Tuesday, January 3


"And what of this?" says an airy spark, no friend to meditation or deep thought. "What means this catalogue or scale, as you are pleased to call it? Only, sir, to satisfy myself that I am not alone or single in a certain fancy I have of a thing called beauty; that I have almost the whole world for my companions; and that each of us admirers and earnest pursuers of beauty (such as in a manner we all are) if peradventure we take not a certain sagacity along with us, we must err widely, range extravagantly, and run ever upon a false scent. We may (in the sportsman's phrase) have many hares afoot, but shall stick to no real game, nor be fortunate in any capture which may content us.

"See with what ardour and vehemence the young man, neglecting his proper race and fellow-creatures, and forgetting what is decent, handsome, or becoming in human affairs, pursues these species in those common objects of his affection, a horse, a hound, a hawk! What doting on these beauties! What admiration of the kind itself! And of the particular animal, what care, and in a manner idolatry and consecration, when the beast beloved is (as often happens) even set apart from use, and only kept to gaze on and feed the enamoured fancy with highest delight! See in another youth, not so forgetful of human kind, but remembering it still in a wrong way! Φιλόκαλος of another sort, a Chaerca. Quam elegans formarum spectator! See as to other beauties, where there is no possession, no enjoyment or reward, but barely seeing and admiring; as in the virtuoso-passion, the love of painting and the designing arts of every kind so often observed. How fares it with our princely genius, our grandee who assembles all these beauties, and within the bounds of his sumptuous palace incloses all these graces of a thousand kinds? What pains! study! science! Behold the disposition and order of these finer sorts of apartments, gardens, villas! The kind of harmony to the eye from the various shapes and colours agreeably mixed and ranged in lines, intercrossing without confusion, and fortunately coincident. A parterre, cypresses, groves, wildernesses. Statues here and there of virtue, fortitude, temperance. Heroes' busts, philosophers' heads, with suitable mottoes and inscriptions. Solemn representations of things deeply natural -- caves, grottoes, rocks, urns and obelisks in retired places and disposed at proper distances and points of sight, with all those symmetries which silently express a reigning order, peace, harmony, and beauty! ... But what is there answerable to this in the minds of the possessors? What possession or propriety is theirs? What constancy or security of enjoyment? What peace, what harmony within?"

--Anthony Ashley Cooper, Third Earl of Shaftesbury Characteristics of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times