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disorder and misery in society, must, for the same reason, be regarded with pleasure and complacency. Timon, who, probably from his affected spleen, more than any inveterate malice, was denominated the man-hater, embraced Alcibiades, with great fondness. Go on my boy! cried he, acquire the confidence of the people: You will one day, I foresee, be the cause of great calamities to them : Could we admit the two principles of the Manicheans, it is an infallible consequence, that their sentiments of human actions, as well as of everything else, must be totally opposite, and that every instance of justice and humanity, from its necessary tendency, must please the one deity and displease the other. All mankind so far resemble the good principle, that, where interest or revenge or envy perverts not our disposition, we are always inclined, from our natural philanthropy, to give the preference to the happiness of society, and consequently to virtue, above its opposite. Absolute, unprovoked, disinterested malice has never, perhaps, place in any human breast; or if it had, must there pervert all the sentiments of morals, as well as the feelings of humanity. If the cruelty of Nero be allowed entirely voluntary, and not rather the effect of constant fear and resentment; it is evident, that Tigellinus, preferably to Seneca or Burrhus, must have possessed his steady and uniform approbation. A statesman or patriot, who serves our own country, in our own time, has always a more passionate regard paid to him, than one whose beneficial influence operated on distant ages or remote nations; where the good, resulting from his generous humanity, being less connected with us, seems more obscure, and affects us with a less lively sympathy. We may own the merit to be equally great, though our sentiments are not raised to an equal height, in both cases. The judgment here corrects the inequalities of our internal emotions and perceptions; in like manner, as it preserves us from error, in the several variations of images, presented to our external senses. The same object, at a double distance, really throws on the eye a picture of but half the bulk; yet we imagine that it appears of the same size in both situations; because we know, that on our approach to it, its image would expand on the eye, and that the difference consists not in the object itself, but in our position with regard to it. And, indeed, without such a correction of appearances, both in internal and
external sentiment, men could never think or talk steadily on any subject; while their fluctuating situations produce a continual variation on objects, and throw them into such different and contrary lights and positions. The more we converse with mankind, and the greater social intercourse we maintain, the more shall we be familiarised to these general preferences and distinctions, without which our conversation and discourse could scarcely be rendered intelligible to each other. Every man's interest is peculiar to himself, and the aversions and desires, which result from it, cannot be supposed to affect others in a like degree. General language, therefore, being formed for general use, must be moulded on some more general views, and must affix the epithets of praise or blame, in conformity to sentiments, which arise from the general interests of the community. And if these sentiments, in most men, be not so strong as those, which have a reference to private good; yet still they must make some distinction, even in persons the most depraved and selfish; and must attach the notion of good to a beneficent conduct, and of evil to the contrary. Sympathy, we shall allow, is much fainter than our concern for ourselves, and sympathy with persons remote from us, much fainter than that with persons near and contiguous; but for this very reason, it is necessary for us, in our calm judgments and discourse concerning the characters of men, to neglect all these differences, and render our sentiments more public and social. Besides, that we ourselves often change our situation in this particular, we every day meet with persons, who are in a situation different from us, and who could never converse with us, were we to remain constantly in that position and point of view, which is peculiar to ourselves. The intercourse of sentiments, therefore, in Society and conversation, makes us form some general unalterable standard, by which we may approve or disapprove of characters and manners. And though the heart takes not part with those general notions, nor regulates all its love and hatred, by the universal, abstract differences of vice and virtue, without regard to self, or the persons with whom we are more intimately connected; yet have these moral differences a considerable influence, and being sufficient, at least, for discourse, serve all our purposes in company, in the pulpit, on the theatre and in the schools. Thus, in whatever light we take this subject, the merit, ascribed to the social virtues, appears still uniform, and arises chiefly from that regard, which the natural sentiment of benevolence engages us to pay to the interests of mankind and society. If we consider the principles of the human make, such as they appear to daily experience and observation, we must, a priori, conclude it impossible for such a creature as man to be totally indifferent to the well or ill being of his fellow-creatures, and not readily, of himself, to pronounce, where nothing gives him any particular bias, that what promotes their happiness is good, what tends to their misery is evil, without any farther regard or consideration. Here then are the faint rudiments, at least, or outlines, of a general distinction between actions; and in proportion as the humanity of the person is supposed to increase, his connection with those who are injured or benefited, and his lively conception of their misery or happiness; his consequent censure or approbation acquires proportionable vigour. There is no necessity, that a generous action, barely mentioned in an old history or remote gazette, should communicate any strong feelings of applause and admiration. Virtue, placed at such a distance, is like a fixed star, which, though to the eye of reason, it may appear as luminous as the sun in his meridian, is so infinitely removed, as to affect the senses, neither with light nor heat. Bring this virtue nearer, by our acquaintance or connection with the persons, or even by an eloquent recital of the case; our hearts are immediately caught, our sympathy enlivened, and our cool approbation converted into the warmest sentiments of friendship and regard. These seem necessary and infallible consequences of the general principles of human nature, as discovered in common life and practice. Again; reverse these views and reasonings: Consider the matter a posteriori; and weighing the consequences, inquire if the merit of social Virtue be not, in a great measure, derived from the feelings of humanity, with which it affects the spectators. It appears to be matter of fact, that the circumstance of utility, in all subjects, is a source of praise and approbation: That it is constantly appealed to in all moral decisions concerning the merit and demerit of actions: That it is the sole source of that high regard Paid to justice, fidelity, honour, allegiance, and chastity: That it is inseparable from all the other social virtues, humanity, generosity, charity, affability, lenity, mercy, and modera. tion: And, in a word, that it is a foundation
of the chief part of morals, which has a reference to mankind and our fellow-creatures.
