Page images

Ros. 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, Time's pace is so hard, that it seems the length of seven years.

Orla. Who ambles Time withal?.

Ros. 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 burden of heavy tedious penury. These Time ambles withal.

Orla. Whom doth he gallop withal?

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

Orla. Whom stays it still withal?

Ros. 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.

The natural method of computing present time, shows how far from the truth we may be led by the irregular influence of passion: nor are our eyes immediately opened when the scene is past; for the deception continues while there remain any traces of the passion. But looking back upon past time when the joy or distress is no longer remembered, the computation is very different: in that condition, we coolly and deliberately make use of the ordinary measure, namely, the course of our perceptions. And I shall now proceed to the errors that this measure is subjected to. Here we must distinguish between 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 a subsequent recollection. Hence it is, that in retrospection, the time that was employed upon real objects, appears longer than that employed upon ideas: the former are more accurately recollected than the latter; and we measure the time by the number that is recollected. This doctrine shall be illustrated by examples. 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; which is chiefly remarkable in the first journey, when every 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 computation is made, directly opposite to that made during the journey. And this, by the way, serves to account for what may appear singular, that in a barren country, a computed mile is always longer than near the capital, where the country is rich and populous: the traveller has no natural measure of the miles he has travelled, other than the time bestowed upon the journey; nor any natural measure of the time, other than the number of his percep tions now these, being few, from the paucity of objects in a waste country, lead him to compute that the time has been short, and con sequently that the miles have been few: by the same method of computation, the great number of perceptions, from the quantity of objects in a populous country, make the traveller conjecture that the time has been long, and the miles many. The last step of the

computation is obvious: in estimating the distance of one place from another, if the miles be reckoned few in number, each mile must of course be long; if many in number, each must be short.

Again, the travelling with an agreeable 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 : and 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 the journey and the entertainment are over, they reflect that they have been much diverted, but scarce can say about what.

When one is totally occupied with any agreeable work that admits not many objects, time runs on without observation; and upon a subsequent 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 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, may 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, having no data for making a computation. No cause produceth so false a reckoning of time as immoderate grief; the mind in that state, is violently attached to a single object, and admits not a different thought: any other object breaking in, is instantly ba nished, 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, 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 mention it, leaving it to be farther prosecuted, if it be thought of any importance.

The space marked out for a house appears considerably larger after it is divided into its proper parts. A peace of ground appears larger after it is surrounded with a fence; and still larger when it is made a garden and divided into different compartments.

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, instead of a regular system, I have nothing for the reader's instruction but a few conjectures.

The largest angle of vision seems to be the natural measure of space: the eye is the only judge; and in examining with it the size of any plane, 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 seen with one steadfast 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, would not be less curious.

But supposing it known, it would be a very imperfect measure; perbaps more so than the natural measure of time: for it requires great steadiness of eye to measure a line with any accuracy, by applying it to the largest angle of distinct vision. And supposing that 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: of a perpendicular this angle will comprehend the smallest space; the space will be large in looking upon an inclined plane; 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 several errors, from certain operations of the mind, which will account for some of the erroneous judgments above-mentioned. marked out for a dwelling-house, where the eye is at any reasonable The space distance, is seldom greater than can be seen at once, without moving the head divide that 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 division 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; and we pass the same judgment on the latter that we do on the former.

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 judgment 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 no less rare than beautiful; and in those who see it for the first time, it must produce an emotion of wonder. That emotion, however slight, imposes on the mind, and makes it judge that the plain is larger than it is in reality. Divide the plain into parts, and our wonder ceases:

it is no longer considered as one great plain, but as so many diffe. rent fields or inclosures.

The first time one beholds the sea, it appears to be large beyond all bounds. When it becomes familiar, and ceases to raise our wonder, it appears less than it is in reality. In a storm it appears large, being distinguished 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 insensibly apply arithmetic to increase the appearance of the whole. Many islands scattered at hand, give a diminutive appear. ance to the sea, by its connexion with its diminutive parts; the Lomond lake would undoubtedly look larger without its islands.

Furniture increases 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 proportion to 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.



THAT many emotions have some resemblance to their causes, is a truth that can be made clear by induction: though, as 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 cause. When force is exerted with any effort, the spectator feels a similar effort as of force exerted within its mind. A large object swells in the heart. An elevated object makes the spectator stand erect.

Sounds also produce emotions or feelings 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 feeling produced by it. A sound in a high key cheers 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 feeling, as of a tottering and falling within the mind; and a feeling somewhat similar is produced by a tall pillar

that stands so ticklish as to look like falling.* A column with a base looks more firm and stable than upon the naked ground; and for that reason is more agreeable: and though the cylinder is a more beautiful figure, yet the cube for a base is preferred; its angles being extended to a greater distance from the centre than the circumference of a cylinder. This excludes not a different reason, that the base, the shaft, and the 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; whence a rule in painting, that the drapery ought not to adhere to the body, but hang loose, that the figures may ap. pear easy and free in their movements. The constrained posture of a French dancing-master in one of Hogarth's pieces, is for that reason disagreeable; and it is also ridiculous, because the constraint is assumed as a grace.

The foregoing observation is not confined to emotions or feelings raised by still life: it holds also in what 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, 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, besides procuring esteem for the author, raiseth in the spectator a vague emotion of gratitude, which disposeth him to be grateful; and I now farther remark, that this vague emotion hath a strong resemblance to its cause, namely, the passion that produced the grateful action: courage exerted inspires the reader as well as the spectator with a like emotion of courage, a just action fortifies our love of 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 produceth these actions. And hence the advantage of choice books and choice company.

Grief as well as joy are infectious: the emotions they raise in a spectator resemble them perfectly. Fear is equally infectious; and hence in an army, a few taking fright, even without cause, spread the infection till it becomes an universal panic. Pity is similar to its cause; a parting scene between 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.‡

Sunt enim Tempé saltus transitu difficilis: nam præter angustias per quinque millia, qua exiguum jumento onusto iter est, rupes utrinque ita abscissæ sunt, ut despici vix sine vertigine quadam simul oculorum animique possit. Titus Livius, lib. 44. sect. 6.

+ Part 1. of this chapter, sect. 4.

Aristotle, Poet, cap. 18. sect. 3. says, that anger raiseth in the spectator a similar emotion of anger.

« PreviousContinue »