« PreviousContinue »
hath to generate love to children. Every man, beside making part of a greater system, like a comet, a planet, or satellite only, hath á less system of his own, in the centre of which he represents the sun darting his fire and heat all around; especially upon his nearest connexions: the connexion between a man and his children, fundamentally that of cause and effect, becomes, by the addition of other circumstances, the completest that can be among individuals; and therefore self-love, the most vigorous of all passions, is readily expanded upon children. The secondary emotion they produce by means of their counexion, is sufficiently strong to move desire even from the beginning; and the new passion swells by degrees, till it rival in some measure self-love, the primary passion. To demonstrate the truth of this theory, I urge the following argument. Remorse for betraying a friend, or murdering an enemy in cold blood, makes a man even hate himself: in that state, he is not conscious of affection to his children, but rather of disgust or ill-will. What cause can be assigned for that change, other than the hatred he has to himself, which is expanded upon his children. And if so, may we not with equal reason derive from self-love, some part at least of the affectiou a man generally has to them?
The affection a man bears to his blood relations, depends partly on the same principle : self-love is also expanded upon them; and the communicated passion is more or less vigorous in proportion to the degree of connexion. Nor doth self-love rest here : it is, by the force of connexion, communi. cated even to things inanimate: and hence the affection a man bears to his property, and to every thing he calls his own.
(Friendship, less vigorous than self-love, is, for that reason, less apt to communicate itself to the friend's children, or other relations. Instances however are not wanting of such communicated passion, arising from friendship when it is strong. Friendship may go higher in the matrimonial state than in any other condition; and Otway, in Venice Preserved, takes advantage of that circumstance: in the scene where Belvidera sues to her father for pardon, she is represented as pleading her mother's merits, and the resemblance she bore to her mother :
Priuli. My daughter!
Belvidera. Yes, your daughter, by a mother,
Belvidera. Lay me, I beg you, lay me
Act V. Sc. I.
This explains why any meritorious action, or any illustrious qualification, in my son or my friend, is apt to make me over-value myself: if I value my friend's wife or son upon account of their connexion with him, it is still more natural that I should value myself upon account of my connexion with bim.
Friendship, or any other social affection, may, by changing the object, produce opposite effects. VOL. I.
Pity, by interesting us strongly for the person in distress, most of consequence inflame our resentment against the author of the distress : for, in general, the affection we have for any man, generates in us good-will to his friends, and ill-will to his enemies. Shakspeare shews great art in the funeral oration pronounced by Antony over the body of Cæsar. He first endeavours to excite grief in the hearers, by dwelling upon the deplorable loss of so great a man: this passion, interesting them strong. ly in Cæsar's fate, could not fail to produce a live. Jy sense of the treachery and cruelty of the con. spirators; an infallible method to inflame the resentment of the people beyond all bounds :
Antony. If you have tears, prepare to shed them now.
Our Cæsar's vesture wounded? look you here!
Julius Cæsar, Act III. Sc. 6.
Had Antony endeavoured to excite his audience to vengeance, without paving the way by raising their grief, his speech would not have made the same impression.
Hatred, and other dissocial passions, produce effects directly opposite to those above mentioned. If I hate a man, his children, his relations, nay his property, become to me objects of aversion : bis enemies, on the other hand, I am disposed to esteem.
The more slight and transitory relations are not favourable to the communication of passion. Anger, when sudden and violent, is one exception ; for, if the person who did the injury be removed out of reach, that passion will vent itself against any related object, however slight the relation be. Another exception makes a greater figure: a group of beings or things, becomes often the object of a communicated passion, even where the relation of the individuals to the percipient is but slight. Thus, though I put no value upon a single man for living in the same town with myself; my townsmen, however, considered in a body, are preferred before others. This is still more remarkable with respect to my countrymen in general : the grandeur of the complex objects swells the passion of selflove by the relation I have to my native country; and every passion, when it swells beyond its ordinary bounds, hath a peculiar tendency to expand itself along related objects. In fact, instances are not rare, of persons, who upon all occasions are willing to sacrifice their lives and fortunes for their country. Such influence upon the mind of man hath a complex object, or, more properly speaking, a general term.*
The sense of order hath influence in the communication of passion. It is a common observation, that a man's affection to his parents is less vigorous than to his children: the order of nature in de. scending to children, aids the transition of the affection: the ascent to a parent, contrary to that or. der, makes the transition more difficult. Gratitude to a benefactor is readily extended to his children; but not so readily to his parents. The difference, however, between the natural and inverted order, is not so considerable, but that it may be balanced by other circumstances. Plinyt gives an account of a woman of rank condemned to die for a crime; and, to avoid public shame, detained in prison to die of hunger: her life being prolonged beyond expectation, it was discovered, that she was nourished by sucking milk from the breasts of her daughter. This instance of filial piety, which aided the transition, and made ascent no less easy than descent is commonly, procured a pardon to the mother, and a pension to both. The story of Androcles and the liont may be accounted for in the same manner: the admiration, of which the lion was the object for his kindness and gratitude to Androcles, produced good will to Androcles, and a pardon of his crime.
And this leads to other observations upon communicated passions. I love my daughter less after she is married, and my mother less after a second marriage: the marriage of my son or of my father diminishes not my affection so remarkably. The
* See Essays on morality and natural religion, part 1. ess. ii. ch. 5. † Lib. vii. cap. 36. † Aulus Gellius, lib. v. cap. 14.