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we should be so formed, as to require among connected objects a degree of congruity proportioned to the degree of the relation. And upon examination we find this to hold in fact. Where the relation is strong and intimate as betwixt a cause and its effect, a body and its members, we require that the things be suited to each other in the stricteft manner. On the other hand, where the relation is flight, or accidental, as among things jumbled together in the same place, we demand little or no congruity. The strictest propriety is required in behaviour and manner of living; because a man is connected with these by the relation of cause and effect. The situation of a great house ought to be lofty; for the relation betwixt an edifice and the ground it stands upon,
is of the most intimate kind. Its relation to neighbouring hills, rivers, plains, being that of propinquity only, demands but a small share of congruity. Among members of the fame club, the congruity ought to be considerable, as well as among things placed for show in the fame niche. Among passengers in a stage-coach, we require ve
ry little congruity; and less still at a public fpeciacle.
Congruity is so nearly allied to beauty, as commonly to be held a species of it. And yet they differ fo essentially, as never to coincide. Beauty, like colour, is placed upon a single subject; congruity upon a plurality. Further, a thing beautiful in itself, may, with relation to other things, produce the strongest sense of incongruity.
Congruity and propriety are commonly reckoned synonymous terms; and hitherto in opening the subject they are used indifferently. But they are distinguishable ; and the precise meaning of each must be ascertained. Congruity is the genus, of which propriety is a species. For we call nothing propriety, but that congruity or suitableness which ought to fubfist betwixt sensible be ings and their thoughts, words, and actions.
In order to give a full view of this fubject, I shall trace it through some of the most confiderable relations. The relation of a part to the whole, being extremely intimate, demands the utmost degree of con gruity. For that reason, the slightest devia
tion is disgustful. Every one must be sensible 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 cæpit 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 ornaments as well as a music-room or a play-house. In gaiety, the mind hath a peculiar relish for Thow 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 orYou. 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 simplicity of dress joined with the greatest elegance. A stately and majestic air requires fumptuous 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 volume 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 fubject, to fix it upon splendid trifics.
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 ac
and therefore we require here the stricteft 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 fuited 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 Auguftus, receives daily marks of his affection, and is loaded with benefits ; yet all the while is laying plots to assaflinate her be