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Title: Elements of Criticism, Volume I.
Author: Home, Henry
Language: English
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                           In THREE VOLUMES.

                               VOLUME I.


                    Printed for A. MILLAR, London;


                   A. KINCAID & J. BELL, Edinburgh,

                                TO THE



The fine arts have ever been encouraged by wise princes, not singly for
private amusement, but for their beneficial influence in society. By
uniting different ranks in the same elegant pleasures, they promote
benevolence: by cherishing love of order, they inforce submission to
government: and by inspiring delicacy of feeling, they make regular
government a double blessing.

THESE considerations embolden me to hope for your Majesty’s patronage in
behalf of the following work, which treats of the fine arts, and
attempts to form a standard of taste by unfolding those principles that
ought to govern the taste of every individual.

IT is rare to find one born with such delicacy of feeling, as not to
need instruction: it is equally rare to find one so low in feeling, as
not to be capable of instruction. And yet, to refine our taste with
respect to beauties of art or of nature, is scarce endeavoured in any
seminary of learning; a lamentable defect, considering how early in life
taste is susceptible of culture, and how difficult to reform it if
unhappily perverted. To furnish materials for supplying that defect, was
an additional motive for the present undertaking.

TO promote the fine arts in Britain, has become of greater importance
than is generally imagined. A flourishing commerce begets opulence; and
opulence, inflaming our appetite for pleasure, is commonly vented on
luxury and on every sensual gratification: Selfishness rears its head;
becomes fashionable; and infecting all ranks, extinguishes the _amor
patriæ_ and every spark of public spirit. To prevent or to retard such
fatal corruption, the genius of an Alfred cannot devise any means more
efficacious, than venting opulence upon the fine arts. Riches so
employ’d, instead of encouraging vice, will excite both public and
private virtue. Of this happy effect, ancient Greece furnishes one
shining instance; and why should we despair of another in Britain?

IN the commencement of an auspicious reign, and even in that early
period of life when pleasure commonly is the sole pursuit, your Majesty
has uniformly display’d to a delighted people, the noblest principles,
ripened by early culture; and for that reason, you will be the more
disposed to favour every rational plan for advancing the art of training
up youth. Among the many branches of education, that which tends to make
deep impressions of virtue, ought to be a fundamental measure in a
well-regulated government: for depravity of manners will render
ineffectual the most salutary laws; and in the midst of opulence, what
other means to prevent such depravity but early and virtuous discipline?
The British discipline is susceptible of great improvements; and if we
can hope for them, it must be from a young and accomplished Prince,
eminently sensible of their importance. To establish a complete system
of education, seems reserved by providence for a Sovereign who commands
the hearts of his subjects. Success will crown the undertaking, and
endear GEORGE THE THIRD to our latest posterity.

The most elevated and most refined pleasure of human nature, is enjoy’d
by a virtuous prince governing a virtuous people; and that, by
perfecting the great system of education, your Majesty may very long
enjoy this pleasure, is the ardent wish of

                            Your Majesty’s

                           Devoted Subject,

                              HENRY HOME.


                                        _Vol. Pag._
_Introduction_,                            1    1

Ch. 1. _Perceptions and ideas in a
          train_,                          1   21

Ch. 2. _Emotions and passions_,            1   42

Ch. 3. _Beauty_,                           1  241

Ch. 4. _Grandeur and sublimity_,           1  264

Ch. 5. _Motion and force_,                 1  309

Ch. 6. _Novelty, and the unexpected
            appearance of objects_,        1  319

Ch. 7. _Risible objects_,                  1  337

Ch. 8. _Resemblance and contrast_,         1  345

Ch. 9. _Uniformity and variety_,           1  380

Ch. 10. _Congruity and propriety_,         2    3

Ch. 11. _Dignity and meanness_,            2   27

Ch. 12. _Ridicule_,                        2   40

Ch. 13. _Wit_,                             2   58

Ch. 14. _Custom and habit_,                2   80

Ch. 15. _External signs of emotions
             and passions_,                2  116

Ch. 16. _Sentiments_,                      2  149

Ch. 17. _Language of passion_,             2  204

Ch. 18. _Beauty of language_,              2  234

Ch. 19. _Comparisons_,                     3    3

Ch. 20. _Figures_,                         3   53

Ch. 21. _Narration and description_,       3  169

Ch. 22. _Epic and dramatic compositions_,  3  218

Ch. 23. _The three unities_,               3  259

Ch. 24. _Gardening and architecture_,      3  294

Ch. 25. _Standard of taste_,               3  351

_Appendix_,                                3  375

In describing the scale of sounds made in pronouncing the five vowels,
_vol._ 2. _p._ 239. it ought to have been mentioned, that the letter _i_
must be pronounced as in the word _interest_, and other words beginning
with the syllable _in_; the letter _e_ as in _persuasion_; and the
letter _u_ as in _number_.

The reference intended, _vol._ 2. _p._ 419. is to _p._ 404. of the same


The five senses agree in the following particular, that nothing external
is perceived till it first make an impression upon the organ of sense;
the impression, for example, made upon the hand by a stone, upon the
palate by sugar, and upon the nostrils by a rose. But there is a
difference as to our consciousness of that impression. In touching,
tasting, and smelling, we are conscious of the impression. Not so in
seeing and hearing. When I behold a tree, I am not sensible of the
impression made upon my eye; nor of the impression made upon my ear,
when I listen to a song[1]. This difference in the manner of perception,
distinguishes remarkably hearing and seeing from the other senses; and
distinguishes still more remarkably the feelings of the former from
those of the latter. A feeling pleasant or painful cannot exist but in
the mind; and yet because in tasting, touching, and smelling, we are
conscious of the impression made upon the organ, we naturally place
there also, the pleasant or painful feeling caused by that impression.
And because such feelings seem to be placed externally at the organ of
sense, we, for that reason, conceive them to be merely corporeal. We
have a different apprehension of the pleasant and painful feelings
derived from seeing and hearing. Being insensible here of the organic
impression, we are not misled to assign a wrong place to these feelings;
and therefore we naturally place them in the mind, where they really
exist. Upon that account, they are conceived to be more refined and
spiritual, than what are derived from tasting, touching, and smelling.

The pleasures of the eye and ear being thus elevated above those of the
other external senses, acquire so much dignity as to make them a
laudable entertainment. They are not, however, set upon a level with
those that are purely intellectual; being not less inferior in dignity
to intellectual pleasures, than superior to the organic or corporeal.
They indeed resemble the latter, being like them produced by external
objects: but they also resemble the former, being like them produced
without any sensible organic impression. Their mixt nature and middle
place betwixt organic and intellectual pleasures, qualify them to
associate with either. Beauty heightens all the organic feelings, as
well as those that are intellectual. Harmony, though it aspires to
inflame devotion, disdains not to improve the relish of a banquet.

The pleasures of the eye and ear have other valuable properties beside
those of dignity and elevation. Being sweet and moderately exhilerating,
they are in their tone equally distant from the turbulence of passion,
and languor of inaction; and by that tone are perfectly well qualified,
not only to revive the spirits when sunk by sensual gratification, but
also to relax them when overstrained in any violent pursuit. Here is a
remedy provided for many distresses. And to be convinced of its salutary
effects, it will be sufficient to run over the following particulars.
Organic pleasures have naturally a short duration: when continued too
long, or indulged to excess, they lose their relish, and beget satiety
and disgust. To relieve us from that uneasiness, nothing can be more
happily contrived than the exhilerating pleasures of the eye and ear,
which take place imperceptibly, without much varying the tone of mind.
On the other hand, any intense exercise of the intellectual powers,
becomes painful by overstraining the mind. Cessation from such exercise
gives not instant relief: it is necessary that the void be filled with
some amusement, gently relaxing the spirits[2]. Organic pleasure, which
hath no relish but while we are in vigour, is ill qualified for that
office: but the finer pleasures of sense, which occupy without
exhausting the mind, are excellently well qualified to restore its usual
tone after severe application to study or business, as well as after
satiety from sensual gratification.

Our first perceptions are of external objects, and our first
attachments are to them. Organic pleasures take the lead. But the mind,
gradually ripening, relisheth more and more the pleasures of the eye and
ear; which approach the purely mental, without exhausting the spirits;
and exceed the purely sensual, without danger of satiety. The pleasures
of the eye and ear have accordingly a natural aptitude to attract us
from the immoderate gratification of sensual appetite. For the mind,
once accustomed to enjoy a variety of external objects without being
conscious of the organic impression, is prepared for enjoying internal
objects where there cannot be an organic impression. Thus the author of
nature, by qualifying the human mind for a succession of enjoyments from
the lowest to the highest, leads it by gentle steps from the most
groveling corporeal pleasures, for which solely it is fitted in the
beginning of life, to those refined and sublime pleasures which are
suited to its maturity.

This succession, however, is not governed by unavoidable necessity. The
God of nature offers it to us, in order to advance our happiness; and
it is sufficient, that he hath enabled us to complete the succession.
Nor has he made our task disagreeable or difficult. On the contrary, the
transition is sweet and easy, from corporeal pleasures to the more
refined pleasures of sense; and not less so, from these to the exalted
pleasures of morality and religion. We stand therefore engaged in
honour, as well as interest, to second the purposes of nature, by
cultivating the pleasures of the eye and ear, those especially that
require extraordinary culture[3], such as are inspired by poetry,
painting, sculpture, music, gardening, and architecture. This chiefly is
the duty of the opulent, who have leisure to improve their minds and
their feelings. The fine arts are contrived to give pleasure to the eye
and the ear, disregarding the inferior senses. A taste for these arts is
a plant that grows naturally in many soils; but, without culture, scarce
to perfection in any soil. It is susceptible of much refinement; and is,
by proper care, greatly improved. In this respect, a taste in the fine
arts goes hand in hand with the moral sense, to which indeed it is
nearly allied. Both of them discover what is right and what is wrong.
Fashion, temper, and education, have an influence upon both, to vitiate
them, or to preserve them pure and untainted. Neither of them are
arbitrary or local. They are rooted in human nature, and are governed by
principles common to all men. The principles of morality belong not to
the present undertaking. But as to the principles of the fine arts, they
are evolved, by studying the sensitive part of human nature, and by
learning what objects are naturally agreeable, and what are naturally
disagreeable. The man who aspires to be a critic in these arts, must
pierce still deeper. He must clearly perceive what objects are lofty,
what low, what are proper or improper, what are manly, and what are
mean or trivial. Hence a foundation for judging of taste, and for
reasoning upon it. Where it is conformable to principles, we can
pronounce with certainty, that it is correct; otherwise, that it is
incorrect, and perhaps whimsical. Thus the fine arts, like morals,
become a rational science; and, like morals, may be cultivated to a high
degree of refinement.

Manifold are the advantages of criticism, when thus studied as a
rational science. In the first place, a thorough acquaintance with the
principles of the fine arts, redoubles the entertainment these arts
afford. To the man who resigns himself entirely to sentiment or feeling,
without interposing any sort of judgment, poetry, music, painting, are
mere pastime. In the prime of life, indeed, they are delightful, being
supported by the force of novelty, and the heat of imagination. But they
lose their relish gradually with their novelty; and are generally
neglected in the maturity of life, which disposes to more serious and
more important occupations. To those who deal in criticism as a regular
science, governed by just principles, and giving scope to judgment as
well as to fancy, the fine arts are a favourite entertainment; and in
old age maintain that relish which they produce in the morning of

In the next place, a philosophic inquiry into the principles of the fine
arts, inures the reflecting mind to the most enticing sort of logic.
Reasoning upon subjects so agreeable tends to a habit; and a habit,
strengthening the reasoning faculties, prepares the mind for entering
into subjects more difficult and abstract. To have, in this respect, a
just conception of the importance of criticism, we need but reflect upon
the common method of education; which, after some years spent in
acquiring languages, hurries us, without the least preparatory
discipline, into the most profound philosophy. A more effectual method
to alienate the tender mind from abstract science, is beyond the reach
of invention. With respect to such speculations, the bulk of our youth
contrast a sort of hobgoblin terror, which is seldom, if ever, subdued.
Those who apply to the arts, are trained in a very different manner.
They are led, step by step, from the easier parts of the operation, to
what are more difficult; and are not permitted to make a new motion,
till they be perfected in those which regularly precede it. The science
of criticism appears then to be an intermediate link, finely qualified
for connecting the different parts of education into a regular chain.
This science furnisheth an inviting opportunity to exercise the
judgement: we delight to reason upon subjects that are equally pleasant
and familiar: we proceed gradually from the simpler to the more involved
cases: and in a due course of discipline, custom, which improves all our
faculties, bestows acuteness upon those of reason, sufficient to unravel
all the intricacies of philosophy.

Nor ought it to be overlooked, that the reasonings employed upon the
fine arts are of the same kind with those which regulate our conduct.
Mathematical and metaphysical reasonings have no tendency to improve
social intercourse: nor are they applicable to the common affairs of
life. But a just taste in the fine arts, derived from rational
principles, is a fine preparation for acting in the social state with
dignity and propriety.

The science of criticism tends to improve the heart not less than the
understanding. I observe, in the first place, that it hath a fine effect
in moderating the selfish affections. A just taste in the fine arts, by
sweetening and harmonizing the temper, is a strong antidote to the
turbulence of passion and violence of pursuit. Elegance of taste
procures to a man so much enjoyment at home, or easily within reach,
that in order to be occupied, he is, in youth, under no temptation to
precipitate into hunting, gaming, drinking; nor, in middle age, to
deliver himself over to ambition; nor, in old age, to avarice. Pride, a
disgustful selfish passion, exerts itself without control, when
accompanied with a bad taste. A man of this stamp, upon whom the most
striking beauty makes but a faint impression, feels no joy but in
gratifying his ruling passion by the discovery of errors and blemishes.
Pride, on the other hand, finds in the constitution no enemy more
formidable than a delicate and discerning taste. The man upon whom
nature and culture have bestowed this blessing, feels great delight in
the virtuous dispositions and actions of others. He loves to cherish
them, and to publish them to the world. Faults and failings, it is true,
are to him not less obvious: but these he avoids, or removes out of
sight, because they give him pain. In a word, there may be other
passions, which, for a season, disturb the peace of society more than
pride: but no other passion is so unwearied an antagonist to the sweets
of social intercourse. Pride, tending assiduously to its gratification,
puts a man perpetually in opposition to others; and disposes him more to
relish bad than good qualities, even in a bosom friend. How different
that disposition of mind, where every virtue in a companion or
neighbour, is, by refinement of taste, set in its strongest light; and
defects or blemishes, natural to all, are suppressed, or kept out of

In the next place, delicacy of taste tends not less to invigorate the
social affections, than to moderate those that are selfish. To be
convinced of this tendency, we need only reflect, that delicacy of taste
necessarily heightens our sensibility of pain and pleasure, and of
course our sympathy, which is the capital branch of every social
passion. Sympathy in particular invites a communication of joys and
sorrows, hopes and fears. Such exercise, soothing and satisfactory in
itself, is productive necessarily of mutual good-will and affection.

One other advantage of criticism is reserved to the last place, being of
all the most important, that it is a great support to morality. I insist
on it with entire satisfaction, that no occupation attaches a man more
to his duty than that of cultivating a taste in the fine arts. A just
relish of what is beautiful, proper, elegant, and ornamental, in writing
or painting, in architecture or gardening, is a fine preparation for
discerning what is beautiful, just, elegant, or magnanimous, in
character and behaviour. To the man who has acquired a taste so acute
and accomplished, every action, wrong or improper, must be highly
disgustful. If, in any instance, the overbearing power of passion sway
him from his duty, he returns to it upon the first reflection, with
redoubled resolution never to be swayed a second time. He has now an
additional motive to virtue, a conviction derived from experience, that
happiness depends on regularity and order, and that a disregard to
justice or propriety never fails to be punished with shame and

Rude ages exhibit the triumph of authority over reason. Philosophers
anciently were divided into sects: they were either Epicureans,
Platonists, Stoics, Pythagoreans, or Sceptics. Men relied no farther
upon their own judgement than to chuse a leader, whom they implicitly
followed. In later times, happily, reason hath obtained the ascendant.
Men now assert their native privilege of thinking for themselves, and
disdain to be ranked in any sect, whatever be the science. I must except
criticism, which, by what fatality I know not, continues to be not less
slavish in its principles, nor less submissive to authority, than it was
originally. Bossu, a celebrated French critic, gives many rules; but can
discover no better foundation for any of them, than the practice merely
of Homer and Virgil, supported by the authority of Aristotle. Strange,
that in so long a work, the concordance or discordance of these rules
with human nature, should never once have entered his thoughts! It could
not surely be his opinion, that these poets, however eminent for genius,
were intitled to give laws to mankind, and that nothing now remains but
blind obedience to their arbitrary will. If in writing they followed no
rule, why should they be imitated? If they studied nature, and were
obsequious to rational principles, why should these be concealed from

With respect to the present undertaking, it is not the author’s
intention to give a regular treatise upon each of the fine arts in
particular; but only, in general, to apply to them some remarks and
observations drawn from human nature, the true source of criticism. The
fine arts are calculated for our entertainment, or for making agreeable
impressions; and, by that circumstance, are distinguished from the
useful arts. In order then to be a critic in the fine arts, it is
necessary, as above hinted, to know what objects are naturally
agreeable, and what naturally disagreeable. A complete treatise on that
subject would be a field by far too extensive to be thoroughly
cultivated by any one hand. The author pretends only to have entered
upon the subject so far as necessary for supporting his critical
remarks. And he assumes no merit from his performance, but that of
evincing, perhaps more distinctly than hitherto has been done, that the
genuine rules of criticism are all of them derived from the human heart.
The sensitive part of our nature is a delightful speculation. What the
author hath discovered or collected upon that subject, he chuses to
impart in the gay and agreeable form of criticism; because he imagines,
that this form will be more relished, and perhaps be not less
instructive, than a regular and laboured disquisition. His plan is, to
ascend gradually to principles, from facts and experiments, instead of
beginning with the former, handled abstractly, and descending to the
latter. But though criticism be thus his only declared aim, he will not
disown, that all along he had it in view, to explain the nature of man,
considered as a sensitive being, capable of pleasure and pain. And
though he flatters himself with having made some progress in that
important science, he is however too sensible of its extent and
difficulty, to undertake it professedly, or to avow it as the chief
purpose of the present work.

To censure works, not men, is the just prerogative of criticism; and
accordingly all personal censure is here avoided, unless where necessary
to illustrate some general proposition. No praise is claimed on that
account; because censuring with a view merely to find fault, is an
entertainment that humanity never relishes. Writers, one would imagine,
should, above all others, be reserved upon that article, when they lie
so open to retaliation. The author of this treatise, far from being
confident of meriting no censure, entertains not even the slightest hope
of such perfection. Amusement was at first the sole aim of his
inquiries. Proceeding from one particular to another, the subject grew
under his hand; and he was far advanced before the thought struck him,
that his private meditations might be publicly useful. In public,
however, he would not appear in a slovenly dress; and therefore he
pretends not otherwise to apologise for his errors, than by observing,
that, in a new subject, not less nice than extensive, errors are in some
measure unavoidable. Neither pretends he to justify his taste in every
particular. That point must be extremely clear, which admits not variety
of opinion; and in some matters susceptible of great refinement, time
is perhaps the only infallible touch-stone of taste. To this he appeals,
and to this he chearfully submits.

       *       *       *       *       *

_N. B._ THE ELEMENTS OF CRITICISM, meaning the whole, is a title too
assuming for this work. A number of these elements or principles are
here evolved: but as the author is far from imagining, that he has
completed the list, a more humble title is proper, such as may express
any undetermined number of parts less than the whole. This he thinks is
signified by the title he has chosen, _viz._ ELEMENTS OF CRITICISM.



Perceptions and ideas in a train.

A man while awake is sensible of a continued train of objects passing in
his mind. It requires no activity on his part to carry on the train: nor
has he power to vary it by calling up an object at will[6]. At the same
time we learn from daily experience, that a train of thought is not
merely casual. And if it depend not upon will, nor upon chance, we must
try to evolve by what law it is governed. The subject is of importance
in the science of human nature; and I promise beforehand, that it will
be found of great importance in the fine arts.

It appears that the relations by which things are linked together, have
a great influence in directing the train of thought; and we find by
experience, that objects are connected in the mind precisely as they are
externally. Beginning then with things external, we find that they are
not more remarkable by their inherent properties than by their various
relations. We cannot any where extend our view without perceiving things
connected together by certain relations. One thing perceived to be a
cause, is connected with its several effects; some things are connected
by contiguity in time, others by contiguity in place; some are connected
by resemblance, some by contrast; some go before, some follow. Not a
single thing appears solitary, and altogether devoid of connection. The
only difference is, that some are intimately connected, some more
slightly; some near, some at a distance.

Experience as well as reason may satisfy us, that the train of mental
perceptions is in a great measure regulated by the foregoing relations.
Where a number of things are linked together, the idea of any one
suggests the rest; and in this manner is a train of thoughts composed.
Such is the law of succession; whether an original law, or whether
directed by some latent principle, is doubtful; and probably will for
ever remain so. This law, however, is not inviolable. It sometimes
happens, though rarely, that an idea presents itself to the mind without
any connection, so far at least as can be discovered.

But though we have not the absolute command of ideas, yet the Will hath
a considerable influence in directing the order of connected ideas.
There are few things but what are connected with many others. By this
means, when any thing becomes an object, whether in a direct survey, or
ideally only, it generally suggests many of its connections. Among these
a choice is afforded. We can insist upon one, rejecting others; and we
can even insist upon what has the slightest connection. Where ideas are
left to their natural course, they are generally continued through the
strongest connections. The mind extends its view to a son more readily
than to a servant, and more readily to a neighbour than to one living at
a distance. This order may be varied by Will, but still within the
limits of connected objects. In short, every train of ideas must be a
chain, in which the particular ideas are linked to each other. We may
vary the order of a natural train; but not so as to dissolve it
altogether, by carrying on our thoughts in a loose manner without any
connection. So far doth our power extend; and that power is sufficient
for all useful purposes. To give us more power, would probably be
detrimental instead of being salutary.

Will is not the only cause that prevents a train of thought from being
continued through the strongest connections. Much depends on the present
tone of mind; for a subject that accords with this tone is always
welcome. Thus, in good spirits, a chearful subject will be introduced by
the slightest connection; and one that is melancholy, not less readily
in low spirits. Again, an interesting subject is recalled, from time to
time, by any connection indifferently, strong or weak. This is finely
touched by Shakespear, with relation to a rich cargo at sea.

    My wind, cooling my broth,
    Would blow me to an ague, when I thought
    What harm a wind too great might do at sea.
    I should not see the sandy hour-glass run,
    But I should think of shallows and of flats;
    And see my wealthy Andrew dock’d in sand,
    Vailing her high top lower than her ribs,
    To kiss her burial. Should I go to church,
    And see the holy edifice of stone,
    And not bethink me strait of dangerous rocks?
    Which touching but my gentle vessel’s side,
    Would scatter all the spices on the stream,
    Enrobe the roaring waters with my silks,
    And, in a word, but now worth this,
    And now worth nothing.
         _Merchant of Venice_, _act_ 1. _sc._ 1.

Another cause clearly distinguishable from that now mentioned, hath also
a considerable influence over the train of ideas. In some minds of a
singular frame, thoughts and circumstances crowd upon each other by the
slightest connection. I ascribe this to a defect in the faculty of
discernment. A person who cannot accurately distinguish betwixt a slight
connection and one that is more solid, is equally affected with both.
Such a person must necessarily have a great command of ideas, because
they are introduced by any relation indifferently; and the slighter
relations, being without number, must furnish ideas without end. This
doctrine is, in a lively manner, illustrated by Shakespear.

     _Falstaff._ What is the gross sum that I owe thee?

     _Hostess._ Marry, if thou wert an honest man, thyself and thy
     money too. Thou didst swear to me on a parcel-gilt goblet, sitting
     in my Dolphin chamber, at the round table, by a sea-coal fire, on
     Wednesday in Whitsun-week, when the Prince broke thy head for
     likening him to a singing man of Windsor, thou didst swear to me
     then, as I was washing thy wound, to marry me, and make me my Lady
     thy wife. Canst thou deny it? Did not Goodwife Keech, the butcher’s
     wife, come in then, and call me Gossip Quickly? Coming in to borrow
     a mess of vinegar; telling us she had a good dish of prawns;
     whereby thou didst desire to eat some; whereby I told thee they
     were ill for a green wound? And didst not thou, when she was gone
     down stairs, desire me to be no more so familiarity with such poor
     people, saying, that ere long they should call me Madam? And didst
     thou not kiss me, and bid me fetch thee thirty shillings? I put
     thee now to thy book-oath, deny it if thou canst.

     _Second part_, _Henry_ IV. _act_ 2. _sc._ 2.

On the other hand, a man, of accurate judgement cannot have a great flow
of ideas. The slighter relations making no figure in his mind, have no
power to introduce ideas. And hence it is, that accurate judgement is
not friendly to declamation or copious eloquence. This reasoning is
confirmed by experience; for it is a noted observation, That a great or
comprehensive memory is seldom connected with a good judgement.

As an additional confirmation, I appeal to another noted observation,
That wit and judgement are seldom united. Wit consists chiefly in
joining things by distant and fanciful relations, which surprise because
they are unexpected. Such relations being of the slightest kind, readily
occur to that person only who makes every relation equally welcome. Wit,
upon that account, is, in a good measure, incompatible with solid
judgement; which, neglecting trivial relations, adheres to what are
substantial and permanent. Thus memory and wit are often conjoined:
solid judgement seldom with either.

The train of thought depends not entirely upon relations: another cause
comes in for a share; and that is the sense of order and arrangement. To
things of equal rank, where there is no room for a preference, order
cannot be applied; and it must be indifferent in what manner they be
surveyed; witness the sheep that make a flock, or the trees in a wood.
But in things of unequal rank, order is a governing principle. Thus our
tendency is, to view the principal subject before we descend to its
accessories or ornaments, and the superior before the inferior or
dependent. We are equally averse to enter into a minute consideration of
constituent parts, till the thing be first surveyed as a whole. In
passing from a part to the whole, and from an accessory to its
principal, the connection is the same as in the opposite direction. But
a sense of order aids the transition in the latter case, and a sense of
disorder obstructs it in the former. It needs scarce be added, that in
thinking or reflecting on any of these particulars, and in passing from
one to another ideally, we are sensible of easiness or difficulty
precisely as when they are set before our eyes.

Our sense of order is conspicuous with respect to natural operations;
for it always coincides with the order of nature. Thinking upon a body
in motion, we follow its natural course. The mind falls with a heavy
body, descends with a river, and ascends with flame and smoke. In
tracing out a family, we incline to begin at the founder, and to descend
gradually to his latest posterity. On the contrary, musing on a lofty
oak, we begin at the trunk, and mount from it to the branches. As to
historical facts, we love to proceed in the order of time; or, which
comes to the same, to proceed along the chain of causes and effects.

But though, in following out a historical chain, our bent is to proceed
orderly from causes to their effects, we find not the same bent in
matters of science. There we seem rather disposed to proceed from
effects to their causes, and from particular propositions to those which
are more general. Why this difference in matters that appear so nearly
related? The cases are similar in appearance only, not in reality. In a
historical chain, every event is particular, the effect of some former
event, and the cause of others that follow. In such a chain, there is
nothing to bias the mind from the order of nature. Widely different is
the case of science, when we endeavour to trace out causes and their
effects. Many experiments are commonly reduced under one cause; and
again, many of these under some one still more general and
comprehensive. In our progress from particular effects to general
causes, and from particular propositions to the more comprehensive, we
feel a gradual dilatation or expansion of mind, like what is felt in
proceeding along an ascending series, which is extremely delightful. The
pleasure here exceeds what arises from following the course of nature;
and it is this pleasure which regulates our train of thought in the case
now mentioned, and in others that are similar. These observations, by
the way, furnish materials for instituting a comparison betwixt the
synthetic and analytic methods of reasoning. The synthetic method
descending regularly from principles to their consequences, is more
agreeable to the strictness of order. But in following the opposite
course in the analytic method, we have a sensible pleasure, like
mounting upward, which is not felt in the other. The analytic method is
more agreeable to the imagination. The other method will be preferred
by those only who with rigidity adhere to order, and give no indulgence
to natural emotions[7].

It appears then that we are framed by nature to relish order and
connection. When an object is introduced by a proper connection, we are
conscious of a certain pleasure arising from that circumstance. Among
objects of equal rank, the pleasure is proportioned to the degree of
connection; but among unequal objects, where we require a certain order,
the pleasure arises chiefly from an orderly arrangement. Of this one may
be made sensible, in tracing objects contrary to the course of nature,
or contrary to our sense of order. The mind proceeds with alacrity from
a whole to its parts, and from a principal to its accessories; but in
the contrary direction, it is sensible of a sort of retrograde motion,
which is unpleasant. And here may be remarked the great influence of
order upon the mind of man. Grandeur, which makes a deep impression,
inclines us, in running over any series, to proceed from small to great,
rather than from great to small. But order prevails over this tendency;
and in parting from the whole to its parts, and from a subject to its
ornaments, affords pleasure as well as facility, which are not felt in
the opposite course. Elevation touches the mind not less than grandeur
doth; and in raising the mind to elevated objects, there is a sensible
pleasure. But the course of nature hath still a greater influence than
elevation; and therefore the pleasure of falling with rain, and
descending gradually with a river, prevails over that of mounting
upward. Hence the agreeableness of smoke ascending in a calm morning.
Elevation concurs with the course of nature, to make this object

I am extremely sensible of the disgust men generally have at abstract
speculation; and for that reason I would avoid it altogether, were it
possible in a work which professes to draw the rules of criticism from
human nature, their true source. There is indeed no choice, other than
to continue for some time in the same track, or to abandon the
undertaking altogether. Candor obliges me to notify this to my readers,
that such of them whose aversion to abstract speculation is invincible,
may stop short here; for till principles be explained, I can promise no
entertainment to those who shun thinking. But I flatter myself with a
different taste in the bulk of readers. Some few, I imagine, will relish
the abstract part for its own sake; and many for the useful purposes to
which it may be applied. For encouraging the latter to proceed with
alacrity, I assure them beforehand that the foregoing speculation leads
to many important rules of criticism, which shall be unfolded in the
course of this work. In the mean time, for instant satisfaction in part,
they will be pleased to accept the following specimen.

It is required in every work of art, that, like an organic system, the
constituent parts be mutually connected, and bear each of them a
relation to the whole, some more intimate, some less, according to their
destination. Order is not less essential than connection; and when due
regard is paid to these, we have a sense of just composition, and so
far are pleased with the performance. Homer is defective in order and
connection; and Pindar more remarkably. Regularity, order, and
connection, are painful restraints on a bold and fertile imagination;
and are not patiently submitted to, but after much culture and
discipline. In Horace there is no fault more eminent than want of
connection. Instances are without number. In the first fourteen lines of
ode 7. lib. 1. he mentions several towns and districts which by some
were relished more than by others. In the remainder of the ode, Plancus
is exhorted to drown his cares in wine. Having narrowly escaped death by
the fall of a tree, this poet[8] takes occasion properly to observe,
that while we guard against some dangers, we are exposed to others we
cannot foresee. He ends with displaying the power of music. The parts of
ode 16. lib. 2. are so loosely connected as to disfigure a poem
otherwise extremely beautiful. The 1st, 2d, 3d, 4th, 11th, 24th, 27th
odes of the 3d book, lie open all of them to the same censure. The 1st
satire, book 1. is so deformed by want of unity and connection of parts,
as upon the whole to be scarce agreeable. It commences with an important
question, How it happens that persons who are so much satisfied with
themselves, are generally so little with their condition? After
illustrating the observation in a sprightly manner by several examples,
the author, forgetting his subject, enters upon a declamation against
avarice, which he pursues till the line 108. There he makes an apology
for wandering, and promises to return to his subject. But avarice having
got possession of his mind, he follows out that theme to the end, and
never returns to the question proposed in the beginning.

In the Georgics of Virgil, though esteemed the most finished work of
that author, the parts are ill connected, and the transitions far from
being sweet and easy. In the first book[9] he deviates from his subject
to give a description of the five zones. The want of connection here is
remarkable, as well as in the description of the prodigies that
accompanied the death of Cæsar, with which the same book is concluded. A
digression upon the praises of Italy in the second book[10], is not more
happily introduced. And in the midst of a declamation upon the pleasures
of husbandry, that makes part of the same book[11], the author appears
personally upon the stage without the slightest connection. The two
prefaces of Sallust look as if they had been prefixed by some blunder to
his two histories. They will suit any other history as well, or any
subject as well as history. Even the members of these prefaces are but
loosely connected. They look more like a number of maxims or
observations than a connected discourse.

An episode in a narrative poem being in effect an accessory, demands not
that strict union with the principal subject which is requisite betwixt
a whole and its constituent parts. The relation however of principal
and accessory being pretty intimate, an episode loosely connected with
the principal subject will never be graceful. I give for an example the
descent of Æneas into hell, which employs the sixth book of the Æneid.
The reader is not prepared for this important event. No cause is
assigned, that can make it appear necessary or even natural, to suspend,
for so long a time, the principal action in its most interesting period.
To engage Æneas to wander from his course in search of an adventure so
extraordinary, the poet can find no better pretext, than the hero’s
longing to visit the ghost of his father recently dead. In the mean time
the story is interrupted, and the reader loses his ardor. An episode so
extremely beautiful is not at any rate to be dispensed with. It is pity
however, that it doth not arise more naturally from the subject. I must
observe at the same time, that full justice is done to this incident, by
considering it to be an episode; for if it be a constituent part of the
principal action, the connection ought to be still more intimate. The
same objection lies against that elaborate description of Fame in the
Æneid[12]. Any other book of that heroic poem, or of any heroic poem,
has as good a title to that description as the book where it is placed.

In a natural landscape, we every day perceive a multitude of objects
connected by contiguity solely. Objects of sight make an impression so
lively, as that a relation, even of the slightest kind, is relished.
This however ought not to be imitated in description. Words are so far
short of the eye in liveliness of impression, that in a description the
connection of objects ought to be carefully studied, in order to make
the deeper impression. For it is a known fact, the reason of which is
suggested above, that it is easier by words to introduce into the mind a
related object, than one which is not connected with the preceding
train. In the following passage, different things are brought together
without the slightest connection, if it be not what may be called
verbal, _i. e._ taking the same word in different meanings.

    Surgamus: solet esse gravis cantantibus umbra.
    Juniperi gravis umbra: nocent et frugibus umbræ.
    Ite domum saturæ, venit Hesperus, ite capellæ.
         _Virg. Buc._ 10. 75.

The metaphorical or figurative appearance of an object, is no good cause
for introducing that object in its real and natural appearance. A
relation so slight can never be relished.

    Distrust in lovers is too warm a sun;
    But yet ’tis night in love when that is gone.
    And in those climes which most his scorching know,
    He makes the noblest fruits and metals grow.
         _Part_ 2. _Conquest of Granada_, _act_ 3.

The relations among objects have a considerable influence in the
gratification of our passions, and even in their production. But this
subject is reserved to be treated in the chapter of emotions and

There is perhaps not another instance of a building so great erected
upon a foundation so slight in appearance, as that which is erected
upon the relations of objects and their arrangement. Relations make no
capital figure in the mind: the bulk of them are transitory, and some
extremely trivial. They are however the links that, uniting our
perceptions into one connected chain, produce connection of action,
because perceptions and actions have an intimate correspondence. But it
is not sufficient for the conduct of life that our actions be linked
together, however intimately: it is beside necessary that they proceed
in a certain order; and this also is provided for by an original
propensity. Thus order and connection, while they admit sufficient
variety, introduce a method in the management of affairs. Without them
our conduct would be fluctuating and desultory; and we would be hurried
from thought to thought, and from action to action, entirely at the
mercy of chance.


Emotions and Passions.

The fine arts, as observed above[14], are all of them calculated to give
pleasure to the eye or the ear; and they never descend to gratify the
taste, touch, or smell. At the same time, the feelings of the eye and
ear, are of all the feelings of external sense, those only which are
honoured with the name of _emotions_ or _passions_. It is also observed
above[15], that the principles of the fine arts are unfolded by studying
the sensitive part of human nature, in order to know what objects of the
eye and ear are agreeable, what disagreeable. These observations show
the use of the present chapter. We evidently must be acquainted with the
nature and causes of emotions and passions, before we can judge with any
accuracy how far they are under the power of the fine arts. The
critical art is thus set in a fine point of view. The inquisitive mind
beginning with criticism the most agreeable of all amusements, and
finding no obstruction in its progress, advances far into the sensitive
part of our nature; and gains insensibly a thorough knowledge of the
human heart, of its desires, and of every motive to action; a science
which of all that can be reached by man, is to him of the greatest

Upon a subject so extensive, all that can be expected here, is a general
or slight survey. Some emotions indeed more peculiarly connected with
the fine arts, I propose to handle in separate chapters; a method that
will shorten the general survey considerably. And yet, after this
circumscription, so much matter comes under even a general view of the
passions and emotions, that, to avoid confusion, I find it necessary to
divide this chapter into many parts: in the first of which are handled
the causes of those emotions and passions that are the most common and
familiar; for to explain every passion and emotion, however singular,
would be an endless work. And though I could not well take up less
ground, without separating things intimately connected; yet, upon
examination, I find the causes of our emotions and passions to be so
numerous and various, as to make a subdivision also necessary by
splitting this first part into several sections. Human nature is a
complicated machine, and must be so to answer all its purposes. There
have indeed been published to the world, many a system of human nature,
that flatter the mind by their simplicity. But these, unluckily, deviate
far from truth and reality. According to some writers, man is entirely a
selfish being: according to others, universal benevolence is his duty.
One founds morality upon sympathy solely, and one upon utility. If any
of these systems were of nature’s production, the present subject might
be soon discussed. But the variety of nature is not so easily reached;
and for confuting such Utopian systems without the intricacy of
reasoning, it appears the best method to enter into human nature, and
to set before the eye, plainly and candidly, facts as they really exist.


_Causes evolved of the emotions and passions._


     _Difference betwixt emotion and passion.---- Causes that are the
     most common and the most extensive.---- Passion considered as
     productive of action._

These branches are so interwoven, as to make it necessary that they be
handled together. It is a fact universally admitted, that no emotion nor
passion ever starts up in the mind, without a known cause. If I love a
person, it is for good qualities or good offices: if I have resentment
against a man, it must be for some injury he has done me; and I cannot
pity any one, who is under no distress of body or of mind.

The circumstances now mentioned, if they cause or occasion a passion,
cannot be entirely indifferent: if they were, they could not move us in
any degree. And we find upon examination, that they are not indifferent.
Looking back upon the foregoing examples, the good qualities or good
offices that attract my love, are antecedently agreeable. If an injury
were not disagreeable, it would not occasion any resentment against the
author; nor would the passion of pity be raised by an object in
distress, if that object did not give us pain. These feelings antecedent
to passion, and which seem to be the causes of passion, shall be
distinguished by the name of _emotions_.

What is now said about the production of passion, resolves into a very
simple proposition, That we love what is pleasant, and hate what is
painful. And indeed it is evident, that without antecedent emotions we
could not have any passions; for a thing must be pleasant or painful,
before it can be the object either of love or of hatred.

As it appears from this short sketch, that passions are generated by
means of prior emotions, it will be necessary to take first under
consideration emotions and their causes.

Such is the constitution of our nature, that upon perceiving certain
external objects, we are instantaneously conscious of pleasure or pain.
A flowing river, a smooth extended plain, a spreading oak, a towering
hill, are objects of sight that raise pleasant emotions. A barren heath,
a dirty marsh, a rotten carcass, raise painful emotions. Of the emotions
thus produced, we inquire for no other cause but merely the presence of
the object.

It must further be observed, that the things now mentioned, raise
emotions by means of their properties and qualities. To the emotion
raised by a large river, its size, its force, and its fluency,
contribute each a share. The pleasures of regularity, propriety,
convenience, compose the emotion raised by a fine building.

If external properties make a being or thing agreeable, we have reason
to expect the same effect from those which are internal; and accordingly
power, discernment, wit, mildness, sympathy, courage, benevolence,
render the possessor agreeable in a high degree. So soon as these
qualities are perceived in any person, we instantaneously feel pleasant
emotions, without the slightest act of reflection or of attention to
consequences. It is almost unnecessary to add, that certain qualities
opposite to the former, such as dullness, peevishness, inhumanity,
cowardice, occasion in the same manner painful emotions.

Sensible beings affect us remarkably by their actions. Some actions so
soon as perceived, raise pleasant emotions in the spectator, without the
least reflection; such as graceful motion and genteel behaviour. But as
the intention of the agent is a capital circumstance in the bulk of
human actions, it requires reflection to discover their true character.
If I see one delivering a purse of money to another, I can make nothing
of this action, till I discover with what intention the money is given.
If it be given to extinguish a debt, the action is agreeable in a slight
degree. If it be a grateful return, I feel a stronger emotion; and the
pleasurable emotion rises to a great height when it is the intention of
the giver to relieve a virtuous family from want. Actions are thus
qualified by the intention of the agent. But they are not qualified by
the event; for an action well intended is agreeable, whatever be the
consequence. The pleasant or painful emotion that ariseth from
contemplating human actions, is of a peculiar kind. Human actions are
perceived to be _right_ or _wrong_; and this perception qualifies the
pleasure or pain that results from them[16].

Not only are emotions raised in us by the qualities and actions of
others, but also by their feelings. I cannot behold a man in distress,
without partaking of his pain; nor in joy, without partaking of his

The beings or things above described, occasion emotions in us, not only
in the original survey, but when they are recalled to the memory in
idea. A field laid out with taste, is pleasant in the recollection, as
well as when under our eye. A generous action described in words or
colours, occasions a sensible emotion, as well as when we see it
performed. And when we reflect upon the distress of any person, our pain
is of the same kind with what we felt when eye-witnesses. In a word, an
agreeable or disagreeable object recalled to the mind in idea, is the
occasion of a pleasant or painful emotion, of the same kind with that
produced when the object was present. The only difference is, that an
idea being fainter than an original perception, the pleasure or pain
produced by the former, is proportionably fainter than that produced by
the latter.

Having explained the nature of an emotion and mentioned several causes
by which it is produced, we proceed to an observation of considerable
importance in the science of human nature, that some emotions are
accompanied with desire, and that others, after a short existence, pass
away without producing desire of any sort. The emotion raised by a fine
landscape or a magnificent building, vanisheth generally without
attaching our hearts to the object; which also happens with relation to
a number of fine faces in a crowded assembly. But the bulk of emotions
are accompanied with desire of one sort or other, provided only a fit
object for desire be suggested. This is remarkably the case of emotions
raised by human actions and qualities. A virtuous action raiseth in
every spectator a pleasant emotion, which is generally attended with a
desire to do good to the author of the action. A vicious action, on the
other hand, produceth a painful emotion; and of consequence a desire to
have the author punished. Even things inanimate often raise desire. The
goods of fortune are objects of desire almost universally; and the
desire, when more than commonly vigorous, obtains the name of _avarice_.
The pleasant emotion produced in a spectator by a capital picture in the
possession of a prince, seldom raiseth desire. But if such a picture be
exposed to sale, desire of having or possessing is the natural
consequence of the emotion.

