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Though he fails, therefore, we easily pardon him. But we have no such indulgence for the intemperance of joy; because we are not conscious that any such vait effort is requisite to bring it down to what we can entirely enter into. The man who, under the greatest calamities, can command his forrow, seems worthy of the highest admiration ; but he who, in the fulness of prosperity, can in the same manner mafter his joy, seems hardly to deserve any praise. We are sensible that there is a much wider interval in the one case than in the other, between what is naturally felt by the person principally concerned, and what the spectator can entirely go along with.
What can be added to the happiness of the man who is in health, who is out of debt, and has a clear conscience? To one in this fituation, all accessions of fortune may properly be said to be fuperfluous; and if he is much elevated upon account of them, it must be the effect of the most frivolous levity. This situation, however, may very well be called the natural and ordinary state of mankind. Notwithstanding the present misery and depravity of the world , fo justly lamented, this really is the state of the greater part of men. The greater part of men therefore, cannot find any great difficulty in elevating themselves to all the joy which any, accession to this situation can well excite in their companion.
But though little can be added to this state, much may be taken from it. Though between this condition and the higheft pitch of human prosperity,
the interval is but a trifle; between it and the lowest depth of misery the distance is immense and prodigious. Adversity, on this account, neceffarily depreiles the mind of the sufferer much more below its natural state, than prosperity can elevate him above it. The fpectator, therefore, must find it much more difficult to fympathize entirely, and keep perfect time, with his forrow, than thoroughly to enter into his joy, and must depart much further from his own natural and ordinary temper of mind in the one case than in the other, It is on this account, that though our sympathy with sorrow is often a more pungent sensation than our fympathy with joy, it always falls much more short of the violence of what is naturally felt by the person principally concerned.
It is agreeable to sympatize with joy; and wherever envy does not oppose it, our heart abandons itself with satisfaction to the highest transports of that delightful sentiment. But it is painful to go along with grief, and we always enter into it with reluctance *
It has been objected to me that as I found the sentiment of approbation, which is always agreeable, upon sympathy, it is inconsistent with my system to admit any disagreeable fympathy. I answer, that in the sentiment of approbation there are two things to be taken notice of; first, the sympathetic paflion cf the spectator ; and, fecondly, the emotion which ariles from his observing the perfect coincidence between this sympathetic paffion in himself, and the orginal passion in the person principally concerned. This last emotion, in which the sentiment of approbation properly confifts, is always agreeable and delight'ul. The other may either be agreeable or disagreeable, acording to the nature of the original paffion , whose features it must always, in some measure, retain.
When we attend to the representation of a tragedy,, we struggle against that sympathetic sorrow which the entertainment inspires as long as we can, and we give way to it at last only when we can no longer avoid it: 'we even then endeavour to cover our concern from the company. If we shed any tears, we carefully conceal them, and are afraid, left the fpectators, not entering into this excessive tenderness, should regard it as effeminacy and weakness, The wretch whose misfortunes call upon our compassion feels with what reluctance we are likely to enter into his sorrow, and therefore proposes his grief to us with fear and hesitation : he even smothers the half of it, and is ashamed, upon account of this hard-heartedness of mankind, to give vent to the fulness of his affliction. It is otherwise with the man who riots in joy and success. Wherever envy does not interest us against him, he expects our completest sympathy, He does not fear, therefore, to announce himself with shouts of exultation, in full confidence that we are heartily disposed to go along with him.
Why should we be more ashamed to weep than ceza to laugh before company? We may often have as
real occasion to do the do the other, but we always feel that the spectators are more likely to go along with
in the agreeable than in the painful emotion. It is always miserable to complain, even when
are oppressed by the most dreadful calamities. But the triumph of victory is not always ungraceful. Prudence, indeed,
would often advise us to bear our profperity with more moderation; because prudence would teach us to avoid that envy which this very triumph is, more than any thing, apt to excite.
How hearty are the acclamations of the mob, who never bear any envy to their fuperiors, at a triumph or a public entry? And how sedate and moderate is commonly their grief at an execution? Our forrow at a funeral generally amounts to no more than an affected gravity ; but our mirth at a christening or a marriage, is always from the heart, and without any affectation. Upon these , and all such joyous occasions, our satisfaction, though not so durable, is often as lively, as that of the perfons principally concerned. Whenever we cordially congratulate our friends, which, however, to the disgrace of human nature, we do but feldom, their joy literally becomes our joy: we are, for the moment, as happy as they are: our heart swells and overflows with real pleasure: joy and complaçency sparkle from our eyes, and animate every feature of our countenance,
and every gesture of our body.
But, on the contrary, when we condole with our friends in their afflictions, how little do we feel, in comparison of what they feel? We fit down by them, we look at them, and while they relate to us the circumstances of their misfortune, we listen to them with gravity and attention. But while their narration is every moment interrupted by those natural bursts of passion which often seem almoft to choke them in the midft of it; how far are the languid emotions of our hearts from keeping time to the tranfports of theirs? We may be sensible, at the fame time, that their passion is natural, and no greater than what we ourfelves might feel upon the like occasion. We may even inwardly reproach ourselves with our own want of fensibility, and perhaps, on that account, work ourselves up into an artificial sympathy, which, however, when it is raised, is always the flightest and moft transitory imaginable; and generally, as soon as we have left the room, vanishes, and is gone for ever. Nature, it seems, when she loaded, us with our own sorrows, thought that they were enough, and therefore did not command us to take any further share in those of others, than what was
necessary to prompt us to relieve them. It is on accouut of this dull" sensibility to the afflictions of others, that magnanimity amidst great distress appears always fo divinely graceful. His behaviour is genteel and agreeable who can maintain his cheerfulnefs amidst a number of frivolous disasters. But he appears to be more than mortal who can support in the same manner the most dreadful calamities. We feel what an immense effort is requisite to filence those violent emotions which naturally agitate and distract thofe in his situation. We are amazed to find that he can command himself so entirely. His firmness, at the same time, perfectly coincides with our infenfibility. He makes no demand upon us for that more exquisite degree of fenfibility which we find, and which we are mortified to find, that we do