Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

depend on our present humour, or state of mind, and on our temporary capacity of receiving pleasure or pain. It is always to obtain some enjoyment, or to avoid some pain or uneasiness, that we indulge the violence of desire, and enter eagerly into the hurry of thoughts and of action. But if we are languid and desponding, if melancholy diffuses itself through the soul, we no longer cherish the gay illusions of hope ; no pleasure seems worthy of our attention ; we reject consolation, and brood over the images of our distress. In this state of mind, we are animated by no vigorous or lively passion ; our thoughts are quickened by no violent impulse : they resemble one another: we frequently return to the same images: our tone of mind continues the same, unless a desire or wish intervenes, that our condition were somehow different ; and as this suggests to us a state of circumstances and events very different from what we suffer, our affliction is aggravated by the contrast, and we sink into deeper sorrow. Precisely agreeable to this description, is the character of melancholy, music. The sounds, that is, the objects it conveys to the mind, mové slowly; they partake of little variety, or, if they are considerably varied, it is by a contrast that heightens the expression. Slow sounds, gentle zephyrs and murmuring streams, are agreeable to the afflicted lover. And the dreary whistling of the midnight wind through the crevices of a darksome cloister, cherishes the melancholy of the trembling nun, and disposes her to a gloomy and austere devotion. Thus, the desire of Jaques seems perfectly suited to his character; for the music he requires is agreeable to his present temper.

Blow, blow, thou winter wind,
Thou art not so unkind

As man's ingratitude ;
Thy tooth is not so keen,
Because thou art not seen,

Although thy breath be rude.
Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky,
Thou dost not bite so nigh

As benefits forgot ;
Though thou the waters warp,
Thy sting is not so sharp

As friend remember'd not.

Thus we have endeavoured to illustrate,

how social dispositions, by being excessive, and by suffering painful repulse, may render us unsocial and morose; how

Goodness wounds itself,
And sweet affection proves the spring of woe.

If these reasonings have any foundation in nature, they lead us to some conclusions that deserve attention. To judge concerning the conduct of others, and to indulge observations on the instability of human enjoyments, may assist us in the discipline of our own minds, and in correcting our pride and excessive appetites. But to allow reflections of this kind to become habitual, and to preside in our souls, is to counteract the good intentions of nature. In order, therefore, to anticipate a disposition so very painful to ourselves, and so disagreeable to others, we ought to learn, before we engage in the commerce of the world, what we may expect from society in general, and from every individual *. But if, previous to experience, we are unable to form just judgments of ourselves and others, we must beware of despondency, and of opinions injurious to human nature. Let us ever remember, that all men have peculiar interests to pursue; that every man ought to exert himself vigorously in his own employment; and that, if we are useful and blameless, we shall have the favour of our fellow-citizens. Let us love mankind; but let our affections be duly chastened. Be independent, if possible; but not insensible.

* Bruyere.

[ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors]

ESSAY V.

ON THE CHARACTER OF IMOGEN.

GEN.

CROWDED theatres have applauded Imo.

There is a pleasing softness and delicacy in this agreeable character, that render it peculiarly interesting. Love is the ruling passion; but it is love ratified by wedlock, gentle, constant, and refined.

The strength and peculiar features of a ruling passion, and the power of other principles to influence its motions and moderate its impetuosity, are principally manifest, when it is rendered violent by fear, hope, grief, and other emotions of a like nature, excited by the concurrence of external circumstances, When love is the governing

« ZurückWeiter »