If now an emotion be sometimes productive of desire, somtimes not, it
comes to be a material inquiry, in what respect a passion differs from
an emotion. Is passion in its nature or feeling distinguishable from
emotion? I have been apt to think that there must be a distinction,
when the emotion seems in all cases to precede the passion, and to be
the cause or occasion of it. But after the strictest examination, I
cannot perceive any such distinction betwixt emotion and passion. What
is love to a mistress, for example, but a pleasant emotion raised by a
sight or idea of the person beloved, joined with desire of enjoyment? In
what else consists the passion of resentment, but in a painful emotion
occasioned by the injury, accompanied with desire to chastise the author
of the injury? In general, as to every sort of passion, we find no more
in the composition, but the particulars now mentioned, an emotion
pleasant or painful accompanied with desire. What then shall we say upon
this subject? Are _passion_ and _emotion_ synonymous terms? This cannot
be averred. No feeling nor agitation of the mind void of desire, is
termed a passion; and we have discovered that there are many emotions
which pass away without raising desire of any kind. How is the
difficulty to be solved? There appears to me but one solution, which I
relish the more, as it renders the doctrine of the passions and
emotions simple and perspicuous. The solution follows. An internal
motion or agitation of the mind, when it passeth away without raising
desire, is denominated _an emotion_: when desire is raised, the motion
or agitation is denominated _a passion_. A fine face, for example,
raiseth in me a pleasant feeling. If this feeling vanish without
producing any effect, it is in proper language an emotion. But if such
feeling, by reiterated views of the object, become sufficiently strong
to raise desire, it is no longer termed an emotion, but a passion. The
same holds in all the other passions. The painful feeling raised in a
spectator by a slight injury done to a stranger, being accompanied with
no desire of revenge, is termed an emotion. But this injury raiseth in
the stranger a stronger emotion, which being accompanied with desire of
revenge, is a passion. Again, external expressions of distress, produce
in the spectator a painful feeling. This feeling is sometimes so slight
as to pass away without any effect, in which case it is an emotion. But
if the feeling be so strong as to prompt desire of affording relief, it
is a passion, and is termed _pity_. Envy is emulation in excess. If the
exaltation of a competitor be barely disagreeable, the painful feeling
is reckoned an emotion. If it produce desire to depress him, it is
reckoned a passion.

To prevent mistakes, it must be observed, that desire here is taken in
its proper sense, _viz._ that internal impulse which makes us proceed to
action. Desire in a lax sense respects also actions and events that
depend not on us, as when I desire that my friend may have a son to
represent him, or that my country may flourish in arts and sciences. But
such internal act is more properly termed a _wish_ than a _desire_.

Having distinguished passion from emotion, we proceed to consider
passion more at large, with respect especially to its power of producing

We have daily and constant experience for our authority, that no man
ever proceeds to action but through the impulse of some antecedent
desire. So well established is this observation, and so deeply rooted
in the mind, that we can scarce imagine a different system of action.
Even a child will say familiarly, What should make me do this or that
when I have no inclination to it? Taking it then for granted, that the
existence of action depends on antecedent desire; it follows, that where
there is no desire there can be no action. This opens another shining
distinction betwixt emotions and passions. The former, being without
desire, are in their nature quiescent: the latter, involving desire,
have a tendency to action, and always produce action where they meet
with no obstruction.

Hence it follows, that every passion must have an object, _viz._ that
being or thing to which our desire is directed, and with a view to which
every action prompted by that desire is performed. The object of every
passion is that being or thing which produced it. This will be evident
from induction. A fine woman, by her beauty, causes in me the passion of
love, which is directed upon her as its object. A man by injuring me,
raises my resentment; and becomes thereby the object of my resentment.
Thus the cause of a passion, and its object, are the same in different
views. An emotion, on the other hand, being in its nature quiescent and
merely a passive feeling, must have a cause; but cannot be said properly
speaking to have an object.

As the desire involved in every passion leads to action, this action is
either ultimate, or it is done as a means to some end. Where the action
is ultimate, reason and reflection bear no part. The action is performed
blindly by the impulse of passion, without any view. Thus one in extreme
hunger snatches at food, without the slightest reflection whether it be
salutary or not: Avarice prompts to accumulate wealth without the least
view of use; and thereby absurdly converts means into an end: Fear often
makes us fly before we reflect whether we really be in danger: and
animal love not less often hurries to fruition, without a single thought
of gratification. But for the most part, actions are performed as means
to some end; and in these actions reason and reflection always bear a
part. The end is that event which is desired; and the action is
deliberately performed in order to bring about that end. Thus affection
to my friend involves a desire to make him happy; and the desire to
accomplish that end, prompts me to perform what I judge will contribute
to it.

Where the action is ultimate, it hath a cause, _viz._ the impulse of the
passion. But we cannot properly say it hath a motive. This term is
appropriated to actions that are performed as means to some end; and the
conviction that the action will tend to bring about the end desired, is
termed a motive. Thus passions considered as causes of action, are
distinguished into two kinds; instinctive, and deliberative. The first
operating blindly and by mere impulse, depend entirely upon the
sensitive part of our nature. The other operating by reflection and by
motives, are connected with the rational part.

The foregoing difference among the passions, is the work of nature.
Experience brings on some variations. By all actions performed through
the impulse of passion, desire is gratified, and the gratification is
pleasant. This lesson we have from experience. And hence it is, that
after an action has often been performed by the impulse merely of
passion, the pleasure resulting from performance, considered beforehand,
becomes a motive, which joins its force with the original impulse in
determining us to act. Thus a child eats by the mere impulse of hunger:
a young man thinks of the pleasure of gratification, which is a motive
for him to eat: and a man farther advanced in life, hath the additional
motive that it will contribute to his health.

Instinctive passions are distinguished into two kinds. Where the cause
is internal, they are denominated _appetites_: where external, they
retain the common name of _passions_. Thus hunger, thirst, animal love,
are termed _appetites_; while fear and anger, even when they operate
blindly and by mere impulse, are termed _passions_.

From the definition of a motive above given, it is easy to determine,
with the greatest accuracy, what passions are selfish, what social. No
passion can properly be termed selfish, but what prompts me to exert
actions in order for my own good; nor social, but what prompts me to
exert actions in order for the good of another. The motive is that which
determines a passion to be social or selfish. Hence it follows, that our
appetites, which make us act blindly and by mere impulse, cannot be
reckoned either social or selfish; and as little the actions they
produce. Thus eating, when prompted by an impulse merely of nature, is
neither social nor selfish. But add a motive, That it will contribute to
my pleasure or my health, and it becomes in a measure selfish. On the
other hand, when affection moves me to exert actions to the end solely
of advancing my friend’s happiness, without the slightest regard to my
own gratification, such actions are justly denominated _social_; and so
is the affection, that is their cause. If another motive be added, That
gratifying the affection will contribute to my own happiness, the
actions I perform become partly selfish. Animal love when exerted into
action by natural impulse singly, is neither social nor selfish: when
exerted with a view to gratification and in order to make me happy, it
is selfish. When the motive of giving pleasure to its object is
superadded, it is partly social, partly selfish. A just action when
prompted by the love of justice solely, is neither social nor selfish.
When I perform an act of justice with a view to the pleasure of
gratification, the action is selfish. I pay my debt for my own sake, not
with a view to benefit my creditor. But let me suppose the money has
been advanced by a friend without interest, purely to oblige me. In this
case, together with the inclination to do justice, there arises a motive
of gratitude, which respects the creditor solely, and prompts me to act
in order to do him good. Here the action is partly social, partly
selfish. Suppose again I meet with a surprising and unexpected act of
generosity, that inspires me with love to my benefactor and the utmost
gratitude. I burn to do him good: he is the sole object of my desire;
and my own pleasure in gratifying the desire, vanisheth out of sight. In
this case, the action I perform is purely social. Thus it happens, that
when a social motive becomes strong, the action is exerted with a view
singly to the object of the passion; and the selfish pleasure arising
from gratification is never once considered. The same effect of stifling
selfish motives, is equally remarkable in other passions that are in no
view social. Ambition, for example, when confined to exaltation as its
ultimate end, is neither social nor selfish. Let exaltation be
considered as a means to make me happy, and the passion becomes so far
selfish. But if the desire of exaltation wax strong and inflame my mind,
the selfish motive now mentioned is no longer felt. A slight degree of
resentment, where my chief view in acting is the pleasure arising to
myself from gratifying the passion, is justly denominated _selfish_.
Where revenge flames so high as to have no other aim but the destruction
of its object, it is no longer selfish. In opposition to a social
passion, it maybe termed _dissocial_[17].

Of self, every one hath a direct perception: of other things, we have no
knowledge but by means of their attributes. Hence it is, that of self,
the perception is more lively than of any other thing. Self is an
agreeable object; and, for the reason now given, must be more agreeable
than any other object. Is not this sufficient to account for the
prevalence of self-love?

In the foregoing part of this chapter, it is suggested, that some
circumstances make beings or things fit objects for desire, others not.
This hint must be pursued. It is a truth ascertained by universal
experience, that a thing which in our apprehension is beyond reach,
never is the object of desire. No man, in his right senses, desires to
walk in the air, or to descend to the centre of the earth. We may amuse
ourselves in a reverie, with building castles in the air, and wishing
for what can never happen. But such things never move desire. And indeed
a desire to act would be altogether absurd, when we are conscious that
the action is beyond our power. In the next place, though the difficulty
of attainment with respect to things within reach, often inflames
desire; yet where the prospect of attainment is faint and the event
extremely uncertain, the object, however agreeable, seldom raiseth any
strong desire. Thus beauty or other good qualities in a woman of rank,
seldom raises love in any man greatly her inferior. In the third place,
different objects, equally within reach, raise emotions in different
degrees; and when desire accompanies any of these emotions, its
strength, as is natural, is proportioned to that of its cause. Hence the
remarkable difference among desires directed upon beings inanimate,
animate, and rational. The emotion caused by a rational being, is out of
measure stronger than any caused by an animal without reason; and an
emotion raised by such an animal, is stronger than what is caused by any
thing inanimate. There is a separate reason why desire of which a
rational being is the object should be the strongest. Desire directed
upon such a being, is gratified many ways, by loving, serving,
benefiting, the object; and it is a well known truth, that our desires
naturally swell by exercise. Desire directed upon an inanimate being,
susceptible neither of pleasure nor pain, is not capable of a higher
gratification than that of acquiring the property. Hence it is, that
though every feeling which raiseth desire, is strictly speaking a
passion; yet commonly those feelings only are denominated passions of
which sensible beings capable of pleasure and pain are the objects.


_Causes of the emotions of joy and sorrow._

This subject was purposely reserved for a separate section, because it
could not, with perspicuity, be handled under the general head. An
emotion involving desire is termed _a passion_; and when the desire is
fulfilled, the passion is said to be gratified. The gratification of
every passion must be pleasant, or in other words produce a pleasant
emotion; for nothing can be more natural, than that the accomplishment
of any wish or desire should affect us with joy. I cannot even except
the case, where a man, through remorse, is desirous to chastise and
punish himself. The joy of gratification is properly called an emotion;
because it makes us happy in our present situation, and is ultimate in
its nature, not having a tendency to any thing beyond. On the other
hand, sorrow must be the result of an event contrary to what we desire;
for if the accomplishment of desire produce joy, it is equally natural
that disappointment should produce sorrow.

An event fortunate or unfortunate, that falls out by accident without
being foreseen or thought of, and which therefore could not be the
object of desire, raiseth an emotion of the same kind with that now
mentioned. But the cause must be different; for there can be no
gratification where there is no desire. We have not however far to seek
for a cause. A man cannot be indifferent to an event that affects him or
any of his connections. If it be fortunate, it gives him joy; if
unfortunate, it gives him sorrow.

In no situation doth joy rise to a greater height, than upon the removal
of any violent distress of mind or body; and in no situation doth sorrow
rise to a greater height, than upon the removal of what makes us happy.
The sensibility of our nature serves in part to account for these
effects. Other causes also concur. We can be under no violent distress
without an anxious desire to be free from it; and therefore its removal
is a high gratification. We cannot be possessed of any thing that makes
us happy, without wishing its continuance; and therefore its removal by
crossing our wishes must create sorrow. Nor is this all. The principle
of contrast comes in for its share. An emotion of joy arising upon the
removal of pain, is increased by contrast when we reflect upon our
former distress. An emotion of sorrow upon being deprived of any good,
is increased by contrast when we reflect upon our former happiness.

    _Jaffier_. There’s not a wretch that lives on common charity,
    But’s happier than me. For I have known
    The luscious sweets of plenty: every night
    Have slept with soft content about my head,
    And never wak’d but to a joyful morning.
    Yet now must fall like a full ear of corn,
    Whose blossom ’scap’d, yet’s wither’d in the ripening.
         _Venice preserv’d, act 1. sc. 1._

It hath always been reckoned difficult to account for the extreme
pleasure that follows a cessation of bodily pain; as when one is
relieved from the rack, or from a violent fit of the stone. What is
said, explains this difficulty in the easiest and simplest manner.
Cessation of bodily pain is not of itself a pleasure; for a _non-ens_ or
a negative can neither give pleasure nor pain. But man is so framed by
nature as to rejoice when he is eased of pain, as well as to be
sorrowful when deprived of any good. This branch of our constitution, is
chiefly the cause of the pleasure. The gratification of desire comes in
as an accessory cause; and contrast joins its force, by increasing the
sense of our present happiness. In the case of an acute pain, a peculiar
circumstance contributes its part. The brisk circulation of the animal
spirits occasioned by acute pain, continues after the pain is vanished,
and produceth a very pleasant feeling. Sickness hath not that effect,
because it is always attended with a depression of spirits.

Hence it is, that the gradual diminution of acute pain, occasions a mixt
emotion, partly pleasant, partly painful. The partial diminution
produceth joy in proportion; but the remaining pain balanceth our joy.
This mixt feeling, however, hath no long endurance. For the joy that
ariseth upon the diminution of pain, soon vanisheth; and leaveth in the
undisturbed possession, that degree of pain which remains.

What is above observed about bodily pain, is equally applicable to the
distresses of the mind; and accordingly it is a common artifice, to
prepare us for the reception of good news by alarming our fears.


_Sympathetic emotion of virtue, and its cause._

One feeling there is, that merits a deliberate view, for its
singularity, as well as utility. Whether to call it an emotion or a
passion, seems uncertain. The former it can scarce be, because it
involves desire; and the latter it can scarce be, because it has no
object. But this feeling and its nature will be best understood from
examples. A signal act of gratitude, produceth in the spectator love or
esteem for the author. The spectator hath at the same time a separate
feeling; which, being mixed with love or esteem, the capital emotion,
hath not been much adverted to. It is a vague feeling of gratitude,
which hath no object; but which, however, disposes the spectator to acts
of gratitude, more than upon ordinary occasions. Let any man attentively
consider his own heart when he thinks warmly of any signal act of
gratitude, and he will be conscious of this feeling, as distinct from
the esteem or admiration he has for the grateful person. It merits our
utmost attention, by unfolding a curious piece of mechanism in the
nature of man. The feeling is singular in the following respect, that it
involves a desire to perform acts of gratitude, without having any
particular object; though in this state the mind, wonderfully disposed
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
occasion, is greedily seized; and the vague feeling is converted into a
real passion of gratitude. In such a state, favours are returned double.

Again, a courageous action produceth in a spectator the passion of
admiration directed upon the author. But beside this well-known passion,
a separate feeling is raised in the spectator; which may be called _an
emotion of courage_, because while under its influence he is conscious
of a boldness and intrepidity beyond ordinary, and longs for proper
objects upon which to exert this emotion.

    Spumantemque dari, pecora inter inertia, votis
    Optat aprum, aut fulvum descendere monte leonem.
         _Æneid._ iv. 158.

    Non altramente ’il tauro, oue l’ irriti
    Geloso amor con stimoli pungenti
    Horribilmente mugge, e co’ muggiti
    Gli spirti in se risueglia, e l’ire ardenti:
    E’l corno aguzza a i tronchi, e par ch’inuiti
    Con vani colpi a’ la battaglia i venti.
         _Tasso, canto 7. st. 55._

    So full of valour that they smote the air
    For breathing in their faces.
         _Tempest, act. 4. sc. 4._

For another example, let us figure some grand and heroic action, highly
agreeable to the spectator. Beside a singular veneration for the author,
the spectator feels in himself an unusual dignity of character, which
disposeth him to great and noble actions. And herein principally
consists the extreme delight every one hath in the histories of
conquerors and heroes.

This singular feeling, which may be termed _the sympathetic emotion of
virtue_, resembles, in one respect, the well-known appetites that lead
to the propagation and preservation of the species. The appetites of
hunger, thirst, and animal love, arise in the mind without being
directed upon any particular object; and in no case whatever is the mind
more solicitous for a proper object, than when under the influence of
any of these appetites.

The feeling I have endeavoured to evolve, may well be termed _the
sympathetic emotion of virtue_; for it is raised in a spectator by
virtuous actions of every kind, and by no other sort. When we
contemplate a virtuous action, which never fails to delight us and to
prompt our love for the author, the mind is warmed and put into a tone
similar to what inspired the virtuous action. The propensity we have to
such actions is so much enlivened, as to become for a time an actual
emotion. But no man hath a propensity to vice as such. On the contrary,
a wicked deed disgusts him, and makes him abhor the author. This
abhorrence is a strong antidote so long as any impression remains of
the wicked action.

In a rough road, a halt to view a fine country is refreshing; and here a
delightful prospect opens upon us. It is indeed wonderful to see what
incitements there are to virtue in the human frame. Justice is perceived
to be our duty, and it is guarded by natural punishments, from which the
guilty never escape. To perform noble and generous actions, a warm sense
of dignity and superior excellence is a most efficacious incitement[18].
And to leave virtue in no quarter unsupported, here is unfolded an
admirable contrivance, by which good example commands the heart and adds
to virtue the force of habit. Did our moral feelings extend no farther
than to approve the action and to bestow our affection on the author,
good example would not have great influence. But to give it the utmost
force, nothing can be better contrived than the sympathetic emotion
under consideration, which prompts us to imitate what we admire. This
singular emotion will readily find an object to exert itself upon; and
at any rate, it never exists without producing some effect. Virtuous
emotions of this sort, are in some degree an exercise of virtue. They
are a mental exercise at least, if they show not externally. And every
exercise of virtue, internal and external, leads to habit; for a
disposition or propensity of the mind, like a limb of the body, becomes
stronger by exercise. Proper means, at the same time, being ever at hand
to raise this sympathetic emotion, its frequent reiteration may, in a
good measure, supply the want of a more complete exercise. Thus, by
proper discipline, every person may acquire a settled habit of virtue.
Intercourse with men of worth, histories of generous and disinterested
actions, and frequent meditation upon them, keep the sympathetic emotion
in constant exercise, which by degrees introduceth a habit, and confirms
the authority of virtue. With respect to education in particular, what a
spacious and commodious avenue to the heart of a young person, is here


_In many instances one emotion is productive of another. The same of

In the first chapter it is observed, that the relations by which things
are mutually connected, have a remarkable influence in regulating the
train of our ideas. I here add, that they have an influence not less
remarkable, in generating emotions and passions. Beginning with the
former, it holds in fact, that an agreeable object makes every thing
connected with it appear agreeable. The mind gliding sweetly and easily
through related objects, carries along the beauty of objects that made a
figure, and blends that beauty with the idea of the present object,
which thereby appears more agreeable than when considered apart[19].
This reason may appear obscure and metaphysical, but it must be relished
when we attend to the following examples, which establish the fact
beyond all dispute. No relation is more intimate than that betwixt a
being and its qualities; and accordingly, the affection I bear a man
expands itself readily upon all his qualities, which by that means make
a greater figure in my mind than more substantial qualities in others.
The talent of speaking in a friend, is more regarded than that of acting
in a person with whom I have no connection; and graceful motion in a
mistress, gives more delight than consummate prudence in any other
woman. Affection sometimes rises so high, as to convert defects into
properties. The wry neck of Alexander was imitated by his courtiers as a
real beauty, without intention to flatter. Thus Lady Piercy, speaking of
her husband Hotspur,

    ---- By his light
    Did all the chivalry of England move,
    To do brave acts. He was indeed the glass,
    Wherein the noble youth did dress themselves.
    He had no legs that practis’d not his gait:
    And speaking thick, which Nature made his blemish,
    Became the accents of the valiant:
    For those who could speak low and tardily,
    Would turn their own perfection to abuse,
    To seem like him.
         _Second part, Henry IV. act 2. sc. 6._

When the passion of love has ended its course, its object becomes quite
a different creature.---- Nothing left of that genteel motion, that
gaiety, that sprightly conversation, those numberless graces, that
formerly, in the lover’s opinion, charmed all hearts.

The same communication of passion obtains in the relation of principal
and accessory. Pride, of which self is the object, expands itself upon a
house, a garden, servants, equipage, and every thing of that nature. A
lover addresseth his mistress’s glove in the following terms:

    Sweet ornament that decks a thing divine.

A temple is in a proper sense an accessory of the deity to which it is
dedicated. Diana is chaste, and not only her temple, but the very isicle
which hangs on it, must partake of that property:

    The noble sister of Poplicola,
    The moon of Rome; chasle as the isicle
    That’s curdled by the frost from purest snow,
    And hangs on Dian’s temple.
         _Coriolanus, act 5. sc. 3._

Thus it is, that the respect and esteem, which the great, the powerful,
the opulent naturally command, are in some measure communicated to their
dress, to their manners, and to all their connections. It is this
principle, which in matters left to our own choice prevails over the
natural taste of beauty and propriety, and gives currency to what is
called _the fashion_.

By means of the same easiness of transition, the bad qualities of an
object are carried along, and grafted upon related objects. Every good
quality in a person is extinguished by hatred; and every bad quality is
spread upon all his connections. A relation more slight and transitory
than that of hatred, may have the same effect. Thus the bearer of bad
tidings becomes an object of aversion:

    Fellow begone, I cannot brook thy sight,
    This news hath made thee a most ugly man.
         _King John, act 3. sc. 1._

    Yet the first bringer of unwelcome news
    Hath but a losing office: and his tongue
    Sounds ever after, as a sullen bell
    Remember’d, tolling a departing friend.
         _Second part, Henry IV. act 1. sc. 3._

This disposition of the mind to communicate the properties of one object
to another, is not always proportioned to the intimacy of their
connection. The order of the transition from object to object, hath also
an influence. The sense of order operates not less powerfully in this
case, than in the succession of ideas[20]. If a thing be agreeable in
itself, all its accessories appear agreeable. But the agreeableness of
an accessory, extends not itself so readily to the principal. Any dress
upon a fine woman is becoming; but the most elegant ornaments upon one
that is homely, have scarce any effect to mend her appearance. The
reason will be obvious, from what is said in the chapter above cited.
The mind passes more easily from the principal to its accessories, than
in the opposite direction.

The emotions produced as above may properly be termed _secondary_, being
occasioned either by antecedent emotions or antecedent passions, which
in this respect may be termed _primary_. And to complete the present
theory, I must now remark a difference betwixt a primary emotion and a
primary passion in the production of secondary emotions. A secondary
emotion cannot but be more faint than the primary; and therefore, if the
chief or principal object have not the power to raise a passion, the
accessory object will have still less power. But if a passion be raised
by the principal object, the secondary emotion may readily swell into a
passion for the accessory, provided the accessory be a proper object for
desire. And thus it happens that one passion is often productive of
another. Examples are without number: the sole difficulty is a proper
choice. I begin with self-love, and the power it hath to generate other
passions. The love which parents bear their children, is an illustrious
example of the foregoing doctrine. Every man, beside making part of a
greater system, like a comet, a planet, or satellite only; hath a less
system of his own, in the centre of which he represents the sun
dispersing his fire and heat all around. The connection between a man
and his children, fundamentally that of cause and effect, becomes, by
the addition of other circumstances, the completest that can be among
individuals; and therefore, self-love, the most vigorous of all
passions, is readily expanded upon children. The secondary emotion they
at first produce by means of their connection, is, generally speaking,
sufficiently strong to move desire even from the beginning; and the new
passion swells by degrees, till it rival in some measure self-love, the
primary passion. The following case will demonstrate the truth of this
theory. Remorse for betraying a friend, or murdering an enemy in cold
blood, makes a man even hate himself. In this state, it is a matter of
experience, that he is scarce conscious of any affection to his
children, but rather of disgust or ill-will. What cause can be assigned
for this change, other than the hatred which beginning at himself, is
expanded upon his children? And if so, may we not with equal reason
derive from self-love the affection a man for ordinary has to them?

The affection a man bears to his blood-relations, depends on the same
principle. Self-love is also expanded upon them; and the communicated
passion, is more or less vigorous in proportion to the connection. Nor
doth self-love rest here: it is, by the force of connection,
communicated even to things inanimate. And hence the affection a man
bears to his property, and to every thing he calls his own.

Friendship, less vigorous than self-love, is, for that reason, less apt
to communicate itself to children or other relations. Instances however
are not wanting, of such communicated passion arising from friendship
when it is strong. Friendship may go higher in the matrimonial state
than in any other condition: and Otway, in _Venice preserv’d_, shows a
fine taste in taking advantage of that circumstance. In the scene where
Belvidera sues to her father for pardon, she is represented as pleading
her mother’s merit, and the resemblance she bore to her mother.

    _Priuli._ My daughter!

    _Belvidera._ Yes, your daughter, by a mother
    Virtuous and noble, faithful to your honour,
    Obedient to your will, kind to your wishes,
    Dear to your arms. By all the joys she gave you,
    When in her blooming years she was your treasure,
    Look kindly on me; in my face behold
    The lineaments of hers y’ have kiss’d so often,
    Pleading the cause of your poor cast-off child.

And again,

    _Belvidera._ Lay me, I beg you, lay me
    By the dear ashes of my tender mother.
    She would have pitied me, had fate yet spar’d her.
         _Act 5. sc. 1._

This explains why any meritorious action or any illustrious
qualification in my son or my friend, is apt to make me overvalue
myself. If I value my friend’s wife or his son upon account of their
connection with him, it is still more natural that I should value myself
upon account of my own connection with him.

Friendship, or any other social affection, may produce opposite effects.
Pity, by interesting us strongly for the person in distress, must of
consequence inflame our resentment against the author of the distress.
For, in general, the affection we have for any man, generates in us
good-will to his friends and ill-will to his enemies. Shakespear shows
great art in the funeral oration pronounced by Antony over the body of
Cæsar. He first endeavours to excite grief in the hearers, by dwelling
upon the deplorable loss of so great a man. This passion raised to a
pitch, interesting them strongly in Cæsar’s fate, could not fail to
produce a lively sense of the treachery and cruelty of the conspirators;
an infallible method to inflame the resentment of the multitude beyond
all bounds.

    _Antony._ If you have tears, prepare to shed them now.
    You all do know this mantle; I remember
    The first time ever Cæsar put it on,
    ’Twas on a summer’s evening in his tent,
    That day he overcame the Nervii----
    Look! in this place ran Cassius’ dagger through;--
    See what a rent the envious Casca made.----
    Through this the well-beloved Brutus stabb’d;
    And as he pluck’d his cursed steel away,
    Mark how the blood of Cæsar follow’d it!
    As rushing out of doors, to be resolv’d,
    If Brutus so unkindly knock’d, or no:
    For Brutus, as you know, was Cæsar’s angel.
    Judge, oh you gods! how dearly Cæsar lov’d him;
    This, this, was the unkindest cut of all;
    For when the noble Cæsar saw him stab,
    Ingratitude, more strong than traitors’ arms,
    Quite vanquish’d him; then burst his mighty heart:
    And, in his mantle muffling up his face,
    Which all the while ran blood, great Cæsar fell,
    Even at the base of Pompey’s statue.
    O what a fall was there, my countrymen!
    Then I and you, and all of us fell down,
    Whilst bloody treason flourish’d over us.
    O, now you weep; and I perceive you feel
    The dint of pity; these are gracious drops.
    Kind souls! what, weep you when you but behold
    Our Cæsar’s vesture wounded? look you here!
    Here is himself, marr’d, as you see, by traitors.
         _Julius Cæsar, act 3. sc. 6._

Had Antony directed upon the conspirators the thoughts of his audience,
without paving the way by raising their grief, his speech perhaps might
have failed of success.

Hatred and other dissocial passions, produce effects directly opposite
to those above mentioned. If I hate a man, his children, his relations,
nay his property, become to me objects of aversion. His enemies, on the
other hand, I am disposed to esteem.

The more slight and transitory connections, have generally no power to
produce a communicated passion. Anger, when sudden and violent, is one
exception; for if the person who did the injury be removed out of reach,
this passion will vent itself upon any related object, however slight
the relation be. Another exception makes a greater figure. A group of
beings or things, becomes often the object of a communicated passion,
even where the relation of the individuals to the principal object is
but faint. Thus though I put no value upon a single man for living in
the same town with myself; my townsmen however, considered in a body,
are preferred before others. This is still more remarkable with respect
to my countrymen in general. The grandeur of the complex object, swells
the passion of self-love by the relation I have to my native country;
and every passion, when it swells beyond its ordinary bounds, hath, in
that circumstance, a peculiar tendency to expand itself along related
objects. In fact, instances are not rare, of persons, who, upon all
occasions, are willing to sacrifice their lives and fortunes for their
country. Such influence upon the mind of man, hath a complex object, or,
more properly speaking, a general term[21].

The sense of order hath, in the communication of passion, an influence
not less remarkable than in the communication of emotions. It is a
common observation, that a man’s affection to his parents is less
vigorous than to his children. The order of nature in descending to
children, aids the transition of the affection. The ascent to a parent,
contrary to this order, makes the transition more difficult. Gratitude
to a benefactor is readily extended to his children; but not so readily
to his parents. The difference however betwixt the natural and inverted
order, is not so considerable, but that it may be balanced by other
circumstances. Pliny[22] gives an account of a woman of rank condemned
to die for a crime; and, to avoid public shame, detained in prison to
die of hunger. Her life being prolonged beyond expectation, it was
discovered, that she was nourished by sucking milk from the breasts of
her daughter. This instance of filial piety, which aided the transition
and made ascent not less easy than descent is for ordinary, procured a
pardon to the mother, and a pension to both. The story of Androcles and
the lion[23] may be accounted for in the same manner. The admiration, of
which the lion was the cause, for his kindness and gratitude to
Androcles, produced good-will to Androcles, and pardon of his crime.

And this leads to other observations upon communicated passions. I love
my daughter less after she is married, and my mother less after a second
marriage. The marriage of my son or my father diminishes not my
affection so remarkably. The same observation holds with respect to
friendship, gratitude, and other passions. The love I bear my friend, is
but faintly extended to his married daughter. The resentment I have
against a man, is readily extended against children who make part of his
family: not so readily against children who are forisfamiliated,
especially by marriage. This difference is also more remarkable in
daughters than in sons. These are curious facts; and to evolve the cause
we must examine minutely, that operation of the mind by which a passion
is extended to a related object. In considering two things as related,
the mind is not stationary, but passeth and repasseth from the one to
the other, viewing the relation from each of them perhaps oftener than
once. This holds more especially in considering a relation betwixt
things of unequal rank, as betwixt the cause and the effect, or betwixt
a principal and an accessory. In contemplating the relation betwixt a
building and its ornaments, the mind is not satisfied with a single
transition from the former to the latter. It must also view the
relation, beginning at the latter, and passing from it to the former.
This vibration of the mind in passing and repassing betwixt things that
are related, explains the facts above mentioned. The mind passeth
easily from the father to the daughter; but where the daughter is
married, this new relation attracts the mind, and obstructs, in some
measure, the return from the daughter to the father. Any obstruction the
mind meets with in passing and repassing betwixt its objects, occasions
a like obstruction in the communication of passion. The marriage of a
male obstructs less the easiness of transition; because a male is less
sunk by the relation of marriage than a female.

The foregoing instances, are of passion communicated from one object to
another. But one passion may be generated by another, without change of
object. It may in general be observed, that a passion paves the way to
others, similar in their tone, whether directed upon the same or upon a
different object. For the mind heated by any passion, is, in that state,
more susceptible of a new impression in a similar tone, than when cool
and quiescent. It is a common observation, that pity generally produceth
friendship for a person in distress. Pity interests us in its object,
and recommends all its virtuous qualities. For this reason, female
beauty shows best in distress; and is more apt to inspire love, than
upon ordinary occasions. But it is chiefly to be remarked, 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 Shakespear.

    _Othello._ Her father lov’d me, oft invited me;
    Still question’d me the story of my life,
    From year to year; the battles, sieges, fortunes,
    That I have past.
    I ran it through, e’en from my boyish days,
    To th’ very moment that he bad me tell it:
    Wherein I spoke of most disast’rous chances,
    Of moving accidents by flood and field;
    Of hair-breadth ’scapes in th’ imminent deadly breach;
    Of being taken by the insolent foe,
    And sold to slavery; of my redemption thence,
    And with it, all my travel’s history.
    ---- All these to hear
    Would Desdemona seriously incline;
    But still the house-affairs would draw her thence,
    Which ever as she could with haste dispatch,
    She’d come again, and with a greedy ear
    Devour up my discourse: which I observing,
    Took once a pliant hour, and found good means
    To draw from her a prayer of earnest heart,
    That I would all my pilgrimage dilate,
    Whereof by parcels she had something heard,
    But not distinctively. I did consent,
    And often did beguile her of her tears,
    When I did speak of some distressful stroke
    That my youth suffer’d. My story being done,
    She gave me for my pains a world of sighs:
    She swore, in faith, ’twas strange, ’twas passing strange--
    ’Twas pitiful, ’twas wondrous pitiful--
    She wish’d she had not heard it:--yet she wish’d,
    That heav’n had made her such a man:--she thank’d me,
    And bad me, if I had a friend that lov’d her,
    I should but teach him how to tell my story,
    And that would woo her. On this hint I spake,
    She lov’d me for the dangers I had past,
    And I lov’d her, that she did pity them:
    This only is the witchcraft I have us’d.
         _Othello, act 1. sc. 8._

In this instance it will be observed that admiration concurred with pity
to produce love.


_Causes of the passions of fear and anger._

Fear and anger, to answer the purposes of nature, are happily so
contrived as to operate either instinctively or deliberately. So far as
they prompt actions considered as means leading to a certain end, they
fall in with the general system, and require no particular explanation.
If any object have a threatening appearance, reason suggests means to
avoid the danger. If I am injured, the first thing I think of, is in
what manner I shall be revenged, and what means I shall employ. These
particulars are not less obvious than natural. But as the passions of
fear and anger, so far as instinctive, are less familiar to us, and
their nature generally not understood; I thought it would not be
unacceptable to the reader to have them accurately delineated. He may
also possibly relish the opportunity of this specimen, to have the
nature of instinctive passions more fully explained than there was
formerly occasion to do. I begin with fear.

Self-preservation is to individuals a matter of too great importance to
be left entirely under the guardianship of self-love, which cannot be
put in exercise otherwise than by the intervention of reason and
reflection. Nature hath acted here with her usual precaution and
foresight. Fear and anger are passions common to all men; and by
operating instinctively, they frequently afford security when the slower
operations of deliberative reason would be too late. We take nourishment
commonly, not by the direction of reason, but by the incitement of
hunger and thirst. In the same manner, we avoid danger by the incitement
of fear, which often, before there is time for reflection, placeth us in
safety. This matter then is ordered with consummate wisdom. It is not
within the reach of fancy, to conceive any thing better fitted to
answer its purpose, than this instinctive passion of fear, which, upon
the first surmise of danger, operates instantaneously without
reflection. So little doth the passion, in such instances, depend on
reason, that we often find it exerted even in contradiction to reason,
and when we are conscious that there is no hazard. A man who is not much
upon his guard, cannot avoid shrinking at a blow, though he knows it to
be aimed in sport; nor closing his eyes at the approach of what may hurt
them, though he is confident it will not come their length. Influenced
by the same instinctive passion of fear, infants are much affected with
a stern look, a menacing tone, or other expression of anger; though,
being incapable of reflection, they cannot form the slightest judgement
about the import of these signs. This is all that is necessary to be
said in general. The natural connection betwixt fear and the external
signs of anger, will be handled in the chapter of the external signs of
emotions and passions.

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 this passion, men, like
defenceless lambs, would lie constantly open to mischief[24]. Deliberate
anger caused by a voluntary injury, is too well known to require any
explanation. If my desire be in general to resent an afront, I must use
means, and these means must be discovered by reflection. Deliberation is
here requisite; and in this, which is the ordinary case, the passion
seldom exceeds just bounds. But where anger suddenly inflames me to
return a blow, the passion is instinctive, and the action ultimate; and
it is chiefly in such cases that the passion is rash and ungovernable,
because it operates blindly, without affording time for reason or

Instinctive anger is frequently raised by bodily pain, which, when
sudden and excessive as by a stroke on a tender part, ruffling the
temper and unhinging the mind, is in its tone similar to anger. Bodily
pain by this means disposes to anger, which is as suddenly raised,
provided an object be found to vent it upon. Anger commonly is not
provoked otherwise than by a voluntary injury. But when a man is thus
beforehand disposed to anger, he is not nice nor scrupulous about an
object. The man who gave the stroke, however accidentally, is by an
inflammable temper held a proper object, merely because he was the
occasion of the pain. It is still a stronger example of the kind, that a
stock or a stone, by which I am hurt, becomes an object for my
resentment. I am violently incited to bray it to atoms. The passion
indeed in this case is but momentary. It vanisheth with the first
reflection, being attended with no circumstance that can excuse it in
any degree. Nor is this irrational effect confined to bodily pain.
Inward distress, when excessive, may be the occasion of effects equally
irrational. When a friend is danger and the event uncertain, the
perturbation of mind occasioned thereby, will, in a fiery temper,
produce momentary fits of anger against this very friend, however
innocent. Thus Shakespear, in the _Tempest_,

    _Alonzo._---- Sit down and rest.
    Ev’n here I will put off my hope, and keep it
    No longer for my flatterer: he is drown’d
    Whom thus we stray to find, and the sea mocks
    Our frustrate search on land. Well, let him go.
         _Act 3. 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 Shakespear 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;
    Be sure of it: give me the ocular proof.
    Or by the wrath of man’s eternal soul
    Thou hadst been better have been born a dog,
    Than answer my wak’d wrath.

    _Iago._ Is’t come to this?

    _Othello._ Make me see’t; or, at the least, so prove it,
    That the probation bear no hinge or loop
    To hang a doubt on: or woe upon thy life!

    _Iago._ My Noble Lord----

    _Othello._ If thou dost slander her and torture me,
    Never pray more; abandon all remorse;
    On horrors head horrors accumulate;
    Do deeds to make heav’n weep, all earth amaz’d:
    For nothing canst thou to damnation add
    Greater than that.
         _Othello, act 3. sc. 8._

This blind and absurd effect of anger, is more gaily illustrated by
Addison, in a story, the _dramatis personæ_ of which are a cardinal, and
a spy retained in pay for intelligence. The cardinal is represented as
minuting down every thing that is told him. 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 poltron;” 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 cardinal rises in great wrath,
calls him an impudent scoundrel, and kicks him out of the room[25].

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

    _Gonsalez._ Have comfort.

    _Almeria_. Curs’d be that tongue that bids me be of comfort,
    Curs’d my own tongue that could not move his pity,
    Curs’d these weak hands that could not hold him here,
    For he is gone to doom Alphonso’s death.
         _Act 4. 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 sensation 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
and mischief. 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 this case, 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.


_Emotions caused by fiction._

The attentive reader will observe, that in accounting for passions and
emotions, no cause hitherto has been assigned but what hath a real
existence. Whether it be a being, action, or quality, that moveth us, it
is supposed to be an object of our knowledge, or at least of our belief.
This observation discovers to us that the subject is not yet exhausted;
because our 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 could have
any effect upon him. But man’s intellectual faculties are too imperfect
to dive far even into his own nature. I shall take occasion afterward to
show, that this branch of the human constitution, is contrived with
admirable wisdom and is subservient to excellent purposes. In the mean
time, I must endeavour to unfold, by what means fiction hath such
influence on the mind.

That the objects of our 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 have a conviction that these things
are precisely as they appear. 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. And indeed, if our senses did not convince
us of the reality of their objects, they could not in any degree answer
their end.

By the power of memory, a thing formerly seen may be recalled to the
mind with different degrees of accuracy. We commonly are satisfied with
a slight recollection of the chief circumstances; and, in such
recollection, the thing is not figured as present nor any image formed.
I retain the consciousness of my present situation, and barely remember
that formerly I was a spectator. But with respect to an interesting
object or event which made a strong impression, the mind sometimes, not
satisfied with a cursory review, chutes to revolve every circumstance.
In this case, I conceive myself to be a spectator as I was originally;
and I perceive every particular passing in my presence, in the same
manner 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 insist on 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 presently existing. Past time makes a 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 exceeding
clear in itself, and of which every person must be conscious; 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 what we really heard yesterday or perhaps a year ago.
To this necessity I am reduced, by want of proper words to describe
ideal presence and to distinguish it from real presence. And thus in the
description, a plain subject becomes obscure and intricate. When I
recall any thing in the distinctest manner, so as to form an idea or
image of it as present; I have not words to describe this act, other
than that I perceive the thing as a spectator, and as existing in my
presence. This means not that I am really a spectator; but only that I
conceive myself to be a spectator, and have a consciousness of presence
similar to what a real spectator hath.

As many rules of criticism depend on ideal presence, the reader, it is
expected, will take some pains to form an exact notion of it, as
distinguished on the one hand from real presence, and on the other from
a superficial or reflective remembrance. It is distinguished from the
former by the following circumstance. Ideal presence arising from an act
of memory, may properly be termed _a waking dream_; because, like a
dream, it vanisheth upon the first reflection of our present situation.
Real presence, on the contrary, vouched by eye-sight, commands our
belief, not only during the direct perception, but in reflecting
afterward upon the object. And to distinguish ideal presence from the
latter, I give the following illustration. Two internal acts, both of
them exertions of memory, are clearly distinguishable. When I think of
an event as past, without forming any image, it is barely reflecting or
remembering that I was an eye-witness. But when I recall the event so
distinctly as to form a complete image of it, I perceive it ideally as
passing in my presence; and this ideal perception is an act of
intuition, into which reflection enters not more than into an act of

Though ideal presence be distinguished from real presence on the one
side and from reflective remembrance on the other, it is however
variable without any precise limits; rising sometimes toward the former,
and often sinking toward the latter. In a vigorous exertion of memory,
ideal presence is extremely distinct. When a man, as in a reverie, drops
himself out of his thoughts, he perceives every thing as passing before
him, and hath a consciousness of presence similar to that of a
spectator. There is no other difference, but that in the former the
consciousness of presence is less firm and clear than in the latter. But
this is seldom the case. Ideal presence is often faint, and the image
so obscure as not to differ widely from reflective remembrance.

