« PreviousContinue »
be still pleasant. Our appetites are precisely in the same condition. Resentment, on the other hand, is, in every stage of the passion, painful; but it is not disagreeable unless in excess. Pity is always painful, yet always agreeable
. Vanity, on the contrary, is always pleasant, yet always disagreeable. But however distinct these qualities are, they coincide, I acknowledge, in one class of passions: all vicious passions tending to the hurt of others, are equally painful and disagreeable.
The foregoing qualities of pleasant and painful, may be sufficient for ordinary subjects: but with respect to the science of criticism, it is necessary, that we also be made acquainted with the several modifications of these qualities; with the modifications, at least, that make the greatest figure. Even at first view one is sensible, that the pleasure or pain of one passion differs from that of another: how distant the pleasure of revenge gratified from that of love? so distant, as that we cannot without reluctance admit them to be any way related. That the same quality of pleasure should be so differently modified in different passions, will not be surprising, when we reflect on the boundless variety of agreeable sounds, tastes, and smells, daily perceived. Our discernment reaches differences still more minute, in objects even of the same sense: we have no difficulty to distinguish different sweets, different sours, and different bitters; honey is sweet, so is sugar, and yet the one never is mistaken for the other: our sense of smelling is sufficiently acute, to distinguish varieties in sweet-smelling flowers without end. With respect to passions and emotions, their differences as to pleasant and painful have no limits; though we want acuteness of feeling for the more delicate modifications. There is here an analogy between our internal and external senses: the latter are sufficiently acute for all the useful purposes of life, and so are the former. Some persons, indeed, Nature's favorites, have a wonderful acuteness of sense, which to them unfolds many a delightful scene, totally hid from vulgar eyes. But if such refined pleasure be confined to a small number, it is, however, wisely ordered that others are not sensible of the defect; nor detracts it from their happiness that others secretly are more happy. With relation to the fine arts only, that qualification seems essential; and there it is termed delicacy of taste.
Should an author of such a taste attempt to describe all those varieties in pleasant and painful emotions which he himself feels, he would soon meet an invincible obstacle in the poverty of language: a people must be thoroughly refined, before they invent words for expressing the more delicate feelings; and for that reason, no known tongue has hitherto reached that perfection. We must, therefore, rest satisfied with an explanation of the more obvious modifications.
In forming a comparison between pleasant passions of different kinds, we conceive some of them to be gross, some refined. Those pleasures of external sense that are felt as at the organ of sense, are conceived to be corporeal, or gross :* the pleasure of the eye and
► See the Introduction. h
the ear are felt to be internal; and for that reason are conceived to be more pure and refined.
The social affections are conceived by all to be more refined than the selfish. Sympathy and humanity are universally esteemed the finest temper of mind; and for that reason, the prevalence of the social affections in the progress of society, is held to be a refinement in our nature. A savage knows little of social affection, and therefore is not qualified to compare selfish and social pleasure; but a man, after acquiring a high relish for the latter, loses not thereby a taste for the former: he is qualified to judge, and he will give preference to social pleasures, as more sweet and refined. In fact they maintain that character, not only in the direct feeling, but also when we make them the subject of reflection: the social passions are far more agreeable than the selfish, and rise much higher in our esteem.
There are differences not less remarkable among the painful passions. Some are voluntary, some involuntary: the pain of the gout is an example of the latter; grief, of the former, which in some cases is so voluntary as to reject all consolation. One pain softens the temper; pity is an instance: one tends to render us savage and cruel, which is the case of revenge. I value myself upon sympathy: ) hate and despise myself for envy.
Social affections have an advantage over the selfish, not only with respect to pleasure, as above explained, but also with respect to pain. The pain of an affront, the pain of want, the pain of disappointment, and a thousand other selfish pains, are cruciating and tormenting, and tend to a habit of peevishness and discontent. Social pains have a very different tendency: the pain of sympathy, for example, is not only voluntary, but softens my temper, and raises me in my own esteem.
Refined manners, and polite behavior, must not be deemed altogether artificial: men who, inured to the sweets of society, cultivate humanity, find an elegant pleasure in preferring others, and making them happy, of which the proud, the selfish, scarcely have a conception.
