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The final cause of the propensity is an additional proof of its existence: human works are of no significancy till they be completed ; and reason is not always a sufficient counterbalance to indoience : some principle over and above is necessary, to excite our industry, and to prevent our stopping short in the middle of the
We need not lose time to describe the co-operation of the foregoing propensity with surprise, in producing the effect that follows any unusual resemblance or dissimilitude. Surprise first operates, and carries our opinion of the resemblance or dissimilitude beyond truth. The propensity we have been describing carries us still farther ; for it forces upon the mind a conviction, that the resemblance or dissimilitude is complete. We need no better illustration, than the resemblance that is fancied in some pebbles to a tree or an insect; which resemblance, however faint in reality, is conceived to be wonderfully perfect. The tendency to complete a resemblance acting jointly with surprise, carries the mind sometimes so far, as even to presume upon' future events. In the Greek tragedy entitled Phineides, those unhappy women, seeing the place where it was intended they should be slain, cried out with anguish, “ They now saw their cruel destiny had condemned them to die in that place, being the same where they had been exposed in their infancy.'*
The propensity to advance every thing to its perfection, not only co-operates with surprise to deceive the mind, but of itself is able to produce that effect.
Of this we see many instances where there is no place for surprise ; and the first I shall give is of resemblance. Unumquodque eodem modo dissolvitur quo colligatum est,t is a maxim in the Roman law that has no foundation in truth; for tying and loosing, building and demolishing, are acts opposite to each other, and are performed by opposite means : but when these acts are connected by their relation to the same subject, their connection in idea without end; in which respect an unbounded prospect is similar to an infinite series. In fact
, the uneasiness of an unboundled prospect, differs very little in its feeling from that of an infinite series ; and therefore we may reasonably presume, that both proceed from the same cause.
We next consider a prospect unbounded every way, as, for example, a great plain or the ocean, viewed from an eminence. We feel here an uneasiness occasioned by the want of an end or termination, precisely as in the other cases. A prospect unbounded every way, is indeed so far singular, as at first to be more pleasant than a prospect that is unbounded in one direction only, and afterward to be more painful. But these circumstances are easily explained, without wounding the general theory: the pleasure we feel at first, is a vivid emotion of grandeur, arising from the immense extent of the object: and to increase the pain we feel afterward for the want of a termination, there concurs a pain of a different kind, occasioned by stretching the eye to comprehend so wide a prospect; a pain that gradually increases with the repeated efforts we make to grasp the whole.
It is the same principle, if I mistake not, which operates imperceptibly with respect to quantity and number. Another's property indented into my field, gives me uneasiness; and I am eager to make the purchase, not for profit, but in order to square my field. Xerxes and his army, in their passage to Greece, were sumptuously entertained by Pythius the Lydian: Xerxes recompensed him with 7000 Darics, which he wanted to complete the sum of four millions.
* Aristotle, Poet. cap. 17.
leads us to imagine a sort of resemblance between them, which by the foregoing propensity is conceived to be as complete as possible. The next instance shall be of contrast. Addison observes, the palest features look the most agreeable in white; that a face which is overflushed appears to advantage in the deepest scarlet; and that a dark complexion is not a little alleviated by a black hood."* The foregoing propensity serves to account for these appearances; to make which evident, one of the cases shall suffice. A complexion, however dark, never approaches to black: when these colors appear together, their opposition strikes us; and the propensity we have to complete the opposition makes the darkness of complexion vanish out of sight.
The operation of this propensity, even where there is no ground for surprise, is not confined to opinion or conviction : so powerful it is, as to make us sometimes proceed to action, in order to complete a resemblance or dissimilitude. If this appear obscure, it will be made clear by the following instances. Upon what principle is the lex talionis founded, other than to make the punishment resemble the mischief? Reason dictates, that there ought to be a conformity or resemblance between a crime and its punishment; and the fore. going propensity impels us to make the resemblance as complete as possible. Titus Livius, under the influence of that propensity, accounts for a certain punishment by a resemblance between it and the crime, too subtle for common apprehension. Treating of Mettus Fuffetius, the Alban general, who, for treachery to the Romans his allies, was sentenced to be torn to pieces by horses, he puts the following speech in the mouth of Tullus Hostilius, who decreed the punishment . “Mette Fuffeti, inquit
, si ipse discere posses fidem ac fædera servare, vivo tibi ea disciplina a me adhibita esset. Nunc, quoniam, tuum insanabile ingenium est, at tu tuo supplicio doce humanum genus, ea sancta credere, quæ
a te violata sunt.
