvis, and delicate elsewhere; because, this[Pg 321] is necessary, for reasons which will be afterward assigned, as well as to permit the ease and suppleness of the movements.

5. If, in a mature female, the length of the neck, compared with the trunk, be not proportionally somewhat less than in the male; because, in her, the subordination of the locomotive system, the predominance of the vital, and the dependance of the mental, are naturally connected with the shorter vertebrae and shorter course of the vessels of the neck.

(The following defects, from 6 to 15 inclusive, have necessarily a reference also to the vital system; because, the form and capacity of the cavities here spoken of, as formed by the osseous frame of the locomotive system, have an obvious relation to the vital organs, which these cavities are destined to contain.)

6. If the upper part of the body (exclusive of the bosom) be proportionally more, and the lower part of the body less prominent, than in man, so that, when she stands perfectly upright or lies on the back, the space between the breasts is more prominent than the mons veneris; because, such conformation is injurious to impregnation, gestation, and parturition.

7. If the shoulders seem wider than the haunches; because, this appearance generally arises from the narrowness of the pelvis, and its consequent unfitness for gestation and parturition.

8. If, on the contrary, the shoulders be much[Pg 322] narrower than the pelvis; because, this indicates extreme weakness of the locomotive system.

9. If the shoulders do not slope from the lower part of the neck; because, this shows that the upper part of the chest is not sufficiently wide of itself, but is rendered angular by the muscularity, &c., of the shoulders.

10. If the upper part of the chest be not relatively short and wide, and if it owe not its width rather to itself than to the size of the shoulders; because, this shows that the vital organs contained in the chest are not sufficiently expanded.

11. If, in youth, the upper part of the trunk, including the muscles moving the shoulders, do not form an inverted cone, whose apex is the waist; because, in that case, the lightness and beauty of the locomotive system are destroyed by the unrestrained expansion of the vital.

12. If the loins be not extended at the expense of the chest above and of the limbs below; because, on this depends their capacity to receive organs enlarged or displaced during gestation.

13. If the back be not hollow; because, this shows that the pelvis is not sufficiently deep to project posteriorly, nor consequently of sufficient capacity for gestation and parturition.

14. If the haunches be not widely expanded (as already implied in speaking of the shoulders); because, the interior cavity of the pelvis is then insufficient for gestation and parturition.

15. If, in consequence of the form of the pelvis, and the arch of the pubis being larger, the mons[Pg 323] veneris be not more prominent than the chest; because, the pelvic cavity is then also insufficient for gestation and parturition.

16. If the thighs of woman be not wider than those of man; because, the width of the female pelvis, and the purposes which it serves, require this.

17. If the size of the thighs be not large, the haunches as it were increasing till they reach their greatest extent at the upper part of the thigh, which anteriorly rises as high as the mons veneris, and if the knees do not approximate.

18. If the arms and the limbs be not relatively short, if they do not taper greatly as they recede from the trunk, and if the hands and feet be not small; because, it is the vital system and the trunk, which is by far the most important part in the female.

19. If the larynx or flute part of the throat be not small; because their magnitude indicates a masculine character.

Defects of the Vital System.

(Defects of the contained vital parts, which have been already implied in enumerating those of the containing locomotive parts, are not again mentioned here, as the intelligent reader can easily supply these and similar omissions.)

1. If, in consequence of marriage taking place[Pg 324] before their full growth, women remain always of diminished stature, weak, and pale.

2. If the digestive organs being large rather than active, is inconsistent with the greater activity and less permanence of all the other functions, secretion, gestation, &c., excepted.

3. If the absorbing vessels, being inactive, are insufficient for large secretions.

4. If the circulating vessels, being inactive and imperfectly ramified, leave the skin cold, opaque, and destitute of complexion.

5. If the secreting vessels, being inactive, furnish neither the plumpness necessary to beauty, nor those ovarian, uterine, and mammary excretions on which progeny is dependant.

6. If the neck form not an insensible transition between the body and head, being sufficiently full to conceal the muscles of the neck and the flute part of the throat.

7. If, in a young woman, the mammæ, without being too large, do not occupy the bosom, and rise from it with nearly equal curves on every side, which similarly terminate in their apices; or if, in the mature woman, they do not, when supported, seem laterally to protrude somewhat on the space occupied by the arms; because, these show that this important part of the vital system is insufficiently developed.

8. If the waist, tapering little farther than the middle of the trunk, and being sufficiently marked, especially in the back and loins, by the approximation of the expanded pelvis, be not also slightly[Pg 325] encroached on by the plumpness of all the contiguous parts, without however destroying its elegance, softness and flexibility; because, this similarly shows feebleness in a portion of that system, which is by far the most important to woman.

9. If the waist be broader than the upper part of the trunk, including the muscles moving the shoulders; because, this indicates that expansion of the stomach, liver, and other glands, which is generally the result of their excessive use or excitement. It is attended with a common look and an inelegant appearance.

10. If the abdomen be not moderately expanded, its upper portion beginning to swell out, higher even than the umbilicus, and its greatest projection being almost immediately under that point; because, this shows a weakness of the vital system, and a disproportion to the parts immediately above.

11. If the abdomen, which should be highest immediately under the umbilicus, slope not gently toward the mons veneris, and be more prominent elsewhere; because this is the result of that excessive expansion which takes place during parturition.

12. If the abdomen, which, as well as being elevated, should be narrow at its upper part, become as broad there as below, and lose that gentle lateral depression by which it is distinguished from the more muscular parts on the sides of the pelvis; because, this indicates the operation of the causes mentioned in the preceding paragraph.

13. If a remarkable fulness exist not behind the[Pg 326] upper part of the haunches, and on each side of the lower part of the spine, commencing as high as the waist, and terminating in the still greater swell of the distinctly separated hips; the flat expanse between these and immediately over the fissure of the hips, being relieved by a considerable dimple on each side, caused by the elevation of all the surrounding parts; because, it indicates feebleness in that system which is most essential to woman.

14. If the cellular tissue and the plumpness which is connected with it, do not predominate, so as to obliterate all distinct projection of the muscles; because, this likewise shows that an important portion of the vital system is feeble, and it deprives woman of the forms which are necessary to love. Nothing can completely compensate, in woman, for the absolute want of plumpness. The features of meager persons are hard; they have a dry and arid physiognomy; the mouth is without charm; the color is without freshness; their limbs seem ill united with their body; and all their movements are abrupt and coarse.

15. If plumpness be too predominant; because, it then destroys the distinctness of parts, and constitutes an excess productive of inconvenience.

16. If that excessive plumpness be broken, as it were, into masses; because, it constitutes coarseness of the vital system.

17. If former plumpness have left the previously-filled cellular tissue and expanded integuments enfeebled; because, that constitutes flaccidity.

[Pg 327]18. If the almost entire absorption of adipose substance have finally left the bones angular, the muscles and other parts permanently rigid, and the skin dry; because, that indicates decay of the vital system, and characterizes age.

19. If the skin be not fine, soft, and white, delicate, thin, and transparent, fresh and animated, if the complexion be not pure and vivid, if the hair be not fine, soft, and luxuriant, and if the nails be not smooth, transparent, and rose-colored; because, these likewise show the feebleness of that system which is most important to woman.

Defects of the Mental System.

1. If the head, compared with the trunk, be not less than that of the male; because, the mental system, in the female, ought to be subordinate to the vital, and the reverse is inconsistent with the healthful and happy exercise of her faculties as woman.

2. If the organs of sense be not proportionally larger, when compared with the brain, and more delicately outlined than in the male; because, sensibility should exceed reasoning power, in the female.

3. If the brain (in other words) be not proportionally smaller, when compared with the organs of sense, than in the male; because, reasoning power should be subordinate to sensibility in the female.

4. If the cerebel be not proportionally smaller, when compared with the organs of sense, than in the male; because, voluntary power should also be subordinate to sensibility, in the female.

[Pg 328]5. If the cerebel be not narrow and pointed posteriorly, that is, long rather than broad (its general form in woman); because, the volitions of woman should be intense, not permanent.

6. If the forehead be not large in proportion to the backhead, but on the contrary low, or very narrow; because, the former being the seat of observation, if the organ be small, the function must be correspondingly so, and in that case passion will probably predominate.

7. If the delicacy of the skin permit not to the touch of woman corresponding delicacy.

8. If the mouth be not small, or extend much beyond the nostrils, and if the lips be not delicately outlined and of vermillion hue.

9. If the nose be not nearly in the same direction with the forehead, or if more than a slight inflexion is to be seen.

10. If the eyes be not relatively large and perfectly clear in every part.

11. If the eyelids, instead of an oblong, form nearly a circular aperture, resembling somewhat the eye of monkeys, cats, or birds; because, this round eye, when large, and especially when dark, is always indicative of a bold, and, when small, of a pert insensibility of character.

12. If the eyelashes be not long and silky, and if the eyebrows be not furnished with fine hairs, and be not arched and distinctly separated.

13. If the ears be prominent, so as to alter the regularity of the oval of the head, or surcharge its outline with prominences.



[Pg 329]



External Indications of Figure.

External indications as to figure are required chiefly as to the limbs which are concealed by drapery. Such indications are afforded by the walk, to every careful observer.

In considering the proportion of the limbs to the body—if, even in a young woman, the walk, though otherwise good, be heavy, or the fall on each foot alternately be sudden, and rather upon the heel, the limbs, though well formed, will be found to be slender, compared with the body.

This conformation accompanies any great proportional development of the vital system; and it is frequently observable in the women of the Saxon population of England, as in the counties of Norfolk, Suffolk, &c.

In women of this conformation, moreover, the slightest indisposition or debility is indicated by[Pg 330] a slight vibration of the shoulders, and upper part of the chest, at every step, in walking.

In considering the line or direction of the limbs—if, viewed behind, the feet, at every step, are thrown out backward, and somewhat laterally, the knees are certainly much inclined inward.

If, viewed in front, the dress, at every step, is as it were, gathered toward the front, and then tossed more or less to the opposite side, the knees are certainly too much inclined.

In considering the relative size of each portion of the limbs—if, in the walk, there be a greater or less approach to the marching pace, the hip is large; for we naturally employ the joint which is surrounded with the most powerful muscles, and, in any approach to the march, it is the hip-joint which is used, and the knee and ankle-joints which remain proportionally unemployed.

If, in the walk, the tripping pace be used, as in an approach to walking on tiptoes, the calf is large; for it is only by the power of its muscles that, under the weight of the whole body, the foot can be extended for this purpose.

If, in the walk, the foot be raised in a slovenly manner, and the heel be seen, at each step, to lift the bottom of the dress upward and backward, neither the hip nor the calf is well developed.

Even with regard to the parts of the figure which are more exposed to observation by the closer adaptation of dress, much deception occurs. It is, therefore, necessary to understand the arts employed for this purpose, at least by skilful women.

[Pg 331]A person having a narrow face, wears a bonnet with wide front, exposing the lower part of the cheeks.—One having a broad face, wears a closer front; and, if the jaw be wide, it is in appearance diminished, by bringing the corners of the bonnet sloping to the point of the chin.

A person having a long neck has the neck of the bonnet descending, the neck of the dress rising, and filling more or less of the intermediate space. One having a short neck has the whole bonnet short and close in the perpendicular direction, and the neck of the dress neither high nor wide.

Persons with narrow shoulders have the shoulders or epaulets of the dress formed on the outer edge of the natural shoulder, very full, and both the bosom and back of the dress running in oblique folds, from the point of the shoulder to the middle of the bust.

Persons with waists too large, render them less before by a stomacher, or something equivalent, and behind by a corresponding form of the dress, making the top of the dress smooth across the shoulders, and drawing it in plaits to a narrow point at the bottom of the waist.

Those who have the bosom too small, enlarge it by the oblique folds of the dress being gathered above, and by other means.

Those who have the lower posterior part of the body too flat, elevate it by the top of the skirt being gathered behind, and by other less skilful adjustments, which though hid, are easily detected.

Those who have the lower part of the body too[Pg 332] prominent anteriorly, render it less apparent by shortening the waist, by a corresponding projection behind, and by increasing the bosom above.

Those who have the haunches too narrow, take care not to have the bottom of the dress too wide.

Tall women have a wide skirt, or several flounces, or both of these: shorter women, a moderate one, but as long as can be conveniently worn, with the flounces, &c., as low as possible.[57]

External Indications of Beauty.

Additional indications as to beauty are required chiefly where the woman observed precedes the observer, and may, by her figure, naturally and reasonably excite his interest, while at the same time it would be rude to turn and look in her face on passing.

There can, therefore, be no impropriety in observing, that the conduct of those who may happen to meet the woman thus preceding, will differ according to the sex of the person who meets her.—If the person meeting her be a man, and the lady observed be beautiful, he will not only look with an expression of pleasure at her countenance, but will afterward turn more or less completely to survey her from behind.—If the person meeting her be a woman, the case becomes more complex. If both be either ugly or beautiful, or if the person meeting her be beautiful and the lady observed be ugly, then it is probable, that the approaching person[Pg 333] may pass by inattentively, casting merely an indifferent glance: if, on the contrary, the woman meeting her be ugly, and the lady observed be beautiful, then the former will examine the latter with the severest scrutiny, and if she sees features and shape without defect, she will instantly fix her eyes on the head-dress or gown, in order to find some object for censure of the beautiful woman, and for consolation in her own ugliness.

Thus he who happens to follow a female may be aided in determining whether it is worth his while to glance at her face in passing, or to devise other means of seeing it.

Even when the face is seen, as in meeting in the streets or elsewhere, infinite deception occurs as to the degree of beauty. This operates so powerfully, that a correct estimate of beauty is perhaps never formed at first. This depends on the forms and still more on the colors of dress in relation to the face. For this reason, it is necessary to understand the principles according to which colors are employed at least by skilful women.[58]

When it is the fault of a face to contain too much yellow, then yellow around the face is used to remove it by contrast, and to cause the red and blue to predominate.

When it is the fault of a face to contain too much red, then red around the face is used to [Pg 334]remove it by contrast, and to cause the yellow and blue to predominate.

When it is the fault of a face to contain too much blue, then blue around the face is used to remove it by contrast, and to cause the yellow and red to predominate.

When it is the fault of a face to contain too much yellow and red, then orange is used.

When it is the fault of a face to contain too much red and blue, then purple is used.

When it is the fault of a face to contain too much blue and yellow, then green is used.

It is necessary to observe that the linings of bonnets reflect their color on the face, and transparent bonnets transmit that color, and equally tinge it. In both these cases, the color employed is no longer that which is placed around the face, and which acts on it by contrast, but the opposite. As green around the face heightens a faint red in the cheeks by contrast, so the pink lining of the bonnet aids it by reflection.

Hence linings which reflect, are generally of the teint which is wanted in the face; and care is then taken that these linings do not come into the direct view of the observer, and operate prejudicially on the face by contrast, overpowering the little color which by reflection they should heighten. The fronts of bonnets so lined, therefore, do not widen greatly forward, and bring their color into contrast.

When bonnets do widen, the proper contrast is used as a lining; but then it has not a surface[Pg 335] much adapted for reflection, otherwise it may perform that office, and injure the complexion.

Understanding, then, the application of these colors in a general way, it may be noticed, that fair faces are by contrast best acted on by light colors, and dark faces by darker colors.

Dark faces are best affected by darker colors, evidently because they tend to render the complexion fairer; and fair faces do not require dark colors, because the opposition would be too strong.

Objects which constitute a background to the face, or which, on the contrary, reflect their hues upon it, always either improve or injure the complexion. For this and some other reasons, many persons look better at home in their apartments than in the streets. Apartments may, indeed, be peculiarly calculated to improve individual complexions.

External Indications of Mind.

External indications as to mind may be derived from figure, from gait, and from dress.

As to figure, a certain symmetry or disproportion of parts (either of which depends immediately upon the locomotive system)—or a certain softness or hardness of form (which belongs exclusively to the vital system)—or a certain delicacy or coarseness of outline (which belongs exclusively to the mental system)—these reciprocally denote a locomotive symmetry or disproportion—or a vital softness or hardness—or a mental delicacy or[Pg 336] coarseness, which will be found also indicated by the features of the face.

These qualities are marked in pairs, as each belonging to its respective system; for, without this, there can be no accurate or useful observation.

As to gait, that progression which advances, unmodified by any lateral movement of the body, or any perpendicular rising of the head, and which belongs exclusively to the locomotive system—or that soft lateral rolling of the body, which belongs exclusively to the vital system—or that perpendicular rising or falling of the head at every impulse to step, which belongs exclusively to the mental system—these reciprocally indicate a corresponding locomotive, or vital, or mental character, which will be found also indicated by the features of the face.

