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the chief reason is, that pity, warming and melting the spectator, prepares him for the reception of other tender affections, and pity is readily improved into love or friendship, by a certain tenderness and concern for the object, which is the tone of both passions. The aptitude of pity to produce love, is beautifully illustrated by Shakspeare:
Othello. Her father lov'd me; oft invited me;
-All these to hear
swore, in faith, 'twas strange, Iwas passing strange
Othello, Act I. Sc. 8. In this instance it will be observed that admiration concurred with pity to produce love.
Fear and anger, instinctive and deliberative-Fear provides for self-preservation
by flight; anger, by resistance-Instinctive anger frequently raised by bodily pain and internal distresse-Anger exhibited in its rare appearances only.
Fear and anger, to answer the purposes of nature, are happily so contrived as to operate sometimes instinctively, sometimes deliberately, according to circumstances. As far as they are deliberate, they fall in with the general system, and require no particular explanation. If any object have a threatening appearance, reason sug
gests means to avoid the danger : if a man be injured, the first thing he thinks of, is what revenge he shall take, and what means he shall employ. These particulars are no less obvious than natural. But, as the passions of fear and anger in their instinctive state, are less familiar to us, it may be acceptable to the reader to have them accurately delineated. He may also possibly be glad of an opportunity to have the nature of instinctive passions more fully explained, than there was formerly opportunity to do. I begin with fear.
Self-preservation is a matter of too great importance to be left entirely to the conduct of reason. Nature has acted here with her usual foresight. Fear and anger are passions that move us to act, sometimes deliberately, sometimes instinctively, according to circumstances; and by operating in the latter manner, they frequently afford security, when the slower operations of deliberate reason would be too late. We take nourishment commonly, not by the direction of reason, but by the impulse of hunger and thirst; and, in the same manner, we avoid danger by the impulse of fear, which often, before there is time for reflection, places us in safety. Here we have an illustrious instance of wisdom in the formation of man; for it is not within the reach of fancy to conceive any thing more artfully contrived to answer its purpose, than the instinctive passion of fear, which, upon the first surmise of danger, operates instantaneously. So little does the passion, in such instances, depend on reason, that it frequently operates in contradiction to it: a man who is not upon his guard cannot avoid shrinking at a blow, though he knows it to be aimed in sport; nor avoid closing his eyes at the approach of what
may hurt them, though conscious that he is in no danger. And it also operates by impelling us to act even where we are conscious that our interposition can be of no service: if a passage boat, in a brisk gale, bear much to one side, I cannot avoid applying the whole force of my shoulders to set it upright; and, if my horse stumble, my hands and knees are instantly at work to prevent him from falling
Fear provides for self-preservation by flying from harm; anger, by repelling it. Nothing, indeed, can be better contrived to repel or prevent injury, than anger or resentment: destitute of that passion, men, like defenceless lambs, would lie constantly open to mischief.* Deliberate anger caused by a voluntary injury, is too well known to require any explanation. If my desire be to resent an affront, 1 must use means; and these means must be discovered by reflection: deliberation is here requisite; and in that case the passion seldom exceeds just bounds. But, where anger impels one suddenly to return a blow, even without thinking of doing mischief, the passion is instinctive; and it is chiefly in such a case that it is rash and ungovernable, because it operates blindly, without affording time for deliberation or foresight.
Instinctive anger is frequently raised by bodily pain; by a stroke, * Brasidas being bit by a mouse he had caught, let it slip out of his fingers. "No creature (says he) is so contemptible, but what may provide for its own safety, if it have courage."
for example, on a tender part, which, ruffling the temper, and unhinging the mind, is in its tone similar to anger: and when a man is thus beforehand disposed to anger, he is not nice nor scrupulous about an object; the person who gave the stroke, however accidentally, is by an inflammable temper held a proper object, merely for having occasioned the pain. It is still more remarkable, that a stock or a stone by which I am hurt
, becomes an object for my resentment: I am violently excited to crush it to atoms. The passion, indeed, in that case, can be but a single flash; for being entirely irrational, it must vanish with the first reflection. Nor is that irrational effect confined to bodily pain: internal distress, when excessive, may be the occasion of effects equally irrational: perturbation of mind occasioned by the apprehension of having lost a dear friend, will, in a fiery temper, produce momentary sparks of anger against that very friend, however innocent: thus Shakspeare, in the Tempest, Alonzo.
Sit down and rest.
Act III. Sc. 3. The final words, Well, let him go, are an expression of impatience and anger at Ferdinand, whose absence greatly distressed his father, dreading that he was lost in the storm. This nice operation of the human mind, is by Shakspeare exhibited upon another occasion, and finely painted in the tragedy of Othello : Iago, by dark hints and suspicious circumstances, had roused Othello's jealousy; which, however, appeared too slightly founded to be vented upon Desdemona, its proper object. The perturbation and distress of mind thereby occasioned, produced a momentary resentment against Iago, considered as occasioning the jealousy, though innocent:
Othello. Villain, be sure thou prove my love a whore;
Iago. Is't come to this?
