EDINBURGH: Printed for A. MILLAR, London; AND A. KINCAID & J. BELL, Edinburgh. MDCCLXII.



THE fine arts have ever been en­couraged by wise princes, not singly for private amusement, but for their beneficial influence in so­ciety. By uniting different ranks in the same elegant pleasures, they promote be­nevolence: by cherishing love of order, they inforce submission to government: and by inspiring delicacy of feeling, they make regular government a double bless­ing.

[Page 4] THESE considerations embolden me to hope for your Majesty's patronage in behalf of the following work, which treats of the fine arts, and attempts to form a standard of taste by unfolding those principles that ought to govern the taste of every individual.

IT is rare to find one born with such delicacy of feeling, as not to need instruc­tion: it is equally rare to find one so low in feeling, as not to be capable of instruc­tion. And yet, to refine our taste with respect to beauties of art or of nature, is scarce endeavoured in any seminary of learning; a lamentable defect, consider­ing how early in life taste is susceptible of culture, and how difficult to reform it if unhappily perverted. To furnish mate­rials for supplying that defect, was an additional motive for the present under­taking.

[Page 5] TO promote the fine arts in Britain, has become of greater importance than is generally imagined. A flourishing com­merce begets opulence; and opulence, inflaming our appetite for pleasure, is commonly vented on luxury and on every sensual gratification: Selfishness rears its head; becomes fashionable; and infect­ing all ranks, extinguishes the amor patriae and every spark of public spirit. To pre­vent or to retard such fatal corruption, the genius of an Alfred cannot devise any means more efficacious, than venting o­pulence upon the fine arts. Riches so employ'd, instead of encouraging vice, will excite both public and private vir­tue. Of this happy effect, ancient Greece furnishes one shining instance; and why should we despair of another in Britain?

IN the commencement of an auspicious reign, and even in that early period of [Page 6] life when pleasure commonly is the sole pursuit, your Majesty has uniformly dis­play'd to a delighted people, the noblest principles, ripened by early culture; and for that reason, you will be the more dis­posed to favour every rational plan for advancing the art of training up youth. Among the many branches of education, that which tends to make deep impres­sions of virtue, ought to be a funda­mental measure in a well-regulated go­vernment: for depravity of manners will render ineffectual the most salutary laws; and in the midst of opulence, what other means to prevent such depravity but early and virtuous discipline? The British discipline is susceptible of great improve­ments; and if we can hope for them, it must be from a young and accomplished Prince, eminently sensible of their im­portance. To establish a complete system of education, seems reserved by provi­dence for a Sovereign who commands [Page 7] the hearts of his subjects. Success will crown the undertaking, and endear GEORGE THE THIRD to our latest posterity.

THE most elevated and most refined pleasure of human nature, is enjoy'd by a virtuous prince governing a virtuous people; and that, by perfecting the great system of education, your Majesty may very long enjoy this pleasure, is the ar­dent wish of

Your Majesty's Devoted Subject, HENRY HOME.
  • Introduction, Vol. 1 Pag. 1
  • Ch. 1. Perceptions and ideas in a train, Vol. 1 Pag. 21
  • Ch. 2. Emotions and passions, Vol. 1 Pag. 42
  • Ch. 3. Beauty, Vol. 1 Pag. 241
  • Ch. 4. Grandeur and sublimity, Vol. 1 Pag. 264
  • Ch. 5. Motion and force, Vol. 1 Pag. 309
  • Ch. 6. Novelty, and the unex­pected appearance of ob­jects, Vol. 1 Pag. 319
  • Ch. 7. Risible objects, Vol. 1 Pag. 337
  • Ch. 8. Resemblance and contrast, Vol. 1 Pag. 345
  • Ch. 9. Uniformity and variety, Vol. 1 Pag. 380
  • Ch. 10. Congruity and propriety, Vol. 2 Pag. 3
  • Ch. 11. Dignity and meanness, Vol. 2 Pag. 27
  • Ch. 12. Ridicule, Vol. 2 Pag. 40
  • Ch. 13. Wit, Vol. 2 Pag. 58
  • Ch. 14. Custom and habit, Vol. 2 Pag. 80
  • Ch. 15. External signs of emotions and passions, Vol. 2 Pag. 116
  • Ch. 16. Sentiments, Vol. 2 Pag. 149
  • Ch. 17. Language of passion, Vol. 2 Pag. 204
  • [Page 10]Ch. 18. Beauty of language, Vol. 2 Pag. 234
  • Ch. 19. Comparisons, Vol. 3 Pag. 3
  • Ch. 20. Figures, Vol. 3 Pag. 53
  • Ch. 21. Narration and description, Vol. 3 Pag. 169
  • Ch. 22. Epic and dramatic compo­sitions, Vol. 3 Pag. 218
  • Ch. 23. The three unities, Vol. 3 Pag. 259
  • Ch. 24. Gardening and architecture, Vol. 3 Pag. 294
  • Ch. 25. Standard of taste, Vol. 3 Pag. 351
  • Appendix, Vol. 3 Pag. 375

In describing the scale of sounds made in pronouncing the five vowels, vol. 2. p. 239. it ought to have been mentioned, that the letter i must be pronounced as in the word interest, and other words beginning with the syllable in; the letter e as in persuasion; and the letter u as in number.

The reference intended, vol. 2. p. 419. is to p. 404. of the same volume.


THE five senses agree in the follow­ing particular, that nothing external is perceived till it first make an im­pression upon the organ of sense; the im­pression, for example, made upon the hand by a stone, upon the palate by sugar, and upon the nostrils by a rose. But there is a difference as to our consciousness of that impression. In touching, tasting, and smelling, we are conscious of the impres­sion. Not so in seeing and hearing. When I behold a tree, I am not sensible of the impression made upon my eye; nor of the impression made upon my ear, when I listen to a song*. This difference in the manner of perception, distinguishes remark­ably hearing and seeing from the other senses; and distinguishes still more remark­ably the feelings of the former from those of the latter. A feeling pleasant or painful cannot exist but in the mind; and yet be­cause [Page 2] in tasting, touching, and smelling, we are conscious of the impression made upon the organ, we naturally place there also, the pleasant or painful feeling caused by that impression. And because such feel­ings seem to be placed externally at the or­gan of sense, we, for that reason, conceive them to be merely corporeal. We have a different apprehension of the pleasant and painful feelings derived from seeing and hearing. Being insensible here of the or­ganic impression, we are not misled to as­sign a wrong place to these feelings; and therefore we naturally place them in the mind, where they really exist. Upon that account, they are conceived to be more refined and spiritual, than what are deri­ved from tasting, touching, and smelling.

The pleasures of the eye and ear being thus elevated above those of the other ex­ternal senses, acquire so much dignity as to make them a laudable entertainment. They are not, however, set upon a level with those that are purely intellectual; being not less inferior in dignity to intellectual pleasures, than superior to the organic or corporeal. [Page 3] They indeed resemble the latter, being like them produced by external objects: but they also resemble the former, being like them produced without any sensible orga­nic impression. Their mixt nature and middle place betwixt organic and intellec­tual pleasures, qualify them to associate with either. Beauty heightens all the or­ganic feelings, as well as those that are in­tellectual. Harmony, though it aspires to inflame devotion, disdains not to improve the relish of a banquet.

The pleasures of the eye and ear have other valuable properties beside those of dignity and elevation. Being sweet and moderately exhilerating, they are in their tone equally distant from the turbulence of passion, and languor of inaction; and by that tone are perfectly well qualified, not only to revive the spirits when sunk by sen­sual gratification, but also to relax them when overstrained in any violent pursuit. Here is a remedy provided for many di­stresses. And to be convinced of its salutary effects, it will be sufficient to run over the following particulars. Organic pleasures [Page 4] have naturally a short duration: when con­tinued too long, or indulged to excess, they lose their relish, and beget satiety and dis­gust. To relieve us from that uneasiness, nothing can be more happily contrived than the exhilerating pleasures of the eye and ear, which take place imperceptibly, with­out much varying the tone of mind. On the other hand, any intense exercise of the intellectual powers, becomes painful by overstraining the mind. Cessation from such exercise gives not instant relief: it is necessary that the void be filled with some amusement, gently relaxing the spirits*. Organic pleasure, which hath no relish but while we are in vigour, is ill qualified for that office: but the finer pleasures of sense, which occupy without exhausting the mind, are excellently well qualified to restore its usual tone after severe application to study or business, as well as after satiety from sensual gratification.

Our first perceptions are of external ob­jects, [Page 5] and our first attachments are to them. Organic pleasures take the lead. But the mind, gradually ripening, relisheth more and more the pleasures of the eye and ear; which approach the purely mental, without exhausting the spirits; and exceed the pure­ly sensual, without danger of satiety. The pleasures of the eye and ear have accor­dingly a natural aptitude to attract us from the immoderate gratification of sensual appe­tite. For the mind, once accustomed to enjoy a variety of external objects without being conscious of the organic impression, is prepared for enjoying internal objects where there cannot be an organic impres­sion. Thus the author of nature, by qua­lifying the human mind for a succession of enjoyments from the lowest to the highest, leads it by gentle steps from the most gro­veling corporeal pleasures, for which solely it is fitted in the beginning of life, to those refined and sublime pleasures which are suited to its maturity.

This succession, however, is not govern­ed by unavoidable necessity. The God of nature offers it to us, in order to advance [Page 6] our happiness; and it is sufficient, that he hath enabled us to complete the succession. Nor has he made our task disagreeable or difficult. On the contrary, the transition is sweet and easy, from corporeal pleasures to the more refined pleasures of sense; and not less so, from these to the exalted plea­sures of morality and religion. We stand therefore engaged in honour, as well as in­terest, to second the purposes of nature, by cultivating the pleasures of the eye and ear, those especially that require extraordinary culture*, such as are inspired by poetry, painting, sculpture, music, gardening, and architecture. This chiefly is the duty of the opulent, who have leisure to improve their minds and their feelings. The fine arts are contrived to give pleasure to the eye [Page 7] and the ear, disregarding the inferior senses. A taste for these arts is a plant that grows naturally in many soils; but, without cul­ture, scarce to perfection in any soil. It is susceptible of much refinement; and is, by proper care, greatly improved. In this re­spect, a taste in the fine arts goes hand in hand with the moral sense, to which indeed it is nearly allied. Both of them discover what is right and what is wrong. Fashion, temper, and education, have an influence upon both, to vitiate them, or to preserve them pure and untainted. Neither of them are arbitrary or local. They are rooted in human nature, and are governed by principles common to all men. The prin­ciples of morality belong not to the present undertaking. But as to the principles of the fine arts, they are evolved, by studying the sensitive part of human nature, and by learning what objects are naturally agreeable, and what are naturally disagreeable. The man who aspires to be a critic in these arts, must pierce still deeper. He must clearly perceive what objects are lofty, what low, what are proper or improper, what are man­ly, [Page 8] and what are mean or trivial. Hence a foundation for judging of taste, and for rea­soning upon it. Where it is conformable to principles, we can pronounce with certain­ty, that it is correct; otherwise, that it is incorrect, and perhaps whimsical. Thus the fine arts, like morals, become a rational science; and, like morals, may be cultiva­ted to a high degree of refinement.

Manifold are the advantages of criticism, when thus studied as a rational science. In the first place, a thorough acquaintance with the principles of the fine arts, redoubles the entertainment these arts afford. To the man who resigns himself entirely to sen­timent or feeling, without interposing any sort of judgment, poetry, music, painting, are mere pastime. In the prime of life, indeed, they are delightful, being supported by the force of novelty, and the heat of imagination. But they lose their relish gra­dually with their novelty; and are generally neglected in the maturity of life, which dis­poses to more serious and more important occupations. To those who deal in criticism as a regular science, governed by just prin­ciples, [Page 9] and giving scope to judgment as well as to fancy, the fine arts are a favourite en­tertainment; and in old age maintain that relish which they produce in the morning of life*.

In the next place, a philosophic inquiry into the principles of the fine arts, inures the reflecting mind to the most enticing sort of logic. Reasoning upon subjects so a­greeable tends to a habit; and a habit, strengthening the reasoning faculties, pre­pares the mind for entering into subjects more difficult and abstract. To have, in this respect, a just conception of the im­portance of criticism, we need but reflect upon the common method of education; which, after some years spent in acquiring languages, hurries us, without the least pre­paratory discipline, into the most profound philosophy. A more effectual method to alienate the tender mind from abstract sci­ence, is beyond the reach of invention. [Page 10] With respect to such speculations, the bulk of our youth contract a sort of hobgoblin terror, which is seldom, if ever, subdued. Those who apply to the arts, are trained in a very different manner. They are led, step by step, from the easier parts of the opera­tion, to what are more difficult; and are not permitted to make a new motion, till they be perfected in those which regularly precede it. The science of criticism appears then to be an intermediate link, finely qua­lified for connecting the different parts of education into a regular chain. This science furnisheth an inviting opportunity to exercise the judgement: we delight to reason upon subjects that are equally pleasant and fami­liar: we proceed gradually from the sim­pler to the more involved cases: and in a due course of discipline, custom, which im­proves all our faculties, bestows acuteness upon those of reason, sufficient to unravel all the intricacies of philosophy.

Nor ought it to be overlooked, that the reasonings employed upon the fine arts are of the same kind with those which regulate our conduct. Mathematical and metaphy­sical [Page 11] reasonings have no tendency to improve social intercourse: nor are they applicable to the common affairs of life. But a just taste in the fine arts, derived from rational principles, is a fine preparation for acting in the social state with dignity and propri­ety.

The science of criticism tends to improve the heart not less than the understanding. I observe, in the first place, that it hath a fine effect in moderating the selfish affec­tions. A just taste in the fine arts, by sweetening and harmonizing the temper, is a strong antidote to the turbulence of passion and violence of pursuit. Elegance of taste procures to a man so much enjoy­ment at home, or easily within reach, that in order to be occupied, he is, in youth, under no temptation to precipitate into hunt­ing, gaming, drinking; nor, in middle age, to deliver himself over to ambition; nor, in old age, to avarice. Pride, a dis­gustful selfish passion, exerts itself without control, when accompanied with a bad taste. A man of this stamp, upon whom the most striking beauty makes but a faint impression, [Page 12] feels no joy but in gratifying his ruling pas­sion by the discovery of errors and blemishes. Pride, on the other hand, finds in the con­stitution no enemy more formidable than a delicate and discerning taste. The man up­on whom nature and culture have bestowed this blessing, feels great delight in the vir­tuous dispositions and actions of others. He loves to cherish them, and to publish them to the world. Faults and failings, it is true, are to him not less obvious: but these he avoids, or removes out of sight, because they give him pain. In a word, there may be other passions, which, for a season, disturb the peace of society more than pride: but no other passion is so unwearied an antagonist to the sweets of social intercourse. Pride, tending assiduously to its gratification, puts a man perpetually in opposition to others; and disposes him more to relish bad than good qualities, even in a bosom friend. How different that disposition of mind, where every virtue in a companion or neighbour, is, by refinement of taste, set in its strong­est light; and defects or blemishes, natu­ral [Page 13] to all, are suppressed, or kept out of view?

In the next place, delicacy of taste tends not less to invigorate the social affections, than to moderate those that are selfish. To be convinced of this tendency, we need on­ly reflect, that delicacy of taste necessarily heightens our sensibility of pain and plea­sure, and of course our sympathy, which is the capital branch of every social passion. Sympathy in particular invites a communi­cation of joys and sorrows, hopes and fears. Such exercise, soothing and satisfactory in itself, is productive necessarily of mutual good-will and affection.

One other advantage of criticism is re­served to the last place, being of all the most important, that it is a great support to morality. I insist on it with entire satis­faction, that no occupation attaches a man more to his duty than that of cultivating a taste in the fine arts. A just relish of what is beautiful, proper, elegant, and orna­mental, in writing or painting, in architec­ture or gardening, is a fine preparation for discerning what is beautiful, just, elegant, [Page 14] or magnanimous, in character and beha­viour. To the man who has acquired a taste so acute and accomplished, every ac­tion, wrong or improper, must be highly disgustful. If, in any instance, the over-bearing power of passion sway him from his duty, he returns to it upon the first re­flection, with redoubled resolution never to be swayed a second time. He has now an additional motive to virtue, a conviction de­rived from experience, that happiness de­pends on regularity and order, and that a disregard to justice or propriety never fails to be punished with shame and remorse*.

Rude ages exhibit the triumph of autho­rity over reason. Philosophers anciently were divided into sects: they were either Epicureans, Platonists, Stoics, Pythago­reans, [Page 15] or Sceptics. Men relied no farther upon their own judgement than to chuse a leader, whom they implicitly followed. In later times, happily, reason hath ob­tained the ascendant. Men now assert their native privilege of thinking for themselves, and disdain to be ranked in any sect, what­ever be the science. I must except criti­cism, which, by what fatality I know not, continues to be not less slavish in its princi­ples, nor less submissive to authority, than it was originally. Bossu, a celebrated French critic, gives many rules; but can discover no better foundation for any of them, than the practice merely of Ho­mer and Virgil, supported by the au­thority of Aristotle. Strange, that in so long a work, the concordance or discord­ance of these rules with human nature, should never once have entered his thoughts! It could not surely be his opinion, that these poets, however eminent for genius, were intitled to give laws to mankind, and that nothing now remains but blind obe­dience to their arbitrary will. If in writing they followed no rule, why should they be imitated? If they studied nature, and [Page 16] were obsequious to rational principles, why should these be concealed from us?

With respect to the present undertaking, it is not the author's intention to give a re­gular treatise upon each of the fine arts in particular; but only, in general, to apply to them some remarks and observations drawn from human nature, the true source of criticism. The fine arts are calculated for our entertainment, or for making agree­able impressions; and, by that circumstance, are distinguished from the useful arts. In order then to be a critic in the fine arts, it is necessary, as above hinted, to know what objects are naturally agreeable, and what naturally disagreeable. A complete treatise on that subject would be a field by far too extensive to be thoroughly cultivated by any one hand. The author pretends only to have entered upon the subject so far as ne­cessary for supporting his critical remarks. And he assumes no merit from his perform­ance, but that of evincing, perhaps more distinctly than hitherto has been done, that the genuine rules of criticism are all of them derived from the human heart. The [Page 17] sensitive part of our nature is a delightful speculation. What the author hath disco­vered or collected upon that subject, he chuses to impart in the gay and agreeable form of criticism; because he imagines, that this form will be more relished, and perhaps be not less instructive, than a re­gular and laboured disquisition. His plan is, to ascend gradually to principles, from facts and experiments, instead of beginning with the former, handled abstractly, and descending to the latter. But though cri­ticism be thus his only declared aim, he will not disown, that all along he had it in view, to explain the nature of man, con­sidered as a sensitive being, capable of plea­sure and pain. And though he flatters himself with having made some progress in that important science, he is however too sensible of its extent and difficulty, to un­dertake it professedly, or to avow it as the chief purpose of the present work.

To censure works, not men, is the just prerogative of criticism; and accordingly all personal censure is here avoided, unless where necessary to illustrate some general [Page 18] proposition. No praise is claimed on that account; because censuring with a view merely to find fault, is an entertainment that humanity never relishes. Writers, one would imagine, should, above all o­thers, be reserved upon that article, when they lie so open to retaliation. The author of this treatise, far from being confident of meriting no censure, entertains not even the slightest hope of such perfection. A­musement was at first the sole aim of his inquiries. Proceeding from one particular to another, the subject grew under his hand; and he was far advanced before the thought struck him, that his private medi­tations might be publicly useful. In pu­blic, however, he would not appear in a slovenly dress; and therefore he pretends not otherwise to apologise for his errors, than by observing, that, in a new subject, not less nice than extensive, errors are in some measure unavoidable. Neither pre­tends he to justify his taste in every parti­cular. That point must be extremely clear, which admits not variety of opinion; and in some matters susceptible of great refine­ment, [Page 19] time is perhaps the only infallible touch-stone of taste. To this he appeals, and to this he chearfully submits.

N. B. THE ELEMENTS OF CRITICISM, meaning the whole, is a title too assuming for this work. A number of these ele­ments or principles are here evolved: but as the author is far from imagining, that he has completed the list, a more humble title is proper, such as may express any undetermined number of parts less than the whole. This he thinks is signified by the title he has chosen, viz. ELEMENTS OF CRITICISM.


CHAPTER I. Perceptions and ideas in a train.

A MAN while awake is sensible of a continued train of objects passing in his mind. It requires no activity on his part to carry on the train: nor has he power to vary it by calling up an object at will*. At the same time we [Page 22] learn from daily experience, that a train of thought is not merely casual. And if it depend not upon will, nor upon chance, we must try to evolve by what law it is governed. The subject is of import­ance in the science of human nature; and I promise beforehand, that it will be found of great importance in the fine arts.

It appears that the relations by which things are linked together, have a great in­fluence in directing the train of thought; and we find by experience, that objects are connected in the mind precisely as they are externally. Beginning then with things external, we find that they are not more remarkable by their inherent properties than by their various relations. We can­not any where extend our view without perceiving things connected together by certain relations. One thing perceived to be a cause, is connected with its several [Page 23] effects; some things are connected by con­tiguity in time, others by contiguity in place; some are connected by resemblance, some by contrast; some go before, some follow. Not a single thing appears soli­tary, and altogether devoid of connection. The only difference is, that some are inti­mately connected, some more slightly; some near, some at a distance.

Experience as well as reason may satisfy us, that the train of mental perceptions is in a great measure regulated by the forego­ing relations. Where a number of things are linked together, the idea of any one sug­gests the rest; and in this manner is a train of thoughts composed. Such is the law of succession; whether an original law, or whether directed by some latent principle, is doubtful; and probably will for ever re­main so. This law, however, is not invio­lable. It sometimes happens, though rare­ly, that an idea presents itself to the mind without any connection, so far at least as can be discovered.

But though we have not the absolute command of ideas, yet the Will hath a con­siderable [Page 24] influence in directing the order of connected ideas. There are few things but what are connected with many others. By this means, when any thing becomes an object, whether in a direct survey, or ideal­ly only, it generally suggests many of its connections. Among these a choice is af­forded. We can insist upon one, rejecting others; and we can even insist upon what has the slightest connection. Where ideas are left to their natural course, they are ge­nerally continued through the strongest connections. The mind extends its view to a son more readily than to a servant, and more readily to a neighbour than to one living at a distance. This order may be va­ried by Will, but still within the limits of connected objects. In short, every train of ideas must be a chain, in which the parti­cular ideas are linked to each other. We may vary the order of a natural train; but not so as to dissolve it altogether, by carry­ing on our thoughts in a loose manner without any connection. So far doth our power extend; and that power is sufficient for all useful purposes. To give us more [Page 25] power, would probably be detrimental in­stead of being salutary.

Will is not the only cause that prevents a train of thought from being continued through the strongest connections. Much depends on the present tone of mind; for a subject that accords with this tone is always welcome. Thus, in good spirits, a chear­ful subject will be introduced by the slight­est connection; and one that is melancho­ly, not less readily in low spirits. Again, an interesting subject is recalled, from time to time, by any connection indifferently, strong or weak. This is finely touched by Shakespear, with relation to a rich cargo at sea.

My wind, cooling my broth,
Would blow me to an ague, when I thought
What harm a wind too great might do at sea.
I should not see the sandy hour-glass run,
But I should think of shallows and of flats;
And see my wealthy Andrew dock'd in sand,
Vailing her high top lower than her ribs,
To kiss her burial. Should I go to church,
And see the holy edifice of stone,
And not bethink me strait of dangerous rocks?
[Page 26] Which touching but my gentle vessel's side,
Would scatter all the spices on the stream,
Enrobe the roaring waters with my silks;
And, in a word, but now worth this,
And now worth nothing.
Merchant of Venice, act 1. sc. 1.

Another cause clearly distinguishable from that now mentioned, hath also a consider­able influence over the train of ideas. In some minds of a singular frame, thoughts and circumstances crowd upon each other by the slightest connection. I ascribe this to a defect in the faculty of discernment. A person who cannot accurately distinguish betwixt a slight connection and one that is more solid, is equally affected with both. Such a person must necessarily have a great command of ideas, because they are intro­duced by any relation indifferently; and the slighter relations, being without number, must furnish ideas without end. This doc­trine is, in a lively manner, illustrated by Shakespear.


What is the gross sum that I owe thee?


Marry, if thou wert an honest man, [Page 27] thyself and thy money too. Thou didst swear to me on a parcel-gilt goblet, sitting in my Dol­phin chamber, at the round table, by a sea-coal fire, on Wednesday in Whitsun-week, when the Prince broke thy head for likening him to a singing man of Windsor, thou didst swear to me then, as I was washing thy wound, to marry me, and make me my Lady thy wife. Canst thou de­ny it? Did not Goodwife Keech, the butcher's wife, come in then, and call me Gossip Quickly? Coming in to borrow a mess of vinegar; telling us she had a good dish of prawns; whereby thou didst desire to eat some; whereby I told thee they were ill for a green wound? And didst not thou, when she was gone down stairs, desire me to be no more so familiarity with such poor peo­ple, saying, that ere long they should call me Madam? And didst thou not kiss me, and bid me fetch thee thirty shillings? I put thee now to thy book-oath, deny it if thou canst.

Second part, Henry IV. act 2. sc. 2.

On the other hand, a man of accurate judgement cannot have a great flow of ideas. The slighter relations making no figure in his mind, have no power to introduce ideas. And hence it is, that accurate judgement is not friendly to declamation or copious elo­quence. [Page 28] This reasoning is confirmed by ex­perience; for it is a noted observation, That a great or comprehensive memory is seldom connected with a good judgement.

As an additional confirmation, I appeal to another noted observation, That wit and judgement are seldom united. Wit consists chiefly in joining things by distant and fan­ciful relations, which surprise because they are unexpected. Such relations being of the slightest kind, readily occur to that per­son only who makes every relation equally welcome. Wit, upon that account, is, in a good measure, incompatible with solid judgement; which, neglecting trivial rela­tions, adheres to what are substantial and permanent. Thus memory and wit are of­ten conjoined: solid judgement seldom with either.

The train of thought depends not entire­ly upon relations: another cause comes in for a share; and that is the sense of order and arrangement. To things of equal rank, where there is no room for a preference, order cannot be applied; and it must be in­different in what manner they be surveyed; [Page 29] witness the sheep that make a flock, or the trees in a wood. But in things of unequal rank, order is a governing principle. Thus our tendency is, to view the principal sub­ject before we descend to its accessories or ornaments, and the superior before the in­ferior or dependent. We are equally averse to enter into a minute consideration of con­stituent parts, till the thing be first surveyed as a whole. In passing from a part to the whole, and from an accessory to its princi­pal, the connection is the same as in the op­posite direction. But a sense of order aids the transition in the latter case, and a sense of disorder obstructs it in the former. It needs scarce be added, that in thinking or reflecting on any of these particulars, and in passing from one to another ideally, we are sensible of easiness or difficulty precisely as when they are set before our eyes.

Our sense of order is conspicuous with respect to natural operations; for it always coincides with the order of nature. Think­ing upon a body in motion, we follow its natural course. The mind falls with a hea­vy body, descends with a river, and ascends [Page 30] with flame and smoke. In tracing out a fa­mily, we incline to begin at the founder, and to descend gradually to his latest poste­rity. On the contrary, musing on a lofty oak, we begin at the trunk, and mount from it to the branches. As to historical facts, we love to proceed in the order of time; or, which comes to the same, to proceed along the chain of causes and ef­fects.

But though, in following out a historical chain, our bent is to proceed orderly from causes to their effects, we find not the same bent in matters of science. There we seem rather disposed to proceed from effects to their causes, and from particular proposi­tions to those which are more general. Why this difference in matters that appear so nearly related? The cases are similar in appearance only, not in reality. In a histo­rical chain, every event is particular, the effect of some former event, and the cause of others that follow. In such a chain, there is nothing to bias the mind from the order of nature. Widely different is the case of science, when we endeavour to trace out [Page 31] causes and their effects. Many experiments are commonly reduced under one cause; and again, many of these under some one still more general and comprehensive. In our progress from particular effects to gene­ral causes, and from particular propositions to the more comprehensive, we feel a gra­dual dilatation or expansion of mind, like what is felt in proceeding along an ascend­ing series, which is extremely delightful. The pleasure here exceeds what arises from sollowing the course of nature; and it is this pleasure which regulates our train of thought in the case now mentioned, and in others that are similar. These observations, by the way, furnish materials for instituting a comparison betwixt the synthetic and ana­lytic methods of reasoning. The synthetic method descending regularly from princi­ples to their consequences, is more agree­able to the strictness of order. But in fol­lowing the opposite course in the analytic method, we have a sensible pleasure, like mounting upward, which is not felt in the other. The analytic method is more agree­able to the imagination. The other method [Page 32] will be preferred by those only who with rigidity adhere to order, and give no indul­gence to natural emotions*.

It appears then that we are framed by na­ture to relish order and connection. When an object is introduced by a proper connec­tion, we are conscious of a certain pleasure arising from that circumstance. Among objects of equal rank, the pleasure is pro­portioned to the degree of connection; but among unequal objects, where we require a certain order, the pleasure arises chiefly from an orderly arrangement. Of this one may be made sensible, in tracing objects contrary to the course of nature, or contra­ry to our sense of order. The mind pro­ceeds with alacrity from a whole to its parts, and from a principal to its accessories; but in the contrary direction, it is sensible of a sort of retrograde motion, which is unplea­sant. And here may be remarked the great influence of order upon the mind of man. Grandeur, which makes a deep impression, [Page 33] inclines us, in running over any series, to proceed from small to great, rather than from great to small. But order prevails over this tendency; and in passing from the whole to its parts, and from a subject to its ornaments, affords pleasure as well as facility, which are not felt in the opposite course. Elevation touches the mind not less than grandeur doth; and in raising the mind to elevated objects, there is a sensible pleasure. But the course of nature hath still a greater influence than elevation; and therefore the pleasure of falling with rain, and descending gradual­ly with a river, prevails over that of mount­ing upward. Hence the agreeableness of smoke ascending in a calm morning. Ele­vation concurs with the course of nature, to make this object delightful.

I am extremely sensible of the disgust men generally have at abstract speclation; and for that reason I would avoid it altogether, were it possible in a work which professes to draw the rules of criticism from human na­ture, their true source. There is indeed no choice, other than to continue for some [Page 34] time in the same track, or to abandon the undertaking altogether. Candor obliges me to notify this to my readers, that such of them whose aversion to abstract speculation is invincible, may stop short here; for till principles be explained, I can promise no entertainment to those who shun thinking. But I flatter myself with a different taste in the bulk of readers. Some few, I imagine, will relish the abstract part for its own sake; and many for the useful purposes to which it may be applied. For encouraging the latter to proceed with alacrity, I assure them beforehand that the foregoing speculation leads to many important rules of criticism, which shall be unfolded in the course of this work. In the mean time, for instant satisfaction in part, they will be pleased to accept the following specimen.

It is required in every work of art, that, like an organic system, the constituent parts be mutually connected, and bear each of them a relation to the whole, some more intimate, some less, according to their desti­nation. Order is not less essential than con­nection; and when due regard is paid to [Page 35] these, we have a sense of just composition, and so far are pleased with the performance. Homer is defective in order and connection; and Pindar more remarkably. Regularity, order, and connection, are painful restraints on a bold and fertile imagination; and are not patiently submitted to, but after much culture and discipline. In Horace there is no fault more eminent than want of con­nection. Instances are without number. In the first fourteen lines of ode 7. lib. 1. he mentions several towns and districts which by some were relished more than by others. In the remainder of the ode, Plancus is ex­horted to drown his cares in wine. Having narrowly escaped death by the fall of a tree, this poet* takes occasion properly to ob­serve, that while we guard against some dangers, we are exposed to others we can­not foresee. He ends with displaying the power of music. The parts of ode 16. lib. 2. are so loosely connected as to disfigure a poem otherwise extremely beautiful. The 1st, 2d, 3d, 4th, 11th, 24th, 27th odes of the [Page 36] 3d book, lie open all of them to the same cen­sure. The 1st satire, book 1. is so deformed by want of unity and connection of parts, as upon the whole to be scarce agreeable. It commences with an important question, How it happens that persons who are so much satisfied with themselves, are generally so little with their condition? After illustra­ting the observation in a sprightly manner by several examples, the author, forgetting his subject, enters upon a declamation a­gainst avarice, which he pursues till the line 108. There he makes an apology for wandering, and promises to return to his subject. But avarice having got possession of his mind, he follows out that theme to the end, and never returns to the que­stion proposed in the beginning.

In the Georgies of Virgil, though e­steemed the most finished work of that author, the parts are ill connected, and the transitions far from being sweet and easy. In the first book* he deviates from his subject to give a description of the five [Page 37] zones. The want of connection here is remarkable, as well as in the description of the prodigies that accompanied the death of Caesar, with which the same book is con­cluded. A digression upon the praises of Italy in the second book*, is not more happily introduced. And in the midst of a declamation upon the pleasures of hus­bandry, that makes part of the same book, the author appears personally upon the stage without the slightest connection. The two prefaces of Sallust look as if they had been prefixed by some blunder to his two histories. They will suit any other history as well, or any subject as well as history. Even the members of these prefaces are but loosely connected. They look more like a number of maxims or observations than a connected discourse.

An episode in a narrative poem being in effect an accessory, demands not that strict union with the principal subject which is requisite betwixt a whole and its consti­tuent parts. The relation however of prin­cipal [Page 34] [...] [Page 35] [...] [Page 36] [...] [Page 37] [...] [Page 38] and accessory being pretty intimate, an episode loosely connected with the prin­cipal subject will never be graceful. I give for an example the descent of Aeneas into hell, which employs the sixth book of the Aeneid. The reader is not prepared for this important event. No cause is assigned, that can make it appear necessary or even natural, to suspend, for so long a time, the principal action in its most interesting pe­riod. To engage Aeneas to wander from his course in search of an adventure so ex­traordinary, the poet can find no better pretext, than the hero's longing to visit the ghost of his father recently dead. In the mean time the story is interrupted, and the reader loses his ardor. An episode so ex­tremely beautiful is not at any rate to be dispensed with. It is pity however, that it doth not arise more naturally from the sub­ject. I must observe at the same time, that full justice is done to this incident, by con­sidering it to be an episode; for if it be a constituent part of the principal action, the connection ought to be still more intimate. The same objection lies against that elabo­rate [Page 39] description of Fame in the Aeneid*. Any other book of that heroic poem, or of any heroic poem, has as good a title to that description as the book where it is placed.

In a natural landscape, we every day per­ceive a multitude of objects connected by contiguity solely. Objects of sight make an impression so lively, as that a relation, even of the slightest kind, is relished. This how­ever ought not to be imitated in description. Words are so far short of the eye in liveli­ness of impression, that in a description the connection of objects ought to be carefully studied, in order to make the deeper im­pression. For it is a known fact, the rea­son of which is suggested above, that it is easier by words to introduce into the mind a related object, than one which is not con­nected with the preceding train. In the fol­lowing passage, different things are brought together without the slightest connection, if it be not what may be called verbal, i. e. taking the same word in different meanings.

[Page 40]
Surgamus: solet esse gravis cantantibus umbra.
Juniperi gravis umbra: nocent et frugibus umbrae.
Ite domum saturae, venit Hesperus, ite capellae.
Virg. Buc. 10. 75.

The metaphorical or figurative appear­ance of an object, is no good cause for in­troducing that object in its real and natural appearance. A relation so slight can never be relished.

Distrust in lovers is too warm a sun;
But yet 'tis night in love when that is gone.
And in those climes which most his scorching know,
He makes the noblest fruits and metals grow.
Part 2. Conquest of Granada, act 3.

The relations among objects have a con­siderable influence in the gratification of our passions, and even in their production. But this subject is reserved to be treated in the chapter of emotions and passions*.

There is perhaps not another instance of a building so great erected upon a founda­tion so slight in appearance, as that which is [Page 41] erected upon the relations of objects and their arrangement. Relations make no ca­pital figure in the mind: the bulk of them are transitory, and some extremely trivial. They are however the links that, uniting our perceptions into one connected chain, produce connection of action, because per­ceptions and actions have an intimate corre­spondence. But it is not sufficient for the conduct of life that our actions be linked together, however intimately: it is beside necessary that they proceed in a certain or­der; and this also is provided for by an o­riginal propensity. Thus order and con­nection, while they admit sufficient variety, introduce a method in the management of affairs. Without them our conduct would be fluctuating and desultory; and we would be hurried from thought to thought, and from action to action, entirely at the mercy of chance.

CHAP. II. Emotions and Passions.

THE fine arts, as observed above*, are all of them calculated to give pleasure to the eye or the ear; and they never descend to gratify the taste, touch, or smell. At the same time, the feelings of the eye and ear, are of all the feelings of external sense, those only which are honoured with the name of emotions or passions. It is also observed above, that the principles of the fine arts are un­folded by studying the sensitive part of hu­man nature, in order to know what objects of the eye and ear are agreeable, what dis­agreeable. These observations show the use of the present chapter. We evidently must be acquainted with the nature and cau­ses of emotions and passions, before we can judge with any accuracy how far they are [Page 43] under the power of the fine arts. The cri­tical art is thus set in a fine point of view. The inquisitive mind beginning with cri­ticism the most agreeable of all amuse­ments, and finding no obstruction in its progress, advances far into the sensitive part of our nature; and gains insensibly a thorough knowledge of the human heart, of its desires, and of every motive to action; a science which of all that can be reached by man, is to him of the greatest import­ance.

Upon a subject so extensive, all that can be expected here, is a general or slight sur­vey. Some emotions indeed more pecu­liarly connected with the fine arts, I pro­pose to handle in separate chapters; a me­thod that will shorten the general survey considerably. And yet, after this circum­scription, so much matter comes under even a general view of the passions and emotions, that, to avoid confusion, I find it necessary to divide this chapter into many parts: in the first of which are handled the causes of those emotions and passions that are the most common and familiar; for to ex­plain [Page 44] every passion and emotion, however singular, would be an endless work. And though I could not well take up less ground, without separating things intimately con­nected; yet, upon examination, I find the causes of our emotions and passions to be so numerous and various, as to make a sub­division also necessary by splitting this first part into several sections. Human nature is a complicated machine, and must be so to answer all its purposes. There have indeed been published to the world, many a system of human nature, that flatter the mind by their simplicity. But these, unluckily, deviate far from truth and reality. According to some writers, man is entirely a selfish being: according to others, universal benevolence is his duty. One founds morality upon sym­pathy solely, and one upon utility. If any of these systems were of nature's produc­tion, the present subject might be soon discussed. But the variety of nature is not so easily reached; and for confuting such Utopian systems without the intricacy of reasoning, it appears the best method to [Page 45] enter into human nature, and to set before the eye, plainly and candidly, facts as they really exist.

PART I. Causes evolved of the emotions and passions.

SECT. I. Difference betwixt emotion and passion.—Causes that are the most common and the most extensive.—Passion considered as productive of action.

THese branches are so interwoven, as to make it necessary that they be handled together. It is a fact universally admitted, that no emotion nor passion ever starts up in the mind, without a known cause. If I love a person, it is for good qualities or good offices: if I have resent­ment against a man, it must be for some injury he has done me; and I cannot pity any one, who is under no distress of body or of mind.

[Page 46] The circumstances now mentioned, if they cause or occasion a passion, cannot be entirely indifferent: if they were, they could not move us in any degree. And we find upon examination, that they are not indiffer­ent. Looking back upon the foregoing examples, the good qualities or good offi­ces that attract my love, are antecedently agreeable. If an injury were not disagree­able, it would not occasion any resentment against the author; nor would the passion of pity be raised by an object in distress, if that object did not give us pain. These feelings antecedent to passion, and which seem to be the causes of passion, shall be distinguished by the name of emotions.

What is now said about the production of passion, resolves into a very simple proposi­tion, That we love what is pleasant, and hate what is painful. And indeed it is evi­dent, that without antecedent emotions we could not have any passions; for a thing must be pleasant or painful, before it can be the object either of love or of hatred.

As it appears from this short sketch, that passions are generated by means of prior e­motions, [Page 47] it will be necessary to take first under consideration emotions and their causes.

Such is the constitution of our nature, that upon perceiving certain external objects, we are instantaneously conscious of pleasure or pain. A flowing river, a smooth extend­ed plain, a spreading oak, a towering hill, are objects of sight that raise pleasant emo­tions. A barren heath, a dirty marsh, a rotten carcass, raise painful emotions. Of the emotions thus produced, we inquire for no other cause but merely the presence of the object.

It must further be observed, that the things now mentioned, raise emotions by means of their properties and qualities. To the emotion raised by a large river, its size, its force, and its fluency, contribute each a share. The pleasures of regularity, pro­priety, convenience, compose the emotion raised by a fine building.

If external properties make a being or thing agreeable, we have reason to expect the same effect from those which are inter­nal; and accordingly power, discernment, [Page 48] wit, mildness, sympathy, courage, bene­volence, render the possessor agreeable in a high degree. So soon as these qualities are perceived in any person, we instantaneously feel pleasant emotions, without the slightest act of reflection or of attention to consequen­ces. It is almost unnecessary to add, that certain qualities opposite to the former, such as dullness, peevishness, inhumanity, coward­ice, occasion in the same manner painful emotions.

Sensible beings affect us remarkably by their actions. Some actions so soon as per­ceived, raise pleasant emotions in the spec­tator, without the least reflection; such as graceful motion and genteel behaviour. But as the intention of the agent is a capital circumstance in the bulk of human actions, it requires reflection to discover their true character. If I see one delivering a purse of money to another, I can make nothing of this action, till I discover with what in­tention the money is given. If it be given to extinguish a debt, the action is agreeable in a slight degree. If it be a grateful return, I feel a stronger emotion; and the plea­surable [Page 49] emotion rises to a great height when it is the intention of the giver to re­lieve a virtuous family from want. Actions are thus qualified by the intention of the a­gent. But they are not qualified by the e­vent; for an action well intended is agree­able, whatever be the consequence. The pleasant or painful emotion that ariseth from contemplating human actions, is of a pecu­liar kind. Human actions are perceived to be right or wrong; and this perception qua­lifies the pleasure or pain that results from them*.

[Page 50] Not only are emotions raised in us by the qualities and actions of others, but also by their feelings. I cannot behold a man in distress, without partaking of his pain; nor in joy, without partaking of his pleasure.