To put to the test the utility of these elements of observation and indication, let us take a few instances.—If, in any individual, locomotive symmetry of figure is combined with direct and linear gait, a character of mind and countenance not absolutely repulsive, but cold and insipid, is indicated.—If vital softness of figure is combined, with a gentle lateral rolling of the body in its gait, voluptuous character and expression of countenance are indicated.—If delicacy of outline in the figure, be combined with perpendicular rising of the head, levity, perhaps vanity, is indicated.—But there are innumerable combinations and modifications of the elements which we have just described. Expressions[Pg 337] of pride, determination, obstinacy, &c., are all observable.

The gait, however, is often formed, in a great measure, by local or other circumstances, by which it is necessary that the observer should avoid being misled.

Dress, as affording indications, though less to be relied on than the preceding, is not without its value. The woman who possesses a cultivated taste, and a corresponding expression of countenance, will generally be tastefully dressed; and the vulgar woman, with features correspondingly rude, will easily be seen through the inappropriate mask in which her milliner or dressmaker may have invested her.

External Indications of Habits.

External indications as to the personal habits of women are both numerous and interesting.

The habit of child-bearing is indicated by a flatter breast, a broader back, and thicker cartilages of the bones of the pubis, necessary widening the pelvis.

The same habit is also indicated by a high rise of the nape of the neck, so that the neck from that point bends considerably forward, and by an elevation which is diffused between the neck and shoulders. These all arise from temporary distensions of the trunk in women whose secretions are powerful, from the habit of throwing the shoulders backward during pregnancy, and the head again[Pg 338] forward, to balance the abdominal weight; and they bestow a character of vitality peculiarly expressive.

The same habit is likewise indicated by an excess of that lateral rolling of the body in walking, which was already described as connected with voluptuous character. This is a very certain indication, as it arises from temporary distensions of the pelvis, which nothing else can occasion. As in consequence of this lateral rolling of the body, and of the weight of the body being much thrown forward in gestation, the toes are turned somewhat inward, they aid in the indication.

The habit of nursing children is indicated, both in mothers and nursery-maids, by the right shoulder being larger and more elevated than the left.

The habits of the seamstress are indicated by the neck suddenly bending forward, and the arms being, even in walking, considerably bent forward or folded more or less upward from the elbows.

Habits of labor are indicated by a considerable thickness of the shoulders below, where they form an angle with the inner part of the arm; and, where these habits are of the lowest menial kind, the elbows are turned outward and the palms of the hands backward.

The habits of many of the inferior female professions might easily be indicated; but they would be unsuitable to a work like this.

[Pg 339]External Indications of Age.

External indications of age are required chiefly where the face is veiled, or where the woman observed precedes the observer and may reasonably excite his interest.

In either of these cases, if the foot and ankle have lost a certain moderate plumpness, and assumed a certain sinewy or bony appearance, the woman has generally passed the period of youth.

If in walking, instead of the ball or outer edge of the foot first striking the ground, it is the heel which does so, then has the woman in general passed the meridian of life.—Unlike the last indication, this is apparent, however the foot and ankle may be clothed.—The reason of this indication is the decrease of power which unfits the muscles to receive the weight of the body by maintaining the extension of the ankle-joint.

Exceptions to this last indication are to be found chiefly in women in whom the developments of the body are proportionally much greater, either from a temporary or a permanent cause, than those of the limbs, the muscles of which are consequently incapable of receiving the weight of the body by maintaining the extension of the ankle-joint.

[Pg 340]



[Pg 341]


[Pg 342]




[Pg 343]




Mr. Walker’s extravagant admiration of the Grecian mythology has led him to over-estimate its influence upon poetry and the arts. That these were influenced, in a very important degree, by the religion of Greece, no one acquainted with the history of that nation, can doubt; but, that the arts cannot exist where the Grecian mythology is not the popular religion, is an opinion unsupported by the history of the past, and altogether opposed to their present flourishing state in civilized countries. In no age or nation has the art of painting, for example, attained higher perfection, than in Italy during the 13th and 14th centuries; a period which has been called “the golden age of Italian art,” and its high excellence has been justly attributed to the introduction of Christianity. “The walls and cupolas,” says a late writer, “of new and splendid churches were immediately covered, as if by enchantment, with the miracles of paintings and sculpture—the eager multitude were not compelled to wait till genius had labored for years on what it had been years in conceiving. Those eager spirits seemed to breathe out their creations in full and mature beauty—performing at once, by the buoyant energies of well-disciplined genius, more than all the cold precision of mechanical knowledge can ever accomplish.” Allan Cunningham, in his life of Flaxman, the artist, speaking of these paintings, remarks: “Into these Flaxman looked with the eye of a sculptor and of a Christian. He saw, he said, that the mistress to whom the great artists of Italy had dedicated their genius was the Church; that they were unto her as chief priests, to interpret her tenets and her legends to the world in a more brilliant language than that of relics and images. To her illiterate people, the Church addressed herself through the eye, and led[Pg 344] their senses captive by the external magnificence with which she overwhelmed them.”

But it is unnecessary to multiply quotations to prove this point. Flaxman never uttered a truer saying, than when he remarked, that “the Christian religion presents personages and subjects no less favorable to painting and sculpture than the ancient classics.” Accordingly, we find among his own immortal productions, that the monument erected in memory of Miss Lushington, in Kent, representing a mother mourning for her daughter, comforted by a ministering angel, was inspired by that text of holy writ, “Blessed are they that mourn;” and the monument in memory of the family of Sir Francis Baring imbodies these words, “Thy will be done—thy kingdom come—deliver us from evil.” To the first motto belongs a devotional figure as large as life—

“Her looks communing with the skies;”

a perfect image of piety and resignation. On one side, imbodying “Thy kingdom come,” a mother and daughter ascend to the skies welcomed rather than supported by angels; and on the other, expressing the sentiment “Deliver us from evil,” a male figure, in subdued agony, appears in the air, while spirits of good and evil contend for the mastery. This has been considered one of the finest pieces of motionless poetry in England. We hold, then, that Mr. Walker’s remark that “neither poetry nor the arts can have being, without the religion of Greece,” is far from being sustained, either by history or observation.



The remarks of Mr. Walker, in relation to the duty of parents and teachers, seem to us well-founded and judicious. If moral, as well as intellectual and physical education, be part of the parental duty, then it would seem to follow, that it should embrace those subjects which are of the most importance, both to the physical and moral well-being of the child; and surely, the relation of the sexes, and the due subjection of the animal propensities, are not the least important of these. There is a delicacy generally felt and observed on this point, which springs from a principle that we honor and respect, while, at the same time, we doubt whether it leads to favorable and auspicious results. No one, who looks back[Pg 345] upon the years of his own childhood, can for a moment doubt that judicious advice and seasonable information on certain subjects, which were probably considered of a too delicate nature to be even hinted at, would have been highly useful. The young will inevitably become initiated into certain vices and evil practices, unless put on their guard, by the warning voice of those they love and respect. There are a variety of passions, affections, and appetites, which belong to our nature, and were intended when properly directed and indulged, to promote our interest and happiness. Those under consideration, early begin to manifest themselves, and, when left without the restraints of enlightened intellect and the moral sense, invariably lead to disastrous consequences. The question then is, shall the young and inexperienced be left to the mere accidents of its condition, without an effort to give it sound principles to govern it, or without bringing some conservative influence to bear upon it? We think, with Mr. Walker, that it should not. Both philosophy and reason prove the danger of such a course. The circumstances which are connected with sexual vices cannot be wholly kept out of view. They meet the eye, or are suggested to the imagination, at almost every turn. A thousand scenes and incidents occur to excite the passions, if the mind is not fortified against their influence. Those who are fastidious, and believe that delicacy forbids all allusion to such subjects, will say, “Keep the youth in ignorance—conceal, if possible, everything from his view, that may excite the passions.” Still, there remain the constitutional susceptibilities; passion and appetite cannot be eradicated, and they will often be excited by incidents, which the most wakeful vigilance will not detect or suspect. The fact is, that long before parents are aware of it, the child has obtained knowledge on these subjects through many corrupt channels; and the associations first formed, are destined to exert, ever afterward, a powerful influence for evil. The early associations might, by judicious instruction on the part of parents, be of such character, as to throw around the youth a barrier almost impregnable. As to the time and manner of imparting this instruction, it must be left to the wisdom and prudence of teachers and parents and, perhaps, as a general rule, it should be left wholly to the latter.

 [Pg 346]


Much has been written on the nature of beauty, from the divine Plato, who dedicated one of his dialogues to this subject, to Lord Jeffries, the editor of the Edinburgh Review; who, in his celebrated article in the Supplement to the Encyclopedia Britannica, has excelled all previous efforts in its elucidation, and produced an essay, which will stand an imperishable monument of his taste, learning, and genius. It is not our design to enter upon a consideration of beauty in the abstract, or to attempt its analysis, as this has been done by our author in a very able, if not satisfactory manner. We take it, however, to denote that quality, or assemblage and union of qualities in the objects of our perception, whether material, intellectual, or moral, which we contemplate with emotions of pleasure; and we refer it to that internal sense, which is usually called taste. When it is asked, why a thing is beautiful, it is not always easy to find a satisfactory answer. We find beauty in color, in sound, in form, in motion, in everything. We have beauties of speech, beauties of thought, beauties in art, in nature, in the sciences, in actions, in affections, and in characters. Dr. Reid well asks, “In things so different, and so unlike, is there any quality, the same in all, which we may call by the name of beauty?” We shall not attempt to fathom this difficulty; indeed, it could not be done, without entering upon a metaphysical discussion, dry in detail, and uninteresting in result.

When we come to inquire in what female beauty consists, we shall find that there is something which enters into it, beside physical goodness. It is not a mere matter of flesh and blood; but color, form, expression, and grace, are all essential to its perfection. The two first have been called the body, the two latter, the soul of beauty—and without the soul, the body is but a mass of deformed and inanimate matter:—

“Mind, mind, alone! bear witness earth and heaven,
The living fountains in itself contains
Of beauteous and sublime. Here, hand-in-hand,
Sit paramount the Graces. Here, enthroned,
Celestial Venus, with divinest airs,
Invites the soul to never-failing joy.”

Color and form are only beautiful, because they are expressive of health, delicacy, and softness, in the female sex. It has been [Pg 347]remarked, that expression has greater power than either beauty or form, as it is only the expression of the tender and kind passions that gives beauty; that all the cruel and unkind ones add to deformity, and that, on their account, good-nature may very properly be said to be the best feature, even in the finest face. Modesty, sensibility, and sweetness, blended together, so as either to enliven or correct each other, give almost as much attraction as the passions are capable of adding to a very pretty face. It is owing to this force of pleasingness, which attends all the kinder passions, that lovers not only seem, but really are, more beautiful to each other than to the rest of the world; and in their mutual presence and intercourse, says a French writer, there is a soul upon their countenances, which does not appear when they are absent from each other or even in company that lays a restraint upon their features. Indeed, it will appear that all the ingredients of beauty terminate in expression, and this may be, either perfection of the body, or the qualities of the mind. Dr. Reid indeed goes so far as to say, that beauty originally dwells in the moral and intellectual perfections of mind, and in its active powers. Thus beauty may be ascribed to all those qualities which are the natural objects of love and kind affections, as the moral virtues, innocence, gentleness, condescension, humanity, natural affections, and the whole train of soft and gentle virtues—qualities amiable in their nature, and on account of their moral worth. So also do intellectual talents excite our love and esteem of those who possess them; these are knowledge, good sense, wit, humor, cheerfulness, good taste, excellence in any of the fine arts—as music, painting, sculpture, embroidery, &c. Thus, for example, the beauty of good breeding is not originally in the external behavior in which it consists, but is derived from the qualities of mind which it expresses; for it has been well observed, that though there may be good breeding without the amiable qualities of mind, its beauty is still derived from what it naturally expresses.

Flaxman has truly said, that neither mind nor any one of its qualities or powers, is an immediate object of perception to men. These are perceived through the medium of material objects, on which their signatures are impressed. The signs of these qualities are immediately perceived by the senses, and by them reflected to the understanding; and we are apt to attribute to the sign, the beauty which is properly and originally in the thing signified. Thus, the invisible Creator hath stamped on his works signatures of his divine wisdom, power, and benignity, which are visible to all[Pg 348] men. The works of men in science, in the arts of taste, and in the mechanical arts, bear the signatures of those qualities of mind which were employed in their production. Their external behavior or conduct in life, expresses the good or bad qualities of their minds. In every species of animals we perceive, by visible signs, their instincts, appetites, affections, or sagacity; and even in the inanimate world, there are many things analogous to the qualities of mind; so that there is hardly anything belonging to mind which may not be represented by images taken from objects of sense; and, on the other hand, every object of sense is beautiful, by borrowing attire from attributes of the mind. Thus, the beauties of mind, though invisible in themselves, are perceived in the objects of sense, in which their beauty is impressed. Thus, also, in those qualities of sensible objects to which we ascribe beauty, we discover in them some relation to mind, and the greatest in those that are most beautiful. Every beauty in the vegetable creation, of which we can form any rational judgment, expresses some perfection in the object, or some wise contrivance in the author. In the animal kingdom we perceive superior beauties, resulting from life, sense, activity, various instincts and affections, and, in many cases, great sagacity; which are attributes of mind, and possess an original beauty. In their manner of life, we observe that they possess powers, outward form, and inward structure, exactly adapted to it; and the more perfectly any individual is fitted for its end and manner of life, the greater is its beauty. This, also, was manifestly Milton’s theory of beauty; for, in his unrivalled description of our first parents in Paradise, he derives their beauty from those expressions of moral and intellectual qualities which shone forth in their outward form and demeanor:—

“Two of far nobler shape, erect and tall,
God-like erect! with native honor clad,
In naked majesty, seemed lords of all,
And worthy seemed, for, in their looks divine,
The image of their glorious Maker, shone
Truth, wisdom, sanctitude, severe and pure;
Severe, but in true filial freedom placed,
Whence true authority in man; though both
Not equal, as their sex not equal seemed,
For contemplation he, and valor formed,
For softness she, and sweet attractive grace.”

From these remarks, it will appear that we do not regard novelty alone as being “the exciting cause of pleasurable emotions, and of[Pg 349] the consequent perception of beauty in the relation of things.” The beautiful, both in statuary and painting, we believe to depend chiefly on the perfection with which the artist succeeds in expressing the qualities of the mind, whether good or evil; and it is worthy of notice, that Plato, in his Dialogues, declares that the good and the beautiful are one and the same. Hence, the Greeks called the beautiful ΚΑΛΟΣ.

The influence of novelty has been so well illustrated in an Essay by the author of a Treatise on Happiness, that we trust no apology will be required for transferring a portion of it to our pages:—

“The term novelty applies to everything new—either newly invented, or newly exhibited to us; in the former case the thing is novel to the world, in the latter it is novel to ourselves. Novelty powerfully influences the senses, the passions, and the manners of human beings; it furnishes amusement, employment, and maintenance for man; it accompanies him in his progress through this variable being, from the commencement of life to the period of dissolution.

“Novelty may be either pleasing or unpleasing. When it affects the senses by grateful influences, it occasions admiration and delight. How powerfully must the vision of Adam have been affected, when he was introduced to being! Everything which he beheld was new. There was drawn out before him, the plain, the fruitful valley, the verdant hill. Shrubs and trees were distributed around him. The earth was strewed with flowers: rivulets and rivers diversified the scene—

‘Rolling on orient pearl, and sands of gold.’

The ocean, perhaps, was stretched out as a plain of silver in the distant view; the heavens were robed in splendor; the sun shone brilliantly. His own person—himself, was an inextricable mystery. He could move; he could think; he could behold the display of creation; he could close his eyes, and exclude every impression. All was new; and everything, he might naturally have fancied, would remain the same; but, he was destined to behold a series of novelties. In a short time, he saw the sun sinking below the horizon. The heavens were adorned in their most splendid robes, like the gorgeous display of an Eastern monarch. A shade was cast over the valleys, and darkness began to gather among the trees, while their tops and branches were still illumined in the sunbeams. The shadows of evening are now gathered around him; the twinkling stars adorn the heavens; but the beauties of[Pg 350] hill, vale, waters, trees, and flowers, are departed! How sensibly must he have been affected! He would now conclude that his future time must be spent in darkness; but he looks toward the East, and across the wide expanse of waters he beholds a gleam of light, which leads the eye to some great luminary, rising above the horizon, to cheer the nightly solitude; and, as it mounts to the zenith, new beauties delight the vision of this lonely and astonished inhabitant of the earth. After a short period the moon sinks, the sun rises in the heavens, and the same delightful scenery is exhibited which was beheld the previous day.

