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I have only to observe farther, that, in proportion as these prospects, with respect to the progress of reason, the diffufion of knowledge, and the consequent improvement of mankind, shall be realised; the political history of the world will be regulated by iteady and uniform causes, and the philosopher will be enabled to form probable conjectures with respect to the future course of huinan affairs.
It is justly remarked by Mr. Hume, that “what “ depends on a few persons is, in a great meafure, to s be ascribed to chance, or secret and unknown 66 causes : what arises from a great number, may of“ ten be accounted for by determinate and known 6 causes." To judge by this rule,” (lie continues,) “ the domestic and the gradual revolutions of a state “must be a more proper object of reasoning and ob
servation, than the foreign and the violent, which are commonly produced by single persons, and are
more influenced by whim, folly, or caprice, than " by general paffions and interests. The depression " of the Lords, and rise of the Commons, in Eng
land, after the statutes of alienation and the in. “ crease of trade and industry, are more easily ac6c counted for by general principles than the depref" Lion of the Spanish, and rise of the French monar“chy, after the death of Charles the Fifth. Had
Harry the Fourth, Cardinal Richlieu, and Louis 6 the Fourteenth, been Spaniards; and Philip the 66 Second, Third and Fourth, and Charles the Secsond, been Frenchmen; the history of these nastions had been entirely reversed.”
From these principles, it would seein to be a neceffary confequence, that, in proportion as the circumstances shall operate which I have been endeavoring to illustrate, the whole system of human affairs including both the domestic order of society in particular states, and the relations which exist anong different communities, in cunsequence of war and
negociation, will be subjected to the influence of causes which are known and Jeterminate." Thofe domestic affairs, which, according to Mr. Hume, are already proper subjects of reasoning and observation, in consequence of their dependence on general interests and passions, will become so, more and more, daily, as prejudices shall decline, and knowledge shall be diffused among the lower orders: while the relations among the different states, which have depended hitherto, in a great measure, on the “ whim, “ folly, and caprice," of fingle persons, will be grad. ually more and more regulated by the general interests of the individals, who compose them, and by the popular opinions of more enlightened times. Already, during the very short interval which has elapfed fince the publication of Mr. Hume's writings, an astonishing change has taken place in Europe. The mysteries of courts have been laid open ; the influence of secret negociation on the relative fituation of states has declined ; and the studies of those men whose public spirit or ambition devotes them to the service of their country, have been diverted from the intrigues of cabinets, and the details of the diplomatic code, to the liberal and manly pursuits of political philosophy.
OF THE ASSOCIATION OF IDEAS.
THE fubject on which I am now to enter, naturally divides itself into two Parts. The first, relates to the influence of Association, in regulating the succession of our thoughts; the Second, to its influence on the intellectual powers, and on the moral character, by the more intimate and indiffoluble combinations which it leads us to form in infancy and in early youth. The two inquiries, indeed run into each other ; but it will contribute much to the order of our speculations, to keep the foregoing arrangement in view.
OF THE INFLUENCE OF ASSOCIATION IN REGULATING
THE SUCCESSION OF OUR THOUGHTS.
General Observations on this part of our Constitution, and
on the Language of Philosophers with respect to it.
THAT one thought is often fuggested to the mind by another; and that the sight of an external object often recals former occurrences, and revives former feelings, are facts which are perfectly familiar, even to those who are the least disposed to speculate concerning the principles of their nature. In paffing along a road which we have formerly travelled in the company of a friend, the particulars of the conversation in which we were then engaged, are frequently suggested to us by the objects we meet with. In such a scene, we recollect that a particular subject was started ; and, in passing different houses, and plantations, and rivers, the arguments we were discussing when we last saw them, recur spontaneoufly to the memory. The connection which is formed in the mind between the words of a language and the ideas they denote; the connection which is for. med between the different words of a discourse we have committed to memory ; the connection between the different notes of a piece of music in the mind of the musician, are all obvious instances of the fame general law of our nature.
The influence of perceptible objects in reviving former thoughts and former feelings, is more particularly remarkable. After time has, in fome degree, reconciled us to the death of a friend, how wonderfully are we affected the first time we enter the house where he lived ! Every thing we see; the apartment where he studied; the chair upon which he fat, recal to us the happiness we have enjoyed together ; and we thould feel it a sort of violation of that respect we owe to his memory, to engage
any light or indifferent discourse when such objects are before us.
In the case, too, of those remarkable scenes which interest the curiosity, from the memorable perfons or transactions which we have been accustomed to connect with them in the course of our studies, the fancy is more awakened by the actual perception of the scene itself, than by the mere conception or imagination of it. Hence the pleasure we enjoy in visiting classical ground; in beholding the retreats which inspired the genius of our favorite authors, or the fields which have been dignified by exertions of heroic virtue. How feeble are the emotions produced by the liveliest conception of
modern Italy, to what the poet felt, when, amidst the ruins of Rome, “ He drew th' inspiring breath of antient arts,
- Ind trod the sacred walks “ Where, at each step, imagination børns !!* The well-known effect of a particular tune on Swiss regiments when at a distance from home, fur. nishes a very striking illustration of the peculiar power of a perception, or of an impression on the senses, to awaken affociated thoughts and feelings ; and numberless facts of a similar nature must have occurred to every person of moderate sensibility, in the course of his own experience.
" Whilst we were at dinner," (says Captain King,) 66 in this miserable hut, on the banks of the river “ Awatika ; the guests of a people with whose exift
ence we had before been scarce acquainted, and is at the extremity of the habitable globe; a solitary, « half-worn pewter spoon, whose shape was familiar “ to us, attracted our attention; and, on examinaestion, we found it stamped on the back with the “ word London. I cannot pass over this circumstance « in silence, out of gratitude for the many pleasant “ thoughts, the anxious hopes, and tender remem“ brances, it excited in us. Those who have expe“ rienced the effects that long absence, and extreme is diftance from their native country, produce on the « mind, will readily conceive the pleasure such a triAling incident can give.”
The difference between the effect of a perception and an idea, in awakening associated thoughts and feelings, is finely described in the introduction to the fifth book De finibus.
“ We agreed,” (fays Cicero,) " that we should * take our afternoon's walk in the acadeniy, as at
« Quacunque ingredimur," (says Cicero, speaking of Athens, * in aliquam historiam vestigium ponimus.”