The Elements of Law/Part I/Chapter 9

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Chapter 9: Of the Passions of the Mind[edit]

1. GLORY, or internal gloriation or triumph of the mind, is that passion which proceedeth from the imagination or conception of our own power, above the power of him that contendeth with us. The signs whereof, besides those in the countenance, and other gestures of the body which cannot be described, are, ostentation in words, and insolency in actions; and this passion, by them whom it displeaseth, is called pride: by them whom it pleaseth, it is termed a just valuation of himself. This imagination of our power and worth, may be an assured and certain experience of our own actions, and then is that glorying just and well grounded, and begetteth an opinion of increasing the same by other actions to follow; in which consisteth the appetite which we call ASPIRING, or proceeding from one degree of power to another. The same passion may proceed not from any conscience of our own actions, but from fame and trust of others, whereby one may think well of himself, and yet be deceived; and this is FALSE GLORY, and the aspiring consequent thereto procureth ill-success. Farther, the fiction (which also is imagination) of actions done by ourselves, which never were done, is glorying; but because it begetteth no appetite nor endeavour to any further attempt, it is merely vain and unprofitable; as when a man imagineth himself to do the actions whereof he readeth in some romant, or to be like unto some other man whose acts he admireth. And this is called VAIN GLORY: and is exemplified in the fable by the fly sitting on the axletree, and saying to himself, What a dust do I raise! The expression of vain glory is that we call a wish, which some of the Schoolmen, mistaking for some appetite distinct from all the rest, have called velleity, making a new word, as they made a new passion which was not before. Signs of vain glory in the gesture, are imitation of others, counterfeiting attention to things they understand not, affectation of fashions, captation of honour from their dreams, and other little stories of themselves, from their country, from their names, and the like.

2. The passion contrary to glory, proceeding from apprehension of our own infirmity, is called HUMILITY by those by whom it is approved; by the rest, DEJECTION and poorness; which conception may be well or ill grounded. If well, it produceth fear to attempt any thing rashly; if ill, it may be called vain fear, as the contrary is vain glory, and consisteth in fear of the power, without any other sign of the act to follow, as children fear to go in the dark, upon imagination of spirits, and fear all strangers as enemies. This is the passion which utterly cows a man, that he neither dare speak publicly, nor expect good success in any action.

3. It happeneth sometimes, that he that hath a good opinion of himself, and upon good ground, may nevertheless, by reason of the forwardness which that passion begetteth, discover in himself some defect or infirmity, the remembrance whereof dejecteth him; and this passion is called SHAME, by which being cooled and checked in his forwardness, he is more wary for the time to come. This passion, as it is a sign of infirmity, which is dishonour; so also it is a sign of knowledge, which is honour. The sign of it is blushing, which happeneth less in men conscious of their own defects, because they less betrary the infirmities they acknowledge.

4. COURAGE, in a large signification, is the absence of fear in the presence of any evil whatsoever; but in a stricter and more common meaning, it is contempt of wounds and death, when they oppose a man in the way to his end.

5. ANGER (or sudden courage) is nothing but the appetite or desire of overcoming present opposition. It hath been commonly defined to be grief proceeding from an opinion of contempt; which is confuted by the often experience we have of being moved to anger by things inanimate and without sense, and consequently incapable of contemning us.

6. REVENGEFULNESS is that passion which ariseth from an expectation or imagination of making him that hath hurt us, to find his own action hurtful to himself, and to acknowledge the same; and this is the height of revenge. For though it be not hard, by returning evil for evil, to make one's adversary displeased with his own fact; yet to make him acknowledge the same, is so difficult, that many a man had rather die than do it. Revenge aimeth not at the death, but at the captivity and subjection of an enemy; which was well expressed in the exclamation of Tiberius Caesar, concerning one, that, to frustrate his revenge, had killed himself in prison: Hath he escaped me? To kill is the aim of them that hate, to rid themselves of fear; revenge aimeth at triumph, which over the dead is not.

