Page images

itself; and the same holds in general with regard to all organic impressions. It is otherwise in hearing and seeing; a sound is perceived as in itself agreeable, and raises in the hearer a pleasant emotion: an object of sight appears in itself agreeable, and raises in the spectator a pleasant emotion. These are accurately distinguished: the pleasant emotion is felt as within the mind; the agreeableness of the object is placed upon the object, and is perceived as one of its qualities or properties. The agreeable appearance of an object of sight is termed beauty; and the disagreeable appearance of such an object is termed ugliness.

22. But though beauty and ugliness, in their proper and genuine signification, are confined to objects of sight; yet in a more lax and figurative signification, they are applied to objects of the other senses: they are sometimes applied even to abstract terms: for it is not unusual to say, a beautiful theorem, a beautiful constitution of govern


23. A line composed by a single rule, is perceived and said to be regular: a straight line, a parabola, a hyperbola, the circumference of a circle, and of an ellipse, are all regular lines. A figure composed by a single rule, is perceived and said to be regular: a circle a square, a hexagon, an equilateral triangle, are regular figures, being composed by a single rule, that determines the form of each. When the form of a line or of a figure is ascertained by a single rule that leaves nothing arbitrary, the line and the figure are said to be perfectly regular; which is the case of the figures now mentioned, and the case of a straight line and of the circumference of a circle. A figure and a line that require more than one rule for their construction, or that have any of their parts left arbitrary, are not perfectly regular: a parallelogram and a rhomb are less regular than a square; the parallelogram being subjected to no rule as to the length of sides, other than that the opposite sides be equal; the rhomb being subjected to no rule as to its angles, other than that the opposite angles be equal: for the same reason, the circumference of an ellipse, the form of which is susceptible of much variety, is less regular than that of a circle.

24. Regularity, properly speaking, belongs, like beauty, to objects of sight; and, like beauty, it is also applied figuratively to other objects: thus we say, a regular government, a regular composition of music, and regular discipline.

25. When two figures are composed of similar parts, they are said to be uniform. Perfect uniformity is where the constituent parts of two figures are equal: thus two cubes of the same dimensions are perfectly uniform in all their parts. Uniformity less perfect is, where the parts mutually correspond, but without being equal: the uniformity is imperfect between two squares or cubes of unequal dimensions; and still more so between a square and a parallelogram.

26. Uniformity is also applicable to the constituent parts of the same figure. The constituent parts of a square are perfectly uniform; its sides are equal and its angles are equal. Wherein then differs regularity from uniformity? for a figure composed of uniform.

parts must undoubtedly be regular. Regularity is predicated of a figure considered as a whole composed of uniform parts: uniformity is predicated of these parts as related to each other by resemblance we say, a square is a regular, not an uniform, figure; but with respect to the constituent parts of a square, we say not, that they are regular, but that they are uniform.

27. In things destined for the same use, as legs, arms, eyes, windows, spoons, we expect uniformity. Proportion ought to govern parts intended for different uses: we require a certain proportion between a leg and an arm; in the base, the shaft, the capital of a pillar; and in the length, the breadth, the height of a room: some proportion is also required in different things intimately connected, as between a dwelling-house, the garden, and the stables; but we require no proportion among things slightly connected, as between the table a man writes on and the dog that follows him. Proportion and uniformity never coincide: things equal are uniform; but proportion is never applied to them: the four sides and angles of a square are equal and perfectly uniform; but we say not that they are proportional. Thus, proportion always implies inequality or difference; but then it implies it to a certain degree only: the most agreeable proportion resembles a maximum in mathematics; a greater or less inequality or difference is less agreeable.

28. Order regards various particulars. First, in tracing or surveying objects, we are directed by a sense of order: we perceive it to be more orderly, that we should pass from a principle to its accessories, and from a whole to its parts, than in the contrary direction. Next, with respect to the position of things, a sense of order directs us to place together things intimately connected. Thirdly, in placing things that have no natural connection, that order appears the most perfect, where the particulars are made to bear the strongest relation to each other that position can give them. Thus parallelism is the strongest relation that position can bestow upon straight lines: if they be so placed as by production to intersect, the relation is less perfect. A large body in the middle, and two equal bodies of less size, one on each side, is an order that produces the strongest relation the bodies are susceptible of by position: the relation between the two equal bodies would be stronger by juxtaposition; but they would not both have the same relation to the third.