“We can imagine the effect of novelty in producing admiration; when travellers, who having been toiling for many days or weeks on the burning sands of interminable deserts, come suddenly upon some lovely valley, watered by cooling streams, shaded by groves of trees, and beautified with clusters of flowers. Or, we can fancy the pleasure which would be produced on wayworn voyagers, who had been long toiling on the great deep and they come to some blest isle,

——‘Where the voluptuous breeze
The peaceful native breathes, at eventide,
From nutmeg-groves, and bowers of cinnamon.’

To the infant everything is novel, and almost everything is a source of admiration. The people who move to and fro; the walls and furniture of the room; the fire and the candles; the bustle and movement of men and carriages; the heavens, sunshine, and rain. These occasion interest and surprise. Dr. Brown has inquired, ‘What metaphysician is there, however subtile and profound in his analytical inquiries, and however successful in the analyses which he has made, who would not give all his past discovery, and all his hopes of future discovery, for the certainty of knowing, with exactness, what every infant feels?” But he would, probably, meet with few who would sacrifice so much for the purpose; and yet the feelings of an infant must be exceedingly interesting.

“We can easily suppose the effect which would be produced on a company of savages, if, in the midst of their woods, one of our best military bands were to strike up a powerful strain of martial music. At first they would sit motionless, or stand as statues; then look toward the place whence the sounds proceeded, where they would behold a company of persons, in many-colored[Pg 351] dresses, and splendid ornaments, with curious musical instruments, dropped, as they would fancy, from the clouds.

“But the effect of novelty may be painful; and this feeling will be powerful in the same proportion as the circumstances are important and new. Suppose, for instance, a person who had been trained in the ways of propriety and virtue were introduced, for the first time, to a village-wake, or some such brutal holyday, where he would behold bull-baiting and cock-fighting, boxing and drunkenness; where he would listen to quarrelling and profane swearing; how would his feelings be shocked! He would scarcely have fancied that a spot so small, on the surface of the globe, could have exhibited so great a variety of wickedness.

“Or, we may imagine some one endowed with a delicate ear for music, who had been accustomed to the practice of delightful harmony, obliged, for the first time, to listen to the harsh scraping of some barbarous laborer on the violin, or the useless attempts of some tasteless practitioners to perform a piece of music! How irksome and insufferable must such an ordeal be to a man of refinement; and how would its painfulness be increased by its novelty!

“By the same rule, a person who may have been accustomed to luxury and dainty food, but is obliged, for the first time, to feed on loathsome bread and nauseous water, feels doubly the misery of his condition. And thus the man who has been used to salubrious air and grateful scents, will be the more effected by disgusting smells.

“Novelty operates also in powerfully exciting the passions. Suppose a general to be usually unfortunate in his combats with the enemy, and his army to be consequently dispirited; but, upon some particular occasion, the favors of fortune and of Providence are bestowed upon them, their efforts are successful, and the main body of the enemy begin to waver, how would this inspirit them, and brighten their courage! They would rush forward, unconscious and careless of danger, and the foe must fly before such unconquerable ardor!

“If a man who had lived in poverty, in dependance on others for a subsistence, had constantly wished for independence and comparative influence, and had endeavored to swim against the stream of adversity but had never succeeded, and, all at once, a handsome fortune were left to him, how would his eyes sparkle with exultation! If a person had been separated from his friends and doomed to spend his days in the solitude of a foreign land[Pg 352] and he met, unexpectedly, with some of his nearest and kindest friends, how would his countenance beam with delight! The novelty of the circumstance would increase the amount of his joy!

“A traveller in a foreign country would be exceedingly pleased to discover some trinket which had been made in his native city; and especially if he saw on it the name of an intimate friend as the manufacturer. A toy, a dog, or a cat, under some circumstances, has occasioned tears. A beautiful female has appeared more lovely, when interesting events have introduced her to our notice; and one who is not usually attractive, has appeared so, when novelty has thrown its fascinations around her.

“The feeling of hope may be excited most powerfully by novel and unexpected circumstances. When the mariner has been long toiling in storms and dangers; when the heavens have been covered with darkness, and no information or guidance could be gained from the stars or the sun, the tempest suddenly ceases, the cheering sunbeams break upon him, and he finds himself, unexpectedly, near the haven where he would be—how does his heart exult with hope, and the consciousness of security!

“The passions may be excited, also, in an unpleasing manner; the feeling of fear may be powerfully produced by novelty. Suppose, for instance, a youth, who was trained in the ways of tranquillity and enjoyment, with a feeling heart for the sufferings of others, to be brought, all at once, on the field of war and bloodshed. Suppose him passing along some narrow defile, where the distant scenes could scarcely affect him, and where he would perceive only a din of discordant sounds. But, on a sudden, he reaches the termination of the passage, and all the pomp, and circumstance, and horror of war, are exhibited before him. Here he beholds rank opposed to rank, in deadly conflict; troops of horsemen butchering each other; forests of deadly weapons gleaming in the sunbeams. Now he listens to the shouts of victors, the cries of the vanquished, the groans of the wounded and dying; to the swelling notes of some musical band; the discordant sounds of the drum; the clashing of arms, and the shrill clamor of trumpets; to the rattling of musketry and the roaring of artillery! How would his heart sink within him at these novel scenes!

“Novelty will also occasion sorrow; as, when a man has been accustomed to independence, and the comforts which wealth, judiciously managed, may produce, and his riches are suddenly swept away, he is reduced from affluence to dependance, from[Pg 353] comforts to privations. And when a person has been used to the society of pleasant friends, and these are removed by the hand of death, and the clay-cold body alone remains as the representative of a cheerful and amiable companion, the novelty of this event will occasion heartfelt sorrow.

“When those who have been accustomed to associate as faithful friends; or, when a monarch has been surrounded by persons who have pretended feelings of attachment, and evinced much hypocritical fidelity, and, all at once, the veil of deception has been drawn aside, and an aspect has presented itself of a new and treacherous kind, how powerful have been the feelings of abhorrence and anger!

“And when a person, who has been nurtured in the lap of ease and comfort, and blessed with that best of all blessings (if it be rightly managed), the gift of liberty, is torn from his home, and his family, and his engagements, and carried into a land of slavery, where he is laden with oppressive chains, and insulted by a cruel task-master, with no chance of freedom, nor any ray of happiness, how will his spirits sink, and how will the haggard lineaments of despair be drawn on that countenance which was formed for cheerfulness! Or, suppose a person who was accustomed to a dwelling in some verdant valley, undisturbed by storms or the hazards of the sea; and he was introduced, for the first time, to some of the most aggravated dangers of that boisterous element. Suppose the winds were driving furiously over the ocean, and the huge billows were breaking on the helpless bark, while the darkness of the night was varied only by the gleam of the lightning, which exhibited breakers, and rocks, and over-hanging precipices, how would this new and dangerous condition agitate his mind, and drive him to despair!

“Novelty influences the customs or habits of mankind. On some occasions novel engagements are pleasing; and thus we practise them again, and acquire a habit of performing them. For instance, the citizen who has walked into the country as a novelty, has been pleased with his ramble, and induced to practise it daily. It sometimes occasions a progress in the arts; and thus the first attempts at music, at painting, and at sculpture, have produced a pleasure which has stimulated the person to future and continued labors.

“Sometimes, when the first impression has been rather unpleasing, a custom has been acquired, because, afterward, it had been found pleasing or advantageous. Thus there are many kinds[Pg 354] of food, which were originally ungrateful, but are now esteemed delicious. Port wine is nauseous for a child, but it is pleasing to the taste of a person who has been accustomed to it. Smoking, the taking of snuff, and masticating of tobacco, with many other useless and dirty customs, are not produced by the pleasing influence of novelty; but they are rather opposed to it. They arise principally from the inclination of following injurious examples. In some cases ladies have set their faces against such customs, and have prohibited the practice among those who would gain their esteem: in other cases they have been more lenient, because they have found that a flame of love may burn amid volumes of smoke from cigars or tobacco-pipes. Novelty has occasioned a sensation of unpleasantness, with regard to particular modes of dress; but afterward these fashions have become necessary to our comfort.

“In some instances, the very things which we commonly hate most, become essential to our happiness. When Louis XVI. ascended the throne of France, the doors of some of the dark cells in the Bastile were opened, and the hapless residents were allowed once more to breathe the pure air of heaven. Among the rest, there was one man who had been immured for nearly fifty years in a wretched cell, the area of which was so small as scarcely to allow him room to move about; but, having a vigorous body and a firm mind, he supported himself, until he had almost forgotten the world in which he lived, having had no intercourse with any one but the jailer, who brought him his daily food. When he received the summons to depart, which seemed like a message in a dream, he was astonished; but when he walked through the spacious passages and the open courts, and saw the heavens extended above him, and the sun shining in his splendor, he was overcome by his feelings. He could badly walk, and badly speak, and he seemed as if he had entered a new world. He went into the city, and found the street in which he had formerly lived, but his friends were dead; there was no living being in the world that knew him, and the poor man wept with sorrow. He was a stranger in a strange country. He went to the minister who had given him his freedom, and said: ‘Sir, I can bear to die, but to live in a world unknown and forlorn, the last human being of my race, is insupportable; do, therefore, send me to my cell, that I may finish my days there!’ No blessing of Providence will be felt as a benefit, unless it be possessed by a person for whom it is adapted.

“Impressions of a novel and pleasing kind soon lose their[Pg 355] attraction; and thus the honors which are acquired by civil and literary eminence, quickly fade away. They are like a beautiful cloud in the heavens, or a dew-drop on a leaf, which glitters and exhibits its beauties for a while, but the fervent sun absorbs both; or, they are like a gaudy flower, which a man fixes in his bosom—very lovely at first, but its attractions soon vanish. On the other hand, painful occurrences leave but a faint impression. Although, at first, a man may be bowed down with trouble, yet he will soon regain an erect position and a smiling countenance. A few weeks or months hide most of our sorrows from us; and this is an eminent proof of the wisdom and beneficence of the Deity: for the general amount of human happiness is by this means more equally divided. A state of elation is temporary, and so is a state of depression; and thus, whether a man rises or sinks in worldly possessions and honors, although there will be some difference in the amount of enjoyment, yet there will be much less than we are generally disposed to imagine.

“A taste for novelty affects the engagements of society: it is the source of fashion; it gives labor to the mechanic, to the artist, and to almost every man who obtains his maintenance by industry. And thus there are new buildings, new vehicles, new machines, and new methods of doing most things. There are dresses of various kinds the result of ingenuity and taste. One thing is new and attractive, but it soon becomes stale, and then we look for something novel. Some kinds of food are scarce and costly: these are approved by the great, but they become plentiful and cheap, and then the rich man looks for something rare, some new discovery in the art of cookery. The round of pleasures and amusements is continually varying. Formerly the men, and even the ladies, were delighted by exhibitions of combats among savage beasts—lions, elephants, and tigers; they feasted their eyes on the bloody combats of human beings with each other, or with bulls and other furious animals. They attended dog-fights, cock-fights, and other barbarous diversions. But the taste has become improved; novelty has taken a praiseworthy direction: boxing, wrestling, and other disgraceful exhibitions, are now transferred to the vulgar and disreputable; many innocent amusements have been introduced, and these also have been regulated by the universal love of novelty. The same variety has existed in language. A certain style of speech, and certain phrases, are fashionable in the best society; these are gradually introduced among the lower ranks, and then the better classes look for something[Pg 356] novel. Many words and phrases originally introduced for the purpose of expressing things delicately, become vulgar: terms which were primarily intended as a reproach become a designation of honor, and those once deemed honorable become reproachful.

“The love of novelty occasions the great variety of tunes which we possess, and the diversity of musical skill. A newly-constructed instrument, a new or superior mode of performing on it and the last new tune, are objects of universal attraction. The same disposition arises with respect to books. Novelty has occasioned all the variety which the history of literature exhibits, from the bulky folio to the penny pamphlet, and the annual publication to the daily newspaper: it has occasioned, also, in a great degree, the multitude of opinions which have deluged the world. Something new, as the loungers of Athens demanded, has been the requirement of the public in all ages. If it be new, it will be attractive, and if pleasing or convenient, it will be embraced, and then its strength and consistency will soon be deemed demonstrated: but when the writers on the subject, and the readers of those writings, become cool; when reason takes the place of imagination, then the system will be often discovered to be defective, the vapory fabric will fade away, and some other will obtain its place. We are too frequently going round in our progress, rather than forward. In many respects we are not much farther advanced than the ancients, and yet we ought to be, and should be if we had pursued a direct course.

“But one of the most pleasing sources of novelty is that which the Almighty has given us in the seasons of the year; and this distinctly shows us that the love of novelty is not only natural, but it is allowable and praiseworthy, if it be regulated by reason; for the Great Creator himself indulges us in this respect. And thus we have all the variety of summer and winter, of sultry and frosty days, of clear and cloudy skies; of the budding and blooming of spring, and the richness and luxuriance of autumn; the breaking forth of the sun in the morning, and the setting of that glorious luminary; the light of the stars; the silvery splendor of the moon; the glare of lightnings and meteors, the rolling of thunder, with vapors, rain, hail, and snow.

“The love of novelty is injurious only when it is carried beyond what the Almighty intended; when it does not animate a person to perform his necessary engagements, but carries him away from them; when it makes him restless and wavering. Novelty accompanies man in infancy and in youth; it cheers and exalts him[Pg 357] in the changing scenes of manhood; and when we leave this earthly sphere, and the soul bursts forth from its corporeal dwelling, it will fly upward to regions of still greater novelty, and never-failing interest!”



Mr. Walker, in various places of his work, calls the cerebel or cerebellum, “the organ of volition,” and, at page 145, he attributes ideas, emotions, and passions, to the cerebrum, though he states that acts of the will result from these. Now, if there is any truth established, it is that the will is the result of the simultaneous action of the higher intellectual powers, and supposes attention, reflection, comparison, and judgment, mental operations, which Mr. Walker himself attributes to the cerebrum. Gall has made it very evident, that the will is not the impulse that results from the activity of a single organ, but the concurrent action of many of the higher intellectual faculties—motives must be weighed, compared, and judged, before there can be any will, or determination of mind. The decision resulting from this determination, is called will. We consider it then proved, that there is no particular organ of the will. “Every fundamental faculty,” says Dr. Gall, “accompanied by a clear notion of its existence, and by reflection, is intellect or intelligence. Each individual intelligence, therefore, has its proper organ; but reason supposes the concerted action of the higher faculties. It is the judgment pronounced by the higher intellectual faculties. A single one of these, however, could not constitute reason, which is the compliment, the result of the simultaneous action of all the intellectual faculties. It is reason that distinguishes man from the brute; intellect they have in common to a certain degree. There are many intelligent men, but few reasoning ones. Nature produces an intelligent man; a happy organization, cultivated by experience and reflection, forms the reasoning man.” Nearly all physiologists deserving of the name, are now united in the opinion that the cerebellum is the organ of amativeness, as well as concerned in the regulation of voluntary motion. “It is impossible,” says Dr. Spurzheim, “to unite a greater number of proofs in demonstration of any natural truth than may be presented to determine the function of the cerebellum.”—“Mr. Scott,” says George Combe, “in an excellent essay on the influence of[Pg 358] amativeness on the higher sentiments and intellect, observes that it has been regarded by some individuals, as almost synonymous with pollution; and the notion has been entertained, that it cannot be even approached without defilement. This mistake has originated from attention being directed too exclusively to the abuses of the propensity. Like everything that forms part of the system of nature, it bears the stamp of wisdom and excellence in itself, although liable to abuse. It exerts a quiet but effectual influence in the general intercourse between the sexes, giving rise in each to a sort of kindly interest in all concerns the other. This disposition to mutual kindness between the sexes, does not arise from benevolence or adhesiveness, or any other sentiment or propensity alone; because, if such were its sources, it would have an equal effect in the intercourse of the individuals of each sex among themselves, which it has not. ‘In this quiet and unobtrusive state of the feeling,’ says Mr. Scott, ‘there is nothing in the least gross or offensive to the most sensitive delicacy. So far the contrary, that the want of some feeling of this sort is required, wherever it appears, as a very palpable defect, and a most unamiable trait in the character. It softens all the proud, irascible, and antisocial principles of our nature, in everything which regards that sex which is the object of it; and it increases the activity and force of all the kindly and benevolent affections. This explains many facts which appear in the mutual regards of the sexes toward each other. Men are, generally speaking, more generous and kind, more benevolent and charitable, toward women, than they are to men, or than women are to one another.’ The abuses of this propensity are the sources of innumerable evils in life; and as the organ and feeling exist, and produce an influence on the mind, independently of external communication, Dr. Spurzheim suggests the propriety of instructing young persons in the consequences of its improper indulgence as preferable to keeping them in a state of ignorance that may provoke a fatal curiosity, compromising in the end their own and their descendants’ bodily and mental constitution.”

