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lusions are founded on this principle; and accordingly, if the reader is not possessed of sensibility congenial to that of the poet, he will be apt to overlook their meaning, or to censure them as absurd. To such a critic it would not be easy to vindicate the beauty of the following stanza, in an Ode addressed to a Lady by the Author of the Seasons :
Oh thou, whose tender, serious eye
Expressive speaks the foul I love;
The penfive shadows of the grove. I have already said, that the view of the subject which I propose to take, does not require a complete enumeration of our principles of association. There is, however, an important distinction among them, to which I shall have occasion frequently to refer ; and which, as far as I know, has not hitherto attracted the notice of philosophers. The relations upon which some of them are founded, are perfectly obvious to the mind; those which are the foundation of others, are discovered only in consequence of particular efforts of attention. Of the former kind, are the relations of Resemblance and Analogy, of Contrariety, of Vicinity in time and place, and those which arise from accidental coincidences in the found of different words. These, in general, connect our thoughts together, when they are suffered to take 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 those others, which regulate the train of thought in the mind of the phiU2
losopher, losopher, when he is engaged in a particular investigation.
It is owing to this distinction, that transitions, which would be highly offensive in philosophical writing, are the most pleasing of any in poetry. In the former fpecies of composition, we expect to see an Author lay down a distinct plan or method, and observe it rigorously; without allowing himself to ramble into digressions, suggested by the accidental ideas or ex. pressions, which may occur to him in his progress. In that state of mind in which Poetry is read, such digressions are not only agreeable, but necessary to the effect; and an arrangement founded on the spontaneous and seemingly casual order of our thoughts, pleases more than one suggested by an accurate analysis of the subject.
How absurd would the long digression in praise of Industry, in Thomson's Autumn, appear, if it occurred in a profe essay !-a digression, however, which, in that beautiful poem, arises naturally and insensibly from the view of a luxuriant harvest; and which as naturally leads the Poet back to the point where his excursion began :
All is the gift of Industry; whate'er
In Goldsmith's Traveller, the transitions are ma. naged with consummate skill; andsyet, how different 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 suggested by the associating principle of Contrast. Thus, after describing the effeminate and debased Romans, the Poet proceeds to the Swiss :
My soul, turn from them—turn we to survey
Where rougher climes a nobler race display. 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,
I turn-and France displays her bright domain. 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 Belgic Sires of old !
And flies, where Britain courts the western spring. Numberless illustrations of the same remark might be collected from the antient Poets, more particularly from the Georgics of Virgil, where the singular 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 consideration of the weather and of its common prognostics leading the fancy, in the first place, to those more extraordinary phenomena which, accord. ing 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
The facility with which ideas are associated in the mind, is very different in different individuals : a cir- . cumstance which, as I shall afterwards shew, 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. sequence 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 epistolary writing, and in those kinds of poetry, in which the principal recommendations are, ease of thought and expression. Hence, too, the facility with which they contract or lose habits, and accommodate their minds to new situations; and, I
may add, the disposition they have to that species of superstition which is founded on accidental combinations of circumstances. The influence which this facility of association has on the power of Taste, shall be afterwards considered.
Of the Power which the Mind has over the Train of its Thoughts.
y means of the Association of Ideas, a constant
current , may 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 surrounded. So coinpletely, however, is the mind in this particular subjected to physical 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 de. pends on causes which operate in a manner inexpli. cable by us.
This observation, although it has been censured as paradoxical, is almost felf-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 endeavour to obviate the only objection which, I think, can reasonably be urged against it; and which is founded
• By Lord KAIMES, and others.