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Of the cause of that pleasure we receive from affecting objects or representations.

tiality, and pride; malice is a disposition, which, either in the abstract, or as it discovers itself in the actions of an indifferent person, we never contemplate without feeling a just detestation and abhorrence, being ready to pronounce it the ugliest of objects. Yet this sentiment is not more universal, than is the approbation and even love that we bestow on the tender-hearted, or those who are most exquisitely susceptible of all the influence of the pathetic. Nor are there any two dispositions of which human nature is capable, that have ever been considered as farther removed from each other, than the malicious and the compassionate are. The fact itsself, that the mind derives pleasure from representations of anguish, is un- L deniable ; the question about the cause is curious, and hath a manifest relation to my subject.

I PURPOSED, indeed, at first, to discuss this point in that part of the sixth chapter which relates to the means of operating on the passions, with which the present enquiry is intimately connected. Finding asterwards that the discussion would prove rather too long an interruption, and that the other points which came naturally to be treated in that place, could be explained with sufficient clearness, independently of this, I judged it better to reserve this question for a separate chapter. Various hypotheses have been devised by the ingenious, in order to solve the difficulty. These I shall first briefly examine, and then lay be.

Of the cause of that pleasure we receive from affecting objects or representations.

fore the reader what appears to me to be the true solution. Of all that have entered into the subject, those who seem most to merit our regard, are two French critics, and one of our own country.

SECT, I...The different folutions hitherto given by philosophers, examined.

PART I....The first hypothesis.

ABBE DU BoIS begins his excellent Reflections on Poetry and Painting, with that very question which is the subject of this chapter, and in answer to it supports at some length.* a theory, the substance of which I shall endeavour to comprise in a few words. Few things, according to him, are more disagreeable to the mind, than that listlessness into which it falls, when it has nothing to occupy it, or to awake the passions. In order to get rid of this most painful situation, it seeks with avidity every amusement and pursuit; business, gaming, news, shows, public executions, romances; in short, whatever will rouse the passions, and take off the mind's attention from itself. It matters not what the emotion be, only the stronger it is, so much the better. And, for this reason, those passions which, considered in themselves, are the most afflicting and disagreeable, are preferable to the pleasant,

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* Reflexions critiques sur la Poesie et sur la Peinture, Sect. i.

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Sect. 1. The different solutious hitherto given by philosophers, examined.

inasmuch as they most effectually relieve the soul from that oppressive languor which preys upon it in a state of inactivity. They afford it ample occupation, and, by giving play to its latent movements and Springs of action, convey a pleasure which more than counterbalances the pain.

I ADMIT, with Mr Hume *, that there is some weight in these observations, which may sufficiently account for the pleasure taken in gaming, hunting, and several other diversions and sports. But they are not quite satisfactory, as they do not assign a sufficient reason why poets, painters, and orators, exercise themselves more in actuating the painful passions, than in exciting the pleasant. These, one would think, ought in every respect to have the advantage, because, at the same time that they preserve the mind from a state of inaction, they convey a feeling that is allowed to be agreeable. And, though it were granted, that passions of the former kind are stronger than those of . the latter (which doth not hold invariably, there being perhaps more examples of persons who have been killed with joy, than of those who have died of grief.) strength alone will not account for the preference. It by no means holds here, that the stronger the emotion is, so much the fitter for this purpose. . On the contrary, if you exceed but ever so little a certain measure, instead of that sympathetic delightful sor

* Essay on Tragedy.

Of the cause of that pleasure we receive from affecting objects or representations.

row, which makes affliction itself wear a lovely aspect, and engages the mind to hug it, not only with tenderness, but with transport, you only excite horror and aversion. “ It is certain,” says the author last quoted, very justly *, “that the same object of dis“tress which pleases in a tragedy, were it really set “before us, would give the most unfeigned uneasi“ness, though it be then the most effectual cure of “languor and indolence.” And it is more than barely possible, even in the representations of the tragedian, or in the descriptions of the orator or the poet, to exceed that measure. I acknowledge, indeed, that this measure or degree is not the same to every temper. Some are much sooner shocked with mournful representations than others. Our metal, like our bodily appetites and capacities, are exceedingly various. It is, however, the business of both the speaker and the writer, to accommodate himself to what may be styled the common standard; for there is a common standard in what regards the faculties of the mind, as well as in what concerns the powers of the body. Now, if there be any quality in the afflictive passions, besides their strength, that renders them peculiarly adapted to rescue the mind from that torpid, but corrosive rest which is considered as the greatest of evils, that quality ought to have been pointed out: for, till then, the phenomenon under examination is not accounted for. The most that can be concluded from

* Essay on Tragedy.

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Sect. H. The different solutions hitherto given by philosophers, examined.

the Abbe's premises, is the utility of exciting passion of some kind or other, but nothing that can evince the superior fitness of the distressful affections.

PART II....The second hypothesis.

THE next hypothesis is Fontenelle’s “. Not having the original at hand at present, I shall give Mr Bume's translation of the passage, in his Essay on Tragedy above quoted. “Pleasure and pain, which are “two sentiments so different in themselves, differ not “so much in their cause. From the instance of tick“ling it appears, that the movement of pleasure push“ed a little too far, becomes pain; and that the movement of pain, a little moderated, becomes pleasure. Hence it proceeds, that there is such a thing as a sorrow, soft and agreeable. It is a pain weakened and diminished. The heart likes naturally to be moved and affected. Melancholy objects suit it, and even disastrous and sorrowful, provided they are softened by some circumstance. It is certain that, on the theatre, the representation has almost the effect of reality; but yet it has not altogether that effect. However we may be hurried away by the spectacle, whatever dominion the senses and imagination may usurp over the reason, there still * lurks at the bottom a certain idea of falsehood in “ the whole of what we see. This idea, though weak

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* Reflexions sur la Poetique, Sect. xxxvi,

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