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observe, that examples confined to real events, are not fo frequent as to contribute much to a habit of virtue: if they be, they are not recorded by hiftorians. It therefore shows great wisdom, to form us in fuch a manner, as to be fufceptible of the fame improvement from fable that we receive from genuine hiftory. By this admirable contrivance, examples to improve us in virtue may be multiplied without end: no other fort of discipline contributes more to make virtue habitual; and no other fort is fo agreeable in the application. I add another final caufe with thorough fatisfaction; because it shows, that the author of our nature is not lefs kindly provident for the happiness of his creatures, than for the regularity of their conduct: The power that fiction hath over the human mind affords an endless variety of refined amusements, always at hand to employ a vacant hour: fuch amusements are a fine resource in folitude; and by chearing the mind, improve fociety.
Emotions and passions as pleasant and painful, agreeable and difagreeable. Modifications of thefe qualities.
T may occur at firf view, that a difcourfe up-
plaining the qualities now mentioned: but upon trial, I found this could not be done diftinctly, till the difference were afcertained between an emotion and a paffion, and till their causes were unfolded.
Great obfcurity may be obferved among wri ters with regard to the prefent point: no care, for example, is taken to distinguish agreeable from pleafant, difagreeable from painful; or rather thefe terms are deemed fynonymous. This is an error not at all venial in the science of ethics; as inftances can, and fhall, be given, of painful paffions that are agreeable, and of pleafant paffions that are difagreeable. These terms, it is true, are ufed indifferently in familiar converfation, and in compofitions for amufement, where accuracy is not required; but for those to use them fo who profefs to explain the paffions, is a capital error. In writing upon the critical art, I would avoid every refinement that may feem more curious than ufeful but the proper meaning of the terms under confideration must be ascertained, in order to understand the paffions, and fome of their effects that are intimately connected with criticism.
I fhall endeavour to explain these terms by familiar examples. Viewing a fine garden, I per ceive it to be beautiful or agreeable; and I confider the beauty or agreeablenefs as belonging to the object, or as one of its qualities. When I turn my attention from the garden to what VOL. I. G paffes
passes in my mind, I am confcious of a pleasant. emotion, of which the garden is the caufe: the pleasure here is felt, as a quality, not of the garden, but of the emotion produced by it. I give an opposite example. A rotten carcafs is difagreeable, and raises in the spectator a painful emotion: the disagreeableness is a quality of the object; the pain is a quality of the emotion produced by it. Agreeable and difagreeable, then, are qualities of the objects we perceive; pleafant and painful are qualities of the emotions we feel the former qualities are perceived as adhering to objects; the latter are felt as exifting within us.
But a paffion or emotion, befide being felt, is frequently made an object of thought or reflection: we examine it; we inquire into its nature, its caufe, and its effects. In this view, like other objects, it is either agreeable or disagreeable. Hence clearly appear the different fignifi-, cations of the terms under confideration, as applied to paffion: when a paffion is termed pleaJant or painful, we refer to the actual feeling; when termed agreeable or difagreeable, we refer to it as an object of thought or reflection: a paffion is pleasant or painful to the perfon in whom it exifts; it is agreeable or disagreeable to the person who makes it a fubject of contemplation.
When the terms thus defined are applied to particular emotions and paffions, they do not always
coincide. And in order to make this evident, we must endeavour to astertain, first, what paffions and emotions are pleasant what painful, and next, what are agreeable what difagreeable. With refpect to both, there are general rules, which, fo far as I gather from induction, admit not any exceptions. The nature of an emotion or paffion as pleafant or painful, depends entirely on its caufe: an agreeable object produceth always a pleafant emotion; and a difagreeable object produceth always a painful emotion *. Thus a lofty oak, a generous action, a valuable difcovery in art or science, are agreeable objects that unerringly produce pleasant emotions. A ftinking puddle, a treacherous action, an irregular ill-contrived edifice, being difagreeable objects, produce painful emotions. Selfish paffions are pleafant; for they arife from felf, an agreeable object or cause. A focial paffion directed upon an agreeable object is always pleafant; directed upon an object in diftrefs, is painful †. Lastly, all diffocial paffions, fuch as envy, refentment, malice, being caufed by difagreeable objects, cannot fail to be painful.
It requires a greater compafs to come at a general rule for the agreeablenefs or disagreeableness of emotions and paffions. We have a fenfe of a common nature in every fpecies of animals, particularly in our own; and we have from our na
*See part 7. of this chapter.
+ See the faid 7th part.
ture a conviction that this common nature is right, or perfect, and that individuals ought to be made conformable to it *. To every faculty, to every paffion, and to every bodily member, is affigned a proper office and a due proportion: if one limb bé longer than the other, or be difproportioned to the whole, it is wrong and difagreeable if a paffion deviate from the common nature, by being too ftrong or too weak, it is alfo wrong and disagreeable: but fo far as conformable to common nature, every emotion and every paffion is perceived by us to be right, and as it ought to be; and upon that account it must appear agreeable. That this holds true in pleafant emotions and paffions, will readily be admitted: but the painful are not lefs natural than the other; and therefore ought not to be an exception. Thus the painful emotion raised by a monstrous birth or brutal action, is not lefs agreeable upon reflection, than the pleafant emotion raised by a flowing river or a lofty dome and the painful paffions of grief and pity are agreeable, and applauded by all the world.
Another rule more fimple and direct for ascertaining the agreeableness or difagreeableness of a paffion, as opposed to an emotion, is derived from the defire that accompanies it. If the desire be, to do a right action in order to produce a good effect, the paffion is, and must be agreeable:
*See this doctrine fully explained ch. 25. Standard of Tafte.