Hitherto of an idea of memory. I proceed to consider the idea of a thing
I never saw, raised in me by speech, by writing, or by painting. This
idea, with respect to the present matter, is of the same nature with an
idea of memory, being either complete or incomplete. An important event,
by a lively and accurate description, rouses my attention and insensibly
transforms me into a spectator: I perceive ideally every incident as
passing in my presence. On the other hand, a slight or superficial
narrative produceth only a faint and incomplete idea, precisely similar
to a reflective recollection of memory. Of such idea, ideal presence
makes no part. Past time is a circumstance that enters into this idea,
as it doth into a reflective idea of memory. I believe that Scipio
existed about 2000 years ago, and that he overcame Hannibal in the
famous battle of Zama. When I revolve in so cursory a manner that
memorable event, I consider it as long past. But supposing me to be
warmed with the story, perhaps by a beautiful description, I am
insensibly transformed to a spectator. I perceive these two heroes in
act to engage; I perceive them brandishing their swords, and exhorting
their troops; and in this manner I attend them through every
circumstance of the battle. This event being present to my mind during
the whole progress of my thoughts, admits not any time but the present.

I have had occasion to observe[26], that ideas both of memory and of
speech, produce emotions of the same kind with what are produced by an
immediate view of the object; only fainter, in proportion as an idea is
fainter than an original perception. The insight we have now got,
unfolds the means by which this effect is produced. Ideal presence
supplies the want of real presence; and in idea we perceive persons
acting and suffering, precisely as in an original survey. If our
sympathy be engaged by the latter, it must also in some measure be
engaged by the former. The distinctness of ideal presence, as above
mentioned, approacheth sometimes to the distinctness of real presence;
and the consciousness of presence is the same in both. This is the cause
of the pleasure that is felt in a reverie, where a man, losing sight of
himself, is totally occupied with the objefts passing in his mind, which
he conceives to be really existing in his presence. The power of speech
to raise emotions, depends entirely on the artifice of raising such
lively and distinct images as are here described. The reader’s passions
are never sensibly moved, till he be thrown into a kind of reverie; in
which state, losing the consciousness of self, and of reading, his
present occupation, he conceives every incident as passing in his
presence, precisely as if he were an eye-witness. A general or
reflective remembrance hath not this effect. It may be agreeable in some
slight degree; but the ideas suggested by it, are too faint and obscure
to raise any thing like a sympathetic emotion. And were they ever so
lively, they pass with too much precipitation to have this effect. Our
emotions are never instantaneous: even those that come the soonest to
perfection, have different periods of birth, growth, and maturity; and
to give opportunity for these different periods, it is necessary that
the cause of every emotion be present to the mind a due time. The
emotion is completed by reiterated impressions. We know this to be the
case of objects of sight: we are scarce sensible of any emotion in a
quick succession even of the most beautiful objects. And if this hold in
the succession of original perceptions, how much more in the succession
of ideas?

Though all this while, I have been only describing what passeth in the
mind of every one and what every one must be conscious of, it was
necessary to enlarge upon it; because, however clear in the internal
conception, it is far from being so when described in words. Ideal
presence, though of general importance, hath scarce ever been touched by
any writer; and at any rate it could not be overlooked in accounting for
the effects produced by fiction. Upon this point, the reader I guess has
prevented me. It already must have occurred to him, that if, in
reading, ideal presence be the means by which our passions are moved, it
makes no difference whether the subject be a fable or a reality. When
ideal presence is complete, we perceive every object as in our sight;
and the mind, totally occupied with an interesting event, finds no
leisure for reflection of any sort. This reasoning, if any one hesitate,
is confirmed by constant and universal experience. Let us take under
consideration the meeting of Hector and Andromache in the sixth book of
the Iliad, or some of the passionate scenes in King Lear. These pictures
of human life, when we are sufficiently engaged, give an impression of
reality not less distinct than that given by the death of Otho in the
beautiful description of Tacitus. We never once reflect whether the
story be true or feigned. Reflection comes afterward, when we have the
scene no longer before our eyes. This reasoning will appear in a still
clearer light, by opposing ideal presence to ideas raised by a cursory
narrative; which ideas being faint, obscure, and imperfect, occupy the
mind so little as to solicit reflection. And accordingly, a curt
narrative of feigned incidents is never relished. Any slight pleasure it
affords, is more than counterbalanced by the disgust it inspires for
want of truth.

In support of the foregoing theory, I add what I reckon a decisive
argument. Upon examination it will be found, that genuine history
commands our passions by means of ideal presence solely; and therefore
that with respect to this effect, genuine history stands upon the same
footing with fable. To me it appears clear, that our sympathy must
vanish so soon as we begin to reflect upon the incidents related in
either. The reflection that a story is a pure fiction, will indeed
prevent our sympathy; but so will equally the reflection that the
persons described are no longer existing. It is present distress only
that moves my pity. My concern vanishes with the distress; for I cannot
pity any person who at present is happy. According to this theory,
founded clearly on human nature, a man long dead and insensible now of
past misfortunes, cannot move our pity more than if he had never
existed. The misfortunes described in a genuine history command our
belief: but then we believe also, that these misfortunes are at an end,
and that the persons described are at present under no distress. What
effect, for example, can the belief of the rape of Lucretia have to
raise our sympathy, when she died above 2000 years ago, and hath at
present no painful feeling of the injury done her? The effect of history
in point of instruction, depends in some measure upon its veracity. But
history cannot reach the heart, while we indulge any reflection upon the
facts. Such reflection, if it engage our belief, never fails at the same
time to poison our pleasure, by convincing us that our sympathy for
those who are dead and gone is absurd. And if reflection be laid aside,
history stands upon the same footing with fable. What effect either of
them may have to raise our sympathy, depends on the vivacity of the
ideas they raise; and with respect to that circumstance, fable is
generally more successful than history.

Of all the means for making an impression of ideal presence, theatrical
representation is the most powerful. That words independent of action
have the same power in a less degree, every one of sensibility must have
felt: A good tragedy will extort tears in private, though not so
forcibly as upon the stage. This power belongs also to painting. A good
historical picture makes a deeper impression than can be made by words,
though not equal to what is made by theatrical action. And as ideal
presence depends on a lively impression, painting seems to possess a
middle place betwixt reading and acting. In making an impression of
ideal presence, it is not less superior to the former than inferior to
the latter.

It must not however be thought, that our passions can be raised by
painting to such a height as can be done by words. Of all the successive
incidents that concur to produce a great event, a picture has the choice
but of one, because it is confined to a single instant of time. And
though the impression it makes, is the deepest that can be made
instantaneously; yet seldom can a passion be raised to any height in an
instant, or by a single impression. It was observed above, that our
passions, those especially of the sympathetic kind, require a
succession of impressions; and for that reason, reading and still more
acting have greatly the advantage, by the opportunity of reiterating
impressions without end.

Upon the whole, it is by means of ideal presence that our passions are
excited; and till words produce that charm they avail nothing. Even real
events intitled to our belief, must be conceived present and passing in
our sight before they can move us. And this theory serves to explain
several phenomena otherwise unaccountable. A misfortune happening to a
stranger, makes a less impression than happening to a man we know, even
where we are no way interested in him: our acquaintance with this man,
however slight, aids the conception of his suffering in our presence.
For the same reason, we are little moved with any distant event; because
we have more difficulty to conceive it present, than an event that
happened in our neighbourhood.

Every one is sensible, that describing a past event as present, has a
fine effect in language. For what other reason than that it aids the
conception of ideal presence? Take the following example.

    And now with shouts the shocking armies clos’d,
    To lances lances, shields to shields oppos’d;
    Host against host the shadowy legions drew,
    The sounding darts an iron tempest flew;
    Victors and vanquish’d join promiscuous cries,
    Triumphing shouts and dying groans arise,
    With streaming blood the slipp’ry field is dy’d,
    And slaughter’d heroes swell the dreadful tide.

In this passage we may observe how the writer inflamed with the subject,
insensibly slips from the past time to the present; led to this form of
narration by conceiving every circumstance as passing in his own sight.
And this at the same time has a fine effect upon the reader, by
advancing him to be as it were a spectator. But this change from the
past to the present requires some preparation; and is not graceful in
the same sentence where there is no stop in the sense; witness the
following passage.

    Thy fate was next, O Phæstus! doom’d to feel
    The great Idomeneus’ protended steel;
    Whom Borus sent his son and only joy
    From fruitful Tarne to the fields of Troy.
    The Cretan jav’lin reach’d him from afar,
    And pierc’d his shoulder as he mounts his car.
         _Iliad_, v. 57.

It is still worse to fall back to the past in the same period; for this
is an anticlimax in description:

    Through breaking ranks his furious course he bends,
    And at the goddess his broad lance extends;
    Through her bright veil the daring weapon drove,
    Th’ ambrosial veil, which all the graces wove:
    Her snowy hand the razing steel profan’d,
    And the transparent skin with crimson stain’d.
         _Iliad_, v. 415.

Again, describing the shield of Jupiter,

    Here all the terrors of grim War appear,
    Here rages Force, here tremble Flight and Fear,
    Here storm’d Contention, and here Fury frown’d,
    And the dire orb portentous Gorgon crown’d.
         _Iliad_, v. 914.

Nor is it pleasant to be carried backward and forward alternately in a
rapid succession:

    Then dy’d Seamandrius, expert in the chace,
    In woods and wilds to wound the savage race;
    Diana taught him all her sylvan arts,
    To bend the bow and aim unerring darts:
    But vainly here Diana’s arts he tries,
    The fatal lance arrests him as he flies;
    From Menelaus’ arm the weapon sent,
    Through his broad back and heaving bosom went:
    Down sinks the warrior with a thund’ring sound,
    His brazen armor rings against the ground.
         _Iliad_, v. 65.

It is wonderful to observe, upon what slender foundations nature,
sometimes, erects her most solid and magnificent works. In appearance at
least, what can be more slight than ideal presence of objects? And yet
upon it entirely is superstructed, that extensive influence which
language hath over the heart; an influence, which, more than any other
means, strengthens the bond of society, and attracts individuals from
their private system to exert themselves in acts of generosity and
benevolence. Matters of fact, it is true, and truth in general, may be
inculcated without taking advantage of ideal presence. But without it,
the finest speaker or writer would in vain attempt to move any of our
passion: our sympathy would be confined to objects that are really
present: and language would lose entirely that signal power it
possesseth, of making us sympathize with beings removed at the greatest
distance of time as well as of place. Nor is the influence of language,
by means of this ideal presence, confined to the heart. It reaches also
in some measure the understanding, and contributes to belief. When
events are related in a lively manner and every circumstance appears as
passing before us, it is with difficulty that we suffer the truth of the
facts to be questioned. A historian accordingly who hath a genius for
narration, seldom fails to engage our belief. The same facts related in
a manner cold and indistinct, are not suffered to pass without
examination. A thing ill described, is like an object seen at a distance
or through a mist: we doubt whether it be a reality or a fiction. For
this reason, a poet who can warm and animate his reader, may employ
bolder fictions than ought to be ventured by an inferior genius. The
reader, once thoroughly engaged, is in that situation susceptible of
the strongest impressions:

    Veraque constituunt, quæ bellè tangere possunt
    Aureis, et lepido quæ sunt fucata sonore.
         _Lucretius, lib. 1. l. 644._

A masterly painting has the same effect. Le Brun is no small support to
Quintus Curtius; and among the vulgar in Italy, the belief of
scripture-history is perhaps founded as much upon the authority of
Raphael, Michael Angelo, and other celebrated painters, as upon that of
the sacred writers[27].

In establishing the foregoing theory, the reader has had the fatigue of
much dry reasoning. But his labour will not be fruitless. From this
theory are derived many useful rules in criticism, which shall be
mentioned in their proper places. One specimen, being a fine
illustration, I chuse to give at present. In a historical poem
representing human actions, it is a rule, that no improbable incident
ought to be admitted. A circumstance, an incident, or an event, may be
singular, may surprise by being unexpected, and yet be extremely
natural. The improbability I talk of, is that of an irregular fact,
contrary to the order and course of nature, and therefore unaccountable.
A chain of imagined facts linked together according to the order of
nature, find easy entrance into the mind; and if described with warmth
of fancy, they produce complete images, including ideal presence. But it
is with great difficulty that we admit any irregular fact; for an
irregular fact always puzzles the judgement. Doubtful of its reality we
immediately enter upon reflection, and discovering the cheat, lose all
relish and concern. This is an unhappy effect; for thereafter it
requires more than an ordinary effort, to restore the waking dream, and
to make the reader conceive even the more probable incidents as passing
in his presence.

I never was an admirer of machinery in an epic poem; and I now find my
taste justified by reason; the foregoing argument concluding still more
strongly against imaginary beings, than against improbable facts.
Fictions of this nature may amuse by their novelty and singularity: but
they never move the sympathetic passions, because they cannot impose on
the mind any perception of reality. I appeal to the discerning reader,
whether this be not precisely the case of the machinery introduced by
Tasso and by Voltaire. This machinery is not only in itself cold and
uninteresting, but is remarkably hurtful, by giving an air of fiction to
the whole composition. A burlesque poem, such as the Lutrin or the
Dispensary, may employ machinery with success; for these poems, though
they assume the air of history, give entertainment chiefly by their
pleasant and ludicrous pictures, to which machinery contributes in a
singular manner. It is not the aim of such a poem, to raise our sympathy
in any considerable degree; and for that reason, a strict imitation of
nature is not required. A poem professedly ludicrous, may employ
machinery to great advantage; and the more extravagant the better. A
just representation of nature, would indeed be incongruous in a
composition intended to give entertainment by the means chiefly of
singularity and surprise.

For accomplishing the task undertaken in the beginning of the present
section, what only remains is, to show the final cause of the power that
fiction hath over the mind of man. I have already mentioned, that
language, by means of fiction, has the command of our sympathy for the
good of others. By the same means, our sympathy may be also raised for
our own good. In the third section it is observed, that examples both of
virtue and of vice raise virtuous emotions; which becoming stronger by
exercise, tend to make us virtuous by habit as well as by principle. I
now further observe, that examples drawn from real events, are not so
frequent as to contribute much to a habit of virtue. If they be, they
are not recorded by historians. It therefore shows great wisdom, to form
us in such a manner, as to be susceptible of the same improvement from
fable that we receive from genuine history. By this admirable
contrivance, examples to improve us in virtue may be multiplied without
end. No other sort of discipline contributes more to make virtue
habitual; and no other sort is so agreeable in the application. I add
another final cause with thorough satisfaction; because it shows, that
the author of our nature is not less kindly provident for the happiness
of his creatures, than for the regularity of their conduct. The power
that fiction hath over the mind of man, is the source of an endless
variety of refined amusement, always ready to employ a vacant hour. Such
amusement is a fine resource in solitude; and by sweetening the temper,
improves society.


_Emotions and passions as pleasant and painful, agreeable and
disagreeable. Modifications of these qualities._

It will naturally occur at first view, that a discourse upon the
passions should commence with explaining the qualities now mentioned.
But upon trial, I found this could not be done distinctly, till the
difference were ascertained betwixt an emotion and a passion, and till
their causes were evolved.

Great obscurity may be observed among writers with regard to the present
point. No care, for example, is taken to distinguish agreeable from
pleasant, disagreeable from painful; or rather these terms are deemed
synonymous. This is an error not at all venial in the science of ethics;
as instances can and shall be given, of painful passions that are
agreeable, and of pleasant passions that are disagreeable. These terms,
it is true, are used indifferently in familiar conversations, and in
composition for amusement, where accuracy is not required. But for those
to use them so who profess to explain the passions, is a capital error.
In writing upon the critical art, I would avoid every refinement that
may seem more curious than useful. But the proper meaning of the terms
under consideration must be ascertained, in order to understand the
passions, and some of their effects that are intimately connected with

I shall endeavour to explain these terms by familiar examples. Viewing a
fine garden, I perceive it to be beautiful or agreeable; and I consider
the beauty or agreeableness as belonging to the object, or as one of its
qualities. Again, when I turn my thoughts from the garden to what passes
in my mind, I am conscious of a pleasant emotion of which the garden is
the cause. The pleasure here is felt, not as a quality of the garden,
but of the emotion produced by it. I give an opposite example. A rotten
carcass is loathsome and disagreeable, and raises in the spectator a
painful emotion. The disagreeableness is a quality of the object: the
pain is a quality of the emotion produced by it. Agreeable and
disagreeable, then, are qualities of the object we perceive: pleasant
and painful are qualities of the emotions we feel. The former qualities
are perceived as adhering to objects; the latter are felt as existing
within us.

But a passion or emotion, beside being felt, is frequently made an
object of thought or reflection: we examine it; we inquire into its
nature, its cause, and its effects. In this view it partakes the nature
of other objects: it is either agreeable or disagreeable. Hence clearly
appear the different significations of the terms under consideration, as
applied to passion. When a passion is termed _pleasant_ or _painful_, we
refer to the actual feeling: when termed _agreeable_ or _disagreeable_,
it is considered as an object of thought or reflection. A passion is
pleasant or painful to the person in whom it exists: it is agreeable or
disagreeable to the person who makes it a subject of contemplation.

When the terms thus defined are applied to particular emotions and
passions, they do not always coincide. And in order to make this
evident, we must endeavour to ascertain, first, what passions and
emotions are pleasant what painful, and next, what are agreeable what
disagreeable. With respect to both, there are general rules, which, so
far as I gather from induction, admit not any exceptions. The nature of
an emotion or passion as pleasant or painful, depends entirely on its
cause. An agreeable object produceth always a pleasant emotion; and a
disagreeable object produceth always a painful emotion[28]. Thus a lofty
oak, a generous action, a valuable discovery in art or science, are
agreeable objects that unerringly produce pleasant emotions. A stinking
puddle, a treacherous action, an irregular ill-contrived edifice, being
disagreeable objects, produce painful emotions. Selfish passions are
pleasant; for they arise from self, an agreeable object or cause. A
social passion directed upon an agreeable object is always pleasant:
directed upon an object in distress, is painful[29]. Lastly, all
dissocial passions, such as envy, resentment, malice, being caused by
disagreeable objects, cannot fail to be painful.

It requires a greater compass to evolve the general rule that concerns
the agreeableness or disagreeableness of emotions and passions. An
action conformable to the common nature of our species, is perceived by
us to be regular and good[30]; and consequently every such action
appears agreeable to us. The same observation is applicable to passions
and emotions. Every feeling that is conformable to the common nature of
our species, is perceived by us to be regular and as it ought to be; and
upon that account it must appear agreeable. By this general rule we can
ascertain what emotions are agreeable what disagreeable. Every emotion
that is conformable to the common nature of man, ought to appear
agreeable. And that this holds true with respect to pleasant emotions,
will readily be admitted. But why should painful emotions be an
exception, when they are not less natural than the other? The proportion
holds true in both. Thus the painful emotion raised by a monstrous birth
or brutal action, is not less agreeable upon reflection, than the
pleasant emotion raised by a flowing river or a lofty dome. With respect
to passions as opposed to emotions, it will be obvious from the
foregoing proposition, that their agreeableness or disagreeableness,
like the actions of which they are productive, must be regulated
entirely by the moral sense. Every action vicious or improper is
disagreeable to a spectator, and so is the passion that prompts it.
Every action virtuous or proper is agreeable to a spectator, and so is
the passion that prompts it.

This deduction may be carried a great way farther; but to avoid
intricacy and obscurity, I make but one other step. A passion, which, as
aforesaid, becomes an object of thought to a spectator, may have the
effect to produce a passion or emotion in him; for it is natural that a
social being should be affected with the passions of others. Passions or
emotions thus generated, submit, in common with others, to the general
law above mentioned, _viz._ that an agreeable object produces a pleasant
emotion, and a disagreeable object a painful emotion. Thus the passion
of gratitude, being to a spectator an agreeable object, produceth in him
the pleasant passion of love to the grateful person. Thus malice, being
to a spectator a disagreeable object, produceth in him the painful
passion of hatred to the malicious person.

We are now prepared for examples of pleasant passions that are
disagreeable, and of painful passions that are agreeable. Self-love, so
long as confined within just bounds, is a passion both pleasant and
agreeable. In excess it is disagreeable, though it continues to be still
pleasant. Our appetites are precisely in the same condition. Again,
vanity, though pleasant, is disagreeable. Resentment, on the other hand,
is, in every stage of the passion, painful; but is not disagreeable
unless in excess. Pity is always painful, yet always agreeable. But
however distinct these qualities are, they coincide, I acknowledge, in
one class of passions. All vicious passions tending to the hurt of
others, are equally painful and disagreeable.

The foregoing distinctions among passions and emotions, may serve the
common affairs of life, but they are not sufficient for the critical
art. The qualities of pleasant and painful are too familiar to carry us
far into human nature, or to form an accurate judgement in the fine
arts. It is further necessary, that we be made acquainted with the
several modifications of these qualities, with the modifications at
least that make the greatest figure. Even at first view every one is
sensible, that the pleasure or pain of one passion differs from that of
another. How distant the pleasure of revenge from that of love? So
distant, as that we cannot without reluctance admit them to be any way
related. That the same quality of pleasure should be so differently
modified in different passions, will not be surprising, when we reflect
on the boundless variety of pleasant sounds, tastes, and smells, daily
felt. Our discernment reaches differences still more nice, in objects
even of the same sense. We have no difficulty to distinguish different
sweets, different sours, and different bitters. Honey is sweet, and so
is sugar; and yet they never pass the one for the other. Our sense of
smelling is sufficiently acute, to distinguish varieties in
sweet-smelling flowers without end. With respect to passions and
emotions, their different feelings have no limits; for when we attempt
the more delicate modifications, they elude our search, and are scarce
discernible. In this matter, however, there is an analogy betwixt our
internal and external senses. The latter generally are sufficiently
acute for all the useful purposes of life, and so are the former. Some
persons indeed, Nature’s favourites, have a wonderful acuteness of
sense, which to them unfolds many a delightful scene totally hid from
vulgar eyes. But if such refined pleasure be refused to the bulk of
mankind, it is however wisely ordered that they are not sensible of the
defect; and it detracts not from their happiness that others secretly
are more happy. With relation to the fine arts only, this qualification
seems essential; and there it is termed _delicacy of taste_.

Should an author of such a taste attempt to describe all those
differences and shades of pleasant and painful emotions which he himself
feels, he would soon meet an invincible obstacle in the poverty of
language. No known tongue hitherto has reached such perfection, as to
express clearly the more delicate feelings. A people must be thoroughly
refined, before their language become so comprehensive. We must
therefore rest satisfied with an explanation of the more obvious

In forming a comparison betwixt pleasant passions of different kinds, we
conceive some of them to be _gross_ some _refined_. Those pleasures of
external sense that are felt as at the organ of sense, are conceived to
be corporeal or gross[31]. The pleasures of the eye and ear are felt to
be internal; and for that reason are conceived to be more pure and

The social affections are conceived by all to be more refined than the
selfish. Sympathy and humanity are reckoned the finest temper of mind;
and for that reason, the prevalence of the social affections in the
progress of society, is held to be a refinement in our nature. A savage
is unqualified for any pleasure but what is thoroughly or nearly
selfish: therefore a savage is incapable of comparing selfish and social
pleasure. But a man after acquiring a high relish of the latter, loses
not thereby a taste for the former. This man can judge, and he will
give preference to social pleasures as more sweet and refined. In fact
they maintain that character, not only in the direct feeling, but also
when we make them the subject of reflection. The social passions are by
far more agreeable than the selfish, and rise much higher in our esteem.

Refined manners and polite behaviour, must not be deemed altogether
artificial. Men accustomed to the sweets of society, who cultivate
humanity, find an elegant pleasure in preferring others and making them
happy, of which the proud or selfish scarce have a conception.

Ridicule, which chiefly arises from pride, a selfish passion, is at best
but a gross pleasure. A people, it is true, must have emerged out of
barbarity before they can have a taste for ridicule. But it is too rough
an entertainment for those who are highly polished and refined. Ridicule
is banished France, and is losing ground daily in England.

Other modifications of pleasant passions will be occasionally mentioned
hereafter. Particularly the modifications of _high_ and _low_ are
handled in the chapter of grandeur and sublimity; and the modifications
of _dignified_ and _mean_, in the chapter of dignity and meanness.


_Interrupted existence of emotions and passions.---- Their growth and

Were emotions of the same nature with colour and figure, to continue in
their present state till varied by some operating cause, the condition
of man would be deplorable. It is ordered wisely, that emotions should
more resemble another attribute of matter, _viz._ motion, which requires
the constant exertion of an operating cause, and ceases when the cause
is withdrawn. An emotion may subsist while its cause is present; and
when its cause is removed, may subsist by means of an idea, though in a
fainter degree. But the moment another thought breaks in and occupies
the mind, so as to exclude not only this cause, but also its idea, the
emotion is gone: it is no longer felt. If it return with its cause or
idea, it again vanisheth with them when other thoughts crowd in. This
observation is applicable to emotions and passions of every kind. And
these accordingly are connected with perceptions and ideas, so
intimately as not to have any independent existence. A strong passion,
it is true, hath a mighty influence to detain its object in the mind;
but not so as to detain it for ever. A succession of perceptions or
ideas is unavoidable[32]: the object of the passion may be often
recalled; but however interesting, it must by intervals yield to other
objects. For this reason, a passion rarely continues long with an equal
degree of vigour. It is felt strong and moderate, in a pretty quick
succession. The same object makes not always the same impression;
because the mind, being of a limited capacity, cannot, at the same
instant, give great attention to a plurality of objects. The strength of
a passion depends on the impression made by its cause; and a cause
makes its strongest impression, when happening to be the single
interesting object, it attracts our whole attention[33]. Its impression
is slighter when our attention is divided betwixt it and other objects;
and at that time the passion is slighter in proportion.

When emotions and passions are felt thus by intervals and have not a
continued existence, it may be thought a nice problem, to ascertain
their identity, and to determine when they are the same when different.
In a strict philosophic view, every single impression made even by the
same object, is distinguishable from what have gone before, and from
what succeed. Neither is an emotion raised by an idea the same with what
is raised by a sight of the object. But such accuracy is not found in
common apprehension, nor is necessary in common language. The emotions
raised by a fine landscape in its successive appearances, are not
distinguished from each other, nor even from those raised by successive
ideas of the object: all of them are held to be the same. A passion also
is always reckoned the same, so long as it is fixed upon the same
object. Thus love and hatred may continue the same for life. Nay, so
loose are we in this way of thinking, that many passions are reckoned
the same even after a change of object. This is the case of all passions
that proceed from some peculiar propensity. Envy, for example, is
considered to be the same passion, not only while it is directed upon
the same person, but even where it comprehends many persons at once.
Pride and malice are in the same condition. So much was necessary to be
said upon the identity of a passion and emotion, in order to prepare for
examining their growth and decay.

The growth and decay of passions and emotions, is a subject too
extensive to be exhausted in an undertaking like the present. I pretend
only to give a cursory view of it, so far as necessary for the purposes
of criticism. Some emotions are produced in their utmost perfection, and
have a very short endurance. This is the case of surprise, of wonder,
and sometimes of terror. Emotions raised by insensible objects, such as
trees, rivers, buildings, pictures, arrive at perfection almost
instantaneously, and have a long endurance: a second view produceth
nearly the same pleasure with the first. Love, hatred, and some other
passions, increase gradually to a certain pitch, and thereafter decay
gradually. Envy, malice, pride, scarce ever decay. Again, some passions,
such as gratitude and revenge, are often exhausted by a single act of
gratification. Other passions, such as pride, malice, envy, love,
hatred, are not so exhausted; but having a long continuance, demand
frequent gratification.

In order to explain these differences, it would be an endless work to
examine every emotion and passion in particular. We must be satisfied at
present with some general views. And with respect to emotions, which are
quiescent and not productive of desire, their growth and decay are
easily explained. An emotion caused by an external object, cannot
naturally take longer time to arrive at perfection, than is necessary
for a leisurely survey. Such emotion also must continue long
stationary, without any sensible decay; a second or third view of the
object being nearly as agreeable as the first. This is the case of an
emotion produced by a fine prospect, an impetuous river, or a towering
hill. While a man remains the same, such objects ought to have the same
effect upon him. Familiarity, however, hath an influence here, as it
hath every where. Frequency of view, after short intervals especially,
weans the mind gradually from the object, which at last loses all
relish. The noblest object in the material world, a clear and serene
sky, is quite disregarded, unless perhaps after a course of bad weather.
An emotion raised by human virtues, qualities, or actions, may grow
imperceptibly by reiterated views of the object, till it become so
vigorous as to generate desire. In this condition it must be handled as
a passion.

As to passion, I observe first, that when nature requires a passion to
be sudden, it is commonly produced in perfection. This is frequently the
case of fear and of anger. Wonder and surprise are always produced in
perfection. Reiterated impressions made by their cause, exhaust these
passions in place of inflaming them. This will be explained

In the next place, when a passion hath for its foundation an original
propensity peculiar to some men, it generally comes soon to perfection.
The propensity, upon representing a proper object, is immediately
enlivened into a passion. This is the case of pride, of envy, and of

In the third place, love and hatred have often a slow growth. The good
qualities or kind offices of a person, raise in me pleasant emotions;
which, by reiterated views, are swelled into a passion involving desire
of that person’s happiness. This desire being often put in exercise,
works gradually a change internally; and at last produceth in me a
settled habit of affection for that person, now my friend. Affection
thus produced, operates precisely like an original propensity. To
enliven it into a passion, no more is required but the real or ideal
presence of the object. The habit of aversion or hatred is brought on
in the same manner. And here I must observe by the way, that love and
hatred signify commonly affection, not passion. The bulk indeed of our
passions, are these affections inflamed into a passion by different
circumstances. The affection of love I bear to my son, is inflamed into
the passion of fear, when he is in danger; becomes hope, when he hath a
prospect of good fortune; becomes admiration, when he performs a
laudable action; and shame, when he commits any wrong. Aversion, again,
becomes fear when there is a prospect of good fortune to my enemy;
becomes hope when he is in danger; becomes joy when he is in distress;
and sorrow when a laudable action is performed by him.

Fourthly, the growth of some passions depends often on occasional
circumstances. Obstacles to gratification never fail to augment and
inflame a passion. A constant endeavour to remove the obstacle,
preserves the object of the passion ever in view, which swells the
passion by impressions frequently reiterated. Thus the restraint of
conscience, when an obstacle to love, agitates the mind and inflames
the passion:

    Quod licet, ingratum est: quod non licet, acrius urit.
    Si nunquam Danaën habuisset ahenea turris,
    Non esset Danaë de Jove facta parens.
         _Ovid. Amor. l. 2._

At the same time, the mind distressed with the obstacle, is disposed to
indulge its distress by magnifying the pleasure of gratification; which
naturally inflames desire. Shakespear expresses this observation finely:

    All impediments in fancy’s course,
    Are motives of more fancy.

We need no better example than a lover who hath many rivals. Even the
caprices of a mistress have the effect to inflame love. These
occasioning uncertainty of success, tend naturally to make the anxious
lover overvalue the happiness of fruition.

So much upon the growth of passions. Their continuance and decay come
next under consideration. And first, it is a general law of nature,
that things sudden in their growth, are equally sudden in their decay.
This is commonly the case of anger; and with respect to wonder and
surprise, another reason concurs, that their causes are of short
duration. Novelty soon degenerates into familiarity; and the
unexpectedness of an object, is soon sunk in the pleasure which the
object affords us. Fear, which is a passion of greater importance as
tending to self-preservation, is often instantaneous, and yet is of
equal duration with its cause. Nay it frequently subsists after the
cause is removed.

In the next place, a passion founded on a peculiar propensity, subsists
generally for ever. This is the case of pride, envy, and malice. Objects
are never wanting, to inflame the propensity into a passion.

Thirdly, it may be laid down as a general law of nature, that every
passion ceases upon attaining its ultimate end. To explain this law, we
must distinguish betwixt a particular and a general end. I call a
particular end what may be accomplished by a single act. A general end,
on the contrary, admits acts without number; because it cannot be said
that a general end is ever fully accomplished while the object of the
passion subsists. Gratitude and revenge are examples of the first kind.
The ends they aim at may be accomplished by a single act; and when this
act is performed, the passions are necessarily at an end. Love and
hatred are examples of the other kind. The desire of doing good or of
doing mischief to an individual, is a general end, which admits acts
without number, and which seldom is fully accomplished. Therefore these
passions have frequently the same duration with their objects.

Lastly, it will afford us another general view, to consider the
difference betwixt an original propensity and an affection produced by
custom. The former adheres too close to the constitution ever to be
eradicated; and for that reason the passions to which it gives birth,
endure during life with no remarkable diminution of strength. The
latter, which owes its birth and increment to time, owes its decay to
the same cause. Affection decays gradually as it grew. Hence long
absence extinguisheth hatred as well as love. Affection wears out more
gradually betwixt persons, who, living together, are objects to each
other of mutual good-will and kindness. But here habit comes in luckily,
to supply decayed affection. It makes these persons necessary to the
happiness of each other, by the pain of separation[35]. Affection to
children hath 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 begin 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.


_Coexistent emotions and passions._

To have 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 evolve
all the laws that govern its endless variety of cases. Such an
undertaking may be brought to perfection, but 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 case.
Two sounds that mix, and are, as it were, incorporated before they reach
the ear, are said to be concordant. That each sound produceth an emotion
of its own, must be admitted. But then 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, again, that refuse
incorporation or mixture, are said to be discordant. Being however heard
at the same instant, the emotions produced by them are conjoined; and in
that condition are unpleasant, even where separately they are each of
them pleasant.

Similar to the emotion raised by mixed sounds, is the emotion that an
object of sight raises by means of its several qualities. A tree, for
example, with its qualities of colour, figure, size, _&c._ is perceived
to be one object; and the emotion it raises is one, not different
emotions combined. But though the emotion be one, it is however not
simple. The perception of the tree is complex, and the emotion raised by
it must also be complex.

With respect to coexistent emotions produced by different causes or
objects, it must be observed, that there cannot be a concordance among
objects of sight like what is perceived in sounds. Objects of sight are
never mixed or incorporated in the act of vision. Each object is
perceived as it exists, separately from others; and each raiseth its own
emotion, which is felt distinctly however intimately connected the
objects may be. This doctrine holds in all the causes of emotion or
passion, sounds only excepted.

To explain the manner in which such emotions coexist, 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. Chearful 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. Grandeur and
littleness, gaiety and gloominess, are dissimilar emotions.

Emotions perfectly similar, readily combine and unite[36], 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. Emotions again
that are opposite or extremely dissimilar, never combine nor 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.

Betwixt these two extremes, emotions will unite more or less, in
proportion to the degree of their resemblance and the greater or less
connection of their causes. The beauty of a landscape and the singing of
birds, produce emotions that are similar in a considerable degree; and
these emotions therefore, though proceeding from very different causes,
readily combine and unite. On the other hand, when the causes are
intimately connected, the emotions, though but slightly resembling each
other, are forced into a sort of union. I give for an example a mistress
in distress. When I consider her beauty, I feel a pleasant emotion; and
a painful emotion when I consider her distress. These two emotions,
proceeding from different views of the object, have very little
resemblance to each other: and yet their causes are so intimately
connected, 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_.

We proceed to the effects produced by means of the different manners of
coexistence above described; first, the effects produced within the
mind, and next, those that appear externally. I discover two mental
effects clearly distinguishable from each other. The one may be
represented by addition and subtraction in numbers, and 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 combined emotions are like multiplied effects
from the co-operation of different powers. 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, vallies, 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. And 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. Such multiplied effect, as above hinted,
depends partly on the resemblance of the emotions and partly on 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 other pleasure arising from coexistent emotions, which may be termed
_the pleasure of concord or harmony_, is ascertained by a different
rule. It is directly in proportion to the degree of resemblance betwixt
the emotions, and inversely in proportion to the degree of connection
betwixt the causes. To feel this pleasure in perfection, the
resemblance cannot be too strong, nor the connection too slight. Where
the causes are intimately connected, the similar emotions they produce
are felt like one complex emotion. But the pleasure of harmony, is not
felt from one emotion single or complex. It is felt from various similar
emotions, distinct from each other, and yet sweetly combining in the
mind; and the less connection the causes have, the more entire is the
emotion of harmony. This matter cannot be better illustrated, than by
the foregoing example of a landscape, where the sight, hearing, and
smelling, are employed. The accumulated pleasure of so many different
similar emotions, is not what delights us the most in this combination
of objects. The sense of harmony from these emotions sweetly uniting in
the mind, is still more delightful. We feel this harmony in the
different emotions proceeding from the visible objects; but we feel it
still more sensibly in the emotions proceeding from the objects of
different senses. This emotion of concord or harmony, will be more
fully illustrated, when the emotions produced by the sound of words and
their meaning are taken under consideration[37].

This emotion of concord from conjoined emotions, is felt even where the
emotions are not perfectly similar. Love is a pleasant passion; but then
its sweetness and tenderness make it resemble in a considerable degree
the painful passion of pity or 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 betwixt love and
grief, has a fine effect even in so slight a subject as the death of a

    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;
    Tarn bellum mihi passerem abstulistis.
    O factum male, ô miselle passer,
    Tua nunc opera, meæ puellæ
    Flendo turgiduli rubent ocelli.

To complete this branch of the subject, I proceed to consider the
effects of dissimilar emotions. These effects obviously must be opposite
to what are above described; and in order to explain them with accuracy,
dissimilar emotions proceeding from connected causes, must be
distinguished from what proceed from causes that are unconnected.
Dissimilar emotions of the former kind, being forced into a sort of
unnatural union, produce a feeling of discord instead of harmony. It
holds also that in computing their force, subtraction must be used in
place of addition, which will be evident from what follows. Dissimilar
emotions forced into union, 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 betwixt two objects, is at no instant in a
condition to receive a full impression from either. Dissimilar emotions
proceeding from unconnected causes, are in a very different condition.
Dissimilar emotions in general are averse to union; and as there is
nothing to force them into union when their causes are unconnected
emotions of this kind are never felt but in succession. By that means,
they are not felt to be discordant, and each hath an opportunity to make
a full impression.

This curious theory must be illustrated by examples. In reading the
description of the dismal waste, book 1. of _Paradise Lost_, we are
sensible of a confused feeling, arising from dissimilar emotions forced
into union, _viz._ 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?

Many other passages in this justly celebrated poem produce the same
effect; and we always observe, that if the disagreeableness of the
subject be obscured by the beautiful description, this beauty is not
less obscured by its discordant union with the disagreeableness of the
subject. For the same reason, ascending smoke in a calm morning is
improper in a picture full of violent action. The emotion of stillness
and tranquillity inspired by the former, accords not with the lively and
animated emotion inspired by the latter. 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

      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.

      Bello in sì bella vista anco è l’orrore:
    E di mezzo la tema esce il diletto.
    Ne men le trombe orribili, e canore
    Sono a gli orecchi lieto, e fero oggetto.
    Pur il campo fedel, benchè minore,
    Par di suon più mirabile, e d’aspetto.
    E canta in più guerriero, e chiaro carme
    Ogni sua tromba, e maggior luce han l’arme.
         _Gerusalemme liberata, cant. 20. st. 29. & 30._

A virtuous man has drawn on himself a great misfortune, by a fault
incident to human nature, and therefore venial. The remorse he feels
aggravates his distress, and consequently raises our pity to a high
pitch. We indeed blame the man; and the indignation raised by the fault
he has committed, is dissimilar to pity. These two passions however
proceeding from different views of the same object, are forced into a
sort of union. But the indignation is so slight as scarce to be felt in
the mixture with pity. Subjects of this kind, are of all the fittest for
tragedy. But of this afterward[38].

Opposite emotions are so dissimilar as not to admit any sort of union,
even where they proceed from causes the most intimately connected. Love
to a mistress, and resentment for her infidelity, are of this nature.
They cannot exist otherwise than in succession, which by the connection
of their causes is commonly rapid. And these emotions will govern
alternately, till one of them obtain the ascendent, or both be
obliterated. A succession opens to me by the death of a worthy man, who
was my friend as well as my kinsman. When I think of my friend I am
grieved; but the succession gives me joy. These two causes are
intimately connected, for the succession is the direct consequence of my
friend’s death. The emotions however being opposite, do not mix: they
prevail alternately, perhaps for a course of time, till grief for my
friend’s death be banished by the pleasures of opulence. A virtuous man
suffering unjustly, is an example of the same kind. I pity him, and I
have great indignation at the author of the wrong. These emotions
proceed from causes nearly connected; but being directed upon different
objects, they are not forced into union. The opposition preserves them
distinct; and accordingly they are found to govern alternately, the one
sometimes prevailing and sometimes the other.

Next of dissimilar emotions arising from unconnected causes. Good and
bad news of equal importance arriving at the same instant from different
quarters, produce opposite emotions, the discordance of which is not
felt because they are not forced into union. They govern alternately,
commonly in a quick succession, till their force be spent. In the same
manner, good news arriving to a man labouring under distress, occasions
a vibration in his mind from the one to the other.

      _Osmyn._ By heav’n thou’st rous’d me from my lethargy.
    The spirit which was deaf to my own wrongs,
    And the loud cries of my dead father’s blood,
    Deaf to revenge--nay, which refus’d to hear
    The piercing sighs and murmurs of my love
    Yet unenjoy’d; what not Almeria could
    Revive, or raise, my people’s voice has waken’d.
    O my Antonio, I am all on fire,
    My soul is up in arms, ready to charge
    And bear amidst the foe with conqu’ring troops.
    I hear ’em call to lead ’em on to liberty,
    To victory; their shouts and clamours rend
    My ears, and reach the heav’ns: where is the king?
    Where is Alphonso? ha! where! where indeed?
    O I could tear and burst the strings of life,
    To break these chains. Off, off, ye stains of royalty!
    Off, slavery! O curse, that I alone
    Can beat and flutter in my cage, when I
    Would soar and stoop at victory beneath!
         _Mourning Bride, act 3. sc. 2._

If the emotions be unequal in force, the stronger after a conflict will
extinguish the weaker. Thus the loss of a house by fire or of a sum of
money by bankruptcy, will make no figure in opposition to the birth of a
long-expected son, who is to inherit an opulent fortune. After some
slight vibrations, the mind settles in joy, and the loss is forgot.

