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ways true to Nature, is perfectly compatible with an elevated and sublime Spirit. "Nay, is it not an Attribute ascribed even to the Deity himself? How then can it be derived from so mean an Original? It is, indeed, a Softness, but not (as you call it) an Imbecillity of Heart. Juvenal, I remember, somewhere extols it as the best and most lovely Passion belonging to human Nature, and the distinguishing Characteristic of our Species [rj.
You must be sensible, returned Sophronius, that whatever Notion the Poet might advance to flatter Mankind, or beautify his Composition; yet
"Not unrelenting. Then serene began With Words to sooth the miserable Man.
Iliad, xxiv. Pope's Tranfl. There is not, as Mr. Pope observes, a more beautiful Passage than this, in the whole Iliad. Homer, to shew that Achilles was not a mere Soldier, here draws him as a Person of excellent Sense, and sound Reason. And it was a Piece of great Judgment thus to describe him: for the Reader would have retained but a very indiffereni Opinion of him, if he had had no Qualification, but mere Strength. It also sliews the Art of the Poet, thus to deser ihis Part of his Character to the Conclusion of the . Poem: By these Means, he fixes an Idea of his Greatness upon our Minds, and makes his Hero go off the Stage with Applause.
Pope's Homer, B. xxiv. p. 168. ed. 1736.
[r]" 1 Molliilima corda
"Humano generidare se natura fatetur,
"A grege mutorum." . JuvEn. Satyr, xv.
"Compassion proper to Mankind appears-;
the Generality of the Ancients derived Pity from no higher a Source than that, which I have assigned. Seneca calls it the Fault of a poor pusillanimous Spirit; and affirms, that the basest Tempers are most susceptible of this Passion. The wise and good, fays he, will not pity, but he will relieve; but he will run to the Aid of the distressed. So far is he from dropping a sympathizing Tear with the unhappy ; that he is not moved even by his own Calamities, but, like a solid Rock, reverberates the Storm, and stands secure [/),
But how does it appear, faid Pbiloclet, that Pity has the fame Idea in our Language, which Mifericordia had in the Roman? Perhaps this might mean a senseless effeminate Consternation, that seizes weak Minds on the Prospect of any thing difastrous, and deprives them of the Capacity to relieve the Misery they behold.
There is a Passage in the Author I just now mentioned, returned Sopbronius, which makes it evident, that he understood by Mifericordia, the very fame Thing, which we do by the Word Pi
[s] Clementiam, mansuetudinemque omnes boni præftabunt: miscricordiam autem vitabunt: est enim virtual pusilli animi ad speciem malorum alienorum fuccidentis. Itaque peffimo cuique familiarillima est. Anus .& muiierculæ sunt, quæ, &c.——Ergo non miserebitur
fapiens, fed fuccurret, sed proderit. Ne in suis qui
dem accidet calamitatibus, sed omnem fortunæ iram reyerberabit, & ante se f'ranget, &c.
- . Seneca de Clem. lib. II. edit. Dan. Elz. 1672. ty. [/] He tells us, " that a wise Man will look "upon a Beggar labouring under all the Distres"ses of Poverty and Infirmities of old Age, with *( a Countenance unaltered, and his Heart un"moved at the Sight of the Calamity." From hence it is plain, that, in the Judgment of this Philosopher, it was a Weakness, to be moved and disturbed with the Misery of another.
Cicero is also clearly of the fame Opinion, as may be proved from several Passages in his philosophical Works [*]. And though, in some of those Places, he is giving us the Sentiments of the Stoics; yet he does not hesitate to approve of their Opinion [#]. Nay, the very Definition, . which both he and Seneca give of Pity, is—" A "Disorder of the Mind arising from the View os "another Person's Misery [y ].
proderit, & deorum more, calamitosos propitius respiciet. Seneca, Ibid.
[«] Videamus quanta sint, quæ a philosophic remedia
aniraorum morbis adhibeantur variæsunt curationes;
alia invidenti, alia miseranti. Cicero, Tusc. Disp. lib. IV. p. 231. edit. Aid. Man. & passim.
[x] Sententiis tamen utendum est eorum (viz. Stoicomm) qui raaxime forti, &, ut itadicam, virili utuntur ratione. ibid.
[ji ] Misericordia est aegritudo animi ex alienis rebus adverts. Ibidem. And that by aegritudo he meant a Disorder or wrong State of Mind, is plain from another Passage, where he fays—Ægritudo est animi, adverfante ratione, contractio. Ibid. 218.
.. Misericordia est asgritudo ob alienaium miseriarum
Little therefore, good Philocles, will a poetical Quotation avail, to ascertain the Sentiments of the Ancients; which surely are to be drawn from the sober Discourses of their Philosophers, rather than the Raptures and Visions of their Poets.
But you fend me likewise to the human Breast for Conviction in this Point. Why there it is, that I find my Sentiments confirmed. When I . behold human Calamities, I perceive all-my Faculties over-powered at the afllicting Sight. The Vigour of my Mind fail*; and I yield, as it were with Reluctance, to some superior Force. Men of a more refined Frame, who entertain exalted Notions of the Dignity of Man's Nature, may llatter themselves, that, in such a Situation, they feel a Consciousness of generous Excellence: But as to myself, I cannot triumph in imaginary Greatness of Soul, against the clear Conviction of my Senses. I freely confess, that it is nothing but the Weakness of my Mind, to which I can ascribe the sudden Effects, which an Object of Misery raises in my Breast.
But think not, therefore, that this is any Derogation to the Wisdom of the Creator. On the contrary, it seems a wife Design, to have formed us with this Imbecil'lity, that we might be rouzed by a quicker Impulse than that of Reason, and forced to give speedy Relief, that we might as speedily ease ourselves of the Anxiety raised in us
speciem, aut tristia ex alienis mail's contracta. Ægritudo
autem in fapientem virum non cadit.
.. Seneca de dementia, lib. II.
at the Sight of Distress. Thus do our very Frailties and Imperfections lead us to Benevolence, and draw us into public and private Fellowships. Let not then Phihcles imagine, that I am endeavouring to depreciate either the one or the other, when I fay they are derived from Weakness and Necessity.
That the former could not arise from Affection to the Species, seems evident, from the small Degree of it, which was ever found in the World, and from the Animosities and Contentions, necesfarily attending the Self-appetites under no legal Restraints: And as to the latter, whilst Men had no Protection and Security from Laws, Selfpreservation must have been the only Object of their Attention and Care. But how was it passible, in such a situation, for the undisciplined Mind to exert her Faculties, and plan a Scheme of private Association, before a public was established j from whence alone she could derive th^t Leisure and Safety, which were requisite to form the more distant Scheme?
I can by no Means 'allow, returned Phihcks., that the Self-appetites were under no Restraint, even supposing a Time, when civil Compacts were not as yet established. If Self-affection pleads one Vvray, Benevolence (a Passiort.equally belonging to our Frame) pleads as strongly the other: and the latter can no more be suppressed than the former, without doing Violence to Nature.. . J But see the Force of Truth! whilst you would represent your Species under difadvantageous