Slike strani

to be more cool and deliberate than the Europeans: may not the reason be that heat enervates by exhausting the spirits and that a certain degree of cold, as in the middle regions of Europe, bracing the fibres, rouseth the mind, and produceth a brisk circulation of thought, accompanied with vigor in action? In youth is observable a quicker succession of perceptions than in old age; and hence, in youth, a remarkable avidity for variety of amusements, which in riper years give place to more uniform and more sedate occupation. This qualifies men of middle age for business, where activity is required, but with a greater proportion of uniformity than variety. In old age, a slow and languid succession makes variety unnecessary; and for that reason the aged, in all their motions, are generally gov erned by an habitual uniformity. Whatever be the cause, we may venture to pronounce that heat, in the imagination and temper, is always connected with a brisk flow of perceptions.

265. The natural rate of succession depends also in some degree upon the particular perceptions that compose the train. An agreeable object, taking a strong hold of the mind, occasions a slower succession than when the objects are indifferent: grandeur and novelty fix the attention for a considerable time, excluding all other ideas; and the mind thus occupied is sensible of no vacuity. Some emotions, by hurrying the mind from object to object, accelerate the succession. Where the train is composed of connected perceptions or ideas, the succession is quick; for it is ordered by nature that the mind goes easily and sweetly along connected objects. (See chapter i.) On the other hand, the succession must be slow where the train is composed of unconnected perceptions or ideas, which find not ready access to the mind; and that an unconnected object is not admitted without a struggle, appears from the unsettled state of the mind for some moments after such an object is presented, wavering between it and the former train: during that short period one or other of the former objects will intrude, perhaps oftener than once, till the attention be fixed entirely upon the new object. The same observations are applicable to ideas suggested by language: the mind can bear a quick succession of related ideas; but an unrelated idea, for which the mind is not prepared, takes time to make an impression; and therefore a train composed of such ideas ought to proceed with a slow pace. Hence an epic poem, a any story connected in all its parts, may be perused in a shorter time than a book of maxims or apothegms, of which a quick succession creates both confusion and fatigue.

ay, or

266. Such latitude hath nature indulged in the rate of succession; what latitude it indulges with respect to uniformity, we proceed to

264. Natural causes that accelerate or retard the train. (1) A peculiar constitution of inind. (2) Effect of climate. (3) Period of life.

265. Natural rate of succession depends on the particular perceptions that compose the train On the dogree of connection between the ideas Hence an epic poem, &c., can be read more rapidly than a book of maximis.

examine. The uniformity or variety of a train, so far as composed of perceptions, depends on the particular objects that surround the percipient at the time. The present occupation must also have an influence, for one is sometimes engaged in a multiplicity of affairs, sometimes altogether vacant. A natural train of ideas of memory is more circumscribed, each object being, by some connection, linked to what precedes and to what follows it: these connections, which are many, and of different kinds, afford scope for a sufficient degree of variety, and at the same time prevent that degree which is unpleasant by excess. Temper and constitution also have an influence here, as well as upon the rate of succession: a man of a calm and sedate temper, admits not willingly any idea but what is regularly introduced by a proper connection; one of a roving disposition enbraces with avidity every new idea, however slender its relation be to those that preceded it. Neither must we overlook the nature of the perceptions that compose the train; for their influence is no less with respect to uniformity and variety, than with respect to the rate of succession. The mind engrossed by any passion, love or hatred, hope or fear, broods over its object, and can bear no interruption; and in such a state, the train of perceptions must not only be slow, but extremely uniform. Anger newly inflamed eagerly grasps its object, and leaves not a cranny in the mind for another thought but of revenge. In the character of Hotspur, that state of mind is represented to the life; a picture remarkable for likeness wel as for high coloring:

Worcester. Peace, cousin, say no more.
And now I will unclasp a secret book,
And to your quick conceiving discontents
I'll read you matter, deep and dangerous;
As full of peril and adventurous spirit
As to o'erwalk a current roaring loud,
On the unsteadfast footing of a spear.

Hotspur. If he fall in, good night. Or sink or swim
Send danger from the cast into the west,

So honor cross it from the north to south;

And let them grapple. Oh! the blood more stirs

To rouse a lion than to start a hare.

Worcester. Those same noble Scots,

That are your prisoners

Hotspur. I'll keep them all;

By heaven he shall not have a Scot of them:

No; if a Scot would save his soul, he shall not;

I'll keep them, by this hand.

Worcester. You start away,

And lend no ear unto my purpose:
Those pris'ners you shall keep.
Hotspur. I will, that's flat:

He said he would not ransom Mortimer:
Forbade my tongue to speak of Mortimer:
But I will find him when he lies asleep,
And in his ear I'll holla Mortimer!