The foregoing observations, will be found of great use in the fine arts.
Many practical rules are derived from them, which I shall have occasion
afterward to mention. For instant satisfaction in part, I propose to
show the use of these observations in music, a theme I insist upon at
present, not being certain of another opportunity more favourable. It
will be admitted, that no combination of sounds but what is agreeable to
the ear, is intitled to the name of music. Melody and harmony are
separately agreeable and in union delightful. The agreeableness of vocal
music differs from that of instrumental. The former being intended to
accompany words, ought to be expressive of the sentiment that is
conveyed by the words. But the latter having no connection with words,
may be agreeable without expressing any sentiment. Harmony properly so
called, though delightful when in perfection, is not expressive of
sentiment; and we often find good melody without the least tincture of

These preliminaries being established, I proceed directly to the point.
In vocal music, the intimate connection of sense and sound rejects
dissimilar emotions, those especially that are opposite. Similar
emotions produced by the sense and sound go naturally into union; and
at the same time are felt to be concordant or harmonious. Dissimilar
emotions, on the other hand, forced into union by causes intimately
connected, not only obscure each other, but are also unpleasant by
discordance. From these principles it is easy to say what sort of
poetical compositions are fitted for music. It is evident that no poem
expressing the sentiments of any disagreeable passion is proper. The
pain a man feels who is actuated with malice or unjust revenge,
disqualifies him for relishing music or any thing that is entertaining.
And supposing him disposed, against nature, to vent his sentiments in
music, the mixture would be unpleasant; for these passions raise disgust
and aversion in the audience[39], a tone of mind opposite to every
emotion that music can inspire. A man seized with remorse cannot bear
music, because every sort of it must be discordant with his tone of
mind; and when these by an unskilful artist are forced into union, the
mixture is unpleasant to the audience.

In general, music never can have a good effect in conjunction with any
composition expressive of malice, envy, peevishness, or any other
dissocial passion. The pleasure of music, on the other hand, is similar
to all pleasant emotions; and music is finely qualified for every song
where such emotions are expressed. Music particularly in a chearful
tone, is concordant in the highest degree with every emotion in the same
tone; and hence our taste for chearful airs expressive of mirth and
jollity. Music is peculiarly well qualified for accompanying every
sympathetic emotion. Sympathetic joy associates finely with chearful
music, and sympathetic pain not less finely with music that is tender
and melancholy. All the different emotions of love, _viz._ tenderness,
concern, anxiety, pain of absence, hope, fear, _&c._ accord delightfully
with music. A person in love, even when unkindly treated, is soothed by
music. The tenderness of love still prevailing, accords with a
melancholy strain. This is finely exemplified by Shakespear in the
fourth act of _Othello_, where Desdemona calls for a song expressive of
her distress. Wonderful is the delicacy of that writer’s taste, which
fails him not even in the most refined emotions of human nature.
Melancholy music again is suitable to slight grief, which requires or
admits consolation. But deep grief, which refuses all consolation,
rejects for that reason even melancholy music. For a different reason,
music is improper for accompanying pleasant emotions of the more
important kind. These totally ingross the mind, and leave no place for
music or any sort of amusement. In a perilous enterprise to dethrone a
tyrant, music would be impertinent, even where hope prevails, and the
prospect of success is great. Alexander attacking the Indian town and
mounting the wall, had certainly no impulse to exert his prowess in a
song. It is true, that not the least regard is paid to these rules
either in the French or Italian opera; and the attachment we have to
these compositions, may at first sight be considered as a proof that the
foregoing doctrine cannot be founded on human nature. But the general
taste for operas is at bottom no authority against me. In our operas the
passions are so imperfectly expressed, as to leave the mind free for
relishing music of any sort indifferently. It cannot be disguised, that
the pleasure of an opera is derived chiefly from the music, and scarce
at all from the sentiments. A happy coincidence of emotions raised by
the song and by the music, is extremely rare; and I venture to affirm,
that there is no example of it unless where the emotion raised by the
former is pleasant as well as that raised by the latter.

The subject we have run through, appears not a little entertaining. It
is extremely curious to observe, in many instances, a plurality of
causes producing in conjunction a great pleasure: in other instances,
not less frequent, no conjunction, but each cause acting in opposition.
To enter bluntly upon a subject of such intricacy, might gravel an acute
philosopher; and yet by taking matters in a train, the intricacy

Next in order, according to the method proposed, come external effects.
And this leads to passions in particular, which involving desire are
the causes of action. Two coexistent passions that have the same
tendency, must be similar. They accordingly readily unite, and in
conjunction have double force; which must hold whether the two passions
have the same or different causes. This is verified by experience; from
which we learn, that different passions having the same end in view,
impel the mind to action with united force. The mind receives not
impulses alternately from these passions, but one strong impulse from
the whole in conjunction. And indeed it is not easy to conceive what
should bar the union of passions that have all of them the same

Two passions having opposite tendencies, may proceed from the same
object or cause considered in different lights. Thus a mistress may at
once be the object both of love and resentment. Her beauty inflames the
passion of love: her cruelty or inconstancy causes resentment. When two
such passions coexist in the same breast, the opposition of their aim
prevents any sort of union. They are not felt otherwise than in
succession. And the consequence must be one of two things: the passions
will balance each other, and prevent external action; or one of them
will prevail, and accomplish its end. Guarini, in his _Pastor Fido_,
describes beautifully the struggle betwixt love and resentment directed
upon the same object.

      _Corisca._ Chi vide mai, chi mai udi più strana
    E più folle, e più sera, e più importuna
    Passione amorosa? amore, ed odio
    Con sì mirabil tempre in un cor misti,
    Che l’un per l’altro (e non so ben dir come)
    E si strugge, e s’avanza, e nasce, e more.
    S’ i’ miro alle bellezze di Mirtillo
    Dal piè leggiadro al grazioso volto,
    Il vago portamento, il bel sembiante.
    Gli atti, i costumi, e le parole, e ’l guardo;
    M’assale Amore con sì possente foco
    Ch’i’ ardo tutta, e par, ch’ ogn’ altro affetto
    Da questo sol sia superato, e vinto:
    Ma se poi penso all’ ostinato amore,
    Ch’ ei porta ad altra donna, e che per lei
    Di me non cura, e sprezza (il vo’ pur dire)
    La mia famosa, e da mill’ alme, e mille
    Inchinata beltà, bramata grazia;
    L’odio così, così l’aborro, e schivo,
    Che impossibil mi par, ch’unqua per lui
    Mi s’accendesse al cor siamma amorosa.
    Tallor meco ragiono: o s’io petessi
    Gioir del mio dolcissimo Mirtillo,
    Sicche fosse mio tutto, e ch’altra mai
    Posseder no ’l potesse, o più d’ ogn’ altra
    Beata, e felicissima Corisca!
    Ed in quel punto in me sorge un talento
    Verso di lui sì dolce, e sì gentile,
    Che di seguirlo, e di pregarlo ancora,
    E di scoprirgli il cor prendo consiglio.
    Che più? così mi stimola il desio,
    Che se potessi allor l’adorerei.
    Dall’ altra parte i’ mi risento, e dico,
    Un ritroso? uno schifo? un che non degna?
    Un, che può d’altra donna esser amante?
    Un, ch’ardisce mirarmi, e non m’adora?
    E dal mio volto si difende in guisa,
    Che per amor non more? ed io, che lui
    Dovrei veder, come molti altri i’ veggio
    Supplice, e lagrimosa a’ piedi miei,
    Supplice, e lagrimoso a’ piedi suoi
    Sosterro di cadere? ah non fia mai.
    Ed in questo pensier tant’ ira accoglio
    Contra di lui, contra di me, che volsi
    A seguirlo il pensier, gli occhi a mirarlo,
    Che ’l nome di Mirtillo, e l’amor mio
    Odio più che la morte; e lui vorrei
    Veder il più dolente, il più infelice
    Pastor, che viva; e se potessi allora,
    Con le mie proprie man l’anciderei.
    Così sdegno, desire, odio, ed amore
    Mi fanno guerra, ed io, che stata sono
    Sempre sin qui di mille cor la fiamma,
    Di mill’ alme il tormento, ardo, e languisco:
    E provo nel mio mal le pene altrui.
         _Act 1. sc. 3._

Ovid paints in lively colours the vibration of mind betwixt two opposite
passions directed upon the same object. Althea had two brothers much
beloved, who were unjustly put to death by her son Meleager in a fit of
passion. She was strongly impelled to revenge; but the criminal was her
own son. This ought to have with-held her hand. But the story makes a
better figure and is more interesting, by the violence of the struggle
betwixt resentment and maternal love.

    Dona Deum templis nato victore ferebat;
    Cum videt extinctos fratres Althæa referri.
    Quæ plangore dato, mœstis ululatibus urbem
    Implet; et auratis mutavit vestibus atras.
    At simul est auctor necis editus; excidit omnis
    Luctus: et a lacrymis in pœnæ versus amorem est.
    Stipes erat, quem, cum partus enixa jaceret
    Thestias, in flammam triplices posuêre sorores;
    Staminaque impresso fatalia pollice nentes,
    Tempora, dixerunt, eadem lignoque, tibique,
    O modo nate, damus. Quo postquam carmine dicto
    Excessere deæ; flagrantem mater ab igne
    Erripuit torrem: sparsitque liquentibus undis.
    Ille diu fuerat penetralibus abditus imis;
    Servatusque, tuos, juvenis, servaverat annos.
    Protulit hunc genitrix, tædasque in fragmina poni
    Imperat; et positis inimicos admovet ignes.
    Tum conata quater flammis imponere ramum
    Cœpta quater tenuit. Pugnat materque, sororque,
    Et diversa trahunt unum duo nomina pectus.
    Sæpe metu sceleris pallebant ora futuri:
    Sæpe suum fervens oculis dabat ira ruborem,
    Et modo nescio quid similis crudele minanti
    Vultus erat; modo quem misereri credere posses:
    Cumque ferus lacrymas animi siccaverat ardor;
    Inveniebantur lacrymæ tamen. Utque carina,
    Quam ventus, ventoque contrarius æstus,
    Vim geminam sentit, paretque incerta duobus:
    Thestias haud aliter dubiis affectibus errat,
    Inque vices ponit, positamque resuscitat iram.
    Incipit esse tamem melior germana parente;
    Et, consanguineas ut sanguine leniat umbras,
    Impietate pia est. Nam postqnam pestifer ignis
    Convaluit: Rogus iste cremet mea viscera, dixit.
    Utque manu dirâ lignum fatale tenebat;
    Ante sepulchrales infelix adstitit aras.
    Pœnarumque deæ triplices furialibus, inquit,
    Eumenides, sacris vultus advertite vestros.
    Ulciscor, facioque nefas. Mors morte pianda est;
    In scelus addendum scelus est, in funera funus:
    Per coacervatos pereat domus impia luctus.
    An felix Oeneus nato victore fruetur;
    Thestius orbus erit? melius lugebitis ambo.
    Vos modo, fraterni manes, animæque recentes,
    Officium sentite meum; magnoque paratas
    Accipite inferias, uteri mala pignora nostri.
    Hei mihi! quo rapior? fratres ignoscite matri.
    Deficiunt ad cœpta manus. Meruisse fatemur
    Illum, cur pereat: mortis mihi displicet auctor.
    Ergo impune feret; vivusque, et victor, et ipso
    Successu tumidus regnum Calydonis habebit?
    Vos cinis exiguus, gelidæque jacebitis umbræ?
    Haud equidem patiar. Pereat sceleratus; et ille
    Spemque patris, regnique trahat, patriæque ruinam.
    Mens ubi materna est; ubi sunt pia jura parentum?
    Et, quos sustinui, bis mensûm quinque labores?
    O utinam primis arsisses ignibus infans;
    Idque ego passa forem! vixisti munere nostro:
    Nunc merito moriere tuo. Cape præmia facti;
    Bisque datam, primum partu, mox stipite rapto,
    Redde animam; vel me fraternis adde sepulchris.
    Et cupio, et nequeo. Quid agam? modo vulnera fratrum
    Ante oculos mihi sunt, et tantæ cædis imago;
    Nunc animum pietas, maternaque nomina frangunt.
    Me miseram! male vincetis, sed vincite, fratres:
    Dummodo, quæ dedero vobis solatia, vosque
    Ipsa sequar, dixit: dextraque aversa trementi
    Funereum torrem medios conjecit in ignes.
    Aut dedit, aut visus gemitus est ille dedisse,
    Stipes; et invitis correptus ab ignibus arsit.
         _Metamorph. lib. 8. l. 445._

In cases of this kind, one circumstance always augments the fluctuation.
A resolution to prefer one action before another after balancing betwixt
them, is an inchoated gratification of the prevailing passion, which
softens it in some degree. This circumstance tends to give a superiority
to the opposite passion. And another circumstance also concurs, that
this opposite passion has by restraint acquired in the interim some
additional force.

Love and jealousy connected by a common object, occupy the mind
alternately. When the object is considered as beautiful, love prevails:
when considered as possibly unfaithful, jealousy prevails. A situation
of this kind, affords great scope for fluctuation of passion, which is
painted to the life by several masterly hands in words as well as in
colours. Shakespear handles the same subject, but in a manner uncommon
and peculiar to himself. In Othello’s soliloquy before putting his wife
to death, love and jealousy are represented, each exerting its whole
force, but without any struggle. Othello was naturally inflexible; and
the tenderest love could not divert him from a purpose he approved as
right, not even for a moment. But every thing consistent with such a
character is done to reconcile the two opposite passions. He is resolved
to put her to death, but he will not shed her blood, nor so much as
ruffle her skin.

      _Othello._ It is the cause, it is the cause, my soul;--
    Let me not name it to you, you chaste stars!
    It is the cause.---- Yet I’ll not shed her blood,
    Nor scar that whiter skin of hers than snow,
    And smooth as monumental alabaster.
                            [_Lays down the sword._
    Yet she must die; else she’ll betray more men.
    Put out the light, and then--Put out the light?--
    If I quench thee, thou flaming minister,
    I can again thy former light restore,
    Should I repent: but once put out _thy_ light,
    Thou cunning’st pattern of excelling nature,
    I know not where is that Promethean heat
    That can thy light relumine.--[_Sets down the taper._
    When I have pluck’d thy rose,
    I cannot give it vital growth again;
    It needs must wither.--I’ll smell thee on the tree;
                                          [_Kissing her._
    Oh balmy breath, that dost almost persuade
    Justice to break her sword!---- One more; one more;
    Be thus when thou art dead, and I will kill thee,
    And love thee after.---- One more, that’s the last;
    So sweet was ne’er so fatal! I must weep,
    But they are cruel tears? this sorrow’s heav’nly;
    It strikes where it doth love.---- She wakes----
         _Act 5. sc. 6._

In Otway’s _Orphan_, we have an illustrious example of the address
employed to gratify opposite passions directed upon the same object.
Castalio and Polydore, brothers and rivals, had sworn mutual confidence.
Castalio broke his faith by a private marriage. By this concealment,
Polydore was unwarily betrayed into a dismal deed, that of polluting
his brother’s bed. Thus he had injured his brother, and was injured by
him. Justice prompted him to make full atonement by his own death:
resentment against his brother required a full atonement to be made to
himself. In coexistent passions so contradictory, one of them commonly
prevails after a struggle. But here happily an expedient occurred to
gratify both; which was, that Polydore should provoke his brother to put
him to death. Polydore’s crime in his own opinion merited this
punishment; and justice was satisfied when he fell by the hands of the
man he had injured. He wanted at the same time to punish his brother for
breach of faith; and he could not do this more effectually than by
betraying his brother to be his executioner.

If difference of aim prevent the union of two passions though having the
same object, much more will it prevent their union when their objects
are also different. In both cases there is a fluctuation; but in the
latter the fluctuation is slower than in the former. A beautiful
situation of this kind is exhibited in the _Cid_ of Corneille. Don
Diegue, an old soldier worn out with age, having received a mortal
affront from the Count father to Chimene, employs his son Don Rodrigue,
Chimene’s lover, to demand satisfaction. This situation occasions in the
breast of Don Rodrigue a cruel struggle. It is a contest betwixt love
and honour, one of which must be sacrificed. The scene is finely
conducted, chiefly by making love in some degree take part with honour,
Don Rodrigue reflecting, that if he lost his honour he could not deserve
his mistress. Honour triumphs. The Count, provoked to a single combat,
falls by the hand of Don Rodrigue.

This produceth another beautiful situation respecting Chimene, which for
the sake of connection 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
chearfully would have sacrificed her own life. The struggle betwixt
these opposite passions directed upon the same object, is finely
expressed in the third scene of the third act.

      _Elvire._ Il vous prive d’un pére, et vous l’aimez encore!

      _Chimene._ C’est peu de dire aimer, Elvire, je l’adore;
    Ma passion s’oppose à mon ressentiment,
    Dedans mon ennemi je trouve mon amant,
    Et je sens qu’en depit de toute ma colére,
    Rodrigue dans mon cœur combat encore mon pére.
    Il l’attaque, il le presse, il céde, il se défend,
    Tantôt fort, tantôt foible, et tantôt triomphant;
    Mais en ce dur combat de colére et de flame,
    Il déchire mon cœur sans partager mon ame,
    Et quoique mon amour ait sur moi de pouvoir,
    Je ne consulte point pour suivre mon devoir.
    Je cours sans balancer où mon honneur m’oblige;
    Rodrigue m’est bien cher, son interêt m’afflige,
    Mon cœur prend son parti; mais malgré son effort,
    Je sai ce que je suis, et que mon pére 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 _Gerusalem_, 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 betwixt the two
different objects. The poet[40] describes him endeavouring 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


_The power of passion to adjust our opinions and belief to its

There is such a connection among the perceptions passions and actions of
the same person, that it would be wonderful if they should have no
mutual influence. That our actions are too much directed by passion, is
a sad truth. It is not less certain, though not so commonly observed,
that passion hath an irregular influence upon our opinions and belief.
The opinions we form of men and things, are generally directed by
affection. An advice given by a man of figure, hath great weight; the
same advice from one in a low condition, is utterly neglected. A man of
courage under-rates danger; and to the indolent, the slightest obstacle
appears unsurmountable. Our opinions indeed, the result commonly of
various and often opposite views, are so slight and wavering, as readily
to be susceptible of a bias from passion and prejudice.

This subject is of great use in logic; and of still greater use in
criticism, being intimately connected with many principles of the fine
arts that will be unfolded in the course of this work. Being too
extensive to be treated here at large, some cursory illustrations must
suffice; leaving the subject to be prosecuted more particularly
afterward when occasion shall offer.

Two principles that make an eminent figure in human nature, concur to
give passion an undue influence upon our opinions and belief. The first
and most extensive, is a strong tendency in the mind to fit objects for
the gratification of its passions. We are prone to such opinions of men
and things as correspond to our wishes. Where the object, in dignity or
importance, corresponds to the passion bestowed on it, the
gratification is complete and there is no occasion for artifice. But
where the object is too mean for the passion so as not to afford a
complete gratification, it is wonderful how apt the mind is to impose
upon itself, and how disposed to proportion the object to its passion.
The other principle is a strong tendency in our nature to justify our
passions as well as our actions, not to others only, but even to
ourselves. This tendency is extremely remarkable with respect to
disagreeable passions. By its influence, objects are magnified or
lessened, circumstances supplied or suppressed, every thing coloured 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.

Beside the influence of the foregoing principles to make us form
opinions contrary to truth, the passions themselves, by subordinate
means, contribute to the same effect. Of these means I shall mention two
which seem to be capital. First, There was occasion formerly to
observe[41], that though ideas seldom start up in the mind without
connection, yet that ideas which correspond to the present tone of the
mind are readily suggested by any slight connection. By this means, the
arguments for a favourite opinion are always at hand, while we often
search in vain for those that cross our inclination. Second, The mind
taking delight in agreeable circumstances or arguments, is strongly
impressed with them; while those that are disagreeable are hurried over
so as scarce to make any impression. The self-same argument, accordingly
as it is 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 this 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[42]. Gratitude in this case
being exerted for the sake of the benefactor, requires no peculiar
excellence in his children. To find however these children worthy of the
benefits intended them, contributes undoubtedly to the more entire
gratification of the passion. And accordingly, the mind, prone to
gratify its passions, is apt to conceive a better opinion of these
children than possibly they deserve. By this means, strong connections
of affection are often formed among individuals, upon the slight
foundation now mentioned.

Envy is a passion, which, being altogether unjustifiable, is always
disguised under some more plausible name. But no passion is more eager
than envy, to give its object such an appearance as to answer a complete
gratification. It magnifies every bad quality, and fixes on the most
humbling circumstances.

      _Cassius._ I cannot tell what you and other men
    Think of this life; but for my single self,
    I had as lief not be, as live to be
    In awe of such a thing as I myself.
    I was born free as Cæsar, so were you;
    We both have fed as well; and we can both
    Endure the winter’s cold as well as he.
    For once, upon a raw and gusty day,
    The troubled Tyber chasing with his shores,
    Cæsar says to me, Dar’st thou, Cassius, now
    Leap in with me into this angry flood,
    And swim to yonder point?--Upon the word,
    Accoutred as I was, I plunged in,
    And bid him follow; so indeed he did.
    The torrent roar’d, and we did buffet it
    With lusty sinews; throwing it aside,
    And stemming it with hearts of controversy.
    But ere we could arrive the point propos’d,
    Cæsar cry’d, Help me, Cassius, or I sink.
    I, as Æneas, our great ancestor,
    Did from the flames of Troy upon his shoulder
    The old Anchises bear; so from the waves of Tyber
    Did I the tired Cæsar: and this man
    Is now become a god, and Cassius is
    A wretched creature; and must bend his body,
    If Cæsar carelessly but nod on him.
    He had a fever when he was in Spain,
    And when the fit was on him, I did mark
    How he did shake. ’Tis true, this god did shake;
    His coward lips did from their colour fly,
    And that same eye whose bend doth awe the world,
    Did lose its lustre; I did hear him grone:
    Ay, and that tongue of his, that bade the Romans
    Mark him, and write his speeches in their books,
    Alas! it cry’d---- Give me some drink, Titinius----
    As a sick girl. Ye gods, it doth amaze me,
    A man of such a feeble temper should
    So get the start of the majestic world,
    And bear the palm alone.
         _Julius Cæsar, act I. sc. 3._

Glo’ster inflamed with resentment against his son Edgar, could even work
himself into a momentary conviction that they were not related.

    O strange fasten’d villain!
    Would he deny his letter?--I never got him.
         _King Lear, act 2. sc. 3._

When by a great sensibility of heart or other means, grief swells
beyond what the cause can justify, the mind is prone to magnify the
cause, in order to gratify the passion. And if the real cause admit not
of being magnified, the mind seeks a cause for its grief in imagined
future events.

      _Bushy._ Madam, your Majesty is much too sad;
    You promis’d, when you parted with the King,
    To lay aside self-harming heaviness,
    And entertain a chearful disposition.

      _Queen._ To please the King, I did; to please myself,
    I cannot do it. Yet I know no cause
    Why I should welcome such a guest as grief;
    Save bidding farewell to so sweet a guest
    As my sweet Richard: yet again, methinks,
    Some unborn sorrow, ripe in Fortune’s womb,
    Is coming tow’rd me; and my inward soul
    With something trembles, yet at nothing grieves,
    More than with parting from my Lord the King.
         _Richard II. act. 2. sc. 5._

The foregoing examples depend on the first principle. In the following,
both principles concur. Resentment at first is wreaked 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
as well as to gratify it, is disposed to paint these relations in the
blackest colours; and it actually comes to be convinced, that they ought
to be punished for their own demerits.

Anger raised by an accidental stroke upon a tender part, which gives
great and sudden pain, is sometimes vented upon the undesigning cause.
But as the passion in this 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 instantly into a
conviction of the action’s being voluntary. This conviction however is
but momentary: the first reflection shows it to be erroneous; and the
passion vanisheth 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 when it
occasions bodily pain, in order to be a proper object of resentment. A
conception is formed of it as a voluntary agent. 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. A
stock or a stone may be imagined sensible; but a notion of this kind
cannot be the foundation of punishment, so long as the mind is conscious
that it is an 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[43].”

Shakespear exhibits beautiful examples of the irregular influence of
passion in making us conceive things to be otherwise than they are. King
Lear, in his distress, personifies the rain, wind, and thunder; and in
order to justify his resentment, conceives them to be taking part with
his daughters.

      _Lear._ Rumble thy belly-full, spit fire, spout rain!
    Nor rain, wind, thunder, fire, are my daughters.
    I tax not you, you elements, with unkindness;
    I never gave you kingdom, call’d you children;
    You owe me no subscription. Then let fall
    Your horrible pleasure.---- Here I stand, your brave;
    A poor, infirm, weak, and despis’d old man!
    But yet I call you servile ministers,
    That have with two pernicious daughters join’d
    Your high engender’d battles, ’gainst a head
    So old and white as this. Oh! oh! ’tis foul.
         _Act_ 3. _sc. 2._

King Richard, full of indignation against his favourite horse for
suffering Bolingbroke to ride him, conceives for a moment the horse to
be rational.

      _Groom._ O, how it yearn’d my heart, when I beheld,
    In London streets, that coronation-day;
    When Bolingbroke rode on Roan Barbary,
    That horse that thou so often hast bestrid,
    That horse that I so carefully have dress’d.

      _K. Rich._ Rode he on Barbary? tell me, gentle friend,
    How went he under him?

      _Groom._ So proudly as he had disdain’d the ground.

      _K. Rich._ So proud that Bolingbroke was on his back!
    That jade had eat bread from my royal hand.
    This hand hath made him proud with clapping him.
    Would he not stumble? would he not fall down,
    (Since pride must have a fall), and break the neck
    Of that proud man that did usurp his back?
         _Richard_ II. _act 5. sc. 11_.

Hamlet, swelled with indignation at his mother’s second marriage, is
strongly inclined to lessen the time of her widowhood; because this
circumstance gratified his passion; and he deludes himself by degrees
into the opinion of an interval shorter than the real one.

      _Hamlet._---- That it should come to this!
    But two months dead! nay, not so much; not two;--
    So excellent a King, that was, to this,
    Hyperion to a satire: so loving to my mother,
    That he permitted not the wind of heav’n
    Visit her face too roughly. Heav’n and earth!
    Must I remember--why, she would hang on him,
    As if increase of appetite had grown
    By what it fed on; yet, within a month,----
    Let me not think--Frailty, thy name is _Woman_!
    A little month! or ere those shoes were old,
    With which she follow’d my poor father’s body,
    Like Niobe, all tears---- Why, she, ev’n she--
    (O heav’n! a beast that wants discourse of reason,
    Would have mourn’d longer--) married with mine uncle,
    My father’s brother; but no more like my father,
    Than I to Hercules. Within a month!----
    Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears
    Had left the flushing in her gauled eyes,
    She married.---- Oh, most wicked speed, to post
    With such dexterity to incestuous sheets!
    It is not, nor it cannot come to good.
    But break, my heart, for I must hold my tongue.
         _Act 1. sc. 3._

The power of passion to falsify the computation of time, is the more
remarkable, that time, which hath an accurate measure, is less
obsequious to our desires and wishes, than objects which have no precise
standard of less or more.

Even belief, though partly an act of the judgment, may be influenced by
passion. Good news are greedily swallowed upon very slender evidence.
Our wishes magnify the probability of the event as well as the veracity
of the relater; and we believe as certain what at best is doubtful.

    Quel, che l’huom vede, amor li fa invisibile
    E l’invisibil fa veder amore.
    Questo creduto fu, che’l miser suole
    Dar facile credenza a’ quel, che vuole.
         _Orland. Furios. cant. 1. st. 56._

For the same reason, bad news gain also credit upon the slightest
evidence. Fear, if once alarmed, has the same effect with hope to
magnify every circumstance that tends to conviction. Shakespear, who
shows more knowledge of human nature than any of our philosophers, hath
in his _Cymbeline_[44] represented this bias of the mind: for he makes
the person who alone was affected with the bad news, yield to evidence
that did not convince any of his companions. And Othello[45] is
convinced of his wife’s infidelity from circumstances too slight to move
an indifferent person.

If the news interest us in so low a degree as to give place to reason,
the effect will not be quite the same. Judging of the probability or
improbability of the story, the mind settles in a rational conviction
either that it is true or not. But even in this case, it is observable,
that the mind is not allowed to rest in that degree of conviction which
is produced by rational evidence. If the news be in any degree
favourable, our belief is augmented by hope beyond its true pitch; and
if unfavourable, by fear.

The observation holds equally with respect to future events. If a future
event be either much wished or dreaded, the mind, to gratify its
passion, never fails to augment the probability beyond truth.

The credit which in all ages has been given to wonders and prodigies,
even the most absurd and ridiculous, is a strange phenomenon. Nothing
can be more evident than the following proposition, That the more
singular any event is, the more evidence is required. A familiar event
daily occurring, being in itself extremely probable, finds ready credit,
and therefore is vouched by the slightest evidence. But a strange and
rare event, contrary to the course of nature, ought not to be easily
believed. It starts up without connection, and without cause, so far as
we can discover; and to overcome the improbability of such an event, the
very strongest evidence is required. It is certain, however, that
wonders and prodigies are swallowed by the vulgar, upon evidence that
would not be sufficient to ascertain the most familiar occurrence. It
has been reckoned difficult to explain this irregular bias of the mind.
We are now no longer at a loss about its cause. The proneness we have to
gratify our passions, which displays itself upon so many occasions,
produces this irrational belief. A story of ghosts or fairies, told with
an air of gravity and truth, raiseth an emotion of wonder, and perhaps
of dread. These emotions tending strongly to their own gratification,
impose upon a weak mind, and impress upon it a thorough conviction
contrary to all sense and reason.

Opinion and belief are influenced by propensity as well as by passion;
for the mind is disposed to gratify both. A natural propensity is all we
have to convince us, that the operations of nature are uniform.
Influenced by this propensity, we often rashly conceive, that good or
bad weather will never have an end; and in natural philosophy, writers,
influenced by the same propensity, stretch commonly their analogical
reasonings beyond just bounds.

Opinion and belief are influenced by affection as well as by propensity.
The noted story of a fine lady and a curate viewing the moon through a
telescope is a pleasant illustration. I perceive, says the lady, two
shadows inclining to each other, they are certainly two happy lovers.
Not at all, replies the curate, they are two steeples of a cathedral.


_Concerning the methods which nature hath afforded for computing time
and space._

I introduce here the subject proposed, because it affords several
curious examples of the power of passion to adjust objects to its
gratification; a lesson that cannot be too much inculcated, as there is
not perhaps another bias in human nature that hath an influence so
universal, and that is so apt to make us wander from truth as well as
from justice.

I begin with time; and the question shortly is, What was the measure of
time before artificial measures were invented? and, What is the measure
at present when these are not at hand? I speak not of months and days,
which we compute by the moon and sun; but of hours, or in general of the
time that runs betwixt any two occurrences when there is not access to
the sun. The only natural measure we have, is the train of our thoughts;
and we always judge the time to be long or short, in proportion to the
number of perceptions that have passed through the mind during that
interval. This is indeed a very imperfect measure; because in the
different conditions of a quick or slow succession, the computation is
different. But however imperfect, it is the only measure by which a
person naturally calculates time; and this measure is applied on all
occasions, without regard to any occasional variation in the rate of

This natural measure of time, imperfect as it is, would however be
tolerable, did it labour under no other imperfection than the ordinary
variations that happen in the motion of our perceptions. But in many
particular circumstances, it is much more fallacious; and in order to
explain these distinctly, I must analize the subject. Time is generally
computed at two different periods; one while time is passing, another
after it is past. I shall consider these separately, with the errors to
which each of them is liable. It will be found that these errors often
produce very different computations of the same period of time. The
computation of time while it is passing, comes first in order. It is a
common and trite observation, That to lovers absence appears
immeasurably long, every minute an hour, and every hour a day. The same
computation is made in every case where we long for a distant event; as
where one is in expectation of good news, or where a profligate heir
watches for the death of an old man who keeps him from a great estate.
Opposite to these are instances not fewer in number. To a criminal the
interval betwixt sentence and execution appears miserably short; and the
same holds in every case where one dreads an approaching event. Of this
even a schoolboy can bear witness: the hour allowed him for play, moves,
in his apprehension, with a very swift pace: before he is thoroughly
engaged, the hour is gone. A reckoning founded on the number of ideas,
will never produce computations so regularly opposite to each other; for
a slow succession of ideas is not connected with our wishes, nor a quick
succession with our fears. What is it then, that, in the cases
mentioned, moves nature to desert her common measure for one very
different? I know not that this question ever has been resolved. The
false reckonings I have suggested are so common and familiar, that no
writer has thought of inquiring for their cause. And indeed, to enter
upon this matter at short hand, without preparation, might occasion some
difficulty. But to encounter the difficulty, we luckily are prepared by
what is said above about the power of passion to fit objects for its
gratification. Among the other circumstances that terrify a condemned
criminal, the short time he has to live is one. Terror, like our other
passions, prone to its gratification, adjusts every one of these
circumstances to its own tone. It magnifies in particular the shortness
of the interval betwixt the present time and that of the execution; and
forces upon the criminal a conviction that the hour of his death
approaches with a swift pace. In the same manner, among the other
distresses of an absent lover, the time of separation is a capital
circumstance, which for that reason is greatly magnified by his anxiety
and impatience. He imagines that the time of meeting comes on very slow,
or rather that it will never come. Every minute is thought of an
intolerable length. Here is a fair and I hope satisfactory account, why
we reckon time to be tedious when we long for a future event, and not
less fleet when we dread the event. This account is confirmed by other
instances. Bodily pain fixt to one part, produceth a slow train of
perceptions, which, according to the common measure of time, ought to
make it appear short. Yet we know, that in such a state time has the
opposite appearance. Bodily pain is always attended with a degree of
impatience and an anxiety to be rid of it, which make us judge every
minute to be an hour. The same holds where the pain shifts from place to
place; but not so remarkably, because such a pain is not attended with
the same degree of impatience. The impatience a man hath in travelling
through a barren country or in bad roads, makes him imagine, during the
journey, that time goes on with a very slow pace. We shall show
afterward that he makes a very different computation when his journey is
at an end.

How ought it to stand with a man who apprehends bad news? It will
probably be thought, that the case of this man resembles that of a
criminal, who, in reckoning the short time he has to live, imagines
every hour to be but a minute, and that time flies swift away. Yet the
computation here is directly opposite. Reflecting upon this difficulty,
there appears one capital circumstance in which the two cases differ.
The fate of the criminal is determined: in the case under consideration,
the man is still in suspense. Every one knows how distressful suspense
is to the bulk of mankind. Such distress we wish to get rid of at any
rate, even at the expence of bad news. This case therefore, upon a more
narrow inspection, resembles that of bodily pain. The present distress
in both cases, makes the time appear extremely tedious.

The reader probably will not be displeased, to have this branch of the
subject illustrated in a pleasant manner, by an author acquainted with
every maze of the human heart, and who bestows ineffable grace and
ornament upon every subject he handles.

     _Rosalinda._ I pray you, what is’t a clock?

     _Orlando._ You should ask me, what time o’ day; there’s no clock in
     the forest.

     _Ros._ Then there is no true lover in the forest; else, sighing
     every minute, and groaning every hour, would detect the lazy foot
     of Time, as well as a clock.

     _Orla._ Why not the swift foot of Time? Had not that been as

     _Ros._ By no means, Sir. Time travels in diverse paces with diverse
     persons. I’ll tell you who Time ambles withal, who Time trots
     withal, who Time gallops withal, and who he stands still withal.

     _Orla._ I pr’y thee whom doth he trot withal?

     _Ros._ Marry, he trots hard with a young maid, between the contract
     of her marriage, and the day it is solemnized: if the interim be
     but a se’ennight, Time’s pace is so hard that it seems the length
     of seven years.

     _Orla._ Who ambles Time withal?

     _Ros._ With a priest that lacks Latin, and a rich man that hath not
     the gout: for the one sleeps easily, because he cannot study; and
     the other lives merrily, because he feels no pain: the one lacking
     the burden of lean and wasteful learning; the other knowing no
     burthen of heavy tedious penury. These Time ambles withal.

     _Orla._ Whom doth he gallop withal?

     _Ros._ With a thief to the gallows: for though he go as softly as
     foot can fall, he thinks himself too soon there.

     _Orla._ Whom stays it still withall?

     _Ros._ With lawyers in the vacation; for they sleep between term
     and term, and then they perceive not how Time moves. _As you like
     it, act 3. sc. 8._

Reflecting upon the natural method of computing present time, it shows
how far from truth we may be led by the irregular power of passion. Nor
are our eyes immediately opened when the scene is past: the deception
continues while there remain any traces of the passion. But looking back
upon past time when the joy or distress is no longer remembered, the
computation we make is very different. In this situation, passion being
out of the question, we apply the ordinary measure, _viz._ the course of
our perceptions; and I shall now proceed to the errors that this measure
is subjected to. In order to have an accurate notion of this matter, we
must distinguish betwixt a train of perceptions, and a train of ideas.
Real objects make a strong impression, and are faithfully remembered.
Ideas, on the contrary, however entertaining at the time, are apt to
escape an after recollection. Hence it is, that in retrospection, the
time that was employed upon real objects, appears longer than the time
that was employed upon ideas. The former are more accurately recollected
than the latter; and we measure the time by the number that is
recollected. I proceed to particulars. After finishing a journey through
a populous country, the frequency of agreeable objects distinctly
recollected by the traveller, makes the time spent in the journey appear
to him longer than it was in reality. This is chiefly remarkable in a
first journey, where every object is new and makes a strong impression.
On the other hand, after finishing a journey through a barren country
thinly peopled, the time appears short, being measured by the number of
objects, which were few and far from interesting. Here in both instances
a reckoning is brought out, directly opposite to that made during the
journey. And this, by the way, serves to account for a thing which may
appear singular, that in a barren country the computed miles are always
longer, than near the capital, where the country is rich and populous.
The traveller has no natural measure of the space gone through, other
than the time bestowed upon it; nor any natural measure of the time,
other than the number of his perceptions. These being proportioned to
the number of visible objects, he imagines that he hath consumed more
time on his day’s journey, and accomplished a greater number of miles,
in a populous than in a waste country. By this method of calculation,
every computed mile in the former must in reality be shorter than in the

Again, the travelling with an agreeable companion produceth a short
computation both of the road and of time; especially if there be few
objects that demand attention, or if the objects be familiar. The case
is the same of young people at a ball, or of a joyous company over a
bottle. The ideas with which they have been entertained, being
transitory, escape the memory. After all is over, they reflect that they
have been much diverted, but scarce can say about what.

When one is totally occupied in any agreeable work that admits not many
objects, time runs on without observation; and upon an after
recollection must appear short, in proportion to the paucity of objects.
This is still more remarkable in close contemplation and in deep
thinking, where the train, composed wholly of ideas, proceeds with an
extreme slow pace. Not only are the ideas few in number, but are apt to
escape an after-reckoning. The like false reckoning of time may proceed
from an opposite state of mind. In a reverie, where ideas float at
random without making any impression, time goes on unheeded and the
reckoning is lost. A reverie may be so profound as to prevent the
recollection of any one idea: that the mind was busied in a train of
thinking, will in general be remembered; but what was the subject, has
quite escaped the memory. In such a case, we are altogether at a loss
about the time: we have no _data_ for making a computation. No cause
produceth so false a reckoning of time, as immoderate grief. The mind,
in this state, is violently attached to a single object, and admits not
a different thought. Any other object breaking in, is instantly
banished, so as scarce to give an appearance of succession. In a
reverie, we are uncertain of the time that is past: but in the example
now given, there is an appearance of certainty, so far as the natural
measure of time can be trusted, that the time must have been short, when
the perceptions are so few in number.

The natural measure of space appears more obscure than that of time. I
venture however to enter upon it, leaving it to be further prosecuted,
if it be thought of any importance.

The space marked out for a house, appears considerably larger after it
is divided into its proper parts. A piece of ground appears larger after
it is surrounded with a fence; and still larger when it is made a garden
and divided into different copartments.

On the contrary, a large plain looks less after it is divided into
parts. The sea must be excepted, which looks less from that very
circumstance of not being divided into parts.

A room of a moderate size appears larger when properly furnished. But
when a very large room is furnished, I doubt whether it be not lessened
in appearance.

A room of a moderate size, looks less by having a ceiling lower than in
proportion. The same low ceiling makes a very large room look larger
than it is in reality.

These experiments are by far too small a stock for a general theory. But
they are all that occur at present; and without attempting any regular
system, I shall satisfy myself with a few conjectures.

The largest angle of vision seems to me the natural measure of space.
The eye is the only judge; and in examining with it the size of any
plain, or the length of any line, the most accurate method that can be
taken is, to run over the object in parts. The largest part that can be
taken in at one stedfast look, determines the largest angle of vision;
and when that angle is given, one may institute a calculation by trying
with the eye how many of these parts are in the whole.

Whether this angle be the same in all men, I know not. The smallest
angle of vision is ascertained; and to ascertain the largest angle,
would not be less curious.

But supposing it known, it would be a very imperfect measure; perhaps
more so than the natural measure of time. It requires great steadiness
of eye to measure a line with any accuracy, by applying to it the
largest angle of distinct vision. And suppose this steadiness to be
acquired by practice, the measure will be imperfect from other
circumstances. The space comprehended under this angle, will be
different according to the distance, and also according to the situation
of the object. Of a perpendicular this angle will comprehend the
smallest space. The space will be larger in looking upon an inclined
plain; and will be larger or less in proportion to the degree of

This measure of space, like the measure of time, is liable to some
extraordinary errors from certain operations of the mind, which will
account for some of the erroneous judgements above mentioned. The space
marked out for a dwelling-house, where the eye is at any reasonable
distance, is seldom greater than can be seen at once without moving the
head. Divide this space into two or three equal parts, and none of these
parts will appear much less than what can be comprehended at one
distinct look; consequently each of them will appear equal, or nearly
equal, to what the whole did before the division. If, on the other hand,
the whole be very small, so as scarce to fill the eye at one look, its
divisions into parts will, I conjecture, make it appear still less. The
minuteness of the parts is, by an easy transition of ideas, transferred
to the whole. Each part hath a diminutive appearance, and by the
intimate connection of these parts with the whole, we pass the same
judgement upon all.

The space marked out for a small garden, is surveyed almost at one view;
and requires a motion of the eye so slight, as to pass for an object
that can be comprehended under the largest angle of distinct vision. If
not divided into too many parts, we are apt to form the same judgement
of each part; and consequently to magnify the garden in proportion to
the number of its parts.

A very large plain without protuberances, is an object not less rare
than beautiful; and in those who see it for the first time, it must
produce an emotion of wonder. This emotion, however slight, tending to
its own gratification, imposes upon the mind, and makes it judge that
the plain is larger than it is in reality. Divide this plain into parts,
and our wonder ceases. It is no longer considered as one great plain,
but as so many different fields or inclosures.

