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with perfect indifference. And happy is it for mankind to have the matter so ordered : if rest were agreeable, it would disincline us to motion, by which all things are performed : if it were disagreeable, it would be a source of perpetual uneasiness ; for the bulk of the things we see appear to be at rest. A similar instance of designing wisdom I have had occasion to explain, in opposing grandeur to littleness, and elevation to lowness of place. Even in the simplest matters, the finger of God is conspicuous : the happy adjustment of the internal nature of man to his external circumstances, displayed in the instances here given, is indeed admirable.
Motion is agreeable in all its varieties of quickness and slowness ; but motion long continued admits some exceptions. That degree of continued motion, which corresponds to the natural course of our perceptions, is the most agreeable. The quickest motion is for an instant delightful; but soon appears to be too rapid : it becomes painful by forcibly accelerating the course of our perceptions. Slow continued motion becomes disagreeable from an opposite cause, that it retards the natural course of our perceptions.f
There are other varieties in motion besides quickness and slowness, that make it more or less agreeable : regular motion is preferred before what is irregular ; witness the motion of the planets in orbits nearly circular : the motion of the comets in orbits less regular, is less agreeable.
Motion uniformly accelerated, resembling an ascending series of numbers, is more agreeable than when uniformly retarded : motion upward is agreeable, by tendency to elevation. What then shall we say of downward motion regularly accelerated by the force of gravity, compared with upward motion regularly retarded by the same force ? Which of these is the most agreeable ? This question is not easily solved.
Motion in a straight line is agreeable : but we prefer undulating motion, as of waves, of a flame, of a ship under sail; such motion is more free, and also more natural. Hence the beauty of a serpentine river.
The easy and sliding motion of a fluid, from the lubricity of its parts, is agreeable upon that account : but the agreeableness chiefly depends on the following circumstance, that the motion is perceived, not as of one body, but as of an endless number moving together with order and regularity. Poets struck with that beauty, draw more images from fluids in motion than from solids.
Force is of two kinds : one quiescent, and one exerted in motion. The former, dead weight for example, must be laid aside ; for a body at rest is not, by that circumstance, either agreeable or disagreeable. Moving force only is my province; and though it is not separable from motion, yet by the power of abstraction, either of them may be considered independent of the other. Both of them are agreeable, because both of them include activity. It is agree
thing move : to see it moved, as when it is dragged or pushed along, is neither agreeable nor disagreeable, more than when at rest. It is agreeable to see a thing exert force ; but it * See Chap. 4.
+ This will be explained more fully afterward, chap. 9.
able to see
makes not the thing either agreeable or disagreeable, to see force ex. erted upon it.
Though motion and force are each of them agreeable, the impressions they make are different. The difference, clearly felt, is not easily described. All we can say is, that the emotion raised by a moving body, resembling its cause, is felt as if the mind were carried along : the emotion raised by force exerted, resembling also its cause, is felt as if force were exerted within the mind.
To illustrate that difference, I give the following examples. It has been explained why smoke ascending in a calı day, suppose from a cottage in a wood, is an agreeable object ;* so remarkably agreeable, that landscape-painters introduce it upon all occasions. The ascent being natural, and without effort, is pleasant in a calm state of mind : it resembles a gently-flowing river, but is more agree ble, because ascent is more to our taste than descent. A fire-work or a jet d'eau rouses the mind more; because the beauty of force visibly exerted, is superadded to that of upward motion. To a man reclining indolently upon a bank of flowers, ascending smoke in a still morning is charming ; but a fire-work or a jet d'eau rouses him from that supine posture, and put him in motion.
A jet d'eau makes an impression distinguishable from that of a waterfall. Downward motion being natural and without effort, tends rather to quiet the mind than to rouse it : upward motion, on the contrary, overcoming the resistance of gravity, makes an impression of a great effort, and thereby rouses and enlivens the mind.
The public games of the Greeks and Romans, which gave so much entertainment to the spectators, consisted chiefly in exerting force, wrestling, leaping, throwing great stones, and such like trials of strength. When great force is exerted, the effort felt internally is animating. The effort may be such, as in some measure to overpower the mind : thus the explosion of gunpowder, the violence of a torrent, the weight of a mountain, and the crush of an earthquake, create astonishment rather than pleasure.
No quality nor circumstance contributes more to grandeur than force, especially where exerted hy sensible beings. I cannot make the observation more evident than by the following quotations.
-Him the almighty power
Now storming fury rose,
Both battles main, with ruinous assault
They ended parley, and both address'd for fight
Should combat, and their jarring spheres confound.- Ibid. book 6. We shall next consider the effect of motion and force in conjunc
In contemplating the planetary system, what strikes us the most, is the spherical figures of the planets, and their regular motions; the conception we have of their activity and enormous bulk being more obscure; the beauty, accordingly, of that system, raises a more lively emotion than its grandeur. But if we could comprehend the whole system at one view, the activity and irresistible force of these immense bodies would fill us amazement ; nature cannot furnish another scene so grand.