The beings or things above described, occasion emotions in us, not only in the ori­ginal survey, but when they are recalled to the memory in idea. A field laid out with taste, is pleasant in the recollection, as well as when under our eye. A generous ac­tion described in words or colours, occasions a sensible emotion, as well as when we see [Page 51] it performed. And when we reflect upon the distress of any person, our pain is of the same kind with what we felt when eye­witnesses. In a word, an agreeable or dis­agreeable object recalled to the mind in idea, is the occasion of a pleasant or painful emotion, of the same kind with that pro­duced when the object was present. The only difference is, that an idea being fainter than an original perception, the pleasure or pain produced by the former, is proportion­ably fainter than that produced by the latter.

Having explained the nature of an emo­tion and mentioned several causes by which it is produced, we proceed to an observation of considerable importance in the science of human nature, that some emotions are ac­companied with desire, and that others, af­ter a short existence, pass away without pro­ducing desire of any sort. The emotion raised by a fine landscape or a magnificent building, vanisheth generally without at­taching our hearts to the object; which al­so happens with relation to a number of fine faces in a crowded assembly. But the bulk of emotions are accompanied with desire of [Page 52] one sort or other, provided only a fit ob­ject for desire be suggested. This is re­markably the case of emotions raised by hu­man actions and qualities. A virtuous ac­tion raiseth in every spectator a pleasant e­motion, which is generally attended with a desire to do good to the author of the action. A vicious action, on the other hand, pro­duceth a painful emotion; and of conse­quence a desire to have the author punish­ed. Even things inanimate often raise de­sire. The goods of fortune are objects of desire almost universally; and the desire, when more than commonly vigorous, ob­tains the name of avarice. The pleasant emotion produced in a spectator by a capital picture in the possession of a prince, seldom raiseth desire. But if such a picture be ex­posed to sale, desire of having or possessing is the natural consequence of the emotion.

If now an emotion be sometimes pro­ductive of desire, somtimes not, it comes to be a material inquiry, in what respect a passion differs from an emotion. Is passion in its nature or feeling distinguishable from emotion? I have been apt to think that [Page 53] there must be a distinction, when the emo­tion seems in all cases to precede the passion, and to be the cause or occasion of it. But after the strictest examination, I cannot perceive any such distinction betwixt emo­tion and passion. What is love to a mi­stress, for example, but a pleasant emotion raised by a sight or idea of the person belo­ved, joined with desire of enjoyment? In what else consists the passion of resentment, but in a painful emotion occasioned by the injury, accompanied with desire to chastise the author of the injury? In general, as to every sort of passion, we find no more in the composition, but the particulars now men­tioned, an emotion pleasant or painful ac­companied with desire. What then shall we say upon this subject? Are passion and emotion synonymous terms? This cannot be averred. No feeling nor agitation of the mind void of desire, is termed a passion; and we have discovered that there are ma­ny emotions which pass away without rai­sing desire of any kind. How is the diffi­culty to be solved? There appears to me but one solution, which I relish the more, [Page 54] as it renders the doctrine of the passions and emotions simple and perspicuous. The so­lution follows. An internal motion or agi­tation of the mind, when it passeth away without raising desire, is denominated an emotion: when desire is raised, the mo­tion or agitation is denominated a passion. A fine face, for example, raiseth in me a pleasant feeling. If this feeling vanish without producing any effect, it is in proper language an emotion. But if such feeling, by reiterated views of the object, become sufficiently strong to raise desire, it is no longer termed an emotion, but a passion. The same holds in all the other passions. The painful feeling raised in a spectator by a slight injury done to a stranger, being ac­companied with no desire of revenge, is termed an emotion. But this injury raiseth in the stranger a stronger emotion, which being accompanied with desire of revenge, is a passion. Again, external expressions of distress, produce in the spectator a pain­ful feeling. This feeling is sometimes so slight as to pass away without any effect, in which case it is an emotion. But if the [Page 55] feeling be so strong as to prompt desire of affording relief, it is a passion, and is termed pity. Envy is emulation in excess. If the exaltation of a competitor be barely disa­greeable, the painful feeling is reckoned an emotion. If it produce desire to depress him, it is reckoned a passion.

To prevent mistakes, it must be obser­ved, that desire here is taken in its proper sense, viz. that internal impulse which makes us proceed to action. Desire in a lax sense respects also actions and events that depend not on us, as when I desire that my friend may have a son to represent him, or that my country may flourish in arts and sciences. But such internal act is more properly termed a wish than a desire.

Having distinguished passion from emo­tion, we proceed to consider passion more at large, with respect especially to its power of producing action.

We have daily and constant experience for our authority, that no man ever pro­ceeds to action but through the impulse of some antecedent desire. So well established is this observation, and so deeply rooted in [Page 56] the mind, that we can scarce imagine a different system of action. Even a child will say familiarly, What should make me do this or that when I have no inclination to it? Taking it then for granted, that the existence of action depends on antecedent desire; it follows, that where there is no desire there can be no action. This opens another shining distinction betwixt emotions and passions. The former, being without desire, are in their nature quiescent: the latter, involving desire, have a tendency to action, and always produce action where they meet with no obstruction.

Hence it follows, that every passion must have an object, viz. that being or thing to which our desire is directed, and with a view to which every action prompted by that desire is performed. The object of every passion is that being or thing which produced it. This will be evident from induction. A fine woman, by her beauty, causes in me the passion of love, which is directed upon her as its object. A man by injuring me, raises my resentment; and becomes thereby the object of my resent­ment. [Page 57] Thus the cause of a passion, and its object, are the same in different views. An emotion, on the other hand, being in its nature quiescent and merely a passive feeling, must have a cause; but can­not be said properly speaking to have an object.

As the desire involved in every passion leads to action, this action is either ultimate, or it is done as a means to some end. Where the action is ultimate, reason and reflection bear no part. The action is per­formed blindly by the impulse of passion, without any view. Thus one in extreme hunger snatches at food, without the slightest reflection whether it be salutary or not: Avarice prompts to accumulate wealth without the least view of use; and thereby absurdly converts means into an end: Fear often makes us fly before we reflect whe­ther we really be in danger: and animal love not less often hurries to fruition, with­out a single thought of gratification. But for the most part, actions are performed as means to some end; and in these actions reason and reflection always bear a part. [Page 58] The end is that event which is desired; and the action is deliberately performed in order to bring about that end. Thus affec­tion to my friend involves a desire to make him happy; and the desire to accomplish that end, prompts me to perform what I judge will contribute to it.

Where the action is ultimate, it hath a cause, viz. the impulse of the passion. But we cannot properly say it hath a motive. This term is appropriated to actions that are performed as means to some end; and the conviction that the action will tend to bring about the end desired, is termed a motive. Thus passions considered as cau­ses of action, are distinguished into two kinds; instinctive, and deliberative. The first operating blindly and by mere impulse, depend entirely upon the sensitive part of our nature. The other operating by reflec­tion and by motives, are connected with the rational part.

The foregoing difference among the pas­sions, is the work of nature. Experience brings on some variations. By all actions per­formed through the impulse of passion, de­sire [Page 59] is gratified, and the gratification is plea­sant. This lesson we have from experience. And hence it is, that after an action has often been performed by the impulse merely of passion, the pleasure resulting from per­formance, considered beforehand, becomes a motive, which joins its force with the o­riginal impulse in determining us to act. Thus a child eats by the mere impulse of hunger: a young man thinks of the plea­sure of gratification, which is a motive for him to eat: and a man farther advanced in life, hath the additional motive that it will contribute to his health.

Instinctive passions are distinguished into two kinds. Where the cause is internal, they are denominated appetites: where ex­ternal, they retain the common name of passions. Thus hunger, thirst, animal love, are termed appetites; while fear and anger, even when they operate blindly and by mere impulse, are termed passions.

From the definition of a motive above given, it is easy to determine, with the greatest accuracy, what passions are selfish, what social. No passion can properly be [Page 60] termed selfish, but what prompts me to exert actions in order for my own good; nor social, but what prompts me to exert actions in order for the good of another. The motive is that which determines a passion to be social or selfish. Hence it follows, that our appetites, which make us act blindly and by mere impulse, cannot be reckoned either social or selfish; and as little the actions they produce. Thus eat­ing, when prompted by an impulse merely of nature, is neither social nor selfish. But add a motive, That it will contribute to my pleasure or my health, and it becomes in a measure selfish. On the other hand, when affection moves me to exert actions to the end solely of advancing my friend's happi­ness, without the slightest regard to my own gratification, such actions are justly denominated social; and so is the affection that is their cause. If another motive be added, That gratifying the affection will contribute to my own happiness, the ac­tions I perform become partly selfish. A­nimal love when exerted into action by na­tural impulse singly, is neither social nor selfish: when exerted with a view to gra­tification [Page 61] and in order to make me happy, it is selfish. When the motive of giving pleasure to its object is superadded, it is partly social, partly selfish. A just action when prompted by the love of justice sole­ly, is neither social nor selfish. When I perform an act of justice with a view to the pleasure of gratification, the action is selfish. I pay my debt for my own sake, not with a view to benefit my creditor. But let me suppose the money has been ad­vanced by a friend without interest, purely to oblige me. In this case, together with the inclination to do justice, there arises a motive of gratitude, which respects the cre­ditor solely, and prompts me to act in or­der to do him good. Here the action is partly social, partly selfish. Suppose again I meet with a surprising and unexpected act of generosity, that inspires me with love to my benefactor and the utmost gratitude. I burn to do him good: he is the sole object of my desire; and my own pleasure in gra­tifying the desire, vanisheth out of sight. In this case, the action I perform is purely so­cial. Thus it happens, that when a social motive becomes strong, the action is ex­erted [Page 62] with a view singly to the object of the passion; and the selfish pleasure arising from gratification is never once considered. The same effect of stifling selfish motives, is equally remarkable in other passions that are in no view social. Ambition, for ex­ample, when confined to exaltation as its ultimate end, is neither social nor selfish. Let exaltation be considered as a means to make me happy, and the passion becomes so far selfish. But if the desire of exalta­tion wax strong and inflame my mind, the selfish motive now mentioned is no longer felt. A slight degree of resentment, where my chief view in acting is the pleasure a­rising to myself from gratifying the passion, is justly denominated selfish. Where re­venge flames so high as to have no other aim but the destruction of its object, it is no longer selfish. In opposition to a social passion, it may be termed dissocial *.

[Page 63] Of self, every one hath a direct percep­tion: of other things, we have no know­ledge but by means of their attributes. Hence it is, that of self, the perception is more lively than of any other thing. Self is an agreeable object; and, for the reason now given, must be more agreeable than any o­ther object. Is not this sufficient to account for the prevalence of self-love?

In the foregoing part of this chapter, it is suggested, that some circumstances make beings or things fit objects for desire, others not. This hint must be pursued. It is a truth ascertained by universal experience, that a thing which in our apprehension is beyond reach, never is the object of desire. No man, in his right senses, desires to walk in the air, or to descend to the centre of the earth. We may amuse ourselves in a re­verie, with building castles in the air, and [Page 64] wishing for what can never happen. But such things never move desire. And in­deed a desire to act would be altogether ab­surd, when we are conscious that the action is beyond our power. In the next place, though the difficulty of attainment with re­spect to things within reach, often inflames desire; yet where the prospect of attain­ment is faint and the event extremely un­certain, the object, however agreeable, sel­dom raiseth any strong desire. Thus beau­ty or other good qualities in a woman of rank, seldom raises love in any man greatly her inserior. In the third place, different objects, equally within reach, raise emo­tions in different degrees; and when desire accompanies any of these emotions, its strength, as is natural, is proportioned to that of its cause. Hence the remarkable difference among desires directed upon be­ings inanimate, animate, and rational. The emotion caused by a rational being, is out of measure stronger than any caused by an ani­mal without reason; and an emotion raised by such an animal, is stronger than what is caused by any thing inanimate. There is a [Page 65] separate reason why desire of which a ra­tional being is the object should be the strongest. Desire directed upon such a be­ing, is gratified many ways, by loving, ser­ving, benefiting, the object; and it is a well known truth, that our desires naturally swell by exercise. Desire directed upon an in­animate being, susceptible neither of pleasure nor pain, is not capable of a higher gratifi­cation than that of acquiring the property. Hence it is, that though every feeling which raiseth desire, is strictly speaking a passion; yet commonly those feelings only are deno­minated passions of which sensible beings capable of pleasure and pain are the objects.

SECT. II. Causes of the emotions of joy and sorrow.

THis subject was purposely reserved for a separate section, because it could not, with perspicuity, be handled under the ge­neral head. An emotion involving desire is termed a passion; and when the desire is [Page 66] fulfilled, the passion is said to be gratified. The gratification of every passion must be pleasant, or in other words produce a plea­sant emotion; for nothing can be more na­tural, than that the accomplishment of any wish or desire should affect us with joy. I cannot even except the case, where a man, through remorse, is desirous to chastise and punish himself. The joy of gratification is properly called an emotion; because it makes us happy in our present situation, and is ul­timate in its nature, not having a tendency to any thing beyond. On the other hand, sorrow must be the result of an event con­trary to what we desire; for if the accom­plishment of desire produce joy, it is equally natural that disappointment should produce sorrow.

An event fortunate or unfortunate, that falls out by accident without being foreseen or thought of, and which therefore could not be the object of desire, raiseth an emo­tion of the same kind with that now men­tioned. But the cause must be different; for there can be no gratification where there is no desire. We have not however far to [Page 67] seek for a cause. A man cannot be indiffer­ent to an event that affects him or any of his connections. If it be fortunate, it gives him joy; if unfortunate, it gives him sor­row.

In no situation doth joy rise to a greater height, than upon the removal of any vio­lent distress of mind or body; and in no si­tuation doth sorrow rise to a greater height, than upon the removal of what makes us happy. The sensibility of our nature serves in part to account for these effects. Other causes also concur. We can be under no violent distress without an anxious desire to be free from it; and therefore its removal is a high gratification. We cannot be possessed of any thing that makes us happy, without wishing its continuance; and therefore its removal by crossing our wishes must create sorrow. Nor is this all. The principle of contrast comes in for its share. An emotion of joy arising upon the removal of pain, is increased by contrast when we reflect upon our former distress. En emotion of sorrow upon being deprived of any good, is increa­sed [Page 68] by contrast when we reflect upon our former happiness.

There's not a wretch that lives on common charity,
But's happier than me. For I have known
The luscious sweets of plenty: every night
Have slept with soft content about my head,
And never wak'd but to a joyful morning.
Yet now must fall like a full ear of corn,
Whose blossom 'scap'd, yet's wither'd in the ripening.
Venice preserv'd, act 1. sc. 1.

It hath always been reckoned difficult to account for the extreme pleasure that fol­lows a cessation of bodily pain; as when one is relieved from the rack, or from a vio­lent fit of the stone. What is said, explains this difficulty in the easiest and simplest manner. Cessation of bodily pain is not of itself a pleasure; for a non-ens or a negative can neither give pleasure nor pain. But man is so framed by nature as to rejoice when he is eased of pain, as well as to be sorrow­ful when deprived of any good. This branch of our constitution, is chiefly the [Page 69] cause of the pleasure. The gratification of desire comes in as an accessory cause; and contrast joins its force, by increasing the sense of our present happiness. In the case of an acute pain, a peculiar circumstance contributes its part. The brisk circulation of the animal spirits occasioned by acute pain, continues after the pain is vanished, and produceth a very pleasant feeling. Sick­ness hath not that effect, because it is al­ways attended with a depression of spirits.

Hence it is, that the gradual dimi­nution of acute pain, occasions a mixt emotion, partly pleasant, partly painful. The partial diminution produceth joy in proportion; but the remaining pain balan­ceth our joy. This mixt feeling, how­ever, hath no long endurance. For the joy that ariseth upon the diminution of pain, soon vanisheth; and leaveth in the undis­turbed possession, that degree of pain which remains.

What is above observed about bodily pain, is equally applicable to the distresses of the mind; and accordingly it is a common ar­tifice, to prepare us for the reception of good news by alarming our fears.

SECT. III. Sympathetic emotion of virtue, and its cause.

ONE feeling there is, that merits a delibe­rate view, for its singularity, as well as utility. Whether to call it an emotion or a passion, seems uncertain. The former it can scarce be, because it involves desire; and the latter it can scarce be, because it has no object. But this feeling and its nature will be best understood from examples. A sig­nal act of gratitude, produceth in the specta­tor love or esteem for the author. The spectator hath at the same time a separate feeling; which, being mixed with love or esteem, the capital emotion, hath not been much adverted to. It is a vague feeling of gratitude, which hath no object; but which, however, disposes the spectator to acts of gratitude, more than upon ordinary occasions. Let any man attentively consi­der his own heart when he thinks warmly of any signal act of gratitude, and he will be conscious of this feeling, as distinct from [Page 71] the esteem or admiration he has for the grateful person. It merits our utmost atten­tion, by unfolding a curious piece of me­chanism in the nature of man. The feeling is singular in the following respect, that it involves a desire to perform acts of gratitude, without having any particular object; though in this state the mind, wonderfully disposed toward an object, neglects no ob­ject upon which it can vent itself. Any act of kindness or good-will that would not be regarded upon another occasion, is greedily seized; and the vague feeling is converted into a real passion of gratitude. In such a state, favours are returned double.

Again, a courageous action produceth in a spectator the passion of admiration direct­ed upon the author. But beside this well­known passion, a separate feeling is raised in the spectator; which may be called an emotion of courage, because while under its influence he is conscious of a boldness and intrepidity beyond ordinary, and longs for proper objects upon which to exert this emotion.

[Page 72]
Spumantemque dari, pecora inter inertia, votis
Optat aprum, aut fulvum descendere monte leo­nem.
Aeneid. iv. 158.
Non altramente 'il tauro, oue l' irriti
Geloso amor con stimoli pungenti
Horribilmente mugge, e co' muggiti
Gli spirti in se risueglia, e l'ire ardenti:
E'l corno aguzza a i tronchi, e par ch'inuiti
Con vani colpi a'la battaglia i venti.
Tasso, canto 7. st. 55.
So full of valour that they smote the air
For breathing in their faces.
Tempest, act. 4. sc. 4.

For another example, let us figure some grand and heroic action, highly agreeable to the spectator. Beside a singular venera­tion for the author, the spectator feels in himself an unusual dignity of character, which disposeth him to great and noble ac­tions. And herein principally consists the extreme delight every one hath in the hi­stories of conquerors and heroes.

This singular feeling, which may be termed the sympathetic emotion of virtue, re­sembles, [Page 73] in one respect, the well-known ap­petites that lead to the propagation and pre­servation of the species. The appetites of hunger, thirst, and animal love, arise in the mind without being directed upon any par­ticular object; and in no case whatever is the mind more solicitous for a proper object, than when under the influence of any of these appetites.

The feeling I have endeavoured to e­volve, may well be termed the sympathe­tic emotion of virtue; for it is raised in a spectator by virtuous actions of every kind, and by no other sort. When we contem­plate a virtuous action, which never fails to delight us and to prompt our love for the author, the mind is warmed and put into a tone similar to what inspired the virtuous ac­tion. The propensity we have to such ac­tions is so much enlivened, as to become for a time an actual emotion. But no man hath a propensity to vice as such. On the contrary, a wicked deed disgusts him, and makes him abhor the author. This abhorrence is a strong antidote so long as [Page 74] any impression remains of the wicked ac­tion.

In a rough road, a halt to view a fine country is refreshing; and here a delightful prospect opens upon us. It is indeed won­derful to see what incitements there are to virtue in the human frame. Justice is per­ceived to be our duty, and it is guarded by natural punishments, from which the guilty never escape. To perform noble and gene­rous actions, a warm sense of dignity and superior excellence is a most efficacious incitement*. And to leave virtue in no quarter unsupported, here is unfolded an admirable contrivance, by which good ex­ample commands the heart and adds to virtue the force of habit. Did our moral feelings extend no farther than to approve the action and to bestow our affection on the author, good example would not have great influence. But to give it the utmost force, nothing can be better contrived than the sympathetic emotion under considera­tion, [Page 75] which prompts us to imitate what we admire. This singular emotion will readily find an object to exert itself upon; and at any rate, it never exists without producing some effect. Virtuous emotions of this sort, are in some degree an exercise of virtue. They are a mental exercise at least, if they show not externally. And every exercise of virtue, internal and external, leads to habit; for a disposition or propensity of the mind, like a limb of the body, becomes stronger by exercise. Proper means, at the same time, being ever at hand to raise this sympathetic emotion, its frequent reiteration may, in a good measure, supply the want of a more complete exercise. Thus, by proper discipline, every person may acquire a set­tled habit of virtue. Intercourse with men of worth, histories of generous and disin­terested actions, and frequent meditation upon them, keep the sympathetic emotion in constant exercise, which by degrees intro­duceth a habit, and confirms the authority of virtue. With respect to education in particular, what a spacious and commo­dious avenue to the heart of a young per­son, is here opened?

SECT. IV. In many instances one emotion is productive of another. The same of passions.

IN the first chapter it is observed, that the relations by which things are mutually connected, have a remarkable influence in regulating the train of our ideas. I here add, that they have an influence not less remarkable, in generating emotions and passions. Beginning with the former, it holds in fact, that an agreeable object makes every thing connected with it appear agree­able. The mind gliding sweetly and easily through related objects, carries along the beauty of objects that made a figure, and blends that beauty with the idea of the pre­sent object, which thereby appears more agreeable than when considered apart*. [Page 77] This reason may appear obscure and meta­physical, but it must be relished when we attend to the following examples, which establish the fact beyond all dispute. No relation is more intimate than that betwixt a being and its qualities; and accordingly, the affection I bear a man expands itself readily upon all his qualities, which by that means make a greater figure in my mind than more substantial qualities in others. The talent of speaking in a friend, is more regarded than that of acting in a person with whom I have no connection; and graceful motion in a mistress, gives more delight than consummate prudence in any other woman. Affection sometimes rises so high, [Page 78] as to convert defects into properties. The wry neck of Alexander was imitated by his courtiers as a real beauty, without inten­tion to flatter. Thus Lady Piercy, speak­ing of her husband Hotspur,

—By his light
Did all the chivalry of England move,
To do brave acts. He was indeed the glass,
Wherein the noble youth did dress themselves.
He had no legs that practis'd not his gait:
And speaking thick, which Nature made his ble­mish,
Became the accents of the valiant:
For those who could speak low and tardily,
Would turn their own perfection to abuse,
To seem like him.
Second part, Henry IV. act 2. sc. 6.

When the passion of love has ended its course, its object becomes quite a different creature.—Nothing left of that genteel motion, that gaiety, that sprightly conversa­tion, those numberless graces, that former­ly, in the lover's opinion, charmed all hearts.

The same communication of passion ob­tains [Page 79] in the relation of principal and accesso­ry. Pride, of which self is the object, ex­pands itself upon a house, a garden, ser­vants, equipage, and every thing of that nature. A lover addresseth his mistress's glove in the following terms: ‘Sweet ornament that decks a thing divine.’ A temple is in a proper sense an accessory of the deity to which it is dedicated. Diana is chaste, and not only her temple, but the very isicle which hangs on it, must partake of that property:

The noble sister of Poplicola,
The moon of Rome; chaste as the isicle
That's curdled by the frost from purest snow,
And hangs on Dian's temple.
Coriolanus, act 5. sc. 3.

Thus it is, that the respect and esteem, which the great, the powerful, the opulent naturally command, are in some measure communicated to their dress, to their man­ners, and to all their connections. It is this [Page 80] principle, which in matters left to our own choice prevails over the natural taste of beauty and propriety, and gives currency to what is called the fashion.

By means of the same easiness of transi­tion, the bad qualities of an object are car­ried along, and grafted upon related objects. Every good quality in a person is extinguish­ed by hatred; and every bad quality is spread upon all his connections. A relation more slight and transitory than that of ha­tred, may have the same effect. Thus the bearer of bad tidings becomes an object of aversion:

Fellow begone, I cannot brook thy sight,
This news hath made thee a most ugly man.
King John, act 3. sc. 1.

Yet the first bringer of unwelcome news
Hath but a losing office: and his tongue
Sounds ever after, as a sullen bell
Remember'd, tolling a departing friend.
Second part, Henry IV. act 1. sc. 3.

This disposition of the mind to commu­nicate the properties of one object to ano­ther, [Page 81] is not always proportioned to the inti­macy of their connection. The order of the transition from object to object, hath al­so an influence. The sense of order ope­rates not less powerfully in this case, than in the succession of ideas*. If a thing be agreeable in itself, all its accessories appear agreeable. But the agreeableness of an ac­cessory, extends not itself so readily to the principal. Any dress upon a fine woman is becoming; but the most elegant orna­ments upon one that is homely, have scarce any effect to mend her appearance. The reason will be obvious, from what is said in the chapter above cited. The mind pass­es more easily from the principal to its ac­cessories, than in the opposite direction.

The emotions produced as above may properly be termed secondary, being occa­sioned either by antecedent emotions or an­tecedent passions, which in this respect may be termed primary. And to complete the present theory, I must now remark a difference betwixt a primary emotion and a [Page 82] primary passion in the production of secon­dary emotions. A secondary emotion can­not but be more faint than the primary; and therefore, if the chief or principal ob­ject have not the power to raise a passion, the accessory object will have still less power. But if a passion be raised by the principal object, the secondary emotion may readily swell into a passion for the accessory, provi­ded the accessory be a proper object for de­sire. And thus it happens that one passion is often productive of another. Examples are without number: the sole difficulty is a proper choice. I begin with self-love, and the power it hath to generate other passions. The love which parents bear their children, is an illustrious example of the foregoing doctrine. Every man, beside making part of a greater system, like a comet, a planet, or satellite only; hath a less system of his own, in the centre of which he represents the sun dispersing his fire and heat all a­round. The connection between a man and his children, fundamentally that of cause and effect, becomes, by the addition of other circumstances, the completest that can [Page 83] be among individuals; and therefore, self-love, the most vigorous of all passions, is readily expanded upon children. The se­condary emotion they at first produce by means of their connection, is, generally speaking, 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. The following case will demonstrate the truth of this theory. Remorse for betraying a friend, or murdering an enemy in cold blood, makes a man even hate himself. In this state, it is a matter of experience, that he is scarce conscious of any affection to his children, but rather of disgust or ill-will. What cause can be assigned for this change, other than the hatred which beginning at himself, is expanded upon his children? And if so, may we not with equal reason derive from self-love the affection a man for ordinary has to them?

The affection a man bears to his blood­relations, depends on the same principle. Self-love is also expanded upon them; and the communicated passion, is more or less [Page 84] vigorous in proportion to the connection. Nor doth self-love rest here: it is, by the force of connection, communicated 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 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 preserv'd, shows a fine taste in taking ad­vantage of that circumstance. In the scene where Belvidera sues to her father for par­don, she is represented as pleading her mo­ther's merit, and the resemblance she bore to her mother.


My daughter!

Yes, your daughter, by a mother
Virtuous and noble, faithful to your honour,
Obedient to your will, kind to your wishes,
Dear to your arms. By all the joys she gave you,
[Page 85] When in her blooming years she was your trea­sure,
Look kindly on me; in my face behold
The lineaments of hers y' have kiss'd so often,
Pleading the cause of your poor cast-off child.

And again,

Lay me, I beg you, lay me
By the dear ashes of my tender mother.
She would have pitied me, had fate yet spar'd her.
Act 5. sc. 1.

This explains why any meritorious action or any illustrious qualification in my son or my friend, is apt to make me overvalue my­self. If I value my friend's wife or his son upon account of their connection with him, it is still more natural that I should value myself upon account of my own connection with him.

Friendship, or any other social affection, may produce opposite effects. Pity, by inter­esting us strongly for the person in distress, must of consequence inflame our resentment against the author of the distress. For, in general, the affection we have for any man, [Page 86] generates in us good-will to his friends and ill-will to his enemies. Shakespear shows great art in the funeral oration pronounced by Antony over the body of Caesar. He first endeavours to excite grief in the hearers, by dwelling upon the deplorable loss of so great a man. This passion raised to a pitch, in­teresting them strongly in Caesar's fate, could not fail to produce a lively sense of the trea­chery and cruelty of the conspirators; an infallible method to inflame the resentment of the multitude beyond all bounds.

If you have tears, prepare to shed them now.
You all do know this mantle; I remember
The first time ever Caesar put it on,
'Twas on a summer's evening in his tent,
That day he overcame the Nervii—
Look! in this place ran Cassius' dagger through;—
See what a rent the envious Casca made.—
Through this the well-beloved Brutus stabb'd;
And as he pluck'd his cursed steel away,
Mark how the blood of Caesar follow'd it!
As rushing out of doors, to be resolv'd,
If Brutus so unkindly knock'd, or no:
For Brutus, as you know, was Caesar's angel.
[Page 87] Judge, oh you gods! how dearly Caesar lov'd him;
This, this, was the unkindest cut of all;
For when the noble Caesar saw him stab,
Ingratitude, more strong than traitors' arms,
Quite vanquish'd him; then burst his mighty heart:
And, in his mantle muffling up his face,
Which all the while ran blood, great Caesar fell,
Even at the base of Pompey's statue.
O what a fall was there, my countrymen!
Then I and you, and all of us fell down,
Whilst bloody treason flourish'd over us.
O, now you weep; and I perceive you feel
The dint of pity; these are gracious drops.
Kind souls! what, weep you when you but be­hold
Our Caesar's vesture wounded? look you here!
Here is himself, marr'd, as you see, by traitors.
Julius Caesar, act 3. sc. 6.

Had Antony directed upon the conspira­tors the thoughts of his audience, without paving the way by raising their grief, his speech perhaps might have failed of success.

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 [Page 88] me objects of aversion. His enemies, on the other hand, I am disposed to esteem.

The more slight and transitory connec­tions, have generally no power to pro­duce a communicated passion. Anger, when sudden and violent, is one exception; for if the person who did the injury be re­moved out of reach, this passion will vent itself upon 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 principal object is but faint. 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 object, swells the passion of self-love by the relation I have to my native country; and every pas­sion, when it swells beyond its ordinary bounds, hath, in that circumstance, a pe­culiar tendency to expand itself along rela­ted [Page 89] 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, in the commu­nication of passion, an influence not less re­markable than in the communication of e­motions. 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 descending to children, aids the trans­ition of the affection. The ascent to a pa­rent, contrary to this order, 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 betwixt the natural and inverted order, is not so consider­able, but that it may be balanced by other circumstances. Pliny gives an ac­count of a woman of rank condemned [Page 90] 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 not less easy than descent is for ordi­nary, procured a pardon to the mother, and a pension to both. The story of An­drocles and the lion* may be accounted for in the same manner. The admiration, of which the lion was the cause, for his kindness and gratitude to Androcles, produced good­will to Androcles, and 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 my father diminishes not my af­fection so remarkably. The same observation holds with respect to friendship, gratitude, and other passions. The love I bear my friend, is but faintly extended to his mar­ried daughter. The resentment I have [Page 91] against a man, is readily extended against children who make part of his family: not so readily against children who are forisfa­miliated, especially by marriage. This difference is also more remarkable in daugh­ters than in sons. These are curious facts; and to evolve the cause we must examine minutely, that operation of the mind by which a passion is extended to a related ob­ject. In considering two things as related, the mind is not stationary, but passeth and repasseth from the one to the other, viewing the relation from each of them perhaps oftener than once. This holds more espe­cially in considering a relation betwixt things of unequal rank, as betwixt the cause and the effect, or betwixt a principal and an accessory. In contemplating the relation betwixt a building and its orna­ments, the mind is not satisfied with a single transition from the former to the latter. It must also view the relation, be­ginning at the latter, and passing from it to the former. This vibration of the mind in passing and repassing betwixt things that are related, explains the facts above mentioned. [Page 92] The mind passeth easily from the father to the daughter; but where the daughter is married, this new relation attracts the mind, and obstructs, in some measure, the return from the daughter to the father. Any obstruction the mind meets with in passing and repassing betwixt its objects, occasions a like obstruction in the commu­nication of passion. The marriage of a male obstructs less the easiness of transition; be­cause a male is less sunk by the relation of marriage than a female.

The foregoing instances, are of passion communicated from one object to another. But one passion may be generated by an­other, without change of object. It may in general be observed, that a passion paves the way to others, similar in their tone, whether directed upon the same or upon a different object. For the mind heated by any passion, is, in that state, more suscep­tible of a new impression in a similar tone, than when cool and quiescent. It is a com­mon observation, that pity generally pro­duceth friendship for a person in distress. [Page 93] Pity interests us in its object, and recom­mends all its virtuous qualities. For this reason, female beauty shows best in distress; and is more apt to inspire love, than upon ordinary occasions. But it is chiefly to be remarked, that pity, warming and melting the spectator, prepares him for the recep­tion of other tender affections; and pity is readily improved into love or friendship, by a certain tenderness and concern for the ob­ject, which is the tone of both passions. The aptitude of pity to produce love is beautifully illustrated by Shakespear.

Her father lov'd me, oft invited me;
Still question'd me the story of my life,
From year to year; the battles, sieges, fortunes,
That I have past.
I ran it through, e'en from my boyish days,
To th'very moment that he bad me tell it:
Wherein I spoke of most disast'rous chances,
Of moving accidents by flood and field;
Of hair-breadth 'scapes in th' imminent deadly breach;
Of being taken by the insolent foe,
And sold to slavery; of my redemption thence,
And with it, all my travel's history.
—All these to hear
[Page 94] Would Desdemona seriously incline;
But still the house-affairs would draw her thence,
Which ever as she could with haste dispatch,
She'd come again, and with a greedy ear
Devour up my discourse: which I observing,
Took once a pliant hour, and found good means
To draw from her a prayer of earnest heart,
That I would all my pilgrimage dilate,
Whereof by parcels she had something heard,
But not distinctively. I did consent,
And often did beguile her of her tears,
When I did speak of some distressful stroke
That my youth suffer'd. My story being done,
She gave me for my pains a world of sighs:
She swore, in faith, 'twas strange, 'twas passing strange—
'Twas pitiful, 'twas wondrous pitiful—
She wish'd she had not heard it:—yet she wish'd,
That heav'n had made her such a man:—she thank'd me,
And bad me, if I had a friend that lov'd her,
I should but teach him how to tell my story,
And that would woo her. On this hint I spake,
She lov'd me for the dangers I had past,
And I lov'd her, that she did pity them:
This only is the witchcraft I have us'd.
Othello, act 1. sc. 8.

[Page 95] In this instance it will be observed that admiration concurred with pity to produce love.

SECT. V. Causes of the passions of fear and anger.

FEar and anger, to answer the purposes of nature, are happily so contrived as to operate either instinctively or deliberately. So far as they prompt actions considered as means leading to a certain end, they fall in with the general system, and require no particular explanation. If any object have a threatening appearance, reason suggests means to avoid the danger. If I am inju­red, the first thing I think of, is in what manner I shall be revenged, and what means I shall employ. These particulars are not less obvious than natural. But as the passions of fear and anger, so far as in­stinctive, are less familiar to us, and their nature generally not understood; I thought it would not be unacceptable to the reader [Page 96] to have them accurately delineated. He may also possibly relish the opportunity of this specimen, to have the nature of in­stinctive passions more fully explained than there was formerly occasion to do. I begin with fear.

Self-preservation is to individuals a mat­ter of too great importance to be left en­tirely under the guardianship of self-love, which cannot be put in exercise otherwise than by the intervention of reason and re­flection. Nature hath acted here with her usual precaution and foresight. Fear and anger are passions common to all men; and by operating instinctively, they fre­quently afford security when the slower o­perations of deliberative reason would be too late. We take nourishment commonly, not by the direction of reason, but by the incitement of hunger and thirst. In the same manner, we avoid danger by the in­citement of fear, which often, before there is time for reflection, placeth us in safety. This matter then is ordered with consum­mate wisdom. It is not within the reach of fancy, to conceive any thing better fitted [Page 97] to answer its purpose, than this instinctive passion of fear, which, upon the first sur­mise of danger, operates instantaneously without reflection. So little doth the pas­sion, in such instances, depend on reason, that we often find it exerted even in con­tradiction to reason, and when we are con­scious that there is no hazard. A man who is not much upon his guard, cannot avoid shrinking at a blow, though he knows it to be aimed in sport; nor closing his eyes at the approach of what may hurt them, though he is confident it will not come their length. Influenced by the same instinctive passion of fear, infants are much affected with a stern look, a menacing tone, or other expression of anger; though, being incapable of reflection, they cannot form the slightest judge­ment about the import of these signs. This is all that is necessary to be said in general. The natural connection betwixt fear and the external signs of anger, will be handled in the chapter of the external signs of emotions and passions.

Fear provides for self-preservation by fly­ing [Page 98] from harm; anger, by repelling it. No­thing indeed can be better contrived to repel or prevent injury, than anger or resentment. Destitute of this passion, men, like defence­less lambs, would lie constantly open to mischief*. Deliberate anger caused by a voluntary injury, is too well known to require any explanation. If my desire be in general to resent an afront, I must use means, and these means must be discovered by reflection. Deliberation is here requi­site; and in this, which is the ordinary case, the passion seldom exceeds just bounds. But where anger suddenly inflames me to return a blow, the passion is instinctive, and the action ultimate; and it is chiefly in such cases that the passion is rash and un­governable, because it operates blindly, without affording time for reason or delibe­ration.

[Page 99] Instinctive anger is frequently raised by bodily pain, which, when sudden and ex­cessive as by a stroke on a tender part, ruf­fling the temper and unhinging the mind, is in its tone similar to anger. Bodily pain by this means disposes to anger, which is as suddenly raised, provided an object be found to vent it upon. Anger commonly is not pro­voked otherwise than by a voluntary injury. But when a man is thus beforehand dispo­sed to anger, he is not nice nor scrupulous about an object. The man who gave the stroke, however accidentally, is by an in­flammable temper held a proper object, mere­ly because he was the occasion of the pain. It is still a stronger example of the kind, that a stock or a stone, by which I am hurt, becomes an object for my resentment. I am violently incited to bray it to atoms. The passion indeed in this case is but mo­mentary. It vanisheth with the first reflec­tion, being attended with no circumstance that can excuse it in any degree. Nor is this irrational effect confined to bodily pain. Inward distress, when excessive, may be the occasion of effects equally irrational. [Page 100] When a friend is danger and the event un­certain, the perturbation of mind occasioned thereby, will, in a fiery temper, produce momentary fits of anger against this very friend, however innocent. Thus Shake­spear, in the Tempest,

—Sit down and rest.
Ev'n here I will put off my hope, and keep it
No longer for my flatterer: he is drown'd
Whom thus we stray to find, and the sea mocks
Our frustrate search on land. Well, let him go.
Act 3. sc. 3.

The final words, Well, let him go, are an expression of impatience and anger at Fer­dinand, whose absence greatly distressed his father, dreading that he was lost in the storm. This nice operation of the human mind, is by Shakespear exhibited upon ano­ther occasion, and finely painted. In the tragedy of Othello, Iago, by dark hints and suspicious circumstances, had roused Othello's jealousy; which, however, ap­peared too slightly founded to be vented upon Desdemona, its proper object. The perturbation and distress of mind there­by [Page 101] occasioned, produced a momentary re­sentment against Iago, considered as oc­casioning the jealousy though innocent.

Villain, be sure thou prove my love a whore;
Be sure of it: give me the ocular proof.
Or by the wrath of man's eternal soul
Thou hadst been better have been born a dog,
Than answer my wak'd wrath.

Is't come to this?

Make me see't; or, at the least, so prove it,
That the probation bear no hinge or loop
To hang a doubt on: or woe upon thy life!

My Noble Lord—

If thou dost slander her and torture me,
Never pray more; abandon all remorse;
On horrors head horrors accumulate;
Do deeds to make heav'n weep, all earth amaz'd:
For nothing canst thou to damnation add
Greater than that.
Othello, act 3. sc. 8.

This blind and absurd effect of anger, is more gaily illustrated by Addison, in a story, the dramatis personae of which are a cardinal, and a spy retained in pay for intelligence. The cardinal is represented as minuting [Page 102] down every thing that is told him. The spy begins with a low voice, ‘"Such an one the advocate whispered to one of his friends within my hearing, that your E­minence was a very great poltron;"’ and after having given his patron time to take it down, adds, ‘"That another called him a mercenary rascal in a public conversation."’ The cardinal replies, ‘"Very well,"’ and bids him go on. The spy proceeds, and loads him with reports of the same nature, till the cardinal rises in great wrath, calls him an impudent scoundrel, and kicks him out of the room*.

We meet with instances every day of re­sentment raised by loss at play, and wreak­ed on the cards or dice. But anger, a fu­rious passion, is satisfied with a connection still slighter than that of cause and effect, of which Congreve, in the Mourning Bride, gives one beautiful example.


Have comfort.

Curs'd be that tongue that bids me be of comfort,
[Page 103] Curs'd my own tongue that could not move his pity,
Curs'd these weak hands that could not hold him here,
For he is gone to doom Alphonso's death.
Act 4. sc. 8.

I have chosen to exhibit anger in its more rare appearances, for in these we can best trace its nature and extent. In the examples above given, it appears to be an absurd pas­sion and altogether irrational. But we ought to consider, that it is not the intention of nature to subject this passion, in every in­stance, to reason and reflection. It was gi­ven us to prevent or to repel injuries; and, like fear, it often operates blindly and in­stinctively, without the least view to conse­quences. The very first sensation of harm, sets it in motion to repel injury by punish­ment. Were it more cool and deliberate, it would lose its threatening appearance, and be insufficient to guard us against violence and mischief. When such is and ought to be the nature of the passion, it is not won­derful to find it exerted irregularly and ca­priciously, as it sometimes is where the mis­chief [Page 104] is sudden and unforeseen. All the harm that can be done by the passion in this case, is instantaneous; for the shortest de­lay sets all to rights; and circumstances are seldom so unlucky as to put it in the power of a passionate man to do much harm in an instant.

SECT. VI. Emotions caused by fiction.

THE attentive reader will observe, that in accounting for passions and emo­tions, no cause hitherto has been assigned but what hath a real existence. Whether it be a being, action, or quality, that moveth us, it is supposed to be an object of our knowledge, or at least of our belief. This observation discovers to us that the subject is not yet exhausted; because our passions, as all the world know, are moved by fic­tion as well as by truth. In judging before­hand of man, so remarkably addicted to truth and reality, one should little dream [Page 105] that fiction could have any effect upon him. But man's intellectual faculties are too im­perfect to dive far even into his own nature. I shall take occasion afterward to show, that this branch of the human constitution, is contrived with admirable wisdom and is subservient to excellent purposes. In the mean time, I must endeavour to unfold, by what means fiction hath such influence on the mind.

That the objects of our senses really ex­ist in the way and manner we perceive, is a branch of intuitive knowledge. When I see a man walking, a tree growing, or cat­tle grazing, I have a conviction that these things are precisely as they appear. If I be a spectator of any transaction or event, I have a conviction of the real existence of the persons engaged, of their words, and of their actions. Nature determines us to rely on the veracity of our senses. And indeed, if our senses did not convince us of the reality of their objects, they could not in any de­gree answer their end.

