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By Richard Payne Knight

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This notion of smoothness being beauty PART I. seems to have arisen, like many other erroneous ^77T*^notions of the same kind, from the common~. CH A P. Ill* Of Touch, mistake of a particular sexual sympathy for a general principle. apply the same term to correspondent qualities in other objects, although they excite no similar sentiments or feelings. Those beauties, which owe their existence as beauties to sexual sympathies, are so much more powerful and efficient than any others, that they extend their influence, by means of trains of associated ideas, to a vast distance from its source: but, abstracted from such sympathies, the pleasures of this sense, if pleasures they may be called, seem i to arise from gentle irritation; which, if it be extended beyond a certain degree, proportioned always to the sensibility of the part, becomes painful; apd as this sense of touch extends over the whole body,, the pain, which it can endure, knows no limit but the termination of life; a limit,, which enlarges the scale of corporeal pain far beyond that of corporeal pleasure.

Species; Animal desire or want may exist with- Of Touch out any idea of its object, if there be a stimulus to excite it; so that a male, who had arrived at maturity without knowing the existence of a fe- male of his own specieSj might feel it, as a newborn child feels the want of rood, without having any determinate notion of what was proper to gratify it; 舦 6. Beauty of form and colour, which act, in these cases, through the medium of the imagination only, have nothing to do with this mere irritation of the nerves, whether it proceed from internal or external stimuli; for this irritability extends in some instances to vegetable substances, which have no power of perception; but of which the organic parts are not only irritable, but require the touch of an insect or other extraneous body to render them effective in reproduction.

CHAPTER III. OF TOUCH. 1. The pleasures of touch, if we omit those PART L arising from the communication of the sexes, are CHhP< uu few beyond the variations of warmth and cool- Of Touch, ness; and even those few are extremely limited in their degree. The elegant author, indeed, before cited, 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 favourite 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.

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An analytical inquiry into the principles of taste by Richard Payne Knight


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