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“ timents, which composes an agreeable forrow, and “ tears that delight us. But as that affliction, which is “ caused by exterior and sensible objects, is stronger 66 than the consolation which arises from an internal “ reflection, they are the effects and symptoms of sorrow, “ that ought to predominate in the composition.”
This solution seems just and convincing; but perhaps it wants still some new addition, in order to make it an. swer fully the phenomenon, which we here examine. All the passions, excited by eloquence, are agreeable in the highest degree, as well as those which are moved by painting and the theatre. The epilogues of Cicero are, on this account chiefly, the delight of every reader of taste; and it is difficult to read some of them without the deepest sympathy and sorrow. His merit as an orator, no doubt, depends much on his success in this
particular. When he had raised tears in his judges and all his audience, they were then the most highly delighted, and expressed the greatest satisfaction with the pleader. The pathetic description of the butchery, made by Verres of the SICILIAN captains, is a masterpiece of this kind : But I believe none will affirm, that the being present at a melancholy scene of that nature would afford any entertainment. Neither is the forrow here foftened by fiction : For the audience were convinced of the reality of every circumstance. What is it then, which in this case raises a pleasure from the bosom of uneasiness, so to speak; and a pleasure, which still retains all the features and outward symptoms of distress and forrow?
I answer: This extraordinary effect proceeds from that very eloquence, with which the melancholy scene is represented. The genius required to paint objects in a lively manner, the art employed in collecting all the pathetic circumstances, the judgment displayed in dis
posing them; the exercise, I say, of those noble talents, together with the force of expression, and beauty of oratorial numbers, diffuse the highest satisfaction on the audience, and excite the most delightful movements. By this means, the uneasiness of the melancholy passions is not only overpowered and effaced by something stronger of an opposite kind; but the whole impulse of those passions is converted into pleasure, and swells the delight which the eloquence raises in us. The same force of oratory, employed on an uninteresting subject, would not please half so much, or rather would appear altogether ridiculous; and the mind, being left in absolute calmness and indifference, would relish none of those beauties of imagination or expression, which, if joined to passion, give it such exquisite entertainment. The impulse or vehemence, arising from forrow, compassion, indignation, receives a new direction from the sentiments of beauty. The latter, being the predominant emotion, seize the whole mind, and convert the former into themselves, or at least tincture them so strongly as totally to alter their nature. And the soul, being, at the same time, rouzed by passion, and charmed by eloquence, feels on the whole a strong movement, which is altogether delightful.
The fame principle takes place in tragedy; with this addition, that tragedy is an imitation, and imitation is always of itself agreeable. This circumstance serves still farther to smooth the motions of passion, and convert the whole feeling into one uniform and strong enjoyment. Objects of the greatest terror and distress please in painting, and please more than the most beautiful objects, that appear calm and indifferent *.
The affection, rouzing the mind, excites a large stock of spirit and vehemence; which is all transformed into pleasure by
* See NOTE [N].
the force of the prevailing movement. It is thus the fiction of tragedy softens the passion, by an infusion of a new feeling, not merely by weakening or diminishing the sorrow. You may by degrees weaken a real forrow, till it totally disappears; yet in none of its gradations will it ever give pleasure; except, perhaps, by accident, to a man sunk under lethargic indolence, whom it rouzes from that languid state.
To confirm this theory, it will be sufficient to produce other instances, where the subordinate movement is converted into the predominant, and gives force to it, though of a different, and even sometimes though of a contrary nature.
Novelty naturally rouzes the mind, and attracts our attention ; and the movements, which it causes, are always converted into any passion, belonging to the obo ject, and join their force to it. Whether an event excites joy or forrow, pride or shame, ånger or good-will, it is sure to produce a stronger affection, when new or unusual. And though novelty of itself be agreeable, it enforces the painful, as well as agreeable passions.
Had you any intention to move a person extremely by the narration of any event, the best method of encreafing its effect would be artfully to delay informing him of it, and first to excité his curiosity and impatience before you let himn into the secret. This is the artifice practised by Iago in the famous scene of SHAKESPEARE ; and every spectator is fenfible, that OTHELLO's jealousy acquires additional force from his preceding impatience, and that the subordinate paffion is here readily transformed into the predominant oné.
Difficulties encrease pasfions of every kind ; and by rouzing our attention, and exciting our active powers,
they produce an'emotion, which nourishes the prevailing affection.
Parents commonly love that child most, whose fickly infirm frame of body has occasioned them the greatest pains, trouble, and anxiety in rearing him. The agreeable sentiment of affection here acquires force from sentiments of uneasiness.
Nothing endears so much a friend as forrow for his death. The pleasure of his company has not so powerful an influence.
Jealousy is a painful paffion; yet, without some share of it, the agreeable affection of love has difficulty to subfist in its full force and violence. Absence is also a great source of complaint among lovers, and gives them the greatest uneasiness : Yet nothing is more favourable to their mutual passion than short intervals of that kind. And if long intervals often prove fatal, it is only because, through time, men are accustomed to them, and they cease to give uneasiness. Jealousy and absence in love compose the dolce piccante of the ITALIANS, which they füppose so essential to all pleasure.
There is a fine observation of the elder Pliny, which illustrates the principle here insisted on, It is very remarkable, says he, that the last works of celebrated artists, which they left imperfect, are always the most prized, such as the Iris of ARISTIDÈS, the TYNDARIDES of NicoMACHUS, the MEDE Å of TIMOMACHUS, and the Venus of APELLES. These are valued even above their finished productions : The broken lineaments of the piece, and the halfformed idea of the painter are carefully Jludied; and our very grief for that curious hand, which had been slapped by death, is an additional encrease to our pleasure to
These + Illud vero perquam rarum ac memoria dignum, etiam fuprema opera artificum, imperfectasque tabulas, ficut, IR IN ARISTIDIS, TYNDARIDAS
These instances (and many more might be collected) are sufficient to afford us some insight into the analogy of nature, and to show us, that the pleasure, which poets, orators, and musicians give us, by exciting grief, sorrow, indignation, compassion, is not so extraordinary nor paradoxical, as it may at first sight appear. The force of imagination, the energy of expression, the power of numbers, the charms of imitation; all these are naturally, of themselves, delightful to the mind : And when the object presented lays also hold of some affection, the pleasure still rises upon us, by the conversion of this subordinate movement into that which is predominant. The passion, though, perhaps, naturally, and when excited by the simple appearance of a real object, it may be painful; yet is so smoothed, and softened, and mollified, when raised by the finer arts, that it affords the highese entertainment.
To confirm this reasoning, we may observe, that if the movements of the imagination be not predominant above those of the passion, a contrary effect follows; and the former, being now subordinate, is converted into the latter, and still farther encreases the pain and affiction of the sufferer.
Who could ever think of it as a good expedient for comforting an afficted parent, to exaggerate, with all the force of elocution, the irreparable loss, which he has met with by the death of a favourite child ? The more power of imagination and expression you here employ, the more you encrease his despair and affliction.
NICOMACHÍ, MEDEAM TIMOMACHI, & quam diximus VENEREM APELLIS, in majori admiratione effe quam perfecta. Quippe in iis lineamenta reliqua, ipfæque cogitationes artificum fpectantur, atque in lengcinio commendationis dolor est manus, cum id ageret, extinctæ. Lib. xxxv. cap. 11.