It may be proper in this place, to point out some of the anatomical differences of the sexes more definitely than has been done by Mr. Walker, as they are intimately connected with the form and contour of the body, and must be understood to appreciate fully the bearing of much that is laid down by our author:—

 [Pg 359]



The stomach is the only portion of the alimentary canal which presents sexual differences. It is larger, shorter, and broader, in the male; smaller, narrower, and longer, in the female. Its muscular coat, like that in the whole alimentary canal, is generally also thinner in the female.


Ribs.—The ribs of the female are generally straighter than those of the male. The posterior segment unites sooner with the anterior; its curve differs less from that of the last, and disappears sooner in the female; hence, the chest is narrower. The ribs are usually thinner; hence, the edges are sharper. Sometimes, however, this is far from being true. Their length is nearly the same; but according to Mechel, the length of the two upper ribs is proportionally, and when the subject is short, absolutely greater in the female than in the male.

Clavicle.—The clavicle is generally straighter, and proportionably smaller in the female than in the male. The greater straightness depends particularly on the lesser curve of its external portion, while in man it extends far backward, and then comes forward. The internal anterior half presents nearly the same curve in both sexes. The clavicle of the female is rounder than that of the male; we however find clavicles of females perfectly like those of males, and vice versa. Sometimes, of the two clavicles in the same body, one is constructed in the type of the male, and the other in that of the female.

Pelvis.—The chief points of difference between the male and female skeleton, beside the disparity in the size and the greater smoothness of the bones, lie in the pelvis. In the female this is less strong and thick, and contains less osseous matter than that of the male. In the female, the arch of the pubis is much the greatest, and the long diameter of the brim of the pelvis is from side to side; in the male it is from before backward; in the female, the brim is more of the oval shape, in the male more triangular; in the female, the ilia are more distant; the tuberosities of the ischia are also more remote from each other, and from the os coccygis, and as these three points are farther apart, the notches between them are consequently wider, and there is of necessity a considerably greater space between the os coccygis and pubis than in the male. The female sacrum is broader and less curved than in the other sex.[Pg 360] The ligamentous cartilage at the symphysis pubis is broader and shorter. In consequence of the cavity of the pelvis being wider in woman, the superior articulations of their thigh bones are farther removed from each other, which circumstance occasions their peculiarity in walking; they seem to require a greater effort than men to preserve the centre of gravity, when the leg is raised; owing to the greater length of the crural arch, there is less resistance to the pressure of the abdominal viscera; consequently females are more subject to femoral hernia than males. The angle of union of the ossa pubis in the male is from sixty to eighty degrees, whereas, in the female it is ninety degrees. The mean height of the male, at the period of maturity, is about five feet eight and a half inches, and that of the female about five feet five inches; a well-formed pelvis has a circumference equal to one-fourth of the height of the female.


The larynx is one of the organs which presents most manifestly the differences of sex. That of the female is usually one third, and sometimes one half smaller than that of the male: all its constituent cartilages are much thinner; the thyroid cartilage also is even flatter, because its two lateral halves unite at a less acute angle. Hence the reason why the larynx in the male forms at the upper part of the neck a prominence which is not visible in the female. The glottis in the female is much smaller than in the male, and the vocal cords are shorter. These sexual differences do not appear till puberty; until then the larynx has precisely the same form in the two sexes, and consequently the voice is nearly the same in both. In eunuchs it is small as in females.


A very ingenious Physiological explanation of the beauty of form, has been suggested by Professor B. T. Joslin, of the University of the city of New York, which is published in the Transactions of the New York State Medical Society for 1836. As this theory is characterized by great originality and genius, and but little known, we shall present our readers with some extracts from the Essay, calculated to elucidate the views of the talented author.

Speaking of material objects, not including the human form, Dr. J. remarks:—

[Pg 361]“There is in objects a kind of beauty which is intrinsic and physical, which belongs to them in every association, and whether at rest or in motion; such is the beauty of color, and that of configuration. The contemplation of the beauty of coloring and of form gives physical pleasure, i. e., physical as opposed to mental, but physiological as opposed to physical. Employing physical in its comprehensive sense, I say that this physical pleasure attending vision is of two distinct kinds; 1st, that which depends on the character of the impression on the retina, and consequently on the intensity and nature of the light; and 2dly, that which depends upon the form of the object, and, consequently, on the muscular actions employed in tracing its outlines. As the latter constitutes the proper subject of this essay, I shall dismiss the former with a single remark.

“Some colors are more agreeable than others, but these differ with different eyes, and with the nature of the color to which the eyes have been previously exposed. A bluish green relieves the eye when over-excited with red, and a mild red is agreeable after the protracted action of intense green; and in general, the complementary colors are most agreeable in succession. Again, it is well known, that no kind of light is painful, unless excessively vivid; we are pleased with a mild radiance in objects of every hue, from the whiteness of the moon to the crimson of the setting sun. But is there no other physical property by which these luminaries directly contribute to the gratification of taste? It is true that light, abstractedly from all objects is agreeable, and agreeable on the same principle that sweetness is to the taste, i. e., from the mere character of the nervous impression. But this is a pleasure merely passive, and in an active being it is, perhaps, on that account, one grade lower than the gratification afforded by the beauty of form, and is more allied to the gross pleasure of literal taste. Hence, we scarcely employ a figurative expression, in declaring that light is sweet. But the highest degree of physical gratification is not enjoyed by the eye, unless this agreeable excitant proceeds from an object of beautiful form. “Light is sweet,” but “it is a pleasant thing for the eyes to behold the sun.” What is the source of this additional pleasure which we receive, when light proceeds either by radiation or reflection from regular curvilinear objects?

“I shall offer what I believe to be an original and satisfactory explanation of the beauty of form, on principles purely physiological. It is based on the proposition, that the action of every muscle[Pg 362] is attended with a sensation which, is at first agreeable, but which, if the action is continued for a short time with intensity, and without intermission, becomes painful. That there is pleasure attending those varied motions which depend upon the actions of different muscles in succession after intervals of rest in each, we know from our own consciousness as well as from that instinctive propensity to play which we observe in children and young animals. That the prolonged action of a muscle is painful, we may readily convince ourselves by endeavoring to hold the arm for some time at right angles with the erect trunk. With the arm in this position, a pound weight on the hand or even the weight of the arm itself becomes in a few minutes almost insupportable. We presently begin to feel pain in the shoulder and anterior part of the arm, the former from fatigue of those muscles which originate from the scapula and keep the os humeri elevated, and the latter from fatigue of the muscles which originate from the scapula and os humeri, whose muscular fibres are in front of the os humeri and by their contraction elevate the fore-arm in consequence of their tendinous attachment to its bones. Yet a man may labor all day with his arms without this painful sensation; because a muscle requires but a momentary rest, in order to regain that degree of energy which is momentarily lost by action.

“None but an anatomist can duly appreciate the variety of separate actions, on which depend the motions of a single limb, and the consequently numerous opportunities of rest which the muscles enjoy. To the superficial and unscientific observer, an arm is an arm; it is a single member which may be fatigued by a day’s work and recruited by a night’s rest. But to the anatomist the arm is a complex object, and its muscular energy is that of its component muscles, each of which may be fatigued by a minute’s action and recruited by a minute’s repose. It would be easy to extend this farther, and state reasons for believing that the component fasciculi and fibres of an individual muscle act still more transiently, and that their momentary and successive actions constitute the action of a single muscle.

“But waiving this refinement, it will be sufficient for our purpose to consider a single muscle as having a simple action, an action which cannot be sustained with uniformity a minute of time without actual pain, nor a second of time with positive pleasure. This, however, is not to be understood as an attempt to fix these limits with precision. To express the law in more general terms, as we diminish the duration of a muscle’s action we diminish the[Pg 363] pain until we arrive at an action whose attendant sensation is neutral, i. e., neither painful nor pleasurable; as soon as we have passed that point and have begun to execute motions a little more transient, the attendant sensation becomes positively pleasurable, and the pleasure increases as the separate actions become more transient. It is not necessary to infer that there is attending each action of shorter duration a pleasure exceeding that which attends each action of greater duration; for the more transient actions are, in a given time, more numerous; so that with the same amount of pleasure for each muscular contraction, the amount of pleasurable sensation in a given time—say a second—would exceed the amount attending the less frequent and more prolonged actions in the same period: a greater number of separate impressions become—so to speak—crowded together and condensed, and thus produce a more vivid pleasure. Several contiguous impressions thus conspire to heighten the contemporaneous effect, inasmuch as we are unable to distinguish those impressions which are made at very short intervals on the muscular sense, any more than we are those made at very short intervals on the retina. We have an example of the latter in the familiar experiment of swinging a coal of fire in a circle, and in various optical instruments for combining colors and images.

“The proposition which I have endeavored to establish is, that there is a neutral point to which, if constant action is prolonged, its pleasurable character begins to be reversed; that the vividness of the sensation increases with the distance from this point, being on the one side pleasurable, on the other painful; the more transient the actions are, the more pleasurable; the more prolonged they are, the more painful.

“I am of opinion that this physiological principle is susceptible of interesting applications to a class of pleasures, which metaphysicians have regarded as exclusively mental, and dependant upon certain supposed ultimate principles of the constitution of mind, principles not resolvable into others more elementary. As physiology shall advance, it may be expected that many of these imaginary elements will yield to its searching analysis. Whether the writer has been so fortunate as to resolve any of the generally admitted elements of mental taste, the reader will be able to judge from the sequel.

As preparatory to the consideration of the beauty of form, it will be necessary to give an explanation of the gracefulness of motion. Although this has been vaguely and in part referred to[Pg 364] ease of execution, yet, the physiological principle on which ease of execution depends, not having been clearly understood and distinctly stated, the gracefulness of all motions could not be referred to their true source. Thus, writers on taste have been under the necessity of admitting, as a distinct and independent source of gracefulness, the curvilinear direction of motions, and have been able to generalize this fact no farther than by referring it to the beauty of curved forms, which beauty was considered an ultimate fact. In applying the principles above developed, to the explanation of the pleasure or pain attending the contemplation of particular motions, we shall defer for the present the investigation of the intrinsic beauty of curved motions, which is the same as that of curved lines, and assume that in general those motions which are physically pleasurable to the agent are agreeable to the observer. The pleasure or pain of the agent will engage the sympathy of the observer; for he associates the observed action with his own experience. To make a single application, suppose a public speaker extend his arm horizontally and move it slowly in a horizontal position, through one third of a circle. This motion would not appear graceful. That it would not be performed with perfect ease, any one might prove by experiment. The principal difficulty is in preserving for a long time the horizontal position.”

“In the ordinary state of the muscular system, and within certain limits, the motion of the eye in any direction is pleasurable. Whenever the power of directing the eye is acquired, the tracing of a line will, to a certain extent and for a certain time, afford some degree of positive pleasure; in other words, any short line will possess some degree of positive beauty, and the infant becomes conscious of an emotion of which he was previously ignorant—the emotion of beauty of form. A point awakens no such emotion; it never will; it can possess no beauty. It must be recollected, that this has been restricted to minute points of inappreciable form. Circular dots will be considered under the head of figures. The colorific property of a dot as compared with that of the ground on which it is placed, may afford that kind of ocular pleasure which is foreign to the present inquiry.

“From points as compared with lines, we naturally proceed to lines as compared with each other.

“When the head is erect, in examining a straight horizontal line we employ one of the lateral recti; if the line be vertical we employ the rectus inferior or superior. In either case, but one muscle acts, and that continuously. The muscle is not relieved, and its[Pg 365] action is not attended with the maximum amount of pleasurable sensation. When the vision has been extended along the whole line, if we then immediately proceed to examine it in the opposite direction, the opposite rectus must at one exert a force sufficient to overcome the momentum of the eyeball, and then exert a continuous action. Both these circumstances are unfavorable to pleasure. If the line is oblique, one lateral together with one inferior or one superior muscle is exerted, and the same principles which have been applied to the single muscles, apply to the muscles acting in pairs.

The Beauty of Curved Lines.—As from the foregoing analysis of the vision of straight lines in general, it results that they are deficient in the elements of ocular agreeableness, in other words, of beauty; little more need be said of regular and gentle curves, than that the survey of them is not attended with the abovementioned disadvantages. In viewing a regular curve, no muscle of the eyeball acts continuously and uniformly, but enjoys partial relief by remissions, or total relief by intermissions of its action; and the regularity of these remissions and intermissions, as well as the equal distribution of exercise, is promoted by the regularity of the curve. Acting in succession, the muscles afford mutual relief after actions of such short duration and variable intensity, as to afford positive pleasure; and in this muscular pleasure of the eye consists the beauty of configuration.

“The successive and accurate survey of distant points is not, however, invariably requisite to a degree of similar pleasure, in viewing a figure of such small angular extent as to be instantly recognised by one location of its image, as analogous to a larger one whose survey has directly afforded muscular pleasure. Although I thus recognise the influence of association, the facts of this very case afford an interesting confirmation of the physiological theory; for a large circle or ellipse is more beautiful than one of diminutive size. The beauty of the one is original, its influence is direct; the beauty of the other is in part borrowed, and this part is weakened by reflection. Or, to express it more literally, the one excites a pleasurable sensation, the other suggests a similar idea; the one affords a perception, the other a conception, of beauty. Such, even with similar color and brilliancy, would be the difference between the full moon and a circular dot (·) or period; such the difference between a rainbow and a diminutive arc () (), a short accent inverted. Here the critic might be inclined to charge us with confounding the beautiful with the sublime. But the fact is,[Pg 366] that criticism has constructed the sublime—as it has the beautiful—from heterogeneous materials, one of which is identical with one of the elements of beauty, and should, in a physiological arrangement, be referred to the same class. In many instances a magnifying instrument will disclose minute irregularities and blemishes; but in every other case, physiology would show, that, within certain limits, to magnify a beautiful object is to magnify beauty.

“The foregoing statements of general principles preclude the necessity of minute details in relation to particular curves. I shall at present consider those which do not return into themselves, so as to constitute the outlines of figures in the geometrical sense. Let us first select a semi-circumference, for example, that of a rainbow of maximum dimensions. In tracing it once, we employ three out of the four muscles. They are brought into action successively and rapidly, but not abruptly. All these circumstances are favorable to pleasure. Yet they are not conducive to it in the highest possible degree; for each muscle acts only once unless the examination be repeated; and in case of its repetition, the momentum of the eyeball is destroyed in stopping and reversing its motion. The waving line, as Hogarth’s line of beauty, obviates the first difficulty. This ensures not only the successive action of different muscles, but a repetition of action in the same. If the line forms a number of equal waves, these repetitions will be proportional to the number of waves, and will alternately and totally relieve, at least two muscles, and allow, in the action of a third, regular remissions of intensity at equal intervals. We have proved then, that on this physiological theory, a semi-circumference possesses more of the elements of beauty than any straight line, and a regular-waved line more than either. These results are conformable to experience. If there is any difficulty in admitting this, it will vanish on comparing the ocular with other muscles.

“Let us select a joint, which, in its spherical form, and the circular arrangement of its muscles, is analogous to the eye; for example, the shoulder joint. I think it will be uniformly found, that in the use of this joint, the curves most readily traced, are those of gentle and nearly equal curvature, and being such as are most easily traced by the eye, they would appear more beautiful than those drawn by the fingers with the same education. For example, let a man, without bending his wrist or elbow, draw various lines with a light stick or cane on the surface of snow: the lines most easily drawn (or most easily traced if already drawn), will be curves of considerable beauty, and nearly equal curvature; such[Pg 367] as waved lines and spirals and looped curves. Circles and ellipses would also be among the figures with most facility and precision traced, and especially in cases of repeated tracing; but we are not at present considering figures in the proper geometrical sense of the term. In writing letters by the above method, a succession of ‘e’s, would be more readily drawn than a succession of ‘i’s, or a zigzag line with acute angles.

“To institute a fair comparison between terminated lines and figures, the component lines of the figures should be as beautiful as the terminated lines with which they are compared. With this precaution, physiology will conduct to the conclusion, that figures are more beautiful than terminated lines. For the survey of any figure requires the successive action of all these ocular muscles, and a repeated survey requires no reversal of the motion.

“We may apply the same principles to figures as compared with each other. Here we shall find the advantage on the side of those which are geometrically regular. We perceive that the circle and ellipse must possess in great perfection the essentials of beauty.

“From figures, the transition is natural and easy to solids or bodies of three dimensions. The form of a body depends on those of all its faces and sections; and these last are plane figures. The elliptical sections of a regular spheroid are all highly beautiful, but its sections are not all elliptical. Unless the spheroid be in certain positions, the sphere possesses still higher beauty, as presenting the same circular and highly beautiful outline in every position; although a variety of positions is not essential to the perception of its peculiar beauty, whenever the observer has learned by different methods, and especially by different degrees of convergence of the two optic axes, to estimate the relative distances of the different points of the visible hemisphere, and thus to recognise the spherical form. I will only add, from the analysis of the beauty of the circle it is evident, that within certain limits, to magnify a sphere is to magnify its beauty.