By the power of memory, a thing for­merly seen may be recalled to the mind [Page 106] with different degrees of accuracy. We commonly are satisfied with a slight recol­lection of the chief circumstances; and, in such recollection, the thing is not figured as present nor any image formed. I retain the consciousness of my present situation, and barely remember that formerly I was a spectator. But with respect to an interesting object or event which made a strong impres­sion, the mind sometimes, not satisfied with a cursory review, chuses to revolve every circumstance. In this case, I conceive my­self to be a spectator as I was originally; and I perceive every particular passing in my presence, in the same manner as when I was in reality a spectator. For example, I saw yesterday a beautiful woman in tears for the loss of an only child, and was greatly mo­ved with her distress. Not satisfied with a slight recollection or bare remembrance, I insist on the melancholy scene. Conceiving myself to be in the place where I was an eye-witness, every circumstance appears to me as at first. I think I see the woman in tears and hear her moans. Hence it may be justly said, that in a complete idea of me­mory [Page 107] there is no past nor future. A thing recalled to the mind with the accuracy I have been describing, is perceived as in our view, and consequently as presently exist­ing. Past time makes a part of an incom­plete idea only: I remember or reflect, that some years ago I was at Oxford, and saw the first stone laid of the Ratcliff library; and I remember that at a still greater di­stance of time, I heard a debate in the house of Commons about a standing army.

Lamentable is the imperfection of lan­guage, almost in every particular that falls not under external sense. I am talking of a matter exceeding clear in itself, and of which every person must be conscious; and yet I find no small difficulty to express it clearly in words; for it is not accurate to talk of incidents long past as passing in our sight, nor of hearing at present what we really heard yesterday or perhaps a year ago. To this necessity I am reduced, by want of pro­per words to describe ideal presence and to distinguish it from real presence. And thus in the description, a plain subject becomes obscure and intricate. When I recall any [Page 108] thing in the distinctest manner, so as to form an idea or image of it as present; I have not words to describe this act, other than that I perceive the thing as a spectator, and as ex­isting in my presence. This means not that I am really a spectator; but only that I con­ceive myself to be a spectator, and have a consciousness of presence similar to what a real spectator hath.

As many rules of criticism depend on ideal presence, the reader, it is expected, will take some pains to form an exact notion of it, as distinguished on the one hand from real presence, and on the other from a su­perficial or reflective remembrance. It is distinguished from the former by the follow­ing circumstance. Ideal presence arising from an act of memory, may properly be termed a waking dream; because, like a dream, it vanisheth upon the first reflection of our present situation. Real presence, on the contrary, vouched by eye-sight, com­mands our belief, not only during the di­rect perception, but in reflecting afterward upon the object. And to distinguish ideal presence from the latter, I give the follow­ing [Page 109] illustration. Two internal acts, both of them exertions of memory, are clearly distinguishable. When I think of an event as past, without forming any image, it is barely reflecting or remembering that I was an eye-witness. But when I recall the event so distinctly as to form a complete image of it, I perceive it ideally as passing in my presence; and this ideal perception is an act of intuition, into which reflection en­ters not more than into an act of sight.

Though ideal presence be distinguished from real presence on the one side and from reflective remembrance on the other, it is however variable without any precise limits; rising sometimes toward the former, and of­ten sinking toward the latter. In a vigorous exertion of memory, ideal presence is ex­tremely distinct. When a man, as in a reverie, drops himself out of his thoughts, he perceives every thing as passing before him, and hath a consciousness of presence similar to that of a spectator. There is no other difference, but that in the former the consciousness of presence is less firm and clear than in the latter. But this is seldom [Page 110] the case. Ideal presence is often faint, and the image so obscure as not to differ widely from reflective remembrance.

Hitherto of an idea of memory. I pro­ceed to consider the idea of a thing I never saw, raised in me by speech, by writing, or by painting. This idea, with respect to the present matter, is of the same nature with an idea of memory, being either complete or incomplete. An important event, by a lively and accurate description, rouses my attention and insensibly transforms me into a spectator: I perceive ideally every inci­dent as passing in my presence. On the other hand, a slight or superficial narrative produceth only a faint and incomplete idea, precisely similar to a reflective recollection of memory. Of such idea, ideal presence makes no part. Past time is a circumstance that enters into this idea, as it doth into a reflective idea of memory. I believe that Scipio existed about 2000 years ago, and that he overcame Hannibal in the famous battle of Zama. When I revolve in so cur­sory a manner that memorable event, I consider it as long past. But supposing me [Page 111] to be warmed with the story, perhaps by a beautiful description, I am insensibly transformed to a spectator. I perceive these two heroes in act to engage; I perceive them brandishing their swords, and exhort­ing their troops; and in this manner I at­tend them through every circumstance of the battle. This event being present to my mind during the whole progress of my thoughts, admits not any time but the pre­sent.

I have had occasion to observe*, that ideas both of memory and of speech, pro­duce emotions of the same kind with what are produced by an immediate view of the object; only fainter, in proportion as an idea is fainter than an original perception. The insight we have now got, unfolds the means by which this effect is produced. Ideal presence supplies the want of real pre­sence; and in idea we perceive persons acting and suffering, precisely as in an ori­ginal survey. If our sympathy be engaged by the latter, it must also in some measure [Page 112] be engaged by the former. The distinct­ness of ideal presence, as above mentioned, approacheth sometimes to the distinctness of real presence; and the consciousness of presence is the same in both. This is the cause of the pleasure that is felt in a reverie, where a man, losing sight of himself, is totally occupied with the objects passing in his mind, which he conceives to be really ex­isting in his presence. The power of speech to raise emotions, depends entirely on the artifice of raising such lively and distinct images as are here described. The reader's passions are never sensibly moved, till he be thrown into a kind of reverie; in which state, losing the consciousness of self, and of reading, his present occupation, he con­ceives every incident as passing in his pre­sence, precisely as if he were an eye-wit­ness. A general or reflective remembrance hath not this effect. It may be agreeable in some slight degree; but the ideas sug­gested by it, are too faint and obscure to raise any thing like a sympathetic emotion. And were they ever so lively, they pass with too much precipitation to have this [Page 113] effect. Our emotions are never instanta­neous: even those that come the soonest to perfection, have different periods of birth, growth, and maturity; and to give oppor­tunity for these different periods, it is neces­sary that the cause of every emotion be pre­sent to the mind a due time. The emo­tion is completed by reiterated impressions. We know this to be the case of objects of sight: we are scarce sensible of any emotion in a quick succession even of the most beau­tiful objects. And if this hold in the suc­cession of original perceptions, how much more in the succession of ideas?

Though all this while, I have been only describing what passeth in the mind of eve­ry one and what every one must be con­scious of, it was necessary to enlarge upon it; because, however clear in the internal conception, it is far from being so when de­scribed in words. Ideal presence, though of general importance, hath scarce ever been touched by any writer; and at any rate it could not be overlooked in account­ing for the effects produced by fiction. Upon this point, the reader I guess has prevented me. It already must have occur­red [Page 114] to him, that if, in reading, ideal presence be the means by which our passions are moved, it makes no difference whether the subject be a fable or a reality. When ideal presence is complete, we perceive every object as in our sight; and the mind, totally occupied with an interesting event, finds no leisure for reflection of any sort. This reasoning, if any one hesitate, is confirmed by constant and universal experience. Let us take under consideration the meeting of Hector and Andromache in the sixth book of the Iliad, or some of the passionate scenes in King Lear. These pictures of human life, when we are sufficiently engaged, give an impression of reality not less distinct than that given by the death of Otho in the beau­tiful description of Tacitus. We never once reflect whether the story be true or feigned. Reflection comes afterward, when we have the scene no longer before our eyes. This reasoning will appear in a still clearer light, by opposing ideal presence to ideas raised by a cursory narrative; which ideas being faint, obscure, and imperfect, occupy the mind so little as to solicit reflection. And ac­cordingly, [Page 115] a curt narrative of feigned inci­dents is never relished. Any slight pleasure it affords, is more than counterbalanced by the disgust it inspires for want of truth.

In support of the foregoing theory, I add what I reckon a decisive argument. Upon examination it will be found, that genuine history commands our passions by means of ideal presence solely; and therefore that with respect to this effect, genuine history stands upon the same footing with fable. To me it appears clear, that our sympathy must vanish so soon as we begin to reflect upon the incidents related in either. The reflec­tion that a story is a pure fiction, will in­deed prevent our sympathy; but so will equally the reflection that the persons de­scribed are no longer existing. It is present distress only that moves my pity. My con­cern vanishes with the distress; for I can­not pity any person who at present is happy. According to this theory, founded clearly on human nature, a man long dead and in­sensible now of past misfortunes, cannot move our pity more than if he had never existed. The misfortunes described in a [Page 116] genuine history command our belief: but then we believe also, that these misfortunes are at an end, and that the persons described are at present under no distress. What ef­fect, for example, can the belief of the rape of Lucretia have to raise our sympathy, when she died above 2000 years ago, and hath at present no painful feeling of the in­jury done her? The effect of history in point of instruction, depends in some mea­sure upon its veracity. But history cannot reach the heart, while we indulge any re­flection upon the facts. Such reflection, if it engage our belief, never fails at the same time to poison our pleasure, by convincing us that our sympathy for those who are dead and gone is absurd. And if reflection be laid aside, history stands upon the same footing with fable. What effect either of them may have to raise our sympathy, de­pends on the vivacity of the ideas they raise; and with respect to that circumstance, fable is generally more successful than history.

Of all the means for making an impression of ideal presence, theatrical representation is the most powerful. That words inde­pendent [Page 117] of action have the same power in a less degree, every one of sensibility must have felt: A good tragedy will extort tears in private, though not so forcibly as upon the stage. This power belongs also to painting. A good historical picture makes a deeper impression than can be made by words, though not equal to what is made by theatrical action. And as ideal presence depends on a lively impression, painting seems to possess a middle place betwixt reading and acting. In making an impres­sion of ideal presence, it is not less superior to the former than inferior to the latter.

It must not however be thought, that our passions can be raised by painting to such a height as can be done by words. Of all the successive incidents that concur to pro­duce a great event, a picture has the choice but of one, because it is confined to a single instant of time. And though the impres­sion it makes, is the deepest that can be made instantaneously; yet seldom can a pas­sion be raised to any height in an instant, or by a single impression. It was observed a­bove, that our passions, those especially of [Page 118] the sympathetic kind, require a succession of impressions; and for that reason, read­ing and still more acting have greatly the advantage, by the opportunity of reiterating impressions without end.

Upon the whole, it is by means of ideal presence that our passions are excited; and till words produce that charm they avail no­thing. Even real events intitled to our be­lief, must be conceived present and passing in our sight before they can move us. And this theory serves to explain several pheno­mena otherwise unaccountable. A misfor­tune happening to a stranger, makes a less impression than happening to a man we know, even where we are no way interested in him: our acquaintance with this man, however slight, aids the conception of his suffering in our presence. For the same reason, we are little moved with any distant event; because we have more difficulty to conceive it present, than an event that hap­pened in our neighbourhood.

Every one is sensible, that describing a past event as present, has a fine effect in language. For what other reason than that [Page 119] it aids the conception of ideal presence? Take the following example.

And now with shouts the shocking armies clos'd,
To lances lances, shields to shields oppos'd;
Host against host the shadowy legions drew,
The sounding darts an iron tempest flew;
Victors and vanquish'd join promiscuous cries,
Triumphing shouts and dying groans arise,
With streaming blood the slipp'ry field is dy'd,
And slaughter'd heroes swell the dreadful tide.

In this passage we may observe how the writer inflamed with the subject, insensibly slips from the past time to the present; led to this form of narration by conceiving every circumstance as passing in his own sight. And this at the same time has a fine effect upon the reader, by advancing him to be as it were a spectator. But this change from the past to the present requires some preparation; and is not graceful in the same sentence where there is no stop in the sense; witness the following passage.

Thy fate was next, O Phaestus! doom'd to feel
The great Idomeneus' protended steel;
[Page 120] Whom Borus sent (his son and only joy)
From fruitful Tarne to the fields of Troy.
The Cretan jav'lin reach'd him from afar,
And pierc'd his shoulder as he mounts his car.
Iliad, v. 57.

It is still worse to fall back to the past in the same period; for this is an anticlimax in description:

Through breaking ranks his furious course he bends,
And at the goddess his broad lance extends;
Through her bright veil the daring weapon drove,
Th' ambrosial veil, which all the graces wove:
Her snowy hand the razing steel profan'd,
And the transparent skin with crimson stain'd.
Iliad, v. 415.

Again, describing the shield of Jupiter,

Here all the terrors of grim War appear,
Here rages Force, here tremble Flight and Fear,
Here storm'd Contention, and here Fury frown'd,
And the dire orb portentous Gorgon crown'd.
Iliad, v. 914.

Nor is it pleasant to be carried backward and forward alternately in a rapid succession:

[Page 121]
Then dy'd Seamandrius, expert in the chace,
In woods and wilds to wound the savage race;
Diana taught him all her sylvan arts,
To bend the bow and aim unerring darts:
But vainly here Diana's arts he tries,
The fatal lance arrests him as he flies;
From Menelaus' arm the weapon sent,
Through his broad back and heaving bosom went:
Down sinks the warrior with a thund'ring sound,
His brazen armor rings against the ground.
Iliad, v. 65.

It is wonderful to observe, upon what slender foundations nature, sometimes, erects her most solid and magnificent works. In appearance at least, what can be more slight than ideal presence of objects? And yet upon it entirely is superstructed, that exten­sive influence which language hath over the heart; an influence, which, more than any other means, strengthens the bond of society, and attracts individuals from their private system to exert themselves in acts of genero­sity and benevolence. Matters of fact, it is true, and truth in general, may be inculca­ted without taking advantage of ideal pre­sence. But without it, the finest speaker or [Page 122] writer would in vain attempt to move any of our passion: our sympathy would be confined to objects that are really present: and language would lose entirely that signal power it possesseth, of making us sympathize with beings removed at the greatest distance of time as well as of place. Nor is the in­fluence of language, by means of this ideal presence, confined to the heart. It reaches also in some measure the understanding, and contributes to belief. When events are related in a lively manner and every circumstance appears as passing before us, it is with difficulty that we suffer the truth of the facts to be questioned. A historian accordingly who hath a genius for narra­tion, seldom fails to engage our belief. The same facts related in a manner cold and in­distinct, are not suffered to pass without ex­amination. A thing ill described, is like an object seen at a distance or through a mist: we doubt whether it be a reality or a fiction. For this reason, a poet who can warm and animate his reader, may employ bolder fictions than ought to be ventured by an in­ferior genius. The reader, once thoroughly [Page 123] engaged, is in that situation susceptible of the strongest impressions:

Veraque constituunt, quae bellè tangere possunt
Aureis, et lepido quae sunt fucata sonore.
Lucretius, lib. 1. l. 644.

A masterly painting has the same effect. Le Brun is no small support to Quintus Cur­tius; and among the vulgar in Italy, the belief of scripture-history is perhaps founded as much upon the authority of Raphael, Michael Angelo, and other celebrated paint­ers, as upon that of the sacred writers*.

In establishing the foregoing theory, the reader has had the fatigue of much dry rea­soning. But his labour will not be fruitless. From this theory are derived many useful rules in criticism, which shall be mentioned [Page 124] in their proper places. One specimen, being a fine illustration, I chuse to give at present. In a historical poem representing human ac­tions, it is a rule, that no improbable inci­dent ought to be admitted. A circumstance, an incident, or an event, may be singular, may surprise by being unexpected, and yet be extremely natural. The improbability I talk of, is that of an irregular fact, contrary to the order and course of nature, and there­fore unaccountable. A chain of imagined facts linked together according to the order of nature, find easy entrance into the mind; and if described with warmth of fancy, they produce complete images, including ideal presence. But it is with great difficulty that we admit any irregular fact; for an irregular fact always puzzles the judgement. Doubt­ful of its reality we immediately enter upon reflection, and discovering the cheat, lose all relish and concern. This is an unhappy effect; for thereafter it requires more than an ordinary effort, to restore the waking dream, and to make the reader conceive even the more probable incidents as passing in his presence.

[Page 125] I never was an admirer of machinery in an epic poem; and I now find my taste ju­stified by reason; the foregoing argument concluding still more strongly against imagi­nary beings, than against improbable facts. Fictions of this nature may amuse by their no­velty and singularity: but they never move the sympathetic passions, because they cannot impose on the mind any perception of reali­ty. I appeal to the discerning reader, whe­ther this be not precisely the case of the ma­chinery introduced by Taffo and by Vol­taire. This machinery is not only in itself cold and uninteresting, but is remarkably hurtful, by giving an air of fiction to the whole composition. A burlesque poem, such as the Lutrin or the Dispensary, may employ machinery with success; for these poems, though they assume the air of histo­ry, give entertainment chiefly by their plea­sant and ludicrous pictures, to which ma­chinery contributes in a singular manner. It is not the aim of such a poem, to raise our sympathy in any considerable degree; and for that reason, a strict imitation of na­ture is not required. A poem professedly [Page 126] ludicrous, may employ machinery to great advantage; and the more extravagant the better. A just representation of nature, would indeed be incongruous in a composi­tion intended to give entertainment by the means chiefly of singularity and surprise.

For accomplishing the task undertaken in the beginning of the present section, what only remains is, to show the final cause of the power that fiction hath over the mind of man. I have already mentioned, that language, by means of fiction, has the command of our sympathy for the good of others. By the same means, our sympathy may be also raised for our own good. In the third section it is observed, that exam­ples both of virtue and of vice raise virtuous emotions; which becoming stronger by ex­ercise, tend to make us virtuous by habit as well as by principle. I now further ob­serve, that examples drawn from real events, are not so frequent as to contribute much to a habit of virtue. If they be, they are not re­corded by historians. It therefore shows great wisdom, to form us in such a manner, as to be susceptible of the same improvement [Page 127] from fable that we receive from genuine hi­story. By this admirable contrivance, examples to improve us in virtue may be multiplied without end. No other sort of discipline contributes more to make virtue habitual; and no other sort is so agreeable in the ap­plication. I add another final cause with thorough satisfaction; because it shows, that the author of our nature is not less kindly provident for the happiness of his creatures, than for the regularity of their conduct. The power that fiction hath over the mind of man, is the source of an endless variety of refined amusement, always ready to em­ploy a vacant hour. Such amusement is a fine resource in solitude; and by sweeten­ing the temper, improves society.

PART II. Emotions and passions as pleasant and painful, agreeable and disagreeable. Modifications of these qualities.

IT will naturally occur at first view, that a discourse upon the passions should com­mence [Page 128] with explaining the qualities now mentioned. But upon trial, I found this could not be done distinctly, till the differ­ence were ascertained betwixt an emotion and a passion, and till their causes were e­volved.

Great obscurity may be observed among writers with regard to the present point. No care, for example, is taken to distin­guish agreeable from pleasant, disagreeable from painful; or rather these terms are deemed synonymous. This is an error not at all venial in the science of ethics; as in­stances can and shall be given, of painful passions that are agreeable, and of pleasant passions that are disagreeable. These terms, it is true, are used indifferently in familiar conversations, and in composition for amuse­ment, where accuracy is not required. But for those to use them so who profess to ex­plain the passions, is a capital error. In writing upon the critical art, I would avoid every refinement that may seem more cu­rious than useful. But the proper meaning of the terms under consideration must be ascertained, in order to understand the pas­sions, [Page 129] and some of their effects that are inti­mately connected with criticism.

I shall endeavour to explain these terms by familiar examples. Viewing a fine garden, I perceive it to be beautiful or agreeable; and I consider the beauty or a­greeableness as belonging to the object, or as one of its qualities. Again, when I turn my thoughts from the garden to what passes in my mind, I am conscious of a pleasant emotion of which the garden is the cause. The pleasure here is felt, not as a quality of the garden, but of the emotion produced by it. I give an opposite example. A rot­ten carcass is loathsome and disagreeable, and raises in the spectator a painful emotion. The disagreeableness is a quality of the ob­ject: the pain is a quality of the emotion produced by it. Agreeable and disagreeable, then, are qualities of the objects we perceive: pleasant and painful are qualities of the emo­tions we feel. The former qualities are perceived as adhering to objects; the latter are felt as existing within us.

But a passion or emotion, beside being felt, is frequently made an object of thought [Page 130] or reflection: we examine it; we inquire into its nature, its cause, and its effects. In this view it partakes the nature of other ob­jects: it is either agreeable or disagreeable. Hence clearly appear the different significa­tions of the terms under consideration, as applied to passion. When a passion is termed pleasant or painful, we refer to the actual feeling: when termed agreeable or disagreeable, it is considered as an object of thought or reflection. A passion is pleasant or painful to the person in whom it exists: it is agreeable or disagreeable to the person who makes it a subject of contemplation.

When the terms thus defined are applied to particular emotions and passions, they do not always coincide. And in order to make this evident, we must endeavour to ascertain, first, what passions and emotions are pleasant what painful, and next, what are agreeable what disagreeable. With respect to both, there are general rules, which, so far as I gather from induction, admit not any ex­ceptions. The nature of an emotion or pas­sion as pleasant or painful, depends entirely on its cause. An agreeable object produceth [Page 131] always a pleasant emotion; and a disagreeable object produceth always a painful emotion*. Thus a lofty oak, a generous action, a va­luable discovery in art or science, are agree­able objects that unerringly produce pleasant emotions. A stinking puddle, a treache­rous action, an irregular ill-contrived edi­fice, being disagreeable objects, produce painful emotions. Selfish passions are plea­sant; for they arise from self, an agreeable object or cause. A social passion directed upon an agreeable object is always pleasant: directed upon an object in distress, is pain­ful. Lastly, all dissocial passions, such as envy, resentment, malice, being caused by disagreeable objects, cannot fail to be pain­ful.

It requires a greater compass to evolve the general rule that concerns the agreeableness or disagreeableness of emotions and passions. An action conformable to the common na­ture of our species, is perceived by us to be [Page 132] regular and good*; and consequently eve­ry such action appears agreeable to us. The same observation is applicable to passions and emotions. Every feeling that is conform­able to the common nature of our species, is perceived by us to be regular and as it ought to be; and upon that account it must appear agreeable. By this general rule we can ascertain what emotions are agreeable what disagreeable. Every emotion that is conformable to the common nature of man, ought to appear agreeable. And that this holds true with respect to pleasant emotions, will readily be admitted. But why should painful emotions be an exception, when they are not less natural than the other? The proposition holds true in both. Thus the painful emotion raised by a monstrous birth or brutal action, is not less agreeable upon reflection, than the pleasant emotion raised by a flowing river or a lofty dome. With respect to passions as opposed to emotions, it will be obvious from the foregoing propo­sition, that their agreeableness or disagree­ableness, [Page 133] like the actions of which they are productive, must be regulated entirely by the moral sense. Every action vicious or improper is disagreeable to a spectator, and so is the passion that prompts it. Every ac­tion virtuous or proper is agreeable to a spec­tator, and so is the passion that prompts it.

This deduction may be carried a great way farther; but to avoid intricacy and ob­scurity, I make but one other step. A pas­sion, which, as aforesaid, becomes an ob­ject of thought to a spectator, may have the effect to produce a passion or emotion in him; for it is natural that a social being should be affected with the passions of others. Passions or emotions thus generated, sub­mit, in common with others, to the gene­ral law above mentioned, viz. that an agree­able object produces a pleasant emotion, and a disagreeable object a painful emotion. Thus the passion of gratitude, being to a spectator an agreeable object, produceth in him the pleasant passion of love to the grate­ful person. Thus malice, being to a spec­tator a disagreeable object, produceth in [Page 134] him the painful passion of hatred to the ma­licious person.

We are now prepared for examples of pleasant passions that are disagreeable, and of painful passions that are agreeable. Self-love, so long as confined within just bounds, is a passion both pleasant and agreeable. In excess it is disagreeable, though it continues to be still pleasant. Our appetites are pre­cisely in the same condition. Again, vanity, though pleasant, is disagreeable. Resent­ment, on the other hand, is, in every stage of the passion, painful; but is not disagreeable unless in excess. Pity is always painful, yet always agreeable. 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 distinctions among pas­sions and emotions, may serve the common affairs of life, but they are not sufficient for the critical art. The qualities of pleasant and painful are too familiar to carry us far into human nature, or to form an accurate judgement in the fine arts. It is further [Page 135] necessary, that we be made acquainted with the several modifications of these qualities, with the modifications at least that make the greatest figure. Even at first view every one is sensible, that the pleasure or pain of one passion differs from that of an­other. How distant the pleasure of revenge 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 pleasant sounds, tastes, and smells, daily felt. Our discernment reaches differ­ences still more nice, in objects even of the same sense. We have no difficulty to dis­tinguish different sweets, different sours, and different bitters. Honey is sweet, and so is sugar; and yet they never pass the one 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 dif­ferent feelings have no limits; for when we attempt the more delicate modifications, [Page 136] they elude our search, and are scarce discern­ible. In this matter, however, there is an analogy betwixt our internal and external senses. The latter generally are sufficiently acute for all the useful purposes of life, and so are the former. Some persons indeed, Nature's favourites, 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 refused to the bulk of mankind, it is however wisely ordered that they are not sensible of the defect; and it detracts not from their happiness that others secretly are more happy. With relation to the fine arts only, this qualification seems essential; and there it is termed delicacy of taste.

Should an author of such a taste attempt to describe all those differences and shades of pleasant and painful emotions which he himself feels, he would soon meet an in­vincible obstacle in the poverty of language. No known tongue hitherto has reached such perfection, as to express clearly the more delicate feelings. A people must be thoroughly refined, before their language [Page 137] become so comprehensive. We must there­fore rest satisfied with an explanation of the more obvious modifications.

In forming a comparison betwixt 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 pleasures of the eye and 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 reckoned 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 is unquali­fied for any pleasure but what is thoroughly or nearly selfish: therefore a savage is incapable of comparing selfish and social pleasure. But a man after acquiring a high relish of the latter, loses not thereby a taste for the former. This man can judge, and he [Page 138] 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 by far more agreeable than the selfish, and rise much higher in our esteem.

Refined manners and polite behaviour, must not be deemed altogether artificial. Men accustomed to the sweets of society, who cultivate humanity, find an elegant pleasure in preferring others and making them happy, of which the proud or selfish scarce 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 those who are highly polished and refined. Ridicule is banished France, and is losing ground daily in Eng­land.

Other modifications of pleasant passions will be occasionally mentioned hereafter. Particularly the modifications of high and low [Page 139] are handled in the chapter of grandeur and sublimity; and the modifications of dignified and mean, in the chapter of dignity and meanness.

PART III. Interrupted existence of emotions and passions.—Their growth and decay.

WEre emotions of the same nature with colour and figure, to continue in their 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, viz. 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 degree. But the mo­ment another thought breaks in and occu­pies the mind, so as to exclude not only this cause, but also its idea, the emotion [Page 140] is gone: it is no longer felt. If it return with its cause or idea, it again vanish­eth with them when other thoughts crowd in. This observation is applicable to emo­tions and passions of every kind. And these accordingly are connected with perceptions and ideas, so intimately as not to have any independent existence. A strong passion, it is true, hath a mighty influence to detain its object in the mind; but not so as to detain it for ever. A succession of perceptions or ideas is unavoidable*: the object of the passion may be often recalled; but how­ever interesting, it must by intervals yield to other objects. For this reason, a passion rarely continues long with an equal degree of vigour. It is felt strong and moderate, in a pretty quick succession. The same object makes not always the same impres­sion; because the mind, being of a limited capacity, cannot, at the same instant, give great attention to a plurality of objects. The strength of a passion depends on the impression made by its cause; and a cause [Page 141] makes its strongest impression, when hap­pening to be the single interesting object, it attracts our whole attention*. Its impres­sion is slighter when our attention is divided betwixt it and other objects; and at that time the passion is slighter 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 ascertain their identity, and to deter­mine when they are the same 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 is not found in common apprehension, nor is necessary in common language. The emotions raised by a fine landscape in its successive appearan­ces, are not distinguished from each other, nor even from those raised by successive [Page 142] ideas of the object: all of them are held to be the same. A passion also is always rec­koned the same, so long as it is fixed upon the same object. Thus love and hatred may continue the same for life. Nay, so loose are we in this way of thinking, that many passions are reckoned the same even after a change of object. This 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 upon the same person, but even where it comprehends many per­sons at once. Pride and malice are in the same condition. 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, is a subject too extensive to be exhausted in an undertaking like the pre­sent. I pretend only to give a cursory view of it, so far as necessary for the purposes of criticism. Some emotions are produced in their utmost perfection, and have a very short endurance. This is the case of sur­prise, [Page 143] of wonder, and sometimes of terror. Emotions raised by insensible objects, such as trees, rivers, buildings, pictures, arrive at perfection almost instantaneously, and have a long endurance: a second view pro­duceth nearly the same pleasure with the first. Love, hatred, and some other pas­sions, increase gradually to a certain pitch, and thereafter decay gradually. Envy, ma­lice, pride, scarce ever decay. Again, 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.

In order to explain these differences, it would be an endless work to examine every emotion and passion in particular. We must be satisfied at present with some general views. And with respect to emotions, which are quiescent and not productive of desire, their growth and decay are easily explained. An emotion caused by an exter­nal object, cannot naturally take longer time to arrive at perfection, than is necessary for [Page 144] a leisurely survey. Such emotion also must continue long stationary, without any sensi­ble decay; a second or third view 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 remains the same, such objects ought to have the same effect upon him. Familiarity, however, hath an influence here, as it hath 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 material world, a clear and serene sky, is quite disregarded, unless perhaps after a course of bad weather. An emotion raised by human virtues, qualities, or actions, may grow imperceptibly by re­iterated views of the object, till it become so vigorous as to generate desire. In this condition it must be handled as a passion.

As to passion, I observe first, that when nature requires a passion to be sudden, it is commonly produced in perfection. This is frequently the case of fear and of anger. Wonder and surprise are always produced [Page 145] in perfection. Reiterated impressions made by their cause, exhaust these passions in place of inflaming them. This will be ex­plained afterward*.

In the next place, when a passion hath for its foundation an original propensity pe­culiar to some men, it generally comes soon to perfection. The propensity, upon repre­senting a proper object, is immediately en­livened into a passion. This is the case of pride, of envy, and of malice.

In the third place, love and hatred have often a slow growth. The good qualities or kind offices of a person, raise in me plea­sant emotions; which, by reiterated views, are swelled into a passion involving desire of that person's happiness. This desire being often put in exercise, works gradually a change internally; and at last produceth in me a settled habit of affection for that per­son, now my friend. Affection thus produ­ced, operates precisely like an original pro­pensity. To enliven it into a passion, no more is required but the real or ideal pre­sence [Page 146] of the object. The habit of aversion or hatred is brought on in the same manner. And here I must observe by the way, that love and hatred signify commonly affection, not passion. The bulk indeed of our pas­sions, are these affections inflamed into a passion by different circumstances. The affection of love I bear to my son, is infla­med into the passion of fear, when he is in danger; becomes hope, when he hath a prospect of good fortune; becomes admira­tion, when he performs a laudable action; and shame, when he commits any wrong. Aversion, again, 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, the growth of some passions depends often on occasional circumstances. Obstacles to gratification never fail to aug­ment and inflame a passion. A constant endeavour to remove the obstacle, preserves the object of the passion ever in view, which swells the passion by impressions frequently reiterated. Thus the restraint of conscience, [Page 147] when an obstacle to love, agitates the mind and inflames the passion:

Quod licet, ingratum est: quod non licet, acrius urit.
Si nunquam Danaën habuisset ahenea turris,
Non esset Danaë de Jove facta parens.
Ovid. Amor. l. 2.

At the same time, the mind distressed with the obstacle, is disposed to indulge its di­stress by magnifying the pleasure of gratifi­cation; which naturally inflames desire. Shakespear expresses this observation finely:

All impediments in fancy's course,
Are motives of more fancy.

We need no better example than a lover who hath many rivals. Even the caprices of a mistress have the effect to inflame love. These occasioning uncertainty of success, tend naturally to make the anxious lover overvalue the happiness of fruition.

So much upon the growth of passions. Their continuance and decay come next under consideration. And first, it is a ge­neral [Page 148] law of nature, that things sudden in their growth, are equally sudden in their decay. This is commonly the case of an­ger; and with respect to wonder and sur­prise, another reason concurs, that their causes are of short duration. Novelty soon degenerates into familiarity; and the un­expectedness of an object, is soon sunk in the pleasure which the object affords us. Fear, which is a passion of greater import­ance as tending to self-preservation, is often instantaneous, and yet is of equal duration with its cause. Nay it frequently subsists after the cause is removed.

In the next place, a passion founded on a peculiar propensity, subsists generally for ever. This is the case of pride, envy, and malice. Objects are never wanting, to in­flame the propensity into a passion.

Thirdly, it may be laid down as a gene­ral law of nature, that every passion ceases upon attaining its ultimate end. To explain this law, we must distinguish betwixt a par­ticular and a general end. I call a particu­lar end what may be accomplished by a sin­gle act. A general end, on the contrary, [Page 149] admits acts without number; because it cannot be said that a general end is ever fully accomplished while the object of the passion subsists. Gratitude and revenge are examples of the first kind. The ends they aim at may be accomplished by a single act; and when this act is performed, the passions are necessarily at an end. Love and hatred are examples of the other kind. The desire of doing good or of doing mischief to an individual, is a general end, which admits acts without number, and which seldom is fully accomplished. Therefore these pas­sions have frequently the same duration with their objects.

Lastly, it will afford us another general view, to consider the difference betwixt an original propensity and an affection produ­ced by custom. The former adheres too close to the constitution ever to be eradica­ted; and for that reason the passions to which it gives birth, endure during life with no remarkable diminution of strength. The latter, which owes its birth and increment to time, owes its decay to the same cause. Affection decays gradually as it grew. Hence long [Page 150] absence extinguisheth hatred as well as love. Affection wears out more gradually betwixt persons, who, living together, are objects to each other of mutual good-will and kindness. But here habit comes in luckily, to supply decayed affection. It makes these persons necessary to the happi­ness of each other, by the pain of separa­tion*. Affection to children hath a long endurance, longer perhaps than any other affection. Its growth keeps pace with that of its objects. They display new beauties and qualifications daily, to feed and aug­ment the affection. But whenever the af­fection becomes stationary, it must begin to decay; with a slow pace indeed, in propor­tion to its increment. In short, man with respect to this life, is a temporary being. He grows, becomes stationary, decays; and so must all his powers and passions.

PART IV. Coexistent emotions and passions.

TO have a thorough knowledge of the human passions and emotions, it is not sufficient that they be examined singly and separately. As a plurality of them are some­times felt at the same instant, the manner of their coexistence, and the effects there­by produced, ought also to be examined. This subject is extensive, and it will be diffi­cult to evolve all the laws that govern its endless variety of cases. Such an underta­king may be brought to perfection, but it must be by degrees. The following hints may suffice for a first attempt.

We begin with emotions raised by different sounds, as the simplest case. Two sounds that mix, and are, as it were, incorporated before they reach the ear, are said to be concordant. That each sound produceth an emotion of its own, must be admitted. But then these emotions, like the sounds [Page 152] that produce them, mix so intimately, as to be rather one complex emotion than two emotions in conjunction. Two sounds, again, that refuse incorporation or mixture, are said to be discordant. Being however heard at the same instant, the emotions produced by them are conjoined; and in that condi­tion are unpleasant, even where separately they are each of them pleasant.

Similar to the emotion raised by mixed sounds, is the emotion that an object of sight raises by means of its several qualities. A tree, for example, with its qualities of colour, figure, size, &c. is perceived to be one ob­ject; and the emotion it raises is one, not different emotions combined. But though the emotion be one, it is however not sim­ple. The perception of the tree is complex, and the emotion raised by it must also be complex.

With respect to coexistent emotions pro­duced by different causes or objects, it must be observed, that there cannot be a con­cordance among objects of sight like what is perceived in sounds. Objects of sight are never mixed or incorporated in the act of [Page 153] vision. Each object is perceived as it exists, separately from others; and each raiseth its own emotion, which is felt distinctly how­ever intimately connected the objects may be. This doctrine holds in all the causes of emotion or passion, sounds only excepted.

To explain the manner in which such emotions coexist, similar emotions must be distinguished from those that are dissimilar. Two emotions are said to be similar, when they tend each of them to produce the same tone of mind. Chearful emotions, however different their causes may be, are similar; and so are those which are melan­choly. Dissimilar emotions are easily ex­plained by their opposition to what are simi­lar. Grandeur and littleness, gaiety and gloominess, are dissimilar emotions.

Emotions perfectly similar, readily com­bine and unite*, so as in a manner to be­come [Page 154] one complex emotion; witness the emotions produced by a number of flowers in a parterre, or of trees in a wood. Emo­tions again that are opposite or extremely dissimilar, never combine nor unite. The mind cannot simultaneously take on opposite tones: it cannot at the same instant be both joyful and sad, angry and satisfied, proud and humble. Dissimilar emotions may suc­ceed each other with rapidity, but they can­not exist simultaneously.

Betwixt these two extremes, emotions will unite more or less, in proportion to the degree of their resemblance and the greater or less connection of their causes. The beauty of a landscape and the singing of birds, produce emotions that are similar in a considerable degree; and these emotions therefore, though proceeding from very different causes, readily combine and unite. On the other hand, when the causes are in­timately connected, the emotions, though but slightly resembling each other, are for­ced into a sort of union. I give for an ex­ample a mistress in distress. When I consi­der her beauty, I feel a pleasant emotion; [Page 155] and a painful emotion when I consider her distress. These two emotions, proceeding from different views of the object, have ve­ry little resemblance to each other: and yet their causes are so intimately connected, as to force them into a sort of complex emo­tion, partly pleasant partly painful. This clearly explains some expressions common in poetry, a sweet distress, a pleasant pain.

We proceed to the effects produced by means of the different manners of coexist­ence above described; first, the effects pro­duced within the mind, and next, those that appear externally. I discover two mental effects clearly distinguishable from each other. The one may be represented by addition and subtraction in numbers, and the other by harmony in sounds. Two pleasant emotions that are similar, readily unite when they are coexistent; and the pleasure felt in the union, is the sum of the two pleasures. The combined emotions are like multiplied effects from the co-ope­ration of different powers. The same e­motions in succession, are far from making the same figure; because the mind at no [Page 156] instant of the succession is conscious of more than a single emotion. This doctrine may aptly be illustrated by a landscape com­prehending hills, vallies, plains, rivers, trees, &c. The emotions produced by these several objects, being similar in a high degree as falling in easily and sweetly with the same tone of mind, are in conjunction extremely pleasant. And this multiplied effect is felt from objects even of different senses; as where a landscape is conjoined with the music of birds and odor of flowers. Such multiplied effect, as above hinted, de­pends partly on the resemblance of the e­motions and partly on the connection of their causes; whence it follows, that the effect must be the greatest, where the causes are intimately connected and the emotions perfectly similar.

The other pleasure arising from coexistent emotions, which may be termed the plea­sure of concord or harmony, is ascertained by a different rule. It is directly in proportion to the degree of resemblance betwixt the emotions, and inversely in proportion to the degree of connection betwixt the cau­ses. [Page 157] To feel this pleasure in perfection, the resemblance cannot be too strong, nor the connection too slight. Where the causes are intimately connected, the similar emo­tions they produce are felt like one com­plex emotion. But the pleasure of harmo­ny, is not felt from one emotion single or complex. It is felt from various similar e­motions, distinct from each other, and yet sweetly combining in the mind; and the less connection the causes have, the more entire is the emotion of harmony. This matter cannot be better illustrated, than by the foregoing example of a landscape, where the sight, hearing, and smelling, are employed. The accumulated pleasure of so many different similar emotions, is not what delights us the most in this combina­tion of objects. The sense of harmony from these emotions sweetly uniting in the mind, is still more delightful. We feel this harmony in the different emotions proceed­ing from the visible objects; but we feel it still more sensibly in the emotions proceed­ing from the objects of different senses. This emotion of concord or harmony, will [Page 158] be more fully illustrated, when the emo­tions produced by the sound of words and their meaning are taken under considera­tion*.

This emotion of concord from conjoined emotions, is felt even where the emotions are not perfectly similar. Love is a pleasant passion; but then its sweetness and tender­ness make it resemble in a considerable de­gree the painful passion of pity or grief; and for that reason, love accords better with these passions than with what are gay and sprightly. I give the following ex­ample from Catullus, where the concord be­twixt love and grief, has a fine effect even in so slight a subject as the death of a sparrow.

Lugete, ô Veneres, Cupidinesque,
Et quantum est hominum venustiorum!
Passer mortuus est meae puellae,
Quem plus illa oculis suis amabat.
Nam mellitus erat, suamque norat
Ipsam tam bene, quam puella matrem:
Nec sese a gremio illius movebat;
Sed circumsiliens modo huc, modo illuc,
[Page 159]Ad solam dominam usque pipilabat.
Qui nunc it per iter tenebricosum,
Illuc, unde negant redire quemquam.
At vobis male sit, malae tenebrae
Orci, quae omnia bella devoratis;
Tam bellum mihi passerem abstulistis.
O factum male, ô miselle passer,
Tua nunc opera, meae puellae
Flendo turgiduli rubent ocelli.

To complete this branch of the subject, I proceed to consider the effects of dissimi­lar emotions. These effects obviously must be opposite to what are above described; and in order to explain them with accuracy, dissimilar emotions proceeding from con­nected causes, must be distinguished from what proceed from causes that are un­connected. Dissimilar emotions of the former kind, being forced into a sort of unnatural union, produce a feeling of dis­cord instead of harmony. It holds also that in computing their force, subtraction must be used in place of addition, which will be evi­dent from what follows. Dissimilar emotions forced into union, are felt obscurely and im­perfectly; [Page 160] for each tends to vary the tone of mind that is suited to the other; and the mind thus distracted betwixt two objects, is at no instant in a condition to receive a full impression from either. Dissimilar e­motions proceeding from unconnected cau­ses, are in a very different condition. Dissi­milar emotions in general are averse to u­nion; and as there is nothing to force them into union when their causes are uncon­nected, emotions of this kind are never felt but in succession. By that means, they are not felt to be discordant, and each hath an opportunity to make a full impression.

This curious theory must be illustrated by examples. In reading the description of the dismal waste, book 1. of Paradise Lost, we are sensible of a confused feeling, ari­sing from dissimilar emotions forced into union, viz. the beauty of the description and the horror of the object described.

Seest thou yon dreary plain, forlorn and wild,
The seat of desolation, void of light,
Save what the glimmering of these livid flames
Casts pale and dreadful?