29. The beauty of agreeableness of a visible object, is perceived as one of its qualities; which holds, not only in the primary perception, but also in the secondary perception or idea: and hence the pleasure that arises from the idea of a beautiful object. An idea of imagination is also pleasant, though in a lower degree than an idea of memory, where the objects are of the same kind; for an evident reason, that the former is more distinct and lively than the latter. But this inferiority in ideas of imagination, is more than compensated by their greatness and variety, which are boundless; for by the imagination, exerted without control, we can fabricate ideas of finer visible objects, of more noble and heroic actions, of greater wickedness, of more surprising events, than ever in fact existed; and in

communicating such ideas by words, painting, sculpture, &c the influence of the imagination is no less extensive than great.

30. In the nature of every man, there is somewhat original, which distinguishes him from others, which tends to form his character, and to make him meek or fiery, candid or deceitful, resolute or timorous, cheerful or morose. This original bent, termed disposi tion, must be distinguished from a principle: the latter, signifying a law of human nature, makes part of the common nature of man; the former makes part of the nature of this or that man. Propensity is a name common to both; for it signifies a principle as well as a disposition.

31. Affection, signifying a settled bent of mind toward a particular being or thing, occupies a middle place between disposition on the one hand, and passion on the other. It is clearly distinguishable from disposition, which, being a branch of one's nature originally, must exist before there can be an opportunity to exert it upon any particular object; whereas affection can never be original, because, having a special relation to a particular object, it cannot exist till the object have once at least been presented. It is no less clearly distinguishable from passion, which depending on the real or ideal presence of its object, vanishes with its object: whereas affection is a lasting connection; and, like other connections, subsists even when we do not think of the person. A familiar example will clear the whole. I have from nature a disposition to gratitude, which, through want of an object, happens never to be exerted; and which therefore is unknown even to myself. Another who has the same disposition, meets with a kindly office which makes him grateful to his benefac tor: an intimate connection is formed between them, termed affection; which, like other connections, has a permanent existence, though not always in view. The affection, for the most part, lies dormant, till an opportunity offer for exerting it: in that circumstance, it is converted into the passion of gratitude; and the opportunity is greedily seized of testifying gratitude in the warmest manner.

32. Aversion, I think, is opposed to affection; not to desire, as it commonly is. We have an affection to one person; we have an aversion to another: the former disposes us to do good to its object, the latter to do ill.

33. What is a sentiment? It is not a perception; for a perception signifies the act by which we become conscious of external objects. It is not consciousness of an internal action, such as thinking, suspending thought, inclining, resolving, willing, &c. Neither is it the conception of a relation among objects; a conception of that kind being termed opinion. The term sentiment is appropriated to such thoughts as are prompted by passion.

34. Attention is that state of mind which prepares one to receive impressions. According to the degree of attention, objects make a strong or weak impression.* Attention is requisite even to the sim

* Bacon, in his Natural History, makes the following observations. Sounds are meliorated by the intension of the sense, where the common sense is collected most to the particular sense of hearing, and the sight suspended. Therefore sounds

ple act of seeing the eye can take in a considerabie field at one look; but no object in the field is seen distinctly, but that singly which fixes the attention: in a profound reverie that totally occupies he attention, we scarce see what is directly before us. In a train of perceptions, the attention being divided among various objects, no particular object makes such a figure as it would do single and apart. Hence, the stillness of night contributes to terror, there being nothing to divert the attention:

Horror ubique animos, simul ipsa silentia terrent.

Eneid, II.

All things were full of horror and affright,
And dreadful even the silence of the night.
Zara. Silence and solitude are ev'ry where!
Through all the gloomy ways and iron doors
That hither lead, nor human face nor voice
Is seen or heard. A dreadful din was wont
To grate the sense, when enter'd here from groans
And howls of slaves condemn'd, from clink of chains,
And crash of rusty bars and creaking hinges:

And ever and anon the sight was dash'd

With frightful faces and the meagre looks
Of grim and ghastly executioners.