Ridicule, which chiefly arises from pride, a selfish passion, is at best but a gross pleasure: a people, it is true, must have emerged out of barbarity before they can have a taste for ridicule; but it is too rough an entertainment for the polished and refined. Cicero discovers in Plautus a happy talent for ridicule, and a peculiar delicacy of wit: but Horace, who made a figure in the court of Augustus, where taste was considerably purified, declares against the lowness and roughness of that author's raillery. Ridicule is banished from France, and is losing ground in England.
Other modifications of pleasant passions will be occasionally mentioned hereafter. Particularly the modifications of high and low are to be handled in the chapter of grandeur and sublimity; and the modifications of dignified and mean, in the chapter of dig nity and grace.
INTERRUPTED EXISTENCE OF EMOTIONS AND PASSIONS.THEIR
GROWTH AND DECAY.
An emotion cannot exist without the cause be present, or by means of an idea
Growth and decay of emotions and passions-Some emotions produced in their utmost perfection, and of short continuance; others of long duration-A passion produced in perfection when nature requires it to be sudden-A passion founded on an original propensity, soon comes to maturity-The growth of love or hatred slow or quick, according to circumstances—The tendency of passions to excess—The growth of some passions depends on occasional circumstances, The continuance and decay of passions—Passions sudden in their growth, suddenly decay-A passion founded on an original propensity, subsists for everA passion having obtained its ultimate end, subsides,Particular and general ends of passions-Particular ends accomplished by a single act-General ends admit of repeated acts—Difference between an original propensity, and one founded on custom—The former never eradicated; the latter may be.
WERE it the nature of an emotion to continue, like color and Agure, in its present state till varied by some operating cause, the condition of man would be deplorable: it is ordered wisely, that emotions should more resemble another attribute of matter, namely motion, which requires the constant exertion of an operating cause, and ceases when the cause is withdrawn. An emotion may subsist while its cause is present; and when its cause is removed, may subsist by means of an idea, though in a fainter manner: but the moment another thought breaks in and engrosses the mind, the emotion is gone, and is no longer felt; if it return with its cause, or an idea of its cause, it again vanishes with them when other thoughts crowd in. The reason is, that an emotion or passion is connected with the perception or idea of its cause, so intimately as not to have any independent existence: a strong passion, it is true, has a mighty influence to detain its cause in the mind; but not so as to detain it for ever, because a succession of perceptions or ideas is unavoidable.* Farther, even while a passion subsists, it seldom continues long in the same tone, but is successively vigorous and faint : the vigor of a passion depends on the impression made by its cause; and a cause makes its deepest impression, when, happening to be the single interesting object, it attracts our whole attention :f its impression is slighter when our attention is divided between it and other objects; and at that time the passion is fainter in proportion.
When emotions and passions are felt thus by intervals, and have not a continued existence, it may be thought a nice problem to determine when they are the same, and when different. In a strict philosophic view, every single impression made, even by the same object, is distinguishable from what have gone before, and from what succeed: neither is an emotion raised by an idea the same with what is raised by a sight of the object. But such accuracy not being found in common apprehension, is not necessary in common
See this point explained afterwards, chap. 9. + See the Appendix, containing definitions and explanation of terms, Sect. 33
language: the emotions raised by a fine landscape in its successive appearances are not distinguishable from each other, nor even from those raised by successive ideas of the object; all of them being held to be the same: a passion also is always reckoned the same as long as it is fixed upon the same object; and thus love and hatred are said to continue the same for life. Nay, so loose are we in that way of thinking, that many passions are reckoned the same, even after a change of object; which is the case of all passions that proceed from some peculiar propensity: envy, for example, is considered to be the same passion, not only while it is directed to the same person, but even where it comprehends many persons at once: pride and malice are examples of the same. So much was necessary to be said upon the identity of a passion and emotion, in order to prepare for examining their growth and decay.
