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proprieties of personal conduct and of the intercourse of life, than they are in fact, were it not for the fear of this species of retribution. It is true, it is not powerful enough, nor is it the appropriate instrument, to attack the more marked depravities incident to our nature, the strong holds of its sin ; but it is unquestionably an effective and useful agent in its application to whatever is mean, incongruous, and unseemly.
-See, in connection with this subject, Campbell's Philosophy of Rhetoric, Bk. I. ch. 3d, and Beattie on Laughter and Ludicrous Compositions.
INSTANCES OF OTHER SIMPLE EMOTIONS.
§. 83. Emotions of cheerfulness, joy, and gladness., Under the general head of Emotions, there are many other simple feelings, which merit some attention. Although they are perhaps not less essential to our nature, and not less important, than those which have been already attended to, we do not find so many difficulties in their examination, and but a few remarks will be wanting to explain them. We begin with the emotion of cheerfulness.
Of the nature of this feeling none can be supposed to be ignorant. It exists, in a greater or less degree, throughout the whole course of
It is seen in the benignant looks, and is heard in the garrulity of old age ; it sheds its consolations over the anxieties and toils of manhood ; and reigns with a sort of perpetual spring in youth.
The words joy and delight express a high degree of cheerfulness ; the feeling is the same; the difference is in its greater intensity. The word gladness is nearly synonymous with these last ; but seems to be applied particularly, when the joy is of a more sudden and less permanent character.
§. 84. Emotions of melancholy, sorrow, and grief. While there are many things in life, which are fitted to make us cheerful and happy, every one must know, that for wise purposes a degree of bitterness is mingled in our cup, and that circumstances occur from time to time, which are of an opposite tendency. And these prove to us occasions of melancholy, which is the name of another specific simple emotion.
There are different degrees of this emotion, as well as of that of cheerfulness. We sometimes express the very slightest degeee of it by the words uneasiness or discontent. When the feeling of melancholy is from any circumstance greatly increased, we usually give it the name of sorrow ; 50 that sorrow seems to hold nearly the same relation to melancholy, that joy does to cheerfulness.
The word grief also has nearly the same relation to sorrow, that gladness has to joy. As far as the mere feeling is concerned, which they represent, the two words grief and sorrow may be regarded as synonymous with each other ; with this exception, that the term grief is commonly employed, when the sorrow exists suddenly and with great strength. Hence grief sometimes shows itself by external signs, and even in frantic transports ; while sorrow, even when it is deeply rooted, is more tacit, enduring, and uncommunicative.
3. 85. Emotions of surprise, astonishment, and wonder. Whenever any thing novel and unexpected presents itself to our notice, whether in nature or in ordinary events, we experience a new simple emotion, distinct from any which has hitherto been mentioned, which we call a feeling of surprise. We are aware, that this view is not adopted by Dr. Adam Smith.
“Surprise, (he remarks in one of his Philosophical Essays,) is not to be (regarded as an original emotion, distinct from all others. The violent and sudden change produced upon the mind, when an emotion of any kind is brought upon it, constitutes the whole nature of surprise,” This remark, although coming from a person of acknowledged acuteness, seems to have been unadvisedly made. If there be actually no such feeling as that of surprise, it cannot easily be accounted for, that a term expressive of it is found in all languages. And, furthermore, the existence of such a feeling, of a specific nature and distinct from all others, seems to be as fully warranted by our own consciousness and the general testimony of men, as that of any feeling whatever. If Mr. Smith had said, a violent and sudden change of the mind, (that is, some new, sudden, and unexpected perception,) constitutes, not the emotion itself, but in general the occasion of the emotion of surprise, his language would have been less objectionable.
We sometimes use the word astonishment, which does not express a different emotion, but the same emotion in a different degree. When the feeling is exceedingly strong, it seems to suspend for a time the whole action of the mind, and we say of a person in such a situation, not merely that he is surprised, but is astonished or amazed.
When the facts or events, which occasion the surprise, are of such a singular and complicated character, as to induce us to dwell upon them for a length of time, the feeling arising is then often called wonder. It is not, however, a different emotion from what we ordinarily call surprise, but the same emotion, modified by different circumstances.
