Puslapio vaizdai

Could I forget

What I have been, I might the better bear
What I'm deftin'd to. I'm not the first

That have been wretched: but to think how much
I have been happier.

Southern's Innocent adultery, act 2.

The distress of a long journey makes even an indifferent inn pafs current: and in travelling, when the road is good, and the horseman well covered, a bad day may be agreeable, by making him fenfible how fnug he is.

The fame effect is equally remarkable, when a man oppofes his condition to that of others. A fhip toffed about in a storm, makes the spectator reflect upon his own eafe and security, and puts these in the strongest light:

Suave, mari magno turbantibus æquora ventis,
E terra magnum alterius fpectare laborem,

Non quia vexari quemquam eft jucunda voluptas,
Sed quibus ipfe malis careas, quia cernere fuave eft,
Lucret. l. 2. principio.

A man in grief cannot bear mirth: it gives him a more lively notion of his unhappiness, and of courfe makes him more unhappy. Satan contemplating the beauties of the terrestrial paradife, breaks out in the following exclamation.

With what delight could I have walk'd thee round,
If I could joy in ought, fweet interchange
Of hill and valley, rivers, woods, and plains,


Now land, now fea, and fhores with forest crown'd,
Rocks, dens, and caves! but I in none of these
Find place or refuge; and the more I fee

Pleafures about me, fo much more I feel
Torment within me, as from the hateful fiege
Of contraries: all good to me becomes

Bane, and in heav'n much worfe would be my state.
Paradife Loft, book 9. l. 114.

Gaunt. All places that the eye of heaven visits,
Are to a wife man ports and happy havens,

Teach thy neceffity to reason thus :
There is no virtue like neceffity.

Think not the King did banish thee;

But thou the King. Wo doth the heavier fit,
Where it perceives it is but faintly borne.
Go fay, I fent thee forth to purchase honour;
And not, the King exil'd thee. Or fuppose,
Devouring peftilence hangs in our air,
And thou art flying to a fresher clime.
Look what thy foul holds dear, imagine it

To lie that way thou go'ft, not whence thou com'ft.
Suppose the finging birds, musicians;

The grafs whereon thou tread'ft, the prefence-floor;
The flow'rs, fair ladies; and thy fteps, no more

Than a delightful measure, or a dance.
For gnarling Sorrow hath less power to bite
The man that mocks at it, and fets it light.

Bolingbroke. Oh, who can hold a fire in his hand, By thinking on the frofty Caucasus ?

Or cloy the hungry edge of Appetite,

By bare imagination of a feast ?

Or wallow naked in December fnow,
By thinking on fantastic summer's heat?
Oh, no the apprehenfion of the good

Gives but the greater feeling to the worse.

King Richard II. act 1. fc. 6.

The appearance of danger gives fometimes pleafure, fometimes pain. A timorous perfon upon the battlements of a high tower, is feized with fear, which even the consciousness of fecurity cannot diffipate. But upon one of a firm head, this fituation has a contrary effect: the appearance of danger heightens, by oppofition, the consciousness of fecurity, and confequently, the fatisfaction that arifes from fecurity: here the feeling resembles that above mentioned, occafioned by a thip labouring in a storm.

This effect of magnifying or leffening objects by means of comparifon, is fo familiar, that no philofopher has thought of fearching for a caufe *. The obfcurity of the fubject, may poffibly have contributed to their filence; but luckily, we difcover the cause to be a principle unfolded above, which is the influence of paffion over our opinions . We have had occasion to see many illuftrious effects of this fingular power of paffion; and that the magnifying or diminishing objects

* Practical writers upon the fine arts will attempt any thing, being blind both to the difficulty and danger. De Piles, accounting why contrast is agreeable, fays, "That it is a fort of war, which puts the oppofite parties in motion." Thus, to account for an effect of which there is no doubt, any caufe, however foolish, is made welcome.

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+ Chap. 2. part 5.

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by means of comparifon, proceeds from the fame caufe, will evidently appear, by reflecting in what manner a fpectator is affected, when a very large animal is for the first time placed befide a very small one of the fame fpecies. The first thing that ftrikes the mind, is the difference between the two animals, which is fo great as to occafion furprise; and this, like other emotions, magnifying its object, makes us conceive the difference to be the greatest that can be we fee, or feem to fee, the one animal extremely little, and the other extremely large. The emotion of furprife arifing from any unufual refemblance, ferves equally to explain, why at first view we are apt to think fuch refemblance more entire than it is in reality. And it must be obferved, that the circumftances of more and lefs, which are the proper fubjects of comparifon, raise a perception fo indiftinct and vague as to facilitate the effect defcribed: we have no mental ftandard of great and little, nor of the feveral degrees of any attribute; and the mind thus unrestrained, is naturally difpofed to indulge its furprise to the ut moft extent.

In exploring the operations of the mind, fome of which are extremely nice and flippery, it is neceffary to proceed with the utmost circumfpection: and after all, feldom it happens that fpeculations of this kind afford any fatisfaction. Luckily, in the prefent cafe, our fpeculations are fupported by facts and folid argument. First,


a fmall object of one fpecies opposed to a great object of another, produces not, in any degree, that deception, which is fo remarkable when both objects are of the fame fpecies. The greatest difparity between objects of different kinds, is fo common as to be observed with perfect indifference; but fuch disparity between objects of the fame kind, being uncommon, never fails to produce furprise and may we not fairly conclude, that furprise, in the latter cafe, is what occafions the deception, when we find no deception in the former? In the next place, if furprise be the fole cause of the deception, it follows neceffarily, that the deception will vanish fo foon as the objects compared become familiar. This holds fo unerringly, as to leave no reasonable doubt, that furprise is the prime mover in this operation: our furprise is great, the first time a fmall lapdog is feen with a large maftiff; but when two fuch animals are conftantly together, there is no furprife; and it makes no difference whether they be viewed separately or in company we put no bounds to the riches of a man who has recently made his fortune; the oppofition between his prefent and his past fituation, or between his present situation and that of others, being carried to an extreme: but with regard to a family that for many generations hath enjoy'd great wealth, the fame false reckoning is not made it is equally remarkable, that a trite fimile has no effect; a lover compared to a moth scorching itself


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