Ut igitur paulo ante animum inter Fidenatem Romanamque rem ancipitem gessisti
, ita jam corpus passim distrahendum dabis.”+ By the same influence, the sentence is often executed upon the very spot where the crime was committed. In the Electra of Sophocles, Egistheus is dragged from the theatre into an inner room of the supposed palace, to suffer death where he murdered Agamemnon. Shakspeare, whose knowledge of nature is no less profound than extensive, has not overlooked this propensity :
Othello. Get me some poison, Iago, this night; I'll not expostulate with her, lest her body and her beauty unprovide my mind again: this night, lago.
lago. Do it not with poison; strangle her in bed, even in the bed she hath contaminated. Othello. Good, good: the justice of it pleases ; very good.
Othello, Act IV. Sc. 5, * Spectator, No. 265.
+ Mettus Fulfetius, he says, if you could learn faith, and attention to treaties, you should live, and receive similar treatment from me. Now, since your nature is incurable, your own punishment shall teach mankind to believe in the sacredness of those things which you have violated. As, therefore, you have held a divided mind with regard to the Romans and the Fidenates, so shall your body be now divided in all quarters.Lib. 1. sect. 28.
Warwick. From off the gates of York fetch down the head,
Third Part of Henry VI. Act II. Sc.
Persons in their last moments are generally seized with an anxiety to be buried with their relations. In the Amynta of Tasso, the lover, hearing that his mistress was torn to pieces by a wolf, expresses a desire to die the same death.*
Upon the subject in general I have two remarks to add. The first concerns resemblance, which, when too entire, has no effect, however different in kind the things compared may be. The remark is applicable to works of art only; for natural objects of different kinds have scarcely ever an entire resemblance. To give an example in a work of art, marble is a sort of matter very different from what composes an animal; and marble cut into a human figure produces great pleasure by the resemblance; but, if a marble statue be colored like a picture, the resemblance is so entire, as at a distance to make the statue appear a person: we di
over the mistake when we approach; and no other emotion is raised, than surprise occasioned by the deception. The figure still appears a real person, rather than an imitation; and we must use reflection to correct the mistake. This cannot happen in a picture; for the resemblance can never be so entire as to disguise the imitation.
The other remark relates to contrast. Emotions make the greatest figure when contrasted in succession; but the succession ought neither to be rapid, nor immoderately slow: if too slow, the effect of contrast becomes faint by the distance of the emotions; and if rapid, no single emotion has room to expand itself to its full size, but is stifed, as it were, in the birth, by a succeeding emotion. The funeral oration of the Bishop of Meaux upon the Dutchess of Orleans is a perfect hodge-podge of cheerful and melancholy representations following each other in the quickest succession. Opposite emotions are best felt in succession; but each emotion separately should be raised to its due pitch, before another be introduced.
What is above laid down, will enable us to determine a very important question concerning emotions raised by the fine arts, namely, whether ought similar emotions to succeed each other, or dissimilar? The emotions raised by the fine arts are, for the most part, too nearly related to make a figure by resemblance; and for that reason their succession ought to be regulated as much as possible by contrast. This holds confessedly in epic and dramatic compositions; and the best writers, led, perhaps, by taste more than by reasoning, have generally aimed at that beauty. It holds equally in music: in the same cantata, all the variety of emotions that are within the power of music may not only be indulged, but, to make the greatest figure, ought to be contrasted. In gardening, there is an additional reason for the rule. The emotions raised by that art are at best so faint, that every artifice should be employed to give them their utmost vigor: a field
* Act IV. Sc. 2..
may be laid out in grand, sweet, gay, neat, wild, melancholy scenes; and when these are viewed in succession, grandeur ought to be contrasted with neatness, regularity with wildness, and gaiety with melancholy, so that each emotion may succeed its opposite: nay, it is an improvement to intermix in the succession rude uncultivated spots as well as unbounded views, which in themselves are disagreeable, but in succession heighten the feeling of the agreeable objects; and we have nature for our guide, which in her most beautiful landscapes often intermixes rugged rocks, dirty marshes, and barren stony heaths. The greatest masters of music have the same view in their compositions: the second part of an Italian song seldom conveys any sentiment; and, by its harshness, seems purposely contrived to give a greater relish for the interesting parts of the composition.