[Page 161] Many other passages in this justly celebrated poem produce the same effect; and we al­ways observe, that if the disagreeableness of the subject be obscured by the beautiful description, this beauty is not less obscured by its discordant union with the disagree­ableness of the subject. For the same rea­son, ascending smoke in a calm morning is improper in a picture full of violent action. The emotion of stillness and tranquillity in­spired by the former, accords not with the lively and animated emotion inspired by the latter. A parterre, partly ornamented partly in disorder, produces a mixt feeling of the same sort. Two great armies in act to engage, mix the dissimilar emotions of grandeur and of terror.

Sembra d'alberi densi alta foresta
L'un campo, e l'altro; di tant' aste abbonda.
Son tesi gli archi, e son le lance in resta:
Vibransi i dardi, e rotasi ogni fionda.
Ogni cavallo in guerra anco s' appresta:
Gli odii, e'l furor del suo signor seconda:
Raspa, batte, nitrisce, e si raggira,
Gonfia le nari; e fumo, e fuoco spira.
Bello in si bella vista anco è l' orrore:
E di mezzo la tema esce il diletto.
Ne men le trombe orribili, e canore
Sono a gli orecchi lieto, e fero oggetto.
Pur il campo fedel, benchè minore,
Par di suon più mirabile, e d' aspetto.
E canta in più guerriero, e chiaro carme
Ogni sua tromba, e maggior luce han l' arme.
Gerusalemme liberata, cant. 20. st. 29. & 30.

A virtuous man has drawn on himself a great misfortune, by a fault incident to hu­man nature, and therefore venial. The remorse he feels aggravates his distress, and consequently raises our pity to a high pitch. We indeed blame the man; and the in­dignation raised by the fault he has com­mitted, is dissimilar to pity. These two passions however proceeding from different views of the same object, are forced into a sort of union. But the indignation is so slight as scarce to be felt in the mixture with pity. Subjects of this kind, are of all the fittest for tragedy. But of this after­ward*.

[Page 163] Opposite emotions are so dissimilar as not to admit any sort of union, even where they proceed from causes the most inti­mately connected. Love to a mistress, and resentment for her infidelity, are of this nature. They cannot exist otherwise than in succession, which by the connection of their causes is commonly rapid. And these emotions will govern alternately, till one of them obtain the ascendent, or both be ob­literated. A succession opens to me by the death of a worthy man, who was my friend as well as my kinsman. When I think of my friend I am grieved; but the succession gives me joy. These two causes are inti­mately connected, for the succession is the direct consequence of my friend's death. The emotions however being opposite, do not mix: they prevail alternately, perhaps for a course of time, till grief for my friend's death be banished by the pleasures of opulence. A virtuous man suffering un­justly, is an example of the same kind. I pity him, and I have great indignation at the author of the wrong. These emotions proceed from causes nearly connected; but being directed upon different objects, they [Page 164] are not forced into union. The opposition preserves them distinct; and accordingly they are found to govern alternately, the one sometimes prevailing and sometimes the other.

Next of dissimilar emotions arising from unconnected causes. Good and bad news of equal importance arriving at the same instant from different quarters, produce op­posite emotions, the discordance of which is not felt because they are not forced into union. They govern alternately, com­monly in a quick succession, till their force be spent. In the same manner, good news arriving to a man labouring under distress, occasions a vibration in his mind from the one to the other.

By heav'n thou'st rous'd me from my lethargy.
The spirit which was deaf to my own wrongs,
And the loud cries of my dead father's blood,
Deaf to revenge—nay, which refus'd to hear
The piercing sighs and murmurs of my love
Yet unenjoy'd; what not Almeria could
Revive, or raise, my people's voice has waken'd.
O my Antonio, I am all on fire,
[Page 165] My soul is up in arms, ready to charge
And bear amidst the foe with conqu'ring troops.
I hear 'em call to lead 'em on to liberty,
To victory; their shouts and clamours rend
My ears, and reach the heav'ns: where is the king?
Where is Alphonso? ha! where! where indeed?
O I could tear and burst the strings of life,
To break these chains. Off, off, ye stains of royalty!
Off, slavery! O curse, that I alone
Can beat and flutter in my cage, when I
Would soar and stoop at victory beneath!
Mourning Bride, act 3. sc. 2.

If the emotions be unequal in force, the stronger after a conflict will extinguish the weaker. Thus the loss of a house by fire or of a sum of money by bankruptcy, will make no figure in opposition to the birth of a long-expected son, who is to inherit an opulent fortune. After some slight vibra­tions, the mind settles in joy, and the loss is forgot.

The foregoing observations, will be found of great use in the fine arts. Many practi­cal rules are derived from them, which I [Page 166] shall have occasion afterward to mention. For instant satisfaction in part, I propose to show the use of these observations in music, a theme I insist upon at present, not being certain of another opportunity more favour­able. It will be admitted, that no combi­nation of sounds but what is agreeable to the ear, is intitled to the name of music. Melody and harmony are separately agree­able and in union delightful. The agree­ableness of vocal music differs from that of instrumental. The former being intended to accompany words, ought to be expressive of the sentiment that is conveyed by the words. But the latter having no connec­tion with words, may be agreeable without expressing any sentiment. Harmony pro­perly so called, though delightful when in perfection, is not expressive of sentiment; and we often find good melody without the least tincture of it.

These preliminaries being established, I proceed directly to the point. In vocal mu­sic, the intimate connection of sense and sound rejects dissimilar emotions, those espe­cially that are opposite. Similar emotions [Page 167] produced by the sense and sound go natu­rally into union; and at the same time are felt to be concordant or harmonious. Dis­similar emotions, on the other hand, forced into union by causes intimately connected, not only obscure each other, but are also unpleasant by discordance. From these principles it is easy to say what sort of poe­tical compositions are fitted for music. It is evident that no poem expressing the senti­ments of any disagreeable passion is proper. The pain a man feels who is actuated with malice or unjust revenge, disqualifies him for relishing music or any thing that is en­tertaining. And supposing him disposed, against nature, to vent his sentiments in music, the mixture would be unplea­sant; for these passions raise disgust and aversion in the audience*, a tone of mind opposite to every emotion that music can in­spire. A man seized with remorse cannot bear music, because every sort of it must be discordant with his tone of mind; and when these by an unskilful artist are forced into [Page 168] union, the mixture is unpleasant to the au­dience.

In general, music never can have a good effect in conjunction with any compo­sition expressive of malice, envy, peevish­ness, or any other dissocial passion. The pleasure of music, on the other hand, is si­milar to all pleasant emotions; and music is finely qualified for every song where such emotions are expressed. Music particularly in a chearful tone, is concordant in the highest degree with every emotion in the same tone; and hence our taste for chear­ful airs expressive of mirth and jollity. Mu­sic is peculiarly well qualified for accompany­ing every sympathetic emotion. Sympathe­tic joy associates finely with chearful music, and sympathetic pain not less finely with music that is tender and melancholy. All the different emotions of love, viz. tender­ness, concern, anxiety, pain of absence, hope, fear, &c. accord delightfully with music. A person in love, even when unkindly treated, is soothed by music. The tenderness of love still prevailing, accords with a melancholy strain. This [Page 169] is finely exemplified by Shakespear in the fourth act of Othello, where Desdemona calls for a song expressive of her distress. Wonderful is the delicacy of that writer's taste, which fails him not even in the most refined emotions of human nature. Me­lancholy music again is suitable to slight grief, which requires or admits consolation. But deep grief, which refuses all consolation, rejects for that reason even melancholy mu­sic. For a different reason, music is im­proper for accompanying pleasant emotions of the more important kind. These totally ingross the mind, and leave no place for music or any sort of amusement. In a pe­rilous enterprise to dethrone a tyrant, mu­sic would be impertinent, even where hope prevails, and the prospect of success is great. Alexander attacking the Indian town and mounting the wall, had certainly no impulse to exert his prowess in a song. It is true, that not the least regard is paid to these rules ei­ther in the French or Italian opera; and the attachment we have to these composi­tions, may at first sight be considered as a proof that the foregoing doctrine cannot be founded on human nature. But the gene­ral [Page 170] taste for operas is at bottom no authori­ty against me. In our operas the passions are so imperfectly expressed, as to leave the mind free for relishing music of any sort in­differently. It cannot be disguised, that the pleasure of an opera is derived chiefly from the music, and scarce at all from the sentiments. A happy coincidence of emo­tions raised by the song and by the music, is extremely rare; and I venture to affirm, that there is no example of it unless where the emotion raised by the former is pleasant as well as that raised by the latter.

The subject we have run through, ap­pears not a little entertaining. It is ex­tremely curious to observe, in many instan­ces, a plurality of causes producing in con­junction a great pleasure: in other instances, not less frequent, no conjunction, but each cause acting in opposition. To enter blunt­ly upon a subject of such intricacy, might gravel an acute philosopher; and yet by taking matters in a train, the intricacy vanisheth.

Next in order, according to the method proposed, come external effects. And this leads to passions in particular, which invol­ving [Page 171] desire are the causes of action. Two coexistent passions that have the same ten­dency, must be similar. They accordingly readily unite, and in conjunction have dou­ble force; which must hold whether the two passions have the same or different cau­ses. This is verified by experience; from which we learn, that different passions ha­ving the same end in view, impel the mind to action with united force. The mind re­ceives not impulses alternately from these passions, but one strong impulse from the whole in conjunction. And indeed it is not easy to conceive what should bar the union of passions that have all of them the same tendency.

Two passions having opposite tendencies, may proceed from the same object or cause considered in different lights. Thus a mi­stress may at once be the object both of love and resentment. Her beauty inflames the passion of love: her cruelty or inconstancy causes resentment. When two such passions coexist in the same breast, the opposition of their aim prevents any sort of union. They are not felt otherwise than in succession. [Page 172] And the consequence must be one of two things: the passions will balance each other, and prevent external action; or one of them will prevail, and accomplish its end. Guari­ni, in his Pastor Fido, describes beautifully the struggle betwixt love and resentment directed upon the same object.

Chi vide mai, chi mai udi più strana
E più folle, e più fera, e più importuna
Passione amorosa? amore, ed odio
Con si mirabil tempre in un cor misti,
Che l'un per l'altro (e non so ben dir come)
E si strugge, e s'avanza, e nasce, e more.
S'i' miro alle bellezze di Mirtillo
Dal piè leggiadro al grazioso volto,
Il vago portamento, il bel sembiante.
Gli atti, i costumi, e le parole, e'l guardo;
M'assale Amore con si possente foco
Ch'i' ardo tutta, e par, ch' ogn' altro affetto
Da questo sol sia superato, e vinto:
Ma se poi penso all' ostinato amore,
Ch' ei porta ad altra donna, e che per lei
Di me non cura, e sprezza (il vo' pur dire)
La mia famosa, e da mill' alme, e mille
Inchinata beltà, bramata grazia;
L'odio cosi, cosi l'aborro, e schivo,
Che impossibil mi par, ch'unqua per lui
[Page 173] Mi s'accendesse al cor fiamma amorosa.
Tallor meco ragiono: o s'io potessi
Gioir del mio dolcissimo Mirtillo,
Sicche fosse mio tutto, e ch' altra mai
Posseder no 'l potesse, o più d' ogn' altra
Beata, e felicissima Corisca!
Ed in quel punto in me sorge un talento
Verso di lui si dolce, e si gentile,
Che di seguirlo, e di pregarlo ancora,
E di scoprirgli il cor prendo consiglio.
Che più? cosi mi stimola il desio,
Che se potessi allor l'adorerei.
Dall' altra parte i' mi risento, e dico,
Un ritroso? uno schifo? un che non degna?
Un, che può d'altra donna esser amante?
Un, ch'ardisce mirarmi, e non m'adora?
E dal mio volto si difende in guisa,
Che per amor non more? ed io, che lui
Dovrei veder, come molti altri i' veggio
Supplice, e lagrimosa a' piedi miei,
Supplice, e lagrimoso a' piedi suoi
Sosterro di cadere? ah non fia mai.
Ed in questo pensier tant' ira accoglio
Contra di lui, contra di me, che volsi
A seguirlo il pensier, gli occhi a mirarlo,
Che 'l nome di Mirtillo, e l'amor mio
Odio più che la morte; e lui vorrei
Veder il più dolente, il più infelice
[Page 174] Pastor, che viva; e se potessi allora,
Con le mie proprie man l'anciderei.
Cosi sdegno, desire, odio, ed amore
Mi fanno guerra, ed io, che stata sono
Sempre fin qui di mille cor la fiamma,
Di mill' alme il tormento, ardo, e languisco:
E provo nel mio mal le pene altrui.
Act 1. sc. 3.

Ovid paints in lively colours the vibration of mind betwixt two opposite passions directed upon the same object. Althea had two brothers much beloved, who were unjustly put to death by her son Meleager in a fit of passion. She was strongly impelled to re­venge; but the criminal was her own son. This ought to have with-held her hand. But the story makes a better figure and is more interesting, by the violence of the struggle betwixt resentment and maternal love.

Dona Deûm templis nato victore ferebat;
Cum videt extinctos fratres Althaea referri.
Quae plangore dato, moestis ululatibus urbem
Implet; et auratis mutavit vestibus atras.
At simul est auctor necis editus; excidit omnis
Luctus: et a lacrymis in poenae versus amorem est.
[Page 175] Stipes erat, quem, cum partus enixa jaceret
Thestias, in flammam triplices posuêre sorores;
Staminaque impresso fatalia pollice nentes,
Tempora, dixerunt, eadem lignoque, tibique,
O modo nate, damus. Quo postquam carmine dicto
Excessere deae; flagrantem mater ab igne
Erripuit torrem: sparsitque liquentibus undis.
Ille diu fuerat penetralibus abditus imis;
Servatusque, tuos, juvenis, servaverat annos.
Protulit hunc genitrix, taedasque in fragmina poni
Imperat; et positis inimicos admovet ignes.
Tum conata quater flammis imponere ramum
Coepta quater tenuit. Pugnat materque, sororque,
Et diversa trahunt unum duo nomina pectus.
Saepe metu sceleris pallebant ora futuri:
Saepe suum fervens oculis dabat ira ruborem,
Et modo nescio quid similis crudele minanti
Vultus erat; modo quem misereri credere posses:
Cumque ferus lacrymas animi siccaverat ardor;
Inveniebantur lacrymae tamen. Utque carina,
Quam ventus, ventoque contrarius aestus,
Vim geminam sentit, paretque incerta duobus:
Thestias haud aliter dubiis affectibus errat,
Inque vices ponit, positamque resuscitat iram.
Incipit esse tamen melior germana parente;
Et, consanguineas ut sanguine leniat umbras,
Impietate pia est. Nam postquam pestifer ignis
[Page 176] Convaluit: Rogus iste cremet mea viscera, dixit.
Utque manu dirâ lignum fatale tenebat;
Ante sepulchrales infelix adstitit aras.
Poenarumque deae triplices furialibus, inquit,
Eumenides, sacris vultus advertite vestros.
Ulciscor, facioque nefas. Mors morte pianda est;
In scelus addendum scelus est, in funera funus:
Per coacervatos pereat domus impia luctus.
An felix Oeneus nato victore fruetur;
Thestius orbus erit? melius lugebitis ambo.
Vos modo, fraterni manes, animaeque recentes,
Officium sentite meum; magnoque paratas
Accipite inferias, uteri mala pignora nostri.
Hei mihi! quo rapior? fratres ignoscite matri.
Deficiunt ad coepta manus. Meruisse fatemur
Illum, cur pereat: mortis mihi displicet auctor.
Ergo impune feret; vivusque, et victor, et ipso
Successu tumidus regnum Calydonis habebit?
Vos cinis exiguus, gelidaeque jacebitis umbrae?
Haud equidem patiar. Pereat sceleratus; et ille
Spemque patris, regnique trahat, patriaeque ruinam.
Mens ubi materna est; ubi sunt pia jura parentum?
Et, quos sustinui, bis mensûm quinque labores?
O utinam primis arsisses ignibus infans;
Idque ego passa forem! vixisti munere nostro:
Nunc merite moriere tuo. Cape praemia facti;
Bisque datam, primum partu, mox stipite rapto,
Redde animam; vel me fraternis adde sepulchris.
[Page 177] Et cupio, et nequeo. Quid agam? modo vulnera fratrum
Ante oculos mihi sunt, et tantae caedis imago;
Nunc animum pietas, maternaque nomina fran­gunt.
Me miseram! male vincetis, sed vincite, fratres:
Dummodo, quae dedero vobis solatia, vosque
Ipsa sequar, dixit: dextraque aversa trementi
Funereum torrem medios conjecit in ignes.
Aut dedit, aut visus gemitus est ille dedisse,
Stipes; et invitis correptus ab ignibus arsit.
Metamorph. lib. 8. l. 445.

In cases of this kind, one circumstance al­ways augments the fluctuation. A resolu­tion to prefer one action before another af­ter balancing betwixt them, is an inchoated gratification of the prevailing passion, which softens it in some degree. This circum­stance tends to give a superiority to the op­posite passion. And another circumstance also concurs, that this opposite passion has by restraint acquired in the interim some additional force.

Love and jealousy connected by a com­mon object, occupy the mind alternately. When the object is considered as beautiful, [Page 178] love prevails: when considered as possibly unfaithful, jealousy prevails. A situation of this kind, affords great scope for fluctua­tion of passion, which is painted to the life by several masterly hands in words as well as in colours. Shakespear handles the same subject, but in a manner uncommon and peculiar to himself. In Othello's soliloquy before putting his wife to death, love and jealousy are represented, each exerting its whole force, but without any struggle. O­thello was naturally inflexible; and the tenderest love could not divert him from a purpose he approved as right, not even for a moment. But every thing consistent with such a character is done to reconcile the two opposite passions. He is resolved to put her to death, but he will not shed her blood, nor so much as ruffle her skin.

It is the cause, it is the cause, my soul;—
Let me not name it to you, you chaste stars!
It is the cause.—Yet I'll not shed her blood,
Nor scar that whiter skin of hers than snow,
And smooth as monumental alabaster.
[Lays down the sword.
Yet she must die; else she'll betray more men.
Put out the light, and then—Put out the light?—
[Page 179] If I quench thee, thou flaming minister,
I can again thy former light restore,
Should I repent: but once put out thy light,
Thou cunning'st pattern of excelling nature,
I know not where is that Promethean heat
That can thy light relumine.—
[Sets down the taper.
When I have pluck'd thy rose,
I cannot give it vital growth again;
It needs must wither.—I'll smell thee on the tree;
[Kissing her.
Oh balmy breath, that dost almost persuade
Justice to break her sword!—One more; one more;
Be thus when thou art dead, and I will kill thee,
And love thee after.—One more, that's the last;
So sweet was ne'er so fatal! I must weep,
But they are cruel tears? this sorrow's heav'nly;
It strikes where it doth love.—She wakes—
Act 5. sc. 6.

In Otway's Orphan, we have an illustrious example of the address employed to gratify opposite passions directed upon the same ob­ject. Castalio and Polydore, brothers and rivals, had sworn mutual confidence. Ca­stalio broke his faith by a private marriage. By this concealment, Polydore was unwa­rily betrayed into a dismal deed, that of [Page 180] polluting his brother's bed. Thus he had injured his brother, and was injured by him. Justice prompted him to make full atone­ment by his own death: resentment against his brother required a full atonement to be made to himself. In coexistent passions so contradictory, one of them commonly pre­vails after a struggle. But here happily an expedient occurred to gratify both; which was, that Polydore should provoke his bro­ther to put him to death. Polydore's crime in his own opinion merited this punish­ment; and justice was satisfied when he fell by the hands of the man he had injured. He wanted at the same time to punish his brother for breach of faith; and he could not do this more effectually than by betraying his brother to be his executioner.

If difference of aim prevent the union of two passions though having the same object, much more will it prevent their union when their objects are also different. In both cases there is a fluctuation; but in the latter the fluctuation is slower than in the former. A beautiful situation of this kind is exhibited in the Cid of Corneille. [Page 181] Don Diegue, an old soldier worn out with age, having received a mortal affront from the Count father to Chimene, employs his son Don Rodrigue, Chimene's lover, to demand satisfaction. This situation occa­sions in the breast of Don Rodrigue a cruel struggle. It is a contest betwixt love and honour, one of which must be sacrificed. The scene is finely conducted, chiefly by making love in some degree take part with honour, Don Rodrigue reflecting, that if he lost his honour he could not deserve his mistress. Honour triumphs. The Count, provoked to a single combat, falls by the hand of Don Rodrigue.

This produceth another beautiful situa­tion respecting Chimene, which for the sake of connection is placed here, though it properly belongs to the foregoing head. It became the duty of that lady to demand ju­stice against her lover, for whose preserva­tion, in other circumstances, she chearfully would have sacrificed her own life. The struggle betwixt these opposite passions di­rected upon the same object, is finely ex­pressed in the third scene of the third act.

[Page 182]

Il vous prive d'un pére, et vous l'aimez encore!

C'est peu de dire aimer, Elvire, je l'adore;
Ma passion s'oppose à mon ressentiment,
Dedans mon ennemi je trouve mon amant,
Et je sens qu'en depit de toute ma colére,
Rodrigue dans mon coeur combat encore mon pére.
Il l'attaque, il le presse, il céde, il se défend,
Tantôt fort, tantôt foible, et tantôt triomphant;
Mais en ce dur combat de colére et de flame,
Il déchire mon coeur sans partager mon ame,
Et quoique mon amour ait sur moi de pouvoir,
Je ne consulte point pour suivre mon devoir.
Je cours sans balancer où mon honneur m'oblige;
Rodrigue m'est bien cher, son interêt m'afflige,
Mon coeur prend son parti; mais malgré son effort,
Je sai ce que je suis, et que mon pére est mort.

Not less when the objects are different than when the same, are means sometimes afforded to gratify both passions; and such means are greedily embraced. In Tasso's Gerusalem, Edward and Gildippe, husband and wife, are introduced fighting gallantly against the Saracens. Gildippe receives a mortal wound by the hand of Soliman. Ed­ward inflamed with revenge as well as con­cern [Page 183] for Gildippe, is agitated betwixt the two different objects. The poet* describes him endeavouring to gratify both at once, applying his right hand against Soliman the object of his resentment, and his left hand to support his wife the object of his love.

PART V. The power of passion to adjust our opinions and belief to its gratification.

THere is such a connection among the perceptions passions and actions of the same person, that it would be wonder­ful if they should have no mutual influence. That our actions are too much directed by passion, is a sad truth. It is not less cer­tain, though not so commonly observed, that passion hath an irregular influence up­on our opinions and belief. The opinions we form of men and things, are generally directed by affection. An advice given by a man of figure, hath great weight; the [Page 184] same advice from one in a low condition, is utterly neglected. A man of courage un­der-rates danger; and to the indolent, the slightest obstacle appears unsurmountable. Our opinions indeed, the result commonly of various and often opposite views, are so slight and wavering, as readily to be suscep­tible of a bias from passion and prejudice.

This subject is of great use in logic; and of still greater use in criticism, being inti­mately connected with many principles of the fine arts that will be unfolded in the course of this work. Being too extensive to be treated here at large, some cursory illu­strations must suffice; leaving the subject to be prosecuted more particularly afterward when occasion shall offer.

Two principles that make an eminent figure in human nature, concur to give pas­sion an undue influence upon our opinions and belief. The first and most extensive, is a strong tendency in the mind to fit ob­jects for the gratification of its passions. We are prone to such opinions of men and things as correspond to our wishes. Where the object, in dignity or importance, cor­responds [Page 185] to the passion bestowed on it, the gratification is complete and there is no oc­casion for artifice. But where the object is too mean for the passion so as not to afford a complete gratification, it is wonderful how apt the mind is to impose upon itself, and how disposed to proportion the object to its passion. The other principle is a strong tendency in our nature to justify our passions as well as our actions, not to others only, but even to ourselves. This tendency is ex­tremely remarkable with respect to disagree­able passions. By its influence, objects are magnified or lessened, circumstances suppli­ed or suppressed, every thing coloured and disguised, to answer the end of justification. Hence the foundation of self-deceit, where a man imposes upon himself innocently, and even without suspicion of a bias.

Beside the influence of the foregoing prin­ciples to make us form opinions contrary to truth, the passions themselves, by subordi­nate means, contribute to the same effect. Of these means I shall mention two which seem to be capital. First, There was occa­sion [Page 186] formerly to observe*, that though ideas seldom start up in the mind without con­nection, yet that ideas which correspond to the present tone of the mind are readily sug­gested by any slight connection. By this means, the arguments for a favourite opi­nion are always at hand, while we often search in vain for those that cross our incli­nation. Second, The mind taking delight in agreeable circumstances or arguments, is strongly impressed with them; while those that are disagreeable are hurried over so as scarce to make any impression. The self­same argument, accordingly as it is relished or not relished, weighs so differently, as in truth to make conviction depend more on passion than on reasoning. This observa­tion is fully justified by experience. To confine myself to a single instance, the num­berless absurd religious tenets that at differ­ent times have pestered the world, would be altogether unaccountable but for this ir­regular bias of passion.

We proceed to a more pleasant task, [Page 187] which is, to illustrate the foregoing ob­servations by proper examples. Grati­tude when warm, is often exerted upon the children of the benefactor; especially where he is removed out of reach by death or absence*. Gratitude in this case being exerted for the sake of the bene­factor, requires no peculiar excellence in his children. To find however these chil­dren worthy of the benefits intended them, contributes undoubtedly to the more entire gratification of the passion. And according­ly, the mind, prone to gratify its passions, is apt to conceive a better opinion of these chil­dren than possibly they deserve. By this means, strong connections of affection are often formed among individuals, upon the slight foundation now mentioned.

Envy is a passion, which, being altoge­ther unjustifiable, is always disguised under some more plausible name. But no passion is more eager than envy, to give its object such an appearance as to answer a complete gratification. It magnifies every bad quali­ty, [Page 188] and fixes on the most humbling circum­stances.

I cannot tell what you and other men
Think of this life; but for my single self,
I had as lief not be, as live to be
In awe of such a thing as I myself.
I was born free as Caesar, so were you;
We both have fed as well; and we can both
Endure the winter's cold as well as he.
For once, upon a raw and gusty day,
The troubled Tyber chafing with his shores,
Caesar says to me, Dar'st thou, Cassius, now
Leap in with me into this angry flood,
And swim to yonder point?—Upon the word,
Accoutred as I was, I plunged in,
And bid him follow; so indeed he did.
The torrent roar'd, and we did buffet it
With lusty sinews; throwing it aside,
And stemming it with hearts of controversy.
But ere we could arrive the point propos'd,
Caesar cry'd, Help me, Cassius, or I sink.
I, as Aeneas, our great ancestor,
Did from the flames of Troy upon his shoulder
The old Anchises bear; so from the waves of Tyber
Did I the tired Caesar: and this man
Is now become a god, and Cassius is
[Page 189] A wretched creature; and must bend his body,
If Caesar carelessly but nod on him.
He had a fever when he was in Spain,
And when the fit was on him, I did mark
How he did shake. 'Tis true, this god did shake;
His coward lips did from their colour fly,
And that same eye whose bend doth awe the world,
Did lose its lustre; I did hear him grone:
Ay, and that tongue of his, that bade the Romans
Mark him, and write his speeches in their books,
Alas! it cry'd—Give me some drink, Titi­nius—
As a sick girl. Ye gods, it doth amaze me,
A man of such a feeble temper should
So get the start of the majestic world,
And bear the palm alone.
Julius Caesar, act 1. sc. 3.

Glo'ster inflamed with resentment against his son Edgar, could even work himself in­to a momentary conviction that they were not related.

O strange fasten'd villain!
Would he deny his letter?—I never got him.
King Lear, act 2. sc. 3.

When by a great sensibility of heart or [Page 190] other means, grief swells beyond what the cause can justify, the mind is prone to mag­nify the cause, in order to gratify the pas­sion. And if the real cause admit not of being magnified, the mind seeks a cause for its grief in imagined future events.

Madam, your Majesty is much too sad:
You promis'd, when you parted with the King,
To lay aside self-harming heaviness,
And entertain a chearful disposition.
To please the King, I did; to please myself,
I cannot do it. Yet I know no cause
Why I should welcome such a guest as grief;
Save bidding farewell to so sweet a guest
As my sweet Richard: yet again, methinks,
Some unborn sorrow, ripe in Fortune's womb,
Is coming tow'rd me; and my inward soul
With something trembles, yet at nothing grieves,
More than with parting from my Lord the King.
Richard II. act. 2. sc. 5.

The foregoing examples depend on the first principle. In the following, both prin­ciples concur. Resentment at first is wreak­ed on the relations of the offender, in or­der [Page 191] to punish him. But as resentment when so outrageous is contrary to consci­ence, the mind, to justify its passion as well as to gratify it, is disposed to paint these re­lations in the blackest colours; and it ac­tually comes to be convinced, that they ought to be punished for their own deme­rits.

Anger raised by an accidental stroke upon a tender part, which gives great and sudden pain, is sometimes vented upon the unde­signing cause. But as the passion in this case is absurd, and as there can be no solid gratification in punishing the innocent; the mind, prone to justify as well as to gratify its passion, deludes itself instantly into a con­viction of the action's being voluntary. This conviction however is but momentary: the first reflection shows it to be erro­neous; and the passion vanisheth almost instantaneously with the conviction. But anger, the most violent of all passions, has still greater influence. It sometimes forces the mind to personify a stock or a stone when it occasions bodily pain, in order to be a proper object of resentment. A con­ception [Page 192] is formed of it as a voluntary agent. And that we have really a momentary con­viction of its being a voluntary agent, must be evident from considering, that without such conviction, the passion can neither be justified nor gratified. The imagination can give no aid. A stock or a stone may be imagined sensible; but a notion of this kind cannot be the foundation of punish­ment, so long as the mind is conscious that it is an imagination merely without any reality. Of such personification, involving a conviction of reality, there is one illustrious instance. When the first bridge of boats over the Hellespont was destroyed by a storm, Xerxes fell into a transport of rage, so excessive, that he commanded the sea to be punished with 300 stripes; and a pair of fetters to be thrown into it, enjoining the following words to be pronounced. ‘"O thou salt and bitter water! thy master hath condemned thee to this punishment for offending him without cause; and is resolved to pass over thee in despite of thy insolence. With reason all men neglect [Page 193] to sacrifice to thee, because thou art both disagreeable and treacherous*."’

Shakespear exhibits beautiful examples of the irregular influence of passion in making us conceive things to be otherwise than they are. King Lear, in his distress, personifies the rain, wind, and thunder; and in order to justify his resentment, conceives them to be taking part with his daughters.

Rumble thy belly-full, spit fire, spout rain!
Nor rain, wind, thunder, fire, are my daughters.
I tax not you, you elements, with unkindness;
I never gave you kingdom, call'd you children;
You owe me no subscription. Then let fall
Your horrible pleasure.—Here I stand, your brave;
A poor, infirm, weak, and despis'd old man!
But yet I call you servile ministers,
That have with two pernicious daughters join'd
Your high engender'd battles, 'gainst a head
So old and white as this. Oh! oh! 'tis foul.
Act 3. sc. 2.

King Kichard, full of indignation against [Page 194] his favourite horse for suffering Bolingbroke to ride him, conceives for a moment the horse to be rational.

O, how it yearn'd my heart, when I be-held,
In London streets, that coronation-day;
When Bolingbroke rode on Roan Barbary,
That horse that thou so often hast bestrid,
That horse that I so carefully have dress'd.
K. Rich.
Rode he on Barbary? tell me, gentle friend,
How went he under him?

So proudly as he had disdain'd the ground.

K. Rich.
So proud that Bolingbroke was on his back!
That jade had eat bread from my royal hand.
This hand hath made him proud with clapping him.
Would he not stumble? would he not fall down,
(Since pride must have a fall), and break the neck
Of that proud man that did usurp his back?
Richard II. act 5. sc. 11.

Hamlet, swelled with indignation at his mother's second marriage, is strongly in­clined to lessen the time of her widowhood; because this circumstance gratified his pas­sion; [Page 195] and he deludes himself by degrees into the opinion of an interval shorter than the real one.

—That it should come to this!
But two months dead! nay, not so much; not two;—
SO excellent a King, that was, to this,
Hyperion to a satire: so loving to my mother,
That he permitted not the wind of heav'n
Visit her face too roughly. Heav'n and earth!
Must I remember—why, she would hang on him,
As if increase of appetite had grown
By what it fed on; yet, within a month,—
Let me not think—Frailty, thy name is Woman!
A little month! or ere those shoes were old,
With which she follow'd my poor father's body,
Like Niobe, all tears—Why, she, ev'n she—
(O heav'n! a beast that wants discourse of reason,
Would have mourn'd longer—) married with mine uncle,
My father's brother; but no more like my father,
Than I to Hercules. Within a month!—
Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears
Had left the flushing in her gauled eyes,
She married.—Oh, most wicked speed, to post
With such dexterity to incestuous sheets!
[Page 196] It is not, nor it cannot come to good.
But break, my heart, for I must hold my tongue.
Act 1. sc. 3.

The power of passion to falsify the compu­tation of time, is the more remarkable, that time, which hath an accurate measure, is less obsequious to our desires and wishes, than objects which have no precise standard of less or more.

Even belief, though partly an act of the judgment, may be influenced by passion. Good news are greedily swallowed upon very slender evidence. Our wishes mag­nify the probability of the event as well as the veracity of the relater; and we believe as certain what at best is doubtful.

Quel, che l' huom vede, amor li fa invisible
E l' invisibil fa veder amore.
Questo creduto fu, che'l miser suole
Dar facile credenza a' quel, che vuole.
Orland. Furios. cant. 1. st. 56.

For the same reason, bad news gain also credit upon the slightest evidence. Fear, if once alarmed, has the same effect with [Page 197] hope to magnify every circumstance that tends to conviction. Shakespear, who shows more knowledge of human nature than any of our philosophers, hath in his Cymbeline * represented this bias of the mind: for he makes the person who alone was affected with the bad news, yield to evi­dence that did not convince any of his com­panions. And Othello is convinced of his wife's infidelity from circumstances too slight to move an indifferent person.

If the news interest us in so low a de­gree as to give place to reason, the effect will not be quite the same. Judging of the probability or improbability of the story, the mind settles in a rational conviction ei­ther that it is true or not. But even in this case, it is observable, that the mind is not allowed to rest in that degree of con­viction which is produced by rational evi­dence. If the news be in any degree fa­vourable, our belief is augmented by hope beyond its true pitch; and if unfavourable, by fear.

[Page 198] The observation holds equally with re­spect to future events. If a future event be either much wished or dreaded, the mind, to gratify its passion, never fails to augment the probability beyond truth.

The credit which in all ages has been given to wonders and prodigies, even the most absurd and ridiculous, is a strange phenomenon. Nothing can be more evi­dent than the following proposition, That the more singular any event is, the more evidence is required. A familiar event daily occurring, being in itself extremely pro­bable, finds ready credit, and therefore is vouched by the slightest evidence. But a strange and rare event, contrary to the course of nature, ought not to be easily be­lieved. It starts up without connection, and without cause, so far as we can discover; and to overcome the improbability of such an event, the very strongest evidence is re­quired. It is certain, however, that won­ders and prodigies are swallowed by the vulgar, upon evidence that would not be sufficient to ascertain the most familiar oc­currence. It has been reckoned difficult to [Page 199] explain this irregular bias of the mind. We are now no longer at a loss about its cause. The proneness we have to gratify our passions, which displays itself upon so many occasions, produces this irrational be­lief. A story of ghosts or fairies, told with an air of gravity and truth, raiseth an emotion of wonder, and perhaps of dread. These emotions tending strongly to their own gratification, impose upon a weak mind, and impress upon it a thorough conviction contrary to all sense and reason.

Opinion and belief are influenced by propensity as well as by passion; for the mind is disposed to gratify both. A na­tural propensity is all we have to convince us, that the operations of nature are uni­form. Influenced by this propensity, we often rashly conceive, that good or bad weather will never have an end; and in natural philosophy, writers, influenced by the same propensity, stretch commonly their analogical reasonings beyond just bounds.

Opinion and belief are influenced by af­fection as well as by propensity. The no­ted [Page 200] story of a fine lady and a curate view­ing the moon through a telescope is a plea­sant illustration. I perceive, says the lady, two shadows inclining to each other, they are certainly two happy lovers. Not at all, replies the curate, they are two steeples of a cathedral.

APPENDIX to Part V. Concerning the methods which nature hath afforded for computing time and space.

I Introduce here the subject proposed, be­cause it affords several curious examples of the power of passion to adjust objects to its gratification; a lesson that cannot be too much inculcated, as there is not perhaps another bias in human nature that hath an influence so universal, and that is so apt to make us wander from truth as well as from justice.

I begin with time; and the question shortly is, What was the measure of time before artificial measures were invented? [Page 201] and, What is the measure at present when these are not at hand? I speak not of months and days, which we compute by the moon and sun; but of hours, or in general of the time that runs betwixt any two occurrences when there is not access to the sun. The only natural measure we have, is the train of our thoughts; and we always judge the time to be long or short, in proportion to the number of perceptions that have passed through the mind during that interval. This is indeed a very imperfect measure; because in the different conditions of a quick or slow succession, the computation is different. But however imperfect, it is the only measure by which a person natu­rally calculates time; and this measure is applied on all occasions, without regard to any occasional variation in the rate of suc­cession.

This natural measure of time, imperfect as it is, would however be tolerable, did it labour under no other imperfection than the ordinary variations that happen in the motion of our perceptions. But in many particular circumstances, it is much more fallacious; [Page 202] and in order to explain these distinctly, I must analize the subject. Time is generally computed at two different periods; one while time is passing, another after it is past. I shall consider these separately, with the errors to which each of them is liable. It will be found that these errors often produce very different computations of the same period of time. The computation of time while it is passing, comes first in order. It is a com­mon and trite observation, That to lovers ab­sence appears immeasurably long, every mi­nute an hour, and every hour a day. The same computation is made in every case where we long for a distant event; as where one is in expectation of good news, or where a profligate heir watches for the death of an old man who keeps him from a great estate. Opposite to these are instances not fewer in number. To a criminal the interval betwixt sentence and execution appears miserably short; and the same holds in every case where one dreads an approaching event. Of this even a schoolboy can bear witness: the hour allowed him for play, moves, in his apprehension, with a very swift pace: be­fore [Page 203] he is thoroughly engaged, the hour is gone. A reckoning founded on the num­ber of ideas, will never produce computa­tions so regularly opposite to each other; for a slow succession of ideas is not connected with our wishes, nor a quick succession with our fears. What is it then, that, in the cases mentioned, moves nature to desert her common measure for one very different? I know not that this question ever has been resolved. The false reckonings I have sug­gested are so common and familiar, that no writer has thought of inquiring for their cause. And indeed, to enter upon this mat­ter at short hand, without preparation, might occasion some difficulty. But to en­counter the difficulty, we luckily are prepa­red by what is said above about the power of passion to fit objects for its gratification. Among the other circumstances that terrify a condemned criminal, the short time he has to live is one. Terror, like our other passions, prone to its gratification, adjusts every one of these circumstances to its own tone. It magnifies in particular the short­ness of the interval betwixt the present time [Page 204] and that of the execution; and forces upon the criminal a conviction that the hour of his death approaches with a swift pace. In the same manner, among the other distresses of an absent lover, the time of separation is a capital circumstance, which for that reason is greatly magnified by his anxiety and im­patience. He imagines that the time of meeting comes on very slow, or rather that it will never come. Every minute is thought of an intolerable length. Here is a fair and I hope satisfactory account, why we reckon time to be tedious when we long for a future event, and not less fleet when we dread the event. This account is confirmed by other instances. Bodily pain fixt to one part, produceth a slow train of perceptions, which, according to the common measure of time, ought to make it appear short. Yet we know, that in such a state time has the op­posite appearance. Bodily pain is always attended with a degree of impatience and an anxiety to be rid of it, which make us judge every minute to be an hour. The same holds where the pain shifts from place to place; but not so remarkably, because such [Page 205] a pain is not attended with the same degree of impatience. The impatience a man hath in travelling through a barren country or in bad roads, makes him imagine, during the journey, that time goes on with a very slow pace. We shall show afterward that he makes a very different computation when his journey is at an end.

How ought it to stand with a man who apprehends bad news? It will probably be thought, that the case of this man resembles that of a criminal, who, in reckoning the short time he has to live, imagines every hour to be but a minute, and that time flies swift away. Yet the computation here is di­rectly opposite. Reflecting upon this diffi­culty, there appears one capital circum­stance in which the two cases differ. The fate of the criminal is determined: in the case under consideration, the man is still in suspense. Every one knows how di­stressful suspense is to the bulk of man­kind. Such distress we wish to get rid of at any rate, even at the expence of bad news. This case therefore, upon a more narrow inspection, resembles that of bodily pain. [Page 206] The present distress in both cases, makes the time appear extremely tedious.

The reader probably will not be displea­sed, to have this branch of the subject illu­strated in a pleasant manner, by an author acquainted with every maze of the human heart, and who bestows ineffable grace and ornament upon every subject he handles.


I pray you, what is't a clock?


You should ask me, what time o'day; there's no clock in the forest.


Then there is no true lover in the forest; else, sighing every minute, and groaning every hour, would detect the lazy foot of Time, as well as a clock.


Why not the swift foot of Time? Had not that been as proper?


By no means, Sir. Time travels in diverse paces with diverse persons. I'll tell you who Time ambles withal, who Time trots withal, who Time gallops withal, and who he stands still withal.


I pr'y thee whom doth he trot withal?


Marry, he trots hard with a young maid, between the contract of her marriage, and the day it is solemnized: if the interim be but a se'en­night, [Page 207] Time's pace is so hard that it seems the length of seven years.


Who ambles Time withal?


With a priest that lacks Latin, and a rich man that hath not the gout: for the one sleeps ea­sily, because he cannot study; and the other lives merrily, because he feels no pain: the one lack­ing the burden of lean and wasteful learning; the other knowing no burthen of heavy tedious penu­ry. These Time ambles withal.


Whom doth he gallop withal?


With a thief to the gallows: for though he go as softly as foot can fall, he thinks himself too soon there.


Whom stays it still withall?


With lawyers in the vacation; for they sleep between term and term, and then they per­ceive not how Time moves.

As you like it, act 3. sc. 8.

