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many a rake; and in the Suspicious Husband, Ranger, the humble imitator of Sir Harry, has had no slight influence in spreading that character. What woman, tinctured with the playhouse morals, would not be the sprightly, the witty, though dissolute Lady Townly, rather than the cold, the sober, though virtuous Lady Grace? How odious ought writers to be who thus employ the talents they have from their Maker most traitorously against himself, by endeavouring to corrupt and disfigure his creatures ! If the comedies of Congreve did not rack him with remorse in his last moments, he must have been lost to all sense of virtue. Nor will it afford any excuse to such writers, that their comedies are entertaining: unless it could be maintained, that wit and sprightliness are better suited to a vicious than a virtuous character. It would grieve me to think so; and the direct contrary is exemplified in the Merry Wives of Windsor, where we are highly entertained with the conduct of two ladies not more remarkable for mirth and spirit than for the strictest purity of manners.
Causes of the Emotion of Joy and Sorrow.
This subject was purposely reserved for a separate section, because it could not, with perspicuity, be handled uuder the general head. An emotion accompanied with desire is termed a passion ; and when the desire is fulfilled, the passion is said to be gratified. Now, the gratification of every passion must be pleasant; for nothing can more natural, than that the accomplishment of any wish
or desire should affect us with joy : I know of no exception but when a man stung with remorse desires 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: it is involved in the nature of man, that he cannot be indifferent to an event that concerns him or any of his connexions; 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 concur. One is, that violent distress always raises an anxious desire to be free from it; and therefore its removal is a high gratification : nor can we be possessed of any thing that makes us happy, with out wishing its continuance; and therefore its removal, by crossing our wishes, must create sorrow. The principle of contrast is another cause: an emotion of joy arising upon the removal of pain, is increased by contrast when we reflect upon our former distress: an emotion of sor
row, 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 Preserved, Act I. 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 frem 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 enjoyment. 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 gone, and produceth a very pleasant emotion. 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 VOL. I.
the remaining pain balanceth the joy. This mixt emotion, 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 ; 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 or reader, not only love or esteem for the author, but also a separate feeling, being a vague feeling of gratitude without an object; a feeling, however, that disposes the spectator or reader to acts of gratitude, more than upon an ordinary occasion. This feeling is overlooked by writers upon ethics ; but a man may be convinced of its reality, by attentively watching his own heart when he thinks warmly of any signal act of gratitude: he will be conscious of the feeling, as distinct from the esteem or admiration he has for the grateful person. The feeling is singular in the following respect, that it is accompanied with a desire to perform acts of gratitude, without having any object; though in that state, the mind, wonderfully bent on an object, neglects no opportunity to vent itself: any act of kindness or good-will, that would pass unregarded 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.
In like manner, a courageous action produceth in a spectator the passion of admiration directed to the author,: and beside his 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 what is usual, and longs for proper objects upon which to exert this emotion:
Spumantemque dari, pecora inter inertia, votis
JEnied, iv. 158.
Non altramente ill tauro, que l'irriti
Tasso, Canto vii. st. 55.
So full of valour that they smote the air
Tempest, Act IV. Sc. 4.
The emotions raised by music, independent of words, must be all of this nature : courage roused by martial music performed upon instruments without a voice, canr be directed to any object; nor can grief or pity raised by melancholy music of the same kind have an object.