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nefactor, directed by no other motive but to avenge her father's death *. Revenge against a benefactor founded folely upon filial piety, will never fuggeft unlawful means; because it can never exceed the bounds of justice. And yet the crime here attempted, murder under truft repofed, is what even a miscreant will scarce attempt against his bitterest enemy.
What is faid may be thought fufficient to explain the qualities of congruity and pro priety. But the fubject is not exhausted. On the contrary, the profpect enlarges upon us, when we take under view the effects these qualities produce in the mind. Congruity and propriety, where-ever perceived, appear agreeable; and every agreeable object produceth in the mind a pleasant emotion. Incongruity and impropriety, on the other hand, are difagreeable; and confequently produce painful emotions. An emotion of this kind fometimes vanisheth without any confequence; but more frequently is the occafion of other emotions.
See act 1. fc. 2.
When any flight incongruity is perceived in an accidental combination of persons or things, as of paffengers in a stage-coach or of individuals dining at an ordinary, the emotion of incongruity, after a momentary existence, vanisheth without producing any effect. But this is not the cafe of propriety and impropriety. Voluntary acts, whether words or deeds, are imputed to the author: when proper, we reward him with our esteem: when improper, we punish him with our contempt. Let us suppose, for example, an heroic action suitable to the character of the author, which raises in him and in every fpectator the pleasant emotion of propriety. This emotion generates in the author both self-esteem and joy; the former when he confiders his relation to the action, and the latter when he confiders the good opinion that others will entertain of him. The fame emotion of propriety, produceth in the fpectators, efteem for the author of the action: and when they think of themselves, it alfo produceth, by means of contrast, an emotion of humility. To discover the effects of an unsuitable action,
we must invert each of thefe circumstances. The painful emotion of impropriety, generates in the author of the action both humility and fhame; the former when he confiders his relation to the action, and the latter when he confiders what others will think of him. The fame emotion of impropriety, produceth in the spectators, contempt for the author of the action; and it also produceth, by means of contraft when they think of themselves, an emotion of felf-esteem. Here then are many different emotions, derived from the fame action confidered in different views by different perfons; a machine provided with many springs, and not a little complicated. Propriety of action, it would feem, is a chief favourite of nature, or of the author of nature, when fuch care and folicitude is bestowed upon it. It is not left to our own choice; but, like justice, is required at our hands; and, like justice, inforced by natural rewards and punishments. A man cannot, with impunity, do any thing unbecoming or improper. He fuffers the chastisement of contempt inflicted by others, and of fhame inflicted by himself. An apparatus
paratus so complicated and so fingular, ought to rouse our attention. Nature doth nothing in vain; and we may conclude with great certainty, that this curious branch of the human conftitution is intended for fome va→ luable purpose. To the discovery of this purpose I fhall with ardor apply my thoughts, after difcourfing a little more at large upon the punishment, for I may now call it fo, that Nature hath provided for indecent or unbecoming behaviour. This, at any rate, is necessary, in order to give a full view of the fubject; and who knows whether it may not, over and above, open some track that will lead us to what we are in queft of?
A grofs impropriety is punished with contempt and indignation, which are vented against the offender by every external expreffion that can gratify these paffions. And even the flightest impropriety raises fome degree of contempt. But there are improprieties, generally of the flighter kind, that provoke laughter; of which we have examples without end in the blunders and abfurdities of our own fpecies. Such improprieties
improprieties receive a different punishment, as will appear by what follows. The emotions of contempt and of laughter occafioned by an impropriety of this kind, uniting intimately in the mind of the fpec tator, are expreffed externally by a peculiar fort of laugh, termed a laugh of derifion or fcorn. An impropriety that thus moves not only contempt but laughter, is diftinguished by the epithet of ridiculous; and a laugh of derifion or fcorn is the punishment provided for it by nature. Nor ought it to escape observation, that we are so fond of inflicting this punishment, as fometimes to exert it even against creatures of an inferior fpecies; witness a Turkycock fwelling with pride, and strutting with displayed feathers. This object appears ridiculous, and in a gay mood is apt to provoke a laugh of derifion.
We must not expect that the improprie ties to which thefe different punishments are adapted, can be separated by any precise boundaries. Of improprieties, from the
* See chap. 7.