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pleasant. Possibly these sensations please us by contrast by being seldom experienced. Townspeople are accustomed to grey, drab, and slate colour, to dingy brick, to smoky, dusty shades of brown, to faded red, to dun colour, to tin, lead, to the roads, the houses, the stones, and the mud. These shades, in fact, constitute the vast majority of their colour sensations, for most city folk are engaged in business, and most business is transacted in places where anything but high colours abound; to such persons, therefore, crimson roses, blue lobelias, and scarlet geraniums are a striking contrast, and may be pleasing on this account. The same may be said of odours and flavours, and indeed of all our sensations; for those which please most are precisely those which are least experienced and shortest in duration. How seldom do we hear melodious songs or a splendid organ compared with the rattle of hoofs, the noise of wheels, the clatter of heels, the shout of vendors, the hum of conversation, the barking of dogs, the rumble of trains, &c.; and how seldom do we smell a rose, musk, lavender, verbena, lilies, mignonette, compared with meat, and bread, and cheese, books, paper, clothes, clay, mortar, bricks, paint, wood, leather, silk, wool, ink, carpets, and all those things with which we are perpetually surrounded, and whose effluvia, though unrecognised, enters into the composition of the atmosphere we breathe. The same principle regarding colours, &c., in towns is, mutatis mutandis, applicable to the country. Rustics who seldom see more than certain shades of green, and brown, and yellow, together with sky-blue, are greatly delighted with strong hues of other and strange colours. It cannot be objected that positively painful sensations are as uncommon as positively pleasant ones, that a toothache, a headache, an earache, or a face-ache are as rare as sensations which we call very pleasant, and they are certainly not loved or longed for, but dreaded and detested. We are seldom suffering such pronounced tortures, it is true, but we are perpetually gravitating towards pain ; if not actu

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ally suffering it intensely we are continually experiencing it moderately; we are always becoming hungry, and thirsty and tired, if not actually so. Almost all our efforts are directed towards securing immunity from this tendency, and we succeed most when we experience the least pain or the greatest pleasure. Be this, however, as it may, it is by no means essential to the purpose in hand to have such metaphysical points decided. We therefore proceed to investigate the subjective basis of beauty.

Besides colour, another sensation which precedes every recognition of beauty is shape, and it is necessary to distinguish this latter sensation as well as the former from the emotion which ensues, and with which it might easily be confounded. Shape, or form as it is sometimes called, is, like colour, a subjective state—a feeling, a sensation in the mind—and nothing more; for if it be more, how can we ever know anything about it? We have only our senses as channels of information from things external to us, and if there be in any object external to us a quality that is not a sensation, how could we come by a knowledge of it? It does not appear that we could; and until some other answer be given we may assume that there is none to give. Mere figure, outline, colour in two directions, is given by the eye; but for shape, that is matter in three directions, we require what is called actual bodily contact, without which all objects would appear to be in the same plane; had we never felt or fingered anything spherical, an orange would appear circular but flat; had we never felt anything cubical, dice would seem square but flat, and so on. But if shape be a sensation, some shapes ought by analogy to be pleasanter and more attractive than others; and that some shapes are said to be more beautiful” than others is a fact of which we are well aware. All writers on beauty acknowledge the excellence of spherical, round, spheroidal, oval objects, as contrasted with such as are square, angular, jagged, pointed, straight; but there is much more in the phenomenon than this. Not only do we approve of these qualities on reflection, we find the sensations pleasant when we see them; not only does broken glass offend the mind by association, it hurts the eye by contact.

