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finely conducted, chiefly by making love, in some degree, take part with honor, Don Rodrigue reflecting, that if he lost his honor he could not deserve his mistress : honor triumphs; and the Count provoked to a single combat, falls by the hand of Don Rodrigue.
This produces another beautiful situation respecting Chimene, which making part of the same story, is placed here, though it properly belongs to the foregoing head. It became the duty of that lady to demand justice against her lover, for whose preservation, in other circumstances
, she would have cheerfully sacrificed her own life. The struggle between these opposite passions directed to the same object is finely expressed in the third scene of the third act :
Elvire. Il vous prive d'un père, et vous l'aimez encore !
Chimene. C'est peu de dire aimer, Elvire, je l'adore;
Je sai que je suis, et que mon père est mort. Not less when the objects are different than when the same, are means sometimes afforded to gratify both passions; and such means are greedily embraced. In Tasso's Gerusalemme, Edward and Gildippe, husband and wife, are introduced fighting gallantly against the Saracens. Gildippe receives a mortal wound by the hand of Soliman : Edward inflamed with revenge, as well as concern for Gildippe, is agitated between the two different objects. The poet* describes him
endeavoring to gratify both at once, applying his right hand against Soliman, the object of his resentment, and his left hand to support his wife, the object of his love.
INFLUENCE OF PASSION WITH RESPECT TO OUR PERCEPTIONS,
OPINIONS, AND BELIEF,
The influence of passion upon our perceptions, opinions, and belief, Tran
quillity or sedateness, the proper state of mind for accurate perception and cool deliberation-Agreeable passions prepossess us in favor of their objects; disagreeable do not-A strong propensity in our nature to justify our passions and actions Arguments for a favorite opinion always at hand-The mind delighted and impressed by agreeable arguments, but not by disagreeable Examples: Gratitude Envy-Grief-Resentment-Anger-Good news-Bad news-Improbable events—Future events—Prosperity- Affliction.
CONSIDERING how intimately our perceptions, passions, and actions, are mutually connected, it would be wonderful if they should
* Canto 20. st. 97.
have no mutual influence. That our actions are too much influenced by passion, is a known truth; but it is not less certain, though not so well known, that passion has also an influence upon our percep. tions, opinions, and belief. For example, the opinions we form of men and things, are generally directed by affection: an advice given by a man of figure, has great weight; the same advice from one in a low condition is despised or neglected: a man of courage underrates danger; and to the indolent the slightest obstacle appears unsurmountable.
This doctrine is of great use in logic; and of still greater use in criticism, by serving to explain several principles of the fine arts that will be unfolded in the course of this work. A few general ob. servations shall, at present, suffice, leaving the subject to be prosecuted more particularly afterward when occasion offers.
There is no truth more universally known, than that tranquillity and sedateness are the proper state of mind for accurate perception and cool deliberation ; and for that reason, we never regard the opinion, even of the wisest man, when we discover prejudice or passion behind the curtain. Passion, as observed above, * has such influence over us, as to give a false light to all its objects
. Agreeable passions prepossess the mind in favor of their objects, and disagreeable passions, no less against their objects : a woman is all perfection in her lover's opinion, while, in the eye of a rival beauty, she is awkward and disagreeable: when the passion of love is gone, beauty vanishes with it, -nothing is left of that genteel motion, that sprightly conversation, those numberless graces, which formerly, in the lover's opinion, charmed all hearts. To a zealot every one of his own sect is a saint, while the most upright of a different sect are, to him, children of perdition: the talent of speaking in a friend, is more regarded than prudent conduct in any other. Nor will this surprise one acquainted with the world. Our opinions, the result, frequently, of various and complicated views, are commonly so slight and wavering, as readily to be susceptible of a bias from passion.
With that natural bias another circumstance concurs, to give passion an undue influence on our opinions and belief; and that is a strong tendency in our nature to justify our passions as well as our actions, not to others only, but even to ourselves. That tendency is peculiarly remarkable with respect to disagreeable passions: by its influence, objects are magnified or lessened, circumstances supplied or suppressed, every thing colored and disguised, to answer the end of justification. Hence the foundation of self-deceit, where a man imposes upon himself innocently, and even without suspicion of a bias.
There are subordinate means that contribute to pervert the judg. ment, and to make us form opinions contrary to truth; of which I shall mention two. First, it was formerly observed, t that though ideas seldom start up in the mind without connection, yet that ideas suited to the present tone of mind are readily suggested by any slight connection: the arguments for a favorite opinion are always at hand, while we often search in vain for those that cross our inclination. * Page 68.
t Chap. 1.
