Puslapio vaizdai
PDF
„ePub“

if the desire be, to do a wrong action in order to produce an ill effect, the passion is, and must be disagreeable. In this light, passions as well as actions are governed by the moral sense. These rules by the wisdom of providence coincide: a passion that is conformable to our common nature, must tend to good; and a passion that deviates from our common nature, must fo far tend to ill.

This deduction may be carried a great way farther; but to avoid intricacy and obscurity, I make but one other step. A passion, which, as aforesaid, becomes an object of thought to a spectator, may have the effect to produce a paf: fion or emotion in him; for it is natural, that a focial being should be affected with the passions of others. Paffions or emotions thus generated, submit, in common with others, to the general law above mentioned, viz. that an agreeable object produces a pleasant emotion, and a disagreeable object a painful emotion. Thus the passion of gratitude, being to a spectator an agreeable object, produceth in him the pleasant passion of love to the grateful person: and malice, being to a spectator a disgreeable object, produceth in him the painful pafsion of hatred to the malicious perfon.

We are now prepared for examples of pleasarit passions that are disagreeable, and of painful passions that are agreeable. Self-love, so long as confined within just bounds, is a passion both

pleasant

G 3

pleasant and agreeable: in excess it is disagree-
able, though it continues to be still pleasant.
Our appetites are precisely in the same condition.
Resentment, on the other hand, is, in every
stage of the passion, painful; but is not disagree-
able unless in excess. Pity is always painful, yet
always agreeable. Vanity, on the contrary, is
always pleasant, yet always disagreeable. But
however distinct these qualities are, they coincide,
I acknowledge, in one class of passions : all vi-
cious passions tending to the hurt of others, are
equally painful and disagreeable.

The foregoing qualities of pleasant and painful,
may be sufficient for ordinary subjects : but with
respect to the feience of criticism, it is further
necessary, that we be made acquainted with the
several n.odifications of these qualities, with the
modifications at least that make the greatest fi-
gure. Even at first view one is sensible, that the
pleasure or pain of one passion differs from that
of another : how distant the pleasure of revenge
gratified, from that of lovę? fo distant, as that
we cannot without reluctance admit them to be
any way related. That the fame quality of plea-
fure should be so differently modified in different
passions, will not be surprising, when we reflect
on the boundless variety of agreeable sounds,
taftes, and smells, daily perceived. Our discern-
ment reaches differences still more nice, in ob-
jects even of the same sense : we have no difficul-
ty to distinguish different sweets, different sours,

and

4

and different bitters; honey is sweet, so is sugar, and yet they never pass the one for the other: our sense of smelling is sufficiently acute, to distinguish varieties in sweet-smelling flowers without end. With respect to passions and emotions, their differences as to pleasant and painful have no limits; though we want acuteness of feeling for the more delicate modifications. In this matter, however, there is an analogy between our internal and external senses : the latter generally are sufficiently acute for all the useful purposes of life, and so are the former. Some persons indeed, Nature's favourites, have a wonderful acuteness of fense, which to them unfolds many a delightful scenie totally hid from vulgar eyes. But if such refined pleasure be with-held from the bulk of mankind, it is however wisely ordered that they are not sensible of the defect; and it detracts not from their happiness that others fecretly are more happy. With relation to the fine arts only, this qualification seems essential; and there it is termed delica y of taste.

Should an author of such a taste attempt to describe all those varieties in pleasant and painful emotions which he himself feels, he would foon meet an invincible obstacle in the poverty of language : a people must be thoroughly refined, before they find words for expressing the more delicate feelings; and for that reason, no known tongue hitherto has reached that perfection. We G 4

must

must therefore rest satisfied with an explanation of the more obvious modifications.

In forming a comparison between pleasant passions of different kinds, we conceive some of them to be gross, some refined. Those pleasures of external sense that are felt as at the organ of fense, are conceived to be corporeal, or grofs *: the

i pleasures of the eye and ear are felt to be internal; and for that reason are conceived to be more pure and refined.

The focial affections are conceived by all to be more refined than the selfish. Sympathy and humanity are universally esteemed the finest temper of inind; and for that reason, the prevalence of the social affections in the progress of society, is held to be a refinement in our nature. A favage knows little of social affection, and therefore is not qualified to compare selfish and facial pleasure; but a man, after acquiring a high relish of the latter, loses not thereby a taste for the former : this man is qualified to judge, and he will give preference to social pleasures as more fweet and refined. In fact they maintain that character, not only in the direct feeling, but also when we make them the subject of reflection ; the social passions are by far more agreeable than the selfish, and rise much higher in our esteem.

There are differences not less remarkable among the painful pafsions. Some are voluntary,

Ste the Introduction.

fome

fome involuntary: the pain of the gout is an ex ample of the latter; grief, of the former, which in some cases is so voluntary as to reject all consolation. One pain foftens the temper, pity is an instance: one tends to render us savage and cruel, which is the case of revenge. I value myself upon fympathy: I hate and despise myself for envy.

Social affections have an advantage over the selfish, not only with respect to pleasure as above explained, but also with respect to pain. The pain of an affront, the pain of want, the pain of disappointment, and a thousand other selfish pains, are cruciating and tormenting, and tend to a habit of peevishness and discontent. Social pains have a very different tendency. The pain of sympathy, for example, is not only voluntary, but does me good, by softening my temper, and raising me in my own esteem.

Refined manners, and polite behaviour, mult not be deemed altogether artificial; men who, inured to the sweets of society, cultivate humanity, find an elegant pleasure in preferring others, and making them happy, of which the proud or delfith scarce have a conception,

Ridicule, which chiefly arises from pride, a felfish passion, is at best but a gross pleasure: a people, it is true, must have emerged out of barbarity before they can have a taste for ridicule ; but it is too rough an entertainment for those who are highly polished and refined. Ci,

cero

« AnkstesnisTęsti »