Reflecting upon the natural method of computing present time, it shows how far from truth we may be led by the irregular power of passion. Nor are our eyes imme­diately opened when the scene is past: the deception continues while there remain any traces of the passion. But looking back upon past time when the joy or distress is no [Page 208] longer remembered, the computation we make is very different. In this situation, passion being out of the question, we apply the ordinary measure, viz. the course of our perceptions; and I shall now proceed to the errors that this measure is subjected to. In order to have an accurate notion of this matter, we must distinguish betwixt a train of perceptions, and a train of ideas. Real objects make a strong impression, and are faithfully remembered. Ideas, on the con­trary, however entertaining at the time, are apt to escape an after recollection. Hence it is, that in retrospection, the time that was employed upon real objects, appears longer than the time that was employed up­on ideas. The former are more accurately recollected than the latter; and we measure the time by the number that is recollected. I proceed to particulars. After finishing a journey through a populous country, the frequency of agreeable objects distinctly re­collected by the traveller, makes the time spent in the journey appear to him longer than it was in reality. This is chiefly re­markable in a first journey, where every [Page 209] object is new and makes a strong impres­sion. On the other hand, after finishing a journey through a barren country thinly peopled, the time appears short, being mea­sured by the number of objects, which were few and far from interesting. Here in both instances a reckoning is brought out, di­rectly opposite to that made during the jour­ney. And this, by the way, serves to ac­count for a thing which may appear singu­lar, that in a barren country the computed miles are always longer, than near the capi­tal, where the country is rich and populous. The traveller has no natural measure of the space gone through, other than the time bestowed upon it; nor any natural measure of the time, other than the number of his per­ceptions. These being proportioned to the number of visible objects, he imagines that he hath consumed more time on his day's journey, and accomplished a greater number of miles, in a populous than in a waste country. By this method of calculation, e­very computed mile in the former must in reality be shorter than in the latter.

Again, the travelling with an agreeable [Page 210] companion produceth a short computation both of the road and of time; especially if there be few objects that demand attention, or if the objects be familiar. The case is the same of young people at a ball, or of a joyous company over a bottle. The ideas with which they have been entertained, be­ing transitory, escape the memory. After all is over, they reflect that they have been much diverted, but scarce can say about what.

When one is totally occupied in any a­greeable work that admits not many ob­jects, time runs on without observation; and upon an after recollection must appear short, in proportion to the paucity of ob­jects. This is still more remarkable in close contemplation and in deep thinking, where the train, composed wholly of ideas, pro­ceeds with an extreme slow pace. Not on­ly are the ideas few in number, but are apt to escape an after-reckoning. The like false reckoning of time may proceed from an op­posite state of mind. In a reverie, where ideas float at random without making any im­pression, time goes on unheeded and the [Page 211] reckoning is lost. A reverie may be so pro­found as to prevent the recollection of any one idea: that the mind was busied in a train of thinking, will in general be re­membered; but what was the subject, has quite escaped the memory. In such a case, we are altogether at a loss about the time: we have no data for making a computation. No cause produceth so false a reckoning of time, as immoderate grief. The mind, in this state, is violently attached to a single object, and admits not a different thought. Any other object breaking in, is instantly banished, so as scarce to give an appearance of succession. In a reverie, we are uncer­tain of the time that is past: but in the ex­ample now given, there is an appearance of certainty, so far as the natural measure of time can be trusted, that the time must have been short, when the perceptions are so few in number.

The natural measure of space appears more obscure than that of time. I venture however to enter upon it, leaving it to be further prosecuted, if it be thought of a­ny importance.

[Page 212] The space marked out for a house, ap­pears considerably larger after it is divided into its proper parts. A piece of ground ap­pears larger after it is surrounded with a fence; and still larger when it is made a garden and divided into different copart­ments.

On the contrary, a large plain looks less after it is divided into parts. The sea must be excepted, which looks less from that very circumstance of not being divided into parts.

A room of a moderate size appears larger when properly furnished. But when a very large room is furnished, I doubt whether it be not lessened in appearance.

A room of a moderate size, looks less by having a ceiling lower than in proportion. The same low ceiling makes a very large room look larger than it is in reality.

These experiments are by far too small a stock for a general theory. But they are all that occur at present; and without attempt­ing any regular system, I shall satisfy myself with a few conjectures.

The largest angle of vision seems to me [Page 213] the natural measure of space. The eye is the only judge; and in examining with it the size of any plain, or the length of any line, the most accurate method that can be taken is, to run over the object in parts. The largest part that can be taken in at one stedfast look, determines the largest angle of vision; and when that angle is given, one may institute a calculation by trying with the eye how many of these parts are in the whole.

Whether this angle be the same in all men, I know not. The smallest angle of vision is ascertained; and to ascertain the largest angle, would not be less curious.

But supposing it known, it would be a ve­ry imperfect measure; perhaps more so than the natural measure of time. It requires great steadiness of eye to measure a line with any accuracy, by applying to it the largest angle of distinctvision. And suppose this stea­diness to be acquired by practice, the measure will be imperfect from other circumstances. The space comprehended under this angle, will be different according to the distance, and also according to the situation of the ob­ject. [Page 214] Of a perpendicular this angle will comprehend the smallest space. The space will be larger in looking upon an inclined plain; and will be larger or less in propor­tion to the degree of inclination.

This measure of space, like the measure of time, is liable to some extraordinary errors from certain operations of the mind, which will account for some of the erroneous judge­ments above mentioned. The space mark­ed out for a dwelling-house, where the eye is at any reasonable distance, is seldom great­er than can be seen at once without moving the head. Divide this space into two or three equal parts, and none of these parts will ap­pear much less than what can be compre­hended at one distinct look; consequently each of them will appear equal, or nearly e­qual, to what the whole did before the di­vision. If, on the other hand, the whole be very small, so as scarce to fill the eye at one look, its divisions into parts will, I con­jecture, make it appear still less. The mi­nuteness of the parts is, by an easy transi­tion of ideas, transferred to the whole. Each part hath a diminutive appearance, and by [Page 215] the intimate connection of these parts with the whole, we pass the same judgement up­on all.

The space marked out for a small garden, is surveyed almost at one view; and re­quires a motion of the eye so slight, as to pass for an object that can be comprehend­ed under the largest angle of distinct vision. If not divided into too many parts, we are apt to form the same judgement of each part; and consequently to magnify the gar­den in proportion to the number of its parts.

A very large plain without protuberances, is an object not less rare than beautiful; and in those who see it for the first time, it must produce an emotion of wonder. This emo­tion, however slight, tending to its own gratification, imposes upon the mind, and makes it judge that the plain is larger than it is in reality. Divide this plain into parts, and our wonder ceases. It is no longer considered as one great plain, but as so ma­ny different fields or inclosures.

The first time one beholds the sea, it ap­pears to be large beyond all bounds. When [Page 216] it becomes familiar, and raises our wonder in no degree, it appears less than it is in reality. In a storm it appears larger, being distinguishable by the rolling waves into a number of great parts. Islands scattered at considerable distances, add in appearance to its size. Each intercepted part looks ex­tremely large, and we silently apply arith­metic to increase the appearance of the whole. Many islands scattered at hand, give a diminutive appearance to the sea, by its connection with its diminutive parts. The Lomond lake would undoubtedly look larger without its islands.

Furniture increaseth in appearance the size of a small room, for the same reason that divisions increase in appearance the size of a garden. The emotion of wonder which is raised by a very large room with­out furniture, makes it look larger than it is in reality. If completely furnished, we view it in parts, and our wonder is not raised.

A low ceiling hath a diminutive appear­ance, which, by an easy transition of ideas, is communicated to the length and breadth, provided they bear any sort of proportion to [Page 217] the height. If they be out of all propor­tion, the opposition seizes the mind, and raises some degree of wonder, which makes the difference appear greater than it real­ly is.

PART VI. Of the resemblance emotions bear to their causes.

THat many emotions bear a certain re­semblance to their causes, is a truth that can be made clear by induction; though, so far as I know, the observation has not been made by any writer. Motion, in its different circumstances, is productive of feelings that resemble it. Sluggish motion, for example, causeth a languid unpleasant feeling; slow uniform motion, a feeling calm and pleasant; and brisk motion, a lively feeling that rouses the spirits and pro­motes activity. A fall of water through rocks, raises in the mind a tumultuous con­fused agitation, extremely similar to its [Page 218] cause. When force is exerted with any ef­fort, the spectator feels a similar effort as of force exerted within his mind. A large object swells the heart. An elevated object makes the spectator stand erect.

Sounds also produce emotions that re­semble them. A sound in a low key, brings down the mind. Such a sound in a full tone, hath a certain solemnity, which it commu­nicates to the emotion produced by it. A sound in a high key, chears the mind by raising it. Such a sound in a full tone, both elevates and swells the mind.

Again, a wall or pillar that declines from the perpendicular, produceth a painful emo­tion, as of a tottering and falling within the mind. An emotion somewhat similar is produced by a tall pillar that stands so tick­lish as to look like falling. For this reason, a column upon a base looks better than up­on the naked ground. The base, which makes a part of the column, inspires a feel­ing of firmness and stability. The ground supporting a naked column, is too large to be considered as its base. And for the same reason, a cube as a base, is preferred before [Page 219] a cylinder, though the latter is a more beau­tiful figure. The angles of a cube, being extended to a greater distance from the cen­tre than the circumference of a cylinder, give the column a greater appearance of sta­bility. This excludes not a different rea­son, that the base, shaft, and capital, of a pillar, ought, for the sake of variety, to dif­fer from each other. If the shaft be round, the base and capital ought to be square.

A constrained posture, uneasy to the man himself, is disagreeable to the spectator; which makes it a rule in painting, that the drapery ought not to adhere to the body, but hang loose, that the figures may appear easy and free in their movements. Hence the disagreeable figure of a French dancing-master is one of Hogarth's pieces. It is also ridiculous, because the constraint is assumed and not forced.

The foregoing observation is not confined to emotions raised by still life. It holds also in those which are raised by the qualities, actions, and passions, of a sensible being. Love inspired by a fine woman, assumes her qualities. It is sublime, soft, ten­der, [Page 220] severe, or gay, according to its cause. This is still more remarkable in emotions raised by human actions. It hath already been remarked*, that any signal instance of gratitude, beside procuring esteem for the author, raiseth in the spectator a vague emotion of gratitude, which disposeth him to be grateful. I now further remark, that this vague emotion, being of the same kind with what produced the grateful action, hath a strong resemblance to its cause. Courage exerted inspires the reader as well as the spectator with a like emotion of cou­rage. A just action fortifies our love to justice, and a generous action rouses our generosity. In short, with respect to all vir­tuous actions, it will be found by induction, that they lead us to imitation by inspiring emotions resembling the passions that pro­duced these actions. And hence the be­nefit of dealing in choice books and in choice company.

Grief as well as joy are infectious: the emotions they raise in a spectator resemble [Page 221] them perfectly. Fear is equally infectious: and hence in an army, fear, even from the slightest cause, making an impression on a few, spreads generally through all, and be­comes an universal panic. Pity is similar to its cause. A parting scene betwixt lovers or friends, produceth in the spectator a sort of pity, which is tender like the distress. The anguish of remorse, produceth pity of a harsh kind; and if the remorse be ex­treme, the pity hath a mixture of horror. Anger I think is singular; for even where it is moderate and causeth no disgust, it disposes not the spectator to anger in any degree*. Covetousness, cruelty, treachery, and other vicious passions, are so far from raising any emotion similar to themselves, to incite a spectator to imitation, that they have an opposite effect. They raise abhor­rence, and fortify the spectator in his aver­sion to such actions. When anger is im­moderate, it cannot fail to produce the same effect.

PART VII. Final causes of the more frequent emotions and passions.

IT is a law in our nature, that we never act but by the impulse of desire; which in other words is saying, that it is passion, by the desire included in it, which deter­mines the will. Hence in the conduct of life, it is of the utmost importance, that our passions be directed upon proper ob­jects, tend to just and rational ends, and with relation to each other be duly balan­ced. The beauty of contrivance, so conspicuous in the human frame, is not confined to the rational part of our nature, but is visible over the whole. Concerning the passions in particular, however irregular, headstrong, and perverse, in an overly view, they may appear, I propose to show, that they are by nature adjusted and tem­pered with admirable wisdom, for the good of society as well as for private good. [Page 223] This subject is extensive: but as the nature of the present undertaking will not admit a complete discussion, it shall suffice to give a few observations in general upon the sen­sitive part of our nature, without regarding that strange irregularity of passion discover­ed in some individuals. Such topical irre­gularities, if I may use the term, cannot fairly be held an objection to the present theory. We are frequently, it is true, misled by inordinate passion: but we are also, and perhaps not less frequently, misled by wrong judgement.

In order to a distinct apprehension of the present subject, it must be premised, that an agreeable object produceth always a pleasant emotion, and a disagreeable object one that is painful. This is a general law of nature, which admits not a single excep­tion. Agreeableness in the object or cause is indeed so essentially connected with pleasure in the emotion its effect, that an agreeable object cannot be better defined, than by its power of producing a pleasant emotion. Disagreeableness in the object or cause, has [Page 224] the same necessary connection with pain in the emotion produced by it.

From this preliminary it appears, that to inquire for what end an emotion is made pleasant or painful, resolves into an inquiry for what end its cause is made agreeable or disagreeable. And from the most accurate induction it will be discovered, that no cause of an emotion is made agreeable or disagree­able arbitrarily; but that these qualities are so distributed as to answer wise and good pur­poses. It is an invincible proof of the be­nignity of the Deity, that we are surround­ed with things generally agreeable, which contribute remarkably to our entertainment and to our happiness. Some things are made disagreeable, such as a rotten carcass, because they are noxious. Others, a dirty marsh, for example, or a barren heath, are made disagreeable in order to excite our industry. And with respect to the few things that are neither agreeable nor dis­agreeable; it will be made evident, that their being left indifferent is not a work of chance but of wisdom. Of such I shall have occasion to give several instances.

[Page 225] Having attempted to assign the final cau­ses of emotions and passions considered as pleasant or painful, we proceed to the final causes of the desires involved in them. This seems a work of some difficulty; for the desires that accompany different pas­sions have very different aims, and seldom or never demand precisely the same gratifi­cation. One passion moves us to cling to its object, one to fly from it; one passion impels to action for our own good, and one for the good of others; one passion prompts us to do good to ourselves or o­thers, and one to do mischief, frequently to others, and sometimes even to our­selves. Deliberating upon this intricate subject, and finding an intimate corre­spondence betwixt our desires and their objects, it is natural to think that the former must be regulated in some measure by the latter. In this view, I begin with desire directed upon an inanimate object.

Any pleasure we have in an agreeable object of this kind, is enjoyed by the continu­ance of the pleasant impression it makes up­on us; and accordingly the desire involved in [Page 226] the pleasant emotion tends to that end, and is gratified by dwelling upon the agreeable object. Hence such an object may be pro­perly termed attractive. Thus a flowing river, a towering hill, a fine garden, are attractive objects. They fix the attention of the spectator, by inspiring pleasant e­motions, which are gratified by adhering to these objects and enjoying them. On the other hand, a disagreeable object of the same kind, raises in us a painful emotion including a desire to turn from the object, which relieves us of course from the pain; and hence such an object may be properly termed repulsive. A monstrous birth, for example, a rotten carcass, a confusion of jarring sounds, are repulsive. They repel the mind, by inspiring painful or unpleasant emotions, which are gratified by flying from such objects. Thus in general, with regard to inanimate objects, the desire in­cluded in every pleasant passion tends to prolong the pleasure, and the desire inclu­ded in every painful passion tends to put an end to the pain. Here the final cause is evident. Our desires, so far, are modelled [Page 227] in such a manner as to correspond precisely to the sensitive part of our nature, prone to happiness and averse to misery. These operations of adhering to an agreeable ina­nimate object, and flying from one that is disagreeable, are performed in the begin­ning of life by means of desire impelling us, without the intervention of reason or reflec­tion. Reason and reflection directing self-love, become afterward motives that unite their force with desire; because experience informs us, that the adhering to agree­able objects and the flying from those that are disagreeable, contribute to our happi­ness.

Sensible Beings considered as objects of passion, lead us into a more complex theo­ry. A sensible being that is agreeable by its attributes, inspires us with a pleasant emo­tion; and the desire included in this emotion has evidently different means of gratification. A man regarding himself only, may be satis­fied with viewing and contemplating this be­ing, precisely as if it were inanimate; or he may desire the more generous gratification of making it happy. Were man altogether [Page 228] selfish, it would be conformable to his na­ture, that he should indulge the pleasant emotion without making any acknowledge­ment to the person who gives him pleasure, more than to a pure air or temperate clime when he enjoys these benefits. But as man is endued with a principle of benevolence as well as of selfishness, he is prompted by his nature to desire the good of every sen­sible being that gives him pleasure. And the final cause of desire so directed, is illu­strious. It contributes to a man's own hap­piness, by affording him more means of gratification than he can have when his de­sire terminates upon himself alone; and at the same time it tends eminently to im­prove the happiness of those with whom he is connected. The directing our desires in this manner, occasions a beautiful coa­lition of self-love with benevolence; for both are equally promoted by the same in­ternal impulse, and by the same external conduct. And this consideration, by the way, ought to silence those minute philo­sophers, who, ignorant of human nature, teach a most disgustful doctrine, That to [Page 229] serve others unless with a view to our own good, is weakness and folly; as if self-love only contributed to happiness and not be­nevolence. The hand of God is too visible in the human frame, to permit us to think seriously, that there ever can be any jarring or inconsistency among natural principles, those especially of self-love and benevo­lence, which regulate the bulk of our ac­tions.

Next in order come sensible Beings that are in affliction or pain. It is disagreeable to behold a person in distress; and therefore this object must raise in the spectator an uneasy emotion. Were man purely a sel­fish being, he would be prompted by his nature to turn from every object, animate or inanimate, that gives him uneasiness. But the principle of benevolence gives an oppo­site direction to his desire. It impels him to afford relief; and by relieving the per­son from distress, his desire is fully grati­fied. Our benevolence to a person in di­stress is inflamed into an emotion of sympa­thy, signifying in Greek the painful emo­tion that is raised in us by that person. [Page 230] Thus sympathy, though a painful emotion, is in its nature attractive. And with re­spect to its final cause, we can be at no loss. It not only tends to relieve a fellow-creature from pain, but in its gratification is greatly more pleasant than if it were re­pulsive.

We in the last place bring under conside­ration persons hateful by vice or wickedness. Imagine a wretch who has lately perpetra­ted some horrid crime. he is disagreeable to every spectator; and consequently raises in every spectator a painful emotion. What is the natural gratification of the de­sire that accompanies this painful emotion? I must here again observe, that supposing man to be entirely a selfish being, he would be prompted by his nature to relieve him­self from the pain by averting his eye, and banishing the criminal from his thoughts. But man is not so constituted. He is com­posed of many principles, which, though seemingly contradictory, are perfectly con­cordant. The principle of benevolence in­fluences his conduct, not less remarkably than that of selfishness. And in order to [Page 231] answer the foregoing question, I must in­troduce a third principle, not less remark­able in its influence than either of those mentioned. It is that principle common to all, which prompts us to punish those who do wrong. An envious, malicious, or cruel action, is disagreeable to me even where I have no connection with the suf­ferer, and raises in me the painful emotion of resentment. The gratification of this emotion, when accompanied with desire, is directed by the principle now unfolded. Being prompted by my nature to punish guilt as well as to reward virtue, my desire is not gratified but by inflicting punishment. I must chastise the wretch by indignation at least and hatred, if not more severely. Here the final cause is self-evident.

An injury done to myself, touching me more than when done to others, raises my resentment in a higher degree. The desire accordingly included in this passion, is not satisfied with so slight a punishment as in­dignation or hatred. It is not fully gratified without retaliation; and the author must by my hand suffer mischief, as great at least [Page 232] as he has done me. Neither can we be at any loss about the final cause of this higher degree of resentment. The whole vigor of this passion is required to secure individuals from the injustice and oppression of others*.

A wicked or disgraceful action, is dis­agreeable not only to others, but even to the delinquent himself. It raises in him as well as in others a painful emotion including a desire of punishment. The painful emo­tion which the delinquent feels, is distin­guished by the name of remorse; and in this case the desire he has to punish is directed against himself. There cannot be imagined a better contrivance to deter us from vice; for remorse is the severest of all punishments. This passion and the desire of self-punish­ment derived from it, are touched delicately by Terence.

Ubi comperi ex iis, qui ei fuere conscii,
Domum revortor moestus, atque animo fere
Perturbato, atque incerto prae aegritudine:
Adsido, adcurrunt servi, soccos detrahunt:
Video alios festinare, lectos sternere,
[Page 233] Coenam adparare: pro se quisque sedulo
Faciebat, quo illam mihi lenirent miseriam.
Ubi video haec, coepi cogitare: Hem! tot mea
Solius solliciti sint causa, ut me unum expleant?
Ancillae tot me vestiant? sumptus domi
Tantos ego solus faciam? sed gnatum unicum,
Quem pariter uti his decuit, aut etiam amplius,
Quod illa aetas magis ad haec utenda idonea 'st,
Eum ego hinc ejeci miserum injustitia mea.
Malo quidem me dignum quovis deputem,
Si id faciam. nam usque dum ille vitam illam colet
Inopem, carens patria ob meas injurias,
Interea usque illi de me supplicium dabo:
Laborans, quaerens, parcens, illi serviens,
Ita facio prorsus: nihil relinquo in aedibus,
Nec vas, nec vestimentum: conrasi omnia,
Ancillas, servos, nisi eos, qui opere rustico
Faciundo facile sumptum exercerent suum:
Omnes produxi ac vendidi: inscripsi ilico
Aedeis mercede: quasi talenta ad quindecim
Coëgi: agrum hunc mercatus sum: hic me exer­ceo.
Decrevi tantisper me minus injuriae,
Chreme, meo gnato facere, dum fiam miser:
Nec fas esse ulla me voluptate hic frui,
Nisi ubi ille huc salvos redierit meus particeps.
Heautontimorumenos, act 1. sc. 1.

[Page 234] Otway reaches the same sentiment:

Let mischiefs multiply! let ev'ry hour
Of my loath'd life yield me increase of horror!
Oh let the sun to these unhappy eyes
Ne'er shine again, but be eclips'd for ever!
May every thing I look on seem a prodigy,
To fill my soul with terror, till I quite
Forget I ever had humanity,
And grow a curser of the works of nature!
Orphan, act 4.

The cases mentioned are, where benevo­lence alone or where desire of punishment alone, governs without a rival. And it was necessary to handle these cases separately, in order to elucidate a subject which by writers is left in great obscurity. But neither of these principles operates always without rivalship. Cases may be figured, and cases actually exist, where the same person is an object both of sympathy and of desire to punish. Thus the sight of a profligate in the vene­real disease, over-run with botches and fores, actuates both principles. While his distress fixes my attention, sympathy exerts [Page 235] itself; but so soon as I think of his profliga­cy, hatred prevails, and a desire to punish. This in general is the case of distress occa­sioned by immoral actions that are not high­ly criminal. And if the distress and the im­moral action be in any proportion, sympathy and hatred counterbalancing each other will not suffer me either to afford relief or to in­flict punishment. What then will be the result of the whole? The principle of self-love solves the question. Abhorring an ob­ject so loathsome, I naturally avert my eye, and walk off as fast as I can, in order to be relieved from the pain.

The present subject gives birth to several other observations, for which I could not find room above, without relaxing more from the strictness of order and connection, than with safety could be indulged in dis­coursing upon a matter that with difficulty is made perspicuous, even with all the ad­vantages of order and connection. These observations I shall throw out loosely as they occur, without giving myself any further trouble about method.

No action good or bad is altogether indif­ferent [Page 236] even to a mere spectator. If good, it inspires esteem; and indignation, if wicked. But it is remarkable, that these emotions sel­dom are accompanied with desire. The abi­lities of man are limited, and he finds suffi­cient employment, in relieving the distress­ed, in requiting his benefactors, and in pu­nishing those who wrong him, without mo­ving out of his own sphere for the benefit or chastisement of those with whom he has no connection.

If the good qualities of others excite my benevolence, the same qualities in myself must produce a similar effect in a superior degree, upon account of the natural partia­lity every man hath for himself. This in­creases self-love. If these qualities be of a high rank, they produce a feeling of supe­riority, which naturally leads me to assume some sort of government over others. Mean qualities, on the other hand, produce in me a feeling of inferiority, which naturally leads me to submit to others. Unless such feel­ings were distributed among individuals in society by measure and proportion, there could be no natural subordination of some [Page 237] to others, which is the principal foundation of government.

No other branch of the human constitu­tion shows more visibly our destination for society, nor tends more to our improvement, than appetite for fame or esteem. The whole conveniencies of life being derived from mutual aid and support in society, it ought to be a capital aim, to form connec­tions with others so strict and so extensive as to produce a firm reliance on many for suc­cour in time of need. Reason dictates this lesson. But reason solely is not relied on in a matter of such consequence. We are moved by a natural appetite, to be solicitous about esteem and respect as we are about food when hungry. This appetite, at the same time, is finely adjusted to the moral branch of our constitution, by promoting all the moral virtues. For what infallible means are there to attract love and esteem, other than a virtuous course of life? If a man be just and beneficent, if he be temperate mo­dest and prudent, he will infallibly gain the esteem and love of all who know him.

The communication of passion to related [Page 238] objects, is an illustrious instance of the care of Providence, to extend social connections as far as the limited nature of man can ad­mit. This communication of passion is so far unhappy as to spread the malevolent pas­sions beyond their natural bounds. But let it be remarked, that this unhappy effect re­gards savages only, who give way to male-volent passions. Under the discipline of so­ciety, these passions are subdued, and in a good measure eradicated. In their place succeed the kindly affections, which, meet­ing with all encouragement, take possession of the mind and govern our whole actions. In this condition, the progress of passion a­long related objects, by spreading the kindly affections through a multitude of indivi­duals, hath a glorious effect.

Nothing can be more entertaining to a rational mind, than the oeconomy of the hu­man passions, of which I have attempted to give some faint notion. It must however be confessed, that our passions, when they happen to swell beyond their proper limits, take on a less regular appearance. Reason may proclaim our duty, but the will influen­ced [Page 239] by passion, makes gratification always welcome. Hence the power of passion, which, when in excess, cannot be resisted but by the utmost fortitude of mind. It is bent upon gratification; and where proper objects are wanting, it clings to any object at hand without distinction. Thus joy inspi­red by a fortunate event, is diffused upon every person around by acts of benevolence; and resentment for an atrocious injury done by one out of reach, seizes the first object that occurs to vent itself upon. Those who believe in prophecies, even wish the accom­plishment; and a weak mind is disposed vo­luntarily to fulfil a prophecy, in order to gratify its wish. Shakespear, whom no particle of human nature hath escaped, how­ever remote from common observation, de­scribes this weakness:

K. Henry.
Doth any name particular belong
Unto that lodging where I first did swoon?

'Tis call'd Jerusalem, my Noble Lord.

K. Henry.
Laud be to God! even there my life must end.
It hath been prophesy'd to me many years,
[Page 240] I should not die but in Jerusalem,
Which vainly I suppos'd the holy land.
But bear me to that chamber, there I'll lie:
In that Jerusalem shall Henry die.
Second part, Henry IV. act 4. sc. last.

I could not deny myself the amusement of the foregoing observation, though it doth not properly come under my plan. The irregularities of passion proceeding from pe­culiar weaknesses and biasses, I do not un­dertake to justify; and of these we have had many examples*. It is sufficient that passions common to all and as generally ex­erted, are made subservient to beneficial purposes. I shall only observe, that in a polished society instances of irregular passions are rare, and that their mischief doth not extend far.


HAVING discoursed in general of e­motions and passions, I proceed to a more narrow inspection of some particulars that serve to unfold the principles of the fine arts. It is the province of a wri­ter upon ethics, to give a full enumeration of all the passions; and of each separately to assign the nature, the cause, the gratifi­cation, and the effects. But a treatise of ethics is not my province. I carry my view no farther than to the elements of criticism, in order to show that the fine arts are a sub­ject of reasoning as well as of taste. An extensive work would be ill suited to a de­sign so limited; and to keep within mode­rate bounds, the following plan may con­tribute. It has already been observed, that things are the causes of emotions, by means of their properties and attributes*. This [Page 242] furnisheth a hint for distribution. Instead of a painful and tedious examination of the several passions and emotions, I propose to confine my inquiries to such attributes, re­lations, and circumstances, as in the fine arts are chiefly employed to raise agreeable emotions. Attributes of single objects, as the most simple, shall take the lead; to be followed with particulars that depend on the relations of objects, and are not found in any one object singly considered. Dis­patching next some coincident matters, I approach nearer to practice, by applying the principles unfolded in the foregoing parts of the work. This is a general view of the intended method; reserving however a privilege to vary it in particular instances, where a different method may be more commodious. I begin with beauty, the most noted of all the qualities that belong to single objects.

The term beauty, in its native significa­tion, is appropriated to objects of sight. Objects of the other senses may be agree­able, such as the sounds of musical instru­ments, the smoothness and softness of some [Page 243] surfaces: but the agreeableness denomina­ted beauty belongs to objects of sight.

Of all the objects of the external senses, an object of sight is the most complex. In the very simplest, colour is perceived, fi­gure, and length breadth and thickness. A tree is composed of a trunk, branches, and leaves. It has colour, figure, size, and sometimes motion. By means of each of these particulars, separately considered, it appears beautiful: how much more so, when they enter all into one complex per­ception? The beauty of the human figure is extraordinary, being a composition of numberless beauties arising from the parts and qualities of the object, various colours, various motions, figure, size, &c.; all u­niting in one complex perception, and stri­king the eye with combined force. Hence it is, that beauty, a quality so remarkable in visible objects, lends its name to express every thing that is eminently agreeable. Thus, by a figure of speech, we say a beau­tiful sound, a beautiful thought or expres­sion, a beautiful theorem, a beautiful e­vent, a beautiful discovery in art or science. [Page 244] But as figurative expression is not our pre­sent theme, this chapter is confined to beauty in its genuine signification.

It is natural to suppose, that a perception so various as that of beauty, comprehending sometimes many particulars, sometimes few, should occasion emotions equally various. And yet all the various emotions of beauty maintain one general character of sweet­ness and gaiety.

Considering attentively the beauty of visible objects, we discover two kinds. One may be termed intrinsic beauty, because it is discovered in a single object viewed apart without relation to any other object. The examples above given, are of that kind. The other may be termed relative beauty, being founded on the relation of objects. The former is a perception of sense merely; for to perceive the beauty of a spreading oak or of a flowing river, no more is required but singly an act of vision. The latter is ac­companied with an act of understanding and reflection; for of a fine instrument or en­gine, we perceive not the relative beauty, until we be made acquainted with its use and [Page 245] destination. In a word, intrinsic beauty is ultimate: relative beauty is that of means relating to some good end or purpose. These different beauties agree in one capital cir­cumstance, that both are equally perceived as spread upon the object. This will be readily admitted with respect to intrinsic beauty; but is not so obvious with respect to the other. The utility of the plough, for example, may make it an object of admi­ration or of desire; but why should utility make it appear beautiful? A principle men­tioned above*, will explain this doubt. The beauty of the effect, by an easy trans­ition of ideas, is transferred to the cause, and is perceived as one of the qualities of the cause. Thus a subject void of intrinsic beauty, appears beautiful from its utility. An old Gothic tower that has no beauty in itself, appears beautiful, considered as pro­per to defend against an enemy. A dwel­ling-house void of all regularity, is however beautiful in the view of convenience; and the want of form or symmetry in a tree, [Page 246] will not prevent its appearing beautiful, if it be known to produce good fruit.

When these two beauties concur in any object, it appears delightful. Every mem­ber of the human body possesses both in a high degree. The slender make of a horse destined for running, pleases every taste; partly from symmetry, and partly from utility.

The beauty of utility, being proportioned accurately to the degree of utility, requires no illustration. But intrinsic beauty, so complex as I have said, cannot be handled distinctly without being analized into its constituent parts. If a tree be beautiful by means of its colour, its figure, its size, its motion, it is in reality possessed of so many different beauties, which ought to be exa­mined separately, in order to have a clear notion of the whole. The beauty of co­lour is too familiar to need explanation. The beauty of figure requires an accurate discus­sion, for in it many circumstances are in­volved. When any portion of matter is viewed as a whole, the beauty of its figure arises from regularity and simplicity. View­ing [Page 247] the parts with relation to each other, uniformity, proportion, and order, contri­bute to its beauty. The beauty of motion deserves a chapter by itself; and another chapter is destined for grandeur, being distinguishable from beauty in a strict sense. For the definitions of regularity, uniformity, proportion, and order, if thought necessary, I remit my reader to the appendix at the end of the book. Upon simplicity I must make a few cursory observations, such as may be of use in examining the beauty of single objects.

A multitude of objects crowding into the mind at once, disturb the attention, and pass without making any impression, or any lasting impression. In a group, no single object makes the figure it would do apart, when it occupies the whole attention*. For the same reason, even a single object, when it divides the attention by the multi­plicity of its parts, equals not, in strength of impression, a more simple object com­prehended [Page 248] in a single view. Parts ex­tremely complex must be considered in por­tions successively; and a number of impres­sions in succession, which cannot unite be­cause not simultaneous, never touch the mind like one entire impression made as it were at one stroke. This justifies simpli­city in works of art, as opposed to compli­cated circumstances and crowded orna­ments. There is an additional reason for simplicity, in works that make an impres­sion of dignity or elevation. The mind at­tached to beauties of a high rank, cannot descend to inferior beauties. And yet, notwithstanding these reasons, we find pro­fuse decoration prevailing in works of art. But this is no argument against simplicity. For authors and architects who cannot reach the higher beauties, endeavour to sup­ply their want of genius by dealing in those that are inferior. In all ages, the best wri­ters and artists have been governed by a taste for simplicity.

These things premised, I proceed to exa­mine the beauty of figure, as arising from the above-mentioned particulars, viz. re­gularity, [Page 249] uniformity, proportion, order, and simplicity. To exhaust this subject, would of itself require a large volume. I li­mit myself to a few cursory remarks, as matter for future disquisition. To inquire why an object, by means of the particulars mentioned, appears beautiful, would I am afraid be a vain attempt. It seems the most probable opinion, that the nature of man was originally framed with a relish for them, in order to answer wise and good purposes. The final causes have not hitherto been as­certained, though they are not probably beyond our reach. One thing is clear, that regularity, uniformity, order, and simplici­ty, contribute each of them to readiness of apprehension; and enable us to form more distinct images of objects, than can be done with the utmost attention where these par­ticulars are not found. This final cause is, I acknowledge, too slight, to account sa­tisfactorily for a taste that makes a figure so illustrious in the nature of man. That this branch of our constitution hath a purpose still more important, we have great reason to believe. With respect to proportion, I [Page 250] am still less successful. In several instances, accurate proportion is connected with utili­ty. This in particular is the case of ani­mals; for those that are the best propor­tioned, are the strongest and most active. But instances are still more numerous, where the proportions we relish the most, have no connection, so far as we see, with utility. Writers on architecture insist much upon the proportions of a column; and assign different proportions to the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian. But no architect will maintain, that the most accurate proportions contribute more to use, than several that are less accu­rate and less agreeable. Neither will it be maintained, that the proportions assigned for the length breadth and height of rooms, tend to make them the more commodious. It appears then, so far as we can discover, that we have a taste for proportion independent altogether of utility. One thing indeed is certain, that any external object proportion­ed to our taste, is delightful. This furnish­es a hint. May it not be thought a good final cause of proportion, that it contributes to our entertainment? The author of our [Page 251] nature has given many signal proofs, that this end is not below his care. And if so, why should we hesitate in assigning this as an additional final cause of regularity, and the other particulars above mentioned? We may be confirmed in this thought, by re­flecting, that our taste, with respect to these, is not occasional or accidental, but uniform and universal, making an original branch of human nature.

One might fill a volume with the effects that are produced by the endless combina­tions of the principles of beauty. I have room only for a slight specimen, confined to the simplest figures. A circle and a square are each of them perfectly regular, being equal­ly confined to a precise form, and admitting not the slightest variation. A square how­ever is less beautiful than a circle, because it is less simple. A circle has parts as well as a square; but its parts not being distinct like those of a square, it makes one entire impression; whereas the attention is divided among the sides and angles of a square. The effect of simplicity may be illustrated by another example. A square, though not [Page 252] more regular than a hexagon or octagon, is more beautiful than either; for what other reason, than that a square is more simple, and the attention less divided? This rea­soning will appear still more solid when we consider any regular polygon of very many sides; for of such figure the mind can never have any distinct perception. Simplicity thus contributes to beauty.

A square is more beautiful than a paral­lelogram. The former exceeds the latter in regularity and in uniformity of parts. But this holds with respect to intrinsic beauty only; for in many instances, utility comes in to cast the balance on the side of the pa­rallelogram. This figure for the doors and windows of a dwelling-house, is preferred because of utility; and here we find the beau­ty of utility prevailing over that of regula­rity and uniformity.

A parallelogram again depends, for its beauty, on the proportion of its sides. The beauty is lost by a great inequality of sides. It is also lost, on the other hand, by the ap­proximation toward equality. Proportion in this circumstance degenerates into imper­fect [Page 253] uniformity; and the figure upon the whole appears an unsuccessful attempt to­ward a square.

An equilateral triangle yields not to a square in regularity nor in uniformity of parts, and it is more simple. But an equi­lateral triangle is less beautiful than a square, which must be owing to inferiority of order in the position of its parts. The sides of an equilateral triangle incline to each other in the same angle, which is the most perfect order they are susceptible of. But this order is obscure, and far from being so perfect as the parallelism of the sides of a square. Thus order contributes to the beauty of visi­ble objects, not less than simplicity and regu­larity.

A parallelogram exceeds an equilateral triangle in the orderly disposition of its parts; but being inferior in uniformity and simpli­city, it is less beautiful.

Uniformity is singular in one capital cir­cumstance, that it is apt to disgust by ex­cess. A number of things contrived for the same use, such as chairs spoons, &c. can­not be too uniform. But a scrupulous uni­formity [Page 254] of parts in a large garden or field, is far from being agreeable. Uniformity a­mong connected objects, belongs not to the present subject. It is handled in the chap­ter of uniformity and variety.

In all the works of nature, simplicity makes an illustrious figure. The works of the best artists are directed by it. Profuse ornament in painting, gardening, or archi­tecture, as well as in dress and language, shows a mean or corrupted taste.

Poets, like painters, thus unskill'd to trace
The naked nature and the living grace,
With gold and jewels cover ev'ry part,
And hide with ornaments their want of art.
Pope's Essay on criticism.

No one property recommends a machine more than its simplicity; not singly for bet­ter answering its purpose, but by appearing in itself more beautiful. Simplicity hath a capital effect in behaviour and manners; no other particular contributing more to gain esteem and love. The artificial and intricate manners of modern times, have little of [Page 255] dignity in them. General theorems, abs­tracting from their importance, are delight­ful by their simplicity, and by the easiness of their application to a variety of cases. We take equal delight in the laws of motion, which, with the greatest simplicity, are boundless in their influence.

A gradual progress from simplicity to com­plex forms and profuse ornament, seems to be the fate of all the fine arts; resembling behaviour, which from original candor and simplicity has degenerated into artificial re­finements. At present, written productions are crowded with words, epithets, figures, &c. In music, sentiment is neglected, for the luxury of harmony, and for difficult movement which surprises in its execution. In taste properly so called, poignant sauces with complicated mixtures of different sa­vours, prevail among people of condition. The French, accustomed to the artificial red on their women's cheeks, think the modest colouring of nature displayed on a fine face altogether insipid.

The same tendency appears in the pro­gress of the arts among the ancients. Of [Page 256] this we have traces still remaining in archi­tecture. Some vestiges of the oldest Gre­cian buildings prove them to be of the Doric order. The Ionic succeeded, and seems to have been the favourite order, while archi­tecture was in its height of glory. The Corinthian came next in vogue: and in Greece, the buildings of that order appear mostly to have been erected after the Ro­mans got footing there. At last came the Composite with all its extravagancies, where proportion is sacrificed to finery and crowded ornament.

But what taste is to prevail next? for fa­shion is in a continual flux, and taste must vary with it. After rich and profuse orna­ments become familiar, simplicity appears by contrast lifeless and insipid. This would be an unsurmountable obstruction, should any man of genius and taste endeavour to restore ancient simplicity.

In reviewing what is said above, I am under some apprehension of an objection, which, as it may possibly occur to the read­er, ought to be obviated. A mountain, it will be observed, is an agreeable object, [Page 257] without so much as the appearance of regu­larity; and a chain of mountains still more agreeable, without being arranged in any order. But these facts considered in a pro­per light, afford not an objection. Regu­larity, order, and uniformity, are intimately connected with beauty; and in this view only, have I treated them. Every regular object, for example, must in respect of its re­gularity be beautiful. But I have not said, that regularity, order, and uniformity, are essential to beauty, so as that it cannot exist without them. The contrary appears in the beauty of colour. Far less have I said, that an object cannot be agreeable in any respect independent of these qualities. Grandeur, as distinguished from beauty, requires very little regularity. This will appear more ful­ly when that article is handled. In the mean time, to show the difference betwixt beauty and grandeur with respect to regula­rity, I shall give a few examples. Imagine a small body, let it be a globe, in a conti­nual flux of figure, from the most perfect regularity till there remain no appearance of that quality. The beauty of this globe, [Page 258] depending on its regular figure, will gra­dually wear away with its regularity; and when it is no longer regular, it no longer will appear beautiful. The next example shall be of the same globe, gradually enlar­ging its size, but retaining its figure. In this body, we at first perceive the beauty of regularity only. But so soon as it begins to swell into a great size, it appears agreeable by its greatness, which joins with the beau­ty of regularity to make it a delightful object. In the last place, let it be imagined, that the figure as well as the quantity of matter are in a continual flux; and that the body, while it increases in size, becomes less and less regular, till it lose altogether the appear­ance of that quality. In this case, the beauty of regularity wearing off gradually, gives place to an agreeableness of a different sort, viz. that of greatness: and at last the emotion ari­sing from greatness will be in perfection, when the beauty of regularity is gone. Hence it is, that in a large object the want of regula­rity is not much regarded by the spectator who is struck with its grandeur. A swelling eminence is agreeable, though not strictly [Page 259] regular. A towering hill is delightful, if it have but any distant resemblance of a cone. A small surface ought to be smooth; but in a wide-extended plain, considerable inequa­lities are overlooked. This observation holds equally in works of art. The slight­est irregularity in a house of a moderate size hurts the eye; while the mind, struck with the grandeur of a superb edifice, which oc­cupies it totally, cannot bear to descend to its irregularities unless extremely gross. In a large volume we pardon many defects that would make an epigram intolerable. In short, the observation holds in general, that beauty is connected with regularity in great objects as well as in small; but with a re­markable difference, that in passing from small to great, regularity is less and less re­quired.

