Gambar halaman

made an appointment together to come to mourn with him and to comfort him.

“ And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not, they lifted up their voice, and wept; and they rent every one his mantle, and sprinkled dust upon

their heads toward heaven. “ So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great.”

It appears therefore that the same cause may at the same time produce laughter in one part of the audience and tears in another, and in a third no sensation at all; and the same effects may, it is obvious, be produced at different times in the same mind.

With respect to the agent, or the mode of interruption, it may be by pain or by pleasure. If by pain of more intensity than the feeling interrupted, laughter will not be produced. If, for instance, in a court of justice a person was suddenly to fall down dead, the interruption would be by pain of greater intensity, and would not produce laughter. If the interruption is by pain of the same intensity, the very relief may be agreeable, and produce laughter. “Le changement d'étude,” says D'Aguesseau, “ est toujours un delassement pour moi.” The interruption by pain of less intensity will be agreeable, and may produce laughter, as in the case of the platform falling when the six malefactors were executed.

If the interruption is by pleasure, it may of course produce laughter, as in the case of the psalm tune and the hand organ, but if the interruption by pleasure exceed a certain limit, instead of producing laughter

it may excite tears: if, instead of the platform falling, a reprieve had unexpectedly arrived, there would not have been laughter. The interruption from pleasure may of course be susceptible of every variety of sensation between those which occasion laughter or tears: the effect which they produce varying according to the limit to which they approach.

This subject may therefore be thus explained :

I. The patient or mind interrupted.

1. Light.
2. Serious.
3. Benumbed.

II. The agent or mode of interruption.

1. By pain of greater, equal, or less intensity. 2. By pleasure, excessive, or not excessive.

When the interruption is by pain of equal or less intensity, or by pleasure within a certain limit, laughter may be produced.

Assuming that laughter will not be produced when the interruption is by pain of more intensity than the feeling interrupted, it seems to follow that, when the interruption is occasioned by want of good feeling in the disturber, laughter will seldom be produced.

In the anecdote of the two clergymen,* where one of them had been in the pulpit all night, it would be scarcely possible to refrain from laughter notwithstanding the interruption of the serious thoughts of the con

• Ante, page 15.

gregation, but if this had been occasioned not by the simplicity of the divine, but by an intention to be ridiculous, it would, from its shewing a bad state of mind, have failed in its object.

The following are instances to the same effect :

King William, emaciated in body, with his lower limbs much swollen, showing his two legs to Dr. Radcliffe, his physician; the doctor said, “I would not have your majesty's two legs for your three kingdoms.”

A man, fallen into a well, begged of a neighbour, who was passing by, to drag him out. “Call to some one,” said the neighbour, "who does not know you."

The King of Prussia having invited the French general, officers, and other prisoners of rank, to sup with him the evening of the memorable battle of November, 1757, made an apology for his not treating them in the manner he could wish, by saying, “ Really, gentlemen, I did not expect so much good company so soon."

There is scarcely an author who has written upon this subject who does not concur in this opinion.

Lord Bacon says, “ As for jest, there are certain things which ought to be privileged from it: namely, religion, matters of state, great persons, any man's present business of importance, and any case that deserveth pity.” “ There is no greater confusion than jest and eamest.”

“ Laughter,” says Addison, “ where things sacred are transacted has no excuse, breaking through all the rules of order and decency, and manifesting a remissness of mind in those important matters which require the strictest composure and steadiness of thought.”

“ His

Lloyd, in his Life of Sir Thomas West, says, jests were always confined to these rules. 1. He never played upon a man's unhappiness or deformity, it being inhuman. 2. Not on superiors, for that is saucy and undutiful. 3. Not on serious or holy matters, for that's irreligious; applying to this occasion that of the Athenians, who would not suffer Pathus to play his comedies where Euripides repeated his tragedies.”

[ocr errors]

Upon the same subject Fuller abounds with observations. He says, “ Jest ot with the two-edged sword of God's word. Will nothing please thee to wash thy hands in but the font? or to drink healths in but the church chalice?--Profane jests will come without calling. Wherefore if, without thine intention and against thy will, by chance medley thou hittest scripture in ordinary discourse, yet fly to the city of refuge, and pray to God to forgive thee.”—And again,“ Scoff not at the natural defects of any which are not in their power to amend. Oh it is cruelty to beat a cripple with his own crutches.”—And again, “ Mock not at those, who are misshapen by Nature. There is the same reason of the poor and of the deformed; he that despiseth them, despiseth God that made them. A poor man is a picture of God's own making, but set in a plain frame not gilded; a deformed man is also his workmanship, but not drawn with even lines and lively colours: the former not for

want of wealth, as the latter not for want of skill, but both for the pleasure of the maker.”—And in his character of the good judge :- :-“ The sentence of condemnation he pronounceth with all gravity. 'Tis best when steeped in the judge's tears. He avoideth all jesting on men in misery: easily may he put them out of countenance, whom he hath power to put out of life.” “ No time to break jests when the heart-strings are about to be broken."

[ocr errors]
« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »