While it may not heighten our sympathy, wit widens our horizons by its flashes, revealing remote hidden affiliations and drawing laughter from far afield; humor, in contrast, strikes up fellow feeling, and though it does not leap so much across time and space, enriches our insight into the universal in familiar things, lending it a local habitation and a name.
In their sympathies, children feel nearer animals than adults. They frolic with animals, caress them, share with them feelings neither has words for. Have they ever stroked any adult with the love they bestow on a cat? Hugged any grownup with the ecstasy they feel when clasping a puppy?
(Jessamyn West (1907-1984), U.S. novelist and autobiographer. The Life I Really Lived, part 1 (1979).)
It is by a wise economy of nature that those who suffer without change, and whom no one can help, become uninteresting. Yet so it may happen that those who need sympathy the most often attract it the least.
Thus to him, to this schoolboy under the bending dome of day, is suggested that he and it proceed from one root; one is leaf and one is flower; relation, sympathy, stirring in every vein. And what is that root? Is not that the soul of his soul?
(Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. Oration, August 31, 1837, delivered before the Phi Beta Kappa Society, Cambridge, Massachusetts. "The American Scholar," repr. In Emerson: Essays and Lectures, ed. Joel Porte (1983).)
I am grown by sympathy a little eager and sentimental, but leave me alone, and I should relish every hour and what it brought me, the pot-luck of the day, as heartily as the oldest gossip in the bar-room.
(Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "Experience," Essays, Second Series (1844).)
The pleasure of eloquence is in greatest part owing often to the stimulus of the occasion which produces it,to the magic of sympathy, which exalts the feeling of each by radiating on him the feeling of all.
(Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "Art," Society and Solitude (1870).)