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reason, will seldom meet with much sympathy. Joy is a pleasant emotion, and we gladly abandon ourselves to it upon the flighteft occasion. We readily, therefore, sympathize with it in others, whenever we are not prejudiced by envy. But grief is painsul, and the mind, even when it is our own misfortune, naturally resists and recoils from it. We would endeavour either not to conceive it at all, or to shake it off as soon as we have conceived it. Our aversion to grief will not, indeed always hinder us from conceiving it in our own case upcn very trifling occasions, but it constantly prevents us from sympathizing with it in others when excited by the like frivolous causes : for our sympathetic passions are always less irresistible than our original ones. There is, besides, a malice in mankind, which not only prevents all sympathy with little uneasinesles, but renders them in some measure diverting. Hence the delight which we all take in raillery, and in the (mall vexation which we observe in our companion, when he is pushed, and urged, and teased upon all sides. Men of the most ordinary good-breeding dissemble the pain which any little incident may give them ; and those who are more thoroughly formed to society, turn, of their own accord, all such incidents into raillery, as they know their companions will do, for them. The habit which a man, who lives in the world, has acquired of considering how every thing that concerns himself will appear to others, makes those frivolous calamities turn up in the
fame ridiculous light to him, in which he knows they will certainly be considered by them.
Our sympathy, on the contrary, with deep distress, is very strong and very fincere. It is unneeessary to give an instance. We weep even at the feigned representation of a tragedy. If you labor , therefore, under any signal calamity, if by some extraordinary misfortune you are fallen into poverty, into diseases, into disgrace and disappointment; even though your own fault may have been , in part, the occasion, yet you may generally depend upon the sincerest sympathy of all your friends, and, as far as interest and honor will permit, upon their kindest assistance too. But if your misfortune is not of this dreadful kind, if you have only been a little baulked in your ambition, if you have only been jilted by your mistress, or are only hen-pecked by your wife, lay your account with the raillery of all your aça quaintance.
Of the effects of Prosperity and Adversity upon
the Judgment of Mankind with regard to the Propriety of Action; and why it is more easy to obtain their Approbation in the one state than in the other.
СНА Р. І.
That though our sympathy with sorrow is generally
a more lively sensation than our sympathy with joy, it commonly falls much more short of the violence of what is naturally felt by the perfon principally concerned.
OUR fympathy with forrow, though not more real, has been more taken notice of than our sympathy with joy. The word sympathy, in its most proper and primitive signification, denotes our fellow-feeling with the sufferings, not that with the enjoyments, of others. A late ingenious and subtile philosopher, thought it necessary to prove, by arguments, that we had a real fympathy with joy, and that congratulation was a principle of human nature. Nobody, I believe, ever thought it necessary to prove that compassion was such.
First of all, our sympathy with sorrow is, in some sense, more universal than that with joy.
Though sorrow is excessive, we may still have some fellow-feeling with it. What we feel does not, indeed, in this case, amount to that complete sympathy, to that perfect harmony and correspondence of sentiments which constitutes approbation. We do not weep, and exclaim, and lament, with the sufferer. We are sensible, on the contrary, of his weakness and of the extravagance of his paslion, and yet often feel a very sensible concern upon his account. But if we do not entirely enter into, and go along with, the joy of another , we have no sort of regard or fellow-feeling for it. The man who skips and dances about with that intemperate and senseless joy which we cannot accompany him in, is the object of our contempt and indignation.
Pain besides, whether of mind or body, is a more pungent sensation than pleasure, and our sympathy with pain, though it falls greatly short of what is naturally felt by the sufferer, is generally a more lively and distinct perception than our sympathy with pleasure, though this last often approaches more nearly, as I shall show immediately, to the natural vivacity of the original passion.
Over and above all this, we often struggle to keep down our sympathy with the sorrow of others, Whenever we are not under the observation of the sufferer, we endeavour, for our own sake, to suppress it as we can, and we are not always successful. The opposition which we make to it, and the reluctance with which we yield to it necessarily oblige us to take more particular notice of it. But we never have occasion to make this opposition to our sympathy with joy. If there is any envy in the case, we never feel the least propensity towards it; and if there is none, we give way to it without any reluctance. On the contrary, as we are always ashamed of our own envy, we often pretend, and sometimes, really wish to sympathize with the joy of others, when by that disagreeable sentiment we are disqualified from doing so. We are glad, we say, on account of our neighbour's good fortune, when in our hearts, perhaps, we are really sorry. We often feel a sympathy with sorrow when we would wish to be rid of it; and we often miss that with joy when we would be glad to have it. The obvious observation, therefore, which it naturally falls in our way to make, is, that our propensity to sympathize with sorrow must be very strong, and our inclination to sympathize with joy very weak.
Notwithstanding this prejudice, however, I will venture to affirm, that, when there is no envy in the case, our propensity to sympathize with joy is much stronger than our propensity to sympathize with sorrow; and that our fellow-feeling for the agreeable emotion approaches much more nearly to the vivacity of what is naturally felt by the persons principally concerned, than that which we conceive for the painful one.
We have some indulgence for that excessive grief which we cannot entirely go along with. We know what a prodigious effort is requisite before the sufferer can bring down his emotions to complete harmony and concord with those of the spectator.