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consideration, as applied to passion; when a passion is termed pleasant or painful, we refer to the actual feeling; when termed agreeable or disagreeable, we refer to it as an object of thought or reflection: a passion is pleasant or painful to the person in whom it exists; it is agreeable or disagreeable to the person who makes it a subject of contemplation.
In the description of emotions and passions, these terms do not always coincide: to make which evident, we must endeavor to ascertain, first, what passions and emotions are pleasant, what painful; and next, what are agreeable, what disagreeable. With respect to both, there are general rules, which, if I can trust to induction, admit not a single exception. The nature of an emotion or passion, as pleasant or painful, depends entirely on its cause: the emotion produced by an agreeable object is invariably pleasant; and the emotion produced by a disagreeable object is invariably painful. Thus a lofty oak, a generous action, a valuable discovery in art or science, are agreeable objects that invariably produce pleasant emotions. A treacherous action, an irregular, ill-contrived edifice, being disagreeable objects, produce painful emotions." Selfish passions are pleasant; for self is always an agreeable object, or cause. A social passion directed upon an agreeable object is always pleasant; directed upon an object in distress, is painful. Lastly, all dissocial passions, such as envy, resentment and malice, caused by disagreeable objects, are painful.
A general rule for the agreeableness or disagreeableness of emotions and passions is, a sense of a common nature in every species of animals, particularly our own, and a conviction that this common nature is right or perfect, and that individuals ought to be made conformable to it.* A passion that deviates from the common nature, by being too strong or too weak, is wrong and disagreeable; but as far as conformable to
* This is explained, Chap. XXV. Standard of Taste.
common nature, every emotion and passion is perceived to be right, and thence agreeable. But the painful are no less natural, as of grief and pity, and therefore they are agreeable and applauded by all the world. Another rule more simple and direct for ascertaining the agreeableness or disagreeableness of a passion as opposed to an emotion, is derived from the desire that accompanies it. If the desire be to perform a right action in order to produce a good effect, the passion is agreeable: if the desire be, to do a wrong action in order to produce an ill effect, the passion is disagreeable. Thus, passions as well as actions are governed by the moral sense. These rules by the wisdom of providence coincide: a passion that is conformable to our common nature must tend to good; and a passion that deviates from our common nature must tend to ill.
A passion that becomes an object of thought, may have the effect to produce a passion or emotion in the spectator; for it is natural, that a social being should be affected with the passions of others. Passions or emotions thus generated, submit, in common with others, to the general law above-mentioned, namely, that an agreeable object produces a pleasant emotion, and a disagreeable object a painful emotion. Thus gratitude produces love to the grateful person; malice, the painful passion of hatred, to the malicious person.
We are now prepared for examples of pleasant passions that are disagreeable, and of painful passions that are agreeable. Self-love, as long as confined within just bounds, is a passion both pleasant and agreeable in excess it is disagreeable, though it continues to be still pleasant. Our appetites are precisely in the same condition. Resentment, on the other hand, is, in every stage of the passion, painful; but is not disagreeable unless in excess. Pity is always painful, yet always agreeable. Vanity, on the contrary, is always pleasant, yet always disagreeable. But however distinct those qualities are, they coincide,
I acknowledge, in one class of passions: all vicious passions tending to the hurt of others, are equally painful and disagreeable.
We come now to the modifications of these passions as respects the science of criticism. The pleasure or pain of one passion differs from that of another, as of revenge gratified from that of love. In discerning different sweets, sours, bitters; honey is never mistaken for sugar; and we distinguish smells in flowers different and endless. The differences too as to pleasant and painful emotions and passions have no limits; though we want acuteness of feeling for the more delicate modifications. There is an analogy here between our internal and external senses, and with relation to the fine arts, the qualification most essential is termed delicacy of taste.
Some passions are gross, some refined; the pleasures of external sense are corporeal or gross; those of the eye and ear are felt to be internal, and for that reason pure and refined. The social affections are more refined than the selfish. Sympathy and humanity are universally esteemed the finest temper of mind. A savage knows little of social affection: he cannot compare selfish and social pleasure. The social passions rise highest in our esteem.
There are differences not less remarkable among the painful passions. Some are voluntary, some involuntary: the pain of the gout is an example of the latter; grief, of the former, which in some cases is so voluntary as to reject all consolation. One pain softens the temper-pity is an instance: one tends to render us savage and cruel, which is the case of revenge. I value myself upon sympathy: I hate and despise myself for envy.
Social affections have an advantage over the selfish, not only with respect to pleasure, as above explained, but also with respect to pain. The pain of an affront, the pain of want, the pain of disappointment, and a thousand other selfish pains, are excruciating and tor
menting, and tend to a habit of peevishness and discontent. Social pains have a very different tendency: the pain of sympathy, for example, is not only voluntary, but softens my temper, and raises me in my own
Refined manners, and polite behavior, must not be deemed altogether artificial: men, who, inured to the sweets of society, cultivate humanity, find an elegant pleasure in preferring others, and making them happy, of which the proud, the selfish, scarce have a conception.
Ridicule, which chiefly arises from pride, a selfish passion, is at best but a gross pleasure; a people, it is true, must have emerged out of barbarity before they can have a taste for ridicule; but it is too rough an entertainment for the polished and refined. Cicero discovers in Plautus a happy talent for ridicule, and a peculiar delicacy of wit; but Horace declares against the lowness and roughness of that author's raillery. The modifications of high and low will be handled in the chapter of grandeur and sublimity; and the modifications of dignified and mean, in that of dignity and grace.
Are pleasant and agreeable, painful and disagreeable, respectively synonymous?
What is affirmed in order to prove that they are not?
Is the pleasure produced by viewing an agreeable object, a quality of the emotion produced, or of the object?
How are agreeable and disagreeable distinguished from pleasant and painful?
How are these terms applied to a passion?
On what does the nature of an emotion or passion depend?
What is the general rule for the agreeableness or disagreeableness of emotions and passions?
How is the rule applied?
From what is another rule derived?
How is this applied?
How is the spectator of a passion in another person affected? Give examples.
Give examples of pleasant passions that are disagreeable, and painful ones that are agreeable?
In what do these qualities coincide?
Do the pleasures or pains arising from the passions differ?
What is the most essential qualification with respect to the fine arts?
What passions are gross, and what refined?
Give examples of voluntary and involuntary passions, and their effects.
What advantages have social over selfish passions?
How with respect to ridicule ?
Interrupted existence of Emotions and Passions; their growth and decay.
Did an emotion continue like color or figure, the condition of man would be deplorable; it is wisely ordered that emotions and passions should only subsist while their cause is present, and have no independent existence. They are thus felt at intervals, and no emotion raised by an idea is the same as that raised by the sight of the object. A passion is always reckoned the same, as long as it is fixed upon the same object; thus love and hatred are said to continue for life. Many passions are reckoned the same even after a change of object, as envy directed to the same person, or many persons at once; pride and malice are examples of the same. So much for the identity of passions; we now proceed to examine their growth and decay.
Some emotions are produced in their utmost perfection, and have a very short duration, as surprise, wonder, terror. Emotions raised by inanimate objects, trees, rivers, buildings, arrive at perfection almost instantaneously; and they have a long endurance, a second view producing nearly the same pleasure as the first. Love, hatred, &c. swell and then decay. Envy, malice, pride, scarce ever decay.
Some passions, such as gratitude and revenge, are often exhausted by a single act of gratification: other