Othello. Make me see't; or, at the least, to prove it,
Othello. If thou dost slander her, and torture me,
Othello, Act II. Sc. 8. This blind and absurd effect of anger is more gayly illustrated by Addison, in a story, the dramatis persone of which are, a cardinal, and a spy retained in pay for intelligence. The cardinal is represented as minuting down the particulars. The spy begins with a low voice, “Such an one the advocate whispered to one of his friends within my hearing, that your Eminence was a very great poltroon;"
and after having given his patron time to take it down, adds, “ That another called him a mercenary rascal in a public conversation." The cardinal replies, “ Very well,” and bids him go on. The spy proceeds, and loads him with reports of the same nature, till the car. dinal rises in a fury, calls him an impudent scoundrel, and kicks him out of the room.
We meet with instances every day of resentment raised by loss at play, and wreaked on the cards or dice. But anger, a furious passion, is satisfied with a connection still slighter than that of cause and effect; of which Congreve, in the Mourning Bride, gives one beautiful example:
Gonsalez. Have comfort.
Almeria. Curs'd be that tongue that bids me be of comfort,
For he is gone to doom Alphonso's death. Act IV. Sc. 8. I have chosen to exhibit anger in its more rare appearances, for in these we can best trace its nature and extent. In the examples above given, it appears to be an absurd passion, and altogether irrational. But we ought to consider, that it is not the intention of nature to subject this passion, in every instance, to reason and reflection: it was given us to prevent or to repel injuries: and, like fear, it often operates blindly and instinctively, without the least view to consequences: the very first apprehension of harm, sets it in motion to repel injury by punishment. Were it more cool and deliberate, it would lose its threatening appearance, and be insufficient to guard us against violence. When such is, and ought to be the nature of the passion, it is not wonderful to find it exerted irregularly and capriciously, as it sometimes is where the mischief is sudden and unforeseen. All the harm that can be done by the passion in that state is instantaneous; for the shortest delay sets all to rights; and circumstances are seldom so unlucky as to put it in the power of a passionate man to do much harm in an instant.
Social passions, like the selfish, sometimes drop their character, and become instinctive. It is not unusual to find anger and fear respecting others so excessive, as to operate blindly and impetuously, precisely as where they are selfish.
Passions excited by fiction—That things exist as we behold them is a branch of
intuitive knowledge—Difference between ideal presence and reflective remembrance-Ideal presence, as distinguished from real presence, called a waking dream-As distinguished from reflective remembrance, it has no regard to time -In reading, truth and fiction equally exciteemotions-History capable of exciting emotions by ideal presence only.—Theatrical representations the most successful in raising emotions-Painting-Reading—The effect of describing a past event as present-Not to go backwards and forwards-Nothing improbable to be introduced in an epic poem-No machinery to be employed The final cause of the excitement of our passions by fiction.
The attentive reader will observe, that hitherto no fiction has been assigned as the cause of any passion or emotion; whether it be
* Spectator, No. 439.
a being, action, or quality, that moves us, it is supposed to be really existing. This observation shows that we have not yet completed our task; because passions, as all the world know, are moved by fiction as well as by truth. In judging beforehand of man, so remarkably addicted to truth and reality, one should little dream that fiction can have any effect upon him; but man's intellectual faculties are not sufficiently perfect to dive far, even into his own nature. I shall take occasion afterward to show, that the power of fiction to generate passion is an admirable contrivance, subservient to excellent purposes: in the mean time, we must try to unfold the means that give fiction such influence over the mind. That the objects of our external senses really exist in the way
and manner we perceive, is a branch of intuitive knowledge: when I see a man walking, a tree growing, or cattle grazing, I cannot doubt that these objects are really what they appear to be: if I be a spectator of any transaction or event, I have a conviction of the real existence of the persons engaged, of their words, and of their actions. Nature determines us to rely on the veracity of our senses; for otherwise they could not, in any degree, answer their end—that of laying open things existing and passing around us.
By the power of memory, a thing formerly seen, may be recalled to the mind with different degrees of accuracy. We are commonly satisfied with a slight recollection of the capital circumstances; and, in such recollection, the thing is not figured as in our view, nor any image formed: we retain the consciousness of our present situation, and barely remember that formerly we saw that thing. But with respect to an interesting object or event that made a strong impression, I am not satisfied with a cursory review, but must dwell upon every circumstance. I am imperceptibly converted into a spectator, and perceive every particular passing in my presence, as when I was in reality a spectator. For example, I saw, yesterday, a beautiful woman in tears for the loss of an only child, and was greatly moved with her distress : not satisfied with a slight recollection or bare remembrance, I ponder upon the melancholy scene: conceiving myself to be in the place where I was an eye-witness, every circumstance appears to me as at first. I think I see the woman in tears, and hear her moans. Hence it may be justly said, that in a complete idea of memory there is no past nor future: a thing recalled to the mind with the accuracy I have been describing, is perceived as in our view, and, consequently, as existing at present. Past time makes part of an incomplete idea only: I remember or reflect, that some years ago I was at Oxford, and saw the first stone laid of the Ratcliff library; and I remember that, at a still greater distance of time, I heard a debate in the House of Commons about a standing army.
Lamentable is the imperfection of language, almost in every particular that falls not under external sense. I am talking of a matter exceedingly clear in the perception, and yet I find no small difficulty to express it clearly in words; for it is not accurate to talk of incidents long past as passing in our sight, nor of hearing at present