7. REPENTANCE is the passion that proceedeth from opinion or knowledge that the action they have done is out of the way to the end they would attain. The effect whereof is, to pursue that way no longer; but, by consideration of the end, to direct themselves into a better. The first motion therefore in this passion is grief. But the expectation or conception of returning again into the way, is joy. And consequently, the passion of repentance is compounded and allayed of both, but the predominant is joy, else were the whole grief; which cannot be. For as much as he that proceedeth towards the end, conceiveth good, he proceedeth with appetite. And appetite is joy, as hath been said, chap. VII, sect. 3.

8. HOPE is expectation of good to come, as fear is the expectation of evil: but when there be causes, some that make us expect good, and some that make us expect evil, alternately working in our minds: if the causes that make us expect good, be greater than those that make us expect evil, the whole passion is hope; if contrarily, the whole is fear. Absolute privation of hope is DESPAIR, a degree whereof is DIFFIDENCE.

9. TRUST is a passion proceeding from belief of him from whom we expect or hope for good, so free from doubt that upon the same we pursue no other way. And distrust, or diffidence, is doubt that maketh him endeavour to provide himself by other means. And that this is the meaning of the words trust and distrust, is manifest from this, that a man never provideth himself by a second way, but when he mistrusteth that the first will not hold.

10. PITY is imagination or fiction of future calamity to ourselves, proceeding from the sense of another man's present calamity; but when it lighteth on such as we think have not deserved the same, the compassion is the greater, because then there appeareth the more probability that the same may happen to us. For the evil that happeneth to an innocent man, may happen to every man. But when we see a man suffer for great crimes, which we cannot easily think will fall upon ourselves, the pity is the less. And therefore men are apt to pity those whom they love: for, whom they love, they think worthy of good, and therefore not worthy of calamity. Thence also it is, that men pity the vices of some they never saw before; and therefore every proper man finds pity amongst women, when he goeth to the gallows. The contrary of pity is HARDNESS of heart, proceeding either from slowness of imagination, or from extreme great opinion of their own exemption of the like calamity, or from hatred of all, or most men.

11. INDIGNATION is that grief which consisteth in the conception of good success happening to them whom they think unworthy thereof. Seeing therefore men think all those unworthy whom they hate, they think them not only unworthy of the good fortune they have, but also of their own virtues. And of all the passions of the mind, these two, indignation and pity, are most easily raised and increased by eloquence; for the aggravation of the calamity, and extenuation of the fault, augmenteth pity. And the extenuation of the worth of the person, together with the magnifying of his success (which are the parts of an orator), are able to turn these two passions into fury.

12. EMULATION is grief arising from seeing one's self exceeded or excelled by his concurrent, together with hope to equal or exceed him in time to come, by his own ability. But, ENVY is the same grief joined with pleasure conceived in the imagination of some ill fortune that may befall him.

13. There is a passion which hath no name, but the sign of it is that distortion of the countenance we call LAUGHTER, which is always joy, but what joy, what we think, and wherein we triumph when we laugh, hath not hitherto been declared by any. That it consisteth in wit, or, as they call it, in the jest, this experience confuteth: for men laugh at mischances and indecencies, therein there lieth no wit or jest at all. And forasmuch as the same thing is no more ridiculous when it groweth stale or usual, whatsoever it be that moveth laughter, it must be new and unexpected. Men laugh often (especially such as are greedy of applause from every thing they do well) at their own actions performed never so little beyond their own expectation; as also at their own jests: and in this case it is manifest, that the passion of laughter proceedeth from a sudden conception of some ability in himself that laugheth. Also men laugh at the infirmities of others, by comparison of which their own abilities are set off and illustrated. Also men laugh at jests, the wit whereof always consisteth in the elegant discovering and conveying to our minds some absurdity or another. And in this case also the passion of laughter proceedeth from the sudden imagination of our own odds and eminence; for what is else the recommending ourselves to our own good opinion, by comparison with another man's infirmities or absurdity? For when a jest is broken upon ourselves, or friends of whose dishonour we participate, we never laugh thereat. I may therefore conclude, that the passion of laughter is nothing else but a sudden glory arising from sudden conception of some eminency in ourselves, by comparison with the infirmities of others, or with our own formerly: for men laugh at the follies of themselves past, when they come suddenly to remembrance, except they bring with them any present dishonour. It is no wonder therefore that men take it heinously to be laughed at or derided, that is, triumphed over. Laughter without offence, must be at absurdities and infirmities abstracted from persons, and where all the company may laugh together. For laughing to one's self putteth all the rest to a jealousy and examination of themselves; besides, it is vain glory, and an argument of little worth, to think the infirmities of another sufficient matter for his triumph.