Yet more this stillness terrifies my soul

Than did that scene of complicated horrors.

Mourning Bride, Act V. Sc. 8. And hence it is, that an object seen at the termination of a confined view, is more agreeable than when seen in a group with the surrounding objects:

The crow doth sing as sweetly as the lark
When neither is attended; and, I think,
The nightingale, if she should sing by day,
When every goose is cackling, would be thought
No better a musician than the wren.

Merchant of Venice.

35. In matters of slight importance, attention is mostly directed by will; and for that reason, it is our own fault if trifling objects make any deep impression. Had we power equally to withhold our attention from matters of importance, we might be proof against any deep impression. But our power fails us here: an interesting object seizes and fixes the attention beyond the possibility of control; and while our attention is thus forcibly attached to one object, others may solicit for admittance; but in vain, for they will not be regarded Thus a small misfortune is scarcely felt in presence of a greater:

Lear. Thou think'st 'tis much, that this contentious storm
Invades us to the skin; so 'tis to thee;

But where the greater malady is fix'd,

The lesser is scarce felt. Thou'dst shun a bear;

But if thy flight lay tow'rd the roaring sea,

Thou'dst meet the bear i' th' mouth. When the mind's free,

The body's delicate: the tempest in my mind
Doth from my senses take all feeling else,

Save what beats there.

King Lear, Act III. Sc. 4.

are sweeter, as well as greater, in the night than in the day; and I suppose the are sweeter to blind men than to others: and it is manifest, that between sleeping and waking, when all the senses are bound and suspended, music is far sweeter than when one is fully waking

36. Genus, species, modification, are terms invented to distinguish beings from each other. Individuals are distinguished by their qualities. A number of individuals considered with respect to qualities that distinguish them from others, is termed a species: a plurality of species considered with respect to their distinguishing qualities, is termed a genus. That quality which distinguisheth one genus, one species. or even one individual, from another, is termed a modification: thus the same particular that is termed a property or quality when considered as belonging to an individual, or a class of individuals, is termed a modification when considered as distinguishing the indi vidual or the class from another: a black skin and soft curled hair, are properties of a negro: the same circumstances considered as marks that distinguish a negro from a man of a different species, are denominated modifications.

37. Objects of sight, being complex, are distinguishable into the several particulars that enter into the composition: these objects are all colored; and they all have length, breadth, and thickness. When I behold a spreading oak, I distinguish in that object, size, figure, color, and sometimes motion: in a flowing river, I distinguish color, figure, and constant motion; a die has color, black spots, six plain surfaces, all equal and uniform. Objects of touch have all of them extension: some of them are felt rough, some smooth: some of them are hard, some soft. With respect to the other senses, some of their objects are simple, some complex. A sound, a taste, a smell, may be so simple as not to be distinguishable into parts: others are perceived to be compounded of different sounds, different tastes, and different smells.

38. The eye at one look can grasp a number of objects, as of trees in a field, or men in a crowd: these objects having each a separate and independent existence, are distinguishable in the mind, as well as in reality; and there is nothing more easy than to abstract from some and to confine our contemplation to others. A large oak with its spreading branches fixes our attention upon itself, and abstracts us from the shrubs that surround it. In the same manner, with respect to compound sounds, tastes, or smells, we can fix our thoughts upon any one of the component parts, abstracting our attention from the rest. The power of abstraction is not confined to objects that are separable in reality as well as mentally; but also takes place where there can be no real separation: the size, the figure, the color, of a tree, are inseparably connected, and have no independent existence; the same of length, breadth, and thickness: and yet we can mentally confine our observations to one of these, abstracting from the rest. Here abstraction takes place where there cannot be a real separation.

39. Space and time have occasioned much metaphysical jargon; but after the power of abstraction is explained as above, there remains no difficulty about them. It is mentioned above, that space as well as place enter into the perception of every visible object: a tree is perceived as existing in a certain place, and as occupying a certain space Now, by the power of abstraction, space may be considered

« PreviousContinue »