Sidor som bilder

by experience; for we scarce ever find that emotion blended with any other. One emotion I must except: and that is, contempt raised by certain improprieties: every improper act inspires us with some degree of contempt for the author; and if an improper act be at the same time risible to provoke laughter, of which blunders and absurdities are noted instances, the two emotions of contempt and of laughter unite intimately in the mind, and produce externally what is termed a laugh of derision or of scorn. Hence objects that cause laughter may be distinguished into two kinds: they are either risible or ridiculous. A risible object is mirthful only a ridiculous object is both mirthful and contemptible. The first raises an emotion of laughter that is altogether pleasant: the pleasant emotion of laughter raised by the other, is blended with the painful emotion of contempt; and the mixed emotion is termed the emotion of ridicule. The pain a ridiculous object gives me is resented and punished by a laugh of derision. A risible object, on the other hand, gives me no pain: it is altogether pleasant by a certain sort of titillation, which is expressed externally by mirthful laughter. Ridicule will be more fully explained afterward: the present chapter is appropriated to the other emotion.

Risible objects are so common, and so well understood, that it is unnecessary to consume paper or time upon them. Take the few following examples.

Falstaff. I do remember him at Clement's inn, like a man made after supper of a cheese-paring. When he was naked, he was for all the world like a forked radish, with a head fantastically carved upon it with a knife.

Second Part, Henry IV. Act III. Sc. 5.

The foregoing is of disproportion. The following examples are of slight or imaginary misfor


Falstaff. Go fetch me a quart of sack; put a toast in't. Have I liv'd to be carried in a basket, like a barrow of butcher's offal, and to be thrown into the Thames! Well, if I be served such another trick, I'll have my brains ta'en out and butter'd, and give them to a dog for a new year's gift. The rogues slighted me into the river with as little remorse as they would have drown'd a bitch's blind puppies, fifteen i'th litter and you may know by my size, that I have a kind of alacrity in sinking: if the bottom were as deep as hell, I should down. I had been drown'd, but that the shore was shelvy and shallow; a death that I abhor; for the water swells a man; and what a thing should I have been when I had been swelled? I should have been a mountain of mummy. Merry Wives of Windsor, Act III. Sc. 15.


Falstaff Nay, you shall hear, Master Brook, what I have suffer'd to bring this woman to evil for your good. Being thus cramm'd in the basket, a couple of Ford's knaves, his hinds, were call'd forth by their mistress, to carry me in the name of foul clothes to Datchet-lane. They took me on their shoulders, met the jealous knave their master in the door, who ask'd them once or twice what they had in their basket. I quak'd for fear, lest the lunatic knave would have search'd it; but Fate, ordaining he should be a cuckold, held his hand. Well, on went he for a search, and away went I for foul clothes. But mark the sequel, Master Brook. I suffer'd the pangs of three egregious deaths; first, an intolerable fright, to be detected by a jealous rotten bell-weather; next, to be compass'd like a good bilbo, in the circumference of a peck, hilt to point, heel to head; and then to be stopt in, like a strong distillation, with stinking clothes that fretted in their own grease. Think of that, a man of my kidney; think of that, that am as subject to heat as butter; a man of continual dissolution and thaw; it was a miracle to 'scape suffocation. And in the height of this bath, when I was more than half stew'd in grease, like a Dutch dish, to be thrown into the Thames, and cool'd glowing hot, in that surge, like a horse shoe; think of that; hissing hot; think of that, Master Brook.

Merry Wives of Windsor, Act III. Sc. 17.


Resemblance and Dissimilitude.

HAVING discussed those qualities and circumstances of single objects that seem peculiarly connected with criticism, we proceed, according to the method proposed in the chapter of beauty, to the relations of objects, beginning with the rela tions of resemblance and dissimilitude.

The connexion that man hath with the beings around him, requires some acquaintance with their nature, their powers and their qualities, for regulating his conduct. For acquiring a branch of knowledge so essential to our well-being, motives alone of reason and interest are not sufficient: nature hath providently superadded curiosity, a vigorous propensity, which never is at rest. This propensity attaches us to every new object;* and incites us to compare objects, in order to discover their differences and resemblances.

Resemblance among objects of the same kind, and dissimilitude among objects of different kinds, are too obvious and familiar to gratify our curiosity in any degree: its gratification lies in discovering differences among things where resemblance prevails, and resemblances where difference prevails. Thus a difference in individuals of the same kind of plants or animals is deemed a discovery; while the many particulars in which they agree are ne

[ocr errors]

See Chapter VI.

glected and in different kinds, any resemblance is greedily remarked, without attending to the many particulars in which they differ.

A comparison, however, may be too far stretched. When differences or resemblances are carried beyond certain bounds, they appear slight and trivial; and for that reason will not be relished by a man of taste yet such propensity is there to gratify passion, curiosity in particular, that even among good writers we find many comparisons too slight to afford satisfaction. Hence the frequent instances among logicians of distinctions without any solid difference and hence the frequent instances among poets and orators, of similes without any just resemblance. With regard to the latter, I shall confine myself to one instance, which will probably amuse the reader, being a quotation, not from a poet nor orator, but from a grave author, writing an institute of law. "Our student shall observe, "that the knowledge of the law is like a deep well, "out of which each man draweth according to the "strength of his understanding. He that reaches deepest, seeth the amiable and admirable secrets of the law, wherein I assure you the sages of the 1 "law in former times have had the deepest reach. "And, as the bucket in the depth is easily drawn

to the uppermost part of the water, (for nullum "elementum in suo proprio loco est grave), but "take it from the water, it cannot be drawn up but "with a great difficulty; so, albeit beginnings of "this study seem difficult, yet, when the professor "of the law can dive into the depth, it is delight“ful, easy, and without any heavy burden, so long "as he keep himself in his own proper element."* Shakspeare, with uncommon humour, ridicules

[blocks in formation]

such disposition to simile-making, by putting in the mouth of a weak man a resemblance much of a piece with that now mentioned :

Fluellen. I think it is in Macedon where Alexander is porn: I tell you, Captain, if you look in the maps of the orld, I warrant that you sall find, in the comparisons between Macedon and Monmouth, that the situations, look you, is both alike. There is a river in Macedon, there is also moreover a river in Monmouth: it is called Wye at Monmouth, but it is out of my prains what is the name of the other river; but it is all one, 'tis as like as my fingers to my fingers, and there is salmons in both. If you mark Alexander's life well, Harry of Monmouth's life is come after it indifferent well; for there is figures in all things. Alexander, God knows, and you know, in his rages, and his furies, and his wraths, and his cholers, and his moods, and his displeasures, and his indignations; and also being a little intoxicates in his prains, did, in his ales and his angers, look you, kill his pest friend Clytus.

Gower. Our King is not like him in that; he never kill'd any of his friends.

Fluellen. It is not well done, mark you now, to take the tales out of my mouth, ere it is made and finished. I speak but in figures, and comparisons of it: As Alexander kill'd his friend Clytus, being in his ales and his cups; so also Harry Monmouth, being in his right wits and his good judgments, turn'd away the fat knight with the great belly doublet; he was full of jests, and gypes, and knaveries, and mocks: I have forgot his name.

Gower. Sir John Falstaff.

Fluellen. That is he: I tell you there is good men porn at Monmouth.

King Henry V. Act IV. Sc. 13.

Instruction, no doubt, is the chief end of comparison; but that it is not the only end will be evident from considering, that a comparison may be employed with success to put a subject in a strong point of view. A lively idea is formed of a man's courage, by likening it to that of a lion; and eloquence is exalted in our imagination, by comparing

« FöregåendeFortsätt »