It appears also, that, in our general approbation of characters and manners, the useful tendency of the social virtues moves us not by any regards to self-interest, but has an influence much more universal and extensive. It appears, that a tendency to public good, and to the promoting of peace, harmony, and order in society, does always, by affecting the benevolent principles of our frame, engage us on the side of the social virtues. And it appears, as an additional confirmation, that these principles of humanity and sympathy enter so deeply into all our sentiments, and have so powerful an influence, as may enable them to excite the strongest censure and applause. The present theory is the simple result of all these inferences, each of which seems founded on uniform experience and observation.
Were it doubtful, whether there were any such principle in our nature as humanity or a concern for others, yet when we see, in numberless instances, that whatever has a tendency to promote the interests of society, is so highly approved of, we ought thence to learn the force of the benevolent principle; since it is impossible for anything to please as means to an end, where the end is totally indifferent. On the other hand, were it doubtful, whether there were, implanted in our nature, any general principle of moral blame and approbation, yet when we see, in numberless instances, the influence of humanity, we ought thence to conclude, that it is impossible, but that everything, which promotes the interest of society, must communicate pleasure, and what is pernicious give uneasiness. But when these different reflections and observations concur in establishing the same conclusion, must they not bestow an undisputed evidence upon it?
It is however hoped, that the progress of this argument will bring a farther confirmation of the present theory, by showing the rise of other sentiments of esteem and regard from the same or like principles.
LAURENCE STERNE (1713–1768)
As soon as the Corporal had finished the story of his amour, - or rather my uncle Toby for him, - Mrs. Wadman silently sallied forth from her arbour, replaced the pin in her mob, passed the wicker-gate, and advanced slowly towards my uncle Toby's sentry-box: the disposition which Trim had made in my uncle Toby's mind was too favourable a crisis to be let slip— —The attack was determined upon: it was facilitated still more by my uncle Toby's having ordered the Corporal to wheel off the pioneer's shovel, the spade, the pick-axe, the picquets, and other military stores which lay scattered upon the ground where Dunkirk stood. — The Corporal had marched;— the field was clear. Now, consider, Sir, what nonsense it is, either in fighting, or writing, or anything else (whether in rhyme to it or not), which a man has occasion to do, - to act by plan: for if ever Plan, independent of all circumstances, deserved registering in letters of gold (I mean in the archives of Gotham) — it was certainly the plan of Mrs. Wadman's attack of my uncle Toby in his sentry-box, by Plan. Now, the plan hanging up in it at this juncture, being the Plan of Dunkirk, - and the tale of Dunkirk a tale of relaxation, it opposed every impression she could make: and, besides, could she have gone upon it, — the manoeuvre of fingers and hands in the attack of the sentry-box was so outdone by that of the fair Beguine's, in Trim’s story, - that just then, that particular attack, however successful before — became the most heartless attack that could be made. O! let woman alone for this. Mrs. Wadman had scarce opened the wicker-gate, when her genius sported with the change of circumStan CeS. She formed a new attack in a moment.
z CHAPTER XXIV
—I am half distracted, Captain Shandy, said Mrs. Wadman, holding up her cambric-handkerchief to her left eye, as she approached the door of my uncle Toby's sentry-box; a mote, – or sand, - or something, — I know not what, has got into this eye of mine; – do look into it: — it is not in the white. —
In saying which, Mrs. Wadman edged herself close in beside my uncle Toby and squeezing herself down upon the corner of his bench, she gave him an opportunity of doing it without rising up. . . . Do look into it, said she.
