« PoprzedniaDalej »
gives pleasure, and her distress pain: These two emotions, proceeding from different views of the object,
little resemblance to each other; and yet so intimately connected are their causes, as to force them into a sort of complex emotion, partly pleasant, partly painful. This clearly explains some expressions common in poetry, as a sweet distress, a pleasant pain.
What sounds are concordant?
Influence of Passion with respect to our Perceptions, Opin
ions and Belief. Our actions are influenced by our passions; our passions influence our perceptions, opinions, and belief; and our opinions of men and things are generally directed by affection.
An advice given by a man of figure, hath great weight; the same advice from one in a low condition is despised or neglected: a man of courage underrates danger; and to the indolent the slightest obstacle appears insurmountable.
This doctrine is of great use in logic; and of still greater use in criticism, by serving to explain several principles in the fine arts that will be unfolded in the course of this work. A few general observations shall at present suffice, leaving the subject to be prošecuted moi e particularly afterward, when occasion offers,
There is no truth more universally known, than that tranquillity and sedateness are the proper state of mind for accurate perception and cool deliberation ; and, for that reason, we never regard the opinion even of the wisest man, when we discover prejudice or passion behind the curtain. Passion, as observed above, hath such influence over us, as to give a false light to all its objects. Agreeable passions prepossess the mind in favor of their objects, and disagreeable passions, no less against their objects: a woman is all perfection in her lover's opinion, while, in the eye of rival beauty, she is awkward and disagreeable; when the passion of love is gone, beauty vanishes with it.
Arguments of a favorite opinion pervert the judgment; and those that are disagreeable to the mind, are passed over as erroneous intruders.
Anger raised by an accidental stroke upon a tender part of the body, is sometimes vented upon the undesigning cause. The passion in that case is absurd ; there is no solid gratification in punishing the innocent; the mind, prone to justify, as to gratify its passion, deludes itself into a conviction of the action's being voluntary. The conviction is momentary: the first reflection shows it to be erroneous; and the passion vanishes with the conviction. But anger, the most violent of all passions, has still greater influence: it forces the mind to personify a stock or stone, if it happen to occasion bodily pain, and even to believe it a voluntary agent, in order to be a proper object of resentment.
Of such personification, involving a conviction of reality, there is one illustrious instance. When the first bridge of boats over the Hellespont was destroyed by a storm, Xerxes fell into a transport. of rage, so excessive, that he commanded the sea to be punished with 300 stripes, and a pair of fetters to be thrown into it, enjoining the following words to be pronounced: “O thou salt and bitter water! thy master hath condemned thee to this punishment for offending him with
out cause; and is resolved to pass over thee in spite of thy insolence: with reason all men neglect to sacrifice to thee, because thou art both disagreeable and treacherous." Herodotus, B. 7.
Shakspeare exhibits beautiful examples of the irregular influence of passion in making us believe things to be otherwise than they are. King Lear, in his distress, personifies the rain, wind, and thunder; and, in order to justify his resentment, believes them to be taking part with his daughters : Lear.
Spit, fire! spout, rain!
Act III. Sc. 2. King Richard, full of indignation against his favorite horse for carrying Bolingbroke, is led into the conviction of his being rational:
Groom. O, how it yearn’d my heart, when I beheld
K. Rich. Rode he on Barbary? tell me, gentle friend, how went he under him?
Groom. So proudly as he had disdain'd the ground.
RICHARD II.--Act V Sc. 5.
How does anger affect our judgment?
What fine instance of the influence of passion does Shakspeare give in Lear?-in King Richard II.?
The resemblance of Emotions to their Causes. That many emotions have some resemblance to their causes, is a truth that can be made clear by induction; though, as far as I know, the observation has not been made by any writer. Motion, in its different circumstances, is productive of feelings that resemble it: sluggish motion produces a languid feeling; slow motion, a calm feeling; brisk motion, a lively feeling. A large object swells the heart: an elevated object makes the spectator stand erect.
Sounds also produce emotions or feelings that resemble them; a low sound brings down the mind; a full tone communicates solemnity; a sharp sound elevates or swells the mind. A wall or pillar declining from the perpendicular produces a painful feeling; a column with a base looks firm, and though the cylinder is a more beautiful figure, yet the cube for a base is preferred ; its angles being extended to a greater distance from the centre than the circumference of a cylinder. This excludes not a different reason, that the base, the shaft, and the capital of a pillar, ought, for the sake of variety, to differ from each other; if the shaft be round, the base and capital ought to be square.
A constrained posture, uneasy to the man himself, is disagreeable to the spectator; whence a rule in painting, that the drapery ought not to adhere to the body, but hang loose, that the figures may appear easy and free in their movements. The constrained posture of a French dancing-master in one of Hogarth's pieces, is for that reason disagreeable; and it is also ridiculous, because the constraint is assumed as a grace.
The foregoing observation is not confined to emotions or feelings raised by still life: it holds also in what are raised by the qualities, actions, and passions, of a sensible being. Love inspired by a fine woman assumes her qualities : it is sublime, soft, tender, severe, or gay, according to its cause. This is still more remarkable in emotions raised by human actions: a signal instance of gratitude, beside procuring esteem for the author, raises in the spectator a vague emotion of gratitude, which disposes him to be grateful; and this vague emotion has a strong resemblance to its cause, the passion that produced the grateful action. Hence the choice of books and of company.
Grief, as well as joy, is infectious; so is fear, as in an army when struck with a sudden panic. Pity is similar to its cause; the anguish of remorse produces a harsh pity: if extreme, the pity is mixed with hor
Covetousness, cruelty, and treachery, raise no similar emotions in a spectator; they excite. abhor- . rence, and fortify the beholder in his aversion to such actions.
Final Causes of the more frequent Emotions and Passions.
It is a law in our nature, that we never act but by the impulse of desire; which, in other words, is saying, that passion, by the desire included in it, is what determines the will. Hence in the conduct of life, it is of importance, that our passions be directed to proper objects, tend to just and rational ends, and, with relation to each other, be duly balanced. The beauty of contrivance, so conspicuous in the human frame, is not confined to the rational part of our nature, but is visible over the whole. Concerning the passions in particular, however irregular, headstrong, and per