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which the short sentence "Conclamant vir, paterque," has a great effect. An injudicious writer would in this case have introduced long and laborious speeches, and have destroyed both nature and pathos.
The other mode of exciting pathetic feelings is by dilating on the subject, and bringing to view every tender and pathetic circumstance. For an historical example of this, I need only refer to the description of Agrippina's return after the death of Germanicus, in Tacitus. A charming example also may be found in the Song of Deborah and Barak, in the book of Judges, where the mother of Sisera is described as anxiously expecting his return:
Through the window she looked and cried out,
Yea she returns answer to herself:
Have they not found....have they not divided the spoil,
To every man a damsel, yea a damsel or two?
"To Sisera a spoil of divers colours,
"A spoil for the neck, of divers colours of needle-work."
It depends upon the taste and skill of the writer to employ that mode of exciting pathetic emotions which is best adapted to his subject. The circumstantial method, though the most general, and indeed the most powerful, is very apt, in unskilful hands, to become frigid declamation. I never, on this account, could admire the French tragedies. Racine has less of bombast than Corneille, and Voltaire perhaps than either.
There are some circumstances, the antient critics would call them common-places, which when judiciously resorted to, will be found very productive of pathetic
1st. When innocent and helpless persons are involved in ruin. To introduce an infant on the stage in a tragedy, though a common trick, is seldom destitute of effect. If however there are many to participate in the
misfortune, the partnership in sorrow seems to lessen its weight. The scenes between Arthur and Hubert in King John, are exquisitely, touching; and the pathos in Othello is greatly heightened by the youth and innocence of Desdemona, and her absence from her father and her relations.
2d. A violent abruption from a state of enjoyment:
"Now warm in love, now with'ring in my bloom,
3d. The recollection of past happiness, or happiness that might have been attained but for some intervening circumstance, is a fine source of the pathetic. On this are founded some of our best tragedies....See the Orphan, also the last act of the Fair Penitent....
"Still as thy form before my mind appears,
The Dying Negro.
4th. Absence from persons very dear. The whole of that inimitable poem, Mr. Pope's Eloisa, affords a fine example of this; and particularly the following lines:
..No fly me, fly me, far as pole from pole;
"Methinks we wandering go
“Through dreary wastes, and weep each other's woe, "Where round some mould'ring tower pale ivy creeps, "And low-brow'd rocks hang nodding o'er the deeps." Eloisa.
6th. Inattention to self in extreme distress, and solicitude for others. Thus Lear to Kent in the storm.....
"Prithee go in thyself; seek thine own ease....
Such also is the exhortation of our Saviour: "Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me but for yourselves and for your children."
The Holy Scriptures, which I hope, both as a man of virtue and of taste, you will never cease to read, contain perhaps the very finest instances extant of the pathetic. Who can read aloud the parable of the prodigal son, and not shed a tear? Of Nathan's parable I have already spoken.
The tender is a branch of the pathetic, in which however misery or sorrow are not necessary adjuncts. Here a relief from sorrow, or expected sorrow, is a powerful instrument. Thus Goldsmith, who in the tender excels almost every modern writer:
"Forbid it, Heaven, the hermit cried,
Edwin and Angelina.
The tender however will sometimes be found in a scene of perfect tranquillity; and it must be remarked that the expression of tenderness is the great excellence in the fine Madonna's of the Italian school of painting.
In the Scripture, the finest examples of this will also be found, as for instance, Isaiah xlix. 14, 15.
"But Zion said, The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me....Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb: yea, she may forget, yet will I not forget thee."
MY DEAR JOHN,
THE transition from the pathetic to the ludicrous will appear rather violent, though, if you take Dr. Hartley's opinion on the subject, laughing and crying are more nearly allied than is vulgarly supposed. "Laughter," says he, "is a nascent cry raised by pain, or the apprehension of pain, suddenly checked, and repeated at very short intervals." I do not, however, press the doctor's opinion upon you; for really if I was called upon for an example of the ridiculous, I do not know that I should not quote this passage as soon as any of the notions attributed to the mock philosophers, so happily ridiculed by Butler....who knew
"Where entity and quiddity,
"The ghosts of defunct bodies, lie;
It may serve to shew you, however, the general inanity of metaphysical speculations, which I advise you by all means to avoid, and to what lengths of folly human reason will go, when it pretends to account for every thing.
Though we discard, however, Dr. Hartley's theory of the ridiculous, yet I think we may fairly say that it always arises from a striking contrast suddenly brought before the mind by an unexpected combination or association of ideas. Contrast alone, unless connected with