The distinction betwixt primary and se­condary qualities in matter, seems now ful­ly established. Heat and cold, though seeming to exist in bodies, are discovered to be effects caused by these bodies in a sensi­tive being. Colour, which the eye repre­sents as spread upon a substance, has no ex­istence [Page 260] but in the mind of the spectator. Perceptions of this kind, which, by a de­lusion of sense, are attributed to external subjects, are termed secondary qualities, in contradistinction to figure, extension, soli­dity, which are primary qualities, and which are not separable, even in imagina­tion, from the subjects they belong to. This suggests a curious inquiry, Whether beauty be a primary or only a secondary quality of objects? The question is easily determined with respect to the beauty of colour; for if colour be a secondary quality existing no where but in the mind of the spectator, its beauty must be of the same kind. This con­clusion must also hold with respect to the beauty of utility, which is plainly a concep­tion of the mind, arising not merely from sight, but from reflecting that the thing is fitted for some good end or purpose. The question is more intricate with respect to the beauty of regularity. If regularity be a primary quality, why not also its beauty? That this is not a good consequence, will appear from considering, that beauty, in its very conception, refers to a percipient; for [Page 261] an object is said to be beautiful, for no other reason but that it appears so to a spectator. The same piece of matter which to man appears beautiful, may possibly to an­other being appear ugly. Beauty therefore, which for its existence depends upon the percipient as much as upon the object percei­ved, cannot be an inherent property of either. What else then can it be, but a perception in the mind occasioned by certain objects? The same reasoning is applicable to the beauty of order, of uniformity, of gran­deur. Accordingly, it may be pronounced in general, that beauty in no case whatever is a real quality of matter. And hence it is wittily observed by the poet, that beauty is not in the countenance, but in the lover's eye. This reasoning is undoubtedly solid: and the only cause of doubt or hesitation is, that we are taught a different lesson by sense. By a singular determination of na­ture, we perceive both beauty and colour as belonging to the object; and, like figure or extension, as inherent properties. This mechanism is uncommon; and when na­ture, to fulfil her intention, chuseth any [Page 262] singular method of operation, we may be certain of some final cause that cannot be reached by ordinary means. It appears to me, that a perception of beauty in external objects, is requisite to attach us to them. Doth not this mechanism, in the first place, greatly promote industry, by prompting a desire to possess things that are beautiful? Doth it not further join with utility, in prompting us to embellish our houses and enrich our fields? These how­ever are but slight effects, compared with the connections which are formed among individuals in society by means of this sin­gular mechanism. The qualifications of the head and heart, are undoubtedly the most solid and most permanent foundations of such connections. But as external beauty lies more in view, and is more obvious to the bulk of mankind than the qualities now mentioned, the sense of beauty possesses the more universal influence in forming these connections. At any rate, it concurs in an eminent degree with mental qualifications, to produce social intercourse, mutual good­will, [Page 263] and consequently mutual aid and support, which are the life of society.

It must not however be overlooked, that this sense doth not tend to advance the in­terests of society, but when in a due mean with respect to strength. Love in particu­lar arising from a sense of beauty, loses, when excessive, its sociable character*. The appetite for gratification, prevailing over affection for the beloved object, is ungo­vernable; and tends violently to its end, regardless of the misery that must follow. Love in this state is no longer a sweet a­greeable passion. It becomes painful like hunger or thirst; and produceth no hap­piness but in the instant of fruition. This discovery suggests a most important lesson, that moderation in our desires and appetites, which fits us for doing our duty, contributes at the same time the most to happiness. Even social passions, when mo­derate, are more pleasant than when they swell beyond proper bounds.

CHAP. IV. Grandeur and Sublimity.

NATURE hath not more remarkably distinguished us from the other a­nimals by an erect posture, than by a capacious and aspiring mind, inclining us to every thing great and elevated. The ocean, the sky, or any large object, seizes the attention, and makes a strong impres­sion*. Robes of state are made large and full to draw respect. We admire elephants and whales for their magnitude, notwith­standing their unwieldiness.

The elevation of an object affects us not less than its magnitude. A high place is chosen for the statue of a deity or hero. [Page 265] A tree growing upon the brink of a preci­pice viewed from the plain below, affords by that circumstance an additional pleasure. A throne is erected for the chief magistrate, and a chair with a high seat for the presi­dent of a court.

In some objects, greatness and elevation concur to make a complicated impression. The Alps and the pike of Teneriff are pro­per examples; with the following differ­ence, that in the former greatness seems to prevail, elevation in the latter.

The emotions raised by great and by e­levated objects, are clearly distinguishable, not only in the internal feeling, but even in their external expressions. A great object dilates the breast, and makes the spectator endeavour to enlarge his bulk. This is remarkable in persons, who, neglecting delicacy in behaviour, give way to nature without reserve. In describing a great ob­ject, they naturally expand themselves by drawing in air with all their force. An e­levated object produces a different expres­sion. It makes the spectator stretch up­ward and stand a tiptoe.

[Page 266] Great and elevated objects considered with relation to the emotions produced by them, are termed grand and sublime. Grandeur and sublimity have a double sig­nification. They generally signify the qua­lity or circumstance in the objects by which the emotions are produced; sometimes the emotions themselves.

Whether magnitude singly in an object of sight, have the effect to produce an emo­tion distinguishable from the beauty or de­formity of that object; or whether it be on­ly a circumstance modifying the beauty or deformity, is an intricate question. If magnitude produce an emotion of its own distinguishable from others, this emotion must either be pleasant or painful. But this seems to be contradicted by experience; for magnitude, as it would appear, con­tributes in some instances to beauty, in some to deformity. A hill, for in­stance, is agreeable, and a great moun­tain still more so. But an ugly monster, the larger, the more horrid. Greatness in an enemy, great power, great courage, serve but to augment our terror. Hath not [Page 267] this an appearance as if grandeur were not an emotion distinct from all others, but only a circumstance that qualifies beauty and de­formity?

I am notwithstanding satisfied, that gran­deur is an emotion, not only distinct from all others, but in every circumstance plea­sant. These propositions must be exami­ned separately. I begin with the former, and shall endeavour to prove, that magni­tude produceth a peculiar emotion distin­guishable from all others. Magnitude is undoubtedly a real property of bodies, not less than figure, and more than colour. Figure and colour, even in the same body, produce separate emotions, which are ne­ver misapprehended one for the other. Why should not magnitude produce an emotion different from both? That it has this effect, will be evident from a plain experiment of two bodies, one great and one little, which produce different emotions, though they be precisely the same as to figure and co­lour. There is indeed an obscurity in this matter, occasioned by the following circum­stance, that the grandeur and beauty of the [Page 268] same object mix so intimately as scarce to be distinguished. But the beauty of colour comes in happily to enable us to make the distinction. For the emotion of colour u­nites with that of figure, not less intimately than grandeur does with either. Yet the emotion of colour is distinguishable from that of figure; and so is grandeur, atten­tively considered: though when these three emotions are blended together, they are scarce felt as different emotions.

Next, that grandeur is an emotion in e­very circumstance pleasant, appears from the following considerations. Magnitude or greatness, abstracted from all other circum­stances, swells the heart and dilates the mind. We feel this to be a pleasant effect; and we feel no such effect in contracting the mind upon little objects. This may be illustrated by considering grandeur in an e­nemy. Beauty is an agreeable quality, whether in a friend or enemy; and when the emotion it raiseth is mixed with resent­ment against an enemy, it must have the effect to moderate our resentment. In the same manner, grandeur in an enemy, un­doubtedly [Page 269] foftens and blunts our resentment. Grandeur indeed may indirectly and by re­flection produce an unpleasant effect. Gran­deur in an enemy, like courage, may in­crease our fear, when we consider the ad­vantage he hath over us by this quality. But the same indirect effect may be produced by many other agreeable qualities, such as beauty or wisdom.

The magnitude of an ugly object, serves, it is true, to augment our horror or aver­sion. But this proceeds not from magni­tude separately considered. It proceeds from the following circumstance, that in a large object a great quantity of ugly parts are presented to view.

The same chain of reasoning is so ob­viously applicable to sublimity, that it would be losing time to show the application. Grandeur therefore and sublimity shall hereafter be considered both of them as pleasant emotions.

The pleasant emotion raised by large ob­jects, has not escaped the poets:

—He doth bestride the narrow world
[Page 270] Like a Colossus; and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs.
Julius Caesar, act 1. sc. 3.

I dreamt there was an Emp'ror An­tony;
Oh such another sleep, that I might see
But such another man!
His face was as the heav'ns: and therein stuck
A sun and moon, which kept their course and lighted
The little O o' th' earth.
His legs bestrid the ocean, his rear'd arm
Crested the world.
Antony and Cleopatra, act 5. sc. 3.

Dies not alone, but, like a gulf, doth draw
What's near it with it. It's a massy wheel
Fixt on the summit of the highest mount;
To whose huge spokes, ten thousand lesser things
Are mortis'd and adjoin'd; which when it falls,
Each small annexment, petty consequence,
Attends the boist'rous ruin.
Hamlet, act 3. sc. 8.

The poets have also made good use of [Page 271] the emotion produced by the elevated situa­tion of an object.

Quod si me lyricis vatibus inseres,
Sublimi feriam sidera vertice.
Horace, Carm. l. 1. ode 1.

Oh thou! the earthly author of my blood,
Whose youthful spirit, in me regenerate,
Doth with a twofold vigour lift me up,
To reach at victory above my head.
Richard II. act 1. sc. 4.

Northumberland, thou ladder wherewithal
The mounting Bolingbroke ascends my throne.
Richard II. act 5. sc. 2.

Why was I rais'd the meteor of the world,
Hung in the skies and blazing as I travell'd,
Till all my fires were spent; and then cast down­ward
To be trod out by Caesar?
Dryden, All for love, act 1.

Though the quality of magnitude produ­ceth a pleasant emotion, we must not con­clude that the opposite quality of littleness produceth a painful emotion. It would be [Page 270] [...] [Page 271] [...] [Page 272] unhappy for man, were an object disagree­able from its being of a small size merely, when he is surrounded with so many ob­jects of that kind. The same observation is applicable to elevation of place. A body placed high is agreeable; but the same body placed low, is not by that circumstance rendered disagreeable. Littleness, and low­ness of place, are precisely similar in the fol­lowing particular, that they neither give pleasure nor pain. And in this may visibly be discovered peculiar attention in fitting the internal constitution of man to his exter­nal circumstances. Were littleness, and lowness of place agreeable, greatness and elevation could not be so. Were littleness, and lowness of place disagreeable, they would occasion uninterrupted uneasiness.

The difference betwixt great and little with respect to agreeableness, is remarkably felt in a series when we pass gradually from the one extreme to the other. A mental progress from the capital to the kingdom, from that to Europe—to the whole earth—to the planetary system—to the universe, is extremely pleasant: the heart swells and [Page 273] the mind is dilated, at every step. The re­turning in an opposite direction is not posi­tively painful, though our pleasure lessens at every step, till it vanish into indifference. Such a progress may sometimes produce a pleasure of a different sort, which arises from taking a narrower and narrower inspection. The same observation is applicable to a pro­gress upward and downward. Ascent is pleasant because it elevates us. But descent is never painful: it is for the most part plea­sant from a different cause, that it is accor­ding to the order of nature. The fall of a stone from anyheight, is extremely agreeable by its accelerated motion. I feel it pleasant to descend from a mountain: the descent is natural and easy. Neither is looking downward painful. On the contrary, to look down upon objects, makes part of the pleasure of elevation. Looking down be­comes then only painful when the object is so far below as to create dizziness: and even when that is the case, we feel a sort of plea­sure mixt with the pain. Witness Shake­spear's description of Dover cliffs:

[Page 274]
—How fearful
And dizzy 'tis, to cast one's eyes so low!
The crows and choughs, that wing the midway-air,
Shew scarce so gross as beetles. Half-way down
Hangs one, that gathers samphire; dreadful trade!
Methinks he seems no bigger than his head.
The fishermen that walk upon the beach,
Appear like mice; and you tall anchoring bark
Diminish'd to her cock; her cock, a buoy
Almost too small for sight. The murmuring surge,
That on th' unnumber'd idle pebbles chafes,
Cannot be heard so high. I'll look no more,
Lest my brain turn, and the deficient sight
Topple down headlong.
King Lear, act 4. sc. 6.

An observation is made above, that the emotions of grandeur and sublimity are nearly allied. Hence it is, that the one term is frequently put for the other. I give an example. An increasing series of num­bers produceth an emotion similar to that of mounting upward, and for that reason is commonly termed an ascending series. A series of numbers gradually decreasing, pro­duceth an emotion similar to that of going downward, and for that reason is common­ly [Page 275] termed a descending series. We talk fa­miliarly of going up to the capital, and of going down to the country. From a lesser kingdom we talk of going up to a greater, whence the anabasis in the Greek language when one travels from Greece to Persia. We discover the same way of speaking in the language even of Japan*; and its uni­versality proves it the offspring of a natural feeling.

The foregoing observation leads us natu­rally to consider grandeur and sublimity in a figurative sense, and as applicable to the fine arts. Hitherto I have considered these terms in their proper meaning, as applicable to objects of sight only: and I thought it of importance, to bestow some pains upon that article; because, generally speaking, the figurative sense of a word is derived from its proper sense; which will be found to hold in the present subject. Beauty in its original sig­nification, is confined to objects of sight. But as many other objects, intellectual as well as moral, raise emotions resembling that [Page 276] of beauty, the resemblance of the effects prompts us naturally to extend the term beauty to these objects. This equally ac­counts for the terms grandeur and sublimity taken in a figurative sense. Every emotion, from whatever cause proceeding, that re­sembles an emotion of grandeur or eleva­tion, is called by the same name. Thus generosity is said to be an elevated emotion, as well as great courage; and that firmness of soul which is superior to misfortunes, ob­tains the peculiar name of magnanimity. On the other hand, every emotion that con­tracts the mind and fixeth it upon things trivial or of no importance, is termed low, by its resemblance to an emotion produced by a little or low object of sight. Thus an appetite for trifling amusements, is called a low taste. The same terms are applied to characters and actions. We talk familiarly of an elevated genius, of a great man, and equally so of littleness of mind. Some ac­tions are great and elevated, others are low and groveling. Sentiments and even ex­pressions are characterised in the same man­ner. An expression or sentiment that rai­ses [Page 277] the mind, is denominated great or ele­vated; and hence the sublime* in poetry. In such figurative terms, the distinction is lost that is made betwixt great and elevated in their proper sense; for the resemblance is not so entire, as to preserve these terms distinct in their figurative application. We carry this figure still farther. Elevation in its proper sense, includes superiority of place; and lowness, inferiority of place. Hence a man of superior talents, of superior rank, of inferior parts, of inferior taste, and such like. The veneration we have for our ancestors and for the ancients in general, being simi­lar [Page 278] to the emotion produced by an elevated object of sight, justifies the figurative expres­sion, of the ancients being raised above us, or possessing a superior place. And we may remark by the way, that as words are inti­mately connected with ideas, many, by this form of expression, are led to conceive their ancestors as really above them in place, and their posterity below them:

A grandam's name is little less in love
Than is the doting title of a mother:
They are as children but one step below.
Richard III. act 4. sc. 5.

The notes of the gamut, proceeding regu­larly from the blunter or grosser sounds to those which are more acute and piercing, produce in the hearer a feeling somewhat similar to what is produced by mounting upward; and this gives occasion to the fi­gurative expressions, a high note, a low note.

Such is the resemblance in feeling be­twixt real and figurative grandeur, that among the nations on the east coast of A­fric, who are directed purely by nature, the [Page 279] different dignities of the officers of state are marked by the length of the batoon each carries in his hand. And in Japan, princes and great lords shew their rank by the length and size of their sedan-poles*. Again, it is a rule in painting, that figures of a small size are proper for grotesque pieces; but that in an historical subject, which is grand and important, the figures ought to be as great as the life. The resemblance of these feelings is in reality so strong, that elevation in a figurative sense is observed to have the same effect even externally, that real eleva­tion has:

K. Henry.
This day is call'd the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tiptoe when this day is nam'd,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
Henry V. act 4. sc. 8.

The resemblance in feeling betwixt real and figurative grandeur, is humorously il­lustrated by Addison in criticising upon the English tragedy. ‘"The ordinary me­thod [Page 280] of making an hero, is to clap a huge plume of feathers upon his head, which rises so high, that there is often a greater length from his chin to the top of his head, than to the sole of his foot. One would believe, that we thought a great man and a tall man the same thing. As these superfluous ornaments upon the head make a great man, a princess gene­rally receives her grandeur from those additional incumbrances that fall into her tail. I mean the broad sweeping train that follows her in all her motions, and finds constant employment for a boy who stands behind her to open and spread it to advantage*."’ The Scythians, im­pressed with the same of Alexander, were astonished when they found him a little man.

A gradual progress from small to great, is not less remarkable in figurative than in real grandeur or elevation. Every one must have observed the delightful effect of a number of thoughts or sentiments, artfully [Page 281] disposed like an ascending series, and ma­king impressions stronger and stronger. Such disposition of members in a period, is distinguished by a proper name, being termed a climax.

In order to have a just conception of grandeur and sublimity, it is necessary to be observed, that within certain limits they produce their strongest effects, which lessen by excess as well as by defect. This is re­markable in grandeur and sublimity taken in their proper sense. The strongest emo­tion of grandeur is raised by an object that can be taken in at one view. An object so immense as not to be compre­hended but in parts, tends rather to distract than satisfy the mind* In like manner, the strongest emotion produced by elevation is where the object is seen distinctly. A greater elevation lessens in appearance the [Page 282] object, till it vanish out of sight with its pleasant emotion. The same is equally re­markable in figurative grandeur and eleva­tion, which shall be handled together, be­cause, as observed above, they are scarce distinguishable. Sentiments may be so strained, as to become obscure, or to exceed the capacity of the human mind. Against such licence of imagination, every good writer will be upon his guard. And there­fore it is of greater importance to observe, that even the true sublime may be carried beyond that pitch which produces the high­est entertainment. We are undoubtedly susceptible of a greater elevation than can be inspired by human actions the most heroic and magnanimous; witness what we feel from Milton's description of superior beings. Yet every man must be sensible of a more constant and pleasant elevation, when the history of his own species is the subject. He enjoys an elevation equal to that of the greatest hero, of an Alexander or a Caesar, of a Brutus or an Epaminondas. He ac­companies these heroes in their sublimest sentiments and most hazardous exploits, [Page 283] with a magnanimity equal to theirs; and finds it no stretch to preserve the same tone of mind for hours together, without sinking. The case is by no means the same in de­scribing the actions or qualities of superior beings. The reader's imagination cannot keep pace with that of the poet; and the mind, unable to support itself in a strained elevation, falls as from a height; and the fall is immoderate like the elevation. Where this effect is not felt, it must be prevented by some obscurity in the conception, which frequently attends the description of un­known objects.

On the other hand, objects of sight that are not remarkably great or high, scarce raise any emotion of grandeur or sublimity; and the same holds in other objects. The mind is often roused and animated without being carried to the height of grandeur or sublimity. This difference may be discern­ed in many sorts of music, as well as in some musical instruments. A kettledrum rouses, and a hautboy is animating; but neither of them inspire an emotion of sublimity. Re­venge animates the mind in a considerable [Page 284] degree; but I think it never produceth an emotion that can be termed grand or sub­lime; and I shall have occasion afterward to observe, that no disagreeable passion ever has this effect. I am willing to put this to the test, by placing before my reader the most spirited picture of revenge ever drawn. It is a speech of Antony wailing over the body of Caesar.

Wo to the hand that shed this costly blood!
Over thy wounds now do I prophesy,
(Which, like dumb mouths, do ope their ruby lips,
To beg the voice and utterance of my tongue),
A curse shall light upon the kind of men;
Domestic fury, and fierce civil strife,
Shall cumber all the parts of Italy;
Blood and destruction shall be so in use,
And dreadful objects so familiar,
That mothers shall but smile, when they behold
Their infants quarter'd by the hands of war,
All pity choak'd with custom of fell deeds.
And Caesar's spirit, ranging for revenge,
With Atè by his side come hot from hell,
Shall in these confines, with a monarch's voice,
Cry Havock, and let slip the dogs of war.
Julius Caesar, act 3. sc. 4.

[Page 285] When the sublime is carried to its due height and circumscribed within proper bounds, it inchants the mind and raises the most delightful of all emotions. The read­er, ingrossed by a sublime object, feels himself raised as it were to a higher rank. When such is the case, it is not wonderful that the history of conquerors and heroes should be universally the favourite entertain­ment. And this fairly accounts for what I once erroneously suspected to be a wrong bias originally in human nature. The grossest acts of oppression and injustice, scarce blemish the character of a great con­queror. We notwithstanding warmly e­spouse his interest, accompany him in his exploits, and are anxious for his success. The splendor and enthusiasm of the hero transfused into the readers, elevate their minds far above the rules of justice, and render them in a great measure insensible of the wrong that is done:

For in those days might only shall be admir'd
And valour and heroic virtue call'd;
To overcome in battle, and subdue
Nations, and bring home spoils with infinite
[Page 286] Manslaughter, shall be held the highest pitch
Of human glory, and for glory done
Of triumph, to be styl'd great conquerors,
Patrons of mankind, gods, and sons of gods.
Destroyers rightlier called, and plagues of men.
Thus fame shall be atchiev'd, renown on earth,
And what most merits fame in silence hid.
Milton, b. 11.

The attachment we have to things grand or lofty may be thought to proceed from an unwearied inclination we have to be exalt­ed. No desire is more universal than to be respected and honoured. Upon that ac­count chiefly, are we ambitious of power, riches, titles, fame, which would suddenly lose their relish, did they not raise us above others, and command submission and defe­rence*. But the preference given to things grand and sublime must have a deeper root in human nature. Many bestow their time [Page 287] upon low and trifling amusements, without showing any desire to be exalted. Yet these very persons talk the same language with the rest of mankind; and at least in their judgement, if not in their taste, prefer the more elevated pleasures. They acknow­ledge a more refined taste, and are ashamed of their own as low and groveling. This sentiment, constant and universal, must be the work of nature; and it plainly indicates an original attachment in human nature to every object that elevates the mind. Some men may have a greater relish for an object not of the highest rank: but they are con­scious of the common nature of man, and that it ought not to be subjected to their peculiar taste.

The irregular influence of grandeur, reaches also to other matters. However good, honest, or useful, a man may be, he is not so much respected, as one of a more elevated character is, though of less integrity; nor do the misfortunes of the former affect us so much as those of the latter. I add, because it cannot be disgui­sed, that the remorse which attends breach [Page 288] of engagement, is in a great measure pro­portioned to the figure that the injured per­son makes. The vows and protestations of lovers are an illustrious example of this ob­servation; for these commonly are little re­garded when made to women of inferior rank.

What I have said suggests a capital rule for reaching the sublime in such works of art as are susceptible of it; and that is, to put in view those parts or circumstances only which make the greatest figure, keeping out of sight every thing that is low or trivial. Such judicious selection of capital circumstances, is by an eminent critic styled grandeur of manner *. The mind, from an elevation inspired by important objects, cannot, without reluctance, be forced down to be­stow any share of its attention upon trifles. In none of the fine arts is there so great scope for this rule as in poetry, which, by that means, enjoys a remarkable power of bestowing upon objects and events an air of grandeur. When we are spectators, every [Page 289] minute object presents itself in its order. But in describing at second hand, these are laid aside, and the capital objects are brought close together. A judicious taste in selecting, after this manner, the most interesting incidents to give them an united force, accounts for a fact which at first sight may appear surprising, that we are more moved by a poetical narrative at se­cond hand, than when we are spectators of the event itself in all its circumstances.

Longinus exemplifies the foregoing rule by a comparison of two passages*. The first from Aristaeus is thus translated.

Ye pow'rs, what madness! how on ships so frail
(Tremendous thought!) can thoughtless mortals sail?
For stormy seas they quit the pleasing plain,
Plant woods in waves and dwell amidst the main.
Far o'er the deep (a trackless path) they go,
And wander oceans in pursuit of wo.
No ease their hearts, no rest their eyes can find,
On heaven their looks, and on the waves their mind.
[Page 290] Sunk are their spirits, while their arms they rear,
And gods are wearied with their fruitless prayer.

The other from Homer I shall give in Pope's translation.

Bursts as a wave that from the cloud impends,
And swell'd with tempests on the ship descends.
White are the decks with foam: the winds aloud
Howl o'er the masts, and sing through every shrowd.
Pale, trembling, tir'd, the sailors freeze with fears,
And instant death on every wave appears.

In the latter passage, the most striking circumstances are selected to fill the mind with the grand and terrible. The former is a collection of minute and low circum­stances, which scatter the thought and make no impression. The passage at the same time is full of verbal antitheses and low conceit, extremely improper in a scene of distress. But this last observation is made occasionally only, as it belongs not to the present subject.

The following passage from the twenty­first book of the Odyssey, deviates widely [Page 291] from the rule above laid down. It con­cerns that part of the history of Penelope and her suitors, in which she is made to declare in favour of him who should prove the most dexterous in shooting with the bow of Ulysses.

Now gently winding up the fair ascent,
By many an easy step, the matron went:
Then o'er the pavement glides with grace divine,
(With polish'd oak the level pavements shine);
The folding gates a dazling light display'd,
With pomp of various architrave o'erlay'd.
The bolt, obedient to the silken string,
Forsakes the staple as she pulls the ring;
The wards respondent to the key turn round;
The bars fall back; the flying valves resound.
Loud as a bull makes hill and valley ring;
So roar'd the lock when it releas'd the spring.
She moves majestic through the wealthy room
Where treasur'd garments cast a rich perfume;
There from the column where aloft it hung,
Reach'd, in its splendid case, the bow unstrung.

Virgil sometimes errs against this rule. In the following passages minute circum­stances are brought into full view; and what is still worse, they are described in all [Page 292] the sublimity of poetical description. Aeneid, L. 1. l. 214. to 219. L. 6. l. 176. to 182. L. 6. l. 212. to 231. And the last, which is a description of a funeral, is the less ex­cuseable, as it relates to a man who makes no figure in the poem.

The speech of Clytemnestra, descending from her chariot in the Iphigenia of Euri­pides, beginning of act 3. is stuffed with a number of low, common, and trivial cir­cumstances.

But of all writers Lucan in this article is the most injudicious. The sea-fight be­twixt the Romans and Massilians*, is de­scribed so much in detail without exhibiting any grand or general view, that the reader is quite fatigued with endless circumstances, and never feels any degree of elevation. And yet there are some fine incidents, those for example of the two brothers, and of the old man and his son, which, separated from the rest, would affect us greatly. But Lu­can once engaged in a description, knows no bounds. See other passages of the same [Page 293] kind, L. 4. l. 292. to 337. L. 4. l. 750. to 765. The episode of the sorceress E­rictho, end of book 6. is intolerably mi­nute and prolix.

To these I venture to oppose a passage from an old historical ballad:

Go, little page, tell Hardiknute
That lives on hill so high*,
To draw his sword, the dread of faes,
And haste to follow me.
The little page flew swift as dart
Flung by his master's arm.
Come down, come down, Lord Hardiknute,
And rid your king from harm.

This rule is also applicable to other fine arts. In painting it is established, that the principal figure must be put in the strong­est light; that the beauty of attitude consists in placing the nobler parts most in view, and in suppressing the smaller parts as much as possible; that the folds of the drapery must be few and large; that foreshortenings are bad, because they make the parts ap­pear [Page 294] little; and that the muscles ought to be kept as entire as possible, without being di­vided into small sections. Every one at pre­sent is sensible of the importance of this rule when applied to gardening, in opposi­tion to the antiquated taste of parterres split into a thousand small parts in the strictest regularity of figure. Those who have suc­ceeded best in architecture, have governed themselves by this rule in all their models.

Another rule chiefly regards the sublime, though it may be applied to every literary performance intended for amusement; and that is, to avoid as much as possible abstract and general terms. Such terms, perfectly well fitted for reasoning and for conveying instruction, serve but imperfectly the ends of poetry. They stand upon the same foot­ing with mathematical signs, contrived to express our thoughts in a concise manner. But images, which are the life of poetry, cannot be raised in any perfection, otherwise than by introducing particular objects. Ge­neral terms, that comprehend a number of individuals, must be excepted from this rule. Our kindred, our clan, our country, [Page 295] and words of the like import, though they scarce raise any image, have notwithstand­ing a wonderful power over our passions. The greatness of the complex object over­balances the obscurity of the image.

What I have further to say upon this sub­ject, shall be comprehended in a few ob­servations. A man is capable of being rai­sed so much above his ordinary pitch by an emotion of grandeur, that it is extremely difficult by a single thought or expression to produce that emotion in perfection. The rise must be gradual and the result of reite­rated impressions. The effect of a single expression can be but momentary; and if one feel suddenly somewhat like a swelling or exaltation of mind, the emotion vanish­eth as soon as felt. Single expressions, I know, are often justly cited as examples of the sublime. But then their effect is no­thing compared with a grand subject dis­played in its capital parts. I shall give a few examples, that the reader may judge for himself. In the famous action of Thermo­pylae, where Leonidas the Spartan King with his chosen band fighting for their [Page 296] country, were cut off to the last man, a saying is reported of Dieneces one of the band, which, expressing chearful and un­disturbed bravery, is well intitled to the first place in examples of this kind. Talking of the number of their enemies, it was obser­ved, that the arrows shot by such a multi­tude would intercept the light of the sun. So much the better, says he; for we shall then fight in the shade*.

Ah! Warwick, Warwick, wert thou as we are,
We might recover all our loss again.
The Queen from France hath brought a puissant power,
Ev'n now we heard the news. Ah! couldst thou fly!

Why, then I would not fly.

Third part, Henry VI. act 5. sc. 3.

Such a sentiment from a man expiring of his wounds, is truly heroic, and must ele­vate the mind to the greatest height that can be done by a single expression. It will not [Page 297] suffer in a comparison with the famous sen­timent Qu'il mourut in Corneille's Horace. The latter is a sentiment of indignation merely, the former of invincible fortitude.

In opposition to these examples, to cite many a sublime passage, enriched with the finest images, and dressed in the most ner­vous expressions, would scarce be fair. I shall produce but one instance from Shake­spear, which sets a few objects before the eye, without much pomp of language. It works its effect, by representing these ob­jects in a climax, raising the mind higher and higher till it feel the emotion of gran­deur in perfection.

The cloud-capt tow'rs, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea all which it inherit, shall dissolve, &c.

The cloud-capt tow'rs produce an elevating emotion, heightened by the gorgeous palaces. And the mind is carried still higher and higher by the images that follow. Succes­sive images, making thus stronger and stronger impressions, must elevate more than any single image can do.

[Page 298] I proceed to another observation. In the chapter of beauty it is remarked, that regularity is required in small figures, and order in small groups; but that in advan­cing gradually from small to great, regula­rity and order are less and less required. This remark serves to explain the extreme delight we have in viewing the face of na­ture, when sufficiently enriched and diver­sified by objects. The bulk of the objects seen in a natural landscape are beautiful, and some of them grand. A flowing river, a spreading oak, a round hill, an extended plain, are delightful; and even a rugged rock or barren heath, though in themselves disagreeable, contribute by contrast to the beauty of the whole. Joining to these, the verdure of the fields, the mixture of light and shade, and the sublime canopy spread over all; it will not appear wonderful, that so extensive a group of glorious objects should swell the heart to its utmost bounds, and raise the strongest emotion of grandeur. The spectator is conscious of an enthusiasm, which cannot bear confinement nor the strictness of regularity and order. He loves [Page 299] to range at large; and is so inchanted with shining objects, as to neglect slight beauties or defects. Thus it is, that the delightful emotion of grandeur, depends little on order and regularity. And when the emotion is at its height by a survey of the greatest ob­jects, order and regularity are almost totally disregarded.

The same observation is applicable in some measure to works of art. In a small building the slightest irregularity is disagree­able. In a magnificent palace or a large Gothic church, irregularities are less regard­ed. In an epic poem we pardon many negligences, which would be intolerable in a sonnet or epigram. Notwithstanding such exceptions, it may be justly laid down for a rule, That in all works of art, order and regularity ought to be governing principles. And hence the observation of Longinus*, ‘"In works of art we have regard to exact proportion; in those of nature, to gran­deur and magnificence."’

I shall add but one other observation, [Page 300] That no means can be more successfully employed to sink and depress the mind than grandeur or sublimity. By the artful intro­duction of an humbling object, the fall is great in proportion to the former elevation. Of this doctrine Shakespear affords us a beautiful illustration, in a passage part of which is cited above for another purpose:

The cloud-capt tow'rs, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And like the baseless fabric of a vision
Leave not a rack behind—
Tempest, act 4. sc. 4.

The elevation of the mind in the former part of this beautiful passage, makes the fall great in proportion when the most humbling of all images is introduced, that of an utter dissolution of the earth and its inhabitants. A sentiment makes not the same impression in a cool state, that it does when the mind is warmed; and a depressing or melancholy sentiment makes the strongest impression, when it brings down the mind from its highest state of elevation or chearfulness.

[Page 301] This indirect effect of elevation to sink the mind, is sometimes produced without the intervention of any humbling image. There was occasion above to remark, that in describing superior beings, the reader's imagination, unable to support itself in a strained elevation, falls often as from a height, and sinks even below its ordinary tone. The following instance comes lucki­ly in view; for a better illustration cannot be given: ‘"God said, Let there be light, and there was light."’ Longinus cites this passage from Moses as a shining exam­ple of the sublime; and it is scarce possible in fewer words, to convey so clear an image of the infinite power of the Deity. But then it belongs to the present subject to remark, that the emotion of sublimity raised by this image is but momentary; and that the mind, unable to support itself in an eleva­tion so much above nature, immediate­ly sinks down into humility and venera­tion for a being so far exalted above us groveling mortals. Every one is acquainted with a dispute about this passage betwixt [Page 302] two French critics*, the one positively affirming, the other as positively deny­ing, it to be sublime. What I have o­pened, shows that both of them have reached the truth, but neither of them the whole truth. Every one of taste must be sensible, that the primary effect of this pas­sage is an emotion of grandeur. This so far justifies Boileau. But then every one of taste must be equally sensible, that the emo­tion is merely a flash, which vanisheth in­stantly, and gives way to the deepest humi­lity and veneration. This indirect effect of sublimity, justifies Huet on the other hand, who being a man of true piety, and perhaps of inferior imagination, felt the humbling passions more sensibly than his antagonist. And even laying aside any peculiarity of character, Huet's opinion may I think be defended as the more solid; upon the fol­lowing account, that in such images, the depressing emotions are the more sensibly felt, and have the longer endurance.

The straining an elevated subject beyond [Page 303] due bounds and beyond the reach of an ordinary conception, is not a vice so fre­quent as to require the correction of criti­cism. But false sublime is a rock which writers of more fire than judgement gene­rally split on. And therefore a collection of examples may be of use as a beacon to fu­ture adventurers. One species of false sub­lime, known by the name of bombast, is common among writers of a mean genius. It is a serious endeavour, by strained descrip­tion, to raise a low or familiar subject above its rank; which instead of being sublime, never fails to be ridiculous. I am extreme­ly sensible how prone the mind is, in some animating passions, to magnify its objects beyond natural bounds. But such hyper­bolical description has its limits. If carried beyond the impulse of the propensity, the colouring no longer pleases: it degenerates into the burlesque. Take the following ex­amples.

—Great and high
The world knows only two, that's Rome and I.
My roof receives me not; 'tis air I tread,
[Page 304] And at each step I feel my advanc'd head
Knock out a star in heav'n.
Sejanus, Ben Johnson, act 5.

A writer who has no natural elevation of genius, is extremely apt to deviate into bom­bast. He strains above his genius; and the violent effort he makes carries him general­ly beyond the bounds of propriety. Boi­leau expresses this happily:

L'autre à peur de ramper, il se perd dans la nue*.

The same author Ben Johnson abounds in the bombast:

—The mother,
Th'expulsed Apicata, finds them there;
Whom when she saw lie spread on the degrees,
After a world of fury on herself,
Tearing her hair, defacing of her face,
Beating her breasts and womb, kneeling amaz'd,
Crying to heav'n, then to them; at last
Her drowned voice got up above her woes:
And with such black and bitter exercrations,
(As might affright the gods, and force the sun
Run backward to the east; nay, make the old
[Page 305] Deformed Chaos rise again t' o'erwhelm
Them, us, and all the world) she fills the air,
Upbraids the heavens with their partial dooms,
Defies their tyrannous powers, and demands
What she and those poor innocents have trans­gress'd,
That they must suffer such a share in vengeance.
Sejanus, act 5. sc. last.

—Lentulus, the man,
If all our fire were out, would fetch down new,
Out of the hand of Jove; and rivet him
To Caucasus, should he but frown; and let
His own gaunt eagle fly at him to tire.
Catiline, act 3.

Can these, or such, be any aids to us?
Look they as they were built to shake the world,
Or be a moment to our enterprise?
A thousand, such as they are, could not make
One atom of our souls. They should be men
Worth heaven's fear, that looking up, but thus,
Would make Jove stand upon his guard, and draw
Himself within his thunder; which, amaz'd,
He should discharge in vain, and they unhurt.
Or, if they were, like Capaneus at Thebes,
They should hang dead upon the highest spires,
And ask the second bolt to be thrown down.
Why Lentulus talk you so long? This time
[Page 306] Had been enough t' have scatter'd all the stars,
T' have quench'd the sun and moon, and made the world
Despair of day, or any light but ours.
Catiline, act 4.

This is the language of a madman:

Give way, and let the gushing torrent come,
Behold the tears we bring to swell the deluge,
Till the flood rise upon the guilty world
And make the ruin common.
Lady Jane Gray, act 4. near the end.

Another species of false sublime, is still more faulty than bombast; and that is, to force an elevation by introducing imaginary beings without preserving any propriety in their actions; as if it were lawful to ascribe every extravagance and inconsistence to be­ings of the poet's creation. No writers are more licentious in this article than Johnson and Dryden.

Methinks I see Death and the furies waiting
What we will do, and all the heaven at leisure
For the great spectacle. Draw then your swords:
[Page 307] And if our destiny envy our virtue
The honour of the day, yet let us care
To sell ourselves at such a price, as may
Undo the world to buy us, and make Fate,
While she tempts ours, to fear her own estate.
Catiline, act 5.
—The furies stood on hills
Circling the place, and trembled to see men
Do more than they: whilst Piety left the field,
Griev'd for that side, that in so bad a cause
They knew not what a crime their valour was.
The Sun stood still, and was, behind the cloud
The battle made, seen sweating to drive up
His frighted horse, whom still the noise drove backward.
Ibid. act. 5.
While we indulge our common happi­ness,
He is forgot by whom we all possess,
The brave Almanzor, to whose arms we owe
All that we did, and all that we shall do;
Who like a tempest that outrides the wind,
Made a just battle ere the bodies join'd.
His victories we scarce could keep in view,
Or polish 'em so fast as he rough drew.
[Page 308]
Fate after him below with pain did move,
And Victory could scarce keep pace above.
Death did at length so many slain forget,
And lost the tale, and took 'em by the great.
Conquest of Granada, act. 2. at beginning.
The gods of Rome fight for ye; loud Fame calls ye,
Pitch'd on the topless Apenine, and blows
To all the under world, all nations,
The seas and unfrequented deserts, where the snow dwells,
Wakens the ruin'd monuments, and there
Where nothing but eternal death and sleep is,
Informs again the dead bones.
Beaumont and Fletcher, Bonduca, act. 3. ssc. 3.

I close with the following observation, That an actor upon the stage may be guilty of bombast as well as an author in his closet. A certain manner of acting, which is grand when supported by dignity in the sentiment and force in the expression, is ridiculous where the sentiment is mean, and the expression flat.

CHAP. V. Motion and Force.

THAT motion is agreeable to the eye without relation to purpose or design, may appear from the a­musement it gives to infants. Juvenile ex­ercises are relished chiefly upon that ac­count.

If to see a body in motion be agreeable, one will be apt to conclude, that to see it at rest is disagreeable. But we learn from experience, that this would be a rash con­clusion. Rest is one of those circumstances that are neither agreeable nor disagreeable. It is viewed with perfect indifferency. And happy it is for mankind that the matter is so ordered. If rest were agreeable, it would dis­incline us to motion, by which all things are performed. If it were disagreeable, it would be a source of perpetual uneasiness; for the bulk of the things we see appear to be at [Page 310] rest. A similar instance of designing wis­dom I have had occasion to explain, in opposing grandeur to littleness, and eleva­tion to lowness of place*. Even in the simplest matters, the finger of God is con­spicuous. The happy adjustment of the internal nature of man to his external circumstances, displayed in the instances here given, is indeed admirable.

Motion is certainly agreeable in all its varieties of quickness and slowness. But motion long continued admits some excep­tions. That degree of continued motion which corresponds to the natural course of our perceptions, is the most agreeable. The quickest motion is for an instant de­lightful. But it soon appears to be too ra­pid. It becomes painful, by forcibly acce­lerating the course of our perceptions. Slow continued motion becomes disagreeable for an opposite reason, that it retards the natu­ral course of our perceptions.

There are other varieties in motion, be­side [Page 311] quickness and slowness, that make it more or less agreeable. Regular motion is preferred before what is irregular, witness the motion of the planets in orbits nearly circular. The motion of the comets in or­bits less regular, is less agreeable.

Motion uniformly accelerated, resem­bling an ascending series of numbers, is more agreeable than when uniformly re­tarded. Motion upward is agreeable by the elevation of the moving body. What then shall we say of downward motion re­gularly accelerated by the force of gravity, compared with upward motion regularly retarded by the same force? Which of these is the most agreeable? This question is not easily solved.

Motion in a straight line is no doubt a­greeable. But we prefer undulating mo­tion, as of waves, of a flame, of a ship under sail. Such motion is more free, and also more natural. Hence the beauty of a serpentine river.

The easy and sliding motion of fluids, from the lubricity and incoherence of their parts, is agreeable upon that account. But [Page 312] the agreeableness chiefly depends upon the following circumstance, that the motion is perceived, not as of one body, but as of an endless number moving together with order and regularity. Poets struck with this beauty, draw more images from fluids than from solids.

Force is of two kinds; one quiescent, and one exerted by motion. The former, dead weight for example, must be laid a­side; for a body at rest is not by that cir­cumstance either agreeable or disagreeable. Moving force only belongs to the present subject; and though it is not separable from motion, yet by the power of abstraction, either of them may be considered independ­ent of the other Both of them are agree­able, because both of them include activity. It is agreeable to see a thing move: to see it moved, as when it is dragged or pushed along, is neither agreeable nor disagree­able, more than when at rest. It is agree­able to see a thing exert force; but it makes not the thing either agreeable or disagree­able, to see force exerted upon it.

