Puslapio vaizdai

cero discovers in Plautus a happy talent for ridicule, and a peculiar delicacy of wit : but Horace, who made a figure in the court of Augustus, where taste was considerably purified, declares against the lowness and roughness of that author's raillery. Ridicule is banished France, and is losing ground daily in England.

Other modifications of pleasant passions will be occasionally mentioned hereafter. Particularly, the modifications of high and low are handled in the chapter of grandeur and sublimity; and the modifications of dignified and mean, in the chap ter of dignity and grace.

[blocks in formation]

Interrupted existence of emotions and pasions.

Their growth and decay.

[ocr errors]

Ere it the nature of an emotion, to conti

nue, like colour and figure, in its prefent state till varied by some operating cause, the condition of man would be deplorable: it is ordered wisely, that emotions should more refemble another attribute of natter, viz. motion, which requires the constant exertion of an operating cause, and ceases when the cause is withdrawn. An emotion may sublist while its cause is present; and when its cause is removed, may fublilt by means of an idea, though. in a fainter


degree: but the moment another thought breaks in, and ingroises the mind, the emotion is gone, and is no longer felt : if it return with its cause, or an idea of its cause, it again vanilheth with them when other thoughts crowd in. The reafon is, that emotions and passions are connected with perceptions and ideas, so intimately as not to have any independent existence: a strong paffion, it is true, hath a mighty influence to detain its object in the mind; but not so as to detain it for ever, because a succession of perceptions or ideas is unavoidable *. Further, even while a passion subfists, it seldom continues long in the same tone, but is successively vigorous and faint : the vigour of a passion depends on the impression made by its cause; and a cause makes its Itrongest impresfion, when happening to be the single interesting object, it attracts our whole attention t: its impression is slighter when our attention is divided between it and other objects; and at that time the passion is fainter in proportion.

When emotions and passions are felt thus by intervals, and have not a continued existence, it may be thought a nice problem, to ascertain their identity, and to determine when they are the fame, when different. In a strict philosophic view, every single impression made even by the fame object, is distinguishable from what have

* See this point explained afterward, chap. 9.

+ See the appendix, containing definitions, and explanation of terms, fect. 33.


gone before, and from what fucceed: neither is, an emotion raised by an idea, the fame with what is raised by a sight of the object. But such accuracy is not found in common apprehension, nör is necessary in common language : the einotions raised by a fine landscape in its fuccellive appearances, are not dishinguishable from each od ther; nor even from those raised by succellive ideas of the object; all of them being held to be the same: a passion also is always reckoned the same, so long as it is fixed upon the same object; and thus love and hatred are said to cons tinue the fame for life. Nay, so loose are we in this way of thinking, that many passions are reckoned the fame even after a change of object; which is the case of all paflions that proceed from some peculiar propensity: envy, for example, is considered to be the same passion, not only while it is directed to the same person, but even where it comprehends many persons at once: pride and malice are in the same condition. So much was necessary to be said upon the identity of a passion and emotion, in order to prepare for examining their growth and decáy.

The growth and decay of passions and emotions, is a subject too extensive to be exhausted in an undertaking like the present : I pretend only to give a cursory view of it, as far as necessary for the purposes of criticism. Some emotions are produced in their utmost perfection, and have a very short endurance ; which is the case of sur


prise, of wonder, and fometimes of terror. Emotions raifed by inanimate objects, fuch as trees, rivers, buildings, pictures, arrive at perfection almost instantaneously; and they have a long endurance, * a fecond yiew producing nearly the fame pleasure with the first. Love, liatred, and some other passions, increase gradually to a certain pitch.; and after that decay gradually. En vy, malice, pride, scarce ever decay. Some passions, such as gratitude and revenge, are often exhausted by a single act of gratification : other pafsions, such as pride, malice, envy, love, hatred, are not lo exhausted; but having a long continuance, demand frequent gratification.

To handle every single passion and emotion with a view to these differences, would be an endless work: we must be satisfied at present with some, general views. And with respect to emotions that are quiescent, and not productive of desire, their growth and decay are easily explained: an emotion caused by an inanimate object, cannot naturally take longer time to arrive at perfection, than is necessary for a leisurely survey: such emotion also must continue long Iltationary, without any sensible decay; a second or third view of the object being nearly as agreeable as the first: this is the case of an emotion produt ced by a fine prospect, an impetuous river, or ą towering hill; while a man remains the same, such objects ought to have the same effect upon him. Familiarity, however, hath an influence


[ocr errors]

here, as it hath every where : frequency of view,
after short intervals especially, weans the mind
gradually from the object, which at last loses all
relifh : the noblest object in the material world,
a clear and ferene sky, is quite disregarded, un-
less perhaps after a course of bad weather. An
emotion raised by human virtues, qualities, .ot
actions, may, by reiterated views of the object,
grow imperceptibly till it become fo vigorous as
to generate desire : in this condition it must be
handled as a passion.
· ... As to passion, I obferve, first, that when na-
ture requires a passion to be fudden, it is com
monly produced in perfe&ion; which is com-
monly the case of fear and of anger.. Wonder
and surprise are always produced in perfection:
reiterated impressions made by their cause, ex-
haust these passions instead of inflaming them.
This will be explained afterward *.

In the next place, when a passion bath for its foundation an original propensity peculiar to some men, it generally comes foon to perfection : the propensity, upon pre enting a proper object, is immediately enlivened into a passion; which is the case of pride, of envy, and of malice.

In the third place, the growth of love and of hatred, is flow or quick according to circuinstances: the good qualities or kind offices of a perfon, raise in me a pleasant emotion; which,

[merged small][ocr errors]

* Chap 6.


« AnkstesnisTęsti »