Page images

augment and inflame a passion; because a constant endeavor to remove an obstacle, preserves the object of the passion ever in view. which swells the passion by impressions frequently reiterated. Thus the restraint of conscience, 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. 1. 2.

Gross easy love does, like gross diet, pall,
In squeamy stomachs honey turns to gall,
Had Danae not been kept in brazen towers,

Jove had not thought her worth his golden showers.

At the same time, the mind, distressed with the obstacles, becomes impatient for gratification, and consequently more desirous of it. Shakspeare expresses this observation finely:

All impediments in fancy's course,

Are motives of more fancy.

We need no better example than a lover who has 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 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, which also suddenly decay, 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 that the object affords. 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; which 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 that law, we must distinguish between a particular and a general end. I call that a particular end which may be accomplished by a single act: a general end, on the contrary, 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 that act is performed, the passions are necessarily at an end. Love and hatred are examples of the other kind; 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 that their objects have.

Lastly, it will afford us another general view, to consider the dif ference between an original propensity, and affection or aversion produced by custom. The former adheres too closely to the constitution ever to be eradicated; and for that reason, the passions to which it gives birth, continue during life with no remarkable diminution. The latter, which owe their birth and increment to time, owe their decay to the same cause: affection and aversion decay gradually as they grow; and accordingly hatred as well as love are extinguished by long absence. Affection decays more gradually between persons, who, living together, have daily occasion to testify mutually their good-will and kindness: and, when affection is decayed, habi supplies its place; for it makes these, persons necessary to each other, by the pain of separation.* Affection to children has 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.



Concordant sounds-An emotion raised by an object of sight, and its qualities, similar to this-Emotions, similar and dissimilar-Similar emotions produce the same tone of mind-Dissimilar, produce different tones-Perfectly similar emotions readily unite-Internal effects of emotions and passions-Represented by addition in number-By harmony of sounds-Directly as the resemblance of the emotions, and inversely as the connection of the causes-The effect when both are united--The effects of dissimilar emotions-The opposite to the former, and distress the mind when the causes are similar-Opposite emotions never unite-They exist by succession-The stronger emotions overcome the weaker-Music-Music resolved into harmony and melody-The difference between vocal and instrumental music-Passions the cause of the external effects of music-Two external passions with the same tendency, if similar, have a double effect-Two passions with opposite tendencies, may proceed from the same cause-Difference of aim prevents the union of two passions, when the objects are different-Means offered to gratify the passions when the objects are different.

For 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 trace all the laws that govern its endless variety of cases: if such an undertaking can be brought to perfection, 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

* See Chap. 14.

case. Two sounds that mix, and, as it were, incorporate before they reach the ear, are said to be concordant. That each of the two sounds, even after their union, produces an emotion of its own, must De admitted: but these emotions, like the sounds that produce them, mix so intimately, as to be rather one complex emotion than two emotions in conjunction. Two sounds that refuse incorporation or mixture, are said to be discordant: and when heard at the same instant, the emotions produced by them are unpleasant in conjunction, however pleasant separately.

Similar to the emotion raised by mixed sounds is the emotion raised by an object of sight with its several qualities: a tree, for example, with its qualities of color, figure, size, &c. is perceived to be one object; and the emotion it produces is rather one complex emotion than different emotions combined.

With respect to coexistent emotions produced by different objects of sight, it must be observed, that however intimately connected such objects may be, there cannot be a concordance among them like what is perceived in some sounds. Different objects of sight, mean ing objects that can exist each of them independent of the others, never mix nor incorporate in the act of vision: each object is per ceived as it exists, separately from others; and each raises an emotion different from that raised by the other. And the same holds in all the causes of emotion or passion that can exist independent of each other, sounds only excepted.

To explain the manner in which such emotions exist, 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: cheerful 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: pride and humility, gayety and gloominess, are dissimilar emotions.

Emotions perfectly similar, readily combine and unite, so as, in manner, to become one complex emotion; witness the emotions produced by a number of flowers in a parterre, or of trees in a wood. Emotions that are opposite, or extremely dissimilar, never combine or unite: the mind cannot simultaneously take on opposite tones: it cannot at the same instant be both joyful and sad, angry and atisfied, proud and humble: dissimilar emotions may succeed each ther with rapidity, but they cannot exist simultaneously.

