« PreviousContinue »
2..... Of fome Secondary Sensations.
*62. oF the perceptive powers of man
there fțill remain to be consider, ed, Conscience, whereby we distinguish between vice and virtue ; and Reason, whereby we perceive the difference between truth and falsehood. These, to prevent unnecessary repetition, we pass by at present, as they will come in our way hereafter, the former in Moral Philosophy, the latter in Logic.-If I had not wished to avoid troubling my hcarers with too many divifions and subdivisions in the beginning, I would have divided Senfation into Primary and Secondary. The former has been spoken of already. The latter I now enter upon; and indeed could hardly bring it in fooner; what has been said on the subject of imagination being neceffary as an intro duction to it. These secondary faculties of sensation have by some writers been
called Internal Senses, by others Emotions. The name is of little importance : the nature of the thing will soon appear.
163. We perceive colours and figures by the eye; we also perceive that some colours and figures are beautiful, and others not. This power of perceiving Beauty, which the brutes have not though they fee as well as we, I call a secondary sense. We perceive sounds by the ear; we also perceive, that certain combinations of found have barmony, and that others are dissonant. This power of perceiving harmony, called in common language a musical ear, is another secondary sense, which the brutes have not, and of which many men who hear well enough are utterly destitute. Of these secondary senses there are no doubt many in the human constitution. I confine myself to those of Novelty, Sublimity, Beauty, Imitation, Harmony, and Ridicule; which, together with Sympathy, which I shall also describe, form what is commonly called good taste. The pleafures received by the Secondary senses are, by Addison, in the sixth volume of the Spectator, and by Akenside, in the title of a poem which he wrote on the subject, termed Pleasures of Imagination.
164. Of Novelty. Things in themfelves indifferent, or even disagreeable, may be agreeable when new; and Novelty in general has a charm in it, of which every rational, or every human being at least, is sensible. Hence our passion for variety, for amusement, for news, for strange fights, and for knowledge in general. The pleafure we take in new things arises from the active nature of man. We are never happy unless employed about something; and when we have nothing to do in the way of business or amusement, the mind becomes languid and of course uneasy. Yet into this state we are apt to fall, when there is nothing to rouse our attention, or give play to our faculties. For when we have long been conversant about one set of objects, the mind cemprehends them so easily, that they give it no exercise. In this case, a new object occurring gives an impulse to the mind, and puts it upon exerting itself; and the exertion, if moderate, is agreeable, If the new object occasion surprise, or any other lively and pleasing emotion, its novelty will be still more interesting, because it will convey to the mind a more sprightly and perhaps a more permanent impulse.
165. Some things are more disagreeable at first, than they come to be afterwards ; which may be owing to one or other of these two causes. Either the new object may have required, in order to its being comprehended, a violent and painful exertion of the faculties; as in the case of one entering upon a new study, or a new course of life : or we may have fixed our first attention on what seemed disagreeable in the new object; not discovering its agreeable qualities till we were better acquainted with it. Hence let us learn, that a good course of life, though somewhat unpleasant at first, ought not on that account to be relinquished; for we may be assured it will in time become pleasant, if persisted in. It is remarkable, that men sometimes contract a most violent liking to certain tastes that were at first extremely offensive, as those of tobacco and strong liquors. This
depends on causes in which the mind has little concern. It may be, that, by the constant use of such things, the stomach or the palate, and of course the animal spirits, are reduced to such a state as to be uneasy in the want of them. The part of prudence therefore is, to abstain from such things altogether, which requires no effort; rather than to hazard the acquisition of a habit which it may be almost impofsible to overcome. Uņnatural pleasures of this fort it is no evil to be without, but it may be a fatal evil to acquire a relish for. · 166. In all the arts that minister to rational pleasure, variety is studied, that the mind may be refreshed with a succession of novelties. The prose-writer, where it can be done conveniently, varies the length, the found, and the fyntax, of contiguous clauses and sentences; and amuses the reader’s fancy with metaphors, similitudes, and other apposite figures of speech. The poet varies the structure of contiguous verses ; and, in framing his fable, is careful to bring in events that are both probable and -unexpected, and persons who differ from