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we are not even indebted to experience for the knowledge that these expressions are natural and universal; for we are so framed as to have an innate conviction of the fact. Let a man change his habitation to the other side of the globe, he will, from the accustomed signs, infer the passion of fear among his new neighbors, with as little hesitation as he did at home. But why, after all, involve ourselves in preliminary observations, when the doubt may be directly solved as follows! That, if the meaning of external signs be not derived to us from sight, nor from experience, there is no remaining source whence it can be derived but from nature.
We may then venture to pronounce, with some degree of assurance, that man is provided by nature with a sense or faculty that lays open to him every passion by means of its external expressions. And we cannot entertain any reasonable doubt of this, when we reflect, that the meaning of external signs is not hid even from infants. An infant is remarkably affected with the passions of its nurse expressed in her countenance: a smile cheers it, a frown makes it afraid: but fear cannot exist without apprehending danger; and what danger can the infant apprehend, unless it be sensible that its nurse is angry? We must therefore admit, that a child can read anger in its nurse's face; of which it must be sensible intuitively, for it has no other means of knowledge. I do not affirm, that these particulars are clearly apprehended by the child; for to produce clear and distinct perceptions, reflection and experience are requisite: but that even an infant, when afraid, must have some notion of its being in danger, is evident.
That we should be conscious intuitively of a passion from its external expressions, is conformable to the analogy of nature: the knowledge of that language is of too great importance to be left upon experience; because a foundation so uncertain and precarious, would prove a great obstacle to the formation of societies. Wisely, therefore, is it ordered, and agreeably to the system of Providence, that we should have nature for our instructor.
Manifold and admirable are the purposes to which the external signs of passion are made subservient by the Author of our nature: those occasionally mentioned above, make but a part. Several final causes remain to be unfolded; and to that task I proceed with alacrity. In the first place, the signs of internal agitation displayed externally to every spectator, tend to fix the signification of many words. The only effectual means to ascertain the meaning of any doubtful word, is an appeal to the thing it represents: and hence the ambiguity of words expressive of things that are not objects of external sense; for in that case an appeal is denied. Passion, strictly speaking, is not an object of external sense; but its external signs are: and by means of these signs, passions may be appealed to with tolerable accuracy. Thus the words that denote our passions, next to those that denote external objects, have the most distinct meaning. Words signifying internal action and the more delicate feelings, are less distinct. This defect with regard to internal action, is what chiefly occasions the intricacy of logic: the terms of that science are
far from being sufficiently ascertained, even after much care and labor bestowed by an eminent writer;* to whom, however, the world is greatly indebted, for removing a mountain of rubbish, and moulding the subject into a rational and correct form. The same defect is remarkable in criticism, which has for its object the more delicate feelings; the terms that denote these feelings being not more distinct than those of logic. To reduce the science of criticism to any regular form, has never once been attempted: however rich the ore may be, no critical chemist has been found, to analyze its constituent parts, and to distinguish each by its own name.
In the second place, society among individuals is greatly promoted oy that universal language. Looks and gestures give direct access to the heart, and lead us to select, with tolerable accuracy, the persons who are worthy of our confidence. It is surprising how quickly, and for the most part how correctly, we judge of character from external appearance.
Thirdly, after social intercourse is commenced, these external signs, which diffuse, through a whole assembly, the feelings of each individual, contribute above all other means to improve the social affections. Language, no doubt, is the most comprehensive vehicle for communicating emotions: but in expedition, as well as in power of conviction, it falls short of the signs under consideration; the involuntary signs especially, which are incapable of deceit. Whee the countenance, the tones, the gestures, the actions, join with the words in communicating emotions, these united have a force irresistible. Thus all the pleasant emotions of the human heart, with all the social and virtuous affections, are, by means of these external signs, not only perceived, but felt. By this admirable contrivance, conversation becomes that lively and animating amusement, without which life would at best be insipid: one joyful countenance spreads cheerfulness instantaneously through a multitude of spec
Fourthly, dissocial passions, being hurtful by prompting violence and mischief, are noted by the most conspicuous external signs, in order to put us upon our guard. Thus anger and revenge, especially when sudden, display themselves on the countenance in legible characters. The external signs again of every passion that threatens danger raise in us the passion of fear: which frequently operating
Rough and blunt manners are allied to anger by an internal feeling, as well as by external expressions resembling in a faint degree those of anger: therefore such manners are easily heightened into anger; and savages for that reason are prone to anger. Thus rough and blunt manners are unhappy in two respects: first, they are readily converted into anger; and next, the change being imperceptible because of the similitude of their external signs, the person against whom the anger is directed is not put upon his guard. It is for these reasons a great object in society, to correct such manners, and to bring on a habit of sweetness and calmness. This temper has two opposite good effects. First, it is not easily provoked to wrath. Next, the interval being great between it and real anger, a person of that temper who receives an affront, has many changes to go through before his anger be inflamed: these changes have each of them their external sign; and the offending party is put upon his guard, to retire, or to endeavor a reconciliation.
