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6 case, the rule of the gospel is reversed; and it will
prove, seek and you fhall not find.” Agreeably to this observation, wit is promoted by a certain degree of intoxication, which prevents the exercise of that attention, which is necessary for invention in matters of Science. Hence too it is, that those who have the reputation of Wits, are commonly men confident in their own powers, who allow the train of their ideas to follow in a great measure, its natural course ; and hazard, in company, every thing, good or bad, that occurs to them. Men of modesty and taste seldom attempt wit in a promiscuous society ; or if they are forced to make such an exertion, they are feldom successful. Such men, however, in the circle of their friends, to whom they can unbosom themselves without reserve, are frequently the most amusing and the most interesting of companions; aš the vivacity of their wit is tempered by a correct judgment, and refined manners; and as its effect is heightened by that sensibility and delicacy, with which we so rarely find it aceompanied in the common iatercourse of life.
When a man of wit makes an exertion to distin. guilh himself, his fallies are commonly too far fetched to please. He brings his mind into a state approaching to that of the inventor, and becomes rather ingenious than witty. This is often the case with the writers whom Johnfon diftinguishes by the name of the Metaphysical Poets.
Those powers of invention, which necessity occafionally calls forth in uncultivated minds, fome indi. viduals pofless habitually. The related ideas which, in the cate of the former, are brought together by the flow efforts of attention and recollection, present themselves to the latter, in consequence of a more fyftematical arrangement of their knowledge. The instantaneousness with which such remote combinations are effected, sometimes appear fo wonderful, that we are apt to ascribe it to something like infpiration ; but it must be remembered, that when any fubject strongly and habitually occupies the thoughts, it gives us an interest in the observation of the most trivial circumstance which we suspect to have any relation to it, however distant ; and by thus rendering the common objects and occurrences which the accidents of life present to us, subservient to one par. ticular employment of the intellectual powers, eftablishes in the memory a connection between our favorite pursuit, and all the materials with which experience and reflection have supplied us for the farther prosecution of it.
IJ. I observed, in the second place, that invention may be facilitated by general rules, which enable the inventor to direct the train of his thoughts into particular channels. These rules (to ascertain which, ought to be one principal object of the logician) will afterwards fall under my confideration, when I come to examine those intellectual processes which are subservient to the discovery of truth. At present, I shall confine myfelf to a few general remarks ; in stating which, I have no, other aim than to shew, to how great a degree invention depends on cultivation and habit, even in those sciences in which it is
generally supposed, that every thing depends on natural genius.
When we consider the geometrical discoveries of the ancients, in the form in which they are exhibited in the greater part of the works which have survived to our times, it is seldom poffible for us to trace the steps by which they were led to their conclu. fions : and, indeed, the objects of this science are lo unlike those of all others, that it is not unnatural for a person who enters on the study, to be dazzled by its novelty, and to form an exaggerated conception of the genius of those men who first brought to light such a variety of truths, fo profound and so remote from the ordinary course of our speculations. We find, however, that even at the time when the ancient analysis was unknown to the moderns; such mathematicians as had attended to the progress of the mind in the discovery of truth, concluded a priori, that the discoveries of the Greek geometers did not, at first, occur to them in the order in which they are stated in their writings. The prevailing opinion was, that they had been poffefsed of fome secret method of investigation, which they carefully concealed from the world, and that they published the result of their labors in such a form, as they thought would be most likely to excite the admiration of their readers. “O quam bene foret," says Petrus Nonius, " si qui in fcientiis mathematicis fcrip« ferint authores, scripta reliquifsent inventa fua "eadem methodo, et per eofdem discursus, quibus ip“ fi in ea primum inciderunt; et non, ut in mecha“ nica loquitur Ariftoteles de artificibus, qui nobis “ foris oftendunt fuasquas fecerint machinas, fed ar“ tificium abfcondunt, ut magis appareant admirabi« les. Eft utique inventio in arte qualibet diversa 66 multum a traditione : neque putandum eft pluri. “ mas Euclidis et Archimedis propofitiones fuiffe ab “illis ea via inventas qua nobis illi ipfas tradide
The revival of the ancient analysis, by fome late mathematicians in this country, has, in part, justified these remarks, by fhewing to how great a degree the inventive power of the Greek geometers were aided by that method of investigation; and by exhibiting some striking specimens of address in the practical application of it.
The solution of problems, indeed, it may be said, is but one mode in which mathematical invention
* See some other passages to the same purpose, quoted from different writers, by Dr. Simpson, in the preface to his Restoration of the Loci Plani of Appollonius Pergæus, Glasg. 1749.
may be displayed. The discovery of new truths is what we chiefly admire in an original genius ; and the method of analysis gives us no iatisfaction with respect to the process by which they are obtained.
To remove this difficulty completely, by explaining all the various ways in which new theorems may be brought to light, would lead to inquiries foreign to this work. In order, however, to render the process of the mind, on such occasions, a litule less myf. terious than it is commonly fuppofed to be : it may be proper to remark, that the most copious source of discoveries is the investigation of problems; which feldom fails (even although we should not fucceed in the attainment of the object which we have in view) to exhibit to us some relations formerly unobserved among the quantities which are under consideration. Of fo great importance is it to concentrate the attention to a particular subject, and to check that wandering and dissipated habit of thought, which, in the case of most persons, renders their speculations barren of any profit either to themselves or to others. Many theorems, too, have been suggested by analogy ; many have been investigated from truths formerly known by altering or by generalising the hypothesis ; and many have been obtained by a species of induction. An illustration of these various processes of the mind would not only lead to new and curious remarks, but would con. tribute to diminish that blind admiration of original genius, which is one of the chief obftacles to the improvement of science.
The history of natural philosophy, before and after the time of Lord Bacon, affords another
ftriking proof, how much the powers of invention and discovery may be assisted by the study of method : and in all the sciences, without exception, whoever employs his genius with a regular and habitual success, plainly thews, that it is by means of general rules that his inquiries are conducted. Of these rules, there may be many which the inventor 'never ftated to himself in words ; and, perhaps, he may even be unconscious of the aslistance which he de. rives from them ; but their influence on his genius appears unquestionably from the uniformity with which it proceeds ; and in proportion as they can be afcertained by his own speculations, or collected by the logician from an examination of his researches, fimilar powers of invention will be placed within the reach of other men, who apply themselves to the same study.
The following remarks, which a truly philofophical artist has applied to painting, may be extended, with some trifling alterations, to all the different employments of our intellectual powers.
“What we now call genius, begins, not where “ rules, abstractly taken, end ; but where known, “ vulgar, and trite rules have no longer any place. " It must of necessity be, that works of genius, as “ well as every other effect, as it must have its cause, 66 must likewise have its rules; it cannot be by " chance, that excellencies are produced with any “ constancy, or any certainty, for this is not the na“ ture of chance ; but the rules by which men of “ extraordinary parts, and such as are called men of « genius, work, are either such as they discover by " their own peculiar obfervation, or of such a nice “ texture as not easily to admit handling or expreff“ing in words.
“Unsubstantial, however, as these rules may seem, , « and difficult as it may be to convey them in writ
ing, they are still seen and felt in the mind of the 6s artist, and he works from them with as much cer“ tainty, as if they were embodied as I may say:
upon paper. It is true, these refined principles
cannot be always made palpable, like the more “ grofs rules of Art ; yet it does not follow, but that