Richardson, Clarissa (1747-8), p. 699 (L 217.3)

Clarissa to Anna Howe:

He endeavored, as once before, to conceal his emotion. But why, my dear, should these men (for Mr. Lovelace is not singular in this) think themselves above giving these beautiful proofs of a feeling heart? Were it in my power again to choose, or refuse, I would reject the man with contempt who sought to suppress, or offered to deny, the power of being affected upon proper occasions, as either a savage-hearted creature, or as one who was so ignorant of the principal glory of the human nature as to place his pride in a barbarous insensibility.

Nothing expresses the feeling heart better than the 'melting eye.' Tears are particularly important when inspired not by one's own grief but by another's, for they provide a bodily manifestation of that "principal glory of human nature," the ability both to empathize and to discriminate morally through sensibility: to recognize the "proper occasion" for empathy.

Related terms:

a dictionary of sensibility
term list
source bibliography
critical bibliography