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observe, that examples confined to real events, are not so frequent as to contribute much to a habit of virtue: if they be, they are not recorded by historians. It therefore shows great wisdom, to form us in such a manner, as to be susceptible of the fame improvement from fable that we receive from genuine history. 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 cause with thorough fatisfaction; because it shows, that the author of our nature is not less kindly provident for the happiness of his creatures, than for the regularity of their conduct: The power that fiction háth over the human mind affords an endless variety of refined amusements, always at hand to employ a vacant hour : such amusements are a fine resource in solitude; and by chearing the mind, improve fociety,
Emotions and passians as pleasant and painful, a
greeable and disagreeable. Modifications of these qualities.
T may occur at firf: view, that a discourse upon the passions fhould commence with ex
plaining the qualities now mentioned: but upon trial, I found this could not be done distinctly, till the difference were ascertained between an emotion and a paffion, and till their causes were unfolded.
Great obfcurity may be observed among writers with regard to the present point: no care, for example, is taken to distinguish agreeable from pleafant, disagreeable from painful; or rather these terms are deemed fynonymous. This is an error not at all venial in the science of ethics; as instances can, and fhall, be given, of painful palfions that are agreeable, and of pleasant passions that are disagreeable. These terms, it is true, are used indifferently in familiar conversation, and in compositions for amusement, where accuracy is not required; but for those to use them fo who profess to explain the passions, is a capital error: In writing upon the critical art, I would avoid every refinement that may seem more curious than useful : but the proper meaning of the terms under consideration must be ascertained, in order to understand the passions, ard some of their effects that are intimately connected with criticism.
I shall endeavour to explain these terms by faa miliar examples. Viewing a fine garden, I perceive it to be beautiful or agreeable; and I consider the beauty or agreeableness as belonging to the object, or as one of its qualities. When I turn my attention from the garden to what VOL.I. G
passes passes in my mind, I am conscious of a pleasant. emotion, of which the garden is the cause: the pleasure here is felt, as a quality, not of the garden, but of the emotion produced by it. I give an opposite exaniple. A rotten carcass is disagreeable, 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 disagreeable, then, are qualities of the objects we perceive; pleasant and painful are qualities of the emotions we feel: the former qualities are perceived as adhering to objects; the latter are felt as existing within us.
But a passion or emotion, beside being felt, is frequently made an object of thought or reflection: we examine it; we inquire into its nature, its cause, and its effects. In this view, like other objects, it is either agreeable or disagreeable. Hence clearly appear the different signifi-, cations of the terms under consideration, as applied to passion : when a passion is termed pleasant or painful, we refer to the actual feeling; when termed agreeable or disagreeable, we refer to it as an object of thought or reflection : a passion is pleasant or painful to the person in whom it exists; it is agreeable or disagreeable to the person who makes it a subject of contemplation.
When the terms thus defined are applied to particular emotions and passions, they do not always
coincide... And in order to make this evident, we must endeavour to astertain, first, what palfions and emotions are pleasant what painful, and next, what are agreeable what disagreeable. With respect to both, there are general rules, which, so far as I gather from induction, admit not any exceptions. The nature of an emotion or passion as pleasant or painful, depends entirely on its cause : an agreeable object produceth always a pleasant emotion; and a disagreeable object produceth always a painful emotion *. Thus a lofty oak, a generous action, a valuable discovery in art or science, are agreeable objects that unerringly produce pleasant emotions. Aftinking puddle, a treacherous action, an irregular ill-contrived edifice, being disagreeable objects, produce painful emotions. Selfish passions are pleasant; for they arise from felf, an agreeable object or cause.
A social passion directed upon an agreeable object is always pleasant; directed upon an object in distress, is painful t. Lastly, all diffocial passions, such as envy, resentment, malice, being caused by disagreeable objects, cannot fail to be painful.
It requires a greater compass to come at a general rule for the agreeableness or disagreeableness of emotions and passions. We have a sense of a common nature in every species of animals, particularly in our own; and we have from our na
+ See the said 7th part.
* See part 7. of this chapter.
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 eve ry passion, and to every bodily member, is. afsigned a proper office and a due proportion : if one limb be longer than the other, or be dispro portioned to the whole, it is wrong and disagreeable : if a passion deviate from the common nature, by being too strong or too weak, it is also wrong and disagreeable: but fo far as conformable to common nature, every emotion and every passion is perceived by us to be right, and as it ought to be; and upon that account it muft appear agreeable. That this holds true in pleafant emotions and passions, will readily be admitted: but the painful are not less 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 less as greeable upon reflection, than the pleasant enotion raised by a flowing river or a lofty dome: and the painful passions of grief and fity are agreeable, and applauded by all the world.
Another rule more simple and direct for ascertaining the agreeableness or disagreeableness of a passion, as opposed to an emotion, is derived from the desire that accompanies it. If the desire be, to do a right action in order to produce a good effect, the passion is, and must be agreeable :
* See this doctrine fully explained ch. 25. Standard of Taste.