Honest soul! thou didst look into it with as much innocency of heart as ever child looked
into a raree-show-box; and 'twere as much a sin to have hurt thee. If a man will be peeping of his own accord into things of that nature, I’ve nothing to say to it. My uncle Toby never did; and I will answer for him that he would have sat quietly upon a sofa from June to January (which, you know, takes in both the hot and cold months), with an eye as fine as the Thracian Rhodope's beside him, without being able to tell whether it was a black or a blue one. The difficulty was to get my uncle Toby to look at one at all. 'Tis surmounted. And I see him yonder, with his pipe pendulous in his hand, and the ashes falling out of it, — looking, — and looking, — then rubbing his eyes, – and looking again, with twice the good-nature that ever Galileo looked for a spot in the sun. In vain for, by all the powers which animate the organ – Widow Wadman's left eye shines this moment as lucid as her right; – there is neither mote, nor sand, nor dust, nor chaff, nor speck, nor particle of opaque matter floating in it. — There is nothing, my dear paternal uncle! but one lambent delicious fire, furtively shooting out from every part of it, in all directions into thine. If thou lookest, uncle Toby, in search of this mote one moment longer, thou art undone.
An eye is, for all the world, exactly like a cannon, in this respect, that it is not so much the eye or the cannon, in themselves, as it is the carriage of the eye – and the carriage of the cannon; by which both the one and the other are enabled to do so much execution. I don't think the comparison a bad one: however, as 'tis made and placed at the head of the chapter, as much for use as ornament; all I desire in return is that, whenever I speak of Mrs. Wadman's eyes (except once in the next period) that you keep it in your fancy. I protest, Madam, said my uncle Toby, I can see nothing whatever in your eye. . . . It is not in the white, said Mrs.Wadman. – My uncle Toby looked with might and main into the pupil. Now, of all the eyes which ever were created, from your own, Madam, up to those of Venus herself, which certainly were as venereal a pair of eyes as ever stood in a head, there never was an eye of them all so fitted to rob ily uncle Toby of his repose as the very eye at which he was looking; – it was not, Madam, a rolling eye, - a romping, or a wanton one; - nor was it an eye sparkling, petulant, or imperious – of high claims and terrifying exactions, which would have curdled at once that milk of human nature of which my uncle Toby was made up; — but 'twas an eye full of gentle salutations, – and soft responses, – speaking, — not like the trumpet-stop of some ill-made organ, in which many an eye I talk to, holds coarse converse, but whispering soft, - like the last low accents of an expiring saint, - “How can you live comfortless, Captain Shandy, and alone, without a bosom to lean your head on, — or trust your cares to?” It was an eye— But I shall be in love with it myself, if I say another word about it. It did my uncle Toby's business.
There is nothing shows the characters of my father and my uncle Toby in a more entertaining light than their different manner of deportment under the same accident; – for I call not love a misfortune, from a persuasion that a man's heart is ever the better for it. – Great God! what must my uncle Toby's have been, when 'twas all benignity without it! –
My father, as appears from many of his papers, was very subject to this passion before he married; — but, from a little subacid kind of drollish impatience in his mature, whenever it befell him, he would never submit to it like a Christian; but would pish, and huff, and bounce, and kick, and play the Devil, and write the bitterest Philippics against the eye that ever man wrote: — there is one in verse upon somebody's eye or other, that for two or three nights together, had put him by his rest; which, in his first transport of resentment against it, he begins thus: —
which was either aiding or abetting to his love, - yet he never concluded his chapter, curses upon it, without cursing himself into the bar. gain, as one of the most egregious fools and coxcombs, he would say, that ever was let loose in the world. My uncle Toby, on the contrary, took it like a lamb, - sat still, and let the poison work in
his veins without resistance: — in the sharpest
exacerbations of his wound (like that on his groin) he never dropped one fretful or discontented word, – he blamed neither heaven nor earth, – nor thought, nor spoke an injurious thing of any body, nor any part of it; he sat solitary and pensive with his pipe, – looking at his lame leg, — then whiffing out a sentimental heigh-hol which, mixing, with the smoke, incommoded no one mortal. He took it like a lamb, I say. In truth, he had mistook it at first; for, having taken a ride with my father that very morning, to save, if possible, a beautiful wood, which the dean and chapter were hewing down to give to the poor; which said wood being in full view of my uncle Toby's house, and of singular service to him in his description of the battle of Wynendale, – by trotting on too hastily to save it, upon an uneasy saddle, worse horse, etc., etc. — it had so happened that the serous part of the blood had got betwixt the two skins in the nethermost part of my uncle Toby, - the first shootings of which (as my uncle Toby had no experience of love) he had taken for a part of the passion, till the blister breaking in the one case, and the other remaining, my uncle Toby was presently convinced that his wound was not a skin-deep wound, but that it had gone to his heart.
