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“ to myself, that here stood Speusippus ; there Xeno

crates, and here, on this bench, fat his disciple Po" lemo. To me, our antient senate-house seems peo

pled with the like visionary forms; for, often, when I enter it, the shades of Scipio, of Cato, and of “ Lælius, and, in particular, of my venerable grand“ father, rise to my imagination. In short, such is “ the effect of local situation in recalling associated “ ideas to the mind, that it is not without reason, some “ philosophers have founded on this principle a species " of artificial memory.”

This influence of perceptible objects, in awakening associated thoughts and associated feelings, seems to arise, in a great measure, from their permanent operation as exciting or suggesting causes.

When a train of thought takes its rise from an idea or conception, the first idea soon disappears, and a series of others succeeds, which are gradually less and less related to that with which the train commenced ; but, in the case of perception, the exciting cause remains steadily before us; and all the thoughts and feelings which have any relation to it, crowd into the mind in rapid succession; strengthening each other's effects, and all conspiring in the same general impression.

I already observed, that the connexions which exist among our thoughts, have been long familiarly known to the vulgar, as well as to philosophers. It is, indeed, only of late, that we have been possessed of an appropriated phrase to express them ; but that the general fact is not a recent discovery, may be inferred from many of the common maxims of pru. dence and of propriety, which have plainly been sug

gested gested by an attention to this part of our constitution. When we lay it down, for example, as a general rule, to avoid in conversation all expressions, and all topics of discourse, which have any relation, however remote, to ideas of an unpleasant nature, we plainly proceed on the supposition that there are certain connexions among our thoughts, which have an influ. ence over the order of their succession.

It is unne cessary to remark, how much of the comfort and good-humour of social life depends on an attention to this consideration. Such attentions are more particularly essential in our intercourse with men of the world; for the commerce of society has a wonderful effect in increasing the quickness and the facility with which we associate all ideas which have any reference to life and manners * ; and, of consequence, it must render the sensibility alive to many circumstances which, from the remoteness of their relation to the situation and history of the parties, would otherwise have passed unnoticed.

When an idea, however, is thus suggested by afsociation, it produces a slighter impression, or, at least, it produces its impression more gradually, than if it were presented more directly and immediately to the

* The superiority which the man of the world possesses over the recluse student, in his knowledge of mankind, is partly the result of this quickness and facility of association. Those trifing cir. cumstances in conversation and behaviour, which, to the latter, convey only their most obvious and avowed meaning, lay open to the former, many of the trains of thought which are connected with them, and frequently give him a distinct view of a character, on that very fide where it is supposed to be most concealed from his observation.

mind. And hence, when we are under a necessity of communicating any disagreeable information to another, delicacy leads us, instead of mentioning the thing itself, to mention something else from which our meaning may be understood. In this manner, we prepare our hearers for the unwelcome intelligence.

The distinction between gross and delicate flattery, is founded upon the same principle. As nothing is more offensive than flattery which is direct and pointed, praise is considered as happy and elegant, in proportion to the slightness of the associations by which it is conveyed.

To this tendency which one thought has to introduce another, philosophers have given the name of the Asociation of Ideas ; and, as I would not wish, excepting in a case of necessity, to depart from common language, or to expose myself to the charge of deli. vering old doctrines in a new form, I shall continue to make use of the same expression. I am sensible, in. deed, that the expression is by no means unexception. able; and that, if it be used (as it frequently has been) to comprehend those laws by which the fuc. cession of all our thoughts and of all our mental operations is regulated, the word idea must be understood in a sense much more extensive than it is commonly employed in. It is very justly remarked by Dr. Reid, that “ memory, judgment, reasoning, passions, affec“ tions, and purposes ; in a word, every operation of “ the mind, excepting those of fense, is excited oc

casionally in the train of our thoughts : so that, if " we make the train of our thoughts to be only a “ train of ideas, the word idea must be understood " to denote all these operations.” In continuing, , therefore, to employ, upon this subject, that lan. guage, which has been consecrated by the practice of our best philosophical writers in England, I would not be understood to dispute the advantages which might be derived from the introduction of a new phrase, more precise and more applicable to the fact.

The ingenious author whom I last quoted, seems to think that the association of ideas has no claim to be considered as an original principle, or as an ultimate fact in our nature. “ I believe,” (says he,)“ that the “ original principles of the mind, of which we can

give no account, but that such is our constitution, “ are more in number than is commonly thought. “ But we ought not to multiply them without neces

sity. That trains of thinking, which by frequent “ repetition have become familiar, should spontaneously “ offer themselves to our fancy, seems to require no “ other original quality but the power of habit.”

With this observation I cannot agree; because I think it more philosophical to resolve the power of habit into the association of ideas, than to resolve the association of ideas into habit.

The word habit, in the sense in which it is commonly employed, expresses that facility which the mind acquires, in all its exertions, both animal and intellectual, in consequence of practice. We apply it to the dexterity of the workman; to the extemporary fluency of the orator ; to the rapidity of the arithmetical accountant. That this facility is the effect of practice, we know from experience to be a fact : but

it does not seem to be an ultimate fact, nor incapable of analysis.

In the Effay on Attention, I lhewed that the effects of practice are produced partly on the body, and partly on the mind. The muscles which we employ in mechanical operations, become stronger, and become more obedient to the will. This is a fact, of which it is probable that philosophy will never be able to give any explanation.

But even in mechanical operations, the effects of practice are produced partly on the mind; and, as far as this is the case, they are resolvable into what philosophers call, the association of ideas ; or into that general fact, which Dr. Reid himself has stated, “ that “ trains of thinking, which, by frequent repetition, “ have become familiar, spontaneously offer themselves “ to the mind.” In the case of habits which are purely intellectual, the effects of practice resolve themselves completely into this principle: and it appears to me more precise and more satisfactory, to state the principle itself as a law of our constitution, than to flur it over under the concise appellation of habit, which we apply in common to mind and to body.

The tendency in the human mind to associate or connect its thoughts together, is sometimes called (but very improperly) the imagination. Between these two parts of our constitution, there is indeed a very intimate relation; and it is probably owing to this relation, that they have been so generally confounded under the same name. When the mind is occupied about absent objects of sense, (which, I believe, it is habitually in the great majority of man.

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