« ПредишнаНапред »
prieties. The fame communication of paffion obtains in the relation of principal and acceffory,
In the enfuing Section his Lordfhip traces the causes of fear and anger, and obferves, that by operating instinctively, they frequently afford fecurity when the flower operations of deliberative reason would be too late. They who have the advantage of being acquainted with the learned Writer's former works, will perceive that, on the subject of instinctive anger, he has repeated the fentiments contained in his excellent Treatife on the Criminal Law, prefixed to his Hiftarical Law Tracts.
The ingenious Philofopher, in the next Section, unfolds by what means the emotions caused by fiction have such influence over the mind. "A thing (he obferves) may be recalled to the mind with different degrees of accuracy. commonly are fatisfied with a flight recollection of the chief circumftances; and, in fuch recollection, the thing is not figured as prefent, nor any image formed. I retain the confcioufnefs of my prefent fituation, and barely remember that formerly I was a spectator; but with respect to an interesting object or event, which made a ftrong impreffion, the mind fometimes, not satisfied with a curfory review, chuses to revolve every circumftance. In this cafe I conceive myself to be a fpectator as I was originally, and I perceive every particular paffing in my prefence, in the fame manner as when I was in reality a spectator." From the confideration of this ideal prefence arifing from an act of memory, his Lordship proceeds to confider the idea of a thing raised by speech, by writing, or by painting; which, he obferves, is of the fame nature with an idea of memory. "An important event, by a lively and accurate description, rouzes my attention, and infenfibly transforms me into a spectator. I perceive ideally every incident as paffing in my prefence." Hence he takes occafion to obferve that if, in reading, ideal prefence be the means by which our paffions are moved, it makes no difference whether the fubject be a fable or a reality. In fupport of this theory, he contends, that genuine history commands our - › paffions by means of ideal prefence only; and therefore, that with respect to this effect, genuine hiftory ftands upon the fame footing with fable. Our fympathy must vanish so soon as we begin to reflect on the incidents in either. The effect of history, in point of inftruction, depends in fome measure on its variety. But history cannot reach the heart while we indulge any reflection upon the facts. Such reflection, if it
engage our belief, never fails at the fame time to poison our pleafure, by convincing us that our fympathy for those who are dead and gone, is abfurd.
His Lordfhip expatiates on the many admirable effects of ideal prefence, and from this principle he deduces many accurate rules of Criticifm. He obferves, that in an hiftorical poem no improbable incident ought to be admitted; and from hence he takes occafion to cenfure the ufe of machinery in an epic poem: the argument, as he remarks, concluding ftill more ftrongly against imaginary beings, than against improbable facts. Fictions of this nature may amuse by their novelty and fingularity, but they can never move the fympathetic paffions, because they cannot impofe on the mind any perception of reality.
The learned Writer, in the next place, very properly diftinguishes pleafant and painful emotions, from agreeable and difagreeable. "When a paffion is termed pleasant or painful, we refer to the actual feeling; when termed agreeable or difagreeable, it is confidered as an object of thought or reflection. A paffion is pleasant or painful to the person in whom it exifts; it is agreeable or difagreeable to the perfon who makes it the fubject of contemplation. The different modifications of thefe qualities are next examined, and his Lordship obferves, that from acuteness of fenfe arises what is termed delicacy of taste.
The interrupted existence of emotions and paffions, with their growth and decay, form the fubject of Part III. It is obferved, that emotions require the conftant exertion of an operating caufe, and ceafe when the caufe is withdrawn. An emotion may fubfift while its caufe is prefent, and when its caufe is removed, may fubfift by means of an idea, though in a fainter degree; but vanifhes the moment another thought occupies the mind. With refpect to their growth and decay, fome emotions are produced in their utmost perfection, and have a very short endurance: this is the cafe of furprize, of wonder, and fometimes of terror. Love, hatred, and fome other paffions, increafe gradually to a certain pitch, and thereafter decay gradually.'
In the enfuing Part, co-existent emotions and paffions are taken into confideration, beginning with the fimpler emotions raifed by different founds, and proceeding thence to the more complex, which opens a large field of acute and refined Criticifm.
The power of paffion to adjuft our opinions and belief to its gratification, is illuftrated in the next Part. On this head his Lordship makes fome very nice and juft obfervations, which prove the delicacy of his feelings, and his intimate acquaintance with the human mind. In an Appendix to this part he endeavours to fhew, that even in computing time and fpace, the power of paffion adjusts them to its gratification. But on this fubject his Lordship's reflections are obfcured by refinement; and in many instances are, in our judgment, far from juft.
In the next Part, however, which concerns the resemblance emotions bear to their causes, the learned Writer gives entire fatisfaction. But we must not forget our limits; therefore we proceed to Part VII. wherein the final causes of the more frequent emotions and paffions are admirably difplayed.
From this general theory of emotions and paffions, his Lordship enters upon an enquiry concerning fuch attributes, relations, and circumftances, as, in the fine arts, are chiefly employed to raise agreeable emotions, beginning with beauty, of which he diftinguishes two kinds. The first he terms intrinfic beauty, because it is discovered in a single object, without relation to any other. The fecond he terms relative beauty, because it is founded on the relation of objects; and from this diftinction he deduces many pertinent and accurate reflections.
