Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

and which seldom is fully accomplished: therefore these passions have frequently the same duration that their objects have.

Lastly, it will afford us another general view, to consider the difference between an original propensity, and affection or aversion produced by custom. The former adheres too closely to the constitution ever to be eradicated; and for that reason, the passions to which it gives birth, continue during life with no remarkable diminution. The latter, which owe their birth and increment to time, owe their decay to the same cause: affection and aversion decay gradually as they grow; and accordingly hatred as well as love are extinguished by long absence. Affection decays more gradually between persons, who, living together, have daily occasion to testify mutually their good-will and kindness: 'and, when affection is decayed, habi supplies its place; for it makes these persons necessary to each other, by the pain of separation.* Affection to children has a long endurance, longer perhaps than any other affection: its growth keeps pace with that of its objects: they display new beauties and qualifications daily, to feed and augment the affection. But whenever the affection becomes stationary, it must be to decay; with a slow pace, indeed, in proportion to its increment. In short, man with respect to this life is a temporary being: he grows, becomes stationary, decays; and so must all his powers and passions.

PART IV.

COEXISTENT EMOTIONS AND PASSIONS.

Concordant sounds-An emotion raised by an object of sight, and its qualities,

similar to this-Emotions, similar and dissimilar—Similar emotions produce the same tone of mind-Dissimilar, produce different tones-Perfectly similar emotions readily unite Internal effects of emotions and passions-Represented by addition in number-By harmony of sounds-Directly as the resemblance of the emotions, and inversely as the connection of the causes—The effect when both are united-—The effects of dissimilar emotions-The opposite to the former, and distress the mind when the causes are similar—Opposite emotions never unite—They exist by succession—The stronger emotions overcome the weaker-Music-Music resolved into harmony and melody—The difference between vocal and instrumental music-Passions the cause of the external effects of music-Twoexternal passions with the same tendency, if similar, have a double effect-Two passions with opposite tendencies, may proceed from the same cause-Difference of aim prevents the union of two passions, when the objects are different-Means offered to gratify the passions when the objects are different.

For a thorough knowledge of the human passions and emotions, it is not sufficient that they be examined singly and separately: as a plurality of them are sometimes felt at the same instant, the manner of their coexistence, and the effects thereby produced, ought also to be examined. This subject is extensive; and it will be difficult to trace all the laws that govern its endless variety of cases: if such an undertaking can be brought to perfection, it must be by degrees. The following hints may suffice for a first attempt. We begin with emotions raised by different sounds, as the simplest

* See Chap. 14.

case,

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Two sounds that mix, and, as it were, incorporate before they reach the ear, are said to be concordant. That each of the two sounds, even after their union, produces an emotion of its own, must be admitted: but these emotions, like the sounds that produce them, mix so intimately, as to be rather one complex emotion than two emotions in conjunction. Two sounds that refuse incorporation or mixture, are said to be discordant: and when heard at the same instant, the emotions produced by them are unpleasant in conjunction, however pleasant separately.

Similar to the emotion raised by mixed sounds is the emotion raised by an object of sight with its several qualities: a tree, for example, with its qualities of color, figure, size, &c. is perceived to be one object; and the emotion it produces is rather one complex emotion than different emotions combined.

With respect to coexistent emotions produced by different objects of sight, it must be observed, that however intimately connected such objects may be, there cannot be a concordance among them like what is perceived in some sounds. Different objects of sight, meaning objects that can exist each of them independent of the others, never mix nor incorporate in the act of vision: each object is perceived as it exists, separately from others; and each raises an emotion different from that raised by the other. And the same holds in all the causes of emotion or passion that can exist independent of each other, sounds only excepted.

To explain the manner in which such emotions exist, similar emotions must be distinguished from those that are dissimilar. Two emotions are said to be similar, when they tend, each of them, to produce the same tone of mind: cheerful emotions, however different their causes may be, are similar: and so are those which are melancholy. Dissimilar emotions are easily explained by their opposition to what are similar: pride and humility, gayety and gloominess, are dissimilar emotions.

