Графични страници
PDF файл

nuine rules of Criticism are all of them derived from the human heart." And upon this occafion we must apply the diftinction which we have endeavoured to establish in our opening. In those branches of Criticifm, in which we judge from given rules, the rules are not derived from the heart. The rule, for inftance, by which we judge of the proportion of a figure in painting or fculpture, or by which we judge of metre in poetry, is purely mechanical; and is not to be traced from that noble fource. But, with regard to the effects produced on the mind, by the happy expreffion of character in a fine picture or ftatue, or of fentiment in a fine Poem, thefe indeed have their fource in the human heart. The principles however on which they depend do not govern our judg→ ment, which, as has been obferved, is wholly influenced by the force of the previous impreffions we receive; and we do not take principles into confideration till the mind returns to its former ftate, and is at leifure to examine into the cause of the impreffion, which altered its tone. Therefore, though we may difcover from what principles fenfitive effects in general proceed, yet the difcovery will not enable us to produce thofe effects, or, in other words, will not teach us to feel: and we might as well attempt, with our naked force, to make an impreffion on the hard and rugged coat of a rhinoceros, as to teach a man of rigid nerves to thrill with delicate fenfations. It would be as eafy likewife to keep the surface of the ocean in a ftate of perpetual calm, as to preserve the human mind in one conftant tone, fo as always to be susceptible of the fame impreffions.


The fources of these impreffions, however, are accurately traced in this ingenious work, in which his Lordship proceeds in the analytic method, beginning with an enquiry by what law a train of thought is regulated. He obferves that this train does not depend upon will nor upon chance, but is of opinion that it is directed by the relations which link things together: and he appeals to experience to prove that objects are connected in the mind precifely as they externally exift. He then enumerates the relations which form thefe connections, fuch as cause and effect; contiguity in time and place; resemblance and contraft; precedence and fubfequence. And in this enumeration the Reader will perceive that his Lordship follows Mr. Lock.

The will (Lord Kaims obferves) hath a confiderable influence in directing the order of connected ideas, though we have not the abfolute command of ideas. We may vary the


[ocr errors]

order of a natural train, but not so as to diffolve it altogether, by pursuing our thoughts in an unconnected manner; and he very justly remarks, that the flightest connection will introduce a fubject, which accords with the prefent tone of mind. In fome minds (he continues) thoughts and circumftances crowd upon each other by the flighteft connection; which he ascribes to a defect in the faculty of difcernment. Such a perfon muft neceffarily have a great command of ideas, because the flighter relations being without number, must furnish ideas without end. On the other hand, a man of accurate judgment cannot have a great flow of ideas. The flighter relations, making no figure in his mind, have no power to introduce ideas. Upon this principle his Lordship very ingenioufly accounts for the difference between wit and judgment; and hence it is, he concludes, that accurate judgment is not friendly to declamation, or copious eloquence.

The fenfe of order and arrangement is affigned as another cause which regulates the train of thought. When due attention is paid to thefe, we have a fenfe of juft compofition. In thefe, his Lordship obferves, Homer is defective; and Pindar more remarkably fo. He likewife cenfures Horace for being eminently defective in these refpects; and among many inftances of fuch defects to which he refers, he takes notice of the first Satire of the first Book, which commences with an important question, "How it happens that perfons, who are fo much fatisfied with themselves, are generally fo little with their condition?" After illuftrating the obfervation (fays his Lordship) by feveral examples, the Author, forgetting his fubject, enters upon a declamation against avarice, which he pursues to the line 108. Here he makes an apology for wandering, and promises to return to his fubject; but that of avarice having got poffeffion of his mind, he purfues that theme to the end, and never returns to the question proposed in the beginning.

Now we cannot forbear thinking his cenfure too fevere, and perhaps not altogether juft. Firft, his Lordship appears to have mistaken the question, which is fimply, "How it happens that perfons are fo little fatisfied with their own condition, and extoll that of others *?" And the idea of oppofition, which his Lordship has introduced of their being fo

Qui fit, Mæcenas, ut nemo, quam fibi fortem
Seu ratio dederit, feu fors objecerit, illa
Contentus vivat: laudet diverfa fequentes.

E e 2


[ocr errors]

much fatisfied with themfelves, makes no part of the queftion put by the Poet. As to the declamation against avarice, admitting it to be too long continued, yet it it is not introduced by forgetting the fubject; on the contrary, it seems to rife from it naturally: for the Poet makes the diffatisfied perfons, viz. the Soldier and the Merchant, &c. alledge that they endure the toil they undergo, with a view of a comfortable retreat in their old age, after the example of the ant, who amasses her store in fummer, and never ftirs from home during the winter. But, answers the Poet, the illuftration is inapplicable; for neither the scorching heat of summer, nor piercing cold of winter; neither the terror of the fea, or of the fword, prove any obftacle to your purfuits, while you fee another man richer than yourself. This anfwer, without any violation of order and connection, gives rife to his declamation against avarice; and in the 108th line he promises to return to the question, which he immediately does in the following words:

-Nemon' ut Avarus

Se probet; ac potius laudet diverfa fequentes? And in ten lines more the fatire concludes.