“The relative beauty of the sphere and spheroid, and of the spheroid as compared with itself in different positions, is modified by symmetry. The principle of symmetry, is in some measure distinct from any other heretofore considered. It may be treated under the heads of 1st, geometrical symmetry, or symmetry of form; 2d, of symmetry of position.

Symmetry of form, though implied in geometrical regularity, is not identical with it, and requires a separate consideration. The beauty of forms geometrically symmetrical, in contradistinction[Pg 368] from those deficient in the correspondence of opposite halves, depends upon two similar series of actions in different pairs or muscles. For example, the survey of an ovate leaf, or indeed that of almost any vegetable leaf—so numerous are the provisions for our gratification—requires for its opposite halves two series of muscular actions, the different parts of the one corresponding with those of the other in duration, intensity, and order of succession. The gratification in this case results from the harmony of muscular sensations individually pleasurable. The agreeableness of this harmony may depend upon a principle more psychological than that of the agreeableness of its elementary sensations. Yet the former is to a certain extent susceptible of a physiological generalization. This harmony would probably have been impaired by any considerable inequality in the distances between the points of insertion of the recti muscles, or in the strength of the antagonists. It is a curious coincidence, that in both these respects, these muscles are more nearly symmetrical than any others in the human body. Physiology, then, explains, not only the agreeableness of the elementary sensations, which give rise to the perception of beauty in regular curves, but unfolds the provisions for two similar series of such sensations, not only in figures simply regular, but in those which are simply symmetrical, and in those which are both symmetrical and regular. The principles of muscular action explain the agreeableness of a rapid succession of varied actions equally distributed among the muscles, and the structure of the optical apparatus explains why the curvature and regularity of an object require such actions in vision. Again, we discover in the symmetrical structure and arrangement of the ocular muscles, a provision for two similar series of pleasurable sensations in the survey of a symmetrical figure, in whatever position it may be placed, provided it retains its symmetry with respect to some visual plane. The coincidence between the location of the ocular muscles diametrically opposite, on the one hand, and our propensity to compare the opposite halves of bodies, and the pleasure afforded by their similarity on the other hand, is curious, and to a certain extent affords a physiological explanation of the beauty of symmetrical forms.

“The same principles which apply to the beauty of form of inanimate objects are applicable to the paths described by them in motion. The intrinsic beauty of their motions is exclusively referrible to sensations in the ocular muscles of the observer,[Pg 369] while the gracefulness of human motions is referrible in part to these, and in part to sensations in other muscles.

“It would be foreign to the subject of the present memoir, to consider the beauty of expression of the human countenance; although this species of beauty is in a great degree referrible to muscular action. That muscular action which belongs to the present topic is not that of the object, but that of the observer. It may be scarcely necessary again to disclaim any design of giving a complete analysis of beauty in general, or to repeat the concession that man’s notions of beauty are modified by various associations.

Final Cause.—The benevolence of the Author of nature is strikingly manifested in connecting present pleasure with obedience to the natural laws. It has been shown that vision is attended with muscular action which is generally pleasurable. If seeing had required no muscular action, we should have wanted one of our present stimuli to the acquisition of knowledge. This stimulus is especially necessary in infancy, and then powerfully prompts to observation, even anterior to the dawnings of intellectual curiosity, with which it subsequently co-operates. We see, in this arrangement, the exemplification of a principle which extensively pervades the laws under which we are placed by the Creator—which is, that mental attainments, as well as other acquisitions, shall require action; and that action shall be attended with pleasure. Whether the acquisition is to be made by the manual labor of the artisan, by the manipulations of the artist, the chymist, or the experimental philosopher, by the sedentary student of books, or by the observer of natural phenomena in his original survey of the universe—in every case it is muscular action.

“This application to natural theology, has thus far had reference to that degree of intrinsic agreeableness which is common to forms in general. But the laws of nature specially tend to the production of curved, regular, and symmetrical objects and motions, in inorganic vegetable and animal bodies; and impose the necessity of similar forms in artificial structures. With a different structure and arrangement of the ocular muscles, those forms peculiarly conducive to our welfare and that of the universe, had possessed no peculiar attractions; and we had felt no special impulse of this kind to conform our own artificial structures to those laws of nature, or to investigate many of the most important works of the Creator. Yet neither gravity or any other law of the external world could have determined the peculiar formation of the muscles of the human eye. We must, therefore, refer their actual[Pg 370] structure and location to that Being who gives to the objects of his creative power, and to the principles by which he governs them, such a mutual adaptation as conduces to the greatest achievable good. Thus, while muscular pleasure originally prompts to the observation of the Creator’s works, this observation is rewarded and subsequently prompted by a pleasure of an incomparably higher order, of a character purely mental, by the discovery of moral beauty, which in rank and refinement surpasses all others. Still, the muscular pleasure of the eye strongly incites to the examination of the numberless forms of beauty in the organic and inorganic kingdoms, such as the symmetrical leaf, the bending bough, the symmetry of the tree itself that of inferior animals, and of the human form. Or we may extend our view to the circular or undulating horizon, the apparent limits of the apparently round world; or we may elevate the eyes to the arched dome of the firmament, on which the arches of the iris and aurora occasionally confer additional beauty. Or with the telescope we may pierce this apparent limit of upward vision, and discover beyond it a universe of spherical and spheroidal worlds, revolving in circular and elliptical orbits, worlds and orbits which present, even in our diminutive diagrams, a high order of beauty, designed to incite us to the contemplation of these most magnificent works of the Creator.

“All this beauty had been lost to man, but for the property of the eye, which, on a superficial reflection, might seem a defect. It is no less true than paradoxical, that the perception of these beauties depends on indistinctness of vision. To a being so constituted as to see with equal distinctness by oblique and direct vision, the same forms might be presented, but not as forms of beauty. Has the Creator, then, sacrificed a portion of our perceptive powers to our sensual gratification? I answer no. Has he, then, sacrificed a portion of our direct means of acquiring knowledge, to afford an incitement which should ultimately and indirectly enhance our attainments? Again I am compelled to answer in the negative. There is, in this arrangement, no intellectual sacrifice whatever, direct or indirect. This indistinctness of oblique vision, which might seem a defect, I consider an excellence. A simultaneous and distinct impression received from the whole field of vision, would distract the attention and preclude a minute and accurate examination of any particular part. But as our eyes are so constituted as to receive a strong and distinct impression only from the images of those objects toward which their axes are directed, and as our minds are so constituted that we can in a great measure neglect[Pg 371] the weaker or less distinct impressions, we are able to acquire a more exact knowledge of any part of the field to which we choose to attend. To see every thing at once, would be to examine nothing. Such a constitution of the eye would be to vision what an indiscriminating memory is to the understanding.




To show that the sentiments of mankind with regard to female beauty, have been very various in different ages and nations, and that it is not possible to establish a standard which shall comprehend all, without discriminations, a few facts may be mentioned. Among the ancients, a small forehead and joined eyebrows were much admired in a female countenance; and in Persia, large joined eyebrows are still highly esteemed. In some parts of Asia, black teeth and white hair, are essential ingredients in the character of a beauty; and in the Marian Islands, it is customary among the ladies to blacken their teeth with herbs, and to black their hair with certain liquors. Beauty, in China and Japan, is composed of a large countenance, small, and half-concealed eyes, a broad nose, little and useless feet, and a prominent belly. The Flat-head Indians compress the heads of their children between two boards, with a view to enlarge and beautify the face; some tribes compress the head laterally; others depress the crown, and others make the head as round as possible. “The Moors of Africa,” says Park, “have singular ideas of female perfection; the gracefulness of figure and motion, and a countenance enlivened by expression, are by no means operative points in their standard; with them corpulency and beauty are terms nearly synonymous. Or women of even moderate pretensions, must be one who cannot walk without a slave under each arm to support her, and a perfect beauty is a load for a camel. In consequence of this prevalent taste for unwieldiness of bulk, the Moorish ladies take great pains to acquire it early in life, and for this purpose many of the young girls are compelled by their mothers to swallow a great quantity of kouskous, and drink a large bowl of camel’s milk every morning. It is of no importance whether the girl has an appetite or not, the kouskous and milk must be swallowed, and obedience is[Pg 372] frequently enforced by blows. I have seen a poor girl sit crying with the bowl at her lips for more than an hour, and her mother with a stick in her hand watching her all the while, and using the stick without mercy whenever she observed that her daughter was not swallowing. This singular practice, instead of producing indigestion and disease, soon covers the young lady with that degree of plumpness, which in the eye of a Moor, is perfection itself.” These facts show that every nation almost has ideas of beauty peculiar to itself; and it is no less evident that nearly every individual has his own notions and taste concerning it. “The empire of beauty, however,” says a writer already quoted, “amid these discordant ideas, with respect to the qualities in which it consists, has been very generally acknowledged, and particularly in all civilized countries; and when it is united with other accomplishments that tend to render females amiable, it contributes in no small degree, to give them importance and influence, to polish the manners of society, and to contribute to its order and happiness.”




The views of Mr. Walker in relation to Temperaments, correspond with those usually entertained by physiological writers. It is to be observed, however, that they rarely occur simple in any individual, two or more being generally combined. The bilious and nervous, for example, is a common combination, which gives strength and activity; the lymphatic and nervous, is also common, and produces sensitive delicacy of mental constitution, conjoined with indolence. The nervous and sanguine combined, give extreme vivacity, but without corresponding vigor. Dr. Thomas of Paris, has advanced the following theory of the temperaments: When the digestive organs, filling the abdominal cavity, are large, and the lungs and brain small, the individual is lymphatic; he is fond of feeding, and averse to mental and muscular exertion. When the heart and lungs are large, and the brain and abdomen small, the individual is sanguine; blood abounds, and is propelled with vigor; he is therefore fond of muscular exercise, but averse to thought. When the brain is large, and the abdominal and thoracic viscera small, great mental energy is the consequence. These[Pg 373] proportions may be combined in great varieties, and modified results will ensue.[59] Mr. Combe, in his late lectures in this city, laid great stress on the relative size of the three great visceral cavities, in determining the temperament. Thus, if the abdominal and thoracic cavities be small, and the cranial cavity large, the nervous temperament is indicated. If the abdomen and scull be comparatively small, and the chest large, the sanguine temperament is indicated. The predominance of the abdominal cavity indicates the lymphatic temperament. Mr. C. also pointed out the important changes produced in the temperament by a long continued course of training. It is common for the bilious, to be changed into the nervous temperament, by habits of mental activity, and close study; and, on the other hand, we often see the nervous or bilious changed into the lymphatic about the age of 40, when the nutritive system seems to acquire the preponderance. Spurzheim used to say, that he had originally a large portion of the lymphatic temperament, as had all his family; but that in himself the lymphatic had gradually diminished, and the nervous gradually increased; whereas, in his sisters, owing to mental inactivity, the reverse had happened, and when he visited them, after being absent many years, he found them, to use his own expression, “as large as tuns.” The subject of temperament has been treated with consummate ability by Dr. Charles Caldwell of Kentucky; and as his essay is but little known, we shall present some extracts from it. It will be seen that his views bear a close resemblance to those of Dr. Thomas, already mentioned; but Dr. C. has shown that they were publicly maintained by him, at least two years before the appearance of Dr. Thomas’s work.[60] After explaining the doctrine of the temperaments, as taught by the ancients, and showing that it is founded on the exploded hypothesis of humoralism, Dr. C. goes on to show, that it is the solids of the body which make man what he is; that they form the fluids, and give them their character; that they are, in short, the cause, and the fluids the effect.

“The difference,” says Dr. C., “between individuals, or rather classes, of the human family, which temperament is made to designate, appears to depend on two causes; diversity of organization[Pg 374] in parts or the whole of the bodies of different persons, giving rise to a corresponding diversity in the vital properties; and difference of size and vigor in certain ruling organs of the system. The existence and influence of the former of these causes are in the highest degree probable; those of the latter certain. The one is susceptible of strong support, the other of proof that may be termed positive. By ‘organization’ is here meant, the minute interior or radical structure of the tissues which compose the human body. That diversity in this creates a diversity in the vital properties, and that again a diversity in character, cannot I think be doubted. Whether the difference of organization here referred to, consists in different proportions of the element of living matter that form the tissues, united in the same way, or in their different modes of arrangement and union, or both, or whether it may not arise in part from different proportions of the simpler tissues entering into the formation of the more compound organs, is not known. Minute anatomy has not yet attained a degree of perfection competent to settle a point of such subtility.”

Dr. C. afterward goes on to prove that no single nerve, or organ, can perform two distinct functions, but that each is capable of one mode of action, and no more; that between a nerve, a muscle, and a gland, the only difference known to exist, is that of organization; and that if they are organized alike, and endowed with life, their properties will be similar, and they will act in the same way. So also between animals of the same race, we discover innumerable differences, which can be referred to nothing but differences in organization, and the same may be affirmed of vegetables. The conclusion to which Dr. C. arrives, and which he maintains with great ingenuity is, that independently of all other causes, differences in human temperament are to be attributed, in part, to corresponding differences in the organization of certain portions, or the whole of the body; and that, other things being equal, in consequence of this source of influence alone, one person differs from another in many of the qualities of both person and intellect. In other words, he is more highly gifted, sprightly, and vigorous, or the reverse; or he is more courageous or timid, generous or selfish, according to his organization.

“But the second cause that was represented to be instrumental in diversifying the human temperaments is by far the most powerful. It will be remembered to have been, ‘difference of size and vigor in certain ruling organs of the system.’ The organs alluded to are those contained in the three great cavities of the body; the[Pg 375] chylopoetic, situated in the abdomen, and including the stomach and intestines, with the liver, pancreas, mesentery, and lacteals; those of sanguification and circulation, situated in the thorax, and consisting of the lungs, heart, and bloodvessels; and the brain, with its appendages, the spinal cord and nerves. These three groups (for the brain is multiplex as well as the other two) are not only the ruling organs in the person of man; connected with the hard and soft parts that enclose them, they constitute the person. The upper and lower extremities are but appendages; important and necessary, it must be acknowledged; but still appendages. The individual can exist and be a human being without them. Nor have they any influence in imparting constitutional character to their possessors. Standing only in the capacity of subordinates to the controlling organs, they are not only nourished and put in motion by them; they labor mechanically for their uses, and serve as instruments to execute their purposes. They are composed of the extreme ends of the organized matter of the system, constitute only its outworks, and possess but little influence over its central parts. This representation rests on evidence that may be termed demonstrative. Many persons destitute of the upper or lower extremities, or both, have strong characters and well-marked temperaments. But the extremities, if deprived of the influence of any one group of the ruling organs, are converted not only into useless but lifeless masses. Of the skin, muscles, and bones, which compose the head, neck, and trunk of the body, the same is true. Of themselves they possess no character, and can therefore bestow none. They also are but appendages to the organs they cover, affording them a secure lodgment and protection from external injuries, and aiding them in the performance of some of their functions. And from this alone is their importance derived. Were it possible for them to exist apart from the viscera they contain, their grade of being would be below that of many vegetables. Most fatal diseases, moreover, have their original seat in the viscera of one of the three great cavities of the body, and no disease originating elsewhere can become fatal, until, by sympathy or metastasis, some of those parts are deeply affected. To enlightened physiologists this statement presents but a series of familiar truths. To the groups of organs exclusively, then, I repeat, contained in the abdomen, the thorax, and the cranium, must we look as the main source of human character. And that character is different according to the predominance, in different individuals, of one group or another, or of any two of them. An[Pg 376] equilibrium between the three groups constitutes another variety, by bestowing on character a corresponding equilibrium. Let the word temperament be substituted for ‘character,’ and what is true of the latter will be so of the former. As already mentioned, the organs referred to will be its source; and the differences in their predominance will give diversity to it.”

Dr. C. then shows that the strength and perfection of each of the senses are proportioned to the size of the nerve on which that sense depends. This is illustrated by a powerful array of facts, drawn from different orders of the animal kingdom, as well as from the different varieties of mankind. It is also stated, that where any nerve or set of nerves, is peculiarly large, the portion of the brain to which they belong, and by which they are influenced and commanded, is correspondingly large.

“Inasmuch, then, as, other things being equal, size gives power to everything else, we are not only justified in believing, on grounds of analogy we are compelled to believe, that the same is true of the organs contained in the cranium, the thorax, and the abdomen. When they are in a sound and natural condition, their size is also the measure of their power. Were not this the case, they would be either altogether abnormal, or subject to laws that govern no other kind of matter, whether organic or inorganic, of which we have any knowledge. But the position I am contending for is not to be regarded as a mere inference in a process of reasoning. It will appear hereafter that it is a positive fact, which observation has discovered, and continues to confirm.