Emotions perfectly similar, readily combine and unite,* so as, in a manner, to become one complex emotion; witness the emotions produced by a number of flowers in a parterre, or of trees in a wood. Ernotions that are opposite, or extremely dissimilar, never combine or unite: the mind cannot simultaneously take on opposite tones: it cannot at the same instant be both joyful and sad, angry and satisfied, proud and humble: dissimilar emotions may succeed each other with rapidity, but they cannot exist simultaneously.

Between these two extremes, emotions unite more or less, in proportion to the degree of their resemblance, and the degree in which their causes are connected. Thus the emotions produced by a fine landscape and the singing of birds, being similar in a considerable degree, readily, unite, though their causes are little connected. And

[ocr errors]

* It is easier to conceive the manner of coexistence of similar emotions, than to describe it. They cannot be said to mix or incorporate, like concordant sounds: their union is rather of agreement or concord; and therefore I have chosen the words in the text, not as sufficient to express clearly the manner of their coexistence, but only as less liable to exception than any other I can find,

the same happens where the causes are intimately connected, though the emotions, themselves, have little resemblance to each other; an example of which is a mistress in distress, whose beauty gives pleasure, and her distress pain: these two emotions, proceeding from different views of the object, have very little resemblance to each other; and yet so intimately connected are their causes, as to force them into a sort of complex emotion, partly pleasant, partly painful. This clearly explains some expressions common in poetry; a sweet distress, a pleasant pain.

It was necessary to describe, with some accuracy, in what manner similar and dissimilar emotions coexist in the mind, in order to explain their different effects, both internal and external. This subject, though obscure, is capable to be set in a clear light; and it merits attention, not only for its extensive use in criticism, but for the nobler purpose of deciphering many intricacies in the actions of men. Beginning with internal effects, I discover two, clearly dis tinguishable from each other, both of them produced by pleasant emotions that are similar; of which, the one may be represented by addition in numbers, the other by harmony in sounds. Two pleasant emotions that are similar, readily unite when they are coexistent; and the pleasure felt in the union, is the sum of the two pleasures: the same emotions in succession, are far from making the same figure; because the mind at no instant of the succession, is conscious of more than a single emotion. This doctrine may aptly be illustrated by a landscape comprehending hills, valleys, plains, rivers, trees, &c. : the emotions produced by these several objects, being similar in a high degree, as falling in easily and sweetly with the same tone of mind, are in conjunction extremely pleasant. This multiplied effect is felt from objects even of different senses; as where a landscape is conjoined with the music of birds and odor of flowers; and results partly from the resemblance of the emotions and partly from the connection of their causes: whence it follows, that the effect must be the greatest, where the causes are intimately connected and the emotions perfectly similar. The same rule is obviously applicable to painful emotions that are similar and coexistent.

The other pleasure arising from pleasant emotions similar and coexistent, cannot be better explained than by the foregoing example of a landscape, where the sight

, hearing, and smelling, are employed : beside the accumulated pleasure above mentioned, of so many different similar emotions, a pleasure of a different kind is felt from the concord of these emotions. As that pleasure resembles greatly the pleasure of concordant sounds, it may be termed the harmony of emotions. This harmony is felt in the different emotions occasioned by the visible objects; but it is felt still more sensibly in the emotions occasioned by the objects of different senses; as where the emotions of the eye are combined with those of the ear. The former pleasure comes under the rule of addition: this comes under a different rule. It is directly in proportion to the degree of resemblance between the emotions, and inversely in proportion to the degree of connection

between the causes : to feel this pleasure in perfection, the resemblance between the emotions cannot be too strong, nor the connection between their causes too slight. The former condition is selfevident; and the reason of the latter is, that the pleasure of harmony is felt from various similar emotions, distinct from each other, and yet sweetly combining in the mind; which excludes causes intimately connected, for the emotions produced by them are forced into one complex emotion. This pleasure of concord or harmony, which is the result of pleasing emotions, and cannot have place with res. pect to those that are painful, will be farther illustrated, when the emotions produced by the sound of words and their meaning are taken under consideration.*

The pleasure of concord from conjoined emotions, is felt, even where the emotions are not perfectly similar. Though love be a pleasant passion, yet by its softness and tenderness it resembles, in a considerable degree, the painful passion of pity or of grief; and for that reason, love accords better with these passions than with what are gay and sprightly. I give the following example from Catullus, where the concord between love and grief has a fine effect, even in so slight a subject as the death of a sparrow.