Second; the mind, taking delight in agreeable circumstances or arguments, is deeply impressed with them; while those that are disagreeable are hurried over so as scarcely to make any impression; the same argument, by being relished or not relished, weighs so differently, as in truth to make conviction depend more on passion than on reasoning. This observation is fully justified by experience: to confine myself to a single instance; the numberless absurd religious tenets that at different times have pestered the world, would be altogether unaccountable but for that irregular bias of passion.
We proceed to a more pleasant task, which is, to illustrate the foregoing observations by proper examples. Gratitude, when warm, is often exerted upon the children of the benefactor
; especially where he is removed out of reach by death or absence.* The passion in this case being exerted for the sake of the benefactor, requires no peculiar excellence in his children: but the practice of doing good to these children produces affection for them, which never fails to advance them
our esteem. By such means, strong connections of affection are often formed among individuals, upon the slight foundation now mentioned.
Envy is a passion, which, being altogether unjustifiable, can only be excused by disguising it under some plausible name. At the same time, no passion is more eager than envy, to give its object a disagreeable appearance: it magnifies every bad quality, and fixes on the most humbling circumstances :
Cassius. I cannot tell what you and other men
* See part 1. sect. 1. of the present chapter.
His coward lips did from their color fly,
And bear the palm alone. Julius Cæsar, Act I. Sc. 3. Glo'ster, inflamed with resentment against his son Edgar, could even force himself into a momentary conviction that they were not related :
O strange fasten’d villain!
King Lear, Act II. Sc. 3. When by great sensibility of heart, or other means, grief becomes immoderate, the mind, in order to justify itself, is prone to magnify the cause : and if the real cause admit not of being magnified, the mind seeks a cause for its grief in imagined future events :
Busby. Madam, your Majesty is much too sad:
Queen. To please the King, I did; to please myself,
Richard II. Act II. Sc. 5. Resentment at first is vented on the relations of the offender, in order to punish him: but as resentment, when so outrageous, is contrary to conscience, the mind, to justify 'its passion, is disposed to paint these relations in the blackest colors; and it comes, at last, to be convinced, that they ought to be punished for their own demerits.
Anger raised by an accidental stroke upon a tender part of the body, is sometimes vented upon the undesigning cause. But as the passion in that case is absurd, and as there can be no solid gratification in punishing the innocent, the mind, prone to justify as well as to gratify its passion, deludes itself into a conviction that the action is voluntary The conviction, however, is but momentary: the first reflection shows it to be erroneous; and the passion vanishes almost instantaneously with the conviction. But anger, the most violent of all passions, has still greater influence: it sometimes forces the mind to personify a stock or a stone, if it happen to occasion bodily pain, and even to believe it a voluntary agent, in order to be a proper object of resentment. And that we have really a momentary conviction of its being a voluntary agent, must be evident from considering, that, without such conviction, the passion can neither
be justified nor gratified: the imagination can give no aid; for a stock or a stone imagined sensible, cannot be an object of punishment, if the mind be conscious that it is imagination merely, without any reality. Of such personification, involving a conviction of reality, there is one illustrious instance: when the first bridge of boats over the Hellespont was destroyed by a storm, Xerxes fell into a transport of rage, so excessive, that he commanded the sea to be punished with 300 stripes; and a pair of fetters to be thrown into it
, enjoining the following words to be pronounced—“O thou salt and bitter water ! thy master hath condemned thee to this punishment for offending him without cause; and is resolved to pass over thee in despite of thy insolence: with reason all men neglect to sacrifice to thee, because thou art both disagreeable and treacherous.'
Shakspeare exhibits beautiful examples of the irregular influence of passion in making us believe things to be otherwise than what they are. King Lear, in his distress, personifies the rain, wind, and thunder; and, in order to justify his resentment, believes them to be taking part with his daughters:
Lear. Rumble thy bellyful, spit fire, spout rain!
Lear, Act III. Sc. 2. King Richard, full of indignation against his favorite horse for carrying Bolingbroke, is led into the conviction of his being rational :
Groom. O, how it yearn'd my heart, when I beheld
K. Rich. Rode he on Barbary ? tell me, gentle friend,
Groom. So proudly as he had disdain'd the ground.
Richard II. Act V. Sc. 5. Hamlet, swelled with indignation at his mother's second marriage, was strongly inclined to lessen the time of her widowhood, the shortness of the time being a violent circumstance against her; and he deludes himself, by degrees, into the opinion of an interval shorter than the real one: Hamlet.
That it should come to this!
* Herodotus, book 7.