without reason or reflection, moves us by a sudden impulse to avoid the impending danger.*
In the fifth place, these external signs are remarkably subservient to morality. A painful passion, being accompanied with disagreeable external signs, must produce in every spectator a painful emotion: but then, if the passion be social, the emotion it produces is attractive, and connects the spectator with the person who suffers. Dissocial passions only are productive of repulsive emotions, involv ing the spectator's aversion, and frequently his indignation. This beautiful contrivance makes us cling to the virtuous, and abhor the wicked.
Sixthly, of all the external signs of passion, those of affliction or distress are the most illustrious with respect to a final cause. They are illustrious by the singularity of their contrivance, and also by inspiring sympathy, a passion to which human society is indebted for its greatest blessing, that of providing relief for the distressed. A subject so interesting deserves a leisurely and attentive examination. The conformity of the nature of man to his external circumstances is in every particular wonderful: his nature makes him prone to society; and society is necessary to his well-being, because in a solitary state he is a helpless being, destitute of support, and in his manifold distresses destitute of relief. But mutual support, the shining attribute of society, is of too great moment to be left depends ent upon cool reason: it is ordered more wisely, and with greater conformity to the analogy of nature, that it should be enforced even instinctively by the passion of sympathy. Here sympathy makes a capital figure, and contributes, more than any other means, to make life easy and comfortable. But, however essential the sympathy of others may be to our well-being, one beforehand would not readily conceive how it could be raised by external signs of distress: for considering the analogy of nature, if these signs be agreeable, they must give birth to a pleasant emotion leading every beholder to be pleased with human woes: if disagreeable, as they undoubtedly are, ought they not naturally to repel the spectator from them, in order to be relieved from pain? Such would be the reasoning beforehand; and such would be the effect were man purely a selfish being. But the benevolence of our nature gives a very different direction to the painful passion of sympathy, and to the desire involved in it: instead of avoiding distress, we fly to it in order to afford relief: and our sympathy cannot be otherwise gratified but by giving all the succor in our power. Thus external signs of distress, though disagreeable, are attractive; and the sympathy they inspire is a powerful cause, impelling us to afford relief even to a stranger as if he were our friend or relation.‡
* See Chap, 2. Part 1. Sect. 6.
+ See Chap. 2. Part 7.
It is a noted observation, that the deepest tragedies are the most crowded; which in a slight view will be thought an unaccountable bias in human nature. Love of novelty, desire of occupation, beauty of action, make us fond of theatrical representations; and, when once engaged, we must follow the story to the conclusion, whatever distress it may create. But we generally become wise by experience; and when we foresee what pain we shall suffer during the course of the
The effects produced in all beholders by external signs of passion, tend so visibly to advance the social state, that I must indulge my heart with a more narrow inspection of this admirable branch of the human constitution. These external signs, being all of them resolvable into color, figure, and motion, should not naturally make any deep impression on a spectator: and supposing them qualified for making deep impressions, we have seen above, that the effects they produce are not such as might be expected. We cannot, therefore, account otherwise for the operation of these external signs, but by ascribing it to the original constitution of human nature: to improve the social state, by making us instinctively rejoice with the glad of heart, weep with the mourner, and shun those who threaten danger, is a contrivance no less illustrious for its wisdom than for its benevolence. With respect to the external signs of distress in particular, to judge of the excellency of their contrivance, we need only reflect upon several other means seemingly more natural, that would not have answered the end proposed. What if the external signs of joy were disagreeable, and the external signs of distress agreeable? This is no whimsical supposition, because there appears not any necessary connection between these signs and the emotions produced by them in a spectator. Admitting then the supposition, the question is, how would our sympathy operate? There is no occasion to deliberate for an answer: sympathy would be destructive, and not beneficial: for, supposing the external signs of joy disagreeable, the happiness of others would be our aversion; and supposing the external signs of grief agreeable, the distresses of others would be our entertainment. I make a second supposition, that the external signs of distress were indifferent to us, and productive neither of pleasure nor of pain. This would annihilate the strongest branch of sympathy, that which is raised by means of sight: and it is evident that reflective sympathy, felt by those only who have great sensibility, would not have any extensive effect. I shall draw nearer to truth in a third supposition, that the external signs of distress being disagreeable, were productive of a painful repulsive emotion. Sympathy upon that supposition would not be annihilated: but it would be rendered useless; for it would be gratified by flying from or avoiding the object, instead of clinging to it and affording relief: the condition of man would in reality be worse than if sympathy were totally eradicated; because sympathy would only serve to plague those who feel it, without producing any good to the afflicted.