The first time one beholds the sea, it appears to be large beyond all
bounds. When it becomes familiar, and raises our wonder in no degree,
it appears less than it is in reality. In a storm it appears larger,
being distinguishable by the rolling waves into a number of great parts.
Islands scattered at considerable distances, add in appearance to its
size. Each intercepted part looks extremely large, and we silently apply
arithmetic to increase the appearance of the whole. Many islands
scattered at hand, give a diminutive appearance to the sea, by its
connection with its diminutive parts. The Lomond lake would undoubtedly
look larger without its islands.

Furniture increaseth in appearance the size of a small room, for the
same reason that divisions increase in appearance the size of a garden.
The emotion of wonder which is raised by a very large room without
furniture, makes it look larger than it is in reality. If completely
furnished, we view it in parts, and our wonder is not raised.

A low ceiling hath a diminutive appearance, which, by an easy transition
of ideas, is communicated to the length and breadth, provided they bear
any sort of proportion to the height. If they be out of all proportion,
the opposition seizes the mind, and raises some degree of wonder, which
makes the difference appear greater than it really is.


_Of the resemblance emotions bear to their causes._

That many emotions bear a certain resemblance to their causes, is a
truth that can be made clear by induction; though, so far as I know, the
observation has not been made by any writer. Motion, in its different
circumstances, is productive of feelings that resemble it. Sluggish
motion, for example, causeth a languid unpleasant feeling; slow uniform
motion, a feeling calm and pleasant; and brisk motion, a lively feeling
that rouses the spirits and promotes activity. A fall of water through
rocks, raises in the mind a tumultuous confused agitation, extremely
similar to its cause. When force is exerted with any effort, the
spectator feels a similar effort as of force exerted within his mind. A
large object swells the heart. An elevated object makes the spectator
stand erect.

Sounds also produce emotions that resemble them. A sound in a low key,
brings down the mind. Such a sound in a full tone, hath a certain
solemnity, which it communicates to the emotion produced by it. A sound
in a high key, chears the mind by raising it. Such a sound in a full
tone, both elevates and swells the mind.

Again, a wall or pillar that declines from the perpendicular, produceth
a painful emotion, as of a tottering and falling within the mind. An
emotion somewhat similar is produced by a tall pillar that stands so
ticklish as to look like falling. For this reason, a column upon a base
looks better than upon the naked ground. The base, which makes a part of
the column, inspires a feeling of firmness and stability. The ground
supporting a naked column, is too large to be considered as its base.
And for the same reason, a cube as a base, is preferred before a
cylinder, though the latter is a more beautiful figure. The angles of a
cube, being extended to a greater distance from the centre than the
circumference of a cylinder, give the column a greater appearance of
stability. This excludes not a different reason, that the base, shaft,
and capital, of a pillar, ought, for the sake of variety, to differ from
each other. If the shaft be round, the base and capital ought to be

A constrained posture, uneasy to the man himself, is disagreeable to the
spectator; which makes it a rule in painting, that the drapery ought not
to adhere to the body, but hang loose, that the figures may appear easy
and free in their movements. Hence the disagreeable figure of a French
dancing-master is one of Hogarth’s pieces. It is also ridiculous,
because the constraint is assumed and not forced.

The foregoing observation is not confined to emotions raised by still
life. It holds also in those which are raised by the qualities, actions,
and passions, of a sensible being. Love inspired by a fine woman,
assumes her qualities. It is sublime, soft, tender, severe, or gay,
according to its cause. This is still more remarkable in emotions raised
by human actions. It hath already been remarked[46], that any signal
instance of gratitude, beside procuring esteem for the author, raiseth
in the spectator a vague emotion of gratitude, which disposeth him to be
grateful. I now further remark, that this vague emotion, being of the
same kind with what produced the grateful action, hath a strong
resemblance to its cause. Courage exerted inspires the reader as well as
the spectator with a like emotion of courage. A just action fortifies
our love to justice, and a generous action rouses our generosity. In
short, with respect to all virtuous actions, it will be found by
induction, that they lead us to imitation by inspiring emotions
resembling the passions that produced these actions. And hence the
benefit of dealing in choice books and in choice company.

Grief as well as joy are infectious: the emotions they raise in a
spectator resemble them perfectly. Fear is equally infectious: and
hence in an army, fear, even from the slighted cause, making an
impression on a few, spreads generally through all, and becomes an
universal panic. Pity is similar to its cause. A parting scene betwixt
lovers or friends, produceth in the spectator a sort of pity, which is
tender like the distress. The anguish of remorse, produceth pity of a
harsh kind; and if the remorse be extreme, the pity hath a mixture of
horror. Anger I think is singular; for even where it is moderate and
causeth no disgust, it disposes not the spectator to anger in any
degree[47]. Covetousness, cruelty, treachery, and other vicious
passions, are so far from raising any emotion similar to themselves, to
incite a spectator to imitation, that they have an opposite effect. They
raise abhorrence, and fortify the spectator in his aversion to such
actions. When anger is immoderate, it cannot fail to produce the same


_Final causes of the more frequent emotions and passions._

It is a law in our nature, that we never act but by the impulse of
desire; which in other words is saying, that it is passion, by the
desire included in it, which determines the will. Hence in the conduct
of life, it is of the utmost importance, that our passions be directed
upon proper objects, tend to just and rational ends, and with relation
to each other be duly balanced. The beauty of contrivance, so
conspicuous in the human frame, is not confined to the rational part of
our nature, but is visible over the whole. Concerning the passions in
particular, however irregular, headstrong, and perverse, in an overly
view, they may appear, I propose to show, that they are by nature
adjusted and tempered with admirable wisdom, for the good of society as
well as for private good. This subject is extensive: but as the nature
of the present undertaking will not admit a complete discussion, it
shall suffice to give a few observations in general upon the sensitive
part of our nature, without regarding that strange irregularity of
passion discovered in some individuals. Such topical irregularities, if
I may use the term, cannot fairly be held an objection to the present
theory. We are frequently, it is true, misled by inordinate passion: but
we are also, and perhaps not less frequently, misled by wrong judgement.

In order to a distinct apprehension of the present subject, it must be
premised, that an agreeable object produceth always a pleasant emotion,
and a disagreeable object one that is painful. This is a general law of
nature, which admits not a single exception. Agreeableness in the object
or cause is indeed so essentially connected with pleasure in the emotion
its effect, that an agreeable object cannot be better defined, than by
its power of producing a pleasant emotion. Disagreeableness in the
object or cause, has the same necessary connection with pain in the
emotion produced by it.

From this preliminary it appears, that to inquire for what end an
emotion is made pleasant or painful, resolves into an inquiry for what
end its cause is made agreeable or disagreeable. And from the most
accurate induction it will be discovered, that no cause of an emotion is
made agreeable or disagreeable arbitrarily; but that these qualities are
so distributed as to answer wise and good purposes. It is an invincible
proof of the benignity of the Deity, that we are surrounded with things
generally agreeable, which contribute remarkably to our entertainment
and to our happiness. Some things are made disagreeable, such as a
rotten carcass, because they are noxious. Others, a dirty marsh, for
example, or a barren heath, are made disagreeable in order to excite our
industry. And with respect to the few things that are neither agreeable
nor disagreeable; it will be made evident, that their being left
indifferent is not a work of chance but of wisdom. Of such I shall have
occasion to give several instances.

Having attempted to assign the final causes of emotions and passions
considered as pleasant or painful, we proceed to the final causes of the
desires involved in them. This seems a work of some difficulty; for the
desires that accompany different passions have very different aims, and
seldom or never demand precisely the same gratification. One passion
moves us to cling to its object, one to fly from it; one passion impels
to action for our own good, and one for the good of others; one passion
prompts us to do good to ourselves or others, and one to do mischief,
frequently to others, and sometimes even to ourselves. Deliberating upon
this intricate subject, and finding an intimate correspondence betwixt
our desires and their objects, it is natural to think that the former
must be regulated in some measure by the latter. In this view, I begin
with desire directed upon an inanimate object.

Any pleasure we have in an agreeable object of this kind, is enjoyed by
the continuance of the pleasant impression it makes upon us; and
accordingly the desire involved in the pleasant emotion tends to that
end, and is gratified by dwelling upon the agreeable object. Hence such
an object may be properly termed _attractive_. Thus a flowing river, a
towering hill, a fine garden, are attractive objects. They fix the
attention of the spectator, by inspiring pleasant emotions, which are
gratified by adhering to these objects and enjoying them. On the other
hand, a disagreeable object of the same kind, raises in us a painful
emotion including a desire to turn from the object, which relieves us of
course from the pain; and hence such an object may be properly termed
_repulsive_. A monstrous birth, for example, a rotten carcass, a
confusion of jarring sounds, are repulsive. They repel the mind, by
inspiring painful or unpleasant emotions, which are gratified by flying
from such objects. Thus in general, with regard to inanimate objects,
the desire included in every pleasant passion tends to prolong the
pleasure, and the desire included in every painful passion tends to put
an end to the pain. Here the final cause is evident. Our desires, so
far, are modelled in such a manner as to correspond precisely to the
sensitive part of our nature, prone to happiness and averse to misery.
These operations of adhering to an agreeable inanimate object, and
flying from one that is disagreeable, are performed in the beginning of
life by means of desire impelling us, without the intervention of reason
or reflection. Reason and reflection directing self-love, become
afterward motives that unite their force with desire; because experience
informs us, that the adhering to agreeable objects and the flying from
those that are disagreeable, contribute to our happiness.

Sensible Beings considered as objects of passion, lead us into a more
complex theory. A sensible being that is agreeable by its attributes,
inspires us with a pleasant emotion; and the desire included in this
emotion has evidently different means of gratification. A man regarding
himself only, may be satisfied with viewing and contemplating this
being, precisely as if it were inanimate; or he may desire the more
generous gratification of making it happy. Were man altogether selfish,
it would be conformable to his nature, that he should indulge the
pleasant emotion without making any acknowledgement to the person who
gives him pleasure, more than to a pure air or temperate clime when he
enjoys these benefits. But as man is endued with a principle of
benevolence as well as of selfishness, he is prompted by his nature to
desire the good of every sensible being that gives him pleasure. And the
final cause of desire so directed, is illustrious. It contributes to a
man’s own happiness, by affording him more means of gratification than
he can have when his desire terminates upon himself alone; and at the
same time it tends eminently to improve the happiness of those with whom
he is connected. The directing our desires in this manner, occasions a
beautiful coalition of self-love with benevolence; for both are equally
promoted by the same internal impulse, and by the same external conduct.
And this consideration, by the way, ought to silence those minute
philosophers, who, ignorant of human nature, teach a most disgustful
doctrine. That to serve others unless with a view to our own good, is
weakness and folly; as if self-love only contributed to happiness and
not benevolence. The hand of God is too visible in the human frame, to
permit us to think seriously, that there ever can be any jarring or
inconsistency among natural principles, those especially of self-love
and benevolence, which regulate the bulk of our actions.

Next in order come sensible Beings that are in affliction or pain. It is
disagreeable to behold a person in distress; and therefore this object
must raise in the spectator an uneasy emotion. Were man purely a selfish
being, he would be prompted by his nature to turn from every object,
animate or inanimate, that gives him uneasiness. But the principle of
benevolence gives an opposite direction to his desire. It impels him to
afford relief; and by relieving the person from distress, his desire is
fully gratified. Our benevolence to a person in distress is inflamed
into an emotion of sympathy, signifying in Greek the painful emotion
that is raised in us by that person. Thus sympathy, though a painful
emotion, is in its nature attractive. And with respect to its final
cause, we can be at no loss. It not only tends to relieve a
fellow-creature from pain, but in its gratification is greatly more
pleasant than if it were repulsive.

We in the last place bring under consideration persons hateful by vice
or wickedness. Imagine a wretch who has lately perpetrated some horrid
crime. He is disagreeable to every spectator; and consequently raises in
every spectator a painful emotion. What is the natural gratification of
the desire that accompanies this painful emotion? I must here again
observe, that supposing man to be entirely a selfish being, he would be
prompted by his nature to relieve himself from the pain by averting his
eye, and banishing the criminal from his thoughts. But man is not so
constituted. He is composed of many principles, which, though seemingly
contradictory, are perfectly concordant. The principle of benevolence
influences his conduct, not less remarkably than that of selfishness.
And in order to answer the foregoing question, I must introduce a third
principle, not less remarkable in its influence than either of those
mentioned. It is that principle common to all, which prompts us to
punish those who do wrong. An envious, malicious, or cruel action, is
disagreeable to me even where I have no connection with the sufferer,
and raises in me the painful emotion of resentment. The gratification of
this emotion, when accompanied with desire, is directed by the principle
now unfolded. Being prompted by my nature to punish guilt as well as to
reward virtue, my desire is not gratified but by inflicting punishment.
I must chastise the wretch by indignation at least and hatred, if not
more severely. Here the final cause is self-evident.

An injury done to myself, touching me more than when done to others,
raises my resentment in a higher degree. The desire accordingly included
in this passion, is not satisfied with so slight a punishment as
indignation or hatred. It is not fully gratified without retaliation;
and the author must by my hand suffer mischief, as great at least as he
has done me. Neither can we be at any loss about the final cause of this
higher degree of resentment. The whole vigor of this passion is required
to secure individuals from the injustice and oppression of others[48].

A wicked or disgraceful action, is disagreeable not only to others, but
even to the delinquent himself. It raises in him as well as in others a
painful emotion including a desire of punishment. The painful emotion
which the delinquent feels, is distinguished by the name of _remorse_;
and in this case the desire he has to punish is directed against
himself. There cannot be imagined a better contrivance to deter us from
vice; for remorse is the severest of all punishments. This passion and
the desire of self-punishment derived from it, are touched delicately by

      _Menedemus._ Ubi comperi ex iis, qui ei fuere conscii,
    Domum revortor mœstus, atque animo fere
    Perturbato, atque incerto præ ægritudine:
    Adsido, adcurrunt servi, soccos detrahunt:
    Video alios festinare, lectos sternere,
    Cœnam adparare: pro se quisque sedulo
    Faciebat, quo illam mihi lenirent miseriam.
    Ubi video hæc, cœpi cogitare: Hem! tot mea
    Solius solliciti sint causa, ut me unum expleant?
    Ancillæ tot me vestiant? sumptus domi
    Tantos ego solus faciam? sed gnatum unicum,
    Quem pariter uti his decuit, aut etiam amplius,
    Quod illa ætas magis ad hæc utenda idonea ’st,
    Eum ego hinc ejeci miserum injustitia mea.
    Malo quidem me dignum quovis deputem,
    Si id faciam. nam usque dum ille vitam illam colet
    Inopem, carens patria ob meas injurias,
    Interea usque illi de me supplicium dabo:
    Laborans, quærens, parcens, illi serviens,
    Ita facio prorsus: nihil relinquo in ædibus,
    Nec vas, nec vestimentum: conrasi omnia,
    Ancillas, servos, nisi eos, qui opere rustico
    Faciundo facile sumptum exercerent suum:
    Omnes produxi ac vendidi: inscripsi ilico
    Ædeis mercede: quasi talenta ad quindecim
    Coëgi: agrum hunc mercatus sum: hic me exerceo.
    Decrevi tantisper me minus injuriæ,
    Chreme, meo gnato facere, dum fiam miser:
    Nec fas esse ulla me voluptate hic frui,
    Nisi ubi ille huc salvos redierit meus particeps.
         _Heautontimerumenos, act 1. sc. 1._

Otway reaches the same sentiment:

      _Monimia._ Let mischiefs multiply! let ev’ry hour
    Of my loath’d life yield me increase of horror!
    Oh let the sun to these unhappy eyes
    Ne’er shine again, but be eclips’d for ever!
    May every thing I look on seem a prodigy,
    To fill my soul with terror, till I quite
    Forget I ever had humanity,
    And grow a curser of the works of nature!
         _Orphan, act 4._

The cases mentioned are, where benevolence alone or where desire of
punishment alone, governs without a rival. And it was necessary to
handle these cases separately, in order to elucidate a subject which by
writers is left in great obscurity. But neither of these principles
operates always without rivalship. Cases may be figured, and cases
actually exist, where the same person is an object both of sympathy and
of desire to punish. Thus the sight of a profligate in the venereal
disease, over-run with botches and sores, actuates both principles.
While his distress fixes my attention, sympathy exerts itself; but so
soon as I think of his profligacy, hatred prevails, and a desire to
punish. This in general is the case of distress occasioned by immoral
actions that are not highly criminal. And if the distress and the
immoral action be in any proportion, sympathy and hatred
counterbalancing each other will not suffer me either to afford relief
or to inflict punishment. What then will be the result of the whole? The
principle of self-love solves the question. Abhorring an object so
loathsome, I naturally avert my eye, and walk off as fast as I can, in
order to be relieved from the pain.

The present subject gives birth to several other observations, for which
I could not find room above, without relaxing more from the strictness
of order and connection, than with safety could be indulged in
discoursing upon a matter that with difficulty is made perspicuous, even
with all the advantages of order and connection. These observations I
shall throw out loosely as they occur, without giving myself any further
trouble about method.

No action good or bad is altogether indifferent even to a mere
spectator. If good, it inspires esteem; and indignation, if wicked. But
it is remarkable, that these emotions seldom are accompanied with
desire. The abilities of man are limited, and he finds sufficient
employment, in relieving the distressed, in requiting his benefactors,
and in punishing those who wrong him, without moving out of his own
sphere for the benefit or chastisement of those with whom he has no

If the good qualities of others excite my benevolence, the same
qualities in myself must produce a similar effect in a superior degree,
upon account of the natural partiality every man hath for himself. This
increases self-love. If these qualities be of a high rank, they produce
a feeling of superiority, which naturally leads me to assume some sort
of government over others. Mean qualities, on the other hand, produce in
me a feeling of inferiority, which naturally leads me to submit to
others. Unless such feelings were distributed among individuals in
society by measure and proportion, there could be no natural
subordination of some to others, which is the principal foundation of

No other branch of the human constitution shows more visibly our
destination for society, nor tends more to our improvement, than
appetite for fame or esteem. The whole conveniencies of life being
derived from mutual aid and support in society, it ought to be a capital
aim, to form connections with others so strict and so extensive as to
produce a firm reliance on many for succour in time of need. Reason
dictates this lesson. But reason solely is not relied on in a matter of
such consequence. We are moved by a natural appetite, to be solicitous
about esteem and respect as we are about food when hungry. This
appetite, at the same time, is finely adjusted to the moral branch of
our constitution, by promoting all the moral virtues. For what
infallible means are there to attract love and esteem, other than a
virtuous course of life? If a man be just and beneficent, if he be
temperate modest and prudent, he will infallibly gain the esteem and
love of all who know him.

The communication of passion to related objects, is an illustrious
instance of the care of Providence, to extend social connections as far
as the limited nature of man can admit. This communication of passion is
so far unhappy as to spread the malevolent passions beyond their natural
bounds. But let it be remarked, that this unhappy effect regards savages
only, who give way to malevolent passions. Under the discipline of
society, these passions are subdued, and in a good measure eradicated.
In their place succeed the kindly affections, which, meeting with all
encouragement, take possession of the mind and govern our whole actions.
In this condition, the progress of passion along related objects, by
spreading the kindly affections through a multitude of individuals, hath
a glorious effect.

Nothing can be more entertaining to a rational mind, than the œconomy of
the human passions, of which I have attempted to give some faint notion.
It must however be confessed, that our passions, when they happen to
swell beyond their proper limits, take on a less regular appearance.
Reason may proclaim our duty, but the will influenced by passion, makes
gratification always welcome. Hence the power of passion, which, when in
excess, cannot be resisted but by the utmost fortitude of mind. It is
bent upon gratification; and where proper objects are wanting, it clings
to any object at hand without distinction. Thus joy inspired by a
fortunate event, is diffused upon every person around by acts of
benevolence; and resentment for an atrocious injury done by one out of
reach, seizes the first object that occurs to vent itself upon. Those
who believe in prophecies, even wish the accomplishment; and a weak mind
is disposed voluntarily to fulfil a prophecy, in order to gratify its
wish. Shakespear, whom no particle of human nature hath escaped, however
remote from common observation, describes this weakness:

    _K. Henry._ Doth any name particular belong
    Unto that lodging where I first did swoon?

    _Warwick._ ’Tis call’d _Jerusalem_, my Noble Lord.

    _K. Henry._ Laud be to God! even there my life must end.
    It hath been prophesy’d to me many years,
    I should not die but in Jerusalem,
    Which vainly I suppos’d the holy land.
    But bear me to that chamber, there I’ll lie:
    In that Jerusalem shall Henry die.
         _Second part, Henry IV. act 4. sc. last._

I could not deny myself the amusement of the foregoing observation,
though it doth not properly come under my plan. The irregularities of
passion proceeding from peculiar weaknesses and biasses, I do not
undertake to justify; and of these we have had many examples.[49] It is
sufficient that passions common to all and as generally exerted, are
made subservient to beneficial purposes. I shall only observe, that in a
polished society instances of irregular passions are rare, and that
their mischief doth not extend far.



Having discoursed in general of emotions and passions, I proceed to a
more narrow inspection of some particulars that serve to unfold the
principles of the fine arts. It is the province of a writer upon ethics,
to give a full enumeration of all the passions; and of each separately
to assign the nature, the cause, the gratification, and the effects. But
a treatise of ethics is not my province. I carry my view no farther than
to the elements of criticism, in order to show that the fine arts are a
subject of reasoning as well as of taste. An extensive work would be ill
suited to a design so limited; and to keep within moderate bounds, the
following plan may contribute. It has already been observed, that things
are the causes of emotions, by means of their properties and
attributes[50]. This furnisheth a hint for distribution. Instead of a
painful and tedious examination of the several passions and emotions, I
propose to confine my inquiries to such attributes, relations, and
circumstances, as in the fine arts are chiefly employed to raise
agreeable emotions. Attributes of single objects, as the most simple,
shall take the lead; to be followed with particulars that depend on the
relations of objects, and are not found in any one object singly
considered. Dispatching next some coincident matters, I approach nearer
to practice, by applying the principles unfolded in the foregoing parts
of the work. This is a general view of the intended method; reserving
however a privilege to vary it in particular instances, where a
different method may be more commodious. I begin with beauty, the most
noted of all the qualities that belong to single objects.

The term _beauty_, in its native signification, is appropriated to
objects of sight. Objects of the other senses may be agreeable, such as
the sounds of musical instruments, the smoothness and softness of some
surfaces: but the agreeableness denominated _beauty_ belongs to objects
of sight.

Of all the objects of the external senses, an object of sight is the
most complex. In the very simplest, colour is perceived, figure, and
length breadth and thickness. A tree is composed of a trunk, branches,
and leaves. It has colour, figure, size, and sometimes motion. By means
of each of these particulars, separately considered, it appears
beautiful: how much more so, when they enter all into one complex
perception? The beauty of the human figure is extraordinary, being a
composition of numberless beauties arising from the parts and qualities
of the object, various colours, various motions, figure, size, _&c._;
all uniting in one complex perception, and striking the eye with
combined force. Hence it is, that beauty, a quality so remarkable in
visible objects, lends its name to express every thing that is eminently
agreeable. Thus, by a figure of speech, we say a beautiful sound, a
beautiful thought or expression, a beautiful theorem, a beautiful event,
a beautiful discovery in art or science. But as figurative expression
is not our present theme, this chapter is confined to beauty in its
genuine signification.

It is natural to suppose, that a perception so various as that of
beauty, comprehending sometimes many particulars, sometimes few, should
occasion emotions equally various. And yet all the various emotions of
beauty maintain one general character of sweetness and gaiety.

Considering attentively the beauty of visible objects, we discover two
kinds. One may be termed _intrinsic_ beauty, because it is discovered in
a single object viewed apart without relation to any other object. The
examples above given, are of that kind. The other may be termed
_relative_ beauty, being founded on the relation of objects. The former
is a perception of sense merely; for to perceive the beauty of a
spreading oak or of a flowing river, no more is required but singly an
act of vision. The latter is accompanied with an act of understanding
and reflection; for of a fine instrument or engine, we perceive not the
relative beauty, until we be made acquainted with its use and
destination. In a word, intrinsic beauty is ultimate: relative beauty is
that of means relating to some good end or purpose. These different
beauties agree in one capital circumstance, that both are equally
perceived as spread upon the object. This will be readily admitted with
respect to intrinsic beauty; but is not so obvious with respect to the
other. The utility of the plough, for example, may make it an object of
admiration or of desire; but why should utility make it appear
beautiful? A principle mentioned above[51], will explain this doubt. The
beauty of the effect, by an easy transition of ideas, is transferred to
the cause, and is perceived as one of the qualities of the cause. Thus a
subject void of intrinsic beauty, appears beautiful from its utility. An
old Gothic tower that has no beauty in itself, appears beautiful,
considered as proper to defend against an enemy. A dwelling-house void
of all regularity, is however beautiful in the view of convenience; and
the want of form or symmetry in a tree, will not prevent its appearing
beautiful, if it be known to produce good fruit.

When these two beauties concur in any object, it appears delightful.
Every member of the human body possesses both in a high degree. The
slender make of a horse destined for running, pleases every taste;
partly from symmetry, and partly from utility.

The beauty of utility, being proportioned accurately to the degree of
utility, requires no illustration. But intrinsic beauty, so complex as I
have said, cannot be handled distinctly without being analized into its
constituent parts. If a tree be beautiful by means of its colour, its
figure, its size, its motion, it is in reality possessed of so many
different beauties, which ought to be examined separately, in order to
have a clear notion of the whole. The beauty of colour is too familiar
to need explanation. The beauty of figure requires an accurate
discussion, for in it many circumstances are involved. When any portion
of matter is viewed as a whole, the beauty of its figure arises from
regularity and simplicity. Viewing the parts with relation to each
other, uniformity, proportion, and order, contribute to its beauty. The
beauty of motion deserves a chapter by itself; and another chapter is
destined for grandeur, being distinguishable from beauty in a strict
sense. For the definitions of regularity, uniformity, proportion, and
order, if thought necessary, I remit my reader to the appendix at the
end of the book. Upon simplicity I must make a few cursory observations,
such as may be of use in examining the beauty of single objects.

A multitude of objects crowding into the mind at once, disturb the
attention, and pass without making any impression, or any lasting
impression. In a group, no single object makes the figure it would do
apart, when it occupies the whole attention[52]. For the same reason,
even a single object, when it divides the attention by the multiplicity
of its parts, equals not, in strength of impression, a more simple
object comprehended in a single view. Parts extremely complex must be
considered in portions successively; and a number of impressions in
succession, which cannot unite because not simultaneous, never touch the
mind like one entire impression made as it were at one stroke. This
justifies simplicity in works of art, as opposed to complicated
circumstances and crowded ornaments. There is an additional reason for
simplicity, in works that make an impression of dignity or elevation.
The mind attached to beauties of a high rank, cannot descend to inferior
beauties. And yet, notwithstanding these reasons, we find profuse
decoration prevailing in works of art. But this is no argument against
simplicity, For authors and architects who cannot reach the higher
beauties, endeavour to supply their want of genius by dealing in those
that are inferior. In all ages, the best writers and artists have been
governed by a taste for simplicity.

These things premised, I proceed to examine the beauty of figure, as
arising from the above-mentioned particulars, _viz._ regularity,
uniformity, proportion, order, and simplicity. To exhaust this subject,
would of itself require a large volume. I limit myself to a few cursory
remarks, as matter for future disquisition. To inquire why an object, by
means of the particulars mentioned, appears beautiful, would I am afraid
be a vain attempt. It seems the most probable opinion, that the nature
of man was originally framed with a relish for them, in order to answer
wise and good purposes. The final causes have not hitherto been
ascertained, though they are not probably beyond our reach. One thing is
clear, that regularity, uniformity, order, and simplicity, contribute
each of them to readiness of apprehension; and enable us to form more
distinct images of objects, than can be done with the utmost attention
where these particulars are not found. This final cause is, I
acknowledge, too slight, to account satisfactorily for a taste that
makes a figure so illustrious in the nature of man. That this branch of
our constitution hath a purpose still more important, we have great
reason to believe. With respect to proportion, I am still less
successful. In several instances, accurate proportion is connected with
utility. This in particular is the case of animals; for those that are
the best proportioned, are the strongest and most active. But instances
are still more numerous, where the proportions we relish the most, have
no connection, so far as we see, with utility. Writers on architecture
insist much upon the proportions of a column; and assign different
proportions to the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian. But no architect will
maintain, that the most accurate proportions contribute more to use,
than several that are less accurate and less agreeable. Neither will it
be maintained, that the proportions assigned for the length breadth and
height of rooms, tend to make them the more commodious. It appears then,
so far as we can discover, that we have a taste for proportion
independent altogether of utility. One thing indeed is certain, that any
external object proportioned to our taste, is delightful. This furnishes
a hint. May it not be thought a good final cause of proportion, that it
contributes to our entertainment? The author of our nature has given
many signal proofs, that this end is not below his care. And if so, why
should we hesitate in assigning this as an additional final cause of
regularity, and the other particulars above mentioned? We may be
confirmed in this thought, by reflecting, that our taste, with respect
to these, is not occasional or accidental, but uniform and universal,
making an original branch of human nature.

One might fill a volume with the effects that are produced by the
endless combinations of the principles of beauty. I have room only for a
slight specimen, confined to the simplest figures. A circle and a square
are each of them perfectly regular, being equally confined to a precise
form, and admitting not the slightest variation. A square however is
less beautiful than a circle, because it is less simple. A circle has
parts as well as a square; but its parts not being distinct like those
of a square, it makes one entire impression; whereas the attention is
divided among the sides and angles of a square. The effect of simplicity
may be illustrated by another example. A square, though not more
regular than a hexagon or octagon, is more beautiful than either; for
what other reason, than that a square is more simple, and the attention
less divided? This reasoning will appear still more solid when we
consider any regular polygon of very many sides; for of such figure the
mind can never have any distinct perception. Simplicity thus contributes
to beauty.

A square is more beautiful than a parallelogram. The former exceeds the
latter in regularity and in uniformity of parts. But this holds with
respect to intrinsic beauty only; for in many instances, utility comes
in to cast the balance on the side of the parallelogram. This figure for
the doors and windows of a dwelling-house, is preferred because of
utility; and here we find the beauty of utility prevailing over that of
regularity and uniformity.

A parallelogram again depends, for its beauty, on the proportion of its
sides. The beauty is lost by a great inequality of sides. It is also
lost, on the other hand, by the approximation toward equality.
Proportion in this circumstance degenerates into imperfect uniformity;
and the figure upon the whole appears an unsuccessful attempt toward a

An equilateral triangle yields not to a square in regularity nor in
uniformity of parts, and it is more simple. But an equilateral triangle
is less beautiful than a square, which must be owing to inferiority of
order in the position of its parts. The sides of an equilateral triangle
incline to each other in the same angle, which is the most perfect order
they are susceptible of. But this order is obscure, and far from being
so perfect as the parallelism of the sides of a square. Thus order
contributes to the beauty of visible objects, not less than simplicity
and regularity.

A parallelogram exceeds an equilateral triangle in the orderly
disposition of its parts; but being inferior in uniformity and
simplicity, it is less beautiful.

Uniformity is singular in one capital circumstance, that it is apt to
disgust by excess. A number of things contrived for the same use, such
as chairs spoons, _&c._ cannot be too uniform. But a scrupulous
uniformity of parts in a large garden or field, is far from being
agreeable. Uniformity among connected objects, belongs not to the
present subject. It is handled in the chapter of uniformity and variety.

In all the works of nature, simplicity makes an illustrious figure. The
works of the best artists are directed by it. Profuse ornament in
painting, gardening, or architecture, as well as in dress and language,
shows a mean or corrupted taste.

    Poets, like painters, thus unskill’d to trace
    The naked nature and the living grace,
    With gold and jewels cover ev’ry part,
    And hide with ornaments their want of art.
         _Pope’s Essay on criticism._

No one property recommends a machine more than its simplicity; not
singly for better answering its purpose, but by appearing in itself more
beautiful. Simplicity hath a capital effect in behaviour and manners; no
other particular contributing more to gain esteem and love. The
artificial and intricate manners of modern times, have little of
dignity in them. General theorems, abstracting from their importance,
are delightful by their simplicity, and by the easiness of their
application to a variety of cases. We take equal delight in the laws of
motion, which, with the greatest simplicity, are boundless in their

A gradual progress from simplicity to complex forms and profuse
ornament, seems to be the fate of all the fine arts; resembling
behaviour, which from original candor and simplicity has degenerated
into artificial refinements. At present, written productions are crowded
with words, epithets, figures, _&c._ In music, sentiment is neglected,
for the luxury of harmony, and for difficult movement which surprises in
its execution. In _taste_ properly so called, poignant sauces with
complicated mixtures of different favours, prevail among people of
condition. The French, accustomed to the artificial red on their women’s
cheeks, think the modest colouring of nature displayed on a fine face
altogether insipid.

The same tendency appears in the progress of the arts among the
ancients. Of this we have traces still remaining in architecture. Some
vestiges of the oldest Grecian buildings prove them to be of the Doric
order. The Ionic succeeded, and seems to have been the favourite order,
while architecture was in its height of glory. The Corinthian came next
in vogue: and in Greece, the buildings of that order appear mostly to
have been erected after the Romans got footing there. At last came the
Composite with all its extravagancies, where proportion is sacrificed to
finery and crowded ornament.

But what taste is to prevail next? for fashion is in a continual flux,
and taste must vary with it. After rich and profuse ornaments become
familiar, simplicity appears by contrast lifeless and insipid. This
would be an unsurmountable obstruction, should any man of genius and
taste endeavour to restore ancient simplicity.

In reviewing what is said above, I am under some apprehension of an
objection, which, as it may possibly occur to the reader, ought to be
obviated. A mountain, it will be observed, is an agreeable object,
without so much as the appearance of regularity; and a chain of
mountains still more agreeable, without being arranged in any order. But
these facts considered in a proper light, afford not an objection.
Regularity, order, and uniformity, are intimately connected with beauty;
and in this view only, have I treated them. Every regular object, for
example, must in respect of its regularity be beautiful. But I have not
said, that regularity, order, and uniformity, are essential to beauty,
so as that it cannot exist without them. The contrary appears in the
beauty of colour. Far less have I said, that an object cannot be
agreeable in any respect independent of these qualities. Grandeur, as
distinguished from beauty, requires very little regularity. This will
appear more fully when that article is handled. In the mean time, to
show the difference betwixt beauty and grandeur with respect to
regularity, I shall give a few examples. Imagine a small body, let it be
a globe, in a continual flux of figure, from the most perfect regularity
till there remain no appearance of that quality. The beauty of this
globe, depending on its regular figure, will gradually wear away with
its regularity; and when it is no longer regular, it no longer will
appear beautiful. The next example shall be of the same globe, gradually
enlarging its size, but retaining its figure. In this body, we at first
perceive the beauty of regularity only. But so soon as it begins to
swell into a great size, it appears agreeable by its greatness, which
joins with the beauty of regularity to make it a delightful object. In
the last place, let it be imagined, that the figure as well as the
quantity of matter are in a continual flux; and that the body, while it
increases in size, becomes less and less regular, till it lose
altogether the appearance of that quality. In this case, the beauty of
regularity wearing off gradually, gives place to an agreeableness of a
different sort, _viz._ that of greatness: and at last the emotion
arising from greatness will be in perfection, when the beauty of
regularity is gone. Hence it is, that in a large object the want of
regularity is not much regarded by the spectator who is struck with its
grandeur. A swelling eminence is agreeable, though not strictly
regular. A towering hill is delightful, if it have but any distant
resemblance of a cone. A small surface ought to be smooth; but in a
wide-extended plain, considerable inequalities are overlooked. This
observation holds equally in works of art. The slightest irregularity in
a house of a moderate size hurts the eye; while the mind, struck with
the grandeur of a superb edifice, which occupies it totally, cannot bear
to descend to its irregularities unless extremely gross. In a large
volume we pardon many defects that would make an epigram intolerable. In
short, the observation holds in general, that beauty is connected with
regularity in great objects as well as in small; but with a remarkable
difference, that in passing from small to great, regularity is less and
less required.

The distinction betwixt primary and secondary qualities in matter, seems
now fully established. Heat and cold, though seeming to exist in bodies,
are discovered to be effects caused by these bodies in a sensitive
being. Colour, which the eye represents as spread upon a substance, has
no existence but in the mind of the spectator. Perceptions of this
kind, which, by a delusion of sense, are attributed to external
subjects, are termed _secondary qualities_, in contradistinction to
figure, extension, solidity, which are primary qualities, and which are
not separable, even in imagination, from the subjects they belong to.
This suggests a curious inquiry, Whether beauty be a primary or only a
secondary quality of objects? The question is easily determined with
respect to the beauty of colour; for if colour be a secondary quality
existing no where but in the mind of the spectator, its beauty must be
of the same kind. This conclusion must also hold with respect to the
beauty of utility, which is plainly a conception of the mind, arising
not merely from sight, but from reflecting that the thing is fitted for
some good end or purpose. The question is more intricate with respect to
the beauty of regularity. If regularity be a primary quality, why not
also its beauty? That this is not a good consequence, will appear from
considering, that beauty, in its very conception, refers to a
percipient; for an object is said to be beautiful, for no other reason
but that it appears so to a spectator. The same piece of matter which to
man appears beautiful, may possibly to another being appear ugly. Beauty
therefore, which for its existence depends upon the percipient as much
as upon the object perceived, cannot be an inherent property of either.
What else then can it be, but a perception in the mind occasioned by
certain objects? The same reasoning is applicable to the beauty of
order, of uniformity, of grandeur. Accordingly, it may be pronounced in
general, that beauty in no case whatever is a real quality of matter.
And hence it is wittily observed by the poet, that beauty is not in the
countenance, but in the lover’s eye. This reasoning is undoubtedly
solid: and the only cause of doubt or hesitation is, that we are taught
a different lesson by sense. By a singular determination of nature, we
perceive both beauty and colour as belonging to the object; and, like
figure or extension, as inherent properties. This mechanism is uncommon;
and when nature, to fulfil her intention, chuseth any singular method
of operation, we may be certain of some final cause that cannot be
reached by ordinary means. It appears to me, that a perception of beauty
in external objects, is requisite to attach us to them. Doth not this
mechanism, in the first place, greatly promote industry, by prompting a
desire to possess things that are beautiful? Doth it not further join
with utility, in prompting us to embellish our houses and enrich our
fields? These however are but slight effects, compared with the
connections which are formed among individuals in society by means of
this singular mechanism. The qualifications of the head and heart, are
undoubtedly the most solid and most permanent foundations of such
connections. But as external beauty lies more in view, and is more
obvious to the bulk of mankind than the qualities now mentioned, the
sense of beauty possesses the more universal influence in forming these
connections. At any rate, it concurs in an eminent degree with mental
qualifications, to produce social intercourse, mutual good-will, and
consequently mutual aid and support, which are the life of society.

It must not however be overlooked, that this sense doth not tend to
advance the interests of society, but when in a due mean with respect to
strength. Love in particular arising from a sense of beauty, loses, when
excessive, its sociable character[53]. The appetite for gratification,
prevailing over affection for the beloved object, is ungovernable; and
tends violently to its end, regardless of the misery that must follow.
Love in this state is no longer a sweet agreeable passion. It becomes
painful like hunger or thirst; and produceth no happiness but in the
instant of fruition. This discovery suggests a most important lesson,
that moderation in our desires and appetites, which fits us for doing
our duty, contributes at the same time the most to happiness. Even
social passions, when moderate, are more pleasant than when they swell
beyond proper bounds.


Grandeur and Sublimity.

Nature hath not more remarkably distinguished us from the other animals
by an erect posture, than by a capacious and aspiring mind, inclining us
to every thing great and elevated. The ocean, the sky, or any large
object, seizes the attention, and makes a strong impression[54]. Robes
of state are made large and full to draw respect. We admire elephants
and whales for their magnitude, notwithstanding their unwieldiness.

The elevation of an object affects us not less than its magnitude. A
high place is chosen for the statue of a deity or hero. A tree growing
upon the brink of a precipice viewed from the plain below, affords by
that circumstance an additional pleasure. A throne is erected for the
chief magistrate, and a chair with a high seat for the president of a

In some objects, greatness and elevation concur to make a complicated
impression. The Alps and the pike of Teneriff are proper examples; with
the following difference, that in the former greatness seems to prevail,
elevation in the latter.

The emotions raised by great and by elevated objects, are clearly
distinguishable, not only in the internal feeling, but even in their
external expressions. A great object dilates the breast, and makes the
spectator endeavour to enlarge his bulk. This is remarkable in persons,
who, neglecting delicacy in behaviour, give way to nature without
reserve. In describing a great object, they naturally expand themselves
by drawing in air with all their force. An elevated object produces a
different expression. It makes the spectator stretch upward and stand a
tiptoe. Great and elevated objects considered with relation to the
emotions produced by them, are termed _grand_ and _sublime_. Grandeur
and sublimity have a double signification. They generally signify the
quality or circumstance in the objects by which the emotions are
produced; sometimes the emotions themselves.

Whether magnitude singly in an object of sight, have the effect to
produce an emotion distinguishable from the beauty or deformity of that
object; or whether it be only a circumstance modifying the beauty or
deformity, is an intricate question. If magnitude produce an emotion of
its own distinguishable from others, this emotion must either be
pleasant or painful. But this seems to be contradicted by experience;
for magnitude, as it would appear, contributes in some instances to
beauty, in some to deformity. A hill, for instance, is agreeable, and a
great mountain still more so. But an ugly monster, the larger, the more
horrid. Greatness in an enemy, great power, great courage, serve but to
augment our terror. Hath not this an appearance as if grandeur were not
an emotion distinct from all others, but only a circumstance that
qualifies beauty and deformity?

I am notwithstanding satisfied, that grandeur is an emotion, not only
distinct from all others, but in every circumstance pleasant. These
propositions must be examined separately. I begin with the former, and
shall endeavour to prove, that magnitude produceth a peculiar emotion
distinguishable from all others. Magnitude is undoubtedly a real
property of bodies, not less than figure, and more than colour. Figure
and colour, even in the same body, produce separate emotions, which are
never misapprehended one for the other. Why should not magnitude produce
an emotion different from both? That it has this effect, will be evident
from a plain experiment of two bodies, one great and one little, which
produce different emotions, though they be precisely the same as to
figure and colour. There is indeed an obscurity in this matter,
occasioned by the following circumstance, that the grandeur and beauty
of the same object mix so intimately as scarce to be distinguished. But
the beauty of colour comes in happily to enable us to make the
distinction. For the emotion of colour unites with that of figure, not
less intimately than grandeur does with either. Yet the emotion of
colour is distinguishable from that of figure; and so is grandeur,
attentively considered: though when these three emotions are blended
together, they are scarce felt as different emotions.

