Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

?

The other pleasure arising from pleasant emotions similar and co-existent, cannot be better explained than by the foregoing example of a landscape, where the sight, hearing, and smelling, are employed : beside the accumulated pleasure above mentioned, of so many different similar emotions, a pleasure of a different kind is felt from the concord of these emotions. As that pleasure resembles greatly the pleasure of concordant sounds, it may be termed the Harmony of Emotions. This harmony is felt in the different emotions occasioned by the visible objects; but it is felt still more sensibly in the emotions occasioned by the objects of different senses, as where the emotions of the eye are combined with those of the ear. The former pleasure comes under the rule of addition: this comes under a different rule. It is directly in proportion to the degree of resemblance between the emotions, and inversely in proportion to the degree of connexion between the causes: to feel this pleasure in perfection, the resemblance between the emotions cannot be too strong, nor the connexion between their causes too slight. The former condition is self-evident; and the reason of the latter is, that the pleasure of harmony is felt from various similar emotions, distinct from each other, and yet sweetly combining in the mind; which excludes causes intimately connected, for the emotions produced by them are forced into one complex emotion. This pleasure of concord or harmony, which is the result of pleasing emotions, and cannot have place with respect to those that are painful, will be further illustrated, when the emotions produced by the sound of words and their meaning are taken under consideration.*

The pleasure of concord from conjoined emotions, is felt even where the emotions are not perfectly similar.

[blocks in formation]

Though love be a pleasant passion, yet by its softness and tenderness it resembles in a considerable degree the painful passion of pity or of grief; and for that reason, love accords better with these passions than with what are gay and sprightly. I give the following example from Catullus, where the concord between love and grief has a fine effect even in so slight a subject as the death of a spar

row.

Lugete, ô Veneres, Cupidinesque,
Et quantum est hominum venustiorum!
Passer mortuus est meæ pyelæ,
Quem plus illa oculis suis amabat,
Nam mellitus erat, suamque norat
Ipsam tam bene, quam puella matrem :
Nec sese a gremio illius movebat ;
Sed circumsiliens modo huc, modo illuc,
Ad solam dominam usque pipilabat.
Qui nunc it per iter tenebricosum,
Illuc, unde negant redire quemquam.
At vobis male sit, malæ tenebræ
Orci, quæ omnia bella devoratis ;
Tam bellum mihi passerum abstulistis.
O factum male, ô miselle passer.
Tua nunc opera, meæ puellæ
Flendo turgiduli rubent ocelli.

Next as to the effects of dissimilar emotions, which we may guess will be opposite to what are above described. Dissimilar co-existent emotions, as said above, never fail to distress the mind by the difference of their tones; from which situation a feeling of harmony never can proceed; and this holds whether the causes be connected or not. But it holds more remarkably where the causes are connected; for in that case the dissimilar emotions being forced into an unnatural union, produce an actual feeling of dis

+

cord. In the next place, if we would estimate the force of dissimilar emotions co-existent, we must distinguish between their causes as connected or unconnected : and in order to compute their force in the former case, subtraction must be used instead of addition; which will be evident from what follows. Dissimilar emotions forced into union by the connexion of their causes, are felt obscurely and imperfectly; for each tends to vary the tone of mind that is suited to the other; and the mind thus distracted between two objects, is at no instant in a condition to receive a deep impression from either. Dissimilar emotions proceeding from unconnected causes, are in a very different condition ; for as there is nothing to force them into union, they are never felt but in succession; by which means, each hath an opportunity to make a complete impression.

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

Seest thou yon dreary plain, forlorn and wild,
The seat of desolation, void of light,
Save what the glimmering of these lived flames
Casts pale and dreadful?

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

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

Bello in sí 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'aspeto.
E canta in più guerriero e chiaro carme
Ogni sua tromba, e maggior luce han l’arme.

Gerusalemme liberata, cant. XX. st. 29 & 30.

Suppose 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 at the same time blame the man; and the indignation raised by the fault he has committed, is dissimilar to pity : these two passions, however, proceeding from 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 that afterward.*

Opposite emotions are so dissimilar as not to admit any sort of union, even where they proceed from causes the

[blocks in formation]

most intimately connected. Love to a mistress, and resentment for her infidelity, are of that nature: they cannot exist otherwise than in succession, which by the connexion of their causes is commonly rapid : and these emotions will govern alternately, till one of them obtain the ascendant, or both be spent. 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 have great indignation at the author of the wrong. These emotions proceed from causes nearly connected; but being directed to different objects, they are not forced into union; their opposition preserves them distinct: and accordingly they are found to prevail alternately.

I proceed to examples 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 :

Shylock. How now, Tubal, what news from Genoa ? hast thou found my daughter ?

Tubal. I often came where I did hear of her, but cannot find her.

Shy. Why, there, there, there, there ! a diamond gone, cost me two thousand ducats in Francfort ? the curse never fell upon our nation till now; I never felt it till now : two thousand ducats in that, and other precious, precious jewels ! I would my daughter

« AnteriorContinua »