Imatges de pÓgina
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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.* 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 effect.

PART VII.

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 passion, by the desire included in it, is what determines the will. Hence in the conduct of life, it is of the utmost importance, that our passions be directed to 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 a slight view, they may appear, I hope to demonstrate, that they are by nature modelled and tempered with perfect wisdom, for the good of society as well as for private good. The subject, treated at large, would be too extensive for the present work: all there is room for are a few general observa

Aristotle, Poet. cap. xviii. sect. 3. says, that anger raiseth in the spectator a similar emotion of anger.

tions 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 no less frequently, misled by wrong judgment.

In order to fulfil my engagement, it must be premised, that an agreeable cause produceth always a pleasant emotion; and a disagreeable cause, a painful emotion. This is a general law of nature which admits not a single exception : agreeableness in the cause is indeed so essentially connected with pleasure in the emotion, its effect, that an agreeable cause cannot be better defined, than by its power of producing a pleasant emotion : and disagreeableness in the cause has the same necessary connexion with pain in the emotion produced by it.

From this preliminary it appears, that in order to know for what end an emotion is made, pleasant or painful, we must begin with inquiring for what end its cause is made agreeable or disagreeable. And, with respect to inanimate objects, considered as the causes of emotions, many of them are made agreeable in order to promote our happiness; and it proves invincibly the benignity of the Deity, that we are placed in the midst of objects for the most part agreeable. But that is not all: the bulk of such objects being of real use in life, are made agreeable in order to excite our industry; witness a large tree, a well dressed fallow, a rich field of grain, and others that may be named without end. On the other hand, it is not easy to specify a disagreeable object that is not at the same time hurtful : 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, as above, 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.

Because inanimate objects that are agreeable fix our attention, and draw us to them, they in that respect are termed attractive : such objects inspire pleasant emotions, which are gratified by adhering to the objects and enjoying them. Because disagreeable objects of the same kind repel us from them, they in that respect are termed repulsive : and the painful emotions raised by such objects are gratified by flying from them. Thus, in general, with respect to things inanimate, the tendency of every pleasant emotion is to prolong the pleasure; and the tendency of every painful emotion is to end the pain.

Sensible beings considered as objects of passion, lead into a more complex theory. A sensible being that is agreeable by its attributes, inspires us with a pleasant emotion accompanied with desire; and the question is, What is naturally the gratification of that desire ? Were man altogether selfish, bis nature would lead him to indulge the pleasant emotion, without making any acknowledgment to the person who gives him pleasure, more than to a pure air or temperate clime: 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 happiness of that being is the gratification of his desire. The final cause of desire so directed is illustrious: it contributes to a. man's own happiness, by affording bim means of gratification beyond what selfishness can afford; and, at the same time, it tends eminently to advance the happiness of others. This lays open a beautiful theory in the nature of man; a selfish action can only benefit myself: a benevolent action benefits myself as much as it benefits others. In a word, benevolence may not improperly be said to be

the most refined selfishness; which, by the way, ought to silence certain shallow philosophers, who, ignorant of human nature, teach a disgustful doctrine. That to serve others, unless with a view to our own happiness is weakness and folly; as if self-love only, and not benevolence, contributed our happiness. 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 govern the bulk of our actions.*

Next in order come sensible beings that are in distress. A

person in distress, being so far a disagreeable object, must raise in a spectator a painful passion ; and, were man purely a selfish being, he would desire to be relieved from that pain, by turning from the object. But the principle of benevolence gives an opposite direction to his desire: it makes him desire to afford relief; and by relieving the person from distress, his passion is gratified. The painful passion thus directed, is termed sympathy: which, though painful, is yet 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

* With shallow thinkers, the selfish system naturally prevails in theory, I do not say in practice. During infancy, our desires centre mostly in ourselves : every one perceives intuitively the comfort of food and raiment, of a snug dwelling, and of every convenience. But that the doing good to others will make us happy, is not so evident; feeding the hungry, for ex. ample, or clothing the naked. This truth is seen but obscurely by the gross of mankind, if at all seen: the superior pleasure that accompanies the. exercise of benevolence, of friendship, and of every social principle, is not clearly understood till it be frequently felt. To perceive the social prinsiple in its triumphant state, a man must forget himself, and turn his thoughts upon the character and conduct of his fellow creatures : he will feel a secret charm in every passion that tends to the good of others, and a secret aversion against every unfeeling heart that is indifferent to the hap. piness and distress of others. In a word, it is but too common for men to indulge selfishness in themselves : but all men abhor it in others, Vol, 1.

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from distress, 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 raiseth in every spectator a painful passion. What is the natural gratification of that passion? 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. His actions are influenced by the principle of benevolence, as well as by that of selfishness : and in order to answer the foregoing question, I must introduce a third principle, no less remarkable in its influence than either of these mentioned; it is that principle, common to all, which prompts us to punish those who do wrong. An envious, a malicious, or a cruel action, being disagreeable, raiseth in the spectator the painful emotion of resentment, which frequently swells into a passion ; and the natural gratification of the desire included in that passion, is to punish the guilty person : 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 to 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 with retaliation; and the author must by my hand suffer mischief, as great at least as he has done to me. Neither can we be at any loss about the final cause of that higher degree of resentment: the

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