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“in those smaller faults, which are neither painful nor “pernicious, but unbeseeming: thus a face excites “laughter wherein there is deformity and distortion “without pain.” For my part, nothing can appear more coincident than this, as far as it goes, with the principles which I have endeavoured to establish. The Stagyrite here speaks of ridicule, not of laughter in general, and not of every sort of ridicule, but solely of the ridiculous in manners, of which he hath in few words given a very apposite description. To take notice of any other laughable object, would have been foreign to his purpose. Laughter is not his theme, but comedy, and laughter only so far as comedy is concerned with it. Now, the concern of comedy reaches no farther than that kind of ridicule, which, as I said, relates to manners. The very words with which the above quotation is introduced, evince the truth of this. “Comedy,” says he, “is, as we remark“ed, an imitation of things that are amiss; yet it does “ not level at every vice #.” He had remarked, in the preceding chapter, that its means of correction are “not reproach, but ridicule #.” Nor does the clause in the end of the sentence, concerning a countenance which raises laughter, in the least invalidate what I have now affirmed; for it is plain, that this is suggest

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Sect. II. Hobbes's account of laughter examined.

ed in the way of similitude, to illustrate what he had advanced, and not as a particular instance of the position he had laid down, For we can never suppose that he would have called distorted features “a certain fault or slip *,” and still less that he would have specified this, as what might be corrected by the art of the comedian. As an instance, therefore, it would have confuted his definition, and shewn that his account of the object of laughter must be erroneous, since this emotion may be excited, as appears from the example produced by himself, where there is nothing faulty or vicious in any kind or degree. As an illustration, it was extremely pertinent. It shewed that the ridiculous in manners (which was all that his definition regarded) was, as far as the different nature of the things would permit, analogous to the laughable in other subjects, and that it supposed an incongruous combination, where there is nothing either calamitous or destructive. But that in other objects unconnected with either character or conduct, with either the body or the soul, there might not be images or exhibitions presented to the mind, which would naturally provoke laughter, the philosopher hath nowhere, as far as I know, so much as insinuated.

SECT. II.....Hobbey's account of laughter examined.

FROM the founder of the Peripatetic school, let us descend to the philosopher of Malmesbury, who hath

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Sect. II. Hobbes's account of laughter examined.
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defined laughter “a sudden glory, arising from a sud“den conception of some eminency in ourselves, by “comparison with the infirmity of others, or with our “own formerly #.” This account is, I acknowledge, incompatible with that given in the preceding pages, and, in my judgment, results entirely from a view of the subject, which is in some respect partial, and in some respect false. It is in some respect partial : — When laughter is produced by ridicule, it is, doubtless, accompanied with some degree of contempt. Ridicule, as hath been observed already, has a double operation, first on the fancy, by presenting to it such a group as constitutes a laughable object; secondly, on the passion mentioned, by exhibiting absurdity in human character, in principles or in conduct: and contempt always implies a sense of superiority. No wonder then that one likes not to be ridiculed or laughed at. Now, it is this union which is the great source of this author's error, and of his attributing to one of the associated principles, from an imperfect view of the subject, what is purely the effect of the other.

For, that the emotion called laughter, doth not result from the contempt, but solely from the perception of oddity with which the passion is occasionally, not necessarily, combined, is manifest from the following considerations. First, contempt may be raised in a very high degree, both suddenly and unexpect

* Human Nature, Chap. IX. § 13.

sect. II. Hobbes's account of laughter examined.

edly, without producing the least tendency to laugh. Of this instances have been given already from Bolingbroke and Swift, and innumerable others will occur to those who are conversant in the writings of those authors. Secondly, laughter may be, and is daily produced by the perception of incongruous association, when there is no contempt. And this shews that Hobbes's view of the matter is false as well as partial. “Men,” says he, “laugh at jests, the 'wit “whereof always consisteth in the elegant discovering “ and conveying to our minds some absurdity of ano“ther *.” I maintain, that men also laugh at jests, the wit whereof doth not consist in discovering any absurdity of another; for all jests do not come within his description. On a careful perusal of the foregoing sheets, the reader will find that there hath been several instances of this kind produced already, in which it hath been observed, that there is wit, but no ridicule. I shall bring but one other instance. Many have laughed at the queerness of the comparison in these lines, - -

For rhime the rudder is of verses,
With which, like ships, they steer their courses #;

who never dreamt that there was any person or party, practice or opinion, derided in them. But as people are often very ingenious in their manner of defending a favourite hypothesis, if any admirer of the Hobbesian philosophy should pretend to discover some

* Ibid. # Hudibras, Part I. Canto 1.

Sect. II. Hobbes's account of laughter examined.

class of men whom the poet here meant to ridicule, he ought to consider, that if any one hath been tickled with the passage to whom the same thought never occurred, that single instance would be sufficient to snbvert the doctrine, as it should show that there may be laughter, where there is no triumph or glorying over any body, and consequently no conceit of one's own superiority. So that there maybe, and often is, both contempt without laughter, and laughter without contempt.

Besides, where wit is really pointed, which constitutes ridicule, that it is not from what gives the conceit of our own eminence by comparison, but purely from the odd assemblage of ideas, that the laughter springs, is evident from this, that if you make but a trifling alteration on the expression, so as to destroy the wit (which often turns on a very little circumstance), without altering the real import of the sentence, (a thing not only possible but easy) you will produce the same opinion, and the same contempt; and consequently will give the same subject of triumph, yet without the least tendency to laugh : and conversely, in reading a well-writen satire, a man may be much diverted by the wit, whose judgement is not convinced by the ridicule or insinuated argument, and whose former esteem of the object is not in the keast impaired. Indeed, men's telling their own blunders, even blunders recently committed, and laughing at them, a thing not uncommon in very risible dispositions, is utterly inexplicable on Hobbes's

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