The growth and decay of passions and emotions, traced through all their mazes, is a subject too extensive for an undertaking like the present: I pretend only to give a cursory view of it, such as may be necessary for the purposes of criticism. Some emotions are produced in their utmost perfection, and have a very short endurance: which is the case of surprise, of wonder, and sometimes of terror. Emotions raised by inanimate objects, trees, rivers, buildings, pictures, arrive at perfection almost instantaneously; and they have a long endurance, a second view producing nearly the same pleasure as the first. Love, hatred, and some other passions, swell gradually to a certain pitch; after which they decay gradually. Envy, malice, pride, scarcely ever decay. Some passions, such as gratitude and revenge, are often exhausted by a single act of gratification : other passions, such as pride, malice, envy, love, hatred, are not so exhausted ; but having a long continuance, demand frequent gratification.
To handle every single passion and emotion with a view to these differences, would be an endless work: we must be satisfied at present with some general views. And with respect to emotions, which are quiescent, because not productive of desire, their growth and decay are easily explained: an emotion caused by an inanimate object, cannot naturally take longer time to arrive at maturity, than is necessary for a leisurely survey: such emotion also must continue long stationary, without any sensible decay; a second or third vier of the object being nearly as agreeable as the first: this is the case of an emotion produced by a fine prospect, an impetuous river, or a towering hill. While a man reinains the same, such objects ought 10 have the same effect upon him. Familiarity, however, has an influence here, as it has every where: frequency of view, after short intervals especially, weans the mind gradually from the object, which at last loses all relish: the noblest object in the inaterial world, a clear and serene sky, is quite disregarded, unless perhaps after a course of bad weather. An emotion raised by human virtues, quali. ties, or actions, may, by reiterated views of the object, swell imperseptibly till it becomes so rigorous as to generate desire: in ihal condition it must be handled as a passion.
As to passion, I observe, first, that when nature requires a passion
to le sudden, it is commonly produced in perfection; which is the case of fear and of anger. Wonder and surprise are always produced in perfection: reiterated impressions made by their cause, exhaust these passions instead of inflaming them. This will be explained hereafter.
In the next place, when a passion has for its foundaticr an original propensity peculiar to some men, it generally comes soon to maturity: the propensity, upon presenting a proper object, is immediately enlivened into a passion; which is the case of pride, of envy,
and of malice.
In the third place, the growth of love and of hatred is slow or quick according to circumstances: the good qualities of a person raise in me a pleasant emotion; which, by reiterated views, is swelled into a passion involving desire of that person's happiness: this desire being freely indulged, works gradually a change internally, and at last produces in me a settled habit of affection for that person, now my friend. Affection thus produced operates precisely like an original propensity; for to enliven it into a passion, no more is required than the real or ideal presence of the object. The habit of aversion or of hatred is brought on in the same manner. And here I must observe by the way, that love and hatred signify, commonly, affection and aversion, not passion. The bulk of our passions are indeed affection or aversion, inflamed into a passion by different cir. cumstances: the affection I bear to my son, is inflamed into the passion of fear when he is in danger; becomes hope when he has a prospect of good fortune; becomes admiration when he performs a laudable action; and shame when he commits any wrong: aversion becomes fear when there is a prospect of good fortune to my enemy; becomes hope when he is in danger; becomes joy when he is in distress; and sorrow when a laudable action is performed by him.
Fourthly, passions generally have a tendency to excess, occasioned by the following means. The mind affected by any passion, is not in a proper state for distinct perception, nor for cool' reflection : it has always a strong bias to the object of an agreeable passion, and a bias no less strong against the object of a disagreeable passion. , The object of love, for example, however indifferent to others, is to the lover's conviction a paragon; and of hatred, is vice itself without alloy. What less can such delusion operate, than 10 swell the passion beyond what it was at first? for if seeing or conversing with a fine woman, has had the effect to carry me from indifference to love; how much stronger must her influence be, when now, to my conviction, she is an angel ? and hatred as well as other passions must run the same course. Thus between a passion and its object there is a natural operation, resembling action and reaction in physics: a passion acting upon its object, magnifies it greatly in appearance; and this magnified object reacting upon the passion, swells and inflames it mightily.
Fifthly, the growth of some passion depends often on occasional circumstances : obstacles to gratification, for example, never fail to