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If jealousy be regarded as a proof of an amorous difposition, no people were more jealous than the MuscoVITES, before their communication with Europe had somewhat altered their manners in this particular.
But supposing the fact true, that nature, by physical principles, has regularly distributed these two passions, the one to the northern, the other to the southern regions; we can only infer, that the climate may affect the groffer and more bodily organs of our frame; not that it can work upon those finer organs, on which the operations of the mind and understanding depend. And this is agreeable to the analogy of nature. The races of animals never degenerate when carefully tended; and horses, in particular, always show their blood in their shape, spirit, and swiftness: But a coxcomb may beget a philofopher; as a man of virtue may leave a worthless progeny.
I shall conclude this subject with observing, that though the passion for liquor be more brutal and debasing than love, which, when properly managed, is the source of all politeness and refinement; yet this gives not so great an advantage to the southern climates, as we may be apt, at first sight, to imagine. When love goes beyond a certain pitch, it renders men jealous, and cuts off the free intercourse between the sexes, on which the politeness of a nation will commonly much depend. And if we would subtilize and refine upon this point, we might observe, that the people, in very temperate clia mates, are the most likely to attain all sorts of improvement; their blood not being so inflamed as to render them jealous, and yet being warm enough to make them fet a due value on the charms and endowments of the fair sex,
terror, anxiety, and other passions, that are in themselves disagreeable and uneasy. The more they are touched and affected, the more are they delighted with the spectacle; and as soon as the uneasy passions cease to operate, the piece is at an end. One scene of full joy and cona tentment and security is the utmost, that any composition of this kind can bear; and it is sure always to be the concluding one. If, in the texture of the piece, there be interwoven any scenes of satisfaction, they afford only faint gleams of pleasure, which are thrown in by way of variety, and in order to plunge the actors into deeper distress, by means of that contrast and disappointment. The whole art of the poet is employed, in rouzing and supporting the compassion and indignation, the anxiety and resentment of his audience. They are pleased in proportion as they are amicted, and never are so happy as when they employ tears, sobs, and cries to give vent to their forrow, and relieve their heart, swoln with the tendereft sympathy and compassion.
The few critics, who have had some tincture of philre sophy, have remarked this singular phenomenon, and have endeavoured to account for it.
L'Abbe Dubois, in his reflections on poetry and painting, afferts, that nothing is in general fo disagreeable to the mind as the languid, listless state of indolence, into which it falls upon the removal of all pasfion and occupation. To get rid of this painful situation, it seeks every amusement and pursuit : business, gaming, shews, executions; whatever will rouze the passions, and take its attention from itself. No matter what the passion is: Let it be disagreeable, amicting, melancholy, disordered; it is still better than that infipid languor, which arises from perfect tranquillity and repose.
It is impoffible not to admit this account, as being, at least in part, fatisfactory. You may obferve, when there are several tables of gaming, that all the company fun to those, where the deepest play is, even though they find not there the best players. The view, or, at least, imagination of high passions, arising from great loss or gain, affects the spectator by sympathy, gives him some touches of the same pasions, and serves him for a momentary entertainment.
It makes the time pass the easier with him, and is some relief to that oppreffion, under which men commonly labour, when left entirely to their own thoughts and meditations.
We find that common liars always magnify, in their narrations, all kinds of danger, pain, distress, sickness, deaths, murders, and cruelties, as well as joy, beauty, mirth, and magnificence. It is an absurd secret, which they have for pleasing their company, fixing their attention, and attaching them to such marvellous relations, by the paffions and emotions, which they excite.
There is, however, a difficulty in applying to the prefent subject, in its full extent, this folution, however ingenious and satisfactory it may appear. It is certain, that the same object of distress, which pleases in a tra
gedy, were it really set before us, would give the most unfeigned uneasiness; 'though it be then the most effectual cure to languor and indolence. Monsieur FONTENELLE seems to have been sensible of this difficulty ; and accordingly attempts another solution of the phenomenon; at least makes fome addition to the theory above mentioned *
- Pleasure and pain," says he, " which are two sen“ timents so different in themselves, differ not so much " in their cause. From the instance of tickling, it " appears, that the movement of pleasure, pushed a little
too far, becomes pain; and that the movement of "s pain, a little moderated, becomes pleasure. Hence it “ proceeds, that there is such a thing as a sorrow, sofc " and agreeable: It is a pain weakened and diminished, “ The heart likes naturally to be moved and affected. " Melancholy objects fuit it, and even disastrous and “ sorrowful, provided they are softened by some circum66 ftance, It is certain, that, on the theatre, the re" presentation has almost the effect of reality ; yet it has
not alcogether that effect. However we may be hur“ ried away by the spectacle; whatever dominion the “ fenfes and imagination may usurp over the reason, 66 there still lurks at the bottom a certain idea of false“ hood in the whole of what we fee. This idea, though " weak and disguised, suffices to diminish the pain which
we suffer from the misfortunes of those whom we love, " and to reduce that affliction to such a pitch as converts “ it into a pleasure. We weep for the misfortune of a 6 hero, to whom we are attached. In the same instant “ we comfort ourselves, by reflecting, that it is nothing $6. but a fiction : And it is precisely that mixture of fer,
* Reflexions sur la poetique, $ 366