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most ready to abuse it thus, are not the most remarkable for any exercise of it by which society can be profited. There is a species of deception in the case, which it is not beside the purpose briefly to unravel.
It hath been observed that sense invariably makes a stronger impression than memory, and memory a stronger than imagination; yet there are particular circumstances which appear to form an exception, and to give an efficacy to the ideas of imagination, beyond what either memory or sense can boast. So great is the anomaly which sometimes displays itself in human characters, that it is not impossible to find persons who are quickly made to cry at seeing a tragedy, or reading a romance, which they know to be fictions, and yet are both inattentive and unfeeling in respect of the actual objects of compassion who live in their neighbourhood, and are daily under their eye. Nevertheless, this is an exception from the rule, more in appearance than in reality. The cases are not parallel : there are certain circumstances which obtain in the one, and have no place in the other; and to these peculiarities the difference in the effect is solely imputable. What follows will serve fully to explain my meaning.
Men may be of a selfish, contracted, and even avaricious disposition, who are not what we should denominate hard-hearted, or insusceptible of sympathetic feeling. Such will gladly enjoy the luxury of pity (as Hawkesworth terms it) when it nowise interferes with their more powerful passions ; that is, when it comes unaccompanied with a demand upon their pockets. With the tragic or the romantic hero or heroine they most cordially sympathize, because the only tribute which wretches of their dignity exact from them is sighs and tears. And of these their consciences inform them, to their inexpressible consolation, that they are no niggards. But the case is totally different with living objects. Barren tears and sighs will not satisfy these. Hence it is that people's avarice, a most formidable adversary to the unhappy, is interested to prevent their being moved by such, and to make them avoid, as much as possible, every opportunity of knowing or seeing them. But as that cannot always be done, as commiseration is attended with benevolence, and as benevolence itself, if not gratified, by our giving relief when it is in our power, embitters the pleasure which would otherwise result from pity, as the refusal is also attended with self-reproach ; a person of such a temper, strongly, and for the part effectually, resists his being moved. He puts his ingenuity to the rack, in order to satisfy himself that he ought not to be affected. He is certain that the person is not a proper object of beneficence, he is convinced that his distress is more pretended than real; or, if that cannot be alleged, the man hath surely brought it on by his vices, therefore he deserves to suffer, and is nowise entitled to our pity; or at least he makes not a good use of what may charitably, but injudiciously, be bestowed upon him. Such are the common shifts by which selfishness eludes the calls of humanity, and chooses to reserve all its worthlesss stock of pity for fictitious objects, or for those who, in respect of time, or place or eminence, are beyond its reach.
8 In the parable of the compassionate Samaritan, Luke x. 30, &c. this disposition to shun the sight of misery, which one is resolved not to redress, is finely touched in the conduct of the priest and the Levite, who, when they espied a person naked, wounded, and almost expiring on the road, are said to have “ passed by on the other side.” Indeed, in the account given of the Levite in our version, there is a something which, to me, has a contradictory appearance. He “ came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.” There is not a vestige of this inconsistency in the original, which says simply, eMbw nav id'or avôo trapnadev, the meaning of which plainly is, “ travelling that way, and seeing one in this wretched plight, he kept on ihe other side of the road, and passed on." In such a case, a man who is not quite obdurate, would avoid the cutting reflection, that he knows any thing of the matter, And though he must be conscious that he knew a little, and might have known more if he would, he is glad to gloss his inhumanity even to himself, with some pretext of hurry or thoughtlessness, or any thing that may conceal the naked truth,-a truth which he is as averse to discover in himself, as he is to see in another the misery which he is determined not to relieve.
For these reasons, I am satisfied that compassion alone, especially that displayed on occasion of witnessing public spectacles, is at best but a very weak evidence of philanthropy. The only proof that is entirely unequivocal, is actual beneficence, when one seeks out the real objects of commiseration, not as a matter of self-indulgence, but in order to bring relief to those who need it, to give hope to the desponding, and comfort to the sorrowful, for the sake of which one endures the sight of wretchedness, when, instead of giving pleasure, it distresseth every feeling heart. Such, however, enjoy at length a luxury far superior to that of pity, the godlike luxury of dispelling grief, communicating happiness, and doing good.
THE PHILOSOPHY OF RHETORIC.
THE FOUNDATIONS AND ESSENTIAL PROPERTIES OF
The Nature and Characters of the Use which gives Law, to
Language. ELOQUENCE hath always been considered, and very justly, as having a particular connexion with language. It is the intention of eloquence to convey our sentiments into the minds of others, in order to produce a certain effect upon them. Language is the only vehicle by which this conveyance can be made. The art of speaking, then, is not less necessary to the orator than the art of thinking. Without the latter, the former could not have existed. Without the former, the latter would be ineffective. Every tongue whatever is founded in use or custom,
- Whose arbitrary sway
Language is purely a species of fashion (for this holds equally of every tongue) in which, by the general but tacit consent of the people of a particular state or country, certain sounds come to be appropriated to certain things, as their signs, and certain ways of inflecting and combining those sounds come to be established, as denoting the relations which subsist among the things signified.
