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of some eminency in ourselves, in comparison with the infirmities of others. We should here be in a situation, corresponding to his definition of laughter, but there can be no doubt, that multitudes would be but very little inclined to indulge that feeling in the midst of such associates.

But while we cannot receive this writer's account of the feeling in question, we may undoubtedly be well agreed in respect to it, as far as this;-There is an emotion of surprize, combined with a quick and playful delight of a peculiar kind, and this emotion arises on the discovery of unexpected relations of ideas, and the perception or apparent perception of some incongruity.

§. 333. What is to be understood by wit.

We apprehend, that an emotion of the ludicrous is always, in a greater or less degree, experienced in all instances of wit, as the term is generally understood at the present time. We are, therefore, led to this definition of it ;— WIT consists in suddenly presenting to the mind an assemblage of related ideas of such a sort as to occasion feelings of the ludicrous.-This is done in a variety of ways;. and among others in the two following.

§. 334. Of wit as it consists in burlesque or in debasing


The first method, which wit employs in exciting the feeling of the ludicrous, is, by debasing those things, which are pompous; that is, those things which have an appearance of greater weight and gravity, than they are truly entitled to. Descriptions of this sort are termed burlesque.-An attempt to lessen what is truly and confessedly serious and important, has in general an unpleasant effect, very different from that, which is caused by true wit.—In the practice of burlesque, as on all other occasions of wit, there is a sudden and uncommon assemblage of related ideas. Take as an instance the following comparison from Hudibras ;

"And now had Phoebus in the lap

"Of Thetis taken out his nap;

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"And, like a lobster boiled, the morn

"From black to red began to turn.

Of a similar kind are those instances, in which objects of real dignity and importance are coupled with things mean and contemptible, although there is no direct and formal comparison made. As in this instance from the above-mentioned book;

"For when the restless Greeks sat down
"So many years before Troy-town,

"And were renowned, as Homer writes,

"For well-soaled boots, no less than fights.

In these instances we have related ideas. In the first, there is undoubtedly an analogy between a lobster and the morning, in the particular of its turning from dark to red. But however real it may be, it strikes every one, as a singular and unexpected resemblance. In the other passage, it is not clear, that Butler has done any thing more than Homer in associating the renown of the Greeks with their boots, as well as their valour. But to us it is hardly less uncommon, and singular, not to say,incongruous, than the former.

§. 335. Of wit when employed in aggrandizing objects.

The second method, which wit employs in exciting emotions of the ludicrous, is by aggrandizing objects, which are in themselves inconsiderable. This species of wit may be suitably termed mock-majestick or mock-heroick. While the former kind delights in low expressions, this is the reverse, and chooses learned words, and sonorous combinations. In the following spirited passage of Pope, the writer compares dunces to gods, and Grub-street to heaven. "As Berecynthia, while her offspring vie

"In homage to the mother of the sky,

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Surveys around her in the blest abode

"An hundred sons, and every son a god;

"Not with less glory mighty Dullness crowned,

"Shall take through Grubstreet her triumphant round;

"And her Parnassus glancing o'er at once,

"Behold an hundred sons, and each a dunce.

In this division of wit, are to be included those instances where grave and weighty reflections are made upon

mere trifles. In this case, as in others, the ideas are in some respects related, or have something in common; but the grouping of them is so curious and unexpected, that we cannot observe it without considerable emotion.

"My galligaskins, that have long withstood
"The winter's fury and encroaching frosts,

"By time subdued, (what will not time subdue!)

"An horrid chasm disclose.

There are various other ways, in which ideas are combined together, so as to excite in us that emotion, which follows whatever we term witty.It is worthy of remark, that some sayings, which would otherwise have appeared to us witty, lose their intended effect, whenever we are led to suspect, that they were premeditated. Hence an observation or allusion, which would be well received in conversation, would often be insipid in print; and it is for the same reason, that we receive more pleasure from a witty repartee, than a witty attack.From this circumstance we infer, that part of the complex feeling, which follows a witty saying, is an emotion of vivid pleasure or admiration, at witnessing the power of the witty person in bringing together peculiar combinations of thought.

§. 336. Of the character and occasions of humour.

We in general apply the terms, humour, and, humorous, to descriptions of a particular character, whether written, or given in conversation.We find among men what seems to us a disproportion in their passions; for instance, when they are noisy and violent, but not durable.-We find inconsistencies, contradictions, and disproportions in their actions.-They have their foibles, (hardly any one is without them,) such as self-conceit, caprice, foolish partialities, jealousies, &c. Such incongruities in feeling and action cause an emotion of surprise, like an unexpected combination of ideas in wit. Observing them, as we do, ia connection with the acknowledged high traits and responsibilities of human nature, we can no more refrain from an emotion of the ludicrous, than we can, on seeing a gentleman of fine clothes and high dignity making a false step,

and tumbling into a gutter.-A person, who can seize upon these specialities in temper and conduct, and set them forth in a lively and exact manner, is called a man of humour; his descriptions are humorous descriptions.---Addison has given many examples of the humorous in the incidents & characters of the Tatler and Spectator. But excellence in this species of writing is not very frequently found, and is an attainment of considerable difficulty. In general it implies something peculiar in the character of the writer. There are some persons, who seem to have a natural inclination for noticing those traits in the feelings and actions of men, which cause ludicrous emotions. Whatever may be the cause of it, there can hardly be a question as to the fact, that some possess this characteristick more than others; this was particularly true of Swift and Fontaine Writers, who have a natural turn of this sort, will be more likely to excel in the humorous, than others.

§. 337. Of the advantages of wit and humour.

Wit and humour are not without some obvious benefits of no small value. (1) They serve to enlighten many hours, which without them would pass heavily along. Nor are they sources of pleasure merely. The mind, that constantly rejects them, becomes by degrees reserved and cheerless, and is greatly unfitted for social converse. Few minds can sustain the constant pressure of serious concerns. When occasionally employed with objects, which seem trifling, they afterwards enter with more vigour into weighty matters, so that at times the good-natured relaxations of humour and wit are not only pleasant, but necessary.

(2) There is also another benefit to be considered.-They sometimes operate, as a seasonable check on many improprieties. It is these, indeed, which are the genuine occasions, that call them forth. And when considerably marked and important, the wit, which they call forth, is a most suitable rebuke. When it appears in that more bitter and imposing form, which we term ridicule and sarcasm, it keeps back some from offending, who can neither be ef

fectually checked by publick opinion, nor any internal moral restraints. Some, who are insensible to almost every thing else, cannot muster eourage enough to withstand the "world's dread laugh."



§. 338. Of the meaning of the term instinct.

It may be given as a definition of instinct, that it is a natural and invariable tendency to do certain things, without previous forethought and deliberation.-Instincts are found both in men, and in the inferiour animals; particularly in the latter, as they are furnished with the power of reasoning only in a very small, if in any degree. The instincts of animals, by means of which they are taught to employ their powers of offence and defence, and to which we can trace such ingenious results as the ball of the silkworm, the house of the beaver, &c. are among the most pleasing parts of the study of natural history, Particularly so, because they strikingly illustrate the care of that Being, who assures us, that not a sparrow falls to the ground without his notice. By giving them instruments adapted to their situation, He has virtually given them food, and raiment, and barns, and houses.

§. 339. Of instinctive feelings in the human species.

Man, possessed of the power of comparing, abstracting, generalizing, and reasoning, does not stand in need of instincts to the degree, in which they are necessary to the brute creation. But, although tendencies of this kind are generally acknowledged to have an existence in the human species, it is not certainly agreed upon, how far

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