It may be added here, that this emotion is highly important to our preservation, security, and improvement. It is in new circumstances, in untried and unexplored situations, that we are particularly required to be upon our guard, since we know not what effects may attend them, nor whether these effects may prove good or evil to us.
Happily for us, the emotion of surprise and astonishment which we experience at such times, is very vivid, so much so as to arrest for a time both our perceptions and our conduct, and to compel us to pause and consider, where we are, and what is to be done. Certainly this is a beneficent provision ; for if nature had formed us unsusceptible of such vivid feelings, we should have gone on without being apprehensive of the consequences, and in that way often have plunged amid inexpressible evils.
§. 86. Emotions of dissatisfaction, displeasure, and disgust. There is another emotion, which approaches very near to the feeling of melancholy, and still slightly differs from it, which we express by the term dissatisfaction. It is a painful
feeling, though only in a small degree ; but its nature, like that of all other simple emotions, cannot be fully understood, except by a reference to the testimony of our own inward experience.
When from any circumstance the emotion of dissatisfaction exists in an increased degree, we often express this difference, although the nature of the feeling remains the same, by another term, that of displeasure.
There appear to be other forms of the simple feeling of dissatisfaction. The feeling of disgust is the emotion of dissatisfaction, existing in an increased degree, but under such circumstances as to distinguish it, in the view of our consciousness, from the feeling of displeasure. The latter feeling approximates more closely to an emotion of hostility to the cause of it, than the former. The terms are sometimes used together, and yet not as perfectly synonymous ; as when we say, that, on a certain occasion, we were both displeased, and disgusted.
§. 87. Emotions of diffidence, modesty, and shame. There is an emotion, often indicated outwardly by a half averted look and a shyness and awkwardness of manner, expressed by the term diffidence. An interesting modification of this feeling, as we suppose it to be, is modesty ; differing from diffidence, perhaps slightly in kind or nature, but probably only in degree. Although this feeling attracts but little notice in the genealogy of our mental operations, and occupies but a small space in its description, it is important in its results. It combines its influences, in connection with the natural desire of regard or esteem, in keeping men in their place, and in thus sustaining that propriety of conduct and those gradations of honor and of duty, which are so essential to the existence and the happiness of society.
A higher degree of this mental state is shame. When we find ourselves involved in any marked improprieties of conduct, this feeling exists; characterized outwardly by a downcast eye and a flushed countenance. It is not, however, exclusively attendant upon guilt; although guilt, among other consequences flowing from it, is in part punished in this way. But seems to be, rather, an appropriate punishment, attendant on those minor violations of decency and order, which may exist without an infringement on morals.
S. 88. Emotions of regard, reverence, and adoration. Different from all the feelings, which have now been mentioned, is the emotion of regard or respect, which, in its simplest form at least, we exercise towards the great mass of our fellow beings. The mere fact, that they are creatures of God, and are possessed of intellectual and moral powers like our own, is deemed sufficient to lay the foundation of the exercise of this feeling towards them.
When we observe in any individuals marked traits of mental excellence, as wisdom, truth, and justice, especially when these traits are expanded and exalted by great age, the feeling of respect, which we exercise in ordinary cases, is heightened into reverence. Every country can boast of a few such men, the just objects of the deepened regard of reverence; and the eyes of successive generations have been turned with the same deep feeling towards those, who are scattered along, in various places, in the long tract of history.
When the reverence or veneration is free from every inferior intermixture; in other words, when the object of it is regarded as without weakness and possessed of every possible perfection, it then becomes adoration ; a homage of the soul, so pure and exalted that it properly belongs only to the Supreme Being. The wisdom of the wisest men is often perplexed with errors; the goodness of the best of men is marred by occasional infirmities ; how much deeper, therefore, and purer and more elevated will be our sentiments of veneration, when directed towards Him, whose wisdom never fails, and who is not only just and kind in his administrations, but the original and inexhaustible source of beneficence and rectitude !
We conclude here the examination of the Emotions. We would not pretend, that this part of our sentient nature has been fully explored, in the views which have been taken ; but would hope, that so much has been said as to throw some satisfactory light upon it, and to leave us at liberty to turn to another class of subjects.