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Every one, who has mingled in society, is acquainted with the peculiar feeling of aversion towards particular individuals, which is so well described in the hacknied verse:
I do not like thee, Doctor Fell;—
I do not like thee, Doctor Fell. But though this aversion should be felt and acknowledged, it would still puzzle the observer to state from what particular feature of the object contemplated his dislike arose, or wherefore it was felt at all. Nevertheless the antipathy continues, and is found too powerful for the aid of reason to overcome.
The effect is notorious—the cause remains a Je ne sçai quoi, a something, we know not what. It almost seems as if we viewed in some of our fellow-creatures an esprit malin in the disguise of humanity. We often think we see "treasons, stratagems, and spoils,” in every wrinkle ploughed by time on the visage of an unoffending fellow-mortal ; and no bitter drug from the nauseous recess of the apothecary, no potion mingled to set at nought the strongest stomach, will make the “ gorge rise” more effectually, than the sight of “the human face divine," stamped with an indescribable character, will awaken our prejudices. But it is not through the organ of vision alone that our antipathies are excited. The voice and address of one man may cause all his good qualities to be overlooked : he may differ from us on a favourite topic, or he may fling, a colouring over his first intercourse with us, which may arouse inextinguishable dislike; but in such cases, there are at least assignable causes for the feeling, however unjustifiable that feeling may be in itself, while, in the antipathy awakened oftentimes from a solitary glance, there is not the least clue to direct us to the cause.
The antipathies of mankind are a numerous family, connected with things animate and inanimate. Nature, for example, is said to have an antipathy to a vacuum, and the Law to perpetuities. But Chancery matters are, no doubt, to be excepted from this rule; for, regarding them, the law seems to feel an unconquerable aversion the other way, scorning alike the inviolability of property, and the limits of ceivable duration.
No one has walked up the Strand at noon-day, and glanced his eye at the ten thousand faces he is sure to encounter in the course of his peregrination, but has felt the species of antipathy in question towards some whom he has met, who were perfect strangers, and were neither wanting in comeliness of countenance, nor exhibited a vicious physiognomy. We may see ugliness and deformity enough in our rambles, and they may produce pity without our indulging an ill-natured antipathy towards them ; because reason whispers us that the ugly or deformed man is perhaps just, amiable, and generous, and we are mostly willing to concede the point, and may even feel a degree of respect for him; which is not the case when our intuitive antipathies take possession of us. We seem to indulge them in defiance
of common sense, until they become but little qualified from downright hatred. Whence can this feeling of the human bosom arise, more powerful than reason, and so palpably unjust in itself?
Some persons will go so far towards justifying themselves, that they will deny ever having been mistaken in their ideas of an individual, after having once looked him in the face; and, like Judge Buller regarding the guilt of a criminal, (so fame reports) pronounce them to be good or bad, according to the impression their countenances may excite. But there must be numerous instances which are exceptions to such uncharitable assertions as these, in the experience of any who will candidly examine into the subject for themselves. It is, however, remarkable, that while we cannot tell wherefore we condemn the unoffending object of our antipathy, we can neither appeal to reason nor good-nature for a justification of our conduct, nor find any thing resembling statute law to bear us out. Thus it is to judge from the first impression made upon the senses, which impression may arise from distorted vision; or who knows but some objects may be more calculated than others to produce an unpleasant sensation on the brain, through the organ of sight, by their reflecting distorted rays of light, instead of those which are rectilinear ?
Addison gives strength to an idea something similar to this, by imagining an invisible communication from an unseen object of antipathy equally powerful with one which is visible. He facetiously relates the story of a lover who felt a mortal antipathy to a cat, and was pushing his suit with a young lady, in the full tide of success, and in the teeth of a rival. The latter had begun to withdraw his attentions in despair, when he learnt the strong prejudice entertained by his antagonist against the feline species. He immediately bribed the young lady's waiting-woman to pin a cat's tail under the dress of her mistress, whenever his rival was to pay her a visit. The success of the stratagem was complete: the unlucky cat-hater turned pale whenever he approached the lady's person, and soon began to display an indifference towards her, which she speedily perceived and resented, by dismissing him, and marrying his wily adversary. But stratagems like these are not practised where they could have no end to accomplish, where no mistress was to be won, or rival scared away. Perhaps the theory of Gall and Spurzheim may throw some light upon the subject. We may easily imagine, from what appears in their transcendant discoveries, that the boss of murder may be placed on a head otherwise wellformed and possessing a comely countenance. The cranium of the street-passenger, studded with protuberances like an Alpine Lilliput, which are concealed beneath a thick covering of hair and a ponderous beaver, when they happen to be of volcanic materials, or, to drop metaphor, of integuments enclosing rapes, murders, or treasons, may throw off certain effluvia, or reflect light in certain directions, which by its unpleasant impression may be calculated to produce antipathy in beholders. This must, of course, take place insensibly, and us a warning to keep us from too close a contact with bad characters may be furnished us by the guardian benevolence of Nature.
