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my people, and thy God shall be my God: where thou “ diest I will die, and there will I be buried : the Lord “ do so to me, and more also, if aught but death part “thee and me!” Nothing can be more beautiful, but there is no imagination in it. If Cowley, or any of the poets of Cowley's school, had had to express the same degree of affection, he would most probably have found several reasons why the affection of Ruth for Naomi resembled lightning, smoke, air, fire, water, and clouds ; what properties it had in common with the shooting of a meteor; and in what way it might be compared both to morning and evening, and the middle of the day: in short, he would have displayed a great deal of imagination totally barren of all passion.
To inventive reasoning, the passions are very favourable. The resources which men exhibit in shipwrecks, and on desert islands, are perfectly astonishing. In the attempt to escape from prison, as much has been done with a rusty nail, as the best artisan could hardly have effected with the best tools, in any ordinary state of excitement of mind. In short, the process of invention in reasoning, is exactly the same as the process of invention in poetry. In passion, the mind dwells intensely on one object; all the ideas related to it, occur from association; and we seize upon the epithet, the argument, or the mechanical invention, which we judge the best. Passion aids the understanding, by multiplying the associations. It was precisely the same effect which passion produced, that it aided Cicero when he attacked Antony; Archimedes, when he defended Syracuse ; and Baron Trenck, when he broke out of prison. It may be doubted, whether quick and strong passions, are not inimical to those circumspect habits of mind, which are necessary to a good taste; for I should conceive that, in the acquirement of a fine taste, first emotions must be very often checked, and the mind kept in a state of suspense, till the relation of each part to the
whole has been examined, and the effect of surprise properly allowed for.
There is a state of mind, however, in which it is as important to keep a crowd of ideas out of the mind, as it is at others to excite them; and, at such periods, the presence of any lively passion must be detrimental. When we wish to fix the attention upon one object, to ascertain all its properties, and the relations it bears to some other object, nothing can be more unfavourable to such habits of accurate observation, than that crowd of slightly related ideas, with which the passions are apt to people the understanding.
With respect to the general connection between passions and talents, no rule can be laid down, by which the existence of the one is with any certainty inferred from the existence of the other. Great passions may coexist with a very low state of talent; and great talents with a very low state of passion. Nor does it by any means appear, that the cold-blooded race of men, are intended to act a less conspicuous part on the theatre of the world, than those whose passions are the most acute, and the most irritable. The liberty of Europe, is at present threatened by a man of the most impetuous passions; the independence of America, was established by a man who certainly had his passions in the most perfect command. Alexander was a mad man; Augustus, calm and artful. When we compare together the retarding, and the impelling part of the machinery, it would be crude and hasty language, to give one any preference over the other. If there be
any man, who has great passions which he can command and obey, according to circumstances, such a man must in the end be greater than all others of equal talents.
The passions, I have before stated to be affected by every circumstance which affects the body; as age, health, climate, and race: they are affected by government, by rank, by sex, by education, by the degree of
refinement of the age, by solitude, by society, and by habit. In fact, the passions are acted upon by every outward and inward circumstance; but these are the principal. It is very easy to conceive, that governments absolutely under the control of the people, and absolutely under the control of one person, must have a strong tendency to encourage different passions: that the same circumstance must be true of coinmercial, and of military nations; that where the youth of
any country hear nothing spoken of, at their first coming into life, but the acquisition of property, and perceive that every one increases in estimation as he advances in opulence, it is highly probable that the active principles by which he will be controlled, will be of a very different nature from what they would have been, if he had been nursed in the tumult and glory of arms.
Civilisation must have a prodigious effect upon the passions; it must supersede the necessity of revenge, by strengthening the power of law; whereas, in barbarous times, a man has only his own malevolent passions to trust to for protection. Courtesy, and the appearance of benevolence, are fashionable; reputation becomes valuable, and a certain degree of good faith is more generally diffused.
The most considerable difference between the active powers of the sexes, is, that women are more generally under the influence of fear; and they rather avoid shame, than seek glory. They are probably, also, more under the influence of the benevolent feelings than men, because, in the distribution of duties, a great number of benevolent offices devolve upon them; and because they are exempted from all those which require an innmediate exertion of the malevolent passions, or at least a suppression of the benevolent ones. It is the duty of men to cut off limbs, hang criminals, and massacre the enemies of their country, whenever they are able: they are soldiers, judges, and physicians: – women are carefully protected from every situation which requires the
sacrifice of a single instant of benevolence. Speaking very generally and grossly, the effect of solitude is to cherish great virtues, and to destroy little ones. " So“ ciety,” says Adam Smith, “ is the best preservative “ of that equal, and happy temper, which is so neces
sary to self-satisfaction and enjoyment: men of retire“ ment and speculation, who are apt to sit brooding at “ home over either grief or resentment, though they
may often have more humanity, more generosity, and “ a nicer sense of honour, yet seldom possess that
equality of temper which is so common among men 66 of the world."
The difference of the passions, and the different proportions in which the same passions are measured out to different individuals, form the leading and most prominent diversities in human character. Men differ from each other very materially, as their desires are negative or positive; — as they wish to obtain praise, or to avoid blame. In the first class are the vain, the ambitious, and the active part of the human race: the last contains men of reserve, of humility, and of caution ; who, provided they do not incur ridicule and disgrace, are well contented to leave to others the contest for distinction.
Men differ, as their desires are vehement or weak. Some can hardly be said to have any desires at all; others would overturn kingdoms, and mingle heaven with earth, to effect the least of all their desires.
Another variety in human character is, the length or continuation of desire, which, united with vehemence of desire, makes, I believe, what we call strength of character: for we could not deny to any man that attribute, who wished anything vehemently, and continued in the pursuit of it steadily; at least, if it was his habit to feel and act after this manner. Then again, we may observe a striking dissimilarity among men, as they are governed by near or distant motives; or, in other words, as they are under the influence of calm, or strong pas
sions. We distinguish, also, between warm and cold dispositions, that is, between different degrees of the benevolent feelings, -as we do between different degrees of irascibility, in the epithets irritable and patient. Some men are extremely benevolent in little things, and distinguish themselves by their politeness; others have the great virtues, and not the lesser ones.
A disposition to fear, or to hope, makes two different classes of men ; so does the place, or degree, in which a man puts himself, with regard to his fellow-creatures. It has often been said, that, where the passions are the most difficult to be roused, they are the most terrible when they are roused. It is most probable that this opinion is not quite so true as it is supposed to be, from the deception which, in this case, must necessarily be exercised upon the imagination by the contrast. Whoever were to see a beautiful young lady in a violent rage, would be apt to think it much more excessive and violent, from the mere novelty and surprise of the thing, than if he had beheld a captain of a man-of-war in a similar situation of mind. Again, it must be remembered, that the causes which throw a person of a mild disposition into a fit of rage, must be very strong, to commit such an outrage upon the customary habits of his nature; whereas, an equal degree of indignation may easily be produced in a more irritable disposition, by a cause less grave and important. But, the degree of provocation being given, and the effects of novelty allowed for, it is not easy to see, why the passions of a phlegmatic man, once roused, should be stronger and more difficult to be allayed than those of one more accustomed to passion. One solution, indeed, there is, which has some appearance of plausibility. Men accus. tomed, for instance, to anger, may often have suffered from anger; though unable to check the passion entirely, they have learnt a certain degree of control over its wildest excesses, and are not, at those moments, quite