But how can this be? Is it possible by scientific evidence to prove that certain shapes are intrinsically pleasant and others unpleasant ? Is there any scientific reason for believing that round is a more sensibly grateful shape than pointed, or spherical than angular, for to this issue the matter must come ? To understand the process let us glance back for a moment at colour. No object is seen except as coloured. Colour is a modification of light caused, as physicists tell us, by the wave vibrations of luminiferous ether, set up by the object which appears as coloured. All objects, other things being equal, receive an equal amount of light, i.e., an equal amount of the seven colours of which light is composed. Some objects, however, have the power of absorbing all these colours, and those appear black; other objects absorb none, and those are white; others absorb an equal portion of all colours, and those are grey; and others, lastly, absorb them unequally, and those objects are coloured, properly so called. Ink, for instance, absorbs all colours equally, and therefore we see nothing but black or darkness; snow absorbs none, and therefore it presents us with all the colours as they fall upon it, and we see white; an orange absorbs all the ether waves except those which constitute orange colour, which it rejects, and which consequently we receive; grass absorbs all waves except those of the green; stones, wood, clay, &c., absorb certain colours in unequal quantities, and the residue, whatever it may be, returning to the eye, is a combination of the unequal quantities which are rejected. Objects, therefore, are painted on the retina by means of vibrating waves of luminiferous ether, set up by the objects themselves. Now, these vibrations causing colour may be modified in their distribution to, and in their effect upon, the retina by shape. They may be

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uniform or gently graduated, and thus cause pleasant sensations through the optic nerve; or they may be irregular and abrupt, and thus cause unpleasant sensations through the same organ. Let us imagine an object radiating light-vibrations from all sides; that part which is in immediate opposition to the retina-like the muzzle of a gun pointed at a target-will send its vibrations most directly and with greatest strength to the nerves. We receive vibrations from every visible portion of an object, nevertheless those parts which are in antagonism to the eye, which flatly oppose it or which point towards it, will emit the strongest vibrations, and consequently will produce the strongest sensations. When collateral rays are excluded the retina is rendered more sensitive to those which remain, hence these will be more distinctly felt; in other words, the object will be more plainly seen. We all draw upon this fact when we look at anything through our hands, or through a roll of paper, or a cylinder; by protecting the eye from oblique vibrations, we make it more sensitive to the direct ones; all oblique vibrations are weaker than those to which the retina is diametrically opposite; from which it follows that when the object is gently graduated on all sides, the vibrations will be gently graduated also, and when the object is broken or irregular the vibrations will correspond.

Place before you a perfect sphere-say, a billiard balland what happens by this law ? But one spot on the surface of the ball will be in immediate opposition to the retinal skin of the eye; the rays therefore from that spot will be the strongest of all, and the rays immediately around that spot will be the next strongest; and so on, by a series of concentric circles, the wave vibrations will become gradually weaker and weaker till they reach the perimeter of the ball, where they cease to act altogether.

Place a cylinder before you, and its vibrations will differ from those of a sphere in that, while the latter are graduated in all directions, the former are only graduated in two; and though in a cylinder, as in a sphere and in everything else, there is only one spot directly opposed to the retina, yet that spot is in this object prolonged into a line more opposed to the eye than any other spot in the same section of the cylinder.

Again, place before you a square box, so that you can see one side almost directly and the top and another side obliquely; the strongest vibrations will come from the first, the side almost directly facing you, and they will be almost uniform, while those coming from the top and the other side will be weak and will decline gently away; and of these the strongest will come from the angles next the side which faces you. If you place the box so that two of the sides may be equally visible, the strongest vibrations will come from the ridge or angle between those two sides; and if you place it so that three sides be equally visible, the point of resistance, so to speak, will be the apex of the pyramid formed by those three sides—i.e., the corner of the box.

Lastly, place before you now a bristling hedgehog, and note what follows. Each bristle will send forth a separate system of wave vibrations, arranged in the most abrupt

Take, for example, any one bristle pointing towards the eye: the point of this bristle will send out the strongest vibrations, and not only so, but no other part of the bristle will produce anything of a like effect, for the lateral surface of the trunk, not being opposed to the eye, can only transmit oblique vibrations to the retina, sending its direct vibrations in another direction. Take, again, another bristle-one that does not point towards the eye, but is parallel to the face: this bristle will send direct vibrations to the eye from a small but cylindrical surface; these vibrations, therefore, will be much less unpleasant than in the former case. But, again, there are a number of vibrations transmitted from the roots of the bristles, or their inner parts, until they are lost in darkness, and these will produce but little definite sensa


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