It is not the business of grammar, as some critics seem preposterously to imagine, to give law to the fashions which regulate our speech. On the contrary, from its conformity to these, and from that alone, it derives all its authority and value. For, what is the grammar of any language? It is no other than a
Quem penes arbitrium est et jus et norma loquendi.
Hor. De Arte Poet.
collection of general observations methodically digested, and comprising all the modes previously and independently established, by which the significations, derivations, and combinations of words in that language are ascertained. It is of no consequence here to what causes originally these modes or fashions owe their existence, to imitation, to reflection, to affectation, or to caprice; they no sooner obtain and become general, than they are laws of the language, and the grammarian's only business is to note, collect, and methodize them. Nor does this truth concern only those more comprehensive analogies or rules, which affect whole classes of words, such as nouns, verbs, and the other parts of speech; but it concerns every individual word, in the inflecting or the combining of which a particular mode hath prevailed. Every single anomaly, therefore, though departing from the rule assigned to the other words of the same class, and on that account called an exception, stands on the same basis on which the rules of the tongue are founded, custom having prescribed for it a separate rule.
The truth of this position hath never, for aught I can remember, been directly controverted by any body; yet it is certain, that both critics and grammarians often argue in such a way as is altogether inconsistent with it. What, for example. shall we make of that complaint of Doctor Swift, “that our language, in many instances, offends against every part of grammar? ?" Or what could the doctor's notion of grammar be, when expressed himself in this manner ? Some notion, possibly, he had of grammar in the abstract, an universal archetype by which the particular grammars of all different tongues ought to be regulated. If this was his meaning, I cannot say whether he is in the right or in the wrong in this accusation. I acknowledge myself to be entirely ignorant of this ideal grammar; nor can I form a conjecture where its laws are to be learnt. One thing, indeed, every smatterer in philosophy will tell us, that there can be no natural connexion between the sounds of any language, and the things signified, or between the modes of inflection and combination and the relations they are intended to express. Perhaps he meant the grammar of some other language; if so, the charge was certainly true, but not to the purpose, since we can say with equal truth, of every language, that it offends against the grammar of every other language whatsoever. If he meant the English
1 Thus in the two verbs call and shall, the second person singular of the former is callest, agreeably to the general rule, the second person singular of the latter is shalt, agreeably to a particular rule affecting that verb. To say shallest for shult, would be as much a barbarism, though according to the general rule, as to say calt for callest, which is according to no rule.
2 Letter to the Lord High Treasurer, &c.
the lapthing, and writing that there it is gepitessing himas there it
grammar, I would ask, whence has that grammar derived its laws? If from general use, (and I cannot conceive another origin, then it must be owned, that there is a general use in that language as well as in others; and it were absurd to accuse the language which is purely what is conformable to general use in speaking, and writing as offending against general use. But if he meant to say, that there is no fixed, established, or general use in the language, that it is quite irregular, he hath been very unlucky in his manner of expressing himself. Nothing is more evident, than that where there is no law there is no transgression. In that case, he ought to have said that it is not susceptible of grammar; which, by the way, would not have been true of English, or indeed of any the most uncultivated language on the earth.
It is easy then to assign the reason, why the justness of the complaint, as Doctor Lowth observes, has never yet been questioned; it is purely because, not being understood, it hath never been minded. But if, according to this ingenious gentle. man, the words our language, have, by a new kind of trope, been used to denote those who speak and write English, and no more have been intended than to signify, that our best speakers and most approved authors frequently offend against the rules of grammar, that is, against the general use of language, I shall not here enter on a discussion of the question. Only let us rest in these as fixed principles, that use, or the custom of speaking, is the sole original standard of conversation, as far as regards the expression, and the custom of writing is the sole standard of style: that the latter comprehends the former, and something more; that to the tribunal of use, as to the supreme authority, and consequently, in every grammatical controversy, the last resort, we are entitled to appeal from the laws and the decisions of grammarians ; and that this order of subordination ought never, on any account, to be reversed4.
But if use be here a matter of such consequence, it will be necessary, before advancing any further, to ascertain precisely what it is. We shall otherwise be in danger, though we agree about the name, of differing widely in the notion that we assign to it.
Section 1.—Reputable Use.
In what extent then must the word be understood ? It is sometimes called general use ; yet is it not manifest that the
3 Preface to his Introduction to English Grammar.
4 Non ratione nititur analogia, sed exemplo : nec lex est loquendi, sed observatio : ut ipsam analogiam nulla res alia fecerit, quam consuetudo. Quint. Inst. 1. i. c. 6.