Conceptions of Emotional and Spiritual Sensibility
Sensual sensibility as found in the works of Sterne (A Sentimental Journey) and Oliver Goldsmith (The Vicar of Wakefield).
“The dichotomy between the real images of the objects of pleasure bringing out an inappropriate reaction is an episode of moral sensibility. The instance is taken deeper as the contrary emotion also brings about a reversal. The melancholy is seen to soothe the heart instead of decaying it. The spiritual sensibility seen in this passage then becomes a force that heals the afflicted. It is just not plot devices that bring about the acts of sensibility. Goldsmith insists on using the thoughts and actions of a man whose attitude is not popular during the period. Often the Vicar expects a moral reaction in an immoral world. The following passage is a perfect example:”This gentleman [the squire] he described as one who desired to know little more of the world than its pleasures there was scarcely a farmer’s daughter within ten miles around, but what had found him successful and faithless. Though this account gave me some pain, it had a very different affect on my daughters, whose features seemed to brighten with the expectation of an approaching triumph; nor was my wife less pleased and confident of their allurements and virtue.` (p. 34) `