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Funereum torrem medios conjecit in ignes.
Metamorph. lib. 8. l. 445.
In cases of this kind, one circumstance always augments the fluctuation after balancing between two actions, a resolution to prefer one of them is an inchoated gratification of the prevailing passion, which moderates it in some degree; and that circumstance tends to give a superiority to the opposite passion: another circumstance also concurs, that this opposite passion has, by restraint, acquired in the interim some additional force.
Love and jealousy connected by a common object, occupy the mind alternately: when the object is considered as beautiful, love prevails; when considered as possibly unfaithful, jealousy prevails. A situation of that kind affords great scope for fluctuation of passion: which is painted to the life by several masterly hands in words as well as in colours. Shakspeare handles the same subject, but in a manner uncommon, and peculiar to himself: in Othello's soliloquy before putting his wife to death, love and jealousy are represented each exerting its whole force, but without any struggle: Othello was naturally inflexible; and the tenderest love could not divert him from a purpose he approved as right, not even for a moment: but every thing consistent with such a character is done to reconcile the two opposite passions; he is resolved to put her to death, but he will not shed her blood, nor so much as ruffle her skin:
Othello. It is the cause, it is the cause, my soul :-
And smooth as monumental alabaster.[Lays down the sword.
Put out the light, and then-Put out the light!—
If I quench thee, thou flaming minister,
I can again thy former light restore,
Should I repent: but once put out thy light,
Thou cunning'st pattern of excelling nature,
I know not where is that Fromethean heat
That can thy light relumine.--[ Sets down the taper.
I cannot give it vital growth again;
It needs must wither.-I'll smell thee on the tree :-[Kissing her.
O balmy breath, that doth almost persuade
Justice to break her sword!-one more; one more;
Be thus when thou art dead, and I will kill thee,
And love thee after.- -One more, that's the last;
But they are cruel tears! this sorrow's heav'nly;
Act 5. sc. 6.
In Otway's Orphan, we have an illustrious example of the address employed to gratify opposite passions directed to the same object. Castalio and Polydore, brothers and rivals, had sworn mutual confidence: Castalio broke his faith by a private marriage; which unwarily betrayed Polydore into a dismal deed, that of polluting his
brother's bed. Thus he had injured his brother, and was injured by him justice prompted him to make full atonement by his own death; resentment against his brother required a full atonement to be made to himself. In co-existent passions so contradictory, one of them commonly prevails after a struggle: but here happily an expedient occurred to Polydore for gratifying both; which was, that he should provoke his brother to put him to death. Polydore's crime, in his own opinion, merited that punishment; and justice was satisfied when he fell by the hand of the man he had injured: he wanted at the same time to punish his brother for breach of faith; and he could not punish more effectually than by betraying his brother to be his executioner.
If difference of aim prevent the union of two passions, though having the same object, much more will it prevent their union, when their objects are also different: in both cases there is a fluctuation; but in the latter the fluctuation is slower than in the former. A beautiful situation of that kind is exhibited in the Cid of Corneille. Don Diegue, an old soldier worn out with age, having received a mortal affront from the Count, father to Chimene, employs his son, Don Rodrigue, Chimene's lover, to demand satisfaction. This situation occasions in the breast of Don Rodrigue a cruel struggle between love and honour, one of which must be sacrificed. The scene is finely conducted, chiefly by making love in some degree take part with honour, Don Rodrigue reflecting, that if he lost his honour he could not deserve his mistress: honour triumphs; and the Count, provoked to a single combat, falls by the hand of Don Rodrigue.
This produceth another beautiful situation respecting Chimene, which making part of the same story, is placed here, though it properly belongs to the foregoing head. It became the duty of that lady to demand justice against her lover, for whose preservation, in other circumstances, she cheerfully would have sacrificed her own life. The struggle between these opposite passions directed to the same object is finely expressed in the third scene of the third act:
Elvire. Il vous prive d'un père, et vous l'aimez encore !
Ma passion s'oppose à mon resentiment,
Dedans mon ennemi je trouve mon amant,
Et je sens qu'en depit de toute ma colère,
Rodrigue dans mon cœur combat encore mon père.
Not less when the objects are different than when the same, are means sometimes afforded to gratify both passions; and such means are greedily embraced. In Tasso's Gerusalemme, Edward and Gil.
dippe, husband and wife, are introduced fighting gallantly against the Saracens : Gildippe receives a mortal wound by the hand of Soliman Edward inflamed with revenge, as well as concern for Gildippe, is agitated between the two different objects. The poet * describes him endeavouring to gratify both at once, applying his right hand against Soliman, the object of his resentment, and his left hand to support his wife, the object of his love.
INFLUENCE OF PASSION WITH RESPECT TO OUR PERCEPTIONS, OPINIONS, AND BELIEF.
CONSIDERING how intimately our perceptions, passions, and actions, are mutually connected, it would be wonderful if they should have no mutual influence. That our actions are too much influenced by passion, is a known truth; but it is not less certain, though not so well known, that passion hath also an influence upon our perceptions, opinions, and belief. For example, the opinions we form of men and things, are generally directed by affection: an advice given by a man of figure, hath great weight; the same advice from one in a low condition, is despised or neglected: a man of courage under-rates danger; and to the indolent the slightest obstacle appears insurmountable.