14. The passion opposite hereunto, whose signs are another distortion of the face with tears, called WEEPING, is the sudden falling out with ourselves, or sudden conception of defect; and therefore children weep often; for seeing they think every thing ought to be given unto them which they desire, of necessity every repulse must be a sudden check of their expectation, and puts them in mind of their too much weakness to make themselves masters of all they look for. For the same cause women are more apt to weep than men, as being not only more accustomed to have their wills, but also to measure their power by the power and love of others that protect them. Men are apt to weep that prosecute revenge, when the revenge is suddenly stopped or frustrated by the repentance of the adversary; and such are the tears of reconciliation. Also pityful men are subject to this passion upon the beholding of those men they pity, and suddenly remember they cannot help. Other weeping in men proceedeth for the most part from the same cause it proceedeth from in women and children.

15. The appetite which men call LUST, and the fruition that appertaineth thereunto, is a sensual pleasure, but not only that; there is in it also a delight of the mind: for it consisteth of two appetites together, to please, and to be pleased; and the delight men take in delighting, is not sensual, but a pleasure or joy of the mind, consisting in the imagination of the power they have so much to please. But this name lust is used where it is condemned: otherwise it is called by the general word love; for the passion is one and the same indefinite desire of the different sex, as natural as hunger.

16. Of love, by which is understood the joy a man taketh in the fruition of any present good, hath been already spoken in the first section of the seventh chapter, under which is contained the love men bear to one another, or pleasure they take in one another's company; and by which men are said to be sociable by nature. But there is another kind of LOVE, which the Greeks call Eros, and is that which we mean, when we say: that man or woman is in love. For as much as this passion cannot be without diversity of sex, it cannot be denied but that it participateth of that indefinite love mentioned in the former section. But there is a great difference between the desire of a man indefinite, and the same desire limited ad hanc; and this is that love which is the great theme of poets. But notwithstanding their praises, it must be defined by the word need; for it is a conception of the need a man hath of that one person desired. The cause of this passion is not always, nor for the most part, beauty, or other quality, in the beloved, unless there be withal hope in the person that loveth: which may be gathered from this: that in great difference of persons, the greater have often fallen in love with the meaner; but not contrary. And from hence it is, that for the most part they have much better fortune in love, whose hopes are built upon something in their person, than those that trust to their expressions and service; and they that care less, than they that care more; which not perceiving many men cast away their services, as one arrow after another; till in the end together with their hopes they lose their wits.

17. There is yet another passion sometimes called love, but more properly good will or CHARITY. There can be no greater argument to a man of his own power, than to find himself able, not only to accomplish his own desires, but also to assist other men in theirs: and this is that conception wherein consisteth charity. In which, first, is contained that natural affection of parents to their children, which the Greeks call Storgi, as also that affection wherewith men seek to assist those that adhere unto them. But the affection wherewith men many times bestow their benefits on strangers, is not to be called charity, but either contract, whereby they seek to purchase friendship; or fear, which maketh them to purchase peace. The opinion of Plato concerning honourable love, delivered (according to his custom, in the person of Socrates) in the dialogue intituled Convivium, is this: that a man full and pregnant with wisdom, or other virtue, naturally seeketh out some beautiful person, of age and capacity to conceive, in whom he may, without sensual respects, engender and produce the like. And this is the idea of the then noted love of Socrates wise and continent, to Alcibiades young and beautiful; in which love, is not sought the honour, but issue of his knowledge; contrary to common love, to which though issue sometimes follow, yet men seek not that, but to please, and to be pleased. It should therefore be this charity, or desire to assist and advance others. But why then should the wise seek the ignorant, or be more charitable to the beautiful than to others? There is something in it savouring of the use of that time: in which matter though Socrates be acknowledged for continent, yet continent men have the passion they contain, as much or more than they that satiate the appetite; which maketh me suspect this platonic love for merely sensual; but with an honourable pretence for the old to haunt the company of the young and beautiful.