Though motion and force are each of [Page 313] them agreeable, the impressions they make are different. This difference, clearly felt, is not easily described. All we can say is, that the emotion raised by a moving body, resembles its cause: it feels as if the mind were carried along. The emotion raised by force exerted, resembles also its cause: it feels as if force were exerted within the mind.

To illustrate this difference, I give the following examples. It has been explained why smoke ascending in a calm day, sup­pose from a cottage in a wood, is an agree­able object*. Landscape-painters are fond of this object, and introduce it upon all occasions. As the ascent is natural and without effort, it is delightful in a calm state of mind. It makes an impression of the same sort with that of a gently-flowing river, but more agreeable, because ascent is more to our taste than descent. A fire­work or a jet d'eau rouses the mind more; because the beauty of force visibly exerted, is superadded to that of upward motion. [Page 314] To a man reclining indolently upon a bank of flowers, ascending smoke in a still morning is delightful. But a fire-work or a jet d'eau rouses him from this supine posture, and puts him in motion.

A jet d'eau makes an impression distin­guishable from that of a water-fall. Down­ward motion being natural and without ef­fort, tends rather to quiet the mind than to rouse it. Upward motion, on the con­trary, overcoming the resistance of gravity, makes an impression of a great effort, and thereby rouses and enlivens the mind.

The public games of the Greeks and Romans, which gave so much entertain­ment to the spectators, consisted chiefly in exerting force, wrestling, leaping, throw­ing great stones, and such like trials of strength. When great force is exerted, the effort felt within the mind produces great life and vivacity. The effort may be such, as in some measure to overpower the mind. Thus the explosion of gun-powder, the violence of a torrent, the weight of a mountain, and the crush of an earthquake, create astonishment rather than pleasure.

[Page 315] No quality nor circumstance contributes more to grandeur than force, especially as exerted by sensible beings. I cannot make this more evident than by the following ci­tations.

—Him the almighty power
Hurl'd headlong flaming from th' ethereal sky,
With hideous ruin and combustion, down
To bottomless perdition, there to dwell
In adamantine chains and penal fire,
Who durst defy th' Omnipotent to arms.
Paradise Lost, book 1.
—Now storming fury rose,
And clamour such as heard in heaven till now
Was never; arms on armour clashing bray'd
Horrible discord, and the madding wheels
Of brazen chariots rag'd; dire was the noise
Of conflict; over head the dismal hiss
Of fiery darts in flaming vollies flew,
And flying vaulted either host with fire.
So under fiery cope together rush'd
Both battles main, with ruinous assault
And inextinguishable rage: all heav'n
Resounded; and had earth been then, all earth
Had to her centre shook.
Ibid, book 6.
[Page 316]
They ended parle, and both address'd for fight
Unspeakable; for who, though with the tongue
Of angels, can relate, or to what things
Liken on earth conspicuous, that may lift
Human imagination to such height
Of godlike pow'r? for likest gods they seem'd,
Stood they or mov'd, in stature, motion, arms,
Fit to decide the empire of great Heav'n.
Now wav'd their fiery swords, and in the air
Made horrid circles; two broad suns their shields
Blaz'd opposite, while Expectation stood
In horror: from each hand with speed retir'd,
Where erst was thickest fight, th' angelic throng,
And left large field, unsafe within the wind
Of such commotion; such as, to set forth
Great things by small, if Nature's concord broke,
Among the constellations war were sprung,
Two planets, rushing from aspéct malign
Of fiercest opposition, in mid sky,
Should combat, and their jarring spheres confound.
Ibid, book 6.

We shall now consider the effect of mo­tion and force in conjunction. In con­templating the planetary system, what strikes us the most, is the spherical figures of the planets and their regular motions. The conception we have of their activity [Page 317] and enormous bulk is more obscure. The beauty accordingly of this system, raises a more lively emotion than its grandeur. But if we could imagine ourselves spectators comprehending the whole system at one view, the activity and irresistible force of these immense bodies would fill us with a­mazement. Nature cannot furnish another scene so grand.

Motion and force, agreeable in them­selves, are also agreeable by their utility when employed as means to accomplish some beneficial end. Hence the superior beauty of some machines, where force and motion concur to perform the work of numberless hands. Hence the beautiful motions, firm and regular, of a horse train­ed for war. Every single step is the fittest that can be for obtaining the end proposed. But the grace of motion is visible chiefly in man, not only for the reasons mentioned, but also because every gesture is significant. The power however of agreeable motion is not a common talent. Every limb of the human body has a good and a bad, an agree­able and disagreeable action. Some mo­tions [Page 318] are extremely graceful, others are plain and vulgar: some express dignity, others meanness. But the pleasure here, arising not singly from the beauty of motion, but from indicating character and sentiment, belongs to a different chapter*.

I should conclude with the final cause of the relish we have for motion and force, were it not so evident as to require no explanation. We are placed here in such circumstances as to make industry essential to our well­being; for without industry the plainest necessaries of life are not to be obtained. When our situation therefore in this world requires activity and a constant exertion of motion and force, Providence indulgently provides for our welfare in making these agreeable to us. It would be a blunder in our nature, to make things disagreeable that we depend on for existence; and even to make them indifferent, would tend to make us relax greatly from that degree of activity which is indispensable.

CHAP. VI. Novelty, and the unexpected ap­pearance of objects.

OF all the particulars that contribute to raise emotions, not excepting beauty, or even greatness, novelty hath the most powerful influence. A new spectacle attracts multitudes. It produceth instantaneously an emotion which totally occupies the mind, and for a time excludes all other objects. The soul seems to meet the strange appearance with a certain elon­gation of itself; and all is hushed in close contemplation. In some instances, there is perceived a degree of agony, attended with external symptoms extremely expressive. Conversation among the vulgar never is more interesting, than when it runs upon strange objects and extraordinary events. Men tear themselves from their native coun­try in search of things rare and new; and [Page 320] curiosity converts into a pleasure, the fatigues, and even perils of travelling. To what cause shall we ascribe these singular appearances? The plain account of the matter follows. Curiosity is implanted in human nature, for a purpose extremely beneficial, that of ac­quiring knowledge. New and strange ob­jects, above all others, excite our curiosity; and its gratification is the emotion above de­scribed, known by the name of wonder. This emotion is distinguished from admira­tion. Novelty where-ever found, whether in a quality or action, is the cause of won­der: admiration is directed upon the ope­rator who performs any thing wonderful.

During infancy, every new object is pro­bably the occasion of wonder, in some de­gree; because, during infancy, every ob­ject at first is strange as well as new. But as objects are rendered familiar by custom, we cease by degrees to wonder at new ap­pearances that have any resemblance to what we are acquainted with. A thing must be singular as well as new, to excite our curio­sity and to raise our wonder. To save mul­tiplying words, I would be understood to [Page 321] comprehend both circumstances when I hereafter talk of novelty.

In an ordinary train of perceptions where one thing introduces another, not a single object makes its appearance unexpectedly*. The mind thus prepared for the reception of its objects, admits them one after ano­ther without perturbation. But when a thing breaks in unexpectedly and without the preparation of any connection, it raises a singular emotion known by the name of surprise. This emotion may be produced by the most familiar object, as when one accidentally meets a friend who was re­ported to be dead; or a man in high life, lately a beggar. On the other hand, a new object, however strange, will not produce this emotion if the spectator be prepared for the sight. An elephant in India will not surprise a traveller who goes to see one; and yet its novelty will raise his wonder. An Indian in Britain would be much surprised to stumble upon an elephant feeding at large in the open fields; but the creature [Page 322] itself, to which he was accustomed, would not raise his wonder.

Surprise thus in several respects differs from wonder. Unexpectedness is the cause of the former emotion: novelty is the cause of the latter. Nor differ they less in their nature and circumstances, as will be explain­ed by and by. With relation to one circum­stance they perfectly agree, which is the shortness of their duration. The instanta­neous production of these emotions in per­fection, may contribute to this effect, in conformity to a general law, That things soon decay which soon come to perfection. The violence of the emotions may also con­tribute; for an ardent emotion, which is not susceptible of increase, cannot have a long course. But their short duration is oc­casioned chiefly by that of their causes. We are soon reconciled to an object, however un­expected; and novelty soon degenerates in­to familiarity.

Whether these emotions be pleasant or painful, is not a clear point. It may appear strange, that our own feelings and their ca­pital qualities should afford any matter for a [Page 323] doubt. But when we are ingrossed by any emotion, there is no place for speculation; and when sufficiently calm for speculation, it is not easy to recal the emotion with suffi­cient accuracy. New objects are sometimes terrible, sometimes delightful. The terror which a tyger inspires is greatest at first, and wears off gradually by familiarity. On the other hand, even women will acknow­ledge, that it is novelty which pleases the most in a new fashion. At this rate, it should be thought, that wonder is not in itself pleasant or painful, but that it assumes either quality according to circumstances. This doctrine, however plausible, must not pass without examination. And when we reflect upon the principle of curiosity and its operations, a glimpse of light gives some faint view of a different theory. Our cu­riosity is never more thoroughly gratified, than by new and singular objects. That very gratification is the emotion of wonder, which therefore, according to the analogy of nature, ought always to be pleasant*. [Page 324] And indeed it would be a great defect in human nature, were the gratification of so useful a principle unpleasant. But upon a more strict scrutiny, we shall not have oc­casion to mark curiosity as an exception from the general rule. A new object, it is true, that hath a threatening appearance, adds to our terror by its novelty. But from this expe­riment it doth not follow, that novelty is in itself disagreeable. It is perfectly consistent, that we should be delighted with an object in one view, and terrified with it in another. A river in flood swelling over its banks, is a grand and delightful object; and yet it may produce no small degree of fear when we attempt to cross it. Courage and magnani­mity are agreeable; and yet when we view these qualities in an enemy, they serve to increase our terror*. In the same man­ner, novelty has two effects clearly distin­guishable from each other. A new object, by gratifying curiosity, must always be a­greeable. It may, at the same time, have an opposite effect indirectly, which is, to in­spire [Page 325] terror. For when a new object ap­pears in any degree dangerous, our igno­rance of its powers and qualities affords am­ple scope for the imagination to dress it in the most frightful colours*. Thus the first sight of a lion at some distance, may at the same instant produce two opposite feelings, the pleasant emotion of wonder, and the pain­ful passion of terror. The novelty of the ob­ject, produces the former directly, and con­tributes to the latter indirectly. Thus, when the subject is analized, we find, that the power which novelty hath indirectly to in­flame terror, is perfectly consistent with its being in every case agreeable. The matter may be put in a still clearer light by varying the scene. If a lion be first seen from a place of safety, the spectacle is altogether a­greeable without the least mixture of ter­ror. If again the first sight put us within reach of this dangerous animal, our terror may be so great as quite to exclude any sense of novelty. But this fact proves not [Page 326] that wonder is painful: it proves only that wonder may be excluded by a more power­ful passion. And yet it is this fact, which, in superficial thinking, has thrown the sub­ject into obscurity. I presume we may now boldly affirm, that wonder is in every case a pleasant emotion. This is acknowledged as to all new objects that appear inoffensive. And even as to objects that appear offensive, I urge that the same must hold so long as the spectator can attend to the novelty.

Whether surprise be in itself pleasant or painful, is a question not less intricate than the former. It is certain, that surprise in­flames our joy when unexpectedly we meet with an old friend: and not less our terror, when we stumble upon any thing noxious. To clear this point, we must trace it step by step. And the first thing to be remarked is, that in some instances an unexpected ob­ject overpowers the mind so as to produce a momentary stupefaction. An unexpected object, not less than one that is new, is apt to sound an alarm and to raise terror. Man, naturally a defenceless being, is happily so constituted as to apprehend danger in all [Page 327] doubtful cases. Accordingly, where the object is dangerous, or appears so, the sud­den alarm it gives, without preparation, is apt totally to unhinge the mind, and for a moment to suspend all the faculties, even thought itself*. In this state a man is quite helpless; and if he move at all, is as likely to run upon the danger as from it. Sur­prise carried to this height, cannot be either pleasant or painful; because the mind, du­ring such momentary stupefaction, is in a good measure, if not totally, insensible.

If we then inquire for the character of this emotion, it must be where the unex­pected object or event produceth less violent effects. And while the mind remains sen­sible of pleasure and pain, is it not natural to suppose, that surprise, like wonder, should have an invariable character? I am incli­ned however to think, that surprise has no invariable character, but assumes that of the object which raises it. Wonder is the gra­tification of a natural principle, and upon [Page 328] that account must be pleasant. There, no­velty is the capital circumstance, which, for a time, is intitled to possess the mind entire­ly in one unvaried tone. The unexpected appearance of an object, seems not equally intitled to produce an emotion distinguish­able from the emotion, pleasant or painful, that is produced by the object in its ordina­ry appearance. It ought not naturally to have any effect, other than to swell that e­motion, by making it more pleasant or more painful than it commonly is. And this con­jecture is confirmed by experience, as well as by language, which is built upon expe­rience. When a man meets a friend un­expectedly, he is said to be agreeably sur­prised; and when he meets an enemy un­expectedly, he is said to be disagreeably surprised. It appears then, that the sole ef­fect of surprise is to swell the emotion raised by the object. And this effect can be clear­ly explained. A tide of connected percep­tions, glides gently into the mind, and pro­duceth no perturbation. An object on the other hand breaking in unexpectedly, sounds an alarm, rouses the mind out of its calm [Page 329] state, and directs its whole attention upon the object, which, if agreeable, becomes doubly so. Several circumstances concur to produce this effect. On the one hand, the agitation of the mind and its keen atten­tion, prepare it in the most effectual man­ner for receiving a deep impression. On the other hand, the object by its sudden and unforeseen appearance, makes an im­pression, not gradually as expected objects do, but as at one stroke with its whole force. The circumstances are precisely similar, where the object is in itself disagreeable.

The pleasure of novelty is easily distin­guished from that of variety. To produce the latter, a plurality of objects is necessary. The former arises from a circumstance found in a single object. Again, where objects, whether coexistent or in succession, are sufficiently diversified, the pleasure of variety is complete, though every single ob­ject of the train be familiar. But the plea­sure of novelty, directly opposite to familia­rity, requires no diversification.

There are different degrees of novelty, and its effects are in proportion. The low­est [Page 330] degree is found in objects that are survey­ed a second time after a long interval. That in this case an object takes on some appear­ance of novelty, is certain from experience. A large building of many parts variously ad­orned, or an extensive field embellished with trees, lakes, temples, statues, and other ornaments, will appear new oftener than once. The memory of an object so com­plex is soon lost; of its parts at least, or of their arrangement. But experience teaches, that even without any decay of remembrance, absence alone will give an air of novelty to a once familiar object; which is not surpri­sing, because familiarity wears off gradually by absence. Thus a person with whom we have been intimate, returning after a long interval, appears like a new acquaint­ance. Distance of place contributes to this appearance, not less than distance of time. A friend after a short absence in a remote country, has the same air of novelty as if he had returned after a longer interval from a place nearer home. The mind forms a con­nection betwixt him and the remote coun­try, and bestows upon him the singularity [Page 331] of the objects he has seen. When two things equally new and singular are present­ed, the spectator balances betwixt them. But when told that one of them is the pro­duct of a distant quarter of the world, he no longer hesitates, but clings to this as the more singular. Hence the preference gi­ven to foreign luxuries and to foreign curio­sities, which appear rare in proportion to their original distance.

The next degree of novelty, mounting upward, is found in objects of which we have some information at second hand. For description, though it contribute to familiarity, cannot altogether remove the appearance of novelty when the object itself is presented. The first sight of a lion oc­casions some wonder, after a thorough ac­quaintance with the correctest pictures or statues of that animal.

A new object that bears some distant resemblance to a known species, is an in­stance of a third degree of novelty. A strong resemblance among individuals of the same species, prevents almost entirely the effect of novelty; unless distance of [Page 332] place or some other circumstance concur. But where the resemblance is faint, some degree of wonder is felt; and the emotion rises in proportion to the faintness of the re­semblance.

The highest degree of wonder ariseth from unknown objects that have no ana­logy to any species we are acquainted with. Shakespear in a simile introduces this species of novelty.

As glorious to the sight
As is a winged messenger from heaven
Unto the white upturned wondring eye
Of mortals, that fall back to gaze on him
When he bestrides the lazy-pacing clouds,
And sails upon the bosom of the air.
Romeo and Juliet.

One example of this species of novelty deserves peculiar attention; and that is, when an object altogether new is seen by one person only, and but for once. These circumstances heighten remarkably the e­motion. The singularity of the condition of the spectator concurs with the singularity [Page 333] of the object, to inflame wonder to its highest pitch.

In explaining the effects of novelty, the place a being occupies in the scale of exist­ence, is a circumstance that must not be omitted. Novelty in the individuals of a low class, is perceived with indifference, or with a very slight emotion. Thus a pebble, however singular in its appearance, scarce moves our wonder. The emotion rises with the rank of the object; and, other circumstances being equal, is strongest in the highest order of existence. A strange animal affects us more than a strange vege­table; and were we admitted to view superior beings, our wonder would rise proportionably; and accompanying Nature in her amazing works, be completed in the contemplation of the Deity.

However natural the love of novelty may be, it is a matter of experience, that those who relish novelty the most, are careful to conceal its influence. This relish, it is true, prevails in children, in idle people, and in men of a weak mind. And yet, after all, why should one be ashamed for indulging [Page 334] a natural propensity? A distinction will ex­plain this difficulty. No man is ashamed to own, that he loves to contemplate new or strange objects. He neither condemns himself nor is censured by others, for this appetite. But every man studies to conceal, that he loves a thing or performs an action, merely for its novelty. The reason of the difference will set the matter in a clear light. Curiosity is a natural principle di­rected upon new and singular objects, in the contemplation of which its gratification consists, without leading to any end other than knowledge. The man therefore who prefers any thing merely because it is new, hath not this principle for his justification; nor indeed any good principle. Vanity is at the bottom, which easily prevails upon those who have no taste, to prefer things odd, rare, or singular, in order to distin­guish themselves from others. And in fact, the appetite for novelty, as above mentioned, reigns chiefly among persons of a mean taste, who are ignorant of refined and elegant pleasures.

The gratification of curiosity, as men­tioned [Page 335] above, is distinguished by a proper name, viz. wonder; an honour denied to the gratification of any other principle, e­motion, or passion, so far as I can recollect. This singularity indicates some important final cause, which I endeavour to unfold. An acquaintance with the various things that may affect us, and with their properties, is essential to our well-being. Nor will a slight or superficial acquaintance be suffi­cient. It ought to be so deeply ingraved on the mind, as to be ready for use upon every occasion. Now, in order to a deep impression, it is wisely contrived, that things should be introduced to our acquaintance, with a certain pomp and solemnity produc­tive of a vivid emotion. When the impres­sion is once fairly made, the emotion of novelty, being no longer necessary, vanish­eth almost instantaneously; never to return, unless where the impression happens to be obliterated by length of time or other means; in which case the second introduc­tion is nearly as solemn as the first.

Designing wisdom is no where more le­gible than in this part of the human frame. [Page 336] If new objects did not affect us in a very peculiar manner, their impressions would be so slight as scarce to be of any use in life. On the other hand, did objects continue to affect us as deeply as at first, the mind would be totally ingrossed with them, and have no room left either for action or re­flection.

The final cause of surprise is still more e­vident than of novelty. Self-love makes us vigilantly attentive to self-preservation. But self-love, which operates by means of rea­son and reflection, and impells not the mind to any particular object or from it, is a principle too cool for a sudden emergency. An object breaking in unexpectedly, affords no time for deliberation; and, in this case, the agitation of surprise is artfully contrived to rouse self-love into action. Surprise gives the alarm, and if there be any appear­ance of danger, our whole force is instantly summoned up to shun or to prevent it.

CHAP. VII. Risible Objects.

SUCH is the nature of man, that his powers and faculties are soon blunted by exercise. The returns of sleep, suspending all activity, are not alone suffi­cient to preserve him in vigor. During his waking hours, amusement by intervals is requisite to unbend his mind from serious occupation. The imagination, of all our faculties the most active, and not always at rest even in sleep, contributes more than any other cause to recruit the mind and re­store its vigor, by amusing us with gay and ludicrous images; and when relaxation is necessary, such amusement is much relish­ed. But there are other sources of amuse­ment beside the imagination. Many ob­jects, natural as well as artificial, may be distinguished by the epithet of risible, be­cause they raise in us a peculiar emotion ex­pressed [Page 338] externally by laughter. This is a pleasant emotion; and being also mirthful, it most successfully unbends the mind and recruits the spirits.

Ludicrous is a general term, signifying, as we may conjecture from its derivation, what is playsome, sportive, or jocular. Lu­dicrous therefore seems the genus, of which risible is a species, limited as above to what makes us laugh.

However easy it may be, concerning any particular object, to say whether it be risible or not; it seems difficult, if at all practi­cable, to establish beforehand any general character by which objects of this kind may be distinguished from others. Nor is this a singular case. Upon a review, we find the same difficulty in most of the articles already handled. There is nothing more easy, viewing a particular object, than to pronounce that it is beautiful or ugly, grand or little: but were we to attempt general rules for ranging objects under different classes, according to these qualities, we should find ourselves utterly at a loss. There is a separate cause which increases the diffi­culty [Page 339] of distinguishing risible objects by a general character. All men are not equally affected by risible objects; and even the same person is more disposed to laugh at one time than another. In high spirits a thing will make us laugh outright, that will scarce provoke a smile when we are in a grave mood. We must therefore abandon the thought of attempting general rules for distinguishing risible objects from others. Risible objects however are circumscribed within certain limits, which I shall suggest, without pretending to any degree of accu­racy. And, in the first place, I observe, that no object is risible but what appears slight, little, or trifling. For man is so constituted as to be seriously affected with every thing that is of importance to his own interest or to that of others. Secondly, with respect to the works both of nature and of art, nothing is risible but what de­viates from the common nature of the sub­ject: it must be some particular out of rule, some remarkable defect or excess, a very long visage, for example, or a very short one. Hence nothing just, proper, decent, [Page 340] beautiful, proportioned, or grand, is risible. A real distress raises pity, and therefore cannot be risible. But a slight or imaginary distress, which moves not pity, is risible. The adventure of the fulling-mills in Don Quixote is extremely risible; so is the scene where Sancho, in a dark night, tumbles in­to a pit, and attaches himself to the side by hand and foot, there hanging in terrible dismay till the morning, when he discovers himself to be within a foot of the bottom. A nose remarkably long or short is risible; but to want the nose altogether, far from provo­king laughter, raises horror in the specta­tor.

From what is said, it will readily be con­jectured, that the emotion raised by a risible object is of a nature so singular as scarce to find place while the mind is occupied with any other passion or emotion. And this conjecture is verified by experience. We scarce ever find this emotion blended with any other. One emotion I must except, and that is contempt raised by some sort of improprieties. Every improper act inspires us with some degree of contempt for the [Page 341] author. And if an improper act be at the same time risible and provoke laughter, of which blunders and absurdities are noted instances, the two emotions of contempt and of laughter unite intimately in the mind, and produce externally what is termed a laugh of derision or of scorn. Hence objects that cause laughter, may be distinguished in­to two kinds. They are either risible or ri­diculous. A risible object is mirthful only; a ridiculous object is both mirthful and con­temptible. The first raises an emotion of laughter that is altogether pleasant: the e­motion of laughter raised by the other, is qualified with that of contempt; and the mixed emotion, partly pleasant partly pain­ful, is termed the emotion of ridicule. I a­venge myself of the pain a ridiculous object gives me by a laugh of derision. A risible object, on the other hand, gives me no pain: it is altogether pleasant by a certain sort of titillation, which is expressed externally by mirthful laughter. Ridicule will be more fully explained afterward: the present chap­ter is appropriated to the other emotion.

Risible objects are so common and so well [Page 342] understood, that it is unnecessary to con­sume paper or time upon them. Take the few following examples.


I do remember him at Clement's inn, like a man made after supper of a cheese-paring. When he was naked, he was for all the world like a forked radish, with a head fantastically carved up­on it with a knife.

Second part, Henry IV. act 3. sc. 5.

The foregoing is of disproportion. The following examples are of slight or imagina­ry misfortunes.


Go fetch me a quart of sack, put a toast in't. Have I liv'd to be carried in a basket, like a barrow of butcher's offal, and to be thrown into the Thames? Well, if I be serv'd such an­other trick, I'll have my brains ta'en out and but­ter'd, and give them to a dog for a new-year's gift. The rogues slighted me into the river with as little remorse as they would have drown'd a bitch's blind puppies, fifteen i'th'litter; and you may know by my size, that I have a kind of alacri­ty in sinking: if the bottom were as deep as hell, I should down. I had been drown'd, but that the shore was shelvy and shallow; a death that I abhor; [Page 343] for the water swells a man: and what a thing should I have been, when I had been swell'd? I should have been a mountain of mummy.

Merry wives of Windsor, act 3. sc. 15.

Nay, you shall hear, Master Brook, what I have suffer'd to bring this woman to evil for your good. Being thus cramm'd in the bas­ket, a couple of Ford's knaves, his hinds, were call'd forth by their mistress, to carry me in the name of foul cloaths to Datchet-lane. They took me on their shoulders, met the jealous knave their master in the door, who ask'd them once or twice what they had in their basket. I quak'd for fear, lest the lunatic knave would have search'd it; but Fate, ordaining he should be a cuckold, held his hand. Well, on went he for a search, and away went I for foul cloaths. But mark the sequel, Ma­ster Brook. I suffer'd the pangs of three egregious deaths: first, an intolerable fright, to be detected by a jealous rotten bell-weather; next, to be com­pass'd like a good bilbo, in the circumference of a peck, hilt to point, heel to head; and then to be stopt in, like a strong distillation, with stinking cloaths that fretted in their own grease. Think of that, a man of my kidney; think of that, that am as sub­ject to heat as butter; a man of continual dissolu­tion and thaw; it was a miracle to 'scape suffoca­tion. [Page 344] And in the height of this bath, when I was more than half-stew'd in grease, like a Dutch dish, to be thrown into the Thames, and cool'd glow­ing hot, in that surge, like a horse-shoe; think of that; hissing hot; think of that, Master Brook.

Merry wives of Windsor, act 3. sc. 17.

CHAP. VIII. Resemblance and Contrast.

HAVING discussed those qualities and circumstances of single objects that seem peculiarly connected with cri­ticism, we proceed, according to the me­thod proposed in the chapter of beauty, to the relations of objects, beginning with the relations of resemblance and contrast.

Man being unavoidably connected with the beings around him, some acquaintance with their nature, their powers, and their qualities, is requisite for regulating his con­duct. As an incentive to acquire a branch of knowledge so essential to our well-being, motives alone of reason and interest are not sufficient. Nature hath providently super­added curiosity, a vigorous propensity which never is at rest. It is this propensity which attaches us to every new object*; and in [Page 346] particular incites us to consider objects in the way of comparison, in order to discover their differences and resemblances.

Resemblance among objects of the same kind, and dissimilitude among objects of different kinds, are too obvious and familiar to gratify our curiosity in any degree. The gratification lies in discovering differences among things where resemblance prevails, and in discovering resemblances where dif­ference prevails. Thus a difference in in­dividuals of the same kind of plants or ani­mals is deemed a discovery, while the many particulars in which they agree are neglect­ed: and in different kinds, any resemblance is greedily remarked, without attending to the many particulars in which they differ.

A comparison however may be too far stretched. When differences or resemblan­ces are carried beyond certain bounds, they appear slight and trivial; and for that rea­son will not be relished by one of taste. Yet such propensity is there to gratify passion, curiosity in particular, that even among good writers, we find many comparisons too slight to afford satisfaction. Hence the frequent [Page 347] instances among logicians, of distinctions without any solid difference: and hence the frequent instances among poets and orators, of similes without any just resemblance. With regard to the latter, I shall confine myself to one instance, which will probably amuse the reader, being a citation not from a poet nor orator, but from a grave author writing an institute of law. ‘"Our student shall observe, that the knowledge of the law is like a deep well, out of which each man draweth according to the strength of his understanding. He that reacheth deepest, seeth the amiable and admirable secrets of the law, wherein I assure you the sages of the law in former times have had the deepest reach. And as the bucket in the depth is easily drawn to the uppermost part of the water, (for nullum elementum in suo proprio loco est grave), but take it from the water it cannot be drawn up but with a great difficulty; so, albeit beginnings of this study seem difficult, yet when the professor of the law can dive into the depth, it is delightful, easy, and with­out [Page 348] any heavy burden, so long as he keep himself in his own proper ele­ment*."’ Shakespear with much wit ri­dicules this disposition to simile-making, by putting in the mouth of a weak man a re­semblance much of a piece with that now mentioned.


I think it is in Macedon where Alexan­der is porn: I tell you, Captain, if you look in the maps of the orld, I warrant that you sall find, in the comparisons between Macedon and Mon­mouth, that the situasions, look you, is both alike. There is a river in Macedon, there is also more­over a river in Monmouth: it is call'd Wye at Mon­mouth, but it is out of my prains what is the name of the other river; but it is all one, 'tis as like as my fingers to my fingers, and there is salmons in both. If you mark Alexander's life well, Harry of Monmouth's life is come after it indifferent well; for there is figures in all things. Alexander, God knows, and you know, in his rages, and his furies, and his wraths, and his cholers, and his moods, and his displeasures, and his indignations, and also being a little intoxicates in his prains, did, in his ales and his angers, look you, kill his pest friend Clytus.

[Page 349]

Our King is not like him in that, he ne­ver kill'd any of his friends.


It is not well done, mark you now, to take the tales out of my mouth, ere it is made and finished. I speak but in figures, and comparisons of it: As Alexander kill'd his friend Clytus, being in his ales and his cups; so also Harry Monmouth, being in his right wits and his good judgments, turn'd away the fat knight with the great belly-doublet; he was full of jests, and gypes, and knaveries, and mocks: I have forgot his name.


Sir John Falstaff.


That is he: I tell you, there is good men porn at Monmouth.

K. Henry V. act 4. sc. 13.

Instruction, no doubt, is the chief end of comparison, but not the only end. In works addressed to the imagination, compa­rison may be employed with great success to put a subject in a strong point of view. A lively idea is formed of a man's courage, by likening it to that of a lion; and eloquence is exalted in our imagination, by comparing it to a river overflowing its banks, and in­volving all in its impetuous course. The same effect is produced by contrast. A man in prosperity, becomes more sen­sible [Page 350] of his happiness, by opposing his condition to that of a person in want of bread. Thus comparison is subservient to poetry as well as to philosophy; and with respect to both, the foregoing observation holds equally, that resemblance among ob­jects of the same kind, and contrast among objects of different kinds, have no effect. Such a comparison neither tends to gratify our curiosity, nor to set the objects compa­red in a stronger light. Two apartments in a palace, similar in shape, size, and fur­niture, make separately as good a figure as when compared; and the same observation applies to two similar copartments in a garden. On the other hand, oppose a re­gular building to a fall of water, or a good picture to a towering hill, or even a little dog to a large horse, and the contrast will produce no effect. But resemblance, where the objects compared are of different kinds, and contrast where the objects compared are of the same kind, have each of them re­markably an enlivening effect. The poets, such of them as have a just taste, draw all their similes from things that in the main [Page 351] differ widely from the principal subject; and they never attempt a contrast but where the things have a common genus and a re­semblance in the capital circumstances. Place together a large and a small sized a­nimal of the same species, the one will ap­pear greater the other less, than when view­ed separately. When we oppose beauty to deformity, each makes a greater figure by the comparison.

Upon a subject not only in itself curious, but of great importance in all the fine arts, I must be more particular. That resemblance and contrast have an enlivening effect upon objects of sight, is made sufficiently evident; and that they have the same effect upon ob­jects of the other senses, will appear from induction. Nor is this law confined to the external senses. Characters contrasted, make a greater figure by the opposition. Iago, in the tragedy of Othello, says

He hath a daily beauty in his life,
That makes me ugly.

The character of a fop, and of a rough war­rior, [Page 352] are no where more successfully con­trasted than by Shakespear.

My liege, I did deny no prisoners;
But I remember, when the fight was done,
When I was dry with rage, and extreme toil,
Breathless and faint, leaning upon my sword;
Came there a certain Lord, neat, trimly dress'd,
Fresh as a bridegroom; and his chin, new-reap'd,
Shew'd like a stubble-land at harvest-home.
He was perfumed like a milliner;
And 'twixt his finger and his thumb he held
A pouncet-box, which ever and anon
He gave his nose;—and still he smil'd, and talk'd;
And as the soldiers bare dead bodies by,
He call'd them untaught knaves, unmannerly,
To bring a slovenly, unhandsome corse
Betwixt the wind and his nobility.
With many holiday and lady terms
He question'd me: amongst the rest, demanded
My pris'ners, in your Majesty's behalf.
I then all smarting with my wounds; being gal'd
To be so pester'd with a popinjay,
Out of my grief, and my impatience,
Answer'd, neglectingly, I know not what:
He should, or should not; for he made me mad,
To see him shine so brisk, and smell so sweet,
And talk so like a waiting-gentlewoman,
[Page 353] Of guns, and drums, and wounds; (God save the mark!)
And telling me, the sovereign'st thing on earth
Was parmacity, for an inward bruise;
And that it was great pity, so it was,
This villanous saltpetre should be digg'd
Out of the bowels of the harmless earth,
Which many a good, tall fellow had destroy'd
So cowardly: and but for these vile guns,
He would himself have been a soldier.—
First part, Henry IV. act 1. sc. 4.

Passions and emotions are also inflamed by comparison. A man of high rank humbles the bystanders so far as almost to annihilate them in their own opinion. Cae­sar, beholding the statue of Alexander, felt a great depression of spirits, when he re­flected, that now at the age of thirty-two, when Alexander died, he had not perform­ed one memorable action.

Our opinions also are much influenced by comparison. A man whose opulence exceeds the ordinary standard, is reputed richer than he is in reality; and the cha­racter of wisdom or weakness, if at all re­markable, [Page 354] is generally carried beyond the truth.

The opinion a man forms of his present condition as to happiness or misery, de­pends in a great measure on the comparison he makes betwixt it and his former condi­tion:

Could I forget
What I have been, I might the better bear
What I am destin'd to. I'm not the first
That have been wretched: but to think how much
I have been happier.
Southern's Innocent adultery, act 2.

The distress of a long journey makes even an indifferent inn pass current. And in travelling, when the road is good and the horseman well covered, a bad day may be agreeable, by making him sensible how snug he is.

The same effect is equally remarkable, when a man sets his condition in opposition to that of others. A ship tossed about in a storm, makes the spectator reflect upon his own security and ease, and puts these in the strongest light:

[Page 355]
Suave, mari magno turbantibus aequora ventis,
E terra magnum alterius spectare laborem,
Non quia vexari quemquam est jocunda voluptas,
Sed quibus ipse malis careas, quia cernere suave est.
Lucret. l. 2. principio.

A man in grief cannot bear mirth. It gives him a more lively notion of his un­happiness, and of course makes him more unhappy. Satan contemplating the beau­ties of the terrestrial paradise, breaks out in the following exclamation.

With what delight could I have walk'd thee round,
If I could joy in ought, sweet interchange
Of hill and valley, rivers, woods, and plains,
Now land, now sea, and shores with forest crown'd,
Rocks, dens, and caves! but I in none of these
Find place or refuge; and the more I see
Pleasures about me, so much more I feel
Torment within me, as from the hateful siege
Of contraries: all good to me becomes
Bane, and in heav'n much worse would be my state.
Paradise Lost, book 9. l. 114.

All places that the eye of heaven visits,
Are to a wise man ports and happy havens.
[Page 356] Teach thy necessity to reason thus:
There is no virtue like necessity.
Think not the King did banish thee;
But thou the King Wo doth the heavier sit,
Where it perceives it is but faintly borne.
Go say, I sent thee forth to purchase honour;
And not, the King exil'd thee. Or suppose,
Devouring pestilence hangs in our air,
And thou art flying to a fresher clime,
Look what thy soul holds dear, imagine it
To lie that way thou go'st, not whence thou com'st.
Suppose the singing birds, musicians;
The grass whereon thou tread'st, the presence-floor;
The flow'rs, fair ladies; and thy steps, no more
Than a delightful measure, or a dance.
For gnarling Sorrow hath less power to bite
The man that mocks at it, and sets it light.
Oh, who can hold a fire in his hand,
By thinking on the frosty Caucasus?
Or cloy the hungry edge of Appetite,
By bare imagination of a feast?
Or wallow naked in December snow,
By thinking on fantastic summer's heat?
Oh, no! the apprehension of the good
Gives but the greater feeling to the worse.
King Richard II. act 1. sc. 6.

[Page 357] The appearance of danger gives sometimes pleasure, sometimes pain. A timorous person upon the battlements of a high tower, is seized with terror, which even the con­sciousness of security cannot dissipate. But upon one of a firm head, this situation has a contrary effect. The appearance of dan­ger heightens by opposition the conscious­ness of security, and of consequence the sa­tisfaction that arises from security. The feeling here resembles that above mentioned occasioned by a ship labouring in a storm.

This effect of magnifying or lessening ob­jects by means of comparison, is so familiar, that no philosopher has thought of searching for a cause*. The obscurity of the sub­ject may possibly have contributed to their silence. But luckily in treating other sub­jects, a principle is unfolded which will clearly account for this phenomenon. It [Page 358] depends upon the power of passion to mo­del our opinion of objects for its gratifica­tion*. We have had occasion to see ma­ny illustrious examples of this singular power of passion; and the present subject affords an additional instance. That this is the cause, will evidently appear, by reflect­ing in what manner a spectator is affected, when a very large animal is for the first time placed beside a very small one of the same species. The opposition is the first thing that strikes the mind: the unusual appearance gives surprise; and the spectator, prone to gratify this emotion, conceives the opposition to be the greatest that can be. He sees, or seems to see, the one animal extremely little, and the other extremely large. The emotion of surprise arising from any unusual resemblance, serves e­qually to explain why at first view we are apt to think such resemblance more entire than it is in reality. And it must be obser­ved, that the circumstances of more and less, which are the proper subjects of com­parison, [Page 359] raise a perception so indistinct and vague as to facilitate the effect described. We have no mental standard of great and little, nor of the several degrees of any at­tribute; and the mind thus unrestrained, is naturally disposed to indulge its surprise to the utmost extent.

In exploring the operations of the mind, some of which are extremely nice and slip­pery, it is necessary to proceed with the ut­most circumspection. And after all, sel­dom it happens that speculations of this kind afford any strong conviction. Luckily, in the present case, we have at hand facts and experiments that support the foregoing theo­ry in a satisfactory manner. In the first place, the opposing a small object of one species to a great object of another, produ­ces not, in any degree, that effect of con­trast, which is so remarkable when both ob­jects are of the same species. There is no difference betwixt these two cases that pro­miseth to have any influence, but only that the former is common, the latter rare. May we not then fairly conclude, that surprise from the rarity of appearance is the cause [Page 360] of contrast, when we find no such effect where the appearance is common? In the next place, if surprise be the sole cause of the effects that appear in making a compa­rison, it follows necessarily that these effects will vanish so soon as a comparison becomes familiar. This holds so unerringly, as to leave no reasonable doubt that surprise is the prime mover in this operation. Our sur­prise is great the first time a small lapdog is seen with a large mastiff: but when two such animals are constantly together, there is no surprise; and it makes no difference whether they be viewed separately or in company. We put no bounds to the riches of a man who has recently made his for­tune. The opposition betwixt his present and past situation, or betwixt his present situation and that of others, is carried to an extreme. With regard to a family that for many generations hath enjoyed great wealth, the same false reckoning is not made. It is equally remarkable, that a simile loses its effect by repetition. A lover compared to a moth scorching itself at the flame of a can­dle, is a sprightly simile, which by fre­quent [Page 361] use has lost all force. Love cannot now be compared to fire, without some de­gree of disgust. It has been justly objected against Homer, that the lion is too often in­troduced in his similes. All the variety he is able to throw into them, is not sufficient to keep alive the reader's surprise.

To explain the influence of comparison upon the mind, I have chosen the simplest case, that of two animals of the same kind, differing in size only, seen for the first time. To complete the theory, other circumstan­ces must be taken in. And the next suppo­sition I shall make, is where both animals, separately familiar to the spectator, are brought together for the first time. In this case, the effect of magnifying and diminish­ing, will be found remarkably greater than in that first mentioned. And the reason will appear upon analyzing the operation. The first thing we feel is surprise, occasion­ed by the uncommon difference of two creatures of the same species. We are next sensible, that the one appears less, the other larger, than they did formerly. This new circumstance is a second cause of surprise, [Page 362] and augments it so as to make us imagine a still greater opposition betwixt the animals, than if we had formed no notion of them beforehand.

I shall confine myself to one other suppo­sition, That the spectator was acquainted be­forehand with one of the animals only, the lapdog for example. This new circum­stance will vary the effect. Instead of widening the natural difference by enlarging in appearance the one animal and diminish­ing the other in proportion, the whole ap­parent alteration will rest upon the lapdog. The surprise to find it less than judged to be formerly, will draw the whole attention of the mind upon it; and this surprise will be gratified, by conceiving it to be of the most diminutive size possible. The mastiff in the mean time is quite neglected. I am able to illustrate this effect by a very familiar exam­ple. Take a piece of paper or linen rec­koned to be a good white, and compare it with something of the same kind that is a pure white. The judgement we formed of the first object is instantly varied; and the surprise occasioned by finding it not so [Page 363] white as was thought, produceth a hasty conviction that it is much less white than it is in reality. Withdrawing now the pure white, and putting in its place a deep black, the surprise occasioned by this new circum­stance carries our thought to the other ex­treme, and we now conceive the original ob­ject to be a pure white. Thus experience forces us to acknowledge, that our emotions have an influence even upon our eye-sight. This experiment leads to a general observa­tion, That whatever is found more strange or beautiful than was expected, is judged to be more strange or beautiful than it is in rea­lity. Hence it is a common artifice, to de­preciate beforehand what we wish to make a figure in the eyes of others.

The comparisons employed by poets and orators, coincide with the last-mentioned supposition. It is always a known object that is to be aggrandized or lessened. The former is effectuated by likening it to some grand object, or by contrasting it with one that has the opposite character. To effec­tuate the latter, the method must be rever­sed. The object must be contrasted with [Page 364] something superior to itself, or likened to something inferior. The whole effect is produced upon the principal subject, which by this means is elevated above its rank or depressed below it.