This doctrine is of great use in logie; and of still greater use in criticism, by serving to explain several principles of the fine arts that will be unfolded in the course of this work. A few general observations shall at present suffice, leaving the subject to be prosecuted more particularly afterward when occasion offers.
There is no truth more universally known, than that tranquillity and sedateness are the proper state of mind for accurate perception and cool deliberation; and, for that reason, we never regard the opinion even of the wisest man, when we discover prejudice or passion behind the curtain. Passion, as observed above,† hath such influence over us, as to give a false light to all its objects. Agree. able passions prepossess the mind in favour of their objects, and disagreeable passions, no less against their objects: a woman is all perfection in her lover's opinion, while, in the eye of a rival beauty, she is awkward and disagreeable: when the passion of love is gone, beauty vanishes with it,-nothing left of that genteel motion, that sprightly conversation, those numberless graces, which formerly, in the lover's opinion, charmed all hearts. To a zealot, every one of his own sect is a saint, while the most upright of a different sect are to him children of perdition: the talent of speaking in a friend is more regarded than prudent conduct in any other. Not will this surprise one acquainted with the world: our opinions, the result frequently of various and complicated views, are commonly so slight and wavering, as readily to be susceptible of a bias from passion.
* Canto 20. st. 97.
+ Page 99.
With that natural bias another circumstance concurs to give passion an undue influence on our opinions and belief; and that is a strong tendency in our nature to justify our passions as well as our actions, not to others only, but even to ourselves. That tendency is peculiarly remarkable with respect to disagreeable passions by its influence, objects are magnified or lessened, circumstances supplied or suppressed, every thing coloured and disguised, to answer the end of justification. Hence the foundation of selfdeceit, where a man imposes upon himself innocently, and even without suspicion of a bias.
There are subordinate means that contribute to pervert the judg. ment, and to make us form opinions contrary to truth; of which I shall mention two. First, it was formerly observed,* that though ideas seldom start up in the mind without connexion, yet that ideas suited to the present tone of mind are readily suggested by any slight connexion: the arguments for a favourite opinion are always at hand, while we often search in vain for those that cross our inclination. Second, The mind taking delight in agreeable circumstances or arguments, is deeply impressed with them; while those that are disagreeable are hurried over so as scarce to make any impression: the same argument, by being relished or not relished, weighs so differently, as in truth to make conviction depend more on passion than on reasoning. This observation is fully justified by experience to confine myself to a single instance, the numberless absurd religious tenets that at different times have pestered the world, would be altogether unaccountable but for that irregular bias of passion.
We proceed to a more pleasant task, which is, to illustrate the foregoing observations by proper examples. Gratitude, when warm, is often exerted upon the children of the benefactor; especially where he is removed out of reach by death or absence.† The passion in this case being exerted for the sake of the benefactor, requires no peculiar excellence in his children: but the practice of doing good to these children produces affection for them, which never fails to advance them in our esteem. By such means, strong connexions of affection are often formed among individuals upon the slight foundation now mentioned.
Envy is a passion, which, being altogether unjustifiable, cannot be excused but by disguising it under some plausible name. the same time, no passion is more eager than envy, to give its object a disagreeable appearance: it magnifies every bad quality, and fixes on the most humbling circumstances:
Cassius. I cannot tell what you and other men
I had as lief not be, as live to be
In awe of such a thing as I myself.
I was born free as Cæsar, so were you:
We both have fed as well: and we can both
For once, upon a raw and gusty day,
* Chap. I.
+ See part 1. sect. 1. of the present chapter.
The troubled Tyber chafing with his shores,
And bid him follow; so indeed he did.
I, as Æneas, our great ancestor,
Did from the flames of Troy upon his shoulder
Did I the tired Cæsar: and this man
Is now become a god, and Cassius is
A wretched creature; and must bend his body,
He had a fever when he was in Spain,
And when the fit was on him, I did mark
How he did shake. 'Tis true, this god did shake;
And that same eye whose bend doth awe the world,
Ay, and that tongue of his, that bade the Romans
A man of such a feeble temper should
So get a start of the majestic world,
And bear the palm alone.-Julius Cæsar, act. 1. sc. 3.
Gloster inflamed with resentment against his son Edgar, could even force himself into a momentary conviction that they were not related :
O strange fasten'd villain!
Would he deny his letter?—I never got him.-King Lear, act. 2. sc. 3.
When by great sensibility of heart, or other means, grief becomes immoderate, the mind, in order to justify itself, is prone to magnify the cause, and if the real cause admit not of being magnified, the mind seeks a cause for its grief in imagining future events:
Busby. Madam, your Majesty is much too sad:
You promis'd, when you parted with the King,
To lay aside self-harming heaviness,
And entertain a cheerful disposition.
Queen. To please the King, I did; to please myself,
I cannot do it. Yet I know no cause
Why I should welcome such a guest as grief;
With something trembles, yet at nothing grieves,
More than with parting from my lord the King-Richard II. act 2. sc. 5. Resentment is at first vented on the relations of the offender, in order to punish him: but as resentment, when so outrageous, is contrary to conscience, the mind, to justify its passion, is disposed to paint these relations in the blackest colours; and it comes at