The world is ashamed of being virtuous. – My uncle Toby knew little of the world; and therefore, when he felt he was in love with Widow Wadman, he had no conception that the thing was any more to be made a mystery of than if Mrs. Wadman had given him a cut with a gapp'd knife across his finger. Had it been otherwise, T. yet, as he ever looked upon Trim as a humble friend, and saw fresh reasons every day of his life to treat him as such, – it would have made no variation in the manner in which he informed him of the affair.
“I am in love, Corporal!” quoth my uncle Toby.
In love!—said the Corporal, -your Honour was very well the day before yesterday, when I was telling your Honour the story of the King of Bohemia . . . Bohemial said my uncle Toby – musing a long time – What became of that story, Trim? . . . We lost it, an' please your Honour, somehow betwixt us; but your Honour was as free from love then as I am. . . . 'Twas just as thou went'st off with the wheelbarrow, with Mrs. Wadman, quoth my uncle Toby. — She has left a ball here, added my uncle Toby, pointing to his breast. . . . She can no more, an' please your Honour, stand a siege than she could fly, cried the Corporal. . . . But, as we are neighbours, Trim, the best way, I think, is to let her know it civilly at first, quoth my uncle Toby. . . . Now, if I might presume, said the Corporal, to differ from your Honour. . . . . . . Why else do I talk to thee, Trim 2 said my uncle Toby, mildly. . . . . . . Then I would begin, an' please your Honour, making a good thundering attack upon her, in return, – and telling her civilly afterwards; – for if she knows anything of your Honour's being in love, beforehand. . . . L–d help her! — she knows no more at present of it, Trim, said my uncle Toby, - than the child unborn. Precious souls! — Mrs. Wadman had told it, with all its circumstances, to Mrs. Bridget, twenty-four hours before; and was at that very moment sitting in council with her, touching some slight misgivings with regard to the issue of the affairs, which the Devil, who never lies dead in a ditch, had put into her head, - before he would allow half time to get quietly through her Te Deum. I am terribly afraid, said Widow Wadman, in case I should marry him, Bridget, — that the poor Captain will not enjoy his health, with the monstrous wound upon his groin. . . . It may not, Madam, be so very large, replied Bridget, as you think; – and I believe, besides, added she, – that 'tis dried up. . . . I could like to know, - merely for his sake, said Mrs. Wadman. . . . We'll know the long and the broad of it in ten days, answered Mrs. Bridget; for whilst the Captain is paying his addresses to you, I'm confident Mr. Trim will be for mak
ing love to me; — and I’ll let him as much as he will, added Bridget, to get it all out of him. The measures were taken at once;— and my uncle Toby and the Corporal went on with theirs. Now, quoth the Corporal, setting his left hand a-kimbo, and giving such a flourish with his right as just promised success — and no more, — if your Honour will give me leave to lay down the plan of this attack. . . . Thou wilt please me by it, Trim, said my uncle Toby, exceedingly: — and, as I foresee thou must act in it as my aide-de-camp, here's a crown, Corporal, to begin with, to steep thy commission. . . . Then, an' please your Honour, said the Corporal (making a bow first for his commission) – we will begin by getting your Honour's laced clothes out of the great campaign-trunk, to be well aired, and have the blue and gold taken up at the sleeves; – and I'll put your white Ramallie-wig fresh into pipes; – and send for a tailor to have your Honour's thin scarlet breeches turned. . . . I had better take the red plush ones, quoth my uncle Toby. . . . They will be too clumsy, said the Corporal.
. . . Thou wilt get a brush and a little chalk to my sword. . . . 'Twill be only in your Honour's way, replied Trim. CHAPTER XXX
. . . But your Honour's two razors shall be new set — and I will get my Montero-cap furbished up, and put on poor Lieutenant Le Fevre's regimental coat, which your Honour gave me to wear for his sake; – and as soon as your Honour is clean shaved, - and has got your clean shirt on, with your blue and gold or your fine scarlet, — sometimes one and sometimes t'other, — and everything is ready for the attack, - we'll march up boldly, as if it was to the face of a bastion; and whilst your Honour engages Mrs. Wadman in the parlour, to the right, — I'll attack Mrs. Bridget in the kitchen to the left; and having seized the pass, I'll answer for it, said the Corporal, snapping his fingers over his head, - that the day is our OWn.
. . . I wish I may but manage it right, said my uncle Toby; — but I declare, Corporal, I had rather march up to the very edge of a trench.