Imatges de pÓgina

Could I forget

What I have been, I might the better bear

What I'm deftin'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 pafs current: and in travelling, when the road is good, and the horfeman well covered, a bad day may be agreeable, by making him fenfible how fnug he is.

The fame effect is equally remarkable, when a man oppofes his condition to that of others. A ship toffed about in a storm, makes the spectator reflect upon his own eafe and security, and puts } these in the strongest light:

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Suave, mari magno turbantibus æquora ventis,
E terra magnum alterius fpectare laborem,
Non quia vexari quemquam eft jucunda voluptas,
Sed quibus ipfe malis careas, quia cernere fuave eft.
Lucret, l. 2. principio.

A man in grief cannot bear mirth: it gives him a more lively notion of his unhappiness, and of courfe makes him more unhappy. Satan contemplating the beauties of the terreftrial paradife, breaks out in the following exclamation.

With what delight could I have walk'd thee round,
If I could joy in ought, fweet interchange
Of hill and valley, rivers, woods, and plains,


Now land, now fea, and fhores with forest crown'd,
Rocks, dens, and caves! but I in none of these
Find place or refuge; and the more I fee
Pleasures about me, fo much more I feel
Torment within me, as from the hateful fiege
Of contraries: all good to me becomes
Bane, and in heav'n much worfe would be my fstate.
Paradife Loft, book 9. l. 114.

Gaunt. All places that the eye of heaven vifits,
Are to a wife man ports and happy havens,
Teach thy neceffity to reason thus :
There is no virtue like neceffity.
Think not the King did banish thee;

But thou the King. Wo doth the heavier fit,
Where it perceives it is but faintly borne.
Go fay, I fent thee forth to purchase honour;
And not, the King exil'd thee. Or suppose,
Devouring peftilence hangs in our air,
And thou art flying to a fresher clime.
Look what thy foul holds dear, imagine it
To lie that way thou go'ft, not whence thou com'ft.
Suppose the finging birds, musicians;
The grafs whereon thou tread'ft, the prefence-floor;
The flow'rs, fair ladies; and thy fteps, no more
Than a delightful measure, or a dance.
For gnarling Sorrow hath lefs power to bite
The man that mocks at it, and fets it light.

Bolingbroke. Oh, who can hold a fire in his hand,

By thinking on the frofty Caucafus ?

Or cloy the hungry edge of Appetite,

By bare imagination of a feaft?
Or wallow naked in December fnow,
By thinking on fantastic fummer's heat?
Oh, no! the apprehenfion of the good

Gives but the greater feeling to the worse.
King Richard II. act 1. fc. 6. .

The appearance of danger gives fometimes plea

fure, fometimes pain. A timorous perfon upon the battlements of a high tower, is feized with fear, which even the confcioufnefs of fecurity cannot diffipate. But upon one of a firm head, this fituation has a contrary effect: the appearance of danger heightens, by oppofition, the confcioufnefs of fecurity, and confequently, the fatisfaction that arifes from fecurity: here the feeling resembles that above mentioned, occafioned by a thip labouring in a storm.

This effect of magnifying or leffening objects by means of comparison, is fo familiar, that no philofopher has thought of fearching for a caufe *. The obfcurity of the fubject, may poffibly have contributed to their filence; but luckily, we difcover the cause to be a principle unfolded above, which is the influence of paffion over our opinions +. We have had occafion to fee many illustrious effects of this fingular power of paffion; and that the magnifying or diminishing objects

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* Practical writers upon the fine arts will attempt any thing, being blind both to the difficulty and danger. De Piles, accounting why contraft is agreeable, fays, "That it is a fort of war, which puts the oppofite parties in motion." Thus, to account for an effect of which there is no doubt, any caufe, however foolish, is made welcome.


+ Chap. 2. part 5.




by means of comparifon, proceeds from the fame caufe, will evidently appear, by reflecting in what manner a fpectator is affected, when a very large animal is for the first time placed befide a very small one of the fame fpecies. The firft thing that ftrikes the mind, is the difference between the two animals, which is fo great as to occafion furprife; and this, like other emotions, magnifying its object, makes us conceive the difference to be the greateft that can be: we fee, or feem to fee, the one animal extremely little, and the other extremely large. The emotion of furprife arifing from any unufual refemblance, ferves equally to explain, why at first view we are apt to think fuch refemblance more entire than it is in reality. And it must be observed, that the circumstances of more and lefs, which are the proper fubjects of comparifon, raise a perception fo indiftinct and vague as to facilitate the effect defcribed: we have no mental ftandard of great and little, nor of the feveral degrees of any attribute; and the mind thus unrestrained, is naturally difpofed to indulge its furprise to the ut moft extent.

In exploring the operations of the mind, fome of which are extremely nice and flippery, it is neceffary to proceed with the utmost circumfpection and after all, feldom it happens that fpeculations of this kind afford any fatisfaction. Luckily, in the prefent cafe, our fpeculations are fupported by facts and folid argument. First,

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a fmall object of one fpecies oppofed to a great
object of another, produces not, in any degree,
that deception, which is fo remarkable when both
objects are of the fame fpecies. The greatest dif-
parity between objects of different kinds, is fo
common as to be observed with perfect indiffer-
ence; but fuch disparity between objects of the
fame kind, being uncommon, never fails to pro-
duce furprise and may we not fairly conclude,
that surprise, in the latter cafe, is what occafions
the deception, when we find no deception in the
former? In the next place, if furprise be the fole
cause of the deception, it follows neceffarily, that
the deception will vanifh fo foon as the objects
compared become familiar.
This holds fo un-
erringly, as to leave no reasonable doubt, that
furprise is the prime mover in this operation:
our furprise is great, the first time a small lapdog
is feen with a large maftiff; but when two fuch
animals are conftantly together, there is no fur-
prife; 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 oppofition between his
present and his paft fituation, or between his
present situation and that of others, being carried
to an extreme: but with regard to a family that
for many generations hath enjoy'd great wealth,
the fame falfe reckoning is not made it is e-
qually remarkable, that a trite fimile has no ef-
fect; a lover compared to a moth fcorching itfelf

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