A small garden comprehended under a single view, affords little opportunity for that embellishment. Dissimilar emotions require different tones of mind; and therefore in conjunction can never be pleasant :* gayety and sweetness may be combined, or wildness and gloominess; but a composition of gayety and gloominess is distasteful. The rude uncultivated copartment of furze and broom in Richmond garden has a good effect in the succession of objects; but a spot of that nature would be insufferable in the midst of a polished parterre or flower.plot. A garden, therefore, if not of great extent, admits not dissimilar emotions; and in ornamenting a small garden, the safest course is to confine it to a single expression. For the same reason, a landscape ought also to be confined to a single expression; and accordingly it is a rule in painting, that if the subject be gay, every figure ought to contribute to that emotion.
It follows from the foregoing train of reasoning, that a garden, near a great city, ought to have an air of solitude. The solitariness again of a waste country ought to be contrasted in forming a garden; no temples, no obscure walks; but jets d'eau, cascades, objects active, gay, and splendid. Nay, such a garden should in some measure avoid imitating nature, by taking on an extraordinary appearance of regularity and art, to show the busy hand of man, which in a waste country has a fine effect by contrast.
It may be gathered from what is said above, that wit and ridicule make not an agreeable mixture with grandeur. Dissimilar emotions have a fine effect in a slow succession; but in a rapid suc. cession, which approaches to coexistence, they will not be relished: in the midst of a labored and elevated description of a battle, Virgil introduces a ludicrous image, which is certainly out of its place:
Obvius ambustum torrem Chorinæus ab ara
Æn. XII. 298.
The crackling crop a noisome scent expires.
+ Chap. 2. Part 4.
The following image is no less ludicrous, nor less improperly placed :
Mentre fan questi i bellici stromenti
gran nemico de l'humane genti
Verso mugghiando e sospirando fuore. Gerusal. Cant. IV. st. 1.
them bent askance;
Such noise wild buls, that softly bellow, make. Fairfax. It would, however, be too austere to banish altogether ludicrous images from an epic poem. This poem does not always soar above the clouds: it admits great variety; and upon occasion can descend even to the ground without sinking. In its more familiar tones, a ludicrous scene may be introduced without impropriety. This is done by Virgil* in a foot-race; the circumstances of which, not excepting the ludicrous part, are copied from Homer. After a fit of merriment, we are, it is true, the less disposed to the serious and sublime: Lut then, a ludicrous scene, by unbending the mind from severe application to more interesting subjects, may prevent fatigue, and preserve our relish entire.
UNIFORMITY AND VARIETY. Succession of perceptions examined with respect to order and connection, and with
respect to uniformity and variety-The succession by artificial methods can be rendered uniform and various-The train left to its natural course, not regularThe causes by which the rates of succession are varied— The effect of a peculiar constitution of mind, in accelerating or retarding it-The motion of the train depends on the perceptions which compose it— The effect of occupation—The effect of temper and constitution—The effect of the will, over different objects Our power over our train strengthened by discipline and business—The mind most at ease when the perceptions flow in their natural course e-Pain excited by accelerating or retarding
the natural course of our perceptions—Number without variety, not agreeable-Excess in variety, disagreeable To alter the variety which nature requires, as painful as to alter the velocity-Final cause why nature has affixed pleasure to a moderate train-A rapid train is painful, to prevent injuring the mind by too great activity-Another, to prevent rashness-A quick train made agreeabie by habit-Variety corresponding with our perceptions, agreeable in works of art-Color and sound often repeated, become unpleasant; varied, they are agreeable--In works of art, exposed to view, variety to be studied-In á landscape, among the same objects, contrast should prevail-In writing for amusement, variety should prevail
. In attempting to explain uniformity and variety, in order to show how we are affected by these circumstances, a doubt occurs, what * Æn. lib. 5.
+ Iliad, book 23. 1. 879.