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of his father-in-law, but also that he swallowed aconite in execution of the sentence. If this were true, it would have been mentioned by more authors.

The number of ancient and modern writers who have exer. cised their pens on Aristotle, either in commenting on, or translating him, is endless. A catalogue of them is to be met with in some of the editions of his works, but not a complete one. See also a treatise of Father Labbé, entitled "A Short View of the Greek Interpreters of Aristotle and Plato,” hitherto published; printed at Paris in the year 1657 in four volumes. Mr. Teiffer names four authors who have composed Lives of Aristotle: Ammonius, Guarini of Verona, John James Beurerus, and Leonard Aretin. He forgot Jerome Gemusams, physician and professor of philosophy at Basil, author of a book, "De Vita Aristotelis et Ejus Operum Censura” (The Life of Aristotle, and a Critique on His Works).

Complete. From «The Historical and Critical Dictionary.)



AMES BEATTIE, the Scottish poet and essayist, was born at

Laurencekirk, October 25th, 1735, and educated at Marischal

College, Aberdeen. His family was poor, and after leaving college he spent several years as a schoolmaster in the Grampian Hills. In 1760 he became Professor of Moral Philosophy in Marischal College and held the position for many years. In 1773 he began the publication of “The Minstrel," a poem which did much to make him celebrated. His essays published between 1770 and 1793 are chiefly on philosophical and metaphysical subjects. They brought him into such favor that the English government granted him a pension of £200 a year. He died August 18th, 1803.


Ego vero omni de re facetius puto posse ab homine non inurbano, quam de ipsis facetiis, disputari.— Cicero.

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F MAN, it is observed by Homer, that he is the most wretched,

and, by Addison and others, that he is the merriest animal

in the whole creation: and both opinions are plausible, and both perhaps may be true. If, from the acuteness and delicacy of his perceptive powers, from his remembrance of the past, and his anticipation of what is to come, from his restless and creative fancy, and from the various sensibilities of his moral nature, man be exposed to many evils, both imaginary and real, from which the brutes are exempted, he does also from the same sources derive innumerable delights that are far beyond the reach of every other animal. That our pre-eminence in pleasure should thus in some degree be counterbalanced by our pre-eminence in pain was necessary to exercise our virtue and wean our hearts from sublu. nary enjoyment; and that beings thus beset with a multitude of sorrows should be supplied from so many quarters with the means of comfort is suitable to that benign economy which characterizes every operation of nature.

When a brute has gratified those few appetites that minister to the support of the species and of the individual, he may be said to have attained the summit of happiness, above which a thousand years of prosperity could not raise him a single step. But for man, her favorite child, Nature has made a more liberal provision. He, if he have only guarded against the necessities of life, and indulged the animal part of his constitution, has ex. perienced but little of that felicity whereof he is capable. To say nothing at present of his moral and religious gratifications, is he not furnished with faculties that fit him for receiving pleasure from almost every part of the visible universe ? Even to those persons whose powers of observation are confined within a narrow circle, the exercise of the necessary arts may open inexhaustible sources of amusement, to alleviate the cares of a solitary and laborious life. Men of more enlarged understanding and more cultivated taste are still more plentifully supplied with the means of innocent delight. For such, either from acquired habit, or from innate propensity, is the soul of man, that there is hardly anything in art or nature from which we may not derive gratification. What is great, overpowers with pleasing astonishment; what is little, may charın by its nicety of proportion or beauty of color; what is diversified, pleases by supplying a series of novelties; what is uniform, by leading us to reflect on the skill displayed in the arrangement of its parts; order and connection gratify our sense of propriety; and certain forms of irregularity and unsuitableness raise within us that agreeable emotion whereof laughter is the outward sign.

Risibility, considered as one of the characters that distinguish man from the inferior animals, and as an instrument of harmless, and even of profitable, recreation to every age, condition and capacity of human creatures must be allowed to be not unworthy of the philosopher's notice. Whatever is peculiar to rational nature must be an object of some importance to a rational being; and Milton has observed that:

«Smiles from reason flow, To brutes denied.”

