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tion is disgustful. Every one must be fenfible of a gross incongruity in the Lutrin, a burlesque poem, being closed with a serious and warm panegyric on Lamoignon, one of the King's judges:
Amphora capit Institui; currente rota, cur urceus exit ?
No relation affords more examples of congruity and incongruity, than that betwixt a subject and its ornaments. A literary performance intended merely for amusement, is susceptible of much ornament, as well as a music-room or a play-house. In gaiety, the mind hath a peculiar relish for show and decoration. The most gorgeous apparel, however unsuitable to an actor in a regular tragedy, disgusts not at an opera. The truth is, an opera, in its present form, is a mighty fine thing; but as it deviates from nature in its capital circumstances, we look not for any thing natural in those which are accessory. On the other hand, a serious and important subject, admits not much or VOL. II.
nament* : nor a subject that of itself is extremely beautiful. And a subject that fills the mind with its loftiness and grandeur, appears best in a dress altogether plain.
To a person of a mean appearance, gorgeous apparel is unsuitable: which, beside the incongruity, has a bad effect; for by contrast it shows the meanness of appearance in the strongest light. Sweetness of look and manner, requires fimplicity of dress joined with the greatest elegance. A stately and majestic air requires sumptuous apparel, which ought not to be gaudy, or crowded with little ornaments. A woman of consummate beauty can bear to be highly adorned, and yet shows best in a plain dress :
Thomson's Autumn, 208.
Contrary to this rule, the introduction to the third lume of the Characteristics, is a continued chain of metaphors. These in such profusion are too florid for the subject; and. have beside the bad effect of removing our attention from the principal subject, to fix it upon splendid trifles.,
In judging of the propriety of ornament, we must attend, not only to the nature of the subject that is to be adorned, but also to the circumstances in which it is placed. The ornaments that are proper for a ball,
, will appear not altogether so decent at public worship; and the same person ought to dress differently for a marriage-feast and for a burial.
Nothing is more intimately related to a man, than his sentiments, words, and actions; and therefore we require here the strictest conformity. When we find what we thus require, we have a lively sense of propriety : when we find the contrary, our sense of impropriety is not less lively. Hence the universal dittaste of affectation, which consists in making a shew of greater delicaсу
and refinement than is suited either to the character or circumstances of the person. Nothing hath a worse effect in a story than impropriety of manners. In Corneille's tragedy of Cinna, Æmilia, a favourite of Augustus, receives daily marks of his affection, and is loaded with benefits; yet all the while is laying plots to affaffinate her bea
nefactor, directed by no other motive but to avenge her father's death *. Revenge againft a benefactor founded solely upon filiate means; because it can never exceed the bounds of justice. And yet the crime here attempted, murder under trust reposed, is what even a miscreant will scarce attempt against his bitterest enemy.
What is said may be thought sufficient to explain the qualities of congruity and propriety. But the subject is not exhausted, On the contrary, the prospect enlarges upon us, when we take under view the effects these qualities produce in the mind, Congruity and propriety, where-ever perceived, appear agreeable; and every agreeable object produceth in the mind a pleasant eu motion. Incongruity and impropriety, on the other hand, are disagreeable; and consequently produce painful emotions. An emotion of this kind sometimes vanisheth without any consequence; but more fretien quently is the occasion of other emotions
See act 1. sc. 2,
When any flight incongruity is perceived in an accidental combination of persons or things, as of passengers in a stage-coach or of individuals dining at an ordinary, the emotion of incongruity, after a momentary existence, vanilheth without producing any effect. But this is not the case of propriety and impropriety. Voluntary acts, whether words or deeds, are imputed to the author: when proper, we reward him with our esteem: when improper, we punith him with our contempt. Let us suppose, for example, an heroic action suitable to the character of the author, which raises in him and in every spectator the pleasant emotion of propriety. This emotion generates in the author both self-esteem and joy; the former when he confiders his relation to the action, and the latter when he confiders the good opinion that others will entertain of him. The same emotion of propriety, produceth in the spectators, esteem for the author of the action: and when they think of themselves, it also produceth, by means of contrast, an emotion of humility. To discover the effects of an unsuitable action,