I have alleged that the size of the three groups of ruling organs may be ascertained by that of the cases in which they are contained. Nor do I perceive on what ground any one, who is even moderately acquainted with the structure of the human body, can controvert the belief, or cherish the slightest doubt on the subject of it. In healthy persons (and my remarks relate only to such) the size of the brain is necessarily known by that of the head. As the viscus completely fills the cranium, the case cannot be otherwise. Although the bones of the head and the soft parts that cover them are thicker in some individuals than in others, the difference is so small as not materially to affect the result. The chest is filled by the lungs, heart, and large bloodvessels. Its measure, therefore, cannot fail to be the measure of them. Any deviation from exactness in this, that may be produced by varieties in the thickness of the skin, muscles, and other parts, is of no moment. Of the chylopoetic viscera the same is true. They also fill exactly the cavity[Pg 377] prepared for them. The size of the abdomen, therefore, affords a knowledge of their size sufficiently accurate for all practical purposes. By a mere inspection of the person of man, then, the absolute measure of the groups of organs I am considering, as well as their magnitude in relation to each other, can be fairly ascertained. And it will appear on examination, as already stated, that the predominance in size and energy of any one or two of them, always imparts a corresponding diversity to the human character. Does the brain predominate? The individual to whom it belongs is more remarkable for the vigor of his intellect or feeling, or both, than for any other constitutional quality. These modes of mental manifestation constitute the natural functions of the brain; and when of an order unusually high, they give a peculiarity of character to the whole system. The person thus endowed feels more keenly, thinks more strongly, is more eager in pursuit of knowledge, and attains it with more facility. His relish for pleasure is also inordinately keen, and he pursues it at times with burning ardor. Such was the constitutional character of Mr. Fox, and also of our distinguished countryman the late Mr. Bayard. I need scarcely add, that this predominance of sensibility and mental action must necessarily modify the diseases the individual may sustain. But of this I shall speak hereafter. Do the lungs, heart, and bloodvessels predominate? A larger volume of highly arterialized blood is formed, and thrown more forcibly and in greater quantities throughout the system. From the abundance of that fluid, and the superior size of the vessels conveying it, those parts of the body nourished by the red blood will be comparatively most copiously supplied. But it is more especially the muscles that are thus nourished. They will be therefore large and powerful. Hence persons with broad and full chests have well-developed and vigorous muscles. In proportion to their size their animal strength is necessarily great. Nor can such constitutional peculiarities fail to be productive of peculiarities in disease? Do the chylopoetic viscera predominate? The amount of chyle formed is very large in proportion to the quantity of food eaten. But the lungs, heart, and bloodvessels being comparatively small, neither is sanguification abundant and perfect nor circulation vigorous. The blood is not either highly arterialized or animalized. Its amount of red globules is small, and it circulates feebly through vessels of a limited size. The consequence is, that the muscles receive less red blood, and are less fully nourished; the system at large is not so highly endued with life, and the soft parts generally have a lower tone. The[Pg 378] individual thus marked is less robust and vigorous than one whose system is supplied abundantly with highly arterialized blood, and less intellectual and sprightly than those whose brain predominates. It is almost needless to say, that, under such circumstances, disease must be modified in conformity to the constitution.

“From the preceding views it clearly appears, that the comparative standing of individual man, as relates to his race, is graduated by the predominance of his leading organs. Do his abdominal viscera preponderate? He has much of the animal in him, and his grade is low. Are his thoracic viscera most highly developed? His qualities are of a superior order; but he still partakes too much of the animal. Does his cerebral system predominate; and is it well developed in all its parts? He rises above the sphere of animal nature, and stands high in that of humanity. He is formed for an intellectual and moral being, with no more of animality in his constitution, than is necessary to give him practical energy of character.

“This subject may be farther illustrated by a reference to some of the animals below us. The worm commonly denominated a grub is but little else than a mass of abdominal matter. It is therefore one of the humblest and grossest of worms. The insect has also a large abdomen, with a very small chest, and a smaller head. Hence, though superior to the grub, it is low in the scale of animal nature. Reptiles and fish are more elevated, because their abdominal viscera preponderate less. But still they do preponderate; and therefore the rank of the animals is humble. In the hog the abdominal viscera are most strongly developed, and hence his standing among quadrupeds is low. The same is true of the bear and the ox, and also of the sheep and the goat, but in an inferior degree. The horse, especially the barb and the racehorse, furnish no bad specimens of the mixed or balanced temperament. When the latter is undergoing preparation for the course, the object of his keeper is to make the thoracic temperament preponderate as much as possible, for the time, in order to increase his vigor and endurance; in the language of the turf, to give him more strength and ‘better bottom.’ The warhorse approaches the thoracic temperament. In the canine race, more especially in the greyhound, the thoracic viscera hold the ascendency. Hence the muscular power of the dog is greater, and his grade among quadrupeds higher than those of most of the preceding animals. The same is true of the wolf, the panther, and the tiger. In some dogs there is a considerable cerebral development, but it is never large enough[Pg 379] to counterbalance the thoracic. Of all animals, the lion affords the most finished specimen of thoracic preponderance. In proportion to his size, his lungs and heart, especially the latter, are immensely large. And his muscular power corresponds to them. The magnitude of his heart is generally considered the cause of his boldness. Hence a very courageous man is said to have a great heart, or to be lion-hearted. All this is popular error. The heart is but a muscle; and, in man, has no more connexion with courage than the gastrocnemii muscles; nor, in the lion, than the muscles that move his tail. Courage is exclusively a cerebral attribute, and has its seat in an organ specifically appropriated to it. In none of the inferior animals does the brain preponderate. That preponderance belongs to humanity, and, as already mentioned, indicates its highest grade. Of all the beings below us, some of the ape tribe have the highest cerebral development. And they approach nearest to man in their degree of intellect. This is farther proof that, other things being alike, the brain gives the measure of mental power. I have lately seen a publication, in which it is gravely asserted, that the large orang-outang catches crabs with a stick, and makes a rude basket of osiers to contain them. Notwithstanding the well-known sagacity of that animal, this statement savors strongly of the ‘tale of a traveller.’”

“Considered in relation to these principles, temperament may be divided into seven varieties. 1, the mixed or balanced, in which the ruling organs are in fair proportion to each other; 2, the encephalic; 3, the thoracic; 4, the abdominal; 5, the encephalo-thoracic; 6, the encephalo-abdominal; and 7, the thoracico-abdominal.”

“1. The mixed or balanced variety. In this the name explains the temperament. The external marks of it are plain. They consist in a well-adjusted proportion between the sizes of the head, thorax, and abdomen. If the limbs are in harmony, the symmetry of the entire person is complete. Although individuals, in whom this temperament prevails, are usually above the middle height, and well-formed, they are not necessarily so. They may be of any stature, and any shape, straight or crooked, provided the three great cavities and their contents be accurately balanced. This is not the temperament of either early life or old age. It commences with manhood, and continues until the fortieth or forty-fifth year, and then passes into somewhat of the abdominal. The Apollo Belvidere, by Phidias, is an exquisite specimen of it. But some modern artists have violated it, in painting that statue, by making the chest and the head loo large. Although the manifestation of[Pg 380] strength, majesty, and intellect, is heightened by this, the beauty of the youthful god is marred. The figure, though more imposing, has lost its charm.”

“2. The encephalic. In this variety the head is relatively large, but is not always equally developed in every part, a circumstance which varies greatly, as will presently appear, the characters of those who possess the temperament. The development of the thorax and abdomen is moderate, the person lean, and the countenance expressive of intense feeling and deep passion. In some individuals, however, the countenance beams with intelligence, without much passion, while, in others, manifestations of powerful intellect and passion are united. The thoracic and abdominal activity is never high; yet in many instances the personal hardihood and endurance are invincible. It is men of this temperament alone that can immortalize themselves by great achievements, good or bad. All history and observation testify to this. Is the development very large in the moral and intellectual regions of the brain, and so moderate in the animal as to be held fully in check? The individual will distinguish himself by a dignified purity of deportment, and by the performance of great and good deeds.”

“Are the animal and mere knowing compartments largely developed, and the moral and reflecting very slightly? As relates to vice and profligacy in their foulest shapes, this is the worst of all temperaments. Nothing more prone to depravity can be imagined. The person possessed of it delights in some sort of animality alone; and if he ever engages in anything higher or purer, it is for a sinister purpose, that he may return to his chosen indulgences in more security, or on a broader scale.”

“Is the development very large, and equally so in all the departments of the brain, animal, moral, and intellectual, giving to the head unusual size? The individual possessing it has a lofty and powerful character, is capable of attaining the highest renown, and making an impression, not to be erased, on the age and country in which he lives. His career may be occasionally stained by irregularities and checkered with clouds, but will be brilliant in the main. His designs are vast, because he feels his power, the instruments with which he works are men, and he wields them in masses. The term little has no place in his vocabulary, nor its prototype in his thoughts. His aim is greatness of some kind—high achievement or deep catastrophe.”

“3. The thoracic. Under this variety the head is small, usually round, and covered with thick curling hair, the abdomen of limited[Pg 381] dimensions, the chest spacious and powerful, and the muscles swelling and firm. Whether fair and ruddy or otherwise, the complexion is strong. Respiration is full and deep, and the action of the heart regular and vigorous; and the pulse has great volume. Like the result, in every other kind of inordinate vital action, the animal temperature is high. This temperament, in which neither feeling nor intellect prevails, begins to show itself about puberty, and continues until the decline of life, when it undergoes a change. The Farnesian Hercules is the beau ideal of it. This shows that it was known to the ancient Greeks, who were probably indebted for their acquaintance with it to observations made on the persons of their wrestlers. In modern times it is strongly developed in boxers and porters, and sufficiently so in bakers, wood-choppers, operative agriculturists, and others who have been habituated to labor from their boyhood. I have observed no little of it among the London boatmen, the occupation of whose life is to ply the oar, a mode of exercise well calculated to develop the chest, together with the muscles of the upper extremities. I have seen good specimens of it also in the African race.”

“4. The abdominal. This temperament is easily recognised by the character it imparts to the person and intellect. The pelvis is broad in proportion to the shoulders and thorax, the abdomen large and prominent, and the adipose matter abundant, filling up the interstices of the muscles, and often forming a layer between them and the skin, in consequence of which the limbs are round and smooth and soft to the touch. In such constitutions, ecchymosis succeeds with unusual readiness, to slight contusions. Circulation in the skin being feeble, the complexion may be fair and delicate, but never very ruddy or strong. The size of the head is limited, the intellectual moderate, the eye deficient in lustre and the countenance in expression, and the movements heavy and seldom graceful. The abdominal viscera seem to draw everything into the vortex of their action. The amount of vitality is evidently below its common measure in the human system, and, in some instances, the flesh seems to hang as a load on the spirit.”

“5. The encephalo-thoracic. This temperament is a type of power both bodily and mental. Its compound name expresses fully the external appearances that mark it, as well as the attributes that always accompany them. With an abdomen of moderate dimensions, the head of the individual who possesses it is large and vigorous to conceive and direct, and his chest and muscles powerful to execute, and hardy to endure. It is the temperament[Pg 382] of masculine and comprehensive thought and strong propensity, united to energetic action, rather than of seclusion and profound meditation. As in all other cases, the character is varied in it according to the portion of the brain that is most largely developed. He to whom it belongs feels himself in his proper sphere when he is among men, and is well fitted to act his part in times of tumult and scenes of difficulty. Is his brain large in each of its compartments? If an occasion present itself, he not only mingles in the moral storm, but aspires to direct it. In case of his becoming a warrior, his genius and sword are alike formidable. In battle, previously to the invention of fire-arms, such a man was the terror of his enemies and the hope of his friends. Ulysses, as sketched by Homer, is as fairly the beau ideal of this temperament, as Hercules is of the thoracic. That chieftain was alike wise to counsel, intrepid to dare, and powerful to perform. Plato, so called from the uncommon breadth of his chest, who had also a very large head, is another excellent model of the same. Even in times of peace the corporeal attributes of a man of this description add to his influence. Jupiter, the emblem of wisdom and power, as represented by the ancient statuaries, with an immense head and trunk, and arms of matchless strength, is as finished a specimen of the encephalo-thoracic temperament, as Apollo is of the mixed.”

“6. The encephalo-abdominal. Here again the name bespeaks sufficiently the development, form, and character of those who possess the temperament. The head and abdomen are comparatively large, the thorax small, and the shoulders narrow. Hence the sensibility is keen, and the intellect, if not powerful, active and respectable. For the reasons given, when the abdominal temperament was considered, the limbs and person, under the present one, are round and smooth, and the flesh is soft; but, owing to the influence of a well-developed brain, and nerves that correspond to it, the movements are sprightly and the air graceful. Though rarely powerful, the character is attractive. This is the temperament of childhood and woman, much more than of adult life and man. Fine genius, but elegant and playful, rather than strong and brilliant, is often connected with it. It is females, in whom the encephalic development is larger than usual, that possess minds truly masculine.”

“7. The thoracico-abdominal. In this temperament the head is comparatively small, and the thorax and abdomen large, with a corresponding size of the muscles and bones, and much adipose substance. It is the temperament of mere animal strength and[Pg 383] patient endurance, without any of the elevated, sprightly, or attractive qualities of human nature. It forms good laborers and fatigue-men, but is entirely unfit for those whose province is to meditate, plan, and direct. It comports well enough with the character of soldiers of a certain description, but is altogether out of harmony with that of an officer. It is, I think, more favorable to health than any of the other temperaments, except perhaps the mixed. If those who possess it have weak intellects, their passions are usually moderate, and rarely hurry them into pernicious excesses. The tenor of their lives is but little interrupted by either irregularity or disease. Hence they retain their vigor uncommonly well, and are often day-laborers and industrious husbandmen at an advanced age. True, their appetite for food is strong; but they are not prone to an excessive indulgence of it; I mean at a single meal. Like those possessed of the abdominal temperament, they eat often rather than superabundantly at once. Besides, such is the strength of their chylopoetic viscera, that they subdue and digest without sustaining any injury, as much food as would produce disease in those of different constitutions. Nor are they so much endangered by vascular fulness as persons of the simple abdominal temperament. The reason of this is plain. Their bloodvessels are larger, and their excretions more copious, especially those by the skin and the organ of respiration. From the warmth of their constitutions, owing to an abundance of well-arterialized blood, and a concomitant vigorous circulation, they perspire freely, and secrete and exhale copiously from the lungs. This temperament is rarely found among women, and is not very common among men.”

Dr. C. maintains that at certain periods of life, one temperament passes into another, as the result of the natural changes which take place, in the progress of the growth and decay of the human body; and that every one, who attains longevity, partakes, in the progress of growth and decline, of five temperaments; the purely abdominal, which prevails before birth; the encephalo-abdominal, which exists at birth, and for some years afterward; the encephalo-thoracic; the mixed; and the abdominal of real senility. Thus passes the circle of life, beginning with the abdominal temperament of the foetal state, and terminating in that of extreme old age.

That there is an intimate connexion between temperament and personal beauty, will be manifest from the above view of the subject. Our limits, however, forbid an application of Dr. Caldwell’s views in illustration of Mr. Walker’s theory; these, however,[Pg 384] have been given so much in detail, that the reader will be able to make the application for himself.



There is hardly any habit relating to female dress more destructive of grace and beauty, at least of deportment, than that of compressing the foot in a shoe of one half the proper size. It would seem that our ladies were trying to ape the fashion of the Chinese, in this respect, and though they do not at present carry it to the same extent, yet they carry it sufficiently far to destroy their comfort. We look in vain for the sprightly, light, and elastic step, where the feet are bound tight, and cramped up in disproportionately tight shoes; and it would be strange in such a case, if we did not find an unhappy and distressed expression of countenance—the muscles of the face sympathizing with the distorted and painful feet. Such a custom, also, interferes materially with taking that measure of exercise which is necessary to health. Mrs. Walker, in her work on Female Beauty, remarks as follows: “Ladies are very apt to torture their feet to make them appear small. This is exceedingly ridiculous: a very small foot is a deformity. True beauty of each part consists in the proportion it bears to the rest of the body. A tight or ill-made shoe, not only destroys the shape of the foot, it produces corns and bunions; and it tends to impede the circulation of the blood. Besides, the foot then swells, and appears larger than it is, and the ankles become thick and clumsy.”

The pernicious effect of tight or ill-made shoes, is evident also in the stiff and tottering gait of these victims of a foolish prejudice; they can neither stand upright, walk straight, nor enter a room properly.

