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by any such means; but the idea of comforting by such. a procedure, or the idea of comforting in the thing to be illustrated by this allusion, if any thing be meant to illustrate, are quite out of the question. No one ever conceived the intention of the tragic poet to be, to comfort his audience; he means to distress them; he exerts the 'utmost force of his genius to distress them; to give them as touching a feeling of the sorrow which he paints, as mere sympathy is capable of receiving. So is it with the deserted parent: he who would ingratiate himself with him cannot take a more effectual means than to catch him in his tenderest moments, and, with all the eloquence of words, expatiate on the virtues, the shining qualities, the promising hopes of his child. Such a conduct would be unkind; it would be cruel; but it would be effectual. He would win the heart of the parent, in the very moment, and by the very act, which was rending it in pieces. It is through the gate of sympathy that he gains this access
to his heart; the parent embraces the man, in whom he acknowledges a fellow heart, one who appears to feel up to the very height of that sense, which he has himself, of his loss. I have bestowed, perhaps, more attention
systems than they may be thought to merit; as, whatever ingenuity they may day claim to, they have little ground of experiment in human nature to stand upon. But the examination of them has answered the principal purpose. The analysis of their defects discovers in every step the real source of the whole phænomenon; and what is of more importance, it discovers the wise provision of the great author of all for conducting the economy of the moral as the material world. But the simplicity of nature offends some; to discover only what every one may discover, and what nature forces upon the notice of all, argues no superiority of genius'; they suppose, they invent, they create, and in defiance of nature they erect
vain monuments of their own wit and ingenuity. In every
view of the human mind, during the exhibition of tragic imitations, compassion, or sympathy, in a more extended sense, presents itself as the operating principle, the immediate sense to which such scenes address themselves. This is the only principle within us, which is sufficient to attach us to misery; to connect a being who is interested for himself, and is in the constant pursuit of his own proper happiness, to connect such a being with the unhappy, and as by an irresistible impulse introduce him to a partnership in their afflictions.
The contradiction, therefore, which this propensity, at the first view, carries with it to a leading principle of our own natures, vanishes when we consider it in this important light; we appear to act in perfect consistence with an acknowledged, and powerful, and highly valuable principle of our natures. While our other senses are
continually opening themselves to their proper objects, it would be strange indeed if this internal sense, whose aim is directed to the noblest character of man, were reluctant to its proper exercise, and averse to those objects, and to those scenes, which immediately address themselves to it. This would argue indeed a defect in his constitution, such as could not easily be reconciled to our ideas of that designing wisdom, which intended him to be one beautiful and hará monious whole.
If, indeed, the end of compassion, as a principle of human nature, were directed only to particular exigencies in human life, as an instant stimulus to acts of kind protection, and humane alleviation of fellow misery, it might be thought sufficient if it were reserved for such interesting occasions; and the mind were not led by a further impulse to the participation of distress, when no immediate object of our benevolent interposition is before us. But compassion was implanted in us with more extensive
views, not merely that it might come in aid of our good will on pressing occasions, which may justify the pain it gives us; but that, by a more regular and uniform exerçise, it might minister to the sublimest virtue of man, and dispose us, on every occasion, to. wish and do well to the creature like our, şelves.
There is a striking difference in the ex-, ercise of this sense, as referred to the real distresses of human life, and to the fictitious ones of tragedy; and this difference is wisely adapted to their respective uses, When we are summoned to immediate action, the sympathetic feeling is pain unmixed, in order to give power and velocity to the benevolent stimulus.
We have no propensity, therefore, to such scenes; we do not wish them to exist, in order that our compassion and benevolence may have a field to action; though he who orders, or rather permits them, has wisely provided that the calamities of human beings shall operate to the moral improvement and per.