In accounting for the effect that any un­usual resemblance or contrast has upon the mind, I have hitherto assigned no other cause but surprise; and to prevent confusion and obscurity, I thought it proper to discuss that principle first. But surprise is not the only cause of the effect described. Another cause concurs, which operates perhaps not less powerfully than surprise. This cause is a principle in human nature that lies still in obscurity, not having been evolved by any writer, though its effects are extensive. As it is not distinguished by a proper name, the reader must be satisfied with the following description. No man who studies himself or others but must be sensible of a tendency or propensity in the mind to complete every work that is begun, and to carry things to their full perfection. This principle has lit­tle opportunity to display itself upon natural operations, which are seldom left imperfect. [Page 365] But in the operations of art it hath great scope; and displays itself remarkably, by making us persevere in our own work, and by making us wish for the completion of what is done by another. We feel a sensible pleasure when the work is brought to per­fection; and our pain is not less sensible when we are disappointed. Hence our un­easiness, when an interesting story is broke off in the middle, when a piece of music ends without a close, or when a building or garden is left imperfect. The same princi­ple operates in making collections, such as the whole works good and bad of any au­thor. A certain person endeavoured to col­lect prints of all the capital paintings, and succeeded except as to a few. La Bruyere remarks, that an anxious search was made for these, not on account of their value, but to complete the set*.

[Page 366] The final cause of this principle is an ad­ditional proof of its existence. Human works are of no significancy till they be completed. Reason is not always a suffi­cient counterbalance to indolence: and some principle over and above is necessary, to ex­cite our industry, and to prevent our stop­ping short in the middle of the course.

We need not lose time in describing the co-operation of the foregoing principle with [Page 367] surprise in producing the effect that is felt upon the appearance of any unusual resem­blance or contrast. Surprise first operates, and carries our opinion of the resemblance or contrast beyond the truth. The principle we have been describing carries us still farther; for being bent upon gratification, it forces up­on the mind a conviction that the resemblance or contrast is complete. We need no better illustration than the resemblance that is fan­cied [Page 368] in some pebbles to a tree or an insect. The resemblance, however faint in reality, is conceived to be wonderfully perfect. This tendency to complete a resemblance acting jointly with surprise, carries the mind some­times so far as even to presume upon future events. In the Greek tragedy, intitled, Phineides, those unhappy women, seeing the place where it was intended they should be slain, cried out with anguish, ‘"They now saw their cruel destiny had condemned them to die in that place, being the same where they had been exposed in their infancy*."’

This remarkable principle which inclines us to advance every thing to its perfection, not only co-operates with surprise to deceive the mind, but of itself is able to produce that effect. Of this we see many instances where there is no place for surprise. The first instance I shall give is of resemblance. Unumquodque eodem modo dissolvitur quo colli­gatum est, is a maxim in the Roman law that has no foundation in truth. For tying and [Page 369] loosing, building and demolishing, are acts opposite to each other, and are performed by opposite means. But when these acts are connected by their relation to the same subject, their connection leads us to ima­gine a sort of resemblance betwixt them, which the foregoing principle makes us conceive to be as complete as possible. The next instance shall be of contrast. Addison observes*, ‘"That the palest features look the most agreeable in white; that a face which is overflushed appears to advantage in the deepest scarlet; and that a dark complexion is not a little alleviated by a black hood."’ The foregoing principle serves to account for these appearances. To make this evident, one of the cases shall suf­fice. A complexion, however dark, never approaches to black. When these colours appear together, their opposition strikes us; and the propensity we have to complete the opposition, makes the darkness of com­plexion vanish out of sight.

The operation of this principle, even [Page 370] where there is no ground for surprise, is not confined to opinion or conviction. So powerful is it, as to make us sometimes pro­ceed to action in order to complete a re­semblance or contrast. If this appear ob­scure, it will be made clear by the follow­ing instances. Upon what principle is the lex talionis founded other than to make the punishment resemble the mischief? Rea­son dictates, that there ought to be a con­formity or resemblance betwixt a crime and its punishment; and the foregoing principle impells us to make the resemblance as com­plete as possible. Titus Livius, influenced by this principle, accounts for a certain punishment by a resemblance betwixt it and the crime, far too subtile for common ap­prehension. Speaking of Mettus Fuffetius, the Alban general, who, for treachery to the Romans, his allies, was sentenced to be torn to pieces by horses, he puts the following speech in the mouth of Tullus Hostilius, who decreed the punishment. ‘"Mette Fuffeti, inquit, si ipse discere posses fi­dem ac foedera servare, vivo tibi ea disci­plina a me adhibita esset. Nunc, quo­niam [Page 371] tuum insanabile ingenium est, at tu tuo supplicio doce humanum genus, ea sancta credere, quae a te violata sunt. Ut igitur paulo ante animum inter Fide­natem Romanamque rem ancipitem ges­sisti, ita jam corpus passim distrahendum dabis*."’ By the same influence, the sentence is often executed upon the very spot where the crime was committed. In the Electra of Sophocles, Egistheus is drag­ged from the theatre into an inner room of the supposed palace, to suffer death where he murdered Agamemnon. Shakespear, whose knowledge of nature is not less pro­found than extensive, has not overlooked this propensity:


Get me some poison, Iago, this night; I'll not expostulate with her, lest her body and her beauty unprovide my mind again; this night, Iago.


Do it not with poison; strangle her in her bed, even in the bed she hath contaminated.


Good, good: The justice of it pleases; very good.

Othello, act 4. sc. 5.

[Page 372]
From off the gates of York fetch down the head,
Your father's head which Clifford placed there.
Instead whereof let his supply the room.
Measure for measure must be answered.
Third Part of Henry VI. act 2. sc. 9.

Persons in their last moments are generally seized with an anxiety to be buried with their relations. In the Amynta of Tasso, the lover, hearing that his mistress was torn to pieces by a wolf, expresses a desire to die the same death*.

Upon the subject in general, I have two remarks to add. The first concerns resem­blance, which when too entire hath no ef­fect, however different in kind the things compared may be. This remark is applicable to works of art only; for natural objects of different kinds, have scarce ever an entire re­semblance. Marble is a sort of matter, very different from what composes an animal; and marble cut into a human figure, pro­duces great pleasure by the resemblance. But let a marble statue be coloured like a [Page 373] picture, the resemblance is so entire as to produce no effect. At a distance, it ap­pears a real person. We discover the mistake when we approach; and no other emotion is raised but surprise occasioned by the deception. The idea of resemblance is sunk into that of identity. The figure still appears to our eyes rather to be a real person than a resemblance of it; and we must make use of our reflection to correct the mistake. This cannot happen in a picture; for the resemblance can never be so entire as to disguise the imitation.

The other remark regards contrast. E­motions make the greatest figure when contrasted in succession. But then the suc­cession ought neither to be precipitate nor immoderately slow. If too slow, the effect of contrast becomes faint by the distance of the emotions; and if precipitate, no single emotion has room to expand itself to its full size; but is stifled as it were in the birth by a succeeding emotion. The funeral o­ration of the Bishop of Meaux upon the Du­chess of Orleans, is a perfect hotchpotch of chearful and melancholy representations [Page 374] following each other in the quickest suc­cession. Opposite emotions are best felt in succession: but each emotion separately should be raised to its due pitch, before an­other be introduced.

What is above laid down, will enable us to determine a very important question concerning emotions raised by the fine arts, viz. What ought to be the rule of succes­sion; whether ought resemblance to be stu­died or contrast? The emotions raised by the fine arts, are generally too nearly rela­ted to make a figure by resemblance; and for that reason, their succession ought to be regulated as much as possible by con­trast. This holds confessedly in epic and dramatic compositions: and the best wri­ters, led perhaps by a good taste more than by reasoning, have generally aimed at this beauty. In the same cantata, all the va­riety of emotions that are within the power of music, may not only be indulged, but, to make the greatest figure, ought to be contrasted. In gardening there is an addi­tional reason for the rule. The emotions raised by that art, are at best so faint, that [Page 375] every artifice should be used to give them their utmost strength. A field may be laid out in grand, sweet, gay, neat, wild, me­lancholy scenes. When these are viewed in succession, grandeur ought to be con­trasted with neatness, regularity with wild­ness, and gaiety with melancholy; so as that each emotion may succeed its opposite. Nay it is an improvement to intermix in the succession, rude uncultivated spots as well as unbounded views, which in them­selves are disagreeable, but in succession heighten the feeling of the agreeable ob­jects. And we have nature for our guide, who in her most beautiful landscapes often intermixes rugged rocks, dirty marsh­es, and barren stony heaths. The greatest masters of music, have the same view in their compositions: the second part of an Italian song seldom conveys any sentiment; and, by its harshness, seems purposely con­trived to give a greater relish for the inter­esting parts of the composition.

A small garden comprehended under a single view, affords little opportunity for this embellishment. Dissimilar emotions [Page 376] require different tones of mind; and there­fore in conjunction can never make a good figure*. Gaiety and sweetness may be combined, or wildness and gloominess; but a composition of gaiety and gloominess is distasteful. The rude uncultivated copart­ment of furze and broom in Richmond garden, hath a good effect in the succession of objects; but a spot of this nature would be insufferable in the midst of a polished parterre or flower-plot. A garden there­fore, if not of great extent, will not admit of dissimilar emotions. And in ornamenting a small garden, the safest course is to con­fine it to a single expression. For the same reason, a landscape ought also to be confined to a single expression. It is accordingly a rule in painting, That if the subject be gay, every figure ought to contribute to that e­motion.

It follows from the foregoing train of rea­soning, that a garden near a great city, ought to have an air of solitude. The soli­tariness again of a waste country ought to [Page 377] be contrasted in forming a garden; no tem­ples, no obscure walks; but jets d'eau, cas­cades, objects active, gay, and splendid. Nay such a garden should in some mea­sure avoid imitating nature, by taking on an extraordinary appearance of regularity and art, to show the busy hand of man, which in a waste country has a fine effect by contrast.

It may be gathered from what is said a­bove*, that wit and ridicule make not an agreeable mixture with grandeur. Dissi­milar emotions have a fine effect in a slow succession; but in a rapid succession, which approaches to co-existence, they will not be relished. In the midst of a laboured and elevated description of a battle, Virgil introduces a ludicrous image, which is cer­tainly out of its place:

Obvius ambustum torrem Chorinaeus ab ara
Corripit, et venienti Ebuso plagamque ferenti
Occupat os flammis: illi ingens barba reluxit,
Nidoremque ambusta dedit.
Aen. xii. 298.

[Page 378] The following image is not less ludicrous, nor less improperly placed.

Mentre fan questi i bellici stromenti
Perche debbiano tosto in uso porse,
Il gran nemico de l'humane genti,
Contra i Christiani i lividi occhi torse:
E lor veggendo à le bell' opre intenti,
Ambo le labra per furor si morse:
E qual tauro ferito, il suo dolore
Verso mugghiando e sospirando fuore.
Gierusal. cant. 4. st. 1.

It would however be too austere, to ba­nish altogether ludicrous images from an e­pic poem. This poem doth not always soar above the clouds. It admits great va­riety; and upon occasions can descend even to the ground without sinking. In its more familiar tones, a ludicrous scene may be in­troduced without impropriety. This is done by Virgil* in describing a foot-race; the circumstances of which, not excepting the ludicrous part, are copied from Ho­mer. After a fit of merryment, we are, [Page 379] it is true, the less disposed to the serious and sublime: but then, a ludicrous scene, by unbending the mind from severe application to more interesting subjects, may prevent fatigue, and preserve our relish entire.

CHAP. IX. Of Uniformity and Variety.

WHEN I apply myself to explain u­niformity and variety, and to show how we are affected by these cir­cumstances, it appears doubtful what me­thod ought to be followed. I foresee seve­ral difficulties in keeping close to my text; and yet by indulging a range, such as may be necessary for a clear view, I shall cer­tainly incur the censure of wandering.—Be it so. One ought not to abandon the right track for fear of censure. The collateral matters, beside, that will be introduced, are curious, and not of slight importance in the science of human nature.

The necessary succession of perceptions, is a subject formerly handled, so far as it depends on the relations of objects and their [Page 381] mutual connections*. But that subject is not exhausted; and I take the liberty to in­troduce it a second time, in order to explain in what manner we are affected by unifor­mity and variety. The world we inhabit is replete with things not less remarkable for their variety than their number. These, unfolded by the wonderful mechanism of external sense, furnish the mind with many perceptions, which, joined with ideas of memory, of imagination, and of reflection, form a complete train that has not a gap or interval. This tide of objects, in a conti­nual flux, is in a good measure independent of will. The mind, as has been observed, is so constituted, ‘"That it can by no effort break off the succession of its ideas, nor keep its attention long fixt upon the same object."’ We can arrest a percep­tion in its course; we can shorten its natu­ral duration, to make room for another; we can vary the succession by change of place or amusement; and we can in some mea­sure [Page 382] prevent variety, by frequently recalling the same object after short intervals: but still there must be a succession, and a change from one thing to another. By artificial means, the succession may be retarded or ac­celerated, may be rendered more various or more uniform, but in one shape or other is unavoidable.

The rate of succession, even when left to its ordinary course, is not always the same. There are natural causes that accelerate or retard it considerably. The first I shall mention depends on a peculiar constitution of mind. One man is distinguished from another, by no circumstance more remark­ably than the movement of his train of perceptions. A cold languid temper is ac­companied with a slow course of percep­tions, which occasions dulness of apprehen­sion and sluggishness in action. To a warm temper, on the contrary, belongs a quick course of perceptions, which occasions quickness of apprehension and activity in business. The Asiatic nations, the Chinese especially, are observed to be more cool and deliberate than the Europeans: may not [Page 383] the reason be, that heat enervates by ex­hausting the spirits? A certain degree of cold, such as is felt in the middle regions of Europe, by bracing the fibres, rouses the mind, and produces a brisk circulation of thought, accompanied with vigour in ac­tion. In youth there is observable a quicker succession of perceptions, than in old age. Hence in youth a remarkable avidity for va­riety of amusements, which in riper years give place to more uniform and more se­date occupation. This qualifies men of middle age for business, where activity is required, but with a greater proportion of uniformity than variety. In old age, a slow and languid succession makes variety unne­cessary; and for that reason, the aged, in all their motions, are generally governed by an habitual uniformity. Whatever be the cause, we may venture to pronounce, that heat in the imagination and temper, is al­ways connected with a brisk flow of percep­tions.

The natural rate of succession, depends also in some degree upon the particular per­ceptions that compose the train. An agree­able [Page 384] object, taking a strong hold of the mind, occasions a slower succession than when the objects are indifferent. Grandeur and no­velty fix the attention for a considerable time, excluding all other ideas; and the mind thus occupied feels no vacuity. Some emotions, by hurrying the mind from ob­ject to object, accelerate the succession. Where the train is composed of connected objects, the succession is quick. For it is so ordered by nature, that the mind goes easi­ly and sweetly along connected objects*. On the other hand, the succession must be slow where the train is composed of un­connected objects. An unconnected object, finding no ready access to the mind, requires time to make an impression. And that it is not admitted without a struggle, appears from the unsettled state of the mind for some moments after it is presented, wavering be­twixt it and the former train. During this short period, one or other of the former ob­jects will intrude, perhaps oftener than once, till the attention be fixt entirely upon [Page 385] the new object. The same observations are applicable to ideas suggested by language. The mind can bear a quick succession of re­lated ideas. But an unrelated idea, for which the mind is not prepared, takes time to make a distinct impression; and there­fore a train composed of such ideas, ought to proceed with a slow pace. Hence an e­pic poem, a play, or any story connected in all its parts, may be perused in a shorter time, than a book of maxims or apothegms, of which a quick succession creates both confusion and fatigue.

Such latitude hath nature indulged in the rate of succession. What latitude it indul­ges with respect to uniformity we proceed to examine. The uniformity or variety of a train, so far as composed of external ob­jects, depends on the particular objects that surround the percipient at the time. The present occupation must also have an influ­ence; one is sometimes engaged in a multi­plicity of affairs, sometimes altogether va­cant. A natural train of ideas of memory is more circumscribed, each object being linked, by some connection, to what pre­cedes [Page 386] and to what follows it. These con­nections, which are many and of different kinds, afford scope for a sufficient degree of variety; and at the same time prevent any excess that is unpleasant. Temper and con­stitution also have an influence here, as well as upon the rate of succession. A man of a calm and sedate temper, admits not willing­ly any idea but what is regularly introduced by a proper connection. One of a roving disposition embraces with avidity every new idea, however slender its relation be to those that go before it. Neither must we overlook the nature of the perceptions that compose the train; for their influence is not less with respect to uniformity and variety, than with respect to the rate of succession. The mind ingrossed by any passion, love or hatred, hope or fear, broods over its ob­ject, and can bear no interruption. In such a state, the train of perceptions must not only be slow, but extremely uniform. Anger newly inflamed eagerly grasps its ob­ject, and leaves not a cranny in the mind for another thought than of revenge. In the character of Hotspur, this state of mind [Page 387] is represented to the life; a picture remark­able for high colouring as well as for strict­ness of imitation:

Peace, cousin, say no more.
And now I will unclasp a secret book,
And to your quick-conceiving discontents
I'll read you matter, deep and dangerous;
As full of peril and advent'rous spirit
As to o'erwalk a current, roaring loud,
On the unsteadfast footing of a spear.
If he fall in, good-night. Or sink or swim,
Send danger from the east into the west,
So honour cross it from the north to south;
And let them grapple. O! the blood more stirs
To rouse a lion than to start a hare.
Those same Noble Scots,
That are your prisoners—
I'll keep them all.
By Heav'n, he shall not have a Scot of them:
No, if a Scot would save his soul, he shall not;
I'll keep them, by this hand.
You start away,
And lend no ear unto my purposes;
Those pris'ners you shall keep.
I will; that's flat:
He said, he would not ransom Mortimer:
[Page 388] Forbad my tongue to speak of Mortimer:
But I will find him when he lies asleep,
And in his ear I'll holla Mortimer!
Nay, I will have a starling taught to speak
Nothing but Mortimer, and give it him,
To keep his anger still in motion.

Hear you, cousin, a word.

All studies here I solemnly defy,
Save how to gall and pinch this Bolingbroke:
And that same sword-and-buckler Prince of Wales,
(But that I think his father loves him not,
And would be glad he met with some mischance),
I'd have him poison'd with a pot of ale.
Farewel, my kinsman, I will talk to you,
When you are better temper'd to attend.
First part, Henry IV. act 1. sc. 4.

Having viewed a train of perceptions as directed by nature, and the variations it is susceptible of from different necessary cau­ses, we proceed to examine how far it is subjected to will; for that will hath some influence, more or less, is observed above. And first, the rate of succession may be re­tarded by insisting upon one object, and [Page 389] propelled by dismissing another before its time. But such voluntary mutations in the natural course of succession, have limits that cannot be extended by the most painful efforts. The mind circumscribed in its ca­pacity, cannot, at the same instant, admit many perceptions; and when replete, it has no place for new perceptions till others be removed. For this reason, a voluntary change of perceptions cannot be instanta­neous; and the time it requires sets bounds to the velocity of succession. On the other hand, the power we have to arrest a flying perception, is equally limited. The longer we detain any perception, the more difficul­ty we find in the operation; till, the diffi­culty becoming unsurmountable, we are forced to quit our hold, and to permit the train to take its usual course.

The power we have over this train as to uniformity and variety, is in some cases very great, in others very little. A train so far as composed of external objects, depends entirely on the place we occupy, and ad­mits not more or less variety but by change of place. A train composed of ideas of me­mory, [Page 390] is still less under our power. Ob­jects which are connected, afford the mind an easy passage from one to another. They suggest each other in idea by the same means; and we cannot at will call up any idea that is not connected with the train*. But a train of ideas suggested by reading, may be varied at will, provided we have books in store.

This power which nature hath given us over our train of perceptions, may be great­ly strengthened by proper discipline, and by an early application to business. Its im­proved strength is remarkable in those who have a strong genius for the mathematics: nor less remarkable in persons devoted to re­ligious exercises, who pass whole days in contemplation, and impose upon themselves long and severe penances. It is not to be conceived, what length a habit of activity in affairs will carry some men. Let a stran­ger, or let any person to whom the sight is not familiar, attend the Chancellor of Great Britain through the labours but of one day, [Page 391] during a session of parliament: how great will be his astonishment! what multipli­city of law-business, what deep thinking, and what elaborate application to matters of government! The train of perceptions must in this great man be accelerated far beyond the common course of nature. Yet no confusion nor hurry; but in every article the greatest order and accuracy. Such is the force of habit! How happy is man, to have the command of a principle of action, that can elevate him so far above the ordina­ry condition of humanity*!

We are now ripe for considering a train of perceptions with respect to pleasure and pain: and to this speculation we must give peculiar attention, because it serves to ex­plain the effects that uniformity and variety have upon the mind. A man is always in a pleasant state of mind, when his percep­tions flow in their natural course. He feels himself free, light, and easy, especially af­ter any forcible acceleration or retardation. On the other hand, the resistance felt in retarding or accelerating the natural course, excites a pain, which, though scarcely felt [Page 392] in small removes, becomes considerable to­ward the extremes. An aversion to fix on any single object for a long time, or to take in a multiplicity of objects in a short time, is remarkable in children; and equally so in men unaccustomed to business. A man languishes when the succession is very slow; and, if he grow not impatient, is apt to fall asleep. During a rapid succession, he hath a feeling as if his head were turning round. He is fatigued, and his pain resembles that of weariness after bodily labour. External objects, when they occasion a very slow or a very quick succession, produce a pain of the same sort with what it felt in a volunta­ry retardation or acceleration: which shows that the pain proceeds not from the violence of the action, but from the retardation or acceleration itself, disturbing that free and easy course of succession which is naturally pleasant.

But the mind is not satisfied with a mo­derate course alone: its perceptions must also be sufficiently diversified. Number without variety constitutes not an agreeable train. In comparing a few objects, unifor­mity [Page 393] is agreeable: but the frequent reitera­tion of uniform objects becomes unpleasant. One tires of a scene that is not diversified; and soon feels a sort of unnatural restraint when confined within a narrow range, whether occasioned by a retarded succes­sion or by too great uniformity. An excess in variety is, on the other hand, fatiguing. This is even perceptible in a train composed of related objects: much more where the ob­jects are unrelated; for an object, unconnect­ed with the former train, gains not admit­tance without effort; and this effort, though scarce perceptible in a single instance, be­comes by frequent reiteration exceeding painful. Whatever be the cause, the fact is certain, that a man never finds himself more at ease, than when his perceptions succeed each other with a certain degree, not only of velocity, but also of variety. Hence it proceeds, that a train consisting entirely of ideas of memory, is never pain­ful by too great variety; because such ideas are not introduced otherwise than according to their natural connections*. The plea­sure [Page 394] of a train of ideas, is the most remark­able in a reverie; especially where the ima­gination interposes, and is active in coining new ideas, which is done with wonderful facility. One must be sensible, that the se­renity and ease of the mind in this state, makes a great part of the enjoyment. The case is different where external objects enter into the train; for these, making their ap­pearance without any order, and without any connection save that of contiguity, form a train of perceptions that may be ex­tremely uniform or extremely diversified; which, for opposite reasons, are both of them painful.

Any acceleration or retardation of the na­tural run of perceptions, is painful even where it is voluntary. And it is equally painful to alter that degree of variety which nature requires. Contemplation, when the mind is long attached to one thing, soon becomes painful by restraining the free range of per­ception. Curiosity and the prospect of ad­vantage from useful discoveries, may en­gage a man to prosecute his studies, not­withstanding the pain they give him; [Page 395] and a habit of close attention, formed by frequent exercise, may soften the pain. But it is deeply felt by the bulk of mankind, and produceth in them an aversion to all abstract sciences. In any profession or cal­ling, a train of operation that is simple and reiterated without intermission, makes the operator languish, and lose his vigor. He complains neither of too great labour nor of too little action; but regrets the want of variety, and his being obliged to do the same thing over and over. Where the o­peration is sufficiently varied, the mind re­tains its vigor, and is pleased with its con­dition. Actions again create an uneasiness when excessive in number or variety, though in every other respect agreeable. This uneasiness is extremely remarkable, where strict attention must be given, at the same time, to a number of different things. Thus a throng of business in law, in phy­sic, or in traffick, distresseth and distracts the mind, unless where a habit of applica­tion is acquired by long and constant exer­cise. The excessive variety is the distress­ing circumstance; and the mind suffers [Page 396] grievously by being kept constantly upon the stretch.

With relation to involuntary causes dis­turbing that degree of variety which na­ture requires, a slight pain affecting one part of the body without variation, becomes, by its constancy and long duration, almost insupportable. The patient, sensible that the pain is not increased in degree, com­plains of its constancy more than of its severity, that it ingrosses his whole thoughts, and gives admission to no other object. Pain, of all feelings, seizes the attention with the greatest force; and the mind, af­ter fruitless efforts to turn its view to ob­jects more agreeable, must abandon itself to its tormentor. A shifting pain gives less uneasiness, because change of place contri­butes to variety. An intermitting pain, suf­fering other objects to intervene, is not in­creased by reiteration. Again, any single colour or sound often returning, becomes disagreeable; as may be observed in view­ing a train of similar apartments painted with the same colour, and in hearing the prolonged tollings of a bell. Colour and [Page 397] sound varied within certain limits, though without any order, are agreeable; witness a field variegated with many colours of plants and flowers, and the various notes of birds in a thicket. Increase the number or va­riety, and the feeling becomes unpleasant. Thus a great variety of colours, crowded upon a small canvas or in quick succession, create an uneasy feeling, which is prevented by putting the colours at a greater distance either of place or time. A number of voi­ces in a crowded assembly, a number of a­nimals collected in a market, produce an unpleasant emotion; though a few of them together, or all of them in a moderate suc­cession, would be agreeable. And because of the same excess in variety, a number of pains felt in different parts of the body, at the same instant or in a rapid succession, make an exquisite torture.

The foregoing doctrine concerning the train of perceptions, and the pleasure or pain resulting from that train in different cir­cumstances, will be confirmed by attending to the final cause of these effects. And as I am sensible that the mind, inflamed with [Page 398] speculations of this kind so highly interest­ing, is beyond measure disposed to convic­tion, I shall be watchful to admit no argu­ment nor remark but what appears solidly founded. With this caution I proceed to the inquiry. It is occasionally observed a­bove, that persons of a phlegmatic tempe­rament, having a sluggish train of percep­tions, are indisposed to action; and that activity constantly accompanies a brisk mo­tion of perceptions. To ascertain this fact, a man need not go abroad for experiments. Reflecting upon things passing in his own mind, he will find, that a brisk circulation of thought constantly prompts him to ac­tion; and that he is averse to action when his perceptions languish in their course. But man by nature is formed for action, and he must be active in order to be happy. Nature therefore hath kindly provided a­gainst indolence, by annexing pleasure to a moderate course of perceptions, and by ma­king every remarkable retardation painful. A slow course of perceptions is attended with another bad effect. Man in a few capital cases is governed by propensity or [Page 399] instinct; but in matters that admit delibe­ration and choice, reason is assigned him for a guide. Now, as reasoning requires often a great compass of ideas, their succession ought to be so quick, as readily to furnish every motive that may be necessary for ma­ture deliberation. In a languid succession, motives will often occur after action is com­menced, when it is too late to retreat.

Nature hath guarded man, her favourite, against a succession too rapid, not less care­fully than against one too slow. Both are equally painful, though the pain is not the same in both. Many are the good effects of this contrivance. In the first place, as the bodily faculties are by certain painful sensations confined within proper limits, be­yond which it would be dangerous to strain the tender organs, Nature, in like manner, is equally provident with respect to the no­bler faculties of the mind. Thus the pain of an accelerated course of perceptions, is Nature's admonition to relax our pace, and to admit a more gentle exertion of thought. Another valuable purpose may be gathered, from considering in what manner objects [Page 400] are imprinted upon the mind. To make such an impression as to give the memory fast hold of the object, time is required, even where attention is the greatest; and a moderate degree of attention, which is the common case, must be continued still long­er to produce the same effect. A rapid succession then must prevent objects from making impressions so deep as to be of real service in life; and Nature accordingly for the sake of memory, has by a painful feel­ing guarded against a rapid succession. But a still more valuable purpose is answered by this contrivance. As, on the one hand, a sluggish course of perceptions indisposeth to action; so, on the other, a course too rapid impels to rash and precipitant action. Pru­dent conduct is the child of deliberation and clear conception, for which there is no place in a rapid course of thought. Nature therefore, taking measures for prudent con­duct, has guarded us effectually from pre­cipitancy of thought, by making it painful.

Nature not only provides against a suc­cession too slow or too quick, but makes the middle course extremely pleasant. Nor is [Page 401] this middle course confined within narrow bounds. Every man can naturally without pain accelerate or retard in some degree the rate of his perceptions; and he can do this in a still greater degree by the force of habit. Thus a habit of contemplation annihilates the pain of a retarded course of perceptions; and a busy life, after long practice, makes acceleration pleasant.

Concerning the final cause of our taste for variety, it will be considered, that human affairs, complex by variety as well as num­ber, require the distributing our attention and activity, in measure and proportion. Na­ture therefore, to secure a just distribution corresponding to the variety of human af­fairs, has made too great uniformity or too great variety in the course of our percep­tions equally unpleasant. And indeed, were we addicted to either extreme, our internal constitution would be ill suited to our exter­nal circumstances. At the same time, where a frequent reiteration of the same operation is required, as in several manufactures, or a quick circulation, as in law or physic, Nature, attentive to all our wants, hath also provi­ded [Page 402] for these cases. She hath implanted in the breast of every person, an efficacious principle, which leads to habit. By an ob­stinate perseverance in the same occupation, the pain of excessive uniformity vanisheth; and by the like perseverance in a quick cir­culation of different occupations, the pain of excessive variety vanisheth. And thus we come to take delight in several occupa­tions, that by nature, without habit, are not a little disgustful.

A middle rate also in our train of percep­tions betwixt uniformity and variety, is not less pleasant, than betwixt quickness and slowness. The mind of man thus constitu­ted, is wonderfully adapted to the course of human affairs, which are continually chan­ging, but not without connection. It is e­qually adapted to the acquisition of know­ledge, which results chiefly from discover­ing resemblances among differing objects, and differences among resembling objects. Such occupation, even abstracting from the knowledge we acquire, is in itself delightful, by preserving a middle rate betwixt too great uniformity and too great variety.

[Page 403] We are now arrived at the chief purpose of the present chapter; and that is to exa­mine how far uniformity or variety ought to be studied in the fine arts. And the knowledge we have obtained, will even at first view suggest a general observation, That in every work of art, it must be agreeable to find that degree of variety which corresponds to the natural course of our perceptions; and that an excess in variety or in uniformi­ty, must be disagreeable by varying that na­tural course. For this reason, works of art admit more or less variety according to the nature of the subject. In a picture that strongly attaches the spectator to a single ob­ject, the mind relisheth not a multiplicity of figures or of ornaments. A picture again re­presenting a gay subject, admits great variety of figures and ornaments; because these are agreeable to the mind in a chearful tone. The same observation is applicable to poetry and to music.

It must at the same time be remarked, that one can bear a greater variety of natural objects than of objects in a picture; and a greater variety in a picture than in a descrip­tion. [Page 404] A real object presented to the view, makes an impression more readily than when represented in colours, and much more readily than when represented in words. Hence it is, that the profuse va­riety of objects in some natural landscapes, neither breed confusion nor fatigue. And for the same reason, there is place for great­er variety of ornament in a picture, than in a poem.

From these general observations I proceed to particulars. In works exposed continually to public view, variety ought to be studied. It is a rule accordingly in sculpture, to contrast the different limbs of a statue, in order to give it all the variety possible. Though the cone in a single view be more beautiful than the pyramid; yet a pyramidal steeple, because of its variety, is justly preferred. For the same reason, the oval in compositions is pre­ferred before the circle; and painters, in copying buildings or any regular work, endeavour to give an air of variety by repre­senting the subject in an angular view: we are pleased with the variety without losing [Page 405] sight of the regularity. In a landscape re­presenting animals, those especially of the same kind, contrast ought to prevail. To draw one sleeping another awake, one sit­ting another in motion, one moving toward the spectator another from him, is the life of such a performance.

In every sort of writing intended for a­musement, variety is necessary in proportion to the length of the work. Want of variety is sensibly felt in Davila's history of the civil wars of France. The events are indeed im­portant and various: but the reader lan­guisheth by a tiresome uniformity of charac­ter; every person engaged being figured a consummate politician, governed by interest only. It is hard to say, whether Ovid dis­gusts more by too great variety or too great uniformity. His stories are all of the same kind, concluding invariably with the trans­formation of one being into another. So far he is tiresome with excess in uniformity. He also fatigues with excess in variety, by hurrying his reader incessantly from story to story. Ariosto is still more fatiguing than Ovid, by exceeding the just bounds of va­riety. [Page 406] Not satisfied, like Ovid, with a succes­sion in his stories, he distracts the reader by jumbling together a multitude of uncon­nected events. Nor is the Orlando Furioso less tiresome by its uniformity than the Me­tamorphoses, though in a different manner. After a story is brought to a crisis, the read­er, intent upon the catastrophe, is suddenly snatched away to a new story, which is little regarded so long as the mind is occupied with the former. This tantalizing method, from which the author never once swerves during the course of a long work, beside its uniformity, hath another bad effect: it pre­vents that sympathy which is raised by an interesting event when the reader meets with no interruption.

The emotions produced by our percep­tions in a train, have been little considered, and less understood. The subject there­fore required an elaborate discussion. It may surprise some readers, to find variety treated as only contributing to make a train of perceptions pleasant, when it is com­monly held to be a necessary ingredient in beauty of whatever kind; according to the [Page 407] definition, ‘"That beauty consists in uni­formity amidst variety."’ But after the subject is explained and illustrated as above, I presume it will be evident, that this defi­nition, however applicable to one or other species, is far from being just with respect to beauty in general. Variety contributes no share to the beauty of a moral action, nor of a mathematical theorem; and num­berless are the beautiful objects of sight that have little or no variety in them. A globe, the most uniform of all figures, is of all the most beautiful; and a square, though more beautiful than a trapezium, hath less variety in its constituent parts. The foregoing defini­tion, which at best is but obscurely express­ed, is only applicable to a number of ob­jects in a group or in succession, among which indeed a due mixture of uniformity and variety is always agreeable, provided the particular objects, separately considered, be in any degree beautiful. Uniformity a­midst variety among ugly objects, affords no pleasure. This circumstance is totally o­mitted in the definition; and indeed to have mentioned it, would at first glance [Page 408] show the definition to be imperfect. To define beauty as arising from beautiful ob­jects blended together in a due proportion of uniformity and variety, would be too gross to pass current; as nothing can be more gross, than to employ in a definition the very term that is proposed to be ex­plained.

APPENDIX to Chap. IX. Concerning the works of nature.

IN natural objects, whether we regard their internal or external structure, beauty and design are equally conspicuous. We shall begin with the outside of nature, as what first presents itself.

The figure of an organic body, is gene­rally regular. The trunk of a tree, its branches, and their ramifications, are near­ly round, and form a series regularly de­creasing from the trunk to the smallest fibre. Uniformity is no where more remarkable [Page 409] than in the leaves, which, in the same spe­cies, have all the same colour, size, and shape. The seeds and fruits are all regular figures, approaching for the most part to the globular form. Hence a plant, especially of the larger kind, with its trunk, branches, foliage, and fruit, is a delightful object.

In an animal, the trunk, which is much larger than the other parts, occupies a chief place. Its shape, like that of the stem of plants, is nearly round; a figure which of all is the most agreeable. Its two sides are precisely similar. Several of the under parts go off in pairs; and the two individuals of each pair are accurately uniform. The sin­gle parts are placed in the middle. The limbs, bearing a certain proportion to the trunk, serve to support it, and to give it a proper elevation. Upon one extremity are disposed the neck and head, in the direction of the trunk. The head being the chief part, possesses with great propriety the chief place. Hence, the beauty of the whole fi­gure, is the result of many equal and pro­portional parts orderly disposed; and the smallest variation in number, equality, pro­portion, [Page 410] or order, never fails to produce a perception of ugliness and deformity.

Nature in no particular seems more pro­fuse of ornament, than in the beautiful co­louring of her works. The flowers of plants, the furs of beasts, and the feathers of birds, vie with each other in the beauty of their colours, which in lustre as well as in harmony are beyond the power of imita­tion. Of all natural appearances, the co­louring of the human face is the most ex­quisite. It is the strongest instance of the ineffable art of nature, in adapting and pro­portioning its colours to the magnitude, fi­gure, and position, of the parts. In a word, colour seems to live in nature only, and to languish under the finest touches of art.

When we examine the internal structure of a plant or animal, a wonderful subtility of mechanism is displayed. Man, in his me­chanical operations, is confined to the sur­face of bodies. But the operations of na­ture are exerted through the whole sub­stance, so as to reach even the elementary parts. Thus the body of an animal, and of a plant, are composed of certain great [Page 411] vessels; these of smaller; and these again of still smaller, without end so far we can discover. This power of diffusing mecha­nism through the most intimate parts, is pe­culiar to nature; and distinguishes her ope­rations, most remarkably, from every work of art. Such texture, continued from the grosser parts to the most minute, preserves all along the strictest regularity. The fi­bres of plants are a bundle of cylindric ca­nals, lying in the same direction, and pa­rallel or nearly parallel to each other. In some instances, a most accurate arrange­ment of parts is discovered, as in onions, formed of concentric coats one within another to the very centre. An animal body is still more admirable, in the disposi­tion of its internal parts, and in their order and symmetry. There is not a bone, a muscle, a blood-vessel, a nerve, that hath not one corresponding to it on the opposite side of the animal; and the same order is carried through the most minute parts. The lungs are composed of two parts, which are disposed upon the sides of the thorax; and the kidneys, in a lower situation, have a [Page 412] position not less orderly. As to the parts that are single, the heart is advantageously situated nigh the middle. The liver, sto­mach, and spleen, are disposed in the up­per region of the abdomen, about the same height: the bladder is placed in the middle of the body; as well as the intestinal canal, which fills the whole cavity by its convo­lutions.

The mechanical power of nature, not confined to small bodies, reacheth equally those of the greatest size; witness the bodies that compose the solar system, which, however large, are weighed, measured, and subjected to certain laws, with the utmost accuracy. Their places around the sun, with their distances, are determined by a precise rule, corre­sponding to their quantities of matter. The superior dignity of the central body, in re­spect of its bulk and lucid appearance, is suited to the place it occupies. The glo­bular figure of these bodies, is not only in itself beautiful, but is above all others fitted for regular motion. Each planet revolves about its own axis in a given time; and each moves round the sun, in an orbit [Page 413] nearly circular, and in a time proportioned to its distance. Their velocities, directed by an established law, are perpetually chan­ging by regular accelerations and retarda­tions. In fine, the great variety of regular appearances, joined with the beauty of the system itself, cannot fail to produce the highest delight in every person who can taste design, power, or beauty.

Nature hath a wonderful power of con­necting systems with each other, and of propagating that connection through all her works. Thus the constituent parts of a plant, the roots, the stem, the branches, the leaves, the fruit, are really different systems, united by a mutual dependence on each other. Thus in an animal, the lym­phatic and lacteal ducts, the blood-vessels and nerves, the muscles and glands, the bones and cartilages, the membranes and viscera, with the other organs, form distinct systems, which are united into one whole. There are, at the same time, other connec­tions less intimate. Thus every plant is joined to the earth by its roots; it requires rain and dews to furnish it with juices; and [Page 414] it requires heat to preserve these juices in fluidity and motion. Thus every animal, by its gravity, is connected with the earth, with the element in which it breathes, and with the sun, by deriving from it cherish­ing and enlivening heat. The earth fur­nisheth aliment to plants, these to animals, and these again to other animals, in a long train of dependence. That the earth is part of a greater system, comprehending many bodies mutually attracting each other, and gravitating all toward one common centre, is now thoroughly explored. Such a regular and uniform series of connections, propagated through so great a number of beings and through such wide spaces, is wonderful: and our wonder must increase, when we observe this connection propagated from the minutest atoms to bodies of the most enormous size, and widely diffused, so as that we can neither perceive its begin­ning nor its end. That it doth not termi­nate within our own planetary system, is certain. The connection is diffused over spaces still more remote, where new bodies and systems rise to our view, without end. All space is filled with the [Page 415] works of God, which, being the operation of one hand, are formed by one plan, to answer one great end.

But the most wonderful connection of all, though not the most conspicuous, is that of our internal frame with the works of nature. Man is obviously fitted for con­templating these works, because in this contemplation he has great delight. The works of nature are remarkable in their u­niformity not less than in their variety; and the mind of man is fitted to receive pleasure equally from both. Uniformity and va­riety are interwoven in the works of nature with surprising art. Variety, however great, is never without some degree of u­niformity; nor the greatest uniformity, without some degree of variety. There is great variety in the same plant, by the dif­ferent appearances of its stem, branches, leaves, blossoms, fruit, size, and colour; and yet when we trace this variety through different plants, especially of the same kind, there is discovered a surprising uni­formity. Again, where nature seems to have intended the most exact uniformity, [Page 416] as among individuals of the same kind, there still appears a diversity, which serves readily to distinguish one individual from another. It is indeed admirable, that the human visage, in which uniformity is so prevalent, should yet be so marked as to leave no room for mistaking one person for another. The difference, though clearly perceived, is often so minute as to go be­yond the reach of description. A corre­spondence so perfect betwixt the human mind and the works of nature, is extremely remarkable. The opposition betwixt va­riety and uniformity is so great, that one would not readily imagine they could both be relished by the same palate; at least not in the same object, nor at the same time. It is however true, that the pleasures they afford, being happily adjusted to each other, and readily mixing in intimate union, are frequently produced in perfection by the same individual object. Nay further, in the objects that touch us the most, unifor­mity and variety are constantly combined; witness natural objects, where this combi­nation is always found in perfection. It is [Page 317] for that reason, that natural objects readily form themselves into groups, and are a­greeable in whatever manner combined: a wood with its trees, shrubs, and herbs, is agreeable: the music of birds, the low­ing of cattle, and the murmuring of a brook, are in conjunction delightful; though they strike the ear without modula­tion or harmony. In short, nothing can be more happily accommodated to the inward constitution of man, than that mixture of uniformity with variety which the eye dis­covers in natural objects. And according­ly, the mind is never more highly gratified than in contemplating a natural landscape.

End of the FIRST VOLUME.

This keyboarded and encoded edition of the work described above is co-owned by the institutions providing financial support to the Text Creation Partnership. This Phase I text is available for reuse, according to the terms of Creative Commons 0 1.0 Universal. The text can be copied, modified, distributed and performed, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.