To be too short, is one of the greatest defects a shoe can have; because it takes away all chance of yielding in that direction, and without offering any compensation for tightness in others, and in itself, it not only causes pain, and spoils the shape of the foot, by turning down the toes, and swelling of the instep, but is the cause of bad gait and carriage. Many diseases arise solely from the use of shoes of very thin materials in wet weather; but no female who has the slightest regard for her health, or indeed for the preservation of her beauty, will object to wear shoes thicker than are usually worn, if the pavement is at any time wet or damp.

 [Pg 385]


The effect of alcoholic drinks upon beauty, has not been over-estimated by Mr. Walker, though he is doubtless mistaken in supposing that none but those who reside amid the artificial customs of city life, experience the deleterious influence of such beverages. Not only alcoholic stimulants, but tea and coffee, and especially opium, which has of late come into very extensive use as a substitute for the former, tend to produce an unhealthy action of the skin, from their influence upon the secerent system, causing blotches, pimples, and discolorations, in a greater or less degree. Where used moderately, they produce either an unnatural paleness, deadness, or duskiness of complexion, or a bloated appearance, far removed from the fresh roseate hue of health. Such is the effect of wine, cordials, and malt liquors, which are extensively employed by ladies, particularly in cities, during the period of nursing, under a mistaken impression that they cause a greater flow of milk, and tend to invigorate the system. Whoever desires to attain health, strength, and beauty, should not seek them through the agency of bitters, tonics, and cordials, or distilled, or fermented liquors, which only inflame the blood, but from free exercise in the open air, regular occupations, tranquillity of mind, a mild diet, and a proper allotment of time for sleep.

It has been remarked that the lower classes of females in cities, consume as much, and probably more intoxicating drinks, than men of the same class, and this is no doubt true. But to the honor of our countrywomen, a great change has been brought about within last few years, with respect to the use of alcoholic liquors, not only in this, but in other countries, with a corresponding improvement in health, happiness, and beauty. In advancing this blessed reform, the ladies have borne a conspicuous part—as they have in every other philanthropic work—and their combined influence is only needed, to banish such drinks entirely from civilized society.


In order to determine the cerebral mass, and, consequently, the intellectual faculties, Camper draws a base line from the roots[Pg 386] of the upper incisors, to the external auditory passage; then another straight line, from the upper incisors to the most elevated point of the forehead: according to him, the intellectual faculties of the man or animal, are in direct proportion to the magnitude of the angle, made by those two lines. Lavater, with this idea for a basis, constructed a scale of perfection from the frog to the Apollo Belvidere. As nature really furnishes many proofs in support of this opinion, it has been generally received, even by anatomists and physiologists; and, notwithstanding the arguments by which it is victoriously opposed, the learned cannot resolve to abandon it. Cuvier himself furnishes a list of men and animals, in support of this doctrine; few naturalists oppose it, but almost all give it their support.[61]

Camper’s attempt necessarily failed; for his manner of drawing the lines and measuring the facial angle, enabled him to take into consideration the anterior parts only of the brain situated near the forehead: he entirely neglects the posterior, lateral, and inferior cerebral parts. This method, then, at most, could decide upon those faculties only, whose organs are placed near the forehead.

Cuvier estimates the facial angle of the new-born infant at ninety degrees; that of the adult, at eighty-five; that of decrepit old age, at fifty.

From this statement it appears, that, at different ages, changes take place in the form, either of the brain or the cranium; hereafter I shall prove that such changes really occur.

The forehead of the newborn infant is flattened; on the contrary, that of a child some months old, and until the age of eight or ten years, especially in the case of boys possessed of superior talents, it is projecting, and forms, notwithstanding the approximation to the age of puberty, a larger facial angle than in the adult; this angle, therefore, does not diminish in the inverse ratio of the age. In like manner we find decrepit old men, whose facial angle is as great as it was in the vigor of manhood; for, although in decrepitude the brain is subject to atrophy, there are old men, the exterior contour of whose crania undergoes no change. The angle, as stated by Cuvier, for different ages, were measured upon different individuals; if it were estimated upon the same persons at different epochs of his life, the result would be entirely different.

In general, the proportion between the forehead and the face, is[Pg 387] different in different individuals. No conclusion can be drawn from the proportions, which exist in one person, relative to those of another; among a hundred individuals of the same sex and age, no two can be found, in whom the same proportion exists between the forehead and the face; it necessarily follows, then, that no two will have the same facial angle. Physiologists seem to admit, that the proportion between the brain and the bones of the face, is different in different species of animals: but they appear to think that, in all the individuals of the same species, all the young, all the adults, all the old, there exists a constant proportion between the cerebral mass and the face.

The researches of Blumenbach show that threefourths of the animals known, have nearly the same facial angle; and yet what a disparity between their instincts and faculties! What information, then, do we derive from Camper’s facial angle?

Moreover, as Cuvier himself observes, the cerebral mass is by no means placed in all animals, immediately behind or beneath what is called the forehead. In a great many species of animals, on the contrary, the external table of the frontal is at a considerable distance from the internal, and this distance increases with the age of the animal. The brain of the swine is placed an inch lower than the frontal bones seem to indicate; that of the ox, in some parts three inches; that of the elephant, from six to thirteen. In other animals, the measurement is generally commenced at the frontal sinus instead of the cerebrum. From these considerations, Cuvier was induced to draw a tangent to the internal instead of the external surface of the cranium. The cerebrum of the wolf and many species of dogs, especially when the individuals are very old, is placed directly behind the frontal sinuses. In the wolf, especially the large and most ferocious variety, it is depressed as in the hyena; in the dog it is situated higher or lower, according to the species; but, notwithstanding this difference in the situation of the brain, the facial angle, as it is commonly measured, must be the same; from this the inference would be, that the dog, the wolf, and the hyena, have the same qualities, and each in the same degree. In the greater part of the rodentia, the morse, &c., the brain is so depressed and so placed behind the frontal sinuses, that the facial line cannot be drawn. The facial line of the cetacea, on account of the singular conformation of the head, would lead to results absolutely false.

I know many negroes, who, with very prominent jaws, are quite distinguished for their intellectual faculties; yet the projection of[Pg 388] the jaws renders the facial angle much more acute, than it would be with the usual conformation of Europeans. In order that the same angle should exist in a European, the forehead must be flattened and retreating. But the foreheads of the negroes in question, on the contrary, are very projecting. Who, under these circumstances, would expect to find the same amount of intellect corresponding to the same facial angle?

The facial line cannot be applied to birds, as many naturalists have already observed.

From what has been said, we should expect that naturalists would at length renounce the facial angle of Camper; but the most ignorant are generally the most conceited.

In spite of this complete refutation of Camper’s facial line, Delpit extols it in the following terms:—

“If ever a relation of this kind presented characters of generality and fixedness, adequate to excite a reasonable confidence in matters belonging to the domain of empiricism, rather than that of science, it is the relation or proportion of magnitude, which Camper first perceived and revealed, by comparing the brain of man with that of the different species of animals. We here see a successive decrease of intelligence, proportionate to the acuteness of the facial angle and the consequent diminution of the cerebral cavity. This affords a constant and fixed relation. It can be appreciated with a sufficient degree of exactness by the direct light of comparative anatomy, and by observation of the habits and intelligence of the different classes of animals; it can also be verified by the comparison of men very unequally endowed with intellectual faculties, in whom the contraction of the cerebral cavity and the magnitude of the facial angle exhibit the most remarkable diversities. Here the physiognomical sign has, if I may be allowed the expression, a wide extent of acceptation; it rests upon a broad basis, upon a definite division, and one of easy comprehension and verification; for, if there is some discrepancy of opinion, in regard to the number and nomenclature of the faculties of the mind, the sentiments of the soul, the modifications or shades of character which give birth to particular passions, moral dispositions, habits, whether virtuous or vicious; if these classifications are, in a great measure, arbitrary, and the language used somewhat vague; if, in short, the greater part of these nominal faculties are mere abstractions of the mind, purely imaginary existences, and therefore cannot be actually located in any part of the brain; the case is quite different, when we merely seek to establish a general relation [Pg 389]between a constant sign manifested in the organization, and the degree of reason, mind, or intellect, attributed to different men, or the degrees of sagacity attributed to different species of animals. Here, no one is at a loss, because there is ample latitude for comparing and judging; in the system of Gall, on the contrary, the comparisons rest upon minute points, which are subject to discussion, exceptions, a thousand uncertainties in the signs and various applications.”[62]

If the reader will review what I have said against Camper’s facial line, he will find a refutation of all this reasoning of Delpit; a proof that he defends it merely because it is in vogue. It is this very generality and fixedness, which render it, in almost all cases, inapplicable; this is the inherent defect in the supposed importance of Camper’s facial angle. It is implicitly supposed, that no difference but that of degree, exists between the capacities of the different species and individuals of the human race, and the different species and individuals of the animal kingdom. Thus the intelligence of men and other animals would always be proportioned to the magnitude of the facial angle. This being premised, I ask, which, out of two, three, four, &c., has the most intelligence, the dog, ape, beaver, the ant, or the bee? Ants and bees live in an admirable republic, and form astonishing constructions, which they know how to modify according to circumstances. The beaver and penduline build with equally marvellous skill, and with a foresight which seldom errs; the dog and the ape have very little foresight, and are incapable of the most insignificant construction. Which has the greater intelligence, Voltaire or Descartes? Could the former have been a mathematician and the latter a poet? Which has the higher degree of intellect, Mozart or Lessing, who, with all his genius, detested music? In short, which has the most intelligence, my dog who retraces his steps through the most complicated routes, or myself, who am always going astray? Measure now the facial angle of the ant, bee, beaver, penduline, ape, my dog, and of myself, and estimate the result. Acknowledge, then, that your division, so definite, so easy to be apprehended, is absolutely useless, and that you are obliged to advert to divers instincts, propensities, faculties, and their different degrees of energy, to which your facial angle is wholly inapplicable. Your intelligence, instinct, address, are in[Pg 390] reality mere abstractions, imaginary existences. Do you consider the propensity to procreation, the love of offspring, the carnivorous instinct, the talent for music, poetry, &c., as imaginary existences? You see, then, that it is more convenient to tread the beaten path, than to verify observations.—Gall on the Functions of the Brain, page 195.




[1] Utopia, Book II., chap. viii.

[2] I do not wish to be forced into any discussion of this last point. But, if necessary, I shall not decline it.

[3] We fear that Mr. Walker’s analogical reasoning here is not very conclusive. To reason from a living to a dead subject may be very logical but it is not altogether satisfactory.

[4] “The Magazine of The Fine Arts,” No. VI, for October 1833.

[5] I am not here called upon to vindicate the errors and absurdities which poets and others introduced into mythology.

[6] Appendix A.

[7] George IV., though the “first gentleman” in England, was guilty of cheating at a horserace.—Ed.

[8] The above remark is true of the same class of females in this country.—Ed.

[9] Appendix B.

[10] Appendix C.

[11] To the reader unaccustomed to inquiries of this kind, it may save trouble to peruse first the brief Summary of the contents of this important chapter, beginning in page 120.

[12] Regularity expresses the similarity of parts considered as constituting a whole; and uniformity, the similarity of parts considered separately.

[13] Appendix D

[14] The common character of these arts has been overlooked.

[15] Proportion is here employed, not as expressing an intrinsic relation, as in the beauty of inanimate beings, but as expressing an extrinsic relation to fitness for ends.

[16] “The Nervous System, Anatomical and Physiological: in which the Functions of the various Parts of the Brain are, for the first time, assigned.”

[17] Communicated by the writer to the “Magazine of the Fine Arts,” No. 11, for June, 1833.

[18] “Human Nature,” chap, ix., sec. 13.

[19] “Reflexions Critiques sur la Poesie et sur la Peinture.”

[20] “Reflexions sur la Poetique.”

[21] “Adventurer,” No. 110.

[22] Essay on Tragedy.

[23] To some it may appear, that the organs and functions of digestion, respiration, and generation, are not involved by this arrangement; but such a notion can originate only in superficial observation.

Digestion is a compound function easily reducible to some of the simple ones which have been enumerated. It consists of the motion of the stomach and contiguous parts, of the secretion of a liquid from its internal surface, and of that heat, which is the common result of all action, whether mechanical, vital, or mental, and which is better explained by such motion, than by chymical theories. Similarly compound are respiration and generation.

Thus, there is no organ nor function which is not involved by the simple and natural arrangement here sketched.

Compound, however, as the organs of digestion, respiration, and generation, are, yet, as they form so important a part of the system, it may be asked, with which of these classes they are most allied. The answer is obvious. All of them consist of tubular vessels of various diameter; and all of them transmit and transmute liquids. Possessing such strong characteristics of the nutritive or vital system, they are evidently most allied to it.

In short, digestion prepares the nutritive or vital matter, which is taken up by absorption—the first of the simple nutritive functions; respiration renovates it in the very middle of its course—between the two portions of the simple function of circulation; and generation, dependant on secretion—the last of these functions, communicates this nutritive matter, or propagates vitality to a new series of beings. In such arrangement, the digestive organs, therefore, precede, and the generative follow, the simple nutritive organs; while the respiratory occupy a middle place between the venous and the arterial circulation.

Nothing can be more improper, as the preceding observations show, than considering any one of these as a distinct class.

More fully, therefore, to enumerate the nutritive or vital organs, we may say, that, under them, are classed, first, the organs of digestion, the external and internal absorbent surfaces, and the vessels which absorb from these surfaces, or the organs of absorption; second, the heart, lungs, and bloodvessels, which derive their contents (the blood) from the absorbed lymph, or the organs of circulation; and third, the secreting cavities, glands, &c., which separate various matters from the blood, or the organs of secretion, and of which generation is the sequel.

[24] Appendix E.

[25] In perfect consistency with the assertion, that, though the organs of digestion, respiration, and generation, were really compound, still they were chiefly nutritive or vital, and properly belonged to that class, it is not less remarkable, that, in this division of the body, they are found to occupy that part, the trunk, in which the chief simple nutritive organs are contained. This also shows the impropriety of reckoning any of these a separate system from the vital.

[26] The bones resemble these, in containing the greatest quantity of earthy mineral matter.

[27] It is the possession of vessels which constitutes the vitality of vegetables.

[28] In animals, alone, is nervous matter discoverable.

[29] Plants have no real circulation, nor passage of their nutritive liquids through the same point.

[30] This arrangement of anatomy and physiology was first published by me in 1806; and, notwithstanding its being the arrangement of nature, it has not been adopted by any one that I know of, until very lately, when it was in some measure used by Dr. Roget, without acknowledgment.

The originality, as well as the truth and value, of this arrangement, will be illustrated by referring to any other published previous to 1806, or even to 1808, when I republished it in “Preliminary Lectures,” Edinburgh.

[31] The cause of this has never been explained; and it could not well be explained, without a perception of the views in my preceding physiological arrangement.—The brain, at this period, becomes more subservient to purposes connected with generation; the communication between the trunk and the head is more frequent, intense, and sustained; and the neck, which contains the communicating organs, necessarily increases in size. This unexplained circumstance led to the mistake of the craniologists respecting the cerebel. Here, therefore, as in other cases pointed out in my work on Physiognomy, Gall and Spurzheim ascribe to deeper-seated organs what belongs to more superficial ones.

[32] Appendix F.

[33] Appendix G.

[34] Memoire sur le Beau Physique.

[35] A curious but true remark is made by Moreau, namely, that if these conditions are met with without being united to a certain expression, and to the most complete combination of the elements of beauty of countenance, they frequently give an air of insensibility and of mental weakness, which greatly enfeebles the impression that a first view had caused.

[36] Statistical results in relation to the supply of hospitals and prisons, carry the expense of a man much beyond that of a woman.

[37] Appendix H.

[38] Appendix I.

[39] See the causes of this explained in my work on “Physiognomy.”

[40] Pallas—Voyages en Siberie.

[41] Humboldt’s Political Essay on the Kingdom of New Spain.

[42] It is remarkable that, in infants, the nose is almost always flat, and that, in some members of the same family, it always remains so, while, in others, it rises. This is attended by difference of function.

[43] “Physiognomy founded on Physiology, and applied to various Countries, Professions, and Individuals: with an Appendix on the Bones at Hythe—the Sculls of the ancient Inhabitants of Britain, and its Invaders: illustrated by Engravings.”—Smith, Elder, & Co., Cornhill.

[44] Of the best works on this subject, those of Mengs alone, I believe, have been translated; but the translation is so inaccurate as to be worthless.

[45] Thus it is not correct, as stated by Leonardo, that when some parts are broad or thick, all are broad; though, in peculiar combinations, that may occur.

[46] Lib. II. in Timæum Platonis.

