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their natural course, and when we are conscious of little or no active exertion. Of the latter kind, are the relations of Cause and Effect, of Means and End, of Premises and Conclusion; and thofe others, which regulate the train of thought in the mind of the philofopher, when he is engaged in a particular investigation.
It is owing to this distinction, that transitions, which would be highly offensive in philosophical writings, are the most pleasing of any in poetry. In the foriner fpecies of composition, we expect to see an author lay down a distinct plan or method, and obferveit rigorously; without allowing himself to ramble into digressions, suggested by the accidental ideas or expressions which may occur to him in his progrefs. 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 seemingly casual order of our thoughts, pleases more than one suggelted by an accurate analysis of the subject.
How absurd would the long digression in praise of laduftry, in Thompson's Autumn, appear, if it occurred in a prose essay !-a digression, however, which, in that beautiful poem, arises naturally and insensibly from the view of a luxuriant harveft; and which as naturally leads the Poet back to the points where his excursion began :
All is the gift of Industry; whate'er
In Goldsmith's Traveller, the transitions are måaged with consummate skill; and yet, how differ. ent from that logical method which would be suited to a philosophical discourse on the state of society in the different parts of Europe ! Some of the finest are fuggested by the affociating principle of Contrast. Thus, after describing the effeminate and debased Romans, the Poet proceeds to the Swifs :
My soul, turn from them-turn we to survey
And, after painting fome defects in the manners of this gallant but unrefined people, his thoughts are led to those of the French :
To kinder skies, where gentler manner's reign,
The transition 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 Belgio Sires of old !
And flies, where Britain courts the western spring. Numberless illustrations of the same remark might be collected from the ancient Poets, more particu. larly from the Georgics of Virgil, where the fingular felicity of the transitions has attracted the notice even of those, who have been the least disposed to indulge themselves in philosophical refinements concerning the principles of Criticism, A celebrated instance of this kind occurs in the end of the first Book :the confideration of the weather and of its common prognostics leading the fancy, in the first
place, to those more extraordinary phenomens which, according to the superstitious belief of the vulgar, are the forerunners of political Revolutions ; and, afterwards, to the death of Cæsar, and the battles of Pharsalia and Philippi. The manner in which the Poet returns to his original subject, displays that exquisite art which is to be derived only from the diligent and enlightened study of nature.
Scilicet et tempus veniet, cùm finibus illis
Grandiaque effossis mirabitur ossa sepulchris. The facility with which ideas are affociated in the mind, is very different in different individuals : a circumstance which, as I shall afterwards fhew, lays the foundation of remarkable varieties among men, both in respect of genius and of character. inclined, too, to think that in the other fex (proba. ! bly in confequence of early education) ideas are more easily associated together, than in the minds of men. Hence the liveliness of their fancy, and the superiority they possess in epiftolary writing, and in those kinds of poetry, in which the principal recommendations are, ease of thought and expression. Herice, too, the facility with which they contract or lose habits, and accommodate their minds to new fituations; and, I may add, the difpofition they have to that species of fuperftition which is founded on acci. dental combinations of circumstances. The influence which this facility of association has on the pow. er of Taste, shall be afterwards considered.
Of the Power which the Mind has over the Train of its
BY means of the Association of Ideas, a constant current of thoughts, if I may use the expression, 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 consequence of the ideas suggested by other men, or of the objects of perception with which we are sur. rounded. So completely, however, is the mind in this particular subjected to physical laws, that it has been juftly observed, we cannot, by an effort of our will, call up any one thought; and that the train of our ideas depends on causes which operate in a manner inexplicable by us.
This obfervation, although it has been censured as paradoxical, is almost self-evident; for, to call up a particular thought, supposes it to be already in the mind. As I shall have frequent occasion, however, to refer to the observation afterwards, I shall endeavor to obviate the only objection which, I think, can reafanably be urged againft it ; and which is founded on that operation of the mind, which is commonly called recollection or intentional memory.
It is evident, that, before we attempt to recollect the particular circumstances of any event, that event in general must have been an object of our attention. We remember the outlines of the story, but cannot at first give a complete account of it. If we wilh to recal these circumftances, there are only two ways in which we can proceed." We must either form dif. ferent suppositions, and then consider which of these taliies beft with the other circumstances of the event; or, by revolving in our mind the circumstances we remember, we must endeavor to excite the recollection of the other circumstances affociated with them. The first of these processes is, properly speaking, an inference of reason, and plainly furnishes no exception to the doctrine already delivered. We have an instance of the other mode of recollection, when we are at a loss for the beginning of a sentence in reciting a compufition that we do not perfectly remem. ber; in which cafe we naturally repeat over, two or three times, the concluding words of the preceding fentence, in order to call up the other words which used to be connected with them in the memory. In this instance, it is evident, that the circumstances we desire to remember, are not recalled to the mind in immediate consequence of an exertion of volition, but are fuggested by some other circumstances with which they are connected, independently of our will, by the laws of our constitution.
* By Lord KAIMES, and others.
Notwithftanding, however, the immediate depen. dence of the train of our thoughts on the laws of afsociation, it must not be imagined that the will porseffes no influence over it. This influence, indeed, is not exercifed directly and immediately, as we are apt to suppose, on a superficial view of the subject : but it is, nevertheless, very extensive in its effects; and the different degrees in which it is poffefsed by different individuals, constitute fome of the most striking inequalities among men, in point of intellectual capacity.
Of the powers which the mind poflefles over the train of its thoughts, the most obvious is its power of fingling out any one of them at pleasure ; of detaining it; and of making it a particular object of attention. By doing so, we not only stop the succeffion that would otherwise take place ; but in con