Grandeur and fublimity come next under examination; and here the Author rifes with his fubject. The emotions, he obferves, raised by great and elevated objects, are clearly diftinguishable, not only in the internal feeling, but even in their external expreffions. A great object dilates the breast, and makes the fpectator endeavour to enlarge his bulk. This, he very acutely obferves, is remarkable in perfons, who, neglecting delicacy in behaviour, give way to nature without referve. Grandeur and fublimity are next confidered in a figurative fenfe. His Lordship then proceeds to remark, that in order to have a juft conception of grandeur and fublimity, it is neceffary to be obferved, that within certain limits they produce their ftrongeft effects, which leffen by excefs as well as by defect. This is remarkable in grandeur and fublimity, taken in their proper fenfe. The strongest emotion of grandeur is raifed by an object that can be taken in at one view. An object so immenfe as not to be comprehended but in parts, tends rather to diftract than fatisfy
the mind. The fame is equally remarkable in figurative grandeur and elevation. Sentiments may be fo ftrained as to become obfcure, or to exceed the capacity of the human. mind. From thefe principles his Lordship deduces many excellent rules of Criticism, which he illuftrates by examples drawn from the best Writers, and fhews where fome of them have violated those rules, by ftrained defcriptions, which conftitute that fpecies of the falfe fublime, known by the name of bombaft.
The next Chapter treats of motion and force. Motion (he obferves) is certainly agreeable in all its varieties of quicknefs and flowness. But that degree of motion which correfponds to the natural courfe of our perceptions, is most agreeable. Motion and force, agreeable in themfelves, are also agreeable by their utility. Hence the fuperior beauty of fome machines, where force and motion concur to perform the work of numerous hands.
Novelty, and the unexpected appearance of objects, conftitutes the fubject of the fixth Chapter. In enumerating the emotions excited by novelty, his Lordfhip obferves, that novelty, wherever found, is the caufe of wonder, which he diftinguishes from admiration; the latter being directed upon the operator who performs any thing wonderful: and both are diftinct from furprize, which is raifed by any thing breaking in unexpectedly, and without the preparation of any connection. This emotion may be occafioned by the most familiar object, fuch as the accidental meeting a friend, who was reported to be dead; but it will not be produced, if the fpectator be prepared for the fight. An elephant in India will not fuprize a traveller who goes to fee one, and yet its novelty will raise his wonder.
In the feventh Chapter, which treats of visible objects, his Lordfhip, in a great degree, confirms the propofitions which we have endeavoured to establish in our introduction. feems difficult, (he acknowleges) if at all practicable, to eftablish before-hand any general character, by which objects of this kind may be diftinguifhed from others. All men are not equally affected by vifible objects; and even the fame perfon is more difpofed to laugh at one time than another.” Now this obfervation will hold equally true with respect to other fubjects, which affect the fenfitive part of our nature. For it is impoffible to lay down any general rules before-hand by which we may judge of them, fince the judgment formed depends,
depends, in a great measure, on the difpofition of the perfon towards the fubject. Therefore, as we have premised, all that human skill can do, is to trace, a pofteriori, the principles which produced the particular mode of affection or averfion, wherewith the mind was affected. But to return,
With refpect to objects that caufe laughter, the Author diftinguishes them into two kinds-rifible or ridiculous.-The first raises an emotion of laughter that is altogether pleasant; the emotion of laughter, raised by the other, is qualified by that of contempt; and the mixed emotion, partly pleasant, partly painful, is termed the emotion of ridicule.
Having difcuffed the qualities and circumftances of fingle objects, he proceeds to the relations of objects, beginning with the relations of refemblance and contraft. Curiofity (he obferves) particularly incites us to confider objects in the way of comparifon, in order to difcover their differences and refemblances. The gratification of this propenfity (he obferves) lies in discovering difference where refemblance prevails, and in discovering refemblance where difference prevails. With respect to resemblance, he takes notice, that when it is too entire it hath no effect, however different in kind the things compared may be. But this remark is applied to works of art only; for natural objects, of different kinds, have scarce ever an entire refemblance. With regard to contrast, emotions make the greatest figure when contrafted in fucceffion; but then it ought to be neither precipitate nor immoderately flow. Towards the end of this Chapter he enters upon a very important queftion, concerning emotions raised by the fine arts, viz. What ought to be the rule of fucceffion; whether resemblance ought to be studied or contraft? He concludes, that the emotions raised by the fine arts are generally too nearly related to make a figure by refemblance, and for that reafon their fucceffion ought to be regulated as much as poffible by contrast.
In the last Chapter of this Volume his Lordship treats of uniformity and variety. His reflections on thefe heads are curious. The uniformity or variety of a train, he obferves, fo far as compofed of external objects, depends on the partiçular objects that furround the percipient at the time. Α natural train of ideas of memory is more circumfcribed, each object being linked by fome connection to what precedes, and to what follows it; but a train of ideas, fuggefted by reading, may be varied at will, provided we have books in ftore. In