Between these two extremes, emotions unite more or less, in pro portion to the degree of their resemblance, and the degree in which heir causes are connected. Thus the emotions produced by a fine Landscape and the singing of birds, being similar in a considerable degree, readily unite, though their causes are little connected. And

* It is easier to conceive the manner of coexistence of similar emotions, than to describe it. They cannot be said to mix or incorporate, like concordant sounds: their union is rather of agreement or concord; and therefore I have chosen the words in the text, not as sufficient to express clearly the manner of their coexistence, but only as less liable to exception than any other I can find.

the same happens where the causes are intimately connected, though the emotions, themselves, have little resemblance to each other; an example of which is a mistress in distress, whose beauty gives pleasure, and her distress pain: these two emotions, proceeding from different views of the object, have very little resemblance to each other; and yet so intimately connected are their causes, 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.

It was necessary to describe, with some accuracy, in what manner similar and dissimilar emotions coexist in the mind, in order to explain their different effects, both internal and external. This subject, though obscure, is capable to be set in a clear light; and it merits attention, not only for its extensive use in criticism, but for the nobler purpose of deciphering many intricacies in the actions of men. Beginning with internal effects, I discover two, clearly distinguishable from each other, both of them produced by pleasant emotions that are similar; of which, the one may be represented by addition in numbers, 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 same emotions in succession, are far from making the same figure; because the mind at no instant of the succession, is conscious of more than a single emotion. This doctrine may aptly be illustrated by a landscape comprehending hills, valleys, 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. 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; and results partly from the resemblance of the emotions and partly from 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 same rule is obviously applicable to painful emotions that are similar and coexistent.

The other pleasure arising from pleasant emotions similar and coexistent, cannot be better explained than by the foregoing example of a landscape, where the sight, hearing, and smelling, are employed: beside the accumulated pleasure above mentioned, of so many dif ferent similar emotions, a pleasure of a different kind is felt from the concord of these emotions. As that pleasure resembles greatly the pleasure of concordant sounds, it may be termed the harmony of emotions. This harmony is felt in the different emotions occasioned by the visible objects; but it is felt still more sensibly in the emotions occasioned by the objects of different senses; as where the emotions of the eye are combined with those of the ear. The former pleasure comes under the rule of addition: this comes under a different rule. It is directly in proportion to the degree of resemblance between the emotions, and inversely in proportion to the degree of connection

between the causes: to feel this pleasure in perfection, the resemblance between the emotions cannot be too strong, nor the connection between their causes too slight. The former condition is selfevident; and the reason of the latter is, that the pleasure of harmony is felt from various similar emotions, distinct from each other, and yet sweetly combining in the mind; which excludes causes intimately connected, for the emotions produced by them are forced into one complex emotion. This pleasure of concord or harmony, which is the result of pleasing emotions, and cannot have place with respect to those that are painful, will be farther illustrated, when the emotions produced by the sound of words and their meaning are taken under consideration.*

The pleasure of concord from conjoined emotions, is felt, even where the emotions are not perfectly similar. Though love be a pleasant passion, yet by its softness and tenderness it resembles, in a considerable degree, the painful passion of pity or of 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 between 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 meæ puellæ,
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,
Ad solam dominam usque pipilabat.
Qui nunc it per iter tenebrícosum,
Illuc, unde negant redire quemquam.
At vobis male sit, malæ tenebræ
Orci, quæ omnia bella devoratis;
Tam bellum mihi passerem abstulistis.
O factum male, ô miselle passer.

Tua nunc opera, meæ puellæ
Flendo turgiduli rubent ocelli.

Each Love, each Venus, mourn with me!
Mourn, every son of gallantry!

The Sparrow, my own nymph's delight,
The joy and apple of her sight;
The honey-bird, the darling dies,
To Lesbia dearer than her eyes.
As the fair-one knew her mother,
So he knew her from another.
With his gentle lady wrestling;
In her snowy bosom nestling;
With a flutter, and a bound,
Quiv'ring round her and around
Chirping, twitt'ring, ever near,
Notes meant only for her ear.
Now he skims the shadowy way,
Whence none return to cheerful day.
Beshrew the shades! that thus devour

All that's pretty in an hour.

* Chap. 18. Sect. 3.

« PreviousContinue »