« AnteriorContinuar »
it does not appear that he wants fpirit, or that fear was the motive of his forbearance, the higher the resentment against the person who injured him. The amiableness of the character exasperates their sense of the atrocity of the injury.
These passions, however, are regarded as necessary parts of the character of human nature. A person becomes contemptible who tamely fits still, and submits to insults, without attempting either to repel or to revenge them. We cannot enter into his indifference and insensibility: we call his behaviour mean-spiritedness, and are as really provoked by it as by the infolence of his advera fary. Even the mob are enraged to see any man submit patiently to affronts and ill usage. They desire to see this infolence resented, and resented by the person who suffers from it. They cry to bim with fury, to defend, or to revenge himself. If his indignation rouses at last, they heartily applaud, and sympathize with it. It enlivens their own indignation against his enemy, whom they rejoice to see him attack in turn, and are as really gratified by his revenge, provided it is not immoderate , as if the injury had been done to themselves.
But though the utility of those passions to the individual, by rendering it dangerous to insult or injure him, be acknowledged; and though their utility to the public, as the guardians of justice and of the equality of its administration, be not less confiderable, as shall be shown hereafter; yet there is still something disagreeable in the passions VOL. I.
themselves, which makes the appearance of them in other men the natural object of our aversion. The exprellion of anger towards any body present, if it exceeds a bare intimation that we are sensible of his ill usage, is regarded not only as an insult to that particular person, but as a rudeness to the whole company. Respect for them ought to have restrained us from giving way to so boisterous and offensive an emotion. It is the remote effects of these passions which are agreeable; the immediate effects are mischief to the person against whom they are directed. But it is the immediate, and not the reniote cllicis of objecis which render them agreeable or disagreeable to the imagination. A prison is certainly more useful to the public than a palace; and the person who founds the one is generally directed, by a much juster spirit of patriotism, than he who builds the other. But the immediate effects of a prison, the confinement of the wretches shut up in it, are disagreeable; and the imagination either does not take time to trace out the remote ones, or sees them at too great a distance to be much affected by them. A prison, therefore, will always be a disagreeable object; and the fitter it is for the purpose for which it was intended, it will be the more so. A palace, on the contrary, will always be agreeable; yet its remote effects may often be inconvenient to the public. It may serve to promote luxury, and set the example of the dissolution of manners. Its immediate effects, however, the convenience, the pleasure, and the gaiety of the people who live in it, being all agreeable, and suggesting to the imagination a thousand agreeable ideas, that faculty generally rests upon them, and seldom goes further in tracing its more distant consequences. Trophies of the instruments of mufic or of agriculture, imitated in painting or in stucco, inake a common and an agreeable ornament of our halls and dining - rooms. A trophy of the same kind, composed of the instruments of furgery, of diffecting and amputation - knives, of saws for cutting the bones, of trepanning inftruments, &c. would be absurd and shocking. Inftrum'ents of furgery, however, are always more finely polished, and generally more nicely adapted to the purposes for which they are intended, than instruments of agriculture. The remote effects of them too, the health of the patient, is agreeable; yet as the immediate effect of them is pain and suffering, the sight of them always displeases us. Instruments of war are agreeable, though their immediate effect may seem to be in the same manner pain and suffering. But then it is the pain and suffering of our enemies, with whom we have no sympathy. With regard to us, they are immediately connected with the agreeable ideas of courage, victory, and honor. They are themselves, therefore, supposed to make one of the 'noblest parts of dress, and the imitation of them one of the finest ornaments of architecture. It is the same case with the qualities of the mind. The ancient stoics were of opinion, that as the world was governed by the all-ruling providence of a wise, powersul, and good God, every single event ought to be
regarded, as making a necessary part of the plan of the universe, and as tending to promote the general order and happiness of the whole: that the vices and follies of mankind, therefore, made as necessary a part of this plan as their wisdom or their virtue; and by that eternal art which educes good from ill, were made to tend equally to the prosperity and perfection of the great fyftem of nature. No speculation of this kind , however, how deeply soever it might be rooted in the mind, could diminish our natural abhorrence for vice, whose immediate effects are so destructive, and whose remote ones are too distant to be traced by the imagination.
It is the same case with those passions we have been just now considering. Their immediate effects are so disagreeable, that even when they are most justly provoked, there is still something about them which disgusts us. These, therefore, are the only passions of wliich the expressions, as I formerly observed, do not dispose and prepare us to sympathize with them, before we are informed of the cause which excites them. The plaintive voice of misery, when heard at a distance, will not allow us to be indifferent about the person from whom it comes.
As foon as it strikes our ear, it interests us in his fortune, and, if continued, forces us almost involuntarily to fly to his allistance. The fight of a smiling countenance, in the same manner, elevates even the pensive into that gay and airy mood, which disposes him to sympathize with, and share the joy which it expresses; and he
feels his heart, which with thought and care was before that shrunk and depresfed, instantly expanded and elated. But it is quite otherwise with tlie expreffions of hatred and resentment. The hoarse, boisterous, and discordant voice of anger, when heard at a distance, inspires us either with fear or averfion. We do not fly towards it, as to one who eries out with pain and agony. Women, and men of weak nerves, tremble and are overcome with fear, though fensible that themselves are not the objects of the anger. They conceive fear, however, by putting themselves in the situation of the person who is-so. Even those of stouter hearts are disturbed; not indeed enough to make them afraid, but enough to make them angry; for anger is the paflion which they would feel in the situation of the other person. It is the same case with hatred.
Mere expressions of spite inspire it against nobody, but the man who uses them. Both these passions. are by nature the objects of our averfion. Their disagreeable and boisterous appearance never excites, never prepares, and often disturbs our sympathy. Grief does not more powerfully engage and attract us to the person in whom we observe it, than thefe, while we are ignorant of their cause, difguft and detach us from him. It was, it seems , the intention of Nature, that those rougher and. more unamiable emotions, which drive men from one another, should be less easily and more rarely communicated.
When music imitates the modulations of grief or joy, it either actually inspires us with those