Next, that grandeur is an emotion in every circumstance pleasant,
appears from the following considerations. Magnitude or greatness,
abstracted from all other circumstances, swells the heart and dilates
the mind. We feel this to be a pleasant effect; and we feel no such
effect in contracting the mind upon little objects. This may be
illustrated by considering grandeur in an enemy. Beauty is an agreeable
quality, whether in a friend or enemy; and when the emotion it raiseth
is mixed with resentment against an enemy, it must have the effect to
moderate our resentment. In the same manner, grandeur in an enemy,
undoubtedly softens and blunts our resentment. Grandeur indeed may
indirectly and by reflection produce an unpleasant effect. Grandeur in
an enemy, like courage, may increase our fear, when we consider the
advantage he hath over us by this quality. But the same indirect effect
may be produced by many other agreeable qualities, such as beauty or

The magnitude of an ugly object, serves, it is true, to augment our
horror or aversion. But this proceeds not from magnitude separately
considered. It proceeds from the following circumstance, that in a large
object a great quantity of ugly parts are presented to view.

The same chain of reasoning is so obviously applicable to sublimity,
that it would be losing time to show the application. Grandeur therefore
and sublimity shall hereafter be considered both of them as pleasant

The pleasant emotion raised by large objects, has not escaped the poets:

    ---- He doth bestride the narrow world
    Like a Colossus; and we petty men
    Walk under his huge legs.
         _Julius Cæsar, act I. sc. 3._

      _Cleopatra._ I dreamt there was an Emp’ror Antony;
    Oh such another sleep, that I might see
    But such another man!
    His face was as the heav’ns: and therein stuck
    A sun and moon, which kept their course and lighted
    The little O o’ th’ earth.
    His legs bestrid the ocean, his rear’d arm
    Crested the world.
         _Antony and Cleopatra, act 5. sc. 3._

    ---- Majesty
    Dies not alone, but, like a gulf, doth draw
    What’s near it with it. It’s a massy wheel
    Fixt on the summit of the highest mount;
    To whose huge spokes, ten thousand lesser things
    Are mortis’d and adjoin’d; which when it falls,
    Each small annexment, petty consequence,
    Attends the boist’rous ruin.
         _Hamlet, act 3. sc. 8._

The poets have also made good use of the emotion produced by the
elevated situation of an object.

    Quod si me lyricis varibus inferes,
    Sublimi feriam sidera vertice.
         _Horace, Carm. l. 1. ode 1._

    Oh thou! the earthly author of my blood,
    Whose youthful spirit, in me regenerate,
    Doth with a twofold vigour lift me up,
    To reach at victory above my head.
         _Richard II. act 1. sc. 4._

    Northumberland, thou ladder wherewithal
    The mounting Bolingbroke ascends my throne.
         _Richard II. act 5. sc. 2._

    _Anthony._ Why was I rais’d the meteor of the world,
    Hung in the skies and blazing as I travell’d,
    Till all my fires were spent; and then cast downward
    To be trod out by Cæsar?
         _Dryden, All for love, act 1._

Though the quality of magnitude produceth a pleasant emotion, we must
not conclude that the opposite quality of littleness produceth a painful
emotion. It would be unhappy for man, were an object disagreeable from
its being of a small size merely, when he is surrounded with so many
objects of that kind. The same observation is applicable to elevation of
place. A body placed high is agreeable; but the same body placed low, is
not by that circumstance rendered disagreeable. Littleness, and lowness
of place, are precisely similar in the following particular, that they
neither give pleasure nor pain. And in this may visibly be discovered
peculiar attention in fitting the internal constitution of man to his
external circumstances. Were littleness, and lowness of place agreeable,
greatness and elevation could not be so. Were littleness, and lowness of
place disagreeable, they would occasion uninterrupted uneasiness.

The difference betwixt great and little with respect to agreeableness,
is remarkably felt in a series when we pass gradually from the one
extreme to the other. A mental progress from the capital to the kingdom,
from that to Europe--to the whole earth--to the planetary system--to the
universe, is extremely pleasant: the heart swells and the mind is
dilated, at every step. The returning in an opposite direction is not
positively painful, though our pleasure lessens at every step, till it
vanish into indifference. Such a progress may sometimes produce a
pleasure of a different sort, which arises from taking a narrower and
narrower inspection. The same observation is applicable to a progress
upward and downward. Ascent is pleasant because it elevates us. But
descent is never painful: it is for the most part pleasant from a
different cause, that it is according to the order of nature. The fall
of a stone from any height, is extremely agreeable by its accelerated
motion. I feel it pleasant to descend from a mountain: the descent is
natural and easy. Neither is looking downward painful. On the contrary,
to look down upon objects, makes part of the pleasure of elevation.
Looking down becomes then only painful when the object is so far below
as to create dizziness: and even when that is the case, we feel a sort
of pleasure mixt with the pain. Witness Shakespear’s description of
Dover cliffs:

    ---- How fearful
    And dizzy ’tis, to cast one’s eyes so low!
    The crows and choughs, that wing the midway-air,
    Shew scarce so gross as beetles. Half-way down
    Hangs one, that gathers samphire; dreadful trade!
    Methinks he seems no bigger than his head.
    The fishermen that walk upon the beach,
    Appear like mice; and yon tall anchoring bark
    Diminish’d to her cock; her cock, a buoy
    Almost too small for sight. The murmuring surge,
    That on th’ unnumber’d idle pebbles chafes,
    Cannot be heard so high. I’ll look no more,
    Lest my brain turn, and the deficient sight
    Topple down headlong.
         _King Lear, act 4. sc. 6._

An observation is made above, that the emotions of grandeur and
sublimity are nearly allied. Hence it is, that the one term is
frequently put for the other. I give an example. An increasing series of
numbers produceth an emotion similar to that of mounting upward, and for
that reason is commonly termed _an ascending series_. A series of
numbers gradually decreasing, produceth an emotion similar to that of
going downward, and for that reason is commonly termed _a descending
series_. We talk familiarly of going up to the capital, and of going
down to the country. From a lesser kingdom we talk of going up to a
greater, whence the _anabasis_ in the Greek language when one travels
from Greece to Persia. We discover the same way of speaking in the
language even of Japan[55]; and its universality proves it the offspring
of a natural feeling.

The foregoing observation leads us naturally to consider grandeur and
sublimity in a figurative sense, and as applicable to the fine arts.
Hitherto I have considered these terms in their proper meaning, as
applicable to objects of sight only: and I thought it of importance, to
bestow some pains upon that article; because, generally speaking, the
figurative sense of a word is derived from its proper sense; which will
be found to hold in the present subject. Beauty in its original
signification, is confined to objects of sight. But as many other
objects, intellectual as well as moral, raise emotions resembling that
of beauty, the resemblance of the effects prompts us naturally to extend
the term _beauty_ to these objects. This equally accounts for the terms
_grandeur_ and _sublimity_ taken in a figurative sense. Every emotion,
from whatever cause proceeding, that resembles an emotion of grandeur or
elevation, is called by the same name. Thus generosity is said to be an
elevated emotion, as well as great courage; and that firmness of soul
which is superior to misfortunes, obtains the peculiar name of
_magnanimity_. On the other hand, every emotion that contracts the mind
and fixeth it upon things trivial or of no importance, is termed _low_,
by its resemblance to an emotion produced by a little or low object of
sight. Thus an appetite for trifling amusements, is called _a low
taste_. The same terms are applied to characters and actions. We talk
familiarly of an elevated genius, of a great man, and equally so of
littleness of mind. Some actions are great and elevated, others are low
and groveling. Sentiments and even expressions are characterised in the
same manner. An expression or sentiment that raises the mind, is
denominated _great_ or _elevated_; and hence the sublime[56] in poetry.
In such figurative terms, the distinction is lost that is made betwixt
_great_ and _elevated_ in their proper sense; for the resemblance is not
so entire, as to preserve these terms distinct in their figurative
application. We carry this figure still farther. Elevation in its proper
sense, includes superiority of place; and lowness, inferiority of place.
Hence a man of superior talents, of superior rank, of inferior parts, of
inferior taste, and such like. The veneration we have for our ancestors
and for the ancients in general, being similar to the emotion produced
by an elevated object of sight, justifies the figurative expression, of
the ancients being raised above us, or possessing a superior place. And
we may remark by the way, that as words are intimately connected with
ideas, many, by this form of expression, are led to conceive their
ancestors as really above them in place, and their posterity below them:

    A grandam’s name is little less in love
    Than is the doting title of a mother:
    They are as children but one step below.
         _Richard III. act 4. sc. 5._

The notes of the gamut, proceeding regularly from the blunter or grosser
sounds to those which are more acute and piercing, produce in the hearer
a feeling somewhat similar to what is produced by mounting upward; and
this gives occasion to the figurative expressions, _a high note_, _a low

Such is the resemblance in feeling betwixt real and figurative grandeur,
that among the nations on the east coast of Afric, who are directed
purely by nature, the different dignities of the officers of state are
marked by the length of the batoon each carries in his hand. And in
Japan, princes and great lords shew their rank by the length and size of
their sedan-poles[57]. Again, it is a rule in painting, that figures of
a small size are proper for grotesque pieces; but that in an historical
subject, which is grand and important, the figures ought to be as great
as the life. The resemblance of these feelings is in reality so strong,
that elevation in a figurative sense is observed to have the same effect
even externally, that real elevation has:

    _K. Henry._ This day is call’d the feast of Crispian.
    He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
    Will stand a tiptoe when this day is nam’d,
    And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
         _Henry V. act 4. sc. 8._

The resemblance in feeling betwixt real and figurative grandeur, is
humorously illustrated by Addison in criticising upon the English
tragedy. “The ordinary method of making an hero, is to clap a huge
plume of feathers upon his head, which rises so high, that there is
often a greater length from his chin to the top of his head, than to the
sole of his foot. One would believe, that we thought a great man and a
tall man the same thing. As these superfluous ornaments upon the head
make a great man, a princess generally receives her grandeur from those
additional incumbrances that fall into her tail. I mean the broad
sweeping train that follows her in all her motions, and finds constant
employment for a boy who stands behind her to open and spread it to
advantage[58].” The Scythians, impressed with the fame of Alexander,
were astonished when they found him a little man.

A gradual progress from small to great, is not less remarkable in
figurative than in real grandeur or elevation. Every one must have
observed the delightful effect of a number of thoughts or sentiments,
artfully disposed like an ascending series, and making impressions
stronger and stronger. Such disposition of members in a period, is
distinguished by a proper name, being termed a _climax_.

In order to have a just conception of grandeur and sublimity, it is
necessary to be observed, that within certain limits they produce their
strongest effects, which lessen by excess as well as by defect. This is
remarkable in grandeur and sublimity taken in their proper sense. The
strongest emotion of grandeur is raised by an object that can be taken
in at one view. An object so immense as not to be comprehended but in
parts, tends rather to distract than satisfy the mind[59]. In like
manner, the strongest emotion produced by elevation is where the object
is seen distinctly. A greater elevation lessens in appearance the
object, till it vanish out of sight with its pleasant emotion. The same
is equally remarkable in figurative grandeur and elevation, which shall
be handled together, because, as observed above, they are scarce
distinguishable. Sentiments may be so strained, as to become obscure, or
to exceed the capacity of the human mind. Against such licence of
imagination, every good writer will be upon his guard. And therefore it
is of greater importance to observe, that even the true sublime may be
carried beyond that pitch which produces the highest entertainment. We
are undoubtedly susceptible of a greater elevation than can be inspired
by human actions the most heroic and magnanimous; witness what we feel
from Milton’s description of superior beings. Yet every man must be
sensible of a more constant and pleasant elevation, when the history of
his own species is the subject. He enjoys an elevation equal to that of
the greatest hero, of an Alexander or a Cæsar, of a Brutus or an
Epaminondas. He accompanies these heroes in their sublimest sentiments
and most hazardous exploits, with a magnanimity equal to theirs; and
finds it no stretch to preserve the same tone of mind for hours
together, without sinking. The case is by no means the same in
describing the actions or qualities of superior beings. The reader’s
imagination cannot keep pace with that of the poet; and the mind, unable
to support itself in a strained elevation, falls as from a height; and
the fall is immoderate like the elevation. Where this effect is not
felt, it must be prevented by some obscurity in the conception, which
frequently attends the description of unknown objects.

On the other hand, objects of sight that are not remarkably great or
high, scarce raise any emotion of grandeur or sublimity; and the same
holds in other objects. The mind is often roused and animated without
being carried to the height of grandeur or sublimity. This difference
may be discerned in many sorts of music, as well as in some musical
instruments. A kettledrum rouses, and a hautboy is animating; but
neither of them inspire an emotion of sublimity. Revenge animates the
mind in a considerable degree; but I think it never produceth an
emotion that can be termed _grand_ or _sublime_; and I shall have
occasion afterward to observe, that no disagreeable passion ever has
this effect. I am willing to put this to the test, by placing before my
reader the most spirited picture of revenge ever drawn. It is a speech
of Antony wailing over the body of Cæsar.

    Wo to the hand that shed this costly blood!
    Over thy wounds now do I prophesy,
    (Which, like dumb mouths, do ope their ruby lips,
    To beg the voice and utterance of my tongue),
    A curse shall light upon the kind of men;
    Domestic fury, and fierce civil strife,
    Shall cumber all the parts of Italy;
    Blood and destruction shall be so in use,
    And dreadful objects so familiar,
    That mothers shall but smile, when they behold
    Their infants quarter’d by the hands of war,
    All pity choak’d with custom of fell deeds.
    And Cæsar’s spirit, ranging for revenge,
    With _Atè_ by his side come hot from hell,
    Shall in these confines, with a monarch’s voice,
    Cry _Havock_, and let slip the dogs of war.
         _Julius Cæsar, act 3. sc. 4._

When the sublime is carried to its due height and circumscribed within
proper bounds, it inchants the mind and raises the most delightful of
all emotions. The reader, ingrossed by a sublime object, feels himself
raised as it were to a higher rank. When such is the case, it is not
wonderful that the history of conquerors and heroes should be
universally the favourite entertainment. And this fairly accounts for
what I once erroneously suspected to be a wrong bias originally in human
nature. The grossest acts of oppression and injustice, scarce blemish
the character of a great conqueror. We notwithstanding warmly espouse
his interest, accompany him in his exploits, and are anxious for his
success. The splendor and enthusiasm of the hero transfused into the
readers, elevate their minds far above the rules of justice, and render
them in a great measure insensible of the wrong that is done:

    For in those days might only shall be admir’d
    And valour and heroic virtue call’d;
    To overcome in battle, and subdue
    Nations, and bring home spoils with infinite
    Manslaughter, shall be held the highest pitch
    Of human glory, and for glory done
    Of triumph, to be styl’d great conquerors,
    Patrons of mankind, gods, and sons of gods.
    Destroyers rightlier called, and plagues of men.
    Thus fame shall be atchiev’d, renown on earth,
    And what most merits fame in silence hid.
         _Milton, b. 11._

The attachment we have to things grand or lofty may be thought to
proceed from an unwearied inclination we have to be exalted. No desire
is more universal than to be respected and honoured. Upon that account
chiefly, are we ambitious of power, riches, titles, fame, which would
suddenly lose their relish, did they not raise us above others, and
command submission and deference[60]. But the preference given to things
grand and sublime must have a deeper root in human nature. Many bestow
their time upon low and trifling amusements, without showing any desire
to be exalted. Yet these very persons talk the same language with the
rest of mankind; and at least in their judgement, if not in their taste,
prefer the more elevated pleasures. They acknowledge a more refined
taste, and are ashamed of their own as low and groveling. This
sentiment, constant and universal, must be the work of nature; and it
plainly indicates an original attachment in human nature to every object
that elevates the mind. Some men may have a greater relish for an object
not of the highest rank: but they are conscious of the common nature of
man, and that it ought not to be subjected to their peculiar taste.

The irregular influence of grandeur, reaches also to other matters.
However good, honest, or useful, a man may be, he is not so much
respected, as one of a more elevated character is, though of less
integrity; nor do the misfortunes of the former affect us so much as
those of the latter. I add, because it cannot be disguised, that the
remorse which attends breach of engagement, is in a great measure
proportioned to the figure that the injured person makes. The vows and
protestations of lovers are an illustrious example of this observation;
for these commonly are little regarded when made to women of inferior

What I have said suggests a capital rule for reaching the sublime in
such works of art as are susceptible of it; and that is, to put in view
those parts or circumstances only which make the greatest figure,
keeping out of sight every thing that is low or trivial. Such judicious
selection of capital circumstances, is by an eminent critic styled
_grandeur of manner_[61]. The mind, from an elevation inspired by
important objects, cannot, without reluctance, be forced down to bestow
any share of its attention upon trifles. In none of the fine arts is
there so great scope for this rule as in poetry, which, by that means,
enjoys a remarkable power of bestowing upon objects and events an air of
grandeur. When we are spectators, every minute object presents itself
in its order. But in describing at second hand, these are laid aside,
and the capital objects are brought close together. A judicious taste in
selecting, after this manner, the most interesting incidents to give
them an united force, accounts for a fact which at first sight may
appear surprising, that we are more moved by a poetical narrative at
second hand, than when we are spectators of the event itself in all its

Longinus exemplifies the foregoing rule by a comparison of two
passages[62]. The first from Aristæus is thus translated.

    Ye pow’rs, what madness! how on ships so frail
    (Tremendous thought!) can thoughtless mortals sail?
    For stormy seas they quit the pleasing plain,
    Plant woods in waves and dwell amidst the main.
    Far o’er the deep (a trackless path) they go,
    And wander oceans in pursuit of wo.
    No ease their hearts, no rest their eyes can find,
    On heaven their looks, and on the waves their mind.
    Sunk are their spirits, while their arms they rear,
    And gods are wearied with their fruitless prayer.

The other from Homer I shall give in Pope’s translation.

    Bursts as a wave that from the cloud impends,
    And swell’d with tempests on the ship descends.
    White are the decks with foam: the winds aloud
    Howl o’er the masts, and sing through every shrowd.
    Pale, trembling, tir’d, the sailors freeze with fears,
    And instant death on every wave appears.

In the latter passage, the most striking circumstances are selected to
fill the mind with the grand and terrible. The former is a collection of
minute and low circumstances, which scatter the thought and make no
impression. The passage at the same time is full of verbal antitheses
and low conceit, extremely improper in a scene of distress. But this
last observation is made occasionally only, as it belongs not to the
present subject.

The following passage from the twenty-first book of the Odyssey,
deviates widely from the rule above laid down. It concerns that part of
the history of Penelope and her suitors, in which she is made to declare
in favour of him who should prove the most dexterous in shooting with
the bow of Ulysses.

    Now gently winding up the fair ascent,
    By many an easy step, the matron went:
    Then o’er the pavement glides with grace divine,
    (With polish’d oak the level pavements shine);
    The folding gates a dazling light display’d,
    With pomp of various architrave o’erlay’d.
    The bolt, obedient to the silken string,
    Forsakes the staple as she pulls the ring;
    The wards respondent to the key turn round;
    The bars fall back; the flying valves resound.
    Loud as a bull makes hill and valley ring;
    So roar’d the lock when it releas’d the spring.
    She moves majestic through the wealthy room
    Where treasur’d garments cast a rich perfume;
    There from the column where aloft it hung,
    Reach’d, in its splendid case, the bow unstrung.

Virgil sometimes errs against this rule. In the following passages
minute circumstances are brought into full view; and what is still
worse, they are described in all the sublimity of poetical description.
_Æneid, L. 1. l. 214. to 219. L. 6. l. 176. to 182. L. 6. l. 212. to
231._ And the last, which is a description of a funeral, is the less
excuseable, as it relates to a man who makes no figure in the poem.

The speech of Clytemnestra, descending from her chariot in the Iphigenia
of Euripides, beginning of act 3. is stuffed with a number of low,
common, and trivial circumstances.

But of all writers Lucan in this article is the most injudicious. The
sea-fight betwixt the Romans and Massilians[63], is described so much in
detail without exhibiting any grand or general view, that the reader is
quite fatigued with endless circumstances, and never feels any degree of
elevation. And yet there are some fine incidents, those for example of
the two brothers, and of the old man and his son, which, separated from
the rest, would affect us greatly. But Lucan once engaged in a
description, knows no bounds. See other passages of the same kind, _L.
4. l. 292. to 337. L. 4. l. 750. to 765._ The episode of the sorceress
Erictho, end of book 6. is intolerably minute and prolix.

To these I venture to oppose a passage from an old historical ballad:

    Go, little page, tell Hardiknute
      That lives on hill so high[64],
    To draw his sword, the dread of faes,
      And haste to follow me.
    The little page flew swift as dart
      Flung by his master’s arm.
    Come down, come down, Lord Hardiknute,
      And rid your king from harm.

This rule is also applicable to other fine arts. In painting it is
established, that the principal figure must be put in the strongest
light; that the beauty of attitude consists in placing the nobler parts
most in view, and in suppressing the smaller parts as much as possible;
that the folds of the drapery must be few and large; that
foreshortenings are bad, because they make the parts appear little; and
that the muscles ought to be kept as entire as possible, without being
divided into small sections. Every one at present is sensible of the
importance of this rule when applied to gardening, in opposition to the
antiquated taste of parterres split into a thousand small parts in the
strictest regularity of figure. Those who have succeeded best in
architecture, have governed themselves by this rule in all their models.

Another rule chiefly regards the sublime, though it may be applied to
every literary performance intended for amusement; and that is, to avoid
as much as possible abstract and general terms. Such terms, perfectly
well fitted for reasoning and for conveying instruction, serve but
imperfectly the ends of poetry. They stand upon the same footing with
mathematical signs, contrived to express our thoughts in a concise
manner. But images, which are the life of poetry, cannot be raised in
any perfection, otherwise than by introducing particular objects.
General terms, that comprehend a number of individuals, must be excepted
from this rule. Our kindred, our clan, our country, and words of the
like import, though they scarce raise any image, have notwithstanding a
wonderful power over our passions. The greatness of the complex object
over-balances the obscurity of the image.

What I have further to say upon this subject, shall be comprehended in a
few observations. A man is capable of being raised so much above his
ordinary pitch by an emotion of grandeur, that it is extremely difficult
by a single thought or expression to produce that emotion in perfection.
The rise must be gradual and the result of reiterated impressions. The
effect of a single expression can be but momentary; and if one feel
suddenly somewhat like a swelling or exaltation of mind, the emotion
vanisheth as soon as felt. Single expressions, I know, are often justly
cited as examples of the sublime. But then their effect is nothing
compared with a grand subject displayed in its capital parts. I shall
give a few examples, that the reader may judge for himself. In the
famous action of Thermopylæ, where Leonidas the Spartan King with his
chosen band fighting for their country, were cut off to the last man, a
saying is reported of Dieneces one of the band, which, expressing
chearful and undisturbed bravery, is well intitled to the first place in
examples of this kind. Talking of the number of their enemies, it was
observed, that the arrows shot by such a multitude would intercept the
light of the sun. So much the better, says he; for we shall then fight
in the shade[65].

    _Somerset._ Ah! Warwick, Warwick, wert thou as we are,
    We might recover all our loss again.
    The Queen from France hath brought a puissant power,
    Ev’n now we heard the news. Ah! couldst thou fly!

    _Warwick._ Why, then I would not fly.
         _Third part, Henry VI. act 5. sc. 3._

Such a sentiment from a man expiring of his wounds, is truly heroic, and
must elevate the mind to the greatest height that can be done by a
single expression. It will not suffer in a comparison with the famous
sentiment _Qu’il mourut_ in Corneille’s Horace. The latter is a
sentiment of indignation merely, the former of invincible fortitude.

In opposition to these examples, to cite many a sublime passage,
enriched with the finest images, and dressed in the most nervous
expressions, would scarce be fair. I shall produce but one instance from
Shakespear, which sets a few objects before the eye, without much pomp
of language. It works its effect, by representing these objects in a
climax, raising the mind higher and higher till it feel the emotion of
grandeur in perfection.

    The cloud-capt tow’rs, the gorgeous palaces,
    The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
    Yea all which it inherit, shall dissolve, _&c_.

_The cloud-capt tow’rs_ produce an elevating emotion, heightened by the
_gorgeous palaces_. And the mind is carried still higher and higher by
the images that follow. Successive images, making thus stronger and
stronger impressions, must elevate more than any single image can do.

I proceed to another observation. In the chapter of beauty it is
remarked, that regularity is required in small figures, and order in
small groups; but that in advancing gradually from small to great,
regularity and order are less and less required. This remark serves to
explain the extreme delight we have in viewing the face of nature, when
sufficiently enriched and diversified by objects. The bulk of the
objects seen in a natural landscape are beautiful, and some of them
grand. A flowing river, a spreading oak, a round hill, an extended
plain, are delightful; and even a rugged rock or barren heath, though in
themselves disagreeable, contribute by contrast to the beauty of the
whole. Joining to these, the verdure of the fields, the mixture of light
and shade, and the sublime canopy spread over all; it will not appear
wonderful, that so extensive a group of glorious objects should swell
the heart to its utmost bounds, and raise the strongest emotion of
grandeur. The spectator is conscious of an enthusiasm, which cannot bear
confinement nor the strictness of regularity and order. He loves to
range at large; and is so inchanted with shining objects, as to neglect
slight beauties or defects. Thus it is, that the delightful emotion of
grandeur, depends little on order and regularity. And when the emotion
is at its height by a survey of the greatest objects, order and
regularity are almost totally disregarded.

The same observation is applicable in some measure to works of art. In a
small building the slightest irregularity is disagreeable. In a
magnificent palace or a large Gothic church, irregularities are less
regarded. In an epic poem we pardon many negligences, which would be
intolerable in a sonnet or epigram. Notwithstanding such exceptions, it
may be justly laid down for a rule, That in all works of art, order and
regularity ought to be governing principles. And hence the observation
of Longinus[66], “In works of art we have regard to exact proportion; in
those of nature, to grandeur and magnificence.”

I shall add but one other observation, That no means can be more
successfully employed to sink and depress the mind than grandeur or
sublimity. By the artful introduction of an humbling object, the fall is
great in proportion to the former elevation. Of this doctrine Shakespear
affords us a beautiful illustration, in a passage part of which is cited
above for another purpose:

    The cloud-capt tow’rs, the gorgeous palaces,
    The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
    Yea all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
    And like the baseless fabric of a vision
    Leave not a rack behind----
         _Tempest, act 4. sc. 4._

The elevation of the mind in the former part of this beautiful passage,
makes the fall great in proportion when the most humbling of all images
is introduced, that of an utter dissolution of the earth and its
inhabitants. A sentiment makes not the same impression in a cool state,
that it does when the mind is warmed; and a depressing or melancholy
sentiment makes the strongest impression, when it brings down the mind
from its highest state of elevation or chearfulness.

This indirect effect of elevation to sink the mind, is sometimes
produced without the intervention of any humbling image. There was
occasion above to remark, that in describing superior beings, the
reader’s imagination, unable to support itself in a strained elevation,
falls often as from a height, and sinks even below its ordinary tone.
The following instance comes luckily in view; for a better illustration
cannot be given: “God said, Let there be light, and there was light.”
Longinus cites this passage from Moses as a shining example of the
sublime; and it is scarce possible in fewer words, to convey so clear an
image of the infinite power of the Deity. But then it belongs to the
present subject to remark, that the emotion of sublimity raised by this
image is but momentary; and that the mind, unable to support itself in
an elevation so much above nature, immediately sinks down into humility
and veneration for a being so far exalted above us groveling mortals.
Every one is acquainted with a dispute about this passage betwixt two
French critics[67], the one positively affirming, the other as
positively denying, it to be sublime. What I have opened, shows that
both of them have reached the truth, but neither of them the whole
truth. Every one of taste must be sensible, that the primary effect of
this passage is an emotion of grandeur. This so far justifies Boileau.
But then every one of taste must be equally sensible, that the emotion
is merely a flash, which vanisheth instantly, and gives way to the
deepest humility and veneration. This indirect effect of sublimity,
justifies Huet on the other hand, who being a man of true piety, and
perhaps of inferior imagination, felt the humbling passions more
sensibly than his antagonist. And even laying aside any peculiarity of
character, Huet’s opinion may I think be defended as the more solid;
upon the following account, that in such images, the depressing emotions
are the more sensibly felt, and have the longer endurance.

The straining an elevated subject beyond due bounds and beyond the
reach of an ordinary conception, is not a vice so frequent as to require
the correction of criticism. But false sublime is a rock which writers
of more fire than judgement generally split on. And therefore a
collection of examples may be of use as a beacon to future adventurers.
One species of false sublime, known by the name of _bon bast_, is common
among writers of a mean genius. It is a serious endeavour, by strained
description, to raise a low or familiar subject above its rank; which
instead of being sublime, never fails to be ridiculous. I am extremely
sensible how prone the mind is, in some animating passions, to magnify
its objects beyond natural bounds. But such hyperbolical description has
its limits. If carried beyond the impulse of the propensity, the
colouring no longer pleases: it degenerates into the burlesque. Take the
following examples.

    _Sejanus._---- Great and high
    The world knows only two, that’s Rome and I.
    My roof receives me not; ’tis air I tread,
    And at each step I feel my advanc’d head
    Knock out a star in heav’n.
         _Sejanus, Ben Johnson, act 5._

A writer who has no natural elevation of genius, is extremely apt to
deviate into bombast. He strains above his genius; and the violent
effort he makes carries him generally beyond the bounds of propriety.
Boileau expresses this happily:

    L’autre à peur de ramper, il se perd dans la nue[68].

The same author Ben Johnson abounds in the bombast:

    ---- The mother,
    Th’expulsed Apicata, finds them there;
    Whom when she saw lie spread on the degrees,
    After a world of fury on herself,
    Tearing her hair, defacing of her face,
    Beating her breasts and womb, kneeling amaz’d.
    Crying to heav’n, then to them; at last
    Her drowned voice got up above her woes:
    And with such black and bitter execrations,
    (As might affright the gods, and force the sun
    Run backward to the east; nay, make the old
    Deformed Chaos rise again t’ o’erwhelm
    Them, us, and all the world) she fills the air,
    Upbraids the heavens with their partial dooms,
    Defies their tyrannous powers, and demands
    What she and those poor innocents have transgress’d,
    That they must suffer such a share in vengeance.
         _Sejanus, act 5. sc. last._

    ---- Lentulus, the man,
    If all our fire were out, would fetch down new,
    Out of the hand of Jove; and rivet him
    To Caucasus, should he but frown; and let
    His own gaunt eagle fly at him to tire.
         _Catiline, act 3._

    Can these, or such, be any aids to us?
    Look they as they were built to shake the world,
    Or be a moment to our enterprise?
    A thousand, such as they are, could not make
    One atom of our souls. They should be men
    Worth heaven’s fear, that looking up, but thus,
    Would make Jove stand upon his guard, and draw
    Himself within his thunder; which, amaz’d,
    He should discharge in vain, and they unhurt.
    Or, if they were, like Capaneus at Thebes,
    They should hang dead upon the highest spires,
    And ask the second bolt to be thrown down.
    Why Lentulus talk you so long? This time
    Had been enough t’ have scatter’d all the stars,
    T’ have quench’d the sun and moon, and made the world
    Despair of day, or any light but ours.
         _Catiline, act 4._

This is the language of a madman:

    _Guilford._ Give way, and let the gushing torrent come,
    Behold the tears we bring to swell the deluge,
    Till the flood rise upon the guilty world
    And make the ruin common.
         _Lady Jane Gray, act 4. near the end._

Another species of false sublime, is still more faulty than bombast; and
that is, to force an elevation by introducing imaginary beings without
preserving any propriety in their actions; as if it were lawful to
ascribe every extravagance and inconsistence to beings of the poet’s
creation. No writers are more licentious in this article than Johnson
and Dryden.

    Methinks I see Death and the furies waiting
    What we will do, and all the heaven at leisure
    For the great spectacle. Draw then your swords:
    And if our destiny envy our virtue
    The honour of the day, yet let us care
    To sell ourselves at such a price, as may
    Undo the world to buy us, and make Fate,
    While she tempts ours, to fear her own estate.
         _Catiline, act 5._

    ---- The furies stood on hills
    Circling the place, and trembled to see men
    Do more than they: whilst Piety left the field,
    Griev’d for that side, that in so bad a cause
    They knew not what a crime their valour was.
    The Sun stood still, and was, behind the cloud
    The battle made, seen sweating to drive up
    His frighted horse, whom still the noise drove backward.
         _Ibid. act. 5._

    _Osmyn._ While we indulge our common happiness,
    He is forgot by whom we all possess,
    The brave Almanzor, to whose arms we owe
    All that we did, and all that we shall do;
    Who like a tempest that outrides the wind,
    Made a just battle ere the bodies join’d.

    _Abdalla._ His victories we scarce could keep in view,
    Or polish ’em so fast as he rough drew.

    _Abdemelech._ Fate after him below with pain did move,
    And Victory could scarce keep pace above.
    Death did at length so many slain forget,
    And lost the tale, and took ’em by the great.
         _Conquest of Granada, act. 2. at beginning._

    The gods of Rome fight for ye; loud Fame calls ye,
    Pitch’d on the topless Apenine, and blows
    To all the under world, all nations,
    The seas and unfrequented deserts, where the snow dwells,
    Wakens the ruin’d monuments, and there
    Where nothing but eternal death and sleep is,
    Informs again the dead bones.
         _Beaumont and Fletcher, Bonduca, act. 3. sc. 3._

I close with the following observation, That an actor upon the stage may
be guilty of bombast as well as an author in his closet. A certain
manner of acting, which is grand when supported by dignity in the
sentiment and force in the expression, is ridiculous where the sentiment
is mean, and the expression flat.


Motion and Force.

That motion is agreeable to the eye without relation to purpose or
design, may appear from the amusement it gives to infants. Juvenile
exercises are relished chiefly upon that account.

If to see a body in motion be agreeable, one will be apt to conclude,
that to see it at rest is disagreeable. But we learn from experience,
that this would be a rash conclusion. Rest is one of those circumstances
that are neither agreeable nor disagreeable. It is viewed with perfect
indifferency. And happy it is for mankind that the matter is so ordered.
If rest were agreeable, it would disincline us to motion, by which all
things are performed. If it were disagreeable, it would be a source of
perpetual uneasiness; for the bulk of the things we see appear to be at
rest. A similar instance of designing wisdom I have had occasion to
explain, in opposing grandeur to littleness, and elevation to lowness of
place[69]. Even in the simplest matters, the finger of God is
conspicuous. The happy adjustment of the internal nature of man to his
external circumstances, displayed in the instances here given, is indeed

Motion is certainly agreeable in all its varieties of quickness and
slowness. But motion long continued admits some exceptions. That degree
of continued motion which corresponds to the natural course of our
perceptions, is the most agreeable[70]. The quickest motion is for an
instant delightful. But it soon appears to be too rapid. It becomes
painful, by forcibly accelerating the course of our perceptions. Slow
continued motion becomes disagreeable for an opposite reason, that it
retards the natural course of our perceptions.

There are other varieties in motion, beside quickness and slowness,
that make it more or less agreeable. Regular motion is preferred before
what is irregular, witness the motion of the planets in orbits nearly
circular. The motion of the comets in orbits less regular, is less

Motion uniformly accelerated, resembling an ascending series of numbers,
is more agreeable than when uniformly retarded. Motion upward is
agreeable by the elevation of the moving body. What then shall we say of
downward motion regularly accelerated by the force of gravity, compared
with upward motion regularly retarded by the same force? Which of these
is the most agreeable? This question is not easily solved.

Motion in a straight line is no doubt agreeable. But we prefer
undulating motion, as of waves, of a flame, of a ship under sail. Such
motion is more free, and also more natural. Hence the beauty of a
serpentine river.

The easy and sliding motion of fluids, from the lubricity and
incoherence of their parts, is agreeable upon that account. But the
agreeableness chiefly depends upon the following circumstance, that the
motion is perceived, not as of one body, but as of an endless number
moving together with order and regularity. Poets struck with this
beauty, draw more images from fluids than from solids.

Force is of two kinds; one quiescent, and one exerted by motion. The
former, dead weight for example, must be laid aside; for a body at rest
is not by that circumstance either agreeable or disagreeable. Moving
force only belongs to the present subject; and though it is not
separable from motion, yet by the power of abstraction, either of them
may be considered independent of the other. Both of them are agreeable,
because both of them include activity. It is agreeable to see a thing
move: to see it moved, as when it is dragged or pushed along, is neither
agreeable nor disagreeable, more than when at rest. It is agreeable to
see a thing exert force; but it makes not the thing either agreeable or
disagreeable, to see force exerted upon it.

Though motion and force are each of them agreeable, the impressions
they make are different. This difference, clearly felt, is not easily
described. All we can say is, that the emotion raised by a moving body,
resembles its cause: it feels as if the mind were carried along. The
emotion raised by force exerted, resembles also its cause: it feels as
if force were exerted within the mind.

To illustrate this difference, I give the following examples. It has
been explained why smoke ascending in a calm day, suppose from a cottage
in a wood, is an agreeable object[71]. Landscape-painters are fond of
this object, and introduce it upon all occasions. As the ascent is
natural and without effort, it is delightful in a calm state of mind. It
makes an impression of the same sort with that of a gently-flowing
river, but more agreeable, because ascent is more to our taste than
descent. A fire-work or a _jet d’eau_ rouses the mind more; because the
beauty of force visibly exerted, is superadded to that of upward
motion. To a man reclining indolently upon a bank of flowers, ascending
smoke in a still morning is delightful. But a fire-work or a _jet d’eau_
rouses him from this supine posture, and puts him in motion.

A _jet d’eau_ makes an impression distinguishable from that of a
water-fall. Downward motion being natural and without effort, tends
rather to quiet the mind than to rouse it. Upward motion, on the
contrary, overcoming the resistance of gravity, makes an impression of a
great effort, and thereby rouses and enlivens the mind.

The public games of the Greeks and Romans, which gave so much
entertainment to the spectators, consisted chiefly in exerting force,
wrestling, leaping, throwing great stones, and such like trials of
strength. When great force is exerted, the effort felt within the mind
produces great life and vivacity. The effort may be such, as in some
measure to overpower the mind. Thus the explosion of gun-powder, the
violence of a torrent, the weight of a mountain, and the crush of an
earthquake, create astonishment rather than pleasure.

No quality nor circumstance contributes more to grandeur than force,
especially as exerted by sensible beings. I cannot make this more
evident than by the following citations.

    ---- Him the almighty power
    Hurl’d headlong flaming from th’ ethereal sky,
    With hideous ruin and combustion, down
    To bottomless perdition, there to dwell
    In adamantine chains and penal fire,
    Who durst defy th’ Omnipotent to arms.
         _Paradise Lost, book 1._

    ---- Now storming fury rose,
    And clamour such as heard in heaven till now
    Was never; arms on armour clashing bray’d
    Horrible discord, and the madding wheels
    Of brazen chariots rag’d; dire was the noise
    Of conflict; over head the dismal hiss
    Of fiery darts in flaming vollies flew,
    And flying vaulted either host with fire.
    So under fiery cope together rush’d
    Both battles main, with ruinous assault
    And inextinguishable rage: all heav’n
    Resounded; and had earth been then, all earth
    Had to her centre shook.
         _Ibid, book 6._

      They ended parle, and both address’d for fight
    Unspeakable; for who, though with the tongue
    Of angels, can relate, or to what things
    Liken on earth conspicuous, that may lift
    Human imagination to such height
    Of godlike pow’r? for likest gods they seem’d,
    Stood they or mov’d, in stature, motion, arms,
    Fit to decide the empire of great Heav’n.
    Now wav’d their fiery swords, and in the air
    Made horrid circles: two broad suns their shields
    Blaz’d opposite, while Expectation stood
    In horror: from each hand with speed retir’d,
    Where erst was thickest fight, th’ angelic throng,
    And left large field, unsafe within the wind
    Of such commotion; such as, to set forth
    Great things by small, if Nature’s concord broke,
    Among the constellations war were sprung,
    Two planets, rushing from aspéct malign
    Of fiercest opposition, in mid sky,
    Should combat, and their jarring spheres confound.
         _Ibid, book 6._

We shall now consider the effect of motion and force in conjunction. In
contemplating the planetary system, what strikes us the most, is the
spherical figures of the planets and their regular motions. The
conception we have of their activity and enormous bulk is more obscure.
The beauty accordingly of this system, raises a more lively emotion than
its grandeur. But if we could imagine ourselves spectators comprehending
the whole system at one view, the activity and irresistible force of
these immense bodies would fill us with amazement. Nature cannot furnish
another scene so grand.

Motion and force, agreeable in themselves, are also agreeable by their
utility when employed as means to accomplish some beneficial end. Hence
the superior beauty of some machines, where force and motion concur to
perform the work of numberless hands. Hence the beautiful motions, firm
and regular, of a horse trained for war. Every single step is the
fittest that can be for obtaining the end proposed. But the grace of
motion is visible chiefly in man, not only for the reasons mentioned,
but also because every gesture is significant. The power however of
agreeable motion is not a common talent. Every limb of the human body
has a good and a bad, an agreeable and disagreeable action. Some
motions are extremely graceful, others are plain and vulgar: some
express dignity, others meanness. But the pleasure here, arising not
singly from the beauty of motion, but from indicating character and
sentiment, belongs to a different chapter[72].

I should conclude with the final cause of the relish we have for motion
and force, were it not so evident as to require no explanation. We are
placed here in such circumstances as to make industry essential to our
well-being; for without industry the plainest necessaries of life are
not to be obtained. When our situation therefore in this world requires
activity and a constant exertion of motion and force, Providence
indulgently provides for our welfare in making these agreeable to us. It
would be a blunder in our nature, to make things disagreeable that we
depend on for existence; and even to make them indifferent, would tend
to make us relax greatly from that degree of activity which is


Novelty, and the unexpected appearance of objects.

Of all the particulars that contribute to raise emotions, not excepting
beauty, or even greatness, novelty hath the most powerful influence. A
new spectacle attracts multitudes. It produceth instantaneously an
emotion which totally occupies the mind, and for a time excludes all
other objects. The soul seems to meet the strange appearance with a
certain elongation of itself; and all is hushed in close contemplation.
In some instances, there is perceived a degree of agony, attended with
external symptoms extremely expressive. Conversation among the vulgar
never is more interesting, than when it runs upon strange objects and
extraordinary events. Men tear themselves from their native country in
search of things rare and new; and curiosity converts into a pleasure,
the fatigues, and even perils of travelling. To what cause shall we
ascribe these singular appearances? The plain account of the matter
follows. Curiosity is implanted in human nature, for a purpose extremely
beneficial, that of acquiring knowledge. New and strange objects, above
all others, excite our curiosity; and its gratification is the emotion
above described, known by the name of _wonder_. This emotion is
distinguished from _admiration_. Novelty where-ever found, whether in a
quality or action, is the cause of wonder: admiration is directed upon
the operator who performs any thing wonderful.

