Page images
PDF
EPUB

and other elemental commotions that terrify and destroy. Violent passions, very properly expressed by the Latin word per: turbationes, , always discompose the mind and impair reason to a certain degree; and have been known to rise even to phrensy, and hurry men on to perpetrations, that have shortened their days, and made life miserable, and death infamous. Many of them are attended with feverish fymptoms; some give an unaccountable addition of bodily strength, which however foon ends in languor; and some have brought on fainting, apoplexy, and instant death. Nothing more needs be said to how the dreadful effects of violent passion, the indispensable duty of guarding against it, and the inexcusable temerity of speaking and acting under its influence. :: 292. The Peripatetics, or followers of Aristotle, rightly thought, that the Passions, dangerous as they are, ought not to be extinguished, even though that were possible; for that, being natural, they must be useful; but that they are to be regulated by reason, and kept within the bounds of mo

lia deration

deration. All those violent emotions, that urge us on to pleasure or to the avoidance of pain by a blind impulse, were by the fchoolmen, who professed to derive their tenets from the fame source, referred to what they called the Senfitive Appetite, because they seemed to partake more of the fenfes than of reason: and those calmer affections, that prompt us to pursue good rationally and with tranquillity, they referred to the Rational Appetite, because more nearly allied to reason than to the senfes. .

293. Pythagoras and Plato ascribe to the soul two natures, or, to give it in the words of Cicero, animum in duas partes dividunt, divide the soul into two parts, the one rational, the other irrational. In the rational nature they placed what they called Tranquillity, that is, as Cicero explains the word, placida et quieta constantia, an eafy and quiet consistency or uniformity. To the irrational part they referred what the Greeks called TeIn or passions, and the Latins, more properly, perturbationes or difcompofures, those turbulent emotions both

of

of anger and of desire, which are contrary . and unfriendly to reason. There is, in Cicero's fourth book of Tusculan Inquiries, a particular enumeration of the several sorts of Perturbationes and Constantiæ, according to the Stoical system. The passage deserves attention; not so much for the philosophy contained in it, as because it ascertains the signification of some Latin words, which are not for the most part exactly understood. . 294. Indeed it is not very easy to comprehend what the Stoics say on this subject. Sometimes they would seem to re'quire the extinction of all our passions, of all at least that are influenced by external things; for they hold, that nothing external is either good or evil, virtue being, according to them, not only the greatest but the only good. At other times they are not so unfavourable to the passions; but grant indulgence to those that interrupt not that calm constancy, and steady uniformity, which they supposed to constitute the glory of the human character. Thus they allow, that gaudium, or rational and

tranquil

tranquil joy, may be permitted to have a place in the human breast; but they profcribe lætitia, which it seems is a more tumultuous fort of gladness, as unworthy of a wise man. They are indeed licentious, and frequently whimsical, in their use of words ; so that it is difficult to understand them in their own tongues, the Greek and Latin, and still more so to translate their. doctrines into any modern language. Mrs Carter has however been singularly succesfful in her version of the discourses of Epictetus; to which she has prefixed an elegant introduction, of more value than all the rest of the book. To that introduction I would refer those who wish to form a just idea of the spirit and genius of the Stoical philosophy.

295. It cannot be doubted, that pure and created spirits may be susceptible of emotions somewhat similar to human paffions, as Joy, Gratitude, Admiration, Esteem, Love, and the like. Hence some authors, in treating of the paflions, have divided them into Spiritual and Human. The former we are supposed to be capable

of

of in common with angels ånd other created spirits; the latter are peculiar to our present constitution as composed of soul and body. I need not take further notice of this division. Through the whole of the ensuing arrangement I must be understood to speak of the passions, as they affect human creatures in the present state. Of the emotions of pure spirits we may form conje&tures ; but we can speak with certainty, and scientifically, of those only which are known to us by experience.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

296. THE first class of Passions that I

shall take notice of comprehends Admiration, and some other emotions allied to it. What is either uncommon in itself, or endowed with uncommon qualities, raifes admiration or wonder. The sun is seen

« PreviousContinue »