In the fecond Chapter his Lordship enters upon the most interefting part of his fubject, and very minutely enquires into the nice diftinctions between emotions and paffions. His Lordship's examination is deep and acute; but we cannot fay it gives us all the fatisfaction we could wish. " An internal motion or agitation of the mind, (he obferves) when it paffeth away without raising defire, is denominated an emo→ tion; when defire is raised, the motion or agitation is denominated a paffion. A fine face, for example, raiseth in me a pleafant feeling; if this feeling vanish without producing any effect, it is, in proper language, an emotion: but if fuch feeling, by reiterated views of the object, become fufficiently ftrong to raise defire, it is no longer termed an emotion, but a paffion. The fame (he concludes) holds in all the other paffions." His Lordship, however, apprizes the Reader, that by defire, in this place, he means that internal impulse which makes us proceed to action. Defire, in a lax sense, (he obferves) is more properly termed a with.

But this refined theory will not, we apprehend, folve the difficulty. No man will hesitate to pronounce love a paffion; and yet, fhould this theory prevail, the strong defire which agitates many, among the Fair Sex in particular, cannot be denominated a paffion: because it is not fuch a defire, or


[ocr errors]

internal impulfe, as proceeds to action. How often virgin nodefty, in a fatal conflict between delicacy and sensibility, Has let Concealment, like a worm i'th' bud, Feed on her damafk cheek.

In truth, the diftinction between emotion and paflion does not seem to depend on the one being accompanied with defire, and the other not; for we cannot conceive even the flightest emotion without defire. When we behold a fine face, for example, defire is co-exiftent with the motion it excites; nay, we are bold to affirm, that the motion itself is nothing but defire, which is either fainter or ftronger according to the warmth of conftitution, and other circumstances in the beholder. Therefore we should conceive, that emotion and paffion differ only in degree; where, for instance, the defire is tranfient, and expires immediately upon, or foon after, the removal of the object which excited it, there it may be properly termed an emotion only. Where, on the contrary, it acquires fuch ftrength by reiterated views, as to accompany us even in the absence of the object which made the impreffion, and to grow into a kind of ideal intercourse, there it may be justly denominated a paffion,

It is with entire fatisfaction, however, that we accede to many of his Lordship's propofitions on the fubject of this Chapter. We agree with him that, for example, though the difficulty of attainment with refpect to things within reach, often inflame defire; yet where the profpect is faint, and the event extremely uncertain, the object, however agreeable, feldom raiseth any strong defire. But we are not fatisfied with the following illuftration: "Thus beauty, (fays he) or other good qualities in a woman of rank, feldom raises love in any man greatly her inferior." Now here we apprehend that the difference of rank alone is not the cause which fee cures the inferior against the effects of this tender paffion: it will prevent them no otherwise, than as it fets him at such a distance from the object, as to deprive him of the means of reiterated intercourfe to ftrengthen the firft impreffion; or as the difadvantages of education, or natural imperfection on his fide, render the polifh of their minds fo unequal, as to prevent his being affected with that fympathy, which is the concomitant, if not the caufe, of this paffion. This folution feems the more juft, fince frequent experience evinces, that where perfons of unequal rank have had opportunities of frequent intercourfe, and where, either from education or

Ee 3


nature, there has been fuch an accord of mind as to excite fympathy, there the inferiority of ftation has been no fecurity against the violence of love; nor, in such case, will the difficulty of attainment deter a man, under the influence of ftrong defire, from fuch actions as will fufficiently indicate his paffion, and fometimes crown his wishes with fuccefs.'

In the enfuing Section, explaining the emotions of joy and forrow, his Lordship offers nothing new. That they are to be accounted for from the fenfibility of our nature, and that they are heightened by contraft, are principles extremely obvious. But in tracing the caufe of the sympathetic emotions of virtue, he unfolds a curious theory, which, with some exceptions, is as just as it is acute. He is at a lofs, however, to determine, whether the feeling produced in the spectator by a fignal act of virtue exercised by another, fhould be called an emotion, or a paffion. "The former (fays he) it can fcarce be, because it involves defire; and the latter it can scarce be, because it has no object*." The Reader will readily perceive that his Lordship is led into this difficulty by his (in our apprehenfion) erroneous diftinction between emotion and paffion; and this mistake involves him in frequent ambiguity and perplexity. The following reflections, however, display his Lordship's intimate acquaintance with the human heart, and yield ftrong teftimony of the benevolence of his own. "Let any man (fays he) attentively confider his own heart, when he thinks warmly of any fignal act of gratitude, and he will be confcious of a vague feeling of gratitude, as diftinct from the esteem or admiration he has for the grateful perfon. The feeling is fingular in the following refpect, that it involves a defire to perform acts of gratitude, without having any particular object; though in this ftate the mind, wonderfully difpofed toward an object, neglects no object upon which it can vent itself. Any act of kindness or good will, that would not be regarded upon another occafion, is greedily feized; and the vague feeling is converted into a real paffion of gratitude."

His Lordship next explains how one emotion or paffion is productive of another. An agreeable object (he obferves) makes every thing connected with it appear agreeable. Affection fometimes rifes fo high, as to convert defects into pro

Our Author should have faid here, as he expreffes himself afterwards, "No particular object ;” and this, in part, would have folved the difficulty.


« ПредишнаНапред »