Whatever may be employed as a means of discountenancing vice, folly, or falsehood is an object of importance to a moral being: and Horace has remarked:

« Ridiculum acri
Fortius et melius magnas plerumque secat res. »

Ridicule shall frequently prevail,
And cut the knot when graver reasons fail.

- Francis.


Let this apology suffice at present for my choice of a subject. Even this apology might have been spared, for nothing is below the attention of philosophy, which the Author of Nature has been pleased to establish.

In tracing out the cause of laughter, I mean rather to illustrate than to censure the opinions of those who have already written on the same subject. The investigation has been several times attempted; nor is the cause altogether unknown. Yet, notwithstanding former discoveries, the following may perhaps be found to contain something new; to throw light on certain points of criticism that have not been much attended to; and even to have some merit (if I execute my purpose) as a familiar example of philosophical induction carried on with a strict regard to fact and without any previous bias in favor of any theory. To provoke laughter is not essential either to wit or to hu

For though that unexpected discovery of resemblance between ideas supposed dissimilar, which is called wit, and that comic exhibition of singular characters, sentiments, and imagery, which is denominated humor, do frequently raise laughter, they do not raise it always. Addison's poem to Sir Godfrey Knel. ler, in which the British kings are likened to heathen gods, is exquisitely witty, and yet not laughable. Pope's “Essay on Man” abounds in serious wit; and examples of serious humor are not uncommon in Fielding's History of Parson Adams,” and in Addison's account of Sir Roger de Coverley. Wit, when the subject is grave, and the allusion sublime, raises admiration instead of laughter; and if the comic singularities of a good man appear in circumstances of real distress, the imitation of those singularities, in the epic or dramatic comedy, will form a species of humor, which if it should force a smile, will draw forth a tear at the same time. An inquiry, therefore, into the distinguishing characters of wit and humor has no necessary connection with the present subject. I did, however, once intend to have touched upon them in the conclusion of this discourse, but Doctor Campbell's masterly disquisition concerning that matter, in the first part of his “Philosophy of Rhetoric,” makes it improper for me to attempt it. I was favored with a perusal of that work in manuscript, and was agreeably surprised to find my notions, in regard to the cause or object of laughter, so fully warranted by those of my very learned and ingenious friend. And it may not perhaps be improper to inform the public that neither did he know of my having undertaken this argument, nor I of his having discussed that subject, till we came mutually to exchange our papers, for the purpose of knowing one another's sentiments in regard to what we had written.

Some authors have treated of ridicule, without marking the distinction between ridiculous and ludicrous ideas. But I presume the natural order of proceeding in this inquiry is to begin with ascertaining the nature of what is purely ludicrous. Things ludicrous and things ridiculous have this in common, that both excite pure laughter; the latter excite laughter mixed with disapprobation or contempt. My design is to analyze and explain that quality in things or ideas which makes them provoke pure laughter and entitles them to the name of ludicrous or laughable.

When certain objects, qualities, or ideas, occur to our senses, memory, or imagination, we smile or laugh at them, and expect that other men should do the same. To smile on certain occasions is not less natural than to weep at the sight of distress or cry out when we feel pain.

There are different kinds of laughter. As a boy, passing by night through a churchyard, sings or whistles in order to conceal his fear even from himself, so there are men, who, by forcing a smile, endeavor sometimes to hide from others, and from themselves too perhaps, their malevolence or envy. Such laughter is unnatural. The sound of it offends the ear; the features distorted by it seem horrible to the eye. A mixture of hypocrisy, malice, and cruel joy thus displayed on the countenance is one of the most hateful sights in nature, and transforms the “human face divine » into the visage of a fiend. Similar to this is the smile of a wicked person pleasing himself with the hope of accomplishing his evil purposes. Milton gives a striking picture of it in that well-known passage:

“He ceased; for both seem'd highly pleased, and Death
Grin'd horrible a ghastly smile, to hear

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