Loth to quit so interesting a subject, I add a reflection, with which I shall conclude. The external signs of passion are a strong indication, that man, by his very constitution, is framed to be open and
representation, is it not surprising that persons of reflection do not avoid such spectacles altogether? And yet one who has scarcely recovered from the distress of a deep tragedy, resolves coolly and deliberately to go to the very next, without the slightest obstruction from self-love. The whole mystery is explained by a single observation-that sympathy, though painful, is attractive, and attaches us to an object in distress, the opposition of self-love notwithstanding, which should prompt us to fly from it. And by this curious mechanism it is, that persons of any degree of sensibility are attracted by affliction still more than by joy.
sincere. A child, in all things obedient to the impulses of nature, hides none of its emotions: the savage and clown, who have no guide but pure nature, expose their hearts to view, by giving way to all the natural signs. And even when men learn to dissemble their sentiments, and when behavior degenerates into art, there still remain checks, that keep dissimulation within bounds, and prevent a great part of its mischievous effects. The total suppression of the voluntary signs during any vivid passion, begets the utmost uneasi ness, which cannot be endured for any considerable time: this ope ration becomes, indeed, less painful by habit; but, luckily, the involuntary signs cannot, by any effort, be suppressed, nor even dissembled. An absolute hypocrisy, by which the character is concealed, and a fictitious one assumed, is made impracticable; and nature has thereby prevented much harm to society. We may pronounce, therefore, that Nature, herself sincere and candid, intends that mankind should preserve the same character, by cultivating simplicity and truth, and banishing every sort of dissimulation that tends to mischief.
Sentiment is a thought prompted by passion-In dramatic composition adjust the passion to the character, the sentiment to the passion, the language to the sentiment-Dialogue, the most difficult kind of composition-The difference between the French and the English, owing to this: French formed on Corneille's declamation, English, on Shakspeare's language of nature-Passion does not long continue in the same tone: the sentiment should rise and fall with the passion, and the language correspond with both-When the mind vibrates between two passions, the sentiments should also vibrate-Passion to be subject to reasonImmoderate passions, when represented, to be distinguished as much as possible-Six faulty sentiments-Sentiments that accord not with the passion-those that may belong to an ordinary passion, but unsuitable to it-thoughts in description-sentiments introduced too early or too late-vicious sentiments exposed in their natural garb-Unnatural sentiments are of three kinds-when they are unsuited to the nature of man-when inconsistent-when too artificial for a serious passion.
EVERY thought prompted by passion, is termed a sentiment.* To have a general notion of the different passions, will not alone enable an artist to make a just representation of any passion: he ought, over and above, to know the various appearances of the same passion in different persons. Passions receive a tincture from every peculiarity of character; and for that reason it rarely happens, that a passion, in the different circumstances of feeling, of sentiment, and of expression, is precisely the same in any two persons. Hence the following rule concerning dramatic and epic compositions. That a passion be adjusted to the character, the sentiments to the passion, and the language to the sentiments. If nature be not faithfully copied in each of these, a defect in execution is perceived: there may appear some resemblance; but the picture, upon the * See Appendix, § 32.