Imatges de pÓgina
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sion, by bestowing a temporary sensibility upon any object at hand, in order make it a confidant. Thus in the Winter's Tale,* Antigonus addresses himself to an infant whom he was ordered to expose ;

Come, poor babe,
I have heard, but not believ'd, that spirits of the dead,
May walk again : if such things be, thy mother
Appear’d to me last night; for ne'er was dream
So like a waking

The involuntary signs, which are all of them natural, are either peculiar to one passion, or common to many. Every vivid passion hath an external expression peculiar to itself; not excepting pleasant passions ; witness admiration and mirth. The pleasant emotions that are less vivid have one common expression; from which we may gather the strength of the emotion, but scarce the kind : we perceive a cheerful or contented look; and we can make no more of it. Painful passions, being all of them violent, are distinguishable from each other by their external expressions ; thus fear, shame, anger, anxiety, dejection, dispair, have each of them peculiar expressions ; which are apprehended without the least confusion : some painful passions produce violent effects upon the body,

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has penned several good soliloquies, yields, with more candour than knowledge, that they are unnatural; and he only pretends to justify them from necessity. This he does in his dedication of the Double Dealer, in the following words: “When a man in a soliloquy reasons with himself, and pro's 6 and con's and weighs all his designs; we ought not to imagine, that this

man either talks to us, or to himself: he is only thinking, and thinking “ (frequently) such matter as it were inexcusable folly in him to speak. But “ because we are concealed spectators of the plot in agitation, and the poet “ finds it necessary to let us know the whole mystery of his contrivance, “he is willing to inform us of this person's thoughts; and to that end is “forced to take use of the expedient of speech, no other better way being " yet invented for the communication of thought.”.

* Act III. Sc.6.

trembling, for example, starting, and swooning; but these effects, depending in a good measure upon singularity of constitution, are not uniform in all men.

The involuntary signs, such of them as are displayed upon the countenance, are of two kinds : some are temporary, making their appearance with the emotions that produce them, and vanishing with these emotions; others, being formed gradually by some violent passion often recurring, become permanent signs of that passion, and serve to denote the disposition or temper. The face of an infant indicates no particular disposition, because it cannot be marked with any character, to which time is necessary: even the temporary signs are extremely awkward, being the first rude essays of Nature to discover internal feelings; thus the shrieking of a new-born infant, without tears or sobbings, is plainly an attempt' to weep; and some of these temporary signs, as smiling and frowning, cannot be observed for some months after birth. Permanent signs, formed in youth while the body is soft and flexible, are preserved entire by the firmness and solidity that the body acquires, and are never obliterated even by a change of temper. Such signs are not produced after the fibres become rigid ; some violent cases excepted, such as reiterated fits of the gout or stone through a course of time: but these signs are not so obstinate as what are produced in youth; for when the cause is removed, they gradually wear away, and at last vanish.

The natural signs of emotions, voluntary and involuntary, being nearly the same in all men, form an universal language, which no distance of place, no difference of tribe, no diversity of tongue, can darken or render doubtful: even education, though of mighty influence, hath not power to vary nor sophisticate, far less to destroy, their signification. This is a wise appointment of Providence: for if these signs, were like words, arbitrary and variable,

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the thoughts and volitions of strangers would be entirely hid from us; which would prove a great, or rather invincible, obstruction to the formation of societies: but as matters are ordered, the external appearances of joy, grief, anger, fear, shame, and of the other passions, forming an universal language, open a direct avenue to the heart. As the arbitrary signs vary in every country there could be no communication of thoughts among different nations, were it not for the natural signs, in which all agree : and as the discovering passions instantly at their birth, is essential to our well-being, and often necessary for self-preservation, the Author of our nature, attentive to our wants, hath provided a passage to the heart, which never can be obstructed while eye-sight remains.

In an inquiry concerning the external signs of passion, actions must not be overlooked: for though singly they afford no clear light, they are, upon the whole, the best interpreters of the heart.* By observing a man's conduct for a course of time, we discover unerringly the various passions that move him to action, what he loves and what he hates. In our younger years, every single action is a mark, not at all ambiguous, of the temper; for in childhood there is little or no disguise : the subject becomes more intricate in advanced age; but even there, dissimulation is seldom carried on for any length of time.

* The actions here chiefly in view, are what a passion suggests in order to its gratification. Beside these, actions are occasionally exerted to give some vent to a passion, without any view to an ultimate gratification. Such occasional action is characteristical of the passion in a high degree; and for that reason, when happily invented, has a wonderful good effect:

Hamlet. Oh most pernicious woman!
Oh villain, villain, smiling damned villain !
My tables-meet it as I set it down,
That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain;
At least I'm sure it may he so in Denmark.

[Writing. So, uncle, there you are.

Hamlet, Act I. Sc. 8. Vol. I.

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And thus the conduct of life is the most perfect expression of the internal disposition. It merits not indeed the title of an universal language; because it is not thoroughly understood but by those of penetrating genius or extensive observation : it is a language, however, which every one can decypher in some measure; and, which, joined with the other external signs, affords sufficient means for the direction of our conduct with regard to others : if we commit any mistake when such light is afforded, it can never be the effect of unavoidable ignorance, but of rashness or inadvertence.

Reflecting on the various expressions of our emotions, we recognise the anxious care of Nature to discover men to each other. Strong emotions, as above hinted, beget an impatience to express them externally by speech and other voluntary signs, which cannot be suppressed without a painful effort : thus a sudden fit of passion is a common excuse for indecent behaviour or opprobrious language. As to involuntary signs, these are altogether unavoidable: no volition or effort can prevent the shaking of the limbs nor a pale visage, in a fit of terror: the blood flies to the face upon a sudden emotion of shame, in spite of all opposition :

Vergogna, che'n altrui stampo natura,
Non si puo' rinegar : che se tu' tenti
Di cacciarla dal cor, fugge nel volto.

Pastor Fido, Act II. Sc. 5.

Emotions, indeed, properly so called, which are quiescent, produce no remarkable signs externally. Nor is it necessary that the more deliberate passions should, because the operation of such passions is neither sudden nor violent: these however, remain not altogether in obscurity; for being more frequent than violent passion, the bulk of our actions are directed by them. Actions, there

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fore, display, with sufficient evidence, the more deliberate passions; and complete the admirable system of external signs, by which we become skilful in human nature.

What comes next in order is, to examine the effects produced upon a spectator by external signs of passion. None of these signs are beheld with indifference; they are productive of various emotions, tending all of them to ends wise and good. This curious subject makes a capital branch of human nature: it is peculiarly useful to writers who deal in the pathetic; and to history-painters it is indispensable.

It is mentioned above, that each passion, or class of passions, hath its peculiar signs; and, with respect to the present subject, it must be added, that these invariably make certain impressions on a spectator: the external signs of joy, for example, produce a cheerful emotion; the external signs of grief produce pity: and the external signs of rage produce a sort of terror even in those who are not aimed at.

Secondly, it is natural to think, that pleasant passions should express themselves externally by signs that to a spectator appear agreeable, and painful passions by signs that to him appear disagreeable. This conjecture, which Nature suggests, is confirmed by experience. Pride possibly may be thought an exception, the external signs of which are disagreeable, though it be commonly reckoned a pleasant passion : but pride is not an exception, being in reality a mixed passion, partly pleasant, partly painful ; for when a proud man confines his thoughts to himself, and to his own dignity or importance, the passion is pleasant, and its external signs agreeable; but as pride chiefly consists in undervaluing or contemning others, it is so far painful, and its external signs disagreeable.

Thirdly, it is laid down above, that an agreeable object

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