Lugete, ô Veneres, Cupidinesque,
Et quantum est hominum venustiorum
Passer mortuus est meæ puellæ,
Quem plus illa oculis suis amabat.
Nam mellitus erat, suamque norat
Ipsam tam bene, quam puella matrem :
Nec sese a gremio illius movebat;
Sed circumsiliens modo huc, modo illuc,
Ad solam dominam usque pipilabat.
Qui nunc it per iter tenebricosum,
Illuc, unde negant redire quemquam.
At vobis male sit, malæ tenebræ
Orci, quæ omnia bella devoratis;
Tam bellum mihi passerem abstulistis.
O factum male, ô miselle passer.
Tua nunc opera, meæ puellæ
Flendo turgiduli rubent ocelli.
Each Love, each Venus, mourn with me!
Mourn, every son of gallantry!
The Sparrow, my own nymph's delight,
The joy and apple of her sight;
The honey-bird, the darling dies,
To Lesbia dearer than her eyes.
As the fair-one knew her mother,
So he knew her from another.
With his gentle lady wrestling;
In her snowy bosom nestling;.
With a flutter, and a bound,
Quiv'ring round her and around
Chirping, twitt'ring, ever near,
Notes meant only for her ear.
Now he skims the shadowy way,
Whence none return to cheerful day.
Beshrew the shades ! that thus devour
All that's pretty in an hour.

* Chap. 18, Sect. 3.

The pretty Sparrow, thus, is dead
The tiny fugitive is fled.
Deed of spite! poor bird !-ah! see,
For thy dear sake, alas ! for me!-
My nymph with brimful eyes appears,

Red from the flushing of her tears. Next as to the effects of dissimilar emotions, which we may guess will be opposite to what are above described. Dissimilar coexistent emotions, as said above, never fail to distress the mind by the difference of their tones; from which situation a feeling of harmony never can proceed; and this holds whether the causes be connected or not. But it holds more remarkably where the causes are connected; for in that case the dissimilar emotions being forced into an unnatural union, produce an actual feeling of discord. In the next place, if we would estimate the force of dissimilar emotions coexistent, we must distinguish between their causes as connected or unconnected: and in order to compute their force in the former case, subtraction must be used instead of addition; which will be evident from what fol. lows. Dissimilar emotions forced into union by the connection of their causes, are felt obscurely and imperfectly; for each tends to vary the tone of mind that is suited to the other; and the mind thus distracted between two objects, is at no instant in a condition to receive a deep impression from either. Dissimilar emotions proceeding from unconnected causes, are in a very different condition; for as there is nothing to force them into union, they are never felt but in succession; by which means, each has an opportunity to make a complete impression.

This curious theory requires to be illustrated by examples. In reading the description of the dismal waste, book I. of Paradise Lost, we are sensible of a confused feeling, arising from dissimilar emotions forced into union; to wit, the beauty of the description, and the horror of the object described.

Seest thou yon dreary plain, forlorn and wild,
The seat of desolation, void of light,
Save what the glimmering of these livid flames

Casts pale and dreadful ? And with respect to this and many similar passages in Paradise Lost, we are sensible, that the emotions being obscured by each other, make neither of them that figure they would make separately. For the same reason, ascending smoke in a calm morning, which inspires stillness and tranquillity, is improper in a picture full of violent action. A parterre, partly ornamented, partly in disorder, produces a mixt feeling of the same sort. Two great armies in act to engage, mix the dissimilar emotions of grandeur and of terror.

Sembra d'alberi densi alta foresta
L'un campo, e l'altro; di tant aste abbonda.
Son tesi gli archi, e son le lance in resta:
Vibransi i dardi, e rotasi ogni fionda.
Ogni cavallo in guerra anco s'appresta,
Gli odii, e 'l furor del suo signor seconda:
Raspa, batte, nitrisce, e si raggira,
Gonfia le nari; e fumo, e fuoco spira.

« AnteriorContinuar »