Some few, indeed, of visual antipathies are definable. One person has an unconquerable aversion to any stranger he meets who walks with an open-mouth and displays the gum over the upper-teeth, like Belzoni's mummy. Another dislikes the cork-screw twist of the mouth, especially when coupled with a leer of the eye. A third is horrorstruck at an air of Jewishness, or an old clothesman-like expression, which seems to say, “ let no such man be trusted," and still no feature of the face shall be ill-made. A fourth exclaims “ Hic niger est” at the sight of under-jawed people, especially when possessing hooked noses; and a fifth has a hatred to the pug-nose and high cheek-bones, prevalent in a sister-island. But tbese are sensible and accountable antipathies.
Antipathies to animals are a numerous list: some accountable, as depending upon form, others profoundly mysterious in the why and wherefore. All ladies fall into hysterics at the approximation of a spider. Snakes are generally objects of fear, rather than antipathy, from the deadly power which some of the species possess; but why a beautiful lizard, a sleek mouse, or a rat, should be objects of antipathy, it is difficult to conjecture;-elegant in form, and harmless, they might at least be looked upon with complacency. The sight of a rat has been known to throw even the male sex into convulsions. Claude Prosper Juliot de Crebillon, a name conspicuous in the annals of French literature, was confined in the Bastille in pursuance of the caprices of one of the old Bourbon satraps, who often amused themselves by shutting up in dungeons the men of the age most conspicuous for talent and learning, if they chanced to disoblige a court prostitute, or ventured to promulgate unsavoury truths. One night Crebillon felt what he thought to be a cat reposing by his side in bed :-glad of such a companion in that maison de silence, where, to many a prisoner, "hope never came," he stretched out his hand to caress it; but it ran away. The following day, when seated at his dinner, he saw, through the “ darkness visible” of his cell, an animal squatted, vis à vis, on his table, and was soon able to perceive that it had a long slender tail, and was not a cat, which at first he had imagined it to be, but an enormous rat. He had an unconquerable antipathy to rats, and, springing from his seat, cried aloud with terror, and overturned his table: the noise brought in a turnkey, who found him pale, trembling, and nearly senseless, and it was a long time ere he recovered himself. This animal had been the companion of a preceding prisoner, who had tamed it; and so well did the horrible solitude of the Bastille operate in removing the antipathy of Crebillon to these creatures, that at length he became reconciled to its company, and even shared his provisions with it. The case of Crebillon may serve as a useful hint for effecting the cure of most other antipathies to animals.
The antipathy which is too frequently felt towards that part of the female sex, who have condemned themselves through life to the penance of perpetual virginity, has been overlooked. Old Maid is a term of reproach in society; but it would be difficult to discover why it should be so. At the present period of overstocked population, fashionable political economists cannot but think them deserving the thanks of their country. Perhaps the scandalous use of the organ of speech, common among some of the sisterhood, may have involved the whole in a sweeping censure, which many of its members no more deserve than the sage matron or the buxom widow. She who has seen the winters of half a century pass over her head, unprotected and uncherished by the other sex; who has been stretched on the pillow of sickness without a comforter, and has weathered the temptations of life with unimpeachable honour—the
very breath of slander passing over her, and leaving her spotless—such an one may excite unasked pity, but cannot be deemed a fair object of antipathy. Yet, we fear, no vestal virgin, with her head encircled by the grey honours of age, though a priestess, would now live in single blessedness unscoffed at. It may be the case, perhaps, that we unconsciously feel an antipathy to a state of existence hors de la nature, and forget the common remark, that “there is no rule without an exception." Many among the roses that "wither on virgin thorns"
may reflect with complacency on the past part of their lives, and congratulate themselves, that is they have lacked some of its pleasures, they have escaped a proportionate share of its miseries, and have got so far over the rugged journey of life with fewer overturnings and joltings than the generality of their sex, who have followed a different road.
Finally, much good may be afforded by a proper study of human antipathies. Anger may be quelled, latent virtues called forth, love excited, or fear overcome, by properly humouring them, and understanding how to employ them to the best advantage. In the science of government they may be made highly useful. No barometer will more correctly indicate a change of weather, than national antipathies will point out the proper course by which the powers at the state-helm may steer. In modern days a knowledge of them is worth all the theories of philosophers; and the simplicity of their indications will be clearly seen in the cloudiest atmosphere and during the most boisterous weather. Thus nations and individuals that can never subdue their antipathies, may still be justified in making the best possible use of them ; no passion having been bestowed on humanity without a beneficial object.
MODERN COURTSILIP, OR THE LOVER'S LAMENTATION. Written at the request of a Gentleman who had been rejected by a Lady on account
of his want of fortune.
And god of tender passion;
Ánd bow'd to tyrant Fashion ?
That claim'd the minstrel's duty ?
The heart of modern beauty.
No more thy myrtle wreath of truth
But now, thy hoary suitors
A passport signed by Plutus.
And win, if none bid higher ;
And little heeds the buyer.
Thy taste is cloy'd with honey;
Till Love is join'd with money.
Say, tyrant god, how show it?
Twined by an humble poet.
Wealth for thy smiles to barter,
Led on by Bish and Carter!
(Those once-allow'd essentials);
And guineas my credentials !
Is but an empty vapour;
Emblazon'd on his paper.
Shall crown a chase so mettled;
When stamp'd, and seald, and seuled?
Nor see much cause to doubt one; For if the foolish heart gives pain, Gold surely might a patent gain,
To learn to do without one !