« AnteriorContinuar »
passions, or at least puts us in the mood which difposes us to conceive them. But when it imitates the notes of anger, it inspires us with fear. Joy , grief, love, admiration, devotion, are all of them pailions which are naturally musical. Their natural tones are all soft, clear, and melodious; and they naturally express themselves in periods which are distinguished by regular pauses, and which upon that account are easily adapted to the regular returns of the correspondent airs of a tune. The voice of anger, on the contrary, and of all the pallions which are akin to it, is harsh and difcordant. Its periods too are all irregular, fometimes very long, and sometimes very short, and distinguished by no regular pauses. It is with difficulty, therefore, that music can imitate any of those paflions; and the music which does imitate them is not the most agreeable. A whole entertainment may consist, without any impropriety , of the imitation of the social and agreeable paflions. It would be a strange entertainment which consisted altogether of the imitations of hatred and resentment.
If those passions are disagreeable to the spectator, they are not less so to the person who feels them. Hatred and anger are the greatest poison to the happiness of a good mind. There is, in the very feeling of those paifions, something harsh , jarring, and convulsive, something that tears and distracts the breast, and is altogether destructive of that composure and tranquillity of mind which is so neceffary to happiness, and which is best promoted by
the contrary passions of gratitude and love. It is not the value of what they lose by the perfidy.and ingratitude of those they live with, which the generous and humane are most apt to regret. Whatever they may have loft, they can generally be very happy without it. What most difturbs them is the idea of perfidy and ingratitude exercised towards themselves; and the discordant and disagreeable paflions which this excites , conftitute, in their own opinion, the chief part of the injury which they suffer.
How many things are requisite to render the graa tification and resentment completely agreeable, and to make the spectator thoroughly sympathize with our revenge ? The provocation must first of all be such that we should become contemptible, and be exposed to perpetual insults, if we did not, in some measure, resent it. Smaller offences are always better neglected; nor is there any thing more despicable than that froward and captious humor which takes fire upon every slight occasion of quarrel. We should resent more from a sense of the propriety of resentment, from a sense that mankind expect and require it of us, than because we feel in ourselves the furies of that disagreeable passion. There is no pallion, of which the human mind is capable, concerning whose juftness we ought to be so doubtful, concerning whose indulgence we ought so carefully to consult our natural sense of propriety, or so diligently to consider what will be the sentiments of the cool and impartial spectator. Magnanimity, or a regard to maintain our own rank and dignity in society, is the only motive which can ennoble the exprellions of this disagreeable pallion. This motive must characterize our whole style and deportment. These must be plain, open , and direct; determined without positiveness, and elevated without infolence; not only free from petulance and low fcurrility, but generous ,candid, and full of all proper regards, even for the person who has offended us. It must appear, in short, from our whole manner, without our laboring affactedly to express it, 'that pallion las not extinguished our humanity; and that if we yield to the diciates of revenge, it is with reluciance, from necellity, and in consequence of great and repeated provocations. When resentment is guarded and qualified in this manner, it may be admitted to be even generous and noble.
CH A P. IV.
of the Social Passions. As
S it is a divided sympathy which renders the whole set of paslions just now mentioned, upon most occasions, fo ungraceful and disagreeable; so there is another set opposite to these, which a redoubled fympathy renders almost always peculiarly agreeable and becoming. Generosity, humanity, kindness, compaffion, mutual friendship and esteem, all the social and benevolent affections, when ex. pressed in the countenance or behaviour, even towards those who are not peculiarly connected with ourselves, please the indifferent spectator upon almost every occasion. His fympathy with the perfon who feels those paflions, exactly coincides with his concern for the person who is the object of them. The interest, which , as a man, he is obliged to take in the happiness of this last, enlivers his felLow-feeling with the fentiments of the other, whose emotions are employed about the same object. We have always, therefore, the strongest disposition to fympathize with the benevolent affections. They appear in every respect agreeable to us. We enter into the satisfaction both of the person who feels them, and of the person who is the object of them. For as to be the object of hatred and indignation gives more pain than all the evil which a brave man can fear from his enemies; so there is a satisfaction in the consciousness of being beloved, which, to a person of delicacy and sensibility, is of more importance to happiness, than all the advantage which he can expect to derive from it. What character is so detestable as that of one who takes pleasure to fow dissension among friends, and to turn their most tender love into mortal hatred? Yet wherein does the atrocity of this so much abhorred injury confift? Is it in depriving them of the frivolous good offices, whích, had their friendship continued, they might have expected from one another? It is in depriving them of that friendship itself, in robbing them of each other's affections, from which both derived so much fatisfaction; it is in disturbing the harmony of their hearts, and putting an end to that happy commerce which had before fubfifted between them. These affections, that harmony, this commerce, are felt, not only by the tender and the delicate, but by the rudest vulgar of mankind, to be of more importance to happiness than all the little services which could be expected to flow from them.
The sentiment of love is, in 'itself, agreeable to the person who feels it. It fooths and composes the breast, seems to favor the vital motions, and to promote the healthful state of the human confliturion; and it is rendered ftill more delightful by the consciousness of the gratitude and satisfaction which it must excite in him who is the object of it. Their mutual regard renders them happy in one another, and sympathy, with this mutual regard, makes them agreeable to every other person. With what pleasure do we look upon a family, through the whole of which reign mutual love and eíteem, where the parents and children are companions for one another, without any other difference than what is made by respectul affection on the one side, and kind indulgence on the other; where freedom and fondness, mutual raillery and mutual kindness ,, fhow that no oppoậtion of intereft divides the brothers, nor any rivalship of favor sets the hsters at variance, and where every thing presents us with the idea of peace, cheerfulness, harmony, and contentment? On the contrary, how uneasy are we made when we go into a house in which jarring contention sets one half of those who dwell in it against the other;