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tion from deformity, is permanent, and is in some way connected with the established nature of things, is confirmed by the fact, that the standard of beauty in one age has been essentially the standard of beauty in another, from the beginning of time down to the present hour. The great works of literature, which secured the suffrages of the universal mind in the age of Homer and the Hebrew prophets, retain their ascendency yet. The song of Virgil and the eloquence of Tully come over the heart of those, who are able to appreciate them, with as much power, as when they were first uttered. No later age or country has ever pronounced the great works of ancient architecture, the Temple of Theseus, the Parthenon, the Coliseum, and numberless others, to be destitute of those high attractions, which the nations of antiquity concurred in ascribing to them. And in the sister art of sculpture, it is well known that the specimens of statuary, which were the boast of the age of Phidias, have formed the study of the era of Canova.' And it is the same in all the departments of the polite arts. Intrinsic Beauty, where it appears at all, stands forth imperishable in fact, which is certainly an evidence of an imperishable nature. Accordingly, under the conviction of its being of this character, Sir Joshua Reynolds says of the painter, if he aims at distinguished excellence, “he must disregard all local and temporary ornaments, and look only on those general habits which are every where and always the same ; he addresses his works to the people of every country and every age; he calls upon posterity to be his spectators, and says with Zeuxis, IN ÆTERNITATEM PINGO.”
EMOTIONS OF THE LUDICROUS.
$. 74. General nature of emotions of the ludicrous. In prosecuting the general subject of emotions, we are next to consider another well known class, which are of a character somewhat peculiar, viz. emotions of the ludicrous.
It is difficult to give a precise definition of this feeling, although the same may be said of it, as in respect to emotions of beauty, that it is a pleasant or delightful one. But the pleasure, which we experience, receives a peculiar modification, and one, which cannot be fully conveyed in words, in consequence of our perception of some incongruity in the person or thing, which is the cause of it. - In this case, as in many other inquiries in mental philosophy, we are obliged to rely chiefly on our own consciousness, and our knowledge of what takes place in ourselves.
§. 75. Occasions of emotions of the ludicrous. It may, however, assist us in the better understanding of them, if we say something of the occasions, on which the emotions of the ludicrous are generally found to arise. And among other things it is exceedingly clear, that this feeling is never experienced, except when we notice something, either in thoughts, or in outward objects and actions, which is unexpected and uncommon. That is to say, whenever this emotion is felt, there is always an unexpected discovery by us of some new relations. But then it must be observed, that the feeling in question does not necessarily exist in consequence of the discovery of such new relations merely. Something more is necessary, as may be very readily seen.
T:s we are sometimes, in the physical sciences, pre&:w.ch respected and novel combinations of the prop
es usines of boelies. But whenever we discover in 18 sizces relacions ia objects, which were not only untevi zecced, we find no emotion of ludicrousness, 2x rere very peasantly surprised. Again, similies, III N Dicaberite figures of speech imply in general see kunderpected relations of ideas. It is this trait 19. v2res them their chief force. But when emFutsers wepositions, they are of a character far segas
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si to express in words.
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Thus, we are sometimes, in the physical sciences, presented with unexpected and novel combinations of the properties and qualities of bodies. But whenever we discover in those sciences relations in objects, which were not only unknown, but unsuspected, we find no emotion of ludicrousness, although we are very pleasantly surprised. Again, similies, metaphors, and other like figures of speech imply in general some new and unexpected relations of ideas. It is this trait in them, which gives them their chief force. But when employed in serious compositions, they are of a character far from being ludicrous.
Hence we infer, that emotions of ludicrousness do not exist on the discovery of new and unexpected relations, unless there is at the same time a perception, or supposed perception of some incongruity or unsuitableness. Such perception of unsuitableness may be expected to give to the whole emotion a new and specific character, which every one is acquainted with from his own experience, but which, as before intimated, it is difficult to express in words.
§. 76. Of Hobbes' account of the ludicrous. There has not been an entire uniformity on the subject of the emotions of the ludicrous. It would seem, that Hobbes (HUMAN NATURE, CHAP. ix.) considered feelings of this kind, as depending on a modification of mere pride in a comparison of ourselves with others to our own advantage. He says of laughter, which, when considered in reference to the mind and independently of the mere muscular action, is nothing more than a feeling of the ludicrous, that it is a sudden glory, arising from a sudden conception of some eminency in ourselves, by comparison with the infirmity of others, or with our own formerly.”—To this notion of the origin of this class of our feelings, there are some objections ; viz.-(1) In many instances we have the feeling in question, when there is evidently no discovery of any infirmity, either in the witty person, or in the subject of his wit, over which we can ourselves triumph with any good reason. -(2) Further, if the doctrine, which resolves the emotions of ludicrousness into a proud comparison of ourselves with others, were correct, it would follow, that the most proud and self-conceited