[47] This member of the Royal Academy was suspected of having written that “republics had done more for the advancement of the fine arts than monarchies.” The late George III., who did not approve of truths of that kind, was thereby so much enraged, that he instantly sent for the list of the members of the academy, and therefrom erased the name of Barry. The academicians humbly submitted to the indignity which hereditary wisdom thus inflicted. It would appear, however, that bad principles are spreading among the Royal academicians; for the works of this expelled member are now daringly given by them as a prize to students at the academy!

[48] This rule is well explained, and variously illustrated by Donald Walker, in his work, equally philosophical, instructive, and amusing, entitled “Exercises for Ladies,” a knowledge of which, and the practice of its principles, would render beauty, and especially beauty of the shoulders and arms, far more common in every family.

[49] It was at the extremity of the modern Cape Crio, anciently Triopium, a promontory of Doris, a province of Caria, that was built the celebrated city of Cnidos. Here Venus was worshipped: here was seen this statue of that goddess, the most beautiful of the works of Praxiteles. A temple, far from spacious, and open on all sides, contained it, without concealing it from view; and, in whatever point of view it was examined, it excited equal admiration. No drapery veiled its charms; and so uncommon was its beauty, that it inflamed with a violent passion another Pygmalion.

[50] The phrenologists have told us that the head of this Venus is too small. They might as well have said, that the head of the Minerva, or of the Jupiter, is too large, or a hundred other ignorant inapplicabilities, and ridiculous pedantries. But to set aside ideal forms, I may observe, that sex makes a vast difference in the head, and a woman with a small head often produces a son with a large one.

[51] This is beautiful, but is evidently borrowed from the great philosophical poet’s

“Te, Dea, te fugiunt ventei, te nubila coeli,
Adventumque tuum.”

[52] That, in plants, these odors are even necessary to their reproduction, is proved by their uniform existence at that period. And if being affected by odors implies a sense of smell, or some modification of it, then must plants possess it.

[53] In all grossly sensual nations and individuals, the lips are everted even at the angles.

[54] See this explained in “Physiognomy.”

[55] “Venere suol tenere alquanto aperte le labbra, come per indicare un languido desiderio ed amore.”—Storia delle Arti.

[56] In the Cupid, the form of the head is godlike. The hair not only curls with all the vigor of early years, but, with perfect knowledge of nature’s tendency, is bent into a ridge along the middle of the upper head. The brow, full, open, and charmingly rounded, is the evident throne of young observation, and it flows with such beauty into the parts behind, as if it actually said its purpose was to fling its observations back on thought and will. Its beginnings at the eyebrows display exquisite knowledge: the bony ridge is admirably shown to be yet unformed; and while its outer extremity forms but the orbital convexity, or shell for the globe of the eye, the inner extremity of the eyebrow is with infinite art drawn over soft and hollow space, as if the few hairs that composed it made there its only convexity. In short, in every part of the face, fine and faint as is every youthful feature, no detail is lost; and this, added to the pointed chin and upper lip, declare the purpose of the little god.

[57] Appendix K.

[58] I speak not of paint here. It is now used only by meretricious persons and by those harridans of higher rank who resemble them in every respect, except that the former are ashamed of their profession, and the latter advertise it.

[59] Combe’s Phrenology.

[60] Physiologie des Temperamens on Constitutions. Paris, 1826.

[61] This doctrine is revived, Dict. des Sciences med. Delpit and Reydellet.

[62] Dictionnaire des Sciences Méd. t. xxxviii. p. 263.



Transcriber’s Note: Footnote 6 appears on page 34; however, it has no corresponding marker.

End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of Beauty, by Alexander Walker


***** This file should be named 35409-h.htm or *****
This and all associated files of various formats will be found in:

Produced by Julia Miller and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at (This file was
produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive/American Libraries.)

Updated editions will replace the previous one--the old editions
will be renamed.

Creating the works from public domain print editions means that no
one owns a United States copyright in these works, so the Foundation
(and you!) can copy and distribute it in the United States without
permission and without paying copyright royalties.  Special rules,
set forth in the General Terms of Use part of this license, apply to
copying and distributing Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works to
protect the PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm concept and trademark.  Project
Gutenberg is a registered trademark, and may not be used if you
charge for the eBooks, unless you receive specific permission.  If you
do not charge anything for copies of this eBook, complying with the
rules is very easy.  You may use this eBook for nearly any purpose
such as creation of derivative works, reports, performances and
research.  They may be modified and printed and given away--you may do
practically ANYTHING with public domain eBooks.  Redistribution is
subject to the trademark license, especially commercial



To protect the Project Gutenberg-tm mission of promoting the free
distribution of electronic works, by using or distributing this work
(or any other work associated in any way with the phrase "Project
Gutenberg"), you agree to comply with all the terms of the Full Project
Gutenberg-tm License (available with this file or online at

Section 1.  General Terms of Use and Redistributing Project Gutenberg-tm
electronic works

1.A.  By reading or using any part of this Project Gutenberg-tm
electronic work, you indicate that you have read, understand, agree to
and accept all the terms of this license and intellectual property
(trademark/copyright) agreement.  If you do not agree to abide by all
the terms of this agreement, you must cease using and return or destroy
all copies of Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works in your possession.
If you paid a fee for obtaining a copy of or access to a Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic work and you do not agree to be bound by the
terms of this agreement, you may obtain a refund from the person or
entity to whom you paid the fee as set forth in paragraph 1.E.8.

1.B.  "Project Gutenberg" is a registered trademark.  It may only be
used on or associated in any way with an electronic work by people who
agree to be bound by the terms of this agreement.  There are a few
things that you can do with most Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works
even without complying with the full terms of this agreement.  See
paragraph 1.C below.  There are a lot of things you can do with Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic works if you follow the terms of this agreement
and help preserve free future access to Project Gutenberg-tm electronic
works.  See paragraph 1.E below.

1.C.  The Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation ("the Foundation"
or PGLAF), owns a compilation copyright in the collection of Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic works.  Nearly all the individual works in the
collection are in the public domain in the United States.  If an
individual work is in the public domain in the United States and you are
located in the United States, we do not claim a right to prevent you from
copying, distributing, performing, displaying or creating derivative
works based on the work as long as all references to Project Gutenberg
are removed.  Of course, we hope that you will support the Project
Gutenberg-tm mission of promoting free access to electronic works by
freely sharing Project Gutenberg-tm works in compliance with the terms of
this agreement for keeping the Project Gutenberg-tm name associated with
the work.  You can easily comply with the terms of this agreement by
keeping this work in the same format with its attached full Project
Gutenberg-tm License when you share it without charge with others.

1.D.  The copyright laws of the place where you are located also govern
what you can do with this work.  Copyright laws in most countries are in
a constant state of change.  If you are outside the United States, check
the laws of your country in addition to the terms of this agreement
before downloading, copying, displaying, performing, distributing or
creating derivative works based on this work or any other Project
Gutenberg-tm work.  The Foundation makes no representations concerning
the copyright status of any work in any country outside the United

1.E.  Unless you have removed all references to Project Gutenberg:

1.E.1.  The following sentence, with active links to, or other immediate
access to, the full Project Gutenberg-tm License must appear prominently
whenever any copy of a Project Gutenberg-tm work (any work on which the
phrase "Project Gutenberg" appears, or with which the phrase "Project
Gutenberg" is associated) is accessed, displayed, performed, viewed,
copied or distributed:

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever.  You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at

1.E.2.  If an individual Project Gutenberg-tm electronic work is derived
from the public domain (does not contain a notice indicating that it is
posted with permission of the copyright holder), the work can be copied
and distributed to anyone in the United States without paying any fees
or charges.  If you are redistributing or providing access to a work
with the phrase "Project Gutenberg" associated with or appearing on the
work, you must comply either with the requirements of paragraphs 1.E.1
through 1.E.7 or obtain permission for the use of the work and the
Project Gutenberg-tm trademark as set forth in paragraphs 1.E.8 or

1.E.3.  If an individual Project Gutenberg-tm electronic work is posted
with the permission of the copyright holder, your use and distribution
must comply with both paragraphs 1.E.1 through 1.E.7 and any additional
terms imposed by the copyright holder.  Additional terms will be linked
to the Project Gutenberg-tm License for all works posted with the
permission of the copyright holder found at the beginning of this work.

1.E.4.  Do not unlink or detach or remove the full Project Gutenberg-tm
License terms from this work, or any files containing a part of this
work or any other work associated with Project Gutenberg-tm.

1.E.5.  Do not copy, display, perform, distribute or redistribute this
electronic work, or any part of this electronic work, without
prominently displaying the sentence set forth in paragraph 1.E.1 with
active links or immediate access to the full terms of the Project
Gutenberg-tm License.

1.E.6.  You may convert to and distribute this work in any binary,
compressed, marked up, nonproprietary or proprietary form, including any
word processing or hypertext form.  However, if you provide access to or
distribute copies of a Project Gutenberg-tm work in a format other than
"Plain Vanilla ASCII" or other format used in the official version
posted on the official Project Gutenberg-tm web site (,
you must, at no additional cost, fee or expense to the user, provide a
copy, a means of exporting a copy, or a means of obtaining a copy upon
request, of the work in its original "Plain Vanilla ASCII" or other
form.  Any alternate format must include the full Project Gutenberg-tm
License as specified in paragraph 1.E.1.

1.E.7.  Do not charge a fee for access to, viewing, displaying,
performing, copying or distributing any Project Gutenberg-tm works
unless you comply with paragraph 1.E.8 or 1.E.9.

1.E.8.  You may charge a reasonable fee for copies of or providing
access to or distributing Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works provided

- You pay a royalty fee of 20% of the gross profits you derive from
     the use of Project Gutenberg-tm works calculated using the method
     you already use to calculate your applicable taxes.  The fee is
     owed to the owner of the Project Gutenberg-tm trademark, but he
     has agreed to donate royalties under this paragraph to the
     Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation.  Royalty payments
     must be paid within 60 days following each date on which you
     prepare (or are legally required to prepare) your periodic tax
     returns.  Royalty payments should be clearly marked as such and
     sent to the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation at the
     address specified in Section 4, "Information about donations to
     the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation."

- You provide a full refund of any money paid by a user who notifies
     you in writing (or by e-mail) within 30 days of receipt that s/he
     does not agree to the terms of the full Project Gutenberg-tm
     License.  You must require such a user to return or
     destroy all copies of the works possessed in a physical medium
     and discontinue all use of and all access to other copies of
     Project Gutenberg-tm works.

- You provide, in accordance with paragraph 1.F.3, a full refund of any
     money paid for a work or a replacement copy, if a defect in the
     electronic work is discovered and reported to you within 90 days
     of receipt of the work.

- You comply with all other terms of this agreement for free
     distribution of Project Gutenberg-tm works.

1.E.9.  If you wish to charge a fee or distribute a Project Gutenberg-tm
electronic work or group of works on different terms than are set
forth in this agreement, you must obtain permission in writing from
both the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation and Michael
Hart, the owner of the Project Gutenberg-tm trademark.  Contact the
Foundation as set forth in Section 3 below.


1.F.1.  Project Gutenberg volunteers and employees expend considerable
effort to identify, do copyright research on, transcribe and proofread
public domain works in creating the Project Gutenberg-tm
collection.  Despite these efforts, Project Gutenberg-tm electronic
works, and the medium on which they may be stored, may contain
"Defects," such as, but not limited to, incomplete, inaccurate or
corrupt data, transcription errors, a copyright or other intellectual
property infringement, a defective or damaged disk or other medium, a
computer virus, or computer codes that damage or cannot be read by
your equipment.

of Replacement or Refund" described in paragraph 1.F.3, the Project
Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation, the owner of the Project
Gutenberg-tm trademark, and any other party distributing a Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic work under this agreement, disclaim all
liability to you for damages, costs and expenses, including legal

defect in this electronic work within 90 days of receiving it, you can
receive a refund of the money (if any) you paid for it by sending a
written explanation to the person you received the work from.  If you
received the work on a physical medium, you must return the medium with
your written explanation.  The person or entity that provided you with
the defective work may elect to provide a replacement copy in lieu of a
refund.  If you received the work electronically, the person or entity
providing it to you may choose to give you a second opportunity to
receive the work electronically in lieu of a refund.  If the second copy
is also defective, you may demand a refund in writing without further
opportunities to fix the problem.

1.F.4.  Except for the limited right of replacement or refund set forth
in paragraph 1.F.3, this work is provided to you 'AS-IS' WITH NO OTHER

1.F.5.  Some states do not allow disclaimers of certain implied
warranties or the exclusion or limitation of certain types of damages.
If any disclaimer or limitation set forth in this agreement violates the
law of the state applicable to this agreement, the agreement shall be
interpreted to make the maximum disclaimer or limitation permitted by
the applicable state law.  The invalidity or unenforceability of any
provision of this agreement shall not void the remaining provisions.

1.F.6.  INDEMNITY - You agree to indemnify and hold the Foundation, the
trademark owner, any agent or employee of the Foundation, anyone
providing copies of Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works in accordance
with this agreement, and any volunteers associated with the production,
promotion and distribution of Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works,
harmless from all liability, costs and expenses, including legal fees,
that arise directly or indirectly from any of the following which you do
or cause to occur: (a) distribution of this or any Project Gutenberg-tm
work, (b) alteration, modification, or additions or deletions to any
Project Gutenberg-tm work, and (c) any Defect you cause.

Section  2.  Information about the Mission of Project Gutenberg-tm

Project Gutenberg-tm is synonymous with the free distribution of
electronic works in formats readable by the widest variety of computers
including obsolete, old, middle-aged and new computers.  It exists
because of the efforts of hundreds of volunteers and donations from
people in all walks of life.

Volunteers and financial support to provide volunteers with the
assistance they need are critical to reaching Project Gutenberg-tm's
goals and ensuring that the Project Gutenberg-tm collection will
remain freely available for generations to come.  In 2001, the Project
Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation was created to provide a secure
and permanent future for Project Gutenberg-tm and future generations.
To learn more about the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation
and how your efforts and donations can help, see Sections 3 and 4
and the Foundation web page at

Section 3.  Information about the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive

The Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation is a non profit
501(c)(3) educational corporation organized under the laws of the
state of Mississippi and granted tax exempt status by the Internal
Revenue Service.  The Foundation's EIN or federal tax identification
number is 64-6221541.  Its 501(c)(3) letter is posted at  Contributions to the Project Gutenberg
Literary Archive Foundation are tax deductible to the full extent
permitted by U.S. federal laws and your state's laws.

The Foundation's principal office is located at 4557 Melan Dr. S.
Fairbanks, AK, 99712., but its volunteers and employees are scattered
throughout numerous locations.  Its business office is located at
809 North 1500 West, Salt Lake City, UT 84116, (801) 596-1887, email  Email contact links and up to date contact
information can be found at the Foundation's web site and official
page at

For additional contact information:
     Dr. Gregory B. Newby
     Chief Executive and Director

Section 4.  Information about Donations to the Project Gutenberg
Literary Archive Foundation

Project Gutenberg-tm depends upon and cannot survive without wide
spread public support and donations to carry out its mission of
increasing the number of public domain and licensed works that can be
freely distributed in machine readable form accessible by the widest
array of equipment including outdated equipment.  Many small donations
($1 to $5,000) are particularly important to maintaining tax exempt
status with the IRS.

The Foundation is committed to complying with the laws regulating
charities and charitable donations in all 50 states of the United
States.  Compliance requirements are not uniform and it takes a
considerable effort, much paperwork and many fees to meet and keep up
with these requirements.  We do not solicit donations in locations
where we have not received written confirmation of compliance.  To
SEND DONATIONS or determine the status of compliance for any
particular state visit

While we cannot and do not solicit contributions from states where we
have not met the solicitation requirements, we know of no prohibition
against accepting unsolicited donations from donors in such states who
approach us with offers to donate.

International donations are gratefully accepted, but we cannot make
any statements concerning tax treatment of donations received from
outside the United States.  U.S. laws alone swamp our small staff.

Please check the Project Gutenberg Web pages for current donation
methods and addresses.  Donations are accepted in a number of other
ways including including checks, online payments and credit card
donations.  To donate, please visit:

Section 5.  General Information About Project Gutenberg-tm electronic

Professor Michael S. Hart was the originator of the Project Gutenberg-tm
concept of a library of electronic works that could be freely shared
with anyone.  For thirty years, he produced and distributed Project
Gutenberg-tm eBooks with only a loose network of volunteer support.

Project Gutenberg-tm eBooks are often created from several printed
editions, all of which are confirmed as Public Domain in the U.S.
unless a copyright notice is included.  Thus, we do not necessarily
keep eBooks in compliance with any particular paper edition.

Most people start at our Web site which has the main PG search facility:

This Web site includes information about Project Gutenberg-tm,
including how to make donations to the Project Gutenberg Literary
Archive Foundation, how to help produce our new eBooks, and how to
subscribe to our email newsletter to hear about new eBooks.