18. Forasmuch as all knowledge beginneth from experience, therefore also new experience is the beginning of new knowledge, and the increase of experience the beginning of the increase of knowledge; whatsoever therefore happeneth new to a man, giveth him hope and matter of knowing somewhat that he knew not before. And this hope and expectation of future knowledge from anything that happeneth new and strange, is that passion which we commonly call ADMIRATION; and the same considered as appetite, is called curiosity, which is appetite of knowledge. As in the discerning faculties, man leaveth all community with beasts at the faculty of imposing names; so also doth he surmount their nature at this passion of curiosity. For when a beast seeth anything new or strange to him; he considereth it so far only as to discern whether it be likely to serve his turn, or hurt him, and accordingly approacheth nearer it, or flieth from it; whereas man, who in most events remembereth in what manner they were caused and begun, looketh for the cause and beginning of everything that ariseth new unto him. And from this passion of admiration and curiosity, have arisen not only the invention of names, but also the supposition of such causes of all things as they thought might produce them. And from this beginning is derived all philosophy: as astronomy from the admiration of the course of heaven; natural philosophy from the strange effects of the elements and other bodies. And from the degrees of curiosity proceed also the degrees of knowledge among men; for to a man in the chase of riches or authority, (which in respect of knowledge are but sensuality) it is a diversion of little pleasure to consider, whether it be the motion of the sun or the earth that maketh the day, or to enter into other contemplation of any strange accident, than whether it conduce or not to the end he pursueth. Because curiosity is delight, therefore also all novelty is so, but especially that novelty from which a man conceiveth an opinion true or false of bettering his own estate. For in such case they stand affected with the hope that all gamesters have while the cards are shuffling.

19. Divers other passions there be, but they want names; whereof some nevertheless have been by most men observed. For example: from what passion proceedeth it, that men take pleasure to behold from the shore the danger of them that are at sea in a tempest, or in fight, or from a safe castle to behold two armies charge one another in the field? It is certainly in the whole sum joy, else men would never flock to such a spectacle. Nevertheless there is in it both joy and grief. For as there is novelty and remembrance of own security present, which is delight; so is there also pity, which is grief. But the delight is so far predominant, that men usually are content in such a case to be spectators of the misery of their friends.

20. MAGNANIMITY is no more than glory, of which I have spoken in the first section; but glory well grounded upon certain experience of power sufficient to attain his end in open manner. And PUSILLANIMITY is the doubt of that; whatsoever therefore is a sign of vain glory, the same is also a sign of pusillanimity. for sufficient power maketh glory a spur to one's end. To be pleased or displeased with fame true or false, is a sign of the same, because he that relieth upon fame, hath not his success in his own power. Likewise art and fallacy are signs of pusillanimity, because they depend not upon our own power, but the ignorance of others. Also proneness to anger, because it argueth difficulty of proceeding. Also ostentation of ancestors, because all men are more inclined to make shew of their own power when they have it, than of another's. To be at enmity and contention with inferiors, is a sign of the same, because it proceedeth from want of power to end the war. To laugh at others, because it is affectation of glory from other men's infirmities, and not from any ability of their own. Also irresolution, which proceedeth from want of power enough to contemn the little differences that make deliberations hard.

21. The comparison of the life of man to a race, though it holdeth not in every point, yet it holdeth so well for this our purpose that we may thereby both see and remember almost all the passions before mentioned. But this race we must suppose to have no other goal, nor no other garland, but being foremost. And in it:

To endeavour is appetite. To be remiss is sensuality. To consider them behind is glory. To consider them before is humility. To lose ground with looking back vain glory. To be holden, hatred. To turn back, repentance. To be in breath, hope. To be weary despair. To endeavour to overtake the next, emulation. To supplant or overthrow, envy. To resolve to break through a stop foreseen courage. To break through a sudden stop anger. To break through with ease, magnanimity. To lose ground by little hindrances, pusillanimity. To fall on the sudden is disposition to weep. To see another fall, disposition to laugh. To see one out-gone whom we would not is pity. To see one out-go we would not, is indignation. To hold fast by another is to love. To carry him on that so holdeth, is charity. To hurt one's-self for haste is shame. Continually to be out-gone is misery. Continually to out-go the next before is felicity. And to forsake the course is to die.