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surdity of another*.” I maintain, that men also laugh at jests, the wit whereof doth not consist in discovering any absurdity of another; for all jests do not come within his description. On a careful perusal of the foregoing sheets, the reader will find that there have been several instances of this kind produced already, in which it hath been observed, that there is wit, but no riducle. I shall bring but one other instance. Many have laughed at the queerness of the comparison in these lines,
For rbime the rudder is of verses,
With which like ships they steer their courses"; who never dreamt that there was any person or party, practice or opinion, derided in them. But as people are often very ingenious in their manner of defending a favourite hypothesis, if any admirer of the Hobbesian philosophy should pretend to discover some class of men whom the poet here meant to ridicule, he ought to consider, that if any one hath been tickled with the passage to whom the same thought never occurred, that single instance would be sufficient to subvert the doctrine, as it would show that there may be laughter, where there is no triumph or glorying over any body, and consequently no conceit of one's own superiority. So that there may be, and often is, both contempt without laughter, and laughter without contempt.
Besides, where wit is really pointed, which constitutes ridicule, that it is not from what gives the conceit of our own eminence by comparison, but purely from the odd assemblage of ideas, that the laughter springs, is evident from this, that if you make but a trifling alteration on the expression, so as to destroy the wit (which often turns on a very little circumstance), without altering the real import of the sentence, a thing not only possible but easy) you will produce the same opinion, and the same contempt; and consequently will give the same subject, of triumph, yet without the least tendency to laugh : and
Human nature, Chap. IX. & 13.
of Hudibras. Part I. Canto I
conversely, in reading a well written satire, a man may be much diverted by the wit, whose judgment is not convinced by the ridicule or insinuated argument, and whose former esteem of the object is not in the least impared. Indeed, men's telling their own blunders, even blunders recently committed, and laughing at them, & thing not uncommon in very risible dispositions, is utterly inexplicable on Hobbes's system. For, to consider the thing only with regard to the laugher himself, there is to him no subject of glorying, that is not counterbalanced by an equal subject of humiliation, (he being both the person laughing, and the person laughed at) and these two subjects must destroy one another. With regard to others, he appears solely under the notion of inferiority, as the person triumphed over. Indeed, as in ridicule,agreeably to the doctrine here propounded, there is always some degree, often but a very slight degree of contempt ; it is not every character, I acknowledge, that is fond of presenting to others such subjects of mirth. Wherever one shews a proneness to it, it is demonstrable that on that person sociality and the love of laughter have much greater influence, than vanity or self-conceit: since for the sake of sharing with others in the joyous entertainment, he can submit to the mortifying circumstance of being the subject. This, however, is in effect no more than enjoying the sweet which predominates, notwithstanding a little of the bitter with which it is mingled. The laugh in this case is so far from being expressive of the passion, that it is produced in spite of the passion which operates against it, and if strong enough, would effectually restrain it.
But it is impossible that there could be any enjoyment to him on the other hypothesis, which make a laughter merely the expression of a triumph, occasioned by the sudden display of one's own comparative excellence, a triumph in which the person derided could not partake. In this case, on the contrary, he must undoubtedly sustain the part of the weeper, (according to the account which the same author hatb given of that
opposite passion*, as he calls it) and “ suddenly fall out “ with himself, on the sudden conception of defect.” To suppose that a person in laughing enjoys the contempt of himself as a matter of exultation over his own infirmity, is of a piece with Cowley's description of envy exaggerated to absurdity, wherein he is said
To envy at the praise herself had won t.
In the same way a miser may be said to grudge the money that himself hath got, or a glutton the repasts ; for the lust of praise as much terminates in self, as avarice or gluttony. It is a strange sort of theory which makes the frustration of a passion, and the gratification the same thing.
As to the remark, that wit is not the only cause of this emotion, that men laugh at indecencies and mis. chances ; nothing is more certain. A well-dressed man falling into the kennel, will raise in the spectators a peal of laughter. But this confirms, instead of weakening, the doctrine here laid down. The genuine object is always things grouped together, in which there is some striking unsuitableness. The effect is much the same, whether the things themselves are presented to the senses by external accident, or the ideas of them are presented to the imagination by wit and humour; though it is only with the latter that the subject of eloquence is concerned.
In regard to Hobbes's system, I shall only remark further, that, according to it, a very risible man, and a very self-conceited supercilious man, should imply the same character, yet, in fact, perhaps, no two characters more rarely meet in the same person. Pride, and contempt, its usual attendant, considered in themselves, are unpleasant passions, and tend to make men fastidious, always finding ground to be dissatisfied with their situation and their company. Accordingly, those who are most addicted to these passions, are not generally the happiest of mortals. It is only when the
• Hobbes's Hum. Nat. Chap. LX. 14.
of Davideis, Book I.
last of these hath gotten for an alloy, a considerable share of sensibility in regard to wit and humour, which serves both to moderate and to sweeten the passion, that it can be termed in any degree sociable or agreeable. It hath been often remarked of very proud persons, that they disdain to laugh, as thinking that it derogates from their dignity, and levels them too much with the common herd. The merriest people, on the contrary, are the least suspected of being haughty and contemptuous people. The company of the former is generally as much courted as that of the latter is shunned. To refer ourselves to such universal observations, is to appeal to the common sense of mankind. How admirably is the height of pride and arrogance touched in the character which Cæsar gives of Cassius !
He loves no plays
I should not have been so particular in the refutation of the English philosopher's system in regard to laughter, had I not considered a careful discussion of this question, as one of the best means of developing some of the radical principles of this inquiry.
Of the relation which eloquence bears to logic and to
grammar. IN 'N contemplating a human creature, the most natural
division of the subject is the common division into soul and body, or into the living principle of perception and of action, and that system of material organs, by which the other receives information from without, and is enabled to exert its powers, both for its own benefit and for that of the species. Analogous to this, there
are two things in every discourse which principally claim our attention, the sense and the expression ; or in other words, the thought, and the symbol by which it is communicated. These may be said to constitute the soul and the body of an oration, or indeed, of whatever is signified to another by language. For, as in man, each of these constituent parts hath its distinctive attributes, and as the perfection of the latter consisteth in its fitness for serving the purposes of the former, so it is
pre• cisely with those two essential parts of every speech, the sense and the expression. Now it is by the sense that rhetoric holds of logic, and by the expression that she holds of granımar.
The sole and ultimate end of logic, is the eviction of truth; one important end of eloquence, though, as appears from the first chapter, neither the sole, nor always the ultimate, is the conviction of the hearers. Pure lo. gic regards only the subject, which is examined solely for the sake of information. Truth, as such, is the proper aim of the examiner. Eloquence not only considers the subject, but also the speaker and the hearers, and both the subject and the speaker for the sake of the hearers, or rather for the the sake of the effect intended to be produced in them. Now to convince the hearers, is always either proposed by the orator, as his end in addressing them, or supposed to accompany the accomplishment of his end. Of the five sorts of discourses above mentioned, there are only two wherein conviction is the avowed purpose.
One is that addressed to the understanding, in which the speaker proposeth to prove some position disbelieved or doubted by the hearers ; the other is that which is calculated to influence the will, and persuade to a certain conduct; for it is by convincing the judgement, that he proposeth to interest the passions, and fix the resolution. As to the three other kinds of discourses enumerated, which address the understanding, the imagination, and the passions ; conviction, though not the end, ought ever to accompany the accomplishment of the end. It is never formally proposed as an end where there are not supposed to be pre