During infancy, every new object is probably the occasion of wonder, in
some degree; because, during infancy, every object at first is strange
as well as new. But as objects are rendered familiar by custom, we cease
by degrees to wonder at new appearances that have any resemblance to
what we are acquainted with. A thing must be singular as well as new, to
excite our curiosity and to raise our wonder. To save multiplying words,
I would be understood to comprehend both circumstances when I hereafter
talk of novelty.

In an ordinary train of perceptions where one thing introduces another,
not a single object makes its appearance unexpectedly[73]. The mind thus
prepared for the reception of its objects, admits them one after another
without perturbation. But when a thing breaks in unexpectedly and
without the preparation of any connection, it raises a singular emotion
known by the name of _surprise_. This emotion may be produced by the
most familiar object, as when one accidentally meets a friend who was
reported to be dead; or a man in high life, lately a beggar. On the
other hand, a new object, however strange, will not produce this emotion
if the spectator be prepared for the fight. An elephant in India will
not surprise a traveller who goes to see one; and yet its novelty will
raise his wonder. An Indian in Britain would be much surprised to
stumble upon an elephant feeding at large in the open fields; but the
creature itself, to which he was accustomed, would not raise his

Surprise thus in several respects differs from wonder. Unexpedtedness is
the cause of the former emotion: novelty is the cause of the latter. Nor
differ they less in their nature and circumstances, as will be explained
by and by. With relation to one circumstance they perfectly agree, which
is the shortness of their duration. The instantaneous production of
these emotions in perfection, may contribute to this effect, in
conformity to a general law, That things soon decay which soon come to
perfection. The violence of the emotions may also contribute; for an
ardent emotion, which is not susceptible of increase, cannot have a long
course. But their short duration is occasioned chiefly by that of their
causes. We are soon reconciled to an object, however unexpected; and
novelty soon degenerates into familiarity.

Whether these emotions be pleasant or painful, is not a clear point. It
may appear strange, that our own feelings and their capital qualities
should afford any matter for a doubt. But when we are ingrossed by any
emotion, there is no place for speculation; and when sufficiently calm
for speculation, it is not easy to recal the emotion with sufficient
accuracy. New objects are sometimes terrible, sometimes delightful. The
terror which a tyger inspires is greatest at first, and wears off
gradually by familiarity. On the other hand, even women will
acknowledge, that it is novelty which pleases the most in a new fashion.
At this rate, it should be thought, that wonder is not in itself
pleasant or painful, but that it assumes either quality according to
circumstances. This doctrine, however plausible, must not pass without
examination. And when we reflect upon the principle of curiosity and its
operations, a glimpse of light gives some faint view of a different
theory. Our curiosity is never more thoroughly gratified, than by new
and singular objects. That very gratification is the emotion of wonder,
which therefore, according to the analogy of nature, ought always to be
pleasant[74]. And indeed it would be a great defect in human nature,
were the gratification of so useful a principle unpleasant. But upon a
more strict scrutiny, we shall not have occasion to mark curiosity as an
exception from the general rule. A new object, it is true, that hath a
threatening appearance, adds to our terror by its novelty. But from this
experiment it doth not follow, that novelty is in itself disagreeable.
It is perfectly consistent, that we should be delighted with an object
in one view, and terrified with it in another. A river in flood swelling
over its banks, is a grand and delightful object; and yet it may produce
no small degree of fear when we attempt to cross it. Courage and
magnanimity are agreeable; and yet when we view these qualities in an
enemy, they serve to increase our terror[75]. In the same manner,
novelty has two effects clearly distinguishable from each other. A new
object, by gratifying curiosity, must always be agreeable. It may, at
the same time, have an opposite effect indirectly, which is, to inspire
terror. For when a new object appears in any degree dangerous, our
ignorance of its powers and qualities affords ample scope for the
imagination to dress it in the most frightful colours[76]. Thus the
first sight of a lion at some distance, may at the same instant produce
two opposite feelings, the pleasant emotion of wonder, and the painful
passion of terror. The novelty of the object, produces the former
directly, and contributes to the latter indirectly. Thus, when the
subject is analized, we find, that the power which novelty hath
indirectly to inflame terror, is perfectly consistent with its being in
every case agreeable. The matter may be put in a still clearer light by
varying the scene. If a lion be first seen from a place of safety, the
spectacle is altogether agreeable without the least mixture of terror.
If again the first sight put us within reach of this dangerous animal,
our terror may be so great as quite to exclude any sense of novelty. But
this fact proves not that wonder is painful: it proves only that wonder
may be excluded by a more powerful passion. And yet it is this fact,
which, in superficial thinking, has thrown the subject into obscurity. I
presume we may now boldly affirm, that wonder is in every case a
pleasant emotion. This is acknowledged as to all new objects that appear
inoffensive. And even as to objects that appear offensive, I urge that
the same must hold so long as the spectator can attend to the novelty.

Whether surprise be in itself pleasant or painful, is a question not
less intricate than the former. It is certain, that surprise inflames
our joy when unexpectedly we meet with an old friend: and not less our
terror, when we stumble upon any thing noxious. To clear this point, we
must trace it step by step. And the first thing to be remarked is, that
in some instances an unexpected object overpowers the mind so as to
produce a momentary stupefaction. An unexpected object, not less than
one that is new, is apt to sound an alarm and to raise terror. Man,
naturally a defenceless being, is happily so constituted as to apprehend
danger in all doubtful cases. Accordingly, where the object is
dangerous, or appears so, the sudden alarm it gives, without
preparation, is apt totally to unhinge the mind, and for a moment to
suspend all the faculties, even thought itself[77]. In this state a man
is quite helpless; and if he move at all, is as likely to run upon the
danger as from it. Surprise carried to this height, cannot be either
pleasant or painful; because the mind, during such momentary
stupefaction, is in a good measure, if not totally, insensible.

If we then inquire for the character of this emotion, it must be where
the unexpected object or event produceth less violent effects. And while
the mind remains sensible of pleasure and pain, is it not natural to
suppose, that surprise, like wonder, should have an invariable
character? I am inclined however to think, that surprise has no
invariable character, but assumes that of the object which raises it.
Wonder is the gratification of a natural principle, and upon that
account must be pleasant. There, novelty is the capital circumstance,
which, for a time, is intitled to possess the mind entirely in one
unvaried tone. The unexpected appearance of an object, seems not equally
intitled to produce an emotion distinguishable from the emotion,
pleasant or painful, that is produced by the object in its ordinary
appearance. It ought not naturally to have any effect, other than to
swell that emotion, by making it more pleasant or more painful than it
commonly is. And this conjecture is confirmed by experience, as well as
by language, which is built upon experience. When a man meets a friend
unexpectedly, he is said to be agreeably surprised; and when he meets an
enemy unexpectedly, he is said to be disagreeably surprised. It appears
then, that the sole effect of surprise is to swell the emotion raised by
the object. And this effect can be clearly explained. A tide of
connected perceptions, glides gently into the mind, and produceth no
perturbation. An object on the other hand breaking in unexpectedly,
sounds an alarm, rouses the mind out of its calm state, and directs its
whole attention upon the object, which, if agreeable, becomes doubly so.
Several circumstances concur to produce this effect. On the one hand,
the agitation of the mind and its keen attention, prepare it in the most
effectual manner for receiving a deep impression. On the other hand, the
object by its sudden and unforeseen appearance, makes an impression, not
gradually as expected objects do, but as at one stroke with its whole
force. The circumstances are precisely similar, where the object is in
itself disagreeable.

The pleasure of novelty is easily distinguished from that of variety. To
produce the latter, a plurality of objects is necessary. The former
arises from a circumstance found in a single object. Again, where
objects, whether coexistent or in succession, are sufficiently
diversified, the pleasure of variety is complete, though every single
object of the train be familiar. But the pleasure of novelty, directly
opposite to familiarity, requires no diversification.

There are different degrees of novelty, and its effects are in
proportion. The lowest degree is found in objects that are surveyed a
second time after a long interval. That in this case an object takes on
some appearance of novelty, is certain from experience. A large building
of many parts variously adorned, or an extensive field embellished with
trees, lakes, temples, statues, and other ornaments, will appear new
oftener than once. The memory of an object so complex is soon lost; of
its parts at least, or of their arrangement. But experience teaches,
that even without any decay of remembrance, absence alone will give an
air of novelty to a once familiar object; which is not surprising,
because familiarity wears off gradually by absence. Thus a person with
whom we have been intimate, returning after a long interval, appears
like a new acquaintance. Distance of place contributes to this
appearance, not less than distance of time. A friend after a short
absence in a remote country, has the same air of novelty as if he had
returned after a longer interval from a place nearer home. The mind
forms a connection betwixt him and the remote country, and bestows upon
him the singularity of the objects he has seen. When two things equally
new and singular are presented, the spectator balances betwixt them. But
when told that one of them is the product of a distant quarter of the
world, he no longer hesitates, but clings to this as the more singular.
Hence the preference given to foreign luxuries and to foreign
curiosities, which appear rare in proportion to their original distance.

The next degree of novelty, mounting upward, is found in objects of
which we have some information at second hand. For description, though
it contribute to familiarity, cannot altogether remove the appearance of
novelty when the object itself is presented. The first sight of a lion
occasions some wonder, after a thorough acquaintance with the corrected
pictures or statues of that animal.

A new object that bears some distant resemblance to a known species, is
an instance of a third degree of novelty. A strong resemblance among
individuals of the same species, prevents almost entirely the effect of
novelty; unless distance of place or some other circumstance concur.
But where the resemblance is faint, some degree of wonder is felt; and
the emotion rises in proportion to the faintness of the resemblance.

The highest degree of wonder ariseth from unknown objects that have no
analogy to any species we are acquainted with. Shakespear in a simile
introduces this species of novelty.

    As glorious to the sight
    As is a winged messenger from heaven
    Unto the white upturned wondring eye
    Of mortals, that fall back to gaze on him
    When he bestrides the lazy-pacing clouds,
    And sails upon the bosom of the air.
         _Romeo and Juliet._

One example of this species of novelty deserves peculiar attention; and
that is, when an object altogether new is seen by one person only, and
but once. These circumstances heighten remarkably the emotion. The
singularity of the condition of the spectator concurs with the
singularity of the object, to inflame wonder to its highest pitch.

In explaining the effects of novelty, the place a being occupies in the
scale of existence, is a circumstance that must not be omitted. Novelty
in the individuals of a low class, is perceived with indifference, or
with a very slight emotion. Thus a pebble, however singular in its
appearance, scarce moves our wonder. The emotion rises with the rank of
the object; and, other circumstances being equal, is strongest in the
highest order of existence. A strange animal affects us more than a
strange vegetable; and were we admitted to view superior beings, our
wonder would rise proportionably; and accompanying Nature in her amazing
works, be completed in the contemplation of the Deity.

However natural the love of novelty may be, it is a matter of
experience, that those who relish novelty the most, are careful to
conceal its influence. This relish, it is true, prevails in children, in
idle people, and in men of a weak mind. And yet, after all, why should
one be ashamed for indulging a natural propensity? A distinction will
explain this difficulty. No man is ashamed to own, that he loves to
contemplate new or strange objects. He neither condemns himself nor is
censured by others, for this appetite. But every man studies to conceal,
that he loves a thing or performs an action, merely for its novelty. The
reason of the difference will set the matter in a clear light. Curiosity
is a natural principle directed upon new and singular objects, in the
contemplation of which its gratification consists, without leading to
any end other than knowledge. The man therefore who prefers any thing
merely because it is new, hath not this principle for his justification;
nor indeed any good principle. Vanity is at the bottom, which easily
prevails upon those who have no taste, to prefer things odd, rare, or
singular, in order to distinguish themselves from others. And in fact,
the appetite for novelty, as above mentioned, reigns chiefly among
persons of a mean taste, who are ignorant of refined and elegant

The gratification of curiosity, as mentioned above, is distinguished by
a proper name, _viz. wonder_; an honour denied to the gratification of
any other principle, emotion, or passion, so far as I can recollect.
This singularity indicates some important final cause, which I endeavour
to unfold. An acquaintance with the various things that may affect us,
and with their properties, is essential to our well-being. Nor will a
slight or superficial acquaintance be sufficient. It ought to be so
deeply ingraved on the mind, as to be ready for use upon every occasion.
Now, in order to a deep impression, it is wisely contrived, that things
should be introduced to our acquaintance, with a certain pomp and
solemnity productive of a vivid emotion. When the impression is once
fairly made, the emotion of novelty, being no longer necessary,
vanisheth almost instantaneously; never to return, unless where the
impression happens to be obliterated by length of time or other means;
in which case the second introduction is nearly as solemn as the first.

Designing wisdom is no where more legible than in this part of the human
frame. If new objects did not affect us in a very peculiar manner,
their impressions would be so slight as scarce to be of any use in life.
On the other hand, did objects continue to affect us as deeply as at
first, the mind would be totally ingrossed with them, and have no room
left either for action or reflection.

The final cause of surprise is still more evident than of novelty.
Self-love makes us vigilantly attentive to self-preservation. But
self-love, which operates by means of reason and reflection, and impells
not the mind to any particular object or from it, is a principle too
cool for a sudden emergency. An object breaking in unexpectedly, affords
no time for deliberation; and, in this case, the agitation of surprise
is artfully contrived to rouse self-love into action. Surprise gives the
alarm, and if there be any appearance of danger, our whole force is
instantly summoned up to shun or to prevent it.


Risible Objects.

Such is the nature of man, that his powers and faculties are soon
blunted by exercise. The returns of sleep, suspending all activity, are
not alone sufficient to preserve him in vigor. During his waking hours,
amusement by intervals is requisite to unbend his mind from serious
occupation. The imagination, of all our faculties the most active, and
not always at rest even in sleep, contributes more than any other cause
to recruit the mind and restore its vigor, by amusing us with gay and
ludicrous images; and when relaxation is necessary, such amusement is
much relished. But there are other sources of amusement beside the
imagination. Many objects, natural as well as artificial, may be
distinguished by the epithet of _risible_, because they raise in us a
peculiar emotion expressed externally by _laughter_. This is a pleasant
emotion; and being also mirthful, it most successfully unbends the mind
and recruits the spirits.

_Ludicrous_ is a general term, signifying, as we may conjecture from its
derivation, what is playsome, sportive, or jocular. _Ludicrous_
therefore seems the genus, of which _risible_ is a species, limited as
above to what makes us laugh.

However easy it may be, concerning any particular object, to say whether
it be risible or not; it seems difficult, if at all practicable, to
establish beforehand any general character by which objects of this kind
may be distinguished from others. Nor is this a singular case. Upon a
review, we find the same difficulty in most of the articles already
handled. There is nothing more easy, viewing a particular object, than
to pronounce that it is beautiful or ugly, grand or little: but were we
to attempt general rules for ranging objects under different classes,
according to these qualities, we should find ourselves utterly at a
loss. There is a separate cause which increases the difficulty of
distinguishing risible objects by a general character. All men are not
equally affected by risible objects; and even the same person is more
disposed to laugh at one time than another. In high spirits a thing will
make us laugh outright, that will scarce provoke a smile when we are in
a grave mood. We must therefore abandon the thought of attempting
general rules for distinguishing risible objects from others. Risible
objects however are circumscribed within certain limits, which I shall
suggest, without pretending to any degree of accuracy. And, in the first
place, I observe, that no object is risible but what appears slight,
little, or trifling. For man is so constituted as to be seriously
affected with every thing that is of importance to his own interest or
to that of others. Secondly, with respect to the works both of nature
and of art, nothing is risible but what deviates from the common nature
of the subject: it must be some particular out of rule, some remarkable
defect or excess, a very long visage, for example, or a very short one.
Hence nothing just, proper, decent, beautiful, proportioned, or grand,
is risible. A real distress raises pity, and therefore cannot be
risible. But a slight or imaginary distress, which moves not pity, is
risible. The adventure of the fulling-mills in Don Quixote is extremely
risible; so is the scene where Sancho, in a dark night, tumbles into a
pit, and attaches himself to the side by hand and foot, there hanging in
terrible dismay till the morning, when he discovers himself to be within
a foot of the bottom. A nose remarkably long or short is risible; but to
want the nose altogether, far from provoking laughter, raises horror in
the spectator.

From what is said, it will readily be conjectured, that the emotion
raised by a risible object is of a nature so singular as scarce to find
place while the mind is occupied with any other passion or emotion. And
this conjecture is verified by experience. We scarce ever find this
emotion blended with any other. One emotion I must except, and that is
contempt raised by some sort of improprieties. Every improper act
inspires us with some degree of contempt for the author. And if an
improper act be at the same time risible and provoke laughter, of which
blunders and absurdities are noted instances, the two emotions of
contempt and of laughter unite intimately in the mind, and produce
externally what is termed _a laugh of derision_ or _of scorn_. Hence
objects that cause laughter, may be distinguished into two kinds. They
are either _risible_ or _ridiculous_. A risible object is mirthful only;
a ridiculous object is both mirthful and contemptible. The first raises
an emotion of laughter that is altogether pleasant: the emotion of
laughter raised by the other, is qualified with that of contempt; and
the mixed emotion, partly pleasant partly painful, is termed _the
emotion of ridicule_. I avenge myself of the pain a ridiculous object
gives me by a laugh of derision. A risible object, on the other hand,
gives me no pain: it is altogether pleasant by a certain sort of
titillation, which is expressed externally by mirthful laughter.
Ridicule will be more fully explained afterward: the present chapter is
appropriated to the other emotion.

Risible objects are so common and so well understood, that it is
unnecessary to consume paper or time upon them. Take the few following

    _Falstaff._ I do remember him at Clement’s inn,
    like a man made after supper of a cheese-paring.
    When he was naked, he was for all the world like a
    forked radish, with a head fantastically carved upon
    it with a knife.
         _Second part, Henry IV. act 3. sc. 5._

The foregoing is of disproportion. The following examples are of slight
or imaginary misfortunes.

    _Falstaff._ Go fetch me a quart of sack, put a
    toast in’t. Have I liv’d to be carried in a basket,
    like a barrow of butcher’s offal, and to be thrown
    into the Thames? Well, if I be serv’d such another
    trick, I’ll have my brains ta’en out and butter’d,
    and give them to a dog for a new-year’s
    gift. The rogues slighted me into the river with
    as little remorse as they would have drown’d a
    bitch’s blind puppies, fifteen i’ th’ litter; and you
    may know by my size, that I have a kind of alacrity
    in sinking: if the bottom were as deep as hell,
    I should down. I had been drown’d, but that the
    shore was shelvy and shallow; a death that I abhor;
    for the water swells a man: and what a thing
    should I have been, when I had been swell’d? I
    should have been a mountain of mummy.
         _Merry wives of Windsor, act 3. sc. 15._

    _Falstaff._ Nay, you shall hear, Master Brook,
    what I have suffer’d to bring this woman to evil
    for your good. Being thus cramm’d in the basket,
    a couple of Ford’s knaves, his hinds, were
    call’d forth by their mistress, to carry me in the
    name of foul cloaths to Datchet-lane. They took
    me on their shoulders, met the jealous knave their
    master in the door, who ask’d them once or twice
    what they had in their basket. I quak’d for fear,
    left the lunatic knave would have search’d it; but
    Fate, ordaining he should be a cuckold, held his
    hand. Well, on went he for a search, and away
    went I for foul cloaths. But mark the sequel, Master
    Brook. I suffer’d the pangs of three egregious
    deaths: first, an intolerable fright, to be detected
    by a jealous rotten bell weather; next, to be compass’d
    like a good bilbo, in the circumference of a
    peck, hilt to point, heel to head; and then to be
    stopt in, like a strong distillation, with stinking cloaths
    that fretted in their own grease. Think of that, a
    man of my kidney; think of that, that am as subject
    to heat as butter; a man of continual dissolution
    and thaw; it was a miracle to ’scape suffocation.
    And in the height of this bath, when I was
    more than half-stew’d in grease, like a Dutch dish,
    to be thrown into the Thames, and cool’d glowing
    hot, in that surge, like a horse-shoe; think of
    that; hissing hot; think of that, Master Brook.
         _Merry wives of Windsor, act 3. sc. 17._


Resemblance and Contrast.

Having discussed those qualities and circumstances of single objects
that seem peculiarly connected with criticism, we proceed, according to
the method proposed in the chapter of beauty, to the relations of
objects, beginning with the relations of resemblance and contrast.

Man being unavoidably connected with the beings around him, some
acquaintance with their nature, their powers, and their qualities, is
requisite for regulating his conduct. As an incentive to acquire a
branch of knowledge so essential to our well-being, motives alone of
reason and interest are not sufficient. Nature hath providently
superadded curiosity, a vigorous propensity which never is at rest. It
is this propensity which attaches us to every new object[78]; and in
particular incites us to consider objects in the way of comparison, in
order to discover their differences and resemblances.

Resemblance among objects of the same kind, and dissimilitude among
objects of different kinds, are too obvious and familiar to gratify our
curiosity in any degree. The gratification lies in discovering
differences among things where resemblance prevails, and in discovering
resemblances where difference prevails. Thus a difference in individuals
of the same kind of plants or animals is deemed a discovery, while the
many particulars in which they agree are neglected: and in different
kinds, any resemblance is greedily remarked, without attending to the
many particulars in which they differ.

A comparison however may be too far stretched. When differences or
resemblances are carried beyond certain bounds, they appear slight and
trivial; and for that reason will not be relished by one of taste. Yet
such propensity is there to gratify passion, curiosity in particular,
that even among good writers, we find many comparisons too slight to
afford satisfaction. Hence the frequent instances among logicians, of
distinctions without any solid difference: and hence the frequent
instances among poets and orators, of similes without any just
resemblance. With regard to the latter, I shall confine myself to one
instance, which will probably amuse the reader, being a citation not
from a poet nor orator, but from a grave author writing an institute of
law. “Our student shall observe, that the knowledge of the law is like a
deep well, out of which each man draweth according to the strength of
his understanding. He that reacheth deepest, seeth the amiable and
admirable secrets of the law, wherein I assure you the sages of the law
in former times have had the deepest reach. And as the bucket in the
depth is easily drawn to the uppermost part of the water, (for _nullum
elementum in suo proprio loco est grave_), but take it from the water it
cannot be drawn up but with a great difficulty; so, albeit beginnings of
this study seem difficult, yet when the professor of the law can dive
into the depth, it is delightful, easy, and without any heavy burden,
so long as he keep himself in his own proper element[79].” Shakespear
with much wit ridicules this disposition to simile-making, by putting in
the mouth of a weak man a resemblance much of a piece with that now

     _Fluellen._ I think it is in Macedon where Alexander is porn: I
     tell you, Captain, if you look in the maps of the orld, I warrant
     that you sall find, in the comparisons between Macedon and
     Monmouth, that the situations, look you, is both alike. There is a
     river in Macedon, there is also moreover a river in Monmouth: it is
     call’d _Wye_ at Monmouth, but it is out of my prains what is the
     name of the other river; but it is all one, ’tis as like as my
     fingers to my fingers, and there is salmons in both. If you mark
     Alexander’s life well, Harry of Monmouth’s life is come after it
     indifferent well; for there is figures in all things. Alexander,
     God knows, and you know, in his rages, and his furies, and his
     wraths, and his cholers, and his moods, and his displeasures, and
     his indignations, and also being a little intoxicates in his
     prains, did, in his ales and his angers, look you, kill his pest
     friend Clytus.

     _Gower._ Our King is not like him in that, he never kill’d any of
     his friends.

     _Fluellen._ It is not well done, mark you now, to take the tales
     out of my mouth, ere it is made and finished. I speak but in
     figures, and comparisons of it: As Alexander kill’d his friend
     Clytus, being in his ales and his cups; so also Harry Monmouth,
     being in his right wits and his good judgments, turn’d away the fat
     knight with the great belly-doublet; he was full of jests, and
     gypes, and knaveries, and mocks: I have forgot his name.

     _Gower._ Sir John Falstaff.

     _Fluellen._ That is he: I tell you, there is good men porn at
     Monmouth. _K. Henry_ V. _act 4. sc. 13._

Instruction, no doubt, is the chief end of comparison, but not the only
end. In works addressed to the imagination, comparison may be employed
with great success to put a subject in a strong point of view. A lively
idea is formed of a man’s courage, by likening it to that of a lion; and
eloquence is exalted in our imagination, by comparing it to a river
overflowing its banks, and involving all in its impetuous course. The
same effect is produced by contrast. A man in prosperity, becomes more
sensible of his happiness, by opposing his condition to that of a
person in want of bread. Thus comparison is subservient to poetry as
well as to philosophy; and with respect to both, the foregoing
observation holds equally, that resemblance among objects of the same
kind, and contrast among objects of different kinds, have no effect.
Such a comparison neither tends to gratify our curiosity, nor to set the
objects compared in a stronger light. Two apartments in a palace,
similar in shape, size, and furniture, make separately as good a figure
as when compared; and the same observation applies to two similar
copartments in a garden. On the other hand, oppose a regular building to
a fall of water, or a good picture to a towering hill, or even a little
dog to a large horse, and the contrast will produce no effect. But
resemblance, where the objects compared are of different kinds, and
contrast where the objects compared are of the same kind, have each of
them remarkably an enlivening effect. The poets, such of them as have a
just taste, draw all their similes from things that in the main differ
widely from the principal subject; and they never attempt a contrast but
where the things have a common genus and a resemblance in the capital
circumstances. Place together a large and a small sized animal of the
same species, the one will appear greater the other less, than when
viewed separately. When we oppose beauty to deformity, each makes a
greater figure by the comparison.

Upon a subject not only in itself curious, but of great importance in
all the fine arts, I must be more particular. That resemblance and
contrast have an enlivening effect upon objects of sight, is made
sufficiently evident; and that they have the same effect upon objects of
the other senses, will appear from induction. Nor is this law confined
to the external senses. Characters contrasted, make a greater figure by
the opposition. Iago, in the tragedy of _Othello_, says

    He hath a daily beauty in his life,
    That makes me ugly.

The character of a fop, and of a rough warrior, are no where more
successfully contrasted than by Shakespear.

    _Hotspur._ My liege, I did deny no prisoners;
    But I remember, when the fight was done,
    When I was dry with rage, and extreme toil,
    Breathless and faint, leaning upon my sword;
    Came there a certain Lord, neat, trimly dress’d,
    Fresh as a bridegroom; and his chin, new-reap’d,
    Shew’d like a stubble-land at harvest-home.
    He was perfumed like a milliner;
    And ’twixt his finger and his thumb he held
    A pouncet-box, which ever and anon
    He gave his nose;--and still he smil’d, and talk’d;
    And as the soldiers bare dead bodies by,
    He call’d them untaught knaves, unmannerly,
    To bring a slovenly, unhandsome corse
    Betwixt the wind and his nobility.
    With many holiday and lady terms
    He question’d me: amongst the rest, demanded
    My pris’ners, in your Majesty’s behalf.
    I then all smarting with my wounds; being gal’d
    To be so pester’d with a popinjay,
    Out of my grief, and my impatience,
    Answer’d, neglectingly, I know not what:
    He should, or should not; for he made me mad,
    To see him shine so brisk, and smell so sweet,
    And talk so like a waiting-gentlewoman,
    Of guns, and drums, and wounds; (God save the mark!)
    And telling me, the sovereign’st thing on earth
    Was parmacity, for an inward bruise;
    And that it was great pity, so it was,
    This villanous saltpetre should be digg’d
    Out of the bowels of the harmless earth,
    Which many a good, tall fellow had destroy’d
    So cowardly: and but for these vile guns,
    He would himself have been a soldier.--
         _First part, Henry IV. act 1. sc. 4._

Passions and emotions are also inflamed by comparison. A man of high
rank humbles the bystanders so far as almost to annihilate them in their
own opinion. Cæsar, beholding the statue of Alexander, felt a great
depression of spirits, when he reflected, that now at the age of
thirty-two, when Alexander died, he had not performed one memorable

Our opinions also are much influenced by comparison. A man whose
opulence exceeds the ordinary standard, is reputed richer than he is in
reality; and the character of wisdom or weakness, if at all remarkable
is generally carried beyond the truth.

The opinion a man forms of his present condition as to happiness or
misery, depends in a great measure on the comparison he makes betwixt it
and his former condition:

    Could I forget
    What I have been, I might the better bear
    What I am destin’d to. I’m not the first
    That have been wretched: but to think how much
    I have been happier.
         _Southern’s Innocent adultery, act 2._

The distress of a long journey makes even an indifferent inn pass
current. And in travelling, when the road is good and the horseman well
covered, a bad day may be agreeable, by making him sensible how snug he

The same effect is equally remarkable, when a man sets his condition in
opposition to that of others. A ship tossed about in a storm, makes the
spectator reflect upon his own security and ease, and puts these in the
strongest light:

    Suave, mari magno turbantibus æquora ventis,
    E terra magnum alterius spectare laborem,
    Non quia vexari quemquam est jocunda voluptas,
    Sed quibus ipse malis careas, quia cernere suave est.
         _Lucret. l. 2. principio._

A man in grief cannot bear mirth. It gives him a more lively notion of
his unhappiness, and of course makes him more unhappy. Satan
contemplating the beauties of the terrestrial paradise, breaks out in
the following exclamation.

    With what delight could I have walk’d thee round,
    If I could joy in ought, sweet interchange
    Of hill and valley, rivers, woods, and plains,
    Now land, now sea, and shores with forest crown’d,
    Rocks, dens, and caves! but I in none of these
    Find place or refuge; and the more I see
    Pleasures about me, so much more I feel
    Torment within me, as from the hateful siege
    Of contraries: all good to me becomes
    Bane, and in heav’n much worse would be my state.
         _Paradise Lost, book 9. l. 114._

    _Gaunt._ All places that the eye of heaven visits,
    Are to a wise man ports and happy havens.
    Teach thy necessity to reason thus:
    There is no virtue like necessity.
    Think not the King did banish thee;
    But thou the King. Wo doth the heavier sit,
    Where it perceives it is but faintly borne.
    Go say, I sent thee forth to purchase honour;
    And not, the King exil’d thee. Or suppose,
    Devouring pestilence hangs in our air,
    And thou art flying to a fresher clime,
    Look what thy soul holds dear, imagine it
    To lie that way thou go’st, not whence thou com’st.
    Suppose the singing birds, musicians;
    The grass whereon thou tread’st, the presence-floor;
    The flow’rs, fair ladies; and thy steps, no more
    Than a delightful measure, or a dance.
    For gnarling Sorrow hath less power to bite
    The man that mocks at it, and sets it light.

    _Bolingbroke._ Oh, who can hold a fire in his hand,
    By thinking on the frosty Caucasus?
    Or cloy the hungry edge of Appetite,
    By bare imagination of a feast?
    Or wallow naked in December snow,
    By thinking on fantastic summer’s heat?
    Oh, no! the apprehension of the good
    Gives but the greater feeling to the worse.
         _King Richard II. act 1. sc. 6._

The appearance of danger gives sometimes pleasure, sometimes pain. A
timorous person upon the battlements of a high tower, is seized with
terror, which even the consciousness of security cannot dissipate. But
upon one of a firm head, this situation has a contrary effect. The
appearance of danger heightens by opposition the consciousness of
security, and of consequence the satisfaction that arises from security.
The feeling here resembles that above mentioned occasioned by a ship
labouring in a storm.

This effect of magnifying or lessening objects by means of comparison,
is so familiar, that no philosopher has thought of searching for a
cause[80]. The obscurity of the subject may possibly have contributed to
their silence. But luckily in treating other subjects, a principle is
unfolded which will clearly account for this phenomenon. It depends
upon the power of passion to model our opinion of objects for its
gratification[81]. We have had occasion to see many illustrious examples
of this singular power of passion; and the present subject affords an
additional instance. That this is the cause, will evidently appear, by
reflecting in what manner a spectator is affected, when a very large
animal is for the first time placed beside a very small one of the same
species. The opposition is the first thing that strikes the mind: the
unusual appearance gives surprise; and the spectator, prone to gratify
this emotion, conceives the opposition to be the greatest that can be.
He sees, or seems to see, the one animal extremely little, and the other
extremely large. The emotion of surprise arising from any unusual
resemblance, serves equally to explain why at first view we are apt to
think such resemblance more entire than it is in reality. And it must be
observed, that the circumstances of more and less, which are the proper
subjects of comparison, raise a perception so indistinct and vague as
to facilitate the effect described. We have no mental standard of great
and little, nor of the several degrees of any attribute; and the mind
thus unrestrained, is naturally disposed to indulge its surprise to the
utmost extent.

In exploring the operations of the mind, some of which are extremely
nice and slippery, it is necessary to proceed with the utmost
circumspection. And after all, seldom it happens that speculations of
this kind afford any strong conviction. Luckily, in the present case, we
have at hand facts and experiments that support the foregoing theory in
a satisfactory manner. In the first place, the opposing a small object
of one species to a great object of another, produces not, in any
degree, that effect of contrast, which is so remarkable when both
objects are of the same species. There is no difference betwixt these
two cases that promiseth to have any influence, but only that the former
is common, the latter rare. May we not then fairly conclude, that
surprise from the rarity of appearance is the cause of contrast, when
we find no such effect where the appearance is common? In the next
place, if surprise be the sole cause of the effects that appear in
making a comparison, it follows necessarily that these effects will
vanish so soon as a comparison becomes familiar. This holds so
unerringly, as to leave no reasonable doubt that surprise is the prime
mover in this operation. Our surprise is great the first time a small
lapdog is seen with a large mastiff: but when two such animals are
constantly together, there is no surprise; and it makes no difference
whether they be viewed separately or in company. We put no bounds to the
riches of a man who has recently made his fortune. The opposition
betwixt his present and past situation, or betwixt his present situation
and that of others, is carried to an extreme. With regard to a family
that for many generations hath enjoyed great wealth, the same false
reckoning is not made. It is equally remarkable, that a simile loses its
effect by repetition. A lover compared to a moth scorching itself at the
flame of a candle, is a sprightly simile, which by frequent use has
lost all force. Love cannot now be compared to fire, without some degree
of disgust. It has been justly objected against Homer, that the lion is
too often introduced in his similes. All the variety he is able to throw
into them, is not sufficient to keep alive the reader’s surprise.

To explain the influence of comparison upon the mind, I have chosen the
simplest case, that of two animals of the same kind, differing in size
only, seen for the first time. To complete the theory, other
circumstances must be taken in. And the next supposition I shall make,
is where both animals, separately familiar to the spectator, are brought
together for the first time. In this case, the effect of magnifying and
diminishing, will be found remarkably greater than in that first
mentioned. And the reason will appear upon analyzing the operation. The
first thing we feel is surprise, occasioned by the uncommon difference
of two creatures of the same species. We are next sensible, that the one
appears less, the other larger, than they did formerly. This new
circumstance is a second cause of surprise, and augments it so as to
make us imagine a still greater opposition betwixt the animals, than if
we had formed no notion of them beforehand.

I shall confine myself to one other supposition, That the spectator was
acquainted beforehand with one of the animals only, the lapdog for
example. This new circumstance will vary the effect. Instead of widening
the natural difference by enlarging in appearance the one animal and
diminishing the other in proportion, the whole apparent alteration will
rest upon the lapdog. The surprise to find it less than judged to be
formerly, will draw the whole attention of the mind upon it; and this
surprise will be gratified, by conceiving it to be of the most
diminutive size possible. The mastiff in the mean time is quite
neglected. I am able to illustrate this effect by a very familiar
example. Take a piece of paper or linen reckoned to be a good white, and
compare it with something of the same kind that is a pure white. The
judgement we formed of the first object is instantly varied; and the
surprise occasioned by finding it not so white as was thought,
produceth a hasty conviction that it is much less white than it is in
reality. Withdrawing now the pure white, and putting in its place a deep
black, the surprise occasioned by this new circumstance carries our
thought to the other extreme, and we now conceive the original object to
be a pure white. Thus experience forces us to acknowledge, that our
emotions have an influence even upon our eye-sight. This experiment
leads to a general observation, That whatever is found more strange or
beautiful than was expected, is judged to be more strange or beautiful
than it is in reality. Hence it is a common artifice, to depreciate
beforehand what we wish to make a figure in the eyes of others.

The comparisons employed by poets and orators, coincide with the
last-mentioned supposition. It is always a known object that is to be
aggrandized or lessened. The former is effectuated by likening it to
some grand object, or by contrasting it with one that has the opposite
character. To effectuate the latter, the method must be reversed. The
object must be contrasted with something superior to itself, or likened
to something inferior. The whole effect is produced upon the principal
subject, which by this means is elevated above its rank or depressed
below it.

In accounting for the effect that any unusual resemblance or contrast
has upon the mind, I have hitherto assigned no other cause but surprise;
and to prevent confusion and obscurity, I thought it proper to discuss
that principle first. But surprise is not the only cause of the effect
described. Another cause concurs, which operates perhaps not less
powerfully than surprise. This cause is a principle in human nature that
lies still in obscurity, not having been evolved by any writer, though
its effects are extensive. As it is not distinguished by a proper name,
the reader must be satisfied with the following description. No man who
studies himself or others but must be sensible of a tendency or
propensity in the mind to complete every work that is begun, and to
carry things to their full perfection. This principle has little
opportunity to display itself upon natural operations, which are seldom
left imperfect. But in the operations of art it hath great scope; and
displays itself remarkably, by making us persevere in our own work, and
by making us wish for the completion of what is done by another. We feel
a sensible pleasure when the work is brought to perfection; and our pain
is not less sensible when we are disappointed. Hence our uneasiness,
when an interesting story is broke off in the middle, when a piece of
music ends without a close, or when a building or garden is left
imperfect. The same principle operates in making collections, such as
the whole works good and bad of any author. A certain person endeavoured
to collect prints of all the capital paintings, and succeeded except as
to a few. La Bruyere remarks, that an anxious search was made for these,
not on account of their value, but to complete the set[82].

The final cause of this principle is an additional proof of its
existence. Human works are of no significancy till they be completed.
Reason is not always a sufficient counterbalance to indolence: and some
principle over and above is necessary, to excite our industry, and to
prevent our stopping short in the middle of the course.

We need not lose time in describing the co-operation of the foregoing
principle with surprise in producing the effect that is felt upon the
appearance of any unusual resemblance or contrast. Surprise first
operates, and carries our opinion of the resemblance or contrast beyond
the truth. The principle we have been describing carries us still
farther; for being bent upon gratification, it forces upon the mind a
conviction that the resemblance or contrast is complete. We need no
better illustration than the resemblance that is fancied in some
pebbles to a tree or an insect. The resemblance, however faint in
reality, is conceived to be wonderfully perfect. This 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, intitled, _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[83].”

This remarkable principle which inclines us 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. The first instance I
shall give is of resemblance. _Unumquodque eodem modo dissolvitur quo
colligatum est_, 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 leads us to imagine a sort of resemblance betwixt them, which
the foregoing principle makes us conceive to be as complete as possible.
The next instance shall be of contrast. Addison observes[84], “That 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
principle serves to account for these appearances. To make this evident,
one of the cases shall suffice. A complexion, however dark, never
approaches to black. When these colours 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 principle, even where there is no ground for
surprise, is not confined to opinion or conviction. So powerful is it,
as to make us sometimes proceed to action in order to complete a
resemblance or contrast. 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 betwixt a
crime and its punishment; and the foregoing principle impells us to make
the resemblance as complete as possible. Titus Livius, influenced by
this principle, accounts for a certain punishment by a resemblance
betwixt it and the crime, far too subtile for common apprehension.
Speaking 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
fœdera 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[85].” 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. Shakespear, whose knowledge of nature is not 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, Iago.

     _Iago._ Do it not with poison; strangle her in her bed, even in the
     bed she hath contaminated.

     _Othello._ Good, good: The justice of it pleases; very good.
     _Othello, act 4. sc. 5._

    _Warwick._ From off the gates of York fetch down the head,
    Your father’s head which Clifford placed there.
    Instead whereof let his supply the room.
    Measure for measure must be answered.
         _Third Part of Henry VI. act 2. sc. 9._

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[86].

Upon the subject in general, I have two remarks to add. The first
concerns resemblance, which when too entire hath no effect, however
different in kind the things compared may be. This remark is applicable
to works of art only; for natural objects of different kinds, have
scarce ever an entire resemblance. 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 let a marble
statue be coloured like a picture, the resemblance is so entire as to
produce no effect. At a distance, it appears a real person. We discover
the mistake when we approach; and no other emotion is raised but
surprise occasioned by the deception. The idea of resemblance is sunk
into that of identity. The figure still appears to our eyes rather to be
a real person than a resemblance of it; and we must make use of our
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 regards contrast. Emotions make the greatest figure
when contrasted in succession. But then the succession ought neither to
be precipitate nor immoderately slow. If too slow, the effect of
contrast becomes faint by the distance of the emotions; and if
precipitate, no single emotion has room to expand itself to its full
size; but is stifled as it were in the birth by a succeeding emotion.
The funeral oration of the Bishop of Meaux upon the Duchess of Orleans,
is a perfect hotchpotch of chearful 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, _viz._ What ought
to be the rule of succession; whether ought resemblance to be studied or
contrast? The emotions raised by the fine arts, are generally 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 a good taste more than by reasoning, have
generally aimed at this beauty. 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 used to give
them their utmost strength. A field may be laid out in grand, sweet,
gay, neat, wild, melancholy scenes. When these are viewed in succession,
grandeur ought to be contrasted with neatness, regularity with wildness,
and gaiety with melancholy; so as 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, who in her most beautiful
landscapes often intermixes rugged rocks, dirty marshes, and barren
stony heaths. The greatest matters 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 this embellishment. Dissimilar emotions require
different tones of mind; and therefore in conjunction can never make a
good figure[87]. Gaiety and sweetness may be combined, or wildness and
gloominess; but a composition of gaiety and gloominess is distasteful.
The rude uncultivated copartment of furze and broom in Richmond garden,
hath a good effect in the succession of objects; but a spot of this
nature would be insufferable in the midst of a polished parterre or
flower-plot. A garden therefore, if not of great extent, will not admit
of 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. It is
accordingly 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[88], 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 succession, which
approaches to co-existence, they will not be relished. In the midst of a
laboured and elevated description of a battle, Virgil introduces a
ludicrous image, which is certainly out of its place:

    Obvius ambustum torrem Chorinæus ab ara
    Corripit, et venienti Ebuso plagamque ferenti
    Occupat os flammis: illi ingens barba reluxit,
    Nidoremque ambusta dedit.
         _Æn._ xii. 298.

The following image is not less ludicrous, nor less improperly placed.

