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lufions are founded on this principle; and accordingly, if the reader is not poffeffed of fenfibility congenial to that of the poet, he will be apt to overlook their meaning, or to cenfure them as abfurd. To fuch a critic it would not be easy to vindicate the beauty of the following ftanza, in an Ode addreffed to a Lady by the Author of the Seafons:
Oh thou, whofe tender, ferious eye
The penfive fhadows of the grove.
I have already faid, that the view of the subject which I propose to take, does not require a complete enumeration of our principles of affociation. There is, however, an important diftinction among them, to which I fhall have occafion frequently to refer; and which, as far as I know, has not hitherto attracted the notice of philofophers. The relations upon which fome of them are founded, are perfectly obvious to the mind; those which are the foundation of others, are difcovered only in confequence of particular efforts of attention. Of the former kind, are the relations of Refemblance and Analogy, of Contrariety, of Vicinity in time and place, and thofe which arife from accidental coincidences in the found of different words. Thefe, in general, connect our thoughts together, when they are fuffered to take their natural courfe, and when we are confcious of little or no active exertion. Of the latter kind, are the relations of Caufe and Effect, of Means and End, of Premises and Conclufion; and those others, which regulate the train of thought in the mind of the phiU 2 lofopher,
lofopher, when he is engaged in a particular investigation.
It is owing to this distinction, that tranfitions, which would be highly offenfive in philofophical writing, are the most pleasing of any in poetry. In the former fpecies of compofition, we expect to see an Author lay down a distinct plan or method, and observe it rigorously; without allowing himself to ramble into digreffions, fuggefted by the accidental ideas or expreffions, which may occur to him in his progress. In that state of mind in which Poetry is read, fuch digreffions are not only agreeable, but neceffary to the effect; and an arrangement founded on the spontaneous and feemingly cafual order of our thoughts, pleases more than one suggested by an accurate ana lyfis of the fubje&t.
How abfurd would the long digreffion in praise of Industry, in Thomson's Autumn, appear, if it occurred in a profe effay!-a digreffion, however, which, in that beautiful poem, arifes naturally and infenfibly from the view of a luxuriant harvest; and which as naturally leads the Poet back to the point where his excurfion began:
All is the gift of Induftry; whate'er
In Goldsmith's Traveller, the tranfitions are ma. naged with confummate skill; and yet, how different from that logical method which would be fuited to a philofophical discourse on the state of fociety in the different parts of Europe! Some of the finest are suggested by the affociating principle of Contraft. Thus, after defcribing the effeminate and debased Romans, the Poet proceeds to the Swiss :
My foul, turn from them-turn we to survey
And, after painting some defects in the manners of this gallant but unrefined people, his thoughts are led to those of the French:
To kinder skies, where gentler manners reign,
The tranfition which occurs in the following lines, seems to be suggested by the accidental mention of a word; and is certainly one of the happiest in our language:
Heavens! how unlike their Belgic Sires of old!
Numberless illuftrations of the fame remark might be collected from the antient Poets, more particularly from the Georgics of Virgil, where the fingular felicity of the tranfitions has attracted the notice even of thofe, who have been the leaft difpofed to indulge U 3 themselves
themselves in philofophical refinements concerning the principles of Criticism. A celebrated inftance of this kind occurs in the end of the first Book ;-the confideration of the weather and of its common prognoftics leading the fancy, in the first place, to those more extraordinary phenomena which, according to the fuperftitious belief of the vulgar, are the forerunners of political Revolutions; and, afterwards, to the death of Cæfar, and the battles of Pharfalia and Philippi. The manner in which the Poet returns to his original fubject, displays that exquifite art which is to be derived only from the diligent and enlightened study of nature.
Scilicet et tempus veniet, cùm finibus illis
Aut gravibus raftris galeas pulsabit inanes,
The facility with which ideas are affociated in the mind, is very different in different individuals: a circumstance which, as I fhall afterwards fhew, lays the foundation of remarkable varieties among men, both in respect of genius and of character. I am inclined, too, to think that, in the other fex (probably in con. fequence of early education) ideas are more easily affociated together, than in the minds of men. Hence the liveliness of their fancy, and the fuperiority they poffefs in epiftolary writing, and in thofe kinds of poetry, in which the principal recommendations are, ease of thought and expreffion. Hence, too, the facility with which they contract or lose habits, and accommodate their minds to new fituations; and, I may
may add, the difpofition they have to that fpecies of fuperftition which is founded on accidental combina. tions of circumstances. The influence which this facility of association has on the power of Taste, shall be afterwards confidered.
Of the Power which the Mind has over the Train of its Thoughts.
Y means of the Affociation of a conftant
B current of thoughts, if I may use the expreffion,
is made to pass through the mind while we are awake. Sometimes the current is interrupted, and the thoughts diverted into a new channel, in confequence of the ideas fuggested by other men, or of the objects of perception with which we are furrounded. So completely, however, is the mind in this particular fubjected to phyfical laws, that it has been justly observed *, we cannot, by an effort of our will, call up any one thought; and that the train of our ideas depends on caufes which operate in a manner inexplicable by us.
This obfervation, although it has been cenfured as paradoxical, is almost felf-evident; for, to call up a particular thought, fuppofes it to be already in the mind. As I fhall have frequent occafion, however, to refer to the observation afterwards, I shall endeavour to obviate the only objection which, I think, can reasonably be urged against it; and which is founded
By Lord KAIMES, and others.