Motion and force, agreeable in themselves, are also agreeable by their utility when employed as means to accomplish some beneficial end. Hence the superior beauty of some machines, where force and motion concur to perform the work of numberless hands. Hence the beautiful motions, firm and regular, of a horse trained for war; every single step is the fittest that can be for obtaining the purposed end. But the grace of motion is visible chiefly in man, not only for the reasons mentioned, but because every gesture is significant. The power however of agreeable motion is not a common talent: every limb of the human body has an agreeable and disagreeable motion ; some motions being extremely graceful, others plain and vulgar ; some expressing dignity, others meanness. But the pleasure here, arising, not singly from the beauty of motion, but from indicating character and sentiment, belongs to different chapters.*
I should conclude with the final cause of the relish we have for motion and force, were it not so evident as to require no explanation. We are placed here in such circumstances as to make industry essential to our well-being, for without industry the plainest necessaries of life are not obtained. When our situation, therefore, in this world requires activity and a constant exertion of motion and
Chap. 11. and 15.
force, providence indulgently provides for our welfare by making these agreeable to us; it would be a gross imperfection in our nature, to make any thing disagreeable that we depend on for existence; and even indifference would slacken greatly ihat degree of activity which is indispensable.
NOVELTY, AND THE UNEXPECTED APPEARANCE OF OBJECTS.
Of all the circumstances that raise emotions, not excepting beauty nor even greatness, novelty hath the most powerful influence. A new object produceth instantaneously an emotion termed wonder, which totally occupies the mind, and for a time excludes all other objects. Conversation among the vulgar never is more interesting than when it turns upon strange objects and extraordinary events. Men tear themselves from their native country in search of things rare and new; and novelty converts into a pleasure the fatigues and even perils of travelling. To what cause shall we ascribe these singular appearances ? To curiosity, undoubtedly, a principle implanted in human nature for a purpose extremely beneficial, that of acquiring knowledge; and the emotion of wonder, raised by new and strange objects, inflames our curiosity to know more of them. This emotion is different from admiration : novelty, wherever found, whether in quality or action, is the cause of wonder: admiration is di. rected to the person who performs any thing wonderful.
During infancy, every new object is probably the occasion of wonder, in some degree: because, during infancy, every object at first sight is strange as well as new : but as objects are rendered familiar by custom, we cease by degrees to wonder at new appearances, if they have any resemblance to what we are acquainted with; for a thing must be singular as well as new, to raise our wonder. To save multiplying words, I would be understood to comprehend both circumstances when I hereafter talk of novelty.
In an ordinary train of perceptions where one thing introduces another, not a single object makes its appearance unexpectedly :* the mind, thus prepared for the reception of its objects, admits them one after another without perturbation. But when a thing breaks in unexpectedly, and without the preparation of any connexion, it raises an emotion, known by the name of surprise. That emotion may be produced by the most familiar object, as when one unexpectedly meets a friend who was reported to be dead; or a man in high life, lately a beggar. On the other hand, a new object, however strange, will not produce the emotion if the spectator be prepared for the sight. An elephant in India will not suprise a traveller who goes to see one ; and yet its novelty will raise his wonder; an Indian in Britain would be much surprised to stumble upon an elephant feed
* See chap. J.
ing at large in the open fields ; but the creature itself, to which he was accustomed, would not raise his wonder.
Surprise thus in several respects differs from wonder : unexpected. ness is the cause of the former emotion ; novelty is the cause of the latter. Nor differ they less in their nature and circumstances, as will be explained by and by. With relation to one circumstance they perfectly agree ; which is, the shortness of their duration : the instantaneous production of these emotions in perfection, may contribute to that effect, in conformity to a general law, That things soon decay which soon come to perfection; the violence of the emotions may also contribute : for an ardent emotion, which is not susceptible of increase, cannot have a long course. But their short duration is occasioned chiefly by that of their causes; we are soon reconciled to an object, however unexpected ; and novelty soon degenerates into familiarity.
Whether these emotions be pleasant or painful, is not a clear It point. & may appear strange that our own feelings and their capi
tal qualities, should afford any matter for a doubt; but when we are engrossed by any emotion, there is no place for speculation; and when sufficiently calm for speculation, it is not easy to recall the emotion with accuracy. New objects are sometimes terrible, sometimes delightful; the terror which a tiger inspires is greatest at first, and wears off gradually by familiarity; on the other hand, even women will acknowledge that it is novelty which pleases the most in a new fashion. It would be rash however to conclude, that wonder is in itself neither pleasant nor painful, but that it assumes either quality according to circumstances. An object, it is true, that hath a threatening appearance, adds to our terror by its novelty ; but from that experiment it doth not follow that novelty is in itself disagreeable ; for it is perfectly consistent, that we be delighted with an object in one view, and terrified with it in another. A river in flood swelling over its banks is a grand and delightful object; and yet it may produce no small degree of fear when we attempt to cross it. Courage and magnanimity are agreeable ; and yet, when we view these qualities in an enemy, they serve to increase our terror. In the same manner, novelty may produce two effects clearly distinguishable from each other : it may, directly and in itself, be agreeable ; and it may have an opposite effect indirectly, which is, to inspire terror ; for when a new object appears in any degree dangerous, our ignorance of its powers and qualities affords ample scope for the imagination to dress it in the most frightful colours.* The first sight of a lion, for example, may at the same instant, produce two opposite feelings, the pleasant emotion of wonder, and the painful passion of terror : the novelty of the object produces the former directly, and contributes to the latter indirectly. Thus, when the subject is analysed, we find, that the power which novelty hath indirectly to inflame terror, is perfectly consistent with its being in every circumstance agreeable. The matter may be put in the clearest light, by adding the following circum
Essays on the Principles of Morality and Natural Religion, part 2. ess. 6.