    Mentre fan questi i bellici stromenti
    Perche debbiano tosto in uso porse,
    Il gran nemico de l’humane genti,
    Contra i Christiani i lividi occhi torse:
    E lor veggendo a le bell’ opre intenti,
    Ambo le labra per furor si morse:
    E qual tauro ferito, il suo dolore
    Verso mugghiando e sospirando fuore.
         _Gierusal. cant. 4. st. 1._

It would however be too austere, to banish altogether ludicrous images
from an epic poem. This poem doth not always soar above the clouds. It
admits great variety; and upon occasions 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[89] in describing
a foot-race; the circumstances of which, not excepting the ludicrous
part, are copied from Homer[90]. After a fit of merryment, we are, it
is true, the less disposed to the serious and sublime: but then, a
ludicrous scene, by unbending the mind from severe application to more
interesting subjects, may prevent fatigue, and preserve our relish


Of Uniformity and Variety.

When I apply myself to explain uniformity and variety, and to show how
we are affected by these circumstances, it appears doubtful what method
ought to be followed. I foresee several difficulties in keeping close to
my text; and yet by indulging a range, such as may be necessary for a
clear view, I shall certainly incur the censure of wandering.--Be it so.
One ought not to abandon the right track for fear of censure. The
collateral matters, beside, that will be introduced, are curious, and
not of slight importance in the science of human nature.

The necessary succession of perceptions, is a subject formerly handled,
so far as it depends on the relations of objects and their mutual
connections[91]. But that subject is not exhausted; and I take the
liberty to introduce it a second time, in order to explain in what
manner we are affected by uniformity and variety. The world we inhabit
is replete with things not less remarkable for their variety than their
number. These, unfolded by the wonderful mechanism of external sense,
furnish the mind with many perceptions, which, joined with ideas of
memory, of imagination, and of reflection, form a complete train that
has not a gap or interval. This tide of objects, in a continual flux, is
in a good measure independent of will. The mind, as has been
observed[92], is so constituted, “That it can by no effort break off the
succession of its ideas, nor keep its attention long fixt upon the same
object.” We can arrest a perception in its course; we can shorten its
natural duration, to make room for another; we can vary the succession
by change of place or amusement; and we can in some measure prevent
variety, by frequently recalling the same object after short intervals:
but still there must be a succession, and a change from one thing to
another. By artificial means, the succession may be retarded or
accelerated, may be rendered more various or more uniform, but in one
shape or other is unavoidable.

The rate of succession, even when left to its ordinary course, is not
always the same. There are natural causes that accelerate or retard it
considerably. The first I shall mention depends on a peculiar
constitution of mind. One man is distinguished from another, by no
circumstance more remarkably than the movement of his train of
perceptions. A cold languid temper is accompanied with a slow course of
perceptions, which occasions dulness of apprehension and sluggishness in
action. To a warm temper, on the contrary, belongs a quick course of
perceptions, which occasions quickness of apprehension and activity in
business. The Asiatic nations, the Chinese especially, are observed to
be more cool and deliberate than the Europeans: may not the reason be,
that heat enervates by exhausting the spirits? A certain degree of cold,
such as is felt in the middle regions of Europe, by bracing the fibres,
rouses the mind, and produces a brisk circulation of thought,
accompanied with vigour in action. In youth there is observable a
quicker succession of perceptions, than in old age. Hence in youth a
remarkable avidity for variety of amusements, which in riper years give
place to more uniform and more sedate occupation. This qualifies men of
middle age for business, where activity is required, but with a greater
proportion of uniformity than variety. In old age, a slow and languid
succession makes variety unnecessary; and for that reason, the aged, in
all their motions, are generally governed by an habitual uniformity.
Whatever be the cause, we may venture to pronounce, that heat in the
imagination and temper, is always connected with a brisk flow of

The natural rate of succession, depends also in some degree upon the
particular perceptions that compose the train. An agreeable object,
taking a strong hold of the mind, occasions a slower succession than
when the objects are indifferent. Grandeur and novelty fix the attention
for a considerable time, excluding all other ideas; and the mind thus
occupied feels no vacuity. Some emotions, by hurrying the mind from
object to object, accelerate the succession. Where the train is composed
of connected objects, the succession is quick. For it is so ordered by
nature, that the mind goes easily and sweetly along connected
objects[93]. On the other hand, the succession must be slow where the
train is composed of unconnected objects. An unconnected object, finding
no ready access to the mind, requires time to make an impression. And
that it is not admitted without a struggle, appears from the unsettled
state of the mind for some moments after it is presented, wavering
betwixt it and the former train. During this short period, one or other
of the former objects will intrude, perhaps oftener than once, till the
attention be fixt entirely upon the new object. The same observations
are applicable to ideas suggested by language. The mind can bear a quick
succession of related ideas. But an unrelated idea, for which the mind
is not prepared, takes time to make a distinct impression; and therefore
a train composed of such ideas, ought to proceed with a slow pace. Hence
an epic poem, a play, or any story connected in all its parts, may be
perused in a shorter time, than a book of maxims or apothegms, of which
a quick succession creates both confusion and fatigue.

Such latitude hath nature indulged in the rate of succession. What
latitude it indulges with respect to uniformity we proceed to examine.
The uniformity or variety of a train, so far as composed of external
objects, depends on the particular objects that surround the percipient
at the time. The present occupation must also have an influence; one is
sometimes engaged in a multiplicity of affairs, sometimes altogether
vacant. A natural train of ideas of memory is more circumscribed, each
object being linked, by some connection, to what precedes and to what
follows it. These connections, which are many and of different kinds,
afford scope for a sufficient degree of variety; and at the same time
prevent any excess that is unpleasant. Temper and constitution also have
an influence here, as well as upon the rate of succession. A man of a
calm and sedate temper, admits not willingly any idea but what is
regularly introduced by a proper connection. One of a roving disposition
embraces with avidity every new idea, however slender its relation be to
those that go before it. Neither must we overlook the nature of the
perceptions that compose the train; for their influence is not less with
respect to uniformity and variety, than with respect to the rate of
succession. The mind ingrossed by any passion, love or hatred, hope or
fear, broods over its object, and can bear no interruption. In such a
state, the train of perceptions must not only be slow, but extremely
uniform. Anger newly inflamed eagerly grasps its object, and leaves not
a cranny in the mind for another thought than of revenge. In the
character of Hotspur, this state of mind is represented to the life; a
picture remarkable for high colouring as well as for strictness of

    _Worcester._ Peace, cousin, say no more.
    And now I will unclasp a secret book,
    And to your quick-conceiving discontents
    I’ll read you matter, deep and dangerous;
    As full of peril and advent’rous spirit
    As to o’erwalk a current, roaring loud,
    On the unsteadfast footing of a spear.

    _Hotspur._ If he fall in, good-night. Or sink or swim,
    Send danger from the east into the west,
    So honour cross it from the north to south;
    And let them grapple. O! the blood more stirs
    To rouse a lion than to start a hare.

    _Worcester._ Those same Noble Scots,
    That are your prisoners----

    _Hotspur._ I’ll keep them all.
    By Heav’n, he shall not have a Scot of them:
    No, if a Scot would save his soul, he shall not;
    I’ll keep them, by this hand.

    _Worcester._ You start away,
    And lend no ear unto my purposes;
    Those pris’ners you shall keep.

    _Hotspur._ I will; that’s flat:
    He said, he would not ransom Mortimer:
    Forbad my tongue to speak of Mortimer:
    But I will find him when he lies asleep,
    And in his ear I’ll holla _Mortimer_!
    Nay, I will have a starling taught to speak
    Nothing but _Mortimer_, and give it him,
    To keep his anger still in motion.

    _Worcester._ Hear you, cousin, a word.

    _Hotspur._ All studies here I solemnly defy,
    Save how to gall and pinch this Bolingbroke:
    And that same sword-and-buckler Prince of Wales,
    (But that I think his father loves him not,
    And would be glad he met with some mischance),
    I’d have him poison’d with a pot of ale.

    _Worcester._ Farewel, my kinsman, I will talk to you,
    When you are better temper’d to attend.
         _First part, Henry_ IV. _act 1. sc. 4._

Having viewed a train of perceptions as directed by nature, and the
variations it is susceptible of from different necessary causes, we
proceed to examine how far it is subjected to will; for that will hath
some influence, more or less, is observed above. And first, the rate of
succession may be retarded by insisting upon one object, and propelled
by dismissing another before its time. But such voluntary mutations in
the natural course of succession, have limits that cannot be extended by
the most painful efforts. The mind circumscribed in its capacity,
cannot, at the same instant, admit many perceptions; and when replete,
it has no place for new perceptions till others be removed. For this
reason, a voluntary change of perceptions cannot be instantaneous; and
the time it requires sets bounds to the velocity of succession. On the
other hand, the power we have to arrest a flying perception, is equally
limited. The longer we detain any perception, the more difficulty we
find in the operation; till, the difficulty becoming unsurmountable, we
are forced to quit our hold, and to permit the train to take its usual

The power we have over this train as to uniformity and variety, is in
some cases very great, in others very little. A train so far as composed
of external objects, depends entirely on the place we occupy, and admits
not more or less variety but by change of place. A train composed of
ideas of memmory, is still less under our power. Objects which are
connected, afford the mind an easy passage from one to another. They
suggest each other in idea by the same means; and we cannot at will call
up any idea that is not connected with the train[94]. But a train of
ideas suggested by reading, may be varied at will, provided we have
books in store.

This power which nature hath given us over our train of perceptions, may
be greatly strengthened by proper discipline, and by an early
application to business. Its improved strength is remarkable in those
who have a strong genius for the mathematics: nor less remarkable in
persons devoted to religious exercises, who pass whole days in
contemplation, and impose upon themselves long and severe penances. It
is not to be conceived, what length a habit of activity in affairs will
carry some men. Let a stranger, or let any person to whom the sight is
not familiar, attend the Chancellor of Great Britain through the labours
but of one day, during a session of parliament: how great will be his
astonishment! what multiplicity of law-business, what deep thinking, and
what elaborate application to matters of government! The train of
perceptions must in this great man be accelerated far beyond the common
course of nature. Yet no confusion nor hurry; but in every article the
greatest order and accuracy. Such is the force of habit! How happy is
man, to have the command of a principle of action, that can elevate him
so far above the ordinary condition of humanity[95]!

We are now ripe for considering a train of perceptions with respect to
pleasure and pain: and to this speculation we must give peculiar
attention, because it serves to explain the effects that uniformity and
variety have upon the mind. A man is always in a pleasant state of mind,
when his perceptions flow in their natural course. He feels himself
free, light, and easy, especially after any forcible acceleration or
retardation. On the other hand, the resistance felt in retarding or
accelerating the natural course, excites a pain, which, though scarcely
felt in small removes, becomes considerable toward the extremes. An
aversion to fix on any single object for a long time, or to take in a
multiplicity of objects in a short time, is remarkable in children; and
equally so in men unaccustomed to business. A man languishes when the
succession is very slow; and, if he grow not impatient, is apt to fall
asleep. During a rapid succession, he hath a feeling as if his head were
turning round. He is fatigued, and his pain resembles that of weariness
after bodily labour. External objects, when they occasion a very slow or
a very quick succession, produce a pain of the same sort with what it
felt in a voluntary retardation or acceleration: which shows that the
pain proceeds not from the violence of the action, but from the
retardation or acceleration itself, disturbing that free and easy course
of succession which is naturally pleasant.

But the mind is not satisfied with a moderate course alone: its
perceptions must also be sufficiently diversified. Number without
variety constitutes not an agreeable train. In comparing a few objects,
uniformity is agreeable: but the frequent reiteration of uniform
objects becomes unpleasant. One tires of a scene that is not
diversified; and soon feels a sort of unnatural restraint when confined
within a narrow range, whether occasioned by a retarded succession or by
too great uniformity. An excess in variety is, on the other hand,
fatiguing. This is even perceptible in a train composed of related
objects: much more where the objects are unrelated; for an object,
unconnected with the former train, gains not admittance without effort;
and this effort, though scarce perceptible in a single instance, becomes
by frequent reiteration exceeding painful. Whatever be the cause, the
fact is certain, that a man never finds himself more at ease, than when
his perceptions succeed each other with a certain degree, not only of
velocity, but also of variety. Hence it proceeds, that a train
consisting entirely of ideas of memory, is never painful by too great
variety; because such ideas are not introduced otherwise than according
to their natural connections[96]. The pleasure of a train of ideas, is
the most remarkable in a reverie; especially where the imagination
interposes, and is active in coining new ideas, which is done with
wonderful facility. One must be sensible, that the serenity and ease of
the mind in this state, makes a great part of the enjoyment. The case is
different where external objects enter into the train; for these, making
their appearance without any order, and without any connection save that
of contiguity, form a train of perceptions that may be extremely uniform
or extremely diversified; which, for opposite reasons, are both of them

Any acceleration or retardation of the natural run of perceptions, is
painful even where it is voluntary. And it is equally painful to alter
that degree of variety which nature requires. Contemplation, when the
mind is long attached to one thing, soon becomes painful by restraining
the free range of perception. Curiosity and the prospect of advantage
from useful discoveries, may engage a man to prosecute his studies,
notwithstanding the pain they give him; and a habit of close attention,
formed by frequent exercise, may soften the pain. But it is deeply felt
by the bulk of mankind, and produceth in them an aversion to all
abstract sciences. In any profession or calling, a train of operation
that is simple and reiterated without intermission, makes the operator
languish, and lose his vigor. He complains neither of too great labour
nor of too little action; but regrets the want of variety, and his being
obliged to do the same thing over and over. Where the operation is
sufficiently varied, the mind retains its vigor, and is pleased with its
condition. Actions again create an uneasiness when excessive in number
or variety, though in every other respect agreeable. This uneasiness is
extremely remarkable, where strict attention must be given, at the same
time, to a number of different things. Thus a throng of business in law,
in physic, or in traffick, distresseth and distracts the mind, unless
where a habit of application is acquired by long and constant exercise.
The excessive variety is the distressing circumstance; and the mind
suffers grievously by being kept constantly upon the stretch.

With relation to involuntary causes disturbing that degree of variety
which nature requires, a slight pain affecting one part of the body
without variation, becomes, by its constancy and long duration, almost
insupportable. The patient, sensible that the pain is not increased in
degree, complains of its constancy more than of its severity, that it
ingrosses his whole thoughts, and gives admission to no other object.
Pain, of all feelings, seizes the attention with the greatest force; and
the mind, after fruitless efforts to turn its view to objects more
agreeable, must abandon itself to its tormentor. A shifting pain gives
less uneasiness, because change of place contributes to variety. An
intermitting pain, suffering other objects to intervene, is not
increased by reiteration. Again, any single colour or sound often
returning, becomes disagreeable; as may be observed in viewing a train
of similar apartments painted with the same colour, and in hearing the
prolonged tollings of a bell. Colour and sound varied within certain
limits, though without any order, are agreeable; witness a field
variegated with many colours of plants and flowers, and the various
notes of birds in a thicket. Increase the number or variety, and the
feeling becomes unpleasant. Thus a great variety of colours, crowded
upon a small canvas or in quick succession, create an uneasy feeling,
which is prevented by putting the colours at a greater distance either
of place or time. A number of voices in a crowded assembly, a number of
animals collected in a market, produce an unpleasant emotion; though a
few of them together, or all of them in a moderate succession, would be
agreeable. And because of the same excess in variety, a number of pains
felt in different parts of the body, at the same instant or in a rapid
succession, make an exquisite torture.

The foregoing doctrine concerning the train of perceptions, and the
pleasure or pain resulting from that train in different circumstances,
will be confirmed by attending to the final cause of these effects. And
as I am sensible that the mind, inflamed with speculations of this kind
so highly interesting, is beyond measure disposed to conviction, I shall
be watchful to admit no argument nor remark but what appears solidly
founded. With this caution I proceed to the inquiry. It is occasionally
observed above, that persons of a phlegmatic temperament, having a
sluggish train of perceptions, are indisposed to action; and that
activity constantly accompanies a brisk motion of perceptions. To
ascertain this fact, a man need not go abroad for experiments.
Reflecting upon things passing in his own mind, he will find, that a
brisk circulation of thought constantly prompts him to action; and that
he is averse to action when his perceptions languish in their course.
But man by nature is formed for action, and he must be active in order
to be happy. Nature therefore hath kindly provided against indolence, by
annexing pleasure to a moderate course of perceptions, and by making
every remarkable retardation painful. A slow course of perceptions is
attended with another bad effect. Man in a few capital cases is governed
by propensity or instinct; but in matters that admit deliberation and
choice, reason is assigned him for a guide. Now, as reasoning requires
often a great compass of ideas, their succession ought to be so quick,
as readily to furnish every motive that may be necessary for mature
deliberation. In a languid succession, motives will often occur after
action is commenced, when it is too late to retreat.

Nature hath guarded man, her favourite, against a succession too rapid,
not less carefully than against one too slow. Both are equally painful,
though the pain is not the same in both. Many are the good effects of
this contrivance. In the first place, as the bodily faculties are by
certain painful sensations confined within proper limits, beyond which
it would be dangerous to strain the tender organs, Nature, in like
manner, is equally provident with respect to the nobler faculties of the
mind. Thus the pain of an accelerated course of perceptions, is Nature’s
admonition to relax our pace, and to admit a more gentle exertion of
thought. Another valuable purpose may be gathered, from considering in
what manner objects are imprinted upon the mind. To make such an
impression as to give the memory fast hold of the object, time is
required, even where attention is the greatest; and a moderate degree of
attention, which is the common case, must be continued still longer to
produce the same effect. A rapid succession then must prevent objects
from making impressions so deep as to be of real service in life; and
Nature accordingly for the sake of memory, has by a painful feeling
guarded against a rapid succession. But a still more valuable purpose is
answered by this contrivance. As, on the one hand, a sluggish course of
perceptions indisposeth to action; so, on the other, a course too rapid
impels to rash and precipitant action. Prudent conduct is the child of
deliberation and clear conception, for which there is no place in a
rapid course of thought. Nature therefore, taking measures for prudent
conduct, has guarded us effectually from precipitancy of thought, by
making it painful.

Nature not only provides against a succession too slow or too quick, but
makes the middle course extremely pleasant. Nor is this middle course
confined within narrow bounds. Every man can naturally without pain
accelerate or retard in some degree the rate of his perceptions; and he
can do this in a still greater degree by the force of habit. Thus a
habit of contemplation annihilates the pain of a retarded course of
perceptions; and a busy life, after long practice, makes acceleration

Concerning the final cause of our taste for variety, it will be
considered, that human affairs, complex by variety as well as number,
require the distributing our attention and activity, in measure and
proportion. Nature therefore, to secure a just distribution
corresponding to the variety of human affairs, has made too great
uniformity or too great variety in the course of our perceptions equally
unpleasant. And indeed, were we addicted to either extreme, our internal
constitution would be ill suited to our external circumstances. At the
same time, where a frequent reiteration of the same operation is
required, as in several manufactures, or a quick circulation, as in law
or physic, Nature, attentive to all our wants, hath also provided for
these cases. She hath implanted in the breast of every person, an
efficacious principle, which leads to habit. By an obstinate
perseverance in the same occupation, the pain of excessive uniformity
vanisheth; and by the like perseverance in a quick circulation of
different occupations, the pain of excessive variety vanisheth. And thus
we come to take delight in several occupations, that by nature, without
habit, are not a little disgustful.

A middle rate also in our train of perceptions betwixt uniformity and
variety, is not less pleasant, than betwixt quickness and slowness. The
mind of man thus constituted, is wonderfully adapted to the course of
human affairs, which are continually changing, but not without
connection. It is equally adapted to the acquisition of knowledge, which
results chiefly from discovering resemblances among differing objects,
and differences among resembling objects. Such occupation, even
abstracting from the knowledge we acquire, is in itself delightful, by
preserving a middle rate betwixt too great uniformity and too great

We are now arrived at the chief purpose of the present chapter; and that
is to examine how far uniformity or variety ought to be studied in the
fine arts. And the knowledge we have obtained, will even at first view
suggest a general observation, That in every work of art, it must be
agreeable to find that degree of variety which corresponds to the
natural course of our perceptions; and that an excess in variety or in
uniformity, must be disagreeable by varying that natural course. For
this reason, works of art admit more or less variety according to the
nature of the subject. In a picture that strongly attaches the spectator
to a single object, the mind relisheth not a multiplicity of figures or
of ornaments. A picture again representing a gay subject, admits great
variety of figures and ornaments; because these are agreeable to the
mind in a chearful tone. The same observation is applicable to poetry
and to music.

It must at the same time be remarked, that one can bear a greater
variety of natural objects than of objects in a picture; and a greater
variety in a picture than in a description. A real object presented to
the view, makes an impression more readily than when represented in
colours, and much more readily than when represented in words. Hence it
is, that the profuse variety of objects in some natural landscapes,
neither breed confusion nor fatigue. And for the same reason, there is
place for greater variety of ornament in a picture, than in a poem.

From these general observations I proceed to particulars. In works
exposed continually to public view, variety ought to be studied. It is a
rule accordingly in sculpture, to contrast the different limbs of a
statue, in order to give it all the variety possible. Though the cone in
a single view be more beautiful than the pyramid; yet a pyramidal
steeple, because of its variety, is justly preferred. For the same
reason, the oval in compositions is preferred before the circle; and
painters, in copying buildings or any regular work, endeavour to give an
air of variety by representing the subject in an angular view: we are
pleased with the variety without losing sight of the regularity. In a
landscape representing animals, those especially of the same kind,
contrast ought to prevail. To draw one sleeping another awake, one
sitting another in motion, one moving toward the spectator another from
him, is the life of such a performance.

In every sort of writing intended for amusement, variety is necessary in
proportion to the length of the work. Want of variety is sensibly felt
in Davila’s history of the civil wars of France. The events are indeed
important and various: but the reader languisheth by a tiresome
uniformity of character; every person engaged being figured a consummate
politician, governed by interest only. It is hard to say, whether Ovid
disgusts more by too great variety or too great uniformity. His stories
are all of the same kind, concluding invariably with the transformation
of one being into another. So far he is tiresome with excess in
uniformity. He also fatigues with excess in variety, by hurrying his
reader incessantly from story to story. Ariosto is still more fatiguing
than Ovid, by exceeding the just bounds of variety. Not satisfied, like
Ovid, with a succession in his stories, he distracts the reader by
jumbling together a multitude of unconnected events. Nor is the Orlando
Furioso less tiresome by its uniformity than the Metamorphoses, though
in a different manner. After a story is brought to a crisis, the reader,
intent upon the catastrophe, is suddenly snatched away to a new story,
which is little regarded so long as the mind is occupied with the
former. This tantalizing method, from which the author never once
swerves during the course of a long work, beside its uniformity, hath
another bad effect: it prevents that sympathy which is raised by an
interesting event when the reader meets with no interruption.

The emotions produced by our perceptions in a train, have been little
considered, and less understood. The subject therefore required an
elaborate discussion. It may surprise some readers, to find variety
treated as only contributing to make a train of perceptions pleasant,
when it is commonly held to be a necessary ingredient in beauty of
whatever kind; according to the definition, “That beauty consists in
uniformity amidst variety.” But after the subject is explained and
illustrated as above, I presume it will be evident, that this
definition, however applicable to one or other species, is far from
being just with respect to beauty in general. Variety contributes no
share to the beauty of a moral action, nor of a mathematical theorem;
and numberless are the beautiful objects of sight that have little or no
variety in them. A globe, the most uniform of all figures, is of all the
most beautiful; and a square, though more beautiful than a trapezium,
hath less variety in its constituent parts. The foregoing definition,
which at best is but obscurely expressed, is only applicable to a number
of objects in a group or in succession, among which indeed a due mixture
of uniformity and variety is always agreeable, provided the particular
objects, separately considered, be in any degree beautiful. Uniformity
amidst variety among ugly objects, affords no pleasure. This
circumstance is totally omitted in the definition; and indeed to have
mentioned it, would at first glance show the definition to be
imperfect. To define beauty as arising from beautiful objects blended
together in a due proportion of uniformity and variety, would be too
gross to pass current; as nothing can be more gross, than to employ in a
definition the very term that is proposed to be explained.


_Concerning the works of nature._

In natural objects, whether we regard their internal or external
structure, beauty and design are equally conspicuous. We shall begin
with the outside of nature, as what first presents itself.

The figure of an organic body, is generally regular. The trunk of a
tree, its branches, and their ramifications, are nearly round, and form
a series regularly decreasing from the trunk to the smallest fibre.
Uniformity is no where more remarkable than in the leaves, which, in
the same species, have all the same colour, size, and shape. The seeds
and fruits are all regular figures, approaching for the most part to the
globular form. Hence a plant, especially of the larger kind, with its
trunk, branches, foliage, and fruit, is a delightful object.

In an animal, the trunk, which is much larger than the other parts,
occupies a chief place. Its shape, like that of the stem of plants, is
nearly round; a figure which of all is the most agreeable. Its two sides
are precisely similar. Several of the under parts go off in pairs; and
the two individuals of each pair are accurately uniform. The single
parts are placed in the middle. The limbs, bearing a certain proportion
to the trunk, serve to support it, and to give it a proper elevation.
Upon one extremity are disposed the neck and head, in the direction of
the trunk. The head being the chief part, possesses with great propriety
the chief place. Hence, the beauty of the whole figure, is the result of
many equal and proportional parts orderly disposed; and the smallest
variation in number, equality, proportion, or order, never fails to
produce a perception of ugliness and deformity.

Nature in no particular seems more profuse of ornament, than in the
beautiful colouring of her works. The flowers of plants, the furs of
beasts, and the feathers of birds, vie with each other in the beauty of
their colours, which in lustre as well as in harmony are beyond the
power of imitation. Of all natural appearances, the colouring of the
human face is the most exquisite. It is the strongest instance of the
ineffable art of nature, in adapting and proportioning its colours to
the magnitude, figure, and position, of the parts. In a word, colour
seems to live in nature only, and to languish under the finest touches
of art.

When we examine the internal structure of a plant or animal, a wonderful
subtility of mechanism is displayed. Man, in his mechanical operations,
is confined to the surface of bodies. But the operations of nature are
exerted through the whole substance, so as to reach even the elementary
parts. Thus the body of an animal, and of a plant, are composed of
certain great vessels; these of smaller; and these again of still
smaller, without end so far we can discover. This power of diffusing
mechanism through the most intimate parts, is peculiar to nature; and
distinguishes her operations, most remarkably, from every work of art.
Such texture, continued from the grosser parts to the most minute,
preserves all along the strictest regularity. The fibres of plants are a
bundle of cylindric canals, lying in the same direction, and parallel or
nearly parallel to each other. In some instances, a most accurate
arrangement of parts is discovered, as in onions, formed of concentric
coats one within another to the very centre. An animal body is still
more admirable, in the disposition of its internal parts, and in their
order and symmetry. There is not a bone, a muscle, a blood-vessel, a
nerve, that hath not one corresponding to it on the opposite side of the
animal; and the same order is carried through the most minute parts. The
lungs are composed of two parts, which are disposed upon the sides of
the thorax; and the kidneys, in a lower situation, have a position not
less orderly. As to the parts that are single, the heart is
advantageously situated nigh the middle. The liver, stomach, and spleen,
are disposed in the upper region of the abdomen, about the same height:
the bladder is placed in the middle of the body; as well as the
intestinal canal, which fills the whole cavity by its convolutions.

The mechanical power of nature, not confined to small bodies, reacheth
equally those of the greatest size; witness the bodies that compose the
solar system, which, however large, are weighed, measured, and subjected
to certain laws, with the utmost accuracy. Their places around the sun,
with their distances, are determined by a precise rule, corresponding to
their quantities of matter. The superior dignity of the central body, in
respect of its bulk and lucid appearance, is suited to the place it
occupies. The globular figure of these bodies, is not only in itself
beautiful, but is above all others fitted for regular motion. Each
planet revolves about its own axis in a given time; and each moves round
the sun, in an orbit nearly circular, and in a time proportioned to its
distance. Their velocities, directed by an established law, are
perpetually changing by regular accelerations and retardations. In fine,
the great variety of regular appearances, joined with the beauty of the
system itself, cannot fail to produce the highest delight in every
person who can taste design, power, or beauty.

Nature hath a wonderful power of connecting systems with each other, and
of propagating that connection through all her works. Thus the
constituent parts of a plant, the roots, the stem, the branches, the
leaves, the fruit, are really different systems, united by a mutual
dependence on each other. Thus in an animal, the lymphatic and lacteal
ducts, the blood-vessels and nerves, the muscles and glands, the bones
and cartilages, the membranes and viscera, with the other organs, form
distinct systems, which are united into one whole. There are, at the
same time, other connections less intimate. Thus every plant is joined
to the earth by its roots; it requires rain and dews to furnish it with
juices; and it requires heat to preserve these juices in fluidity and
motion. Thus every animal, by its gravity, is connected with the earth,
with the element in which it breathes, and with the sun, by deriving
from it cherishing and enlivening heat. The earth furnisheth aliment to
plants, these to animals, and these again to other animals, in a long
train of dependence. That the earth is part of a greater system,
comprehending many bodies mutually attracting each other, and
gravitating all toward one common centre, is now thoroughly explored.
Such a regular and uniform series of connections, propagated through so
great a number of beings and through such wide spaces, is wonderful: and
our wonder must increase, when we observe this connection propagated
from the minutest atoms to bodies of the most enormous size, and widely
diffused, so as that we can neither perceive its beginning nor its end.
That it doth not terminate within our own planetary system, is certain.
The connection is diffused over spaces still more remote, where new
bodies and systems rise to our view, without end. All space is filled
with the works of God, which, being the operation of one hand, are
formed by one plan, to answer one great end.

But the most wonderful connection of all, though not the most
conspicuous, is that of our internal frame with the works of nature. Man
is obviously fitted for contemplating these works, because in this
contemplation he has great delight. The works of nature are remarkable
in their uniformity not less than in their variety; and the mind of man
is fitted to receive pleasure equally from both. Uniformity and variety
are interwoven in the works of nature with surprising art. Variety,
however great, is never without some degree of uniformity; nor the
greatest uniformity, without some degree of variety. There is great
variety in the same plant, by the different appearances of its stem,
branches, leaves, blossoms, fruit, size, and colour; and yet when we
trace this variety through different plants, especially of the same
kind, there is discovered a surprising uniformity. Again, where nature
seems to have intended the most exact uniformity, as among individuals
of the same kind, there still appears a diversity, which serves readily
to distinguish one individual from another. It is indeed admirable, that
the human visage, in which uniformity is so prevalent, should yet be so
marked as to leave no room for mistaking one person for another. The
difference, though clearly perceived, is often so minute as to go beyond
the reach of description. A correspondence so perfect betwixt the human
mind and the works of nature, is extremely remarkable. The opposition
betwixt variety and uniformity is so great, that one would not readily
imagine they could both be relished by the same palate; at least not in
the same object, nor at the same time. It is however true, that the
pleasures they afford, being happily adjusted to each other, and readily
mixing in intimate union, are frequently produced in perfection by the
same individual object. Nay further, in the objects that touch us the
most, uniformity and variety are constantly combined; witness natural
objects, where this combination is always found in perfection. It is
for that reason, that natural objects readily form themselves into
groups, and are agreeable in whatever manner combined: a wood with its
trees, shrubs, and herbs, is agreeable: the music of birds, the lowing
of cattle, and the murmuring of a brook, are in conjunction delightful;
though they strike the ear without modulation or harmony. In short,
nothing can be more happily accommodated to the inward constitution of
man, than that mixture of uniformity with variety which the eye
discovers in natural objects. And accordingly, the mind is never more
highly gratified than in contemplating a natural landscape.

End of the FIRST VOLUME.


[1] See the Appendix, § 13.

[2] Du Bos judiciously observes, that silence doth not tend to calm an
agitated mind; but that soft and slow music hath a fine effect.

[3] A taste for natural objects is born with us in perfection. To
relish a fine countenance, a rich landscape, or a vivid colour, culture
is unnecessary. The observation holds equally in natural sounds, such
as the singing of birds, or the murmuring of a brook. Nature here, the
artificer of the object as well as of the percipient, hath suited them
to each other with great accuracy. But of a poem, a cantata, a picture,
and other artificial productions, a true relish is not commonly
attained without study and practice.

[4] “Though logic may subsist without rhetoric or poetry, yet so
necessary to these last is a sound and correct logic, that without it
they are no better than warbling trifles.” Hermes, p. 6.

[5] Genius is allied to a warm and inflammable constitution, delicacy
of taste to calmness and sedateness. Hence it is common to find genius
in one who is a prey to every passion; which can scarce happen with
respect to delicacy of taste. Upon a man possessed of this blessing,
the moral duties, as well as the fine arts, make a deep impression,
so as to counterbalance every irregular desire. And even supposing a
strong temptation, it can take no fast hold of a calm and sedate temper.

[6] For how should this be done? What object is it that we are to call
up? If this question can be answered, the object is already in the
mind, and there is no occasion to exert the power. If the question
cannot be answered, I next demand, how it is possible that a voluntary
power can be exerted without any view of an object to exert it upon?
We cannot form a conception of such a thing. This argument appears to
me satisfactory: if it need confirmation, I urge experience. Whoever
makes a trial will find, that objects are linked together in the mind,
forming a connected chain; and that we have not the command of any
object independent of the chain.

[7] A train of perceptions or ideas, with respect to its uniformity and
variety, is handled afterward, chap. 9.

[8] Lib. 2. ode 13.

[9] Lin. 231.

[10] Lin. 136.

[11] Lin. 475.

[12] Lib. 4. lin. 173.

[13] Part 1. sect. 4.

[14] Introduction.

[15] Introduction.

[16] In tracing our emotions and passions to their origin, it once
was my opinion, that qualities and actions are the primary causes of
emotions; and that these emotions are afterward expanded upon the being
to which these qualities and actions belong. But I have discovered that
opinion to be erroneous. An attribute is not, even in imagination,
separable from the being to which it belongs; and for that reason,
cannot of itself be the cause of any emotion. We have, it is true, no
knowledge of any being or substance but by means of its attributes;
and therefore no being can be agreeable to us otherwise than by their
means. But still, when an emotion is raised, it is the being itself,
as we apprehend the matter, which raises the emotion; and it raises it
by means of one or other of its attributes. If it be urged, That we
can in idea abstract a quality from the thing to which it belongs; it
might be answered, That an abstract idea, which serves excellently the
purposes of reasoning, is too faint and too much strained to produce
any sort of emotion. But it is sufficient for the present purpose to
answer, That the eye never abstracts. By this organ we perceive things
as they really exist, and never perceive a quality as separated from
the subject. Hence it must be evident, that emotions are raised, not by
qualities abstractly considered, but by the substance or body so and
so qualified. Thus a spreading oak raises a pleasant emotion, by means
of its colour, figure, umbrage, _&c._ It is not the colour strictly
speaking that produces the emotion, but the tree as coloured: it is
not the figure abstractly considered that produces the emotion, but
the tree considered as of a certain figure. And hence by the way it
appears, that the beauty of such an object is complex, resolvable into
several beauties more simple.

[17] When this analysis of human nature is considered, not one article
of which can with any shadow of truth be controverted, I cannot help
being surprised at the blindness of some philosophers, who, by dark
and confused notions, are led to deny all motives to action but what
arise from self-love. Man, for ought appears, might possibly have been
so framed, as to be susceptible of no passions but what have self for
their object. But man thus framed, would be ill fitted for society.
Much better is the matter ordered, by enduing him with passions
directed entirely to the good of others, as well as with passions
directed entirely to his own good.

[18] See Essays upon morality and natural religion, part 1. essay 2.
ch. 4.

[19] Such proneness has the mind to this communication of properties,
that we often find properties ascribed to a related object, of which
naturally it is not susceptible. Sir Richard Greenville in a single
ship being surprised by the Spanish fleet, was advised to retire.
He utterly refused to turn from the enemy; declaring, “he would
rather die, than dishonour himself, his country, and her Majesty’s
ship.” _Hakluyt, vol. 2. part 2. p. 169._ To aid the communication
of properties in such instances, there always must be a momentary
personification. A ship must be imagined a sensible being, to make
it susceptible of honour or dishonour. In the battle of Mantinea,
Epaminondas being mortally wounded, was carried to his tent in a manner
dead. Recovering his senses, the first thing he inquired about was
his shield; which being brought, he kissed it as the companion of his
valour and glory. It must be remarked, that among the Greeks and Romans
it was deemed infamous for a soldier to return from battle without his

[20] See chap. 1.

[21] See Essays on morality and natural religion, part 1. ess. 2. ch. 5.

[22] Lib. 7. cap. 36.

[23] Aulus Gellius, lib. 5. cap. 14.

[24] Brasidas being surprised by the bite of a mouse he had catched,
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 to defend itself.”

_Plutarch. Apothegmata._

[25] Spectator, Nº 439.

[26] Part 1. sect. 1. of the present chapter.

[27] At quæ Polycleto defuerunt, Phidiæ atque Alcameni dantur. Phidias
tamen diis quam hominibus efficiendis melior artifex traditur: in
ebore vero longe citra æmulum, vel si nihil nisi Minervam Athenis, aut
Olympium in Elide Jovem fecisset, cujus pulchritudo adjecisse aliquid
etiam receptæ religioni videtur; adeo majestas operis Deum æquavit.

_Quintilian, lib. 12. cap. 10. § 1._

[28] See part 7. of this chapter.

[29] See the place above cited.

[30] Essays on the principles of morality and natural religion, part 1.
ess. 2. chap. 1.

[31] See the introduction.

[32] See this point explained afterwards, chap. 9.

[33] See the appendix, containing definitions and explanation of terms,
sect. 33.

[34] Chap. 6.

[35] See chap. 14.

[36] 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.

[37] Chap. 18. sect. 3.

[38] Chap. of epic and dramatic compositions.

[39] See part 2. of the present chapter, toward the close.

[40] Canto 20. st. 97.

[41] Chap. 1.

[42] See part 1. sect. 1. of the present chapter.

[43] Herodotus, book 7.

[44] Act 2. sc. 6.

[45] Act 3. sc. 8.

[46] Part 1. of this chapter, sect. 3.

[47] Aristotle, poet. cap. 18. § 3. says, that anger raiseth in the
spectator a similar emotion of anger.

[48] See Historical law-tracts, tract 1.

[49] Part 5. of the present chapter.

[50] Chap. 2. part. 1. sect. 1. first note.

[51] Chap. 2. part 1. sect. 4.

[52] See the appendix, containing definitions and explanation of terms.

[53] See chap. 2. part 1. sect. 1.

[54] Longinus observes, that nature inclines us to admire, not a small
rivulet, however clear and transparent, but the Nile, the Ister, the
Rhine, or still more the ocean. The sight of a small fire produceth no
emotion; but we are struck with the boiling furnaces of Ætna, pouring
out whole rivers of liquid flame. _Treatise of the Sublime, chap. 29._

[55] Kempfer’s history of Japan, b. 5. ch. 2.

[56] Longinus gives a pretty good description of the sublime, though
not entirely just in every one of the circumstances, “That the mind
is elevated by it, and so sensibly affected as to swell in transport
and inward pride, as if what is only heard or read, were its own
invention.” But he adheres not to this description. In his 6th chapter
he justly observes, that many passions have nothing of the grand, such
as grief, fear, pity, which depress the mind instead of raising it.
And yet in chapter 8th, he mentions Sappho’s ode upon love as sublime.
Beautiful it is undoubtedly, but it cannot be sublime, because it
really depresses the mind instead of raising it. His translator Boileau
is not more successful in his instances. In his 10th reflection he
cites a passage from Demosthenes and another from Herodotus as sublime,
which are not so.

[57] Kempfer’s history of Japan.

[58] _Spectator_, Nº 42

[59] It is justly observed by Addison, that perhaps a man would have
been more astonished with the majestic air that appeared in one of
Lysippus’s statues of Alexander, though no bigger than the life, than
he might have been with Mount Athos, had it been cut into the figure
of the hero, according to the proposal of Phidias, with a river in one
hand and a city in the other. _Spectator_, Nº 415.

[60] Honestum per se esse expetendum indicant pueri, in quibus, ut in
speculis, natura cernitur. Quanta studia decertantium sunt! Quanta ipsa
certamina! Ut illi efferuntur lætitia, cum vicerunt! Ut pudet victos!
Ut se accusari nolunt! Ut cupiunt laudari! Quos illi labores non
perferunt, ut æqualium principes sint! _Cicero de finibus._

[61] Spectator, Nº 415.

[62] Chap. 8. of the Sublime.

[63] Lib. 3. beginning at line 567.

[64] _High_, in the old Scotch language, is pronounced _hee_.

[65] Herodotus, book 7.

[66] Chap. 30.

[67] Boileau and Huet.

[68] L’art poet. chant 1. l. 68.

[69] See chap. 4.

[70] See chap. 9.

[71] Chap. 1.

[72] Chap. 15.

[73] See chap. 1.

[74] See chap. 2. part 1. sect. 2.

[75] See chap. 4.

[76] Essays on the principles of morality and natural religion part 2.
ess. 6.

[77] Hence the Latin names for surprise, _torpor_, _animo stupor_.

[78] See chap. 6.

[79] Coke upon Littleton, p. 71.

[80] Practical writers upon the fine arts will attempt any thing, being
blind both to the difficulty and danger. De Piles, accounting why
contrast is agreeable, says, “That it is a sort of war which puts the
opposite parties in motion.” Thus, to account for an effect of which
there is no doubt, any cause, however foolish, is made welcome.

[81] Chap. 2. part 5.

[82] The examples above given are of subjects that can be brought to an
end or conclusion. But the same uneasiness is perceptible with respect
to subjects that admit not any conclusion; witness a series that has no
end, commonly called _an infinite series_. The mind running along such
a series, begins soon to feel an uneasiness, which becomes more and
more sensible in continuing its progress.

An unbounded prospect doth not long continue agreeable. We soon feel
a slight uneasiness, which increases with the time we bestow upon the
object. In order to find the cause of this uneasiness, we first take
under consideration an avenue without a terminating object. Can a
prospect without any termination be compared to an infinite series?
There is one striking difference, that with respect to the eye no
prospect can be unbounded. The quickest eye commands but a certain
length of space; and there it is bounded, however obscurely. But the
mind perceives things as they exist; and the line is carried on in
idea without end. In that respect an unbounded prospect is similar to
an infinite series. In fact, the uneasiness of an unbounded prospect
differs very little in its feeling from that of an infinite series; and
therefore we may reasonably conclude that both proceed from the same

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 breaking in upon
the general theory. The pleasure we feel at first is a strong emotion
of grandeur, arising from the immense extension 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 great 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 getting a particular account of his riches,
recompensed him with 7000 Darics, which he wanted to complete the sum
of four millions.

[83] Aristotle, poet. cap. 17.

[84] Spectator, Nº 265.

[85] Lib. 1. § 28.

[86] Act 4. sc. 2.

[87] See chap. 2. part 4.

[88] Chap. 2. part 4.

[89] Æn. lib. 5.

[90] Iliad, book 23. l. 879.

[91] Chap. 1.

[92] Locke, book 2. chap. 14.

[93] See chap. 1.

[94] See chap. 1.

[95] This chapter was composed in the year 1753.

[96] Chap. 1.

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can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.