Nay, I will have a starling taught to speak

266. Uniformity or variety of a train of perceptions depends on what?

Nothing but Mortimer, and give it him,
To keep his anger still in motion.

Worcester. Hear you, cousin, a word.
Hotspur. All studies here I solemnly defy,
Save how to gall and pinch this Bolingbroke:
And that same sword-and-buckler Prince of Wales
(But that I think his father loves him not,
And would be glad he met with some mischance),
I'd have him poison'd with a pot of ale.

Worcester. Farewell, my kinsman, I will talk to you
When you are better temper'd to attend.

King Henry IV. Act I. Sc. 4. 267. Having viewed a train of perceptions as directed by nature, and the variations it is susceptible of from different necessary causes, we proceed to examine how far it is subjected to will; for that this faculty hath some influence, is observed above. And first, the rate of succession may be retarded by insisting upon one object, and propelled by dismissing another before its time. But such voluntary mutations in the natural course of succession, have limits that cannot be extended by the most painful efforts which will appear from considering, that the mind circumscribed in its capacity, cannot, at the same instant, admit many perceptions; and when replete, that it hath not place for new perceptions, till others are removed; consequently, that a voluntary change of perceptions cannot be instantaneous, as the time it requires sets bounds to the velocity of succession. On the other hand, the power we have to arrest a flying perception is equally limited; and the reason is, that the longer we detain any perception, the more difficulty we find in the operation; till, the difficulty becoming insurmountable, we are forced to quit our hold, and to permit the train to take its usual course.

The power we have over this train, as to uniformity and variety, is in some cases very great, in others very little. A train composed of perceptions of external objects, depends entirely on the place we occupy, and admits not more nor less variety but by change of place. A train composed of ideas of memory is still less under our power, because we cannot at will call up any idea that is not connected with the train. (See chapter i.) But a train of ideas suggested by reading may be varied at will, provided we have books at hand.

268. The power that nature hath given us over our train of perceptions, may be greatly strengthened by proper discipline, and by an early application to business: witness some mathematicians, who go far beyond common nature in slowness and uniformity; and still more, persons devoted to religious exercises, who pass whole days in contemplation, and impose upon themselves long and severe penanWith respect to celerity and variety, it is not easily conceived what length a habit of activity in affairs will carry some men. Let a stranger, or let any person to whom the sight is not familiar, attend the Chancellor of Great Britain through the labors but of one


267. How far the train of perceptions is subjected to will.-Various trains, and the power we have over them.

day, during a session of parliament: how great will be his astonishment! what multiplicity of law business, what deep thinking, and what elaborate application to matters of government! The train of perceptions must in that great man be accelerated far beyond the ordinary course of nature, yet no confusion or hurry, but in every article the greatest order and accuracy. Such is the force of habit. How happy is man, to have the command of a principle of action that can elevate him so far above the ordinary condition of humanity!*

269. We are now ripe for considering a train of perceptions, with respect to pleasure and pain; and to that speculation peculiar attention must be given, because it serves to explain the effects that uniformity and variety have upon the mind. A man, when his perceptions flow in their natural course, feels himself free, light, and easy, especially after any forcible acceleration or retardation. On the other hand, the accelerating or retarding the natural course, excites a pain, which, though scarcely felt in small removes, becomes considerable towards the extremes. Aversion to fix on a single object for a long time, or to take in a multiplicity of objects in a short time, is remarkable in children, and equally so in men unaccustomed to business: a man languishes when the succession is very slow; and, if he grow not impatient, is apt to fall asleep during a rapid succession, he hath a feeling as if his head were turning round; he is fatigued, and his pain resembles that of weariness after bodily labor.

But a moderate course will not satisfy the mind, unless the perceptions be also diversified: number without variety is not sufficient to constitute an agreeable train. In comparing a few objects, uniformity is pleasant; but the frequent reiteration of uniform objects becomes unpleasant: one tires of a scene that is not diversified; and soon feels a sort of unnatural restraint when confined within a narrow range, whether occasioned by a retarded succession, or by too great uniformity. An excess in variety is, on the other hand, fatiguing; which is felt even in a train of related perceptions, much more of unrelated perceptions, which gain not admittance without effort: the effort, it is true, is scarce perceptible in a single instance; but by frequent reiteration it becomes exceedingly painful. Whatever be the cause, the fact is certain, that a man never finds himself more at ease than when his perceptions succeed each other with a certain degree, not only of velocity, but also of variety. The pleasure that arises from a train of connected ideas, is remarkable in a reverie; especially where the imagination interposeth, and is active in coining new ideas, which is done with wonderful facility: one must be sensible that the serenity and ease of the mind, in that

*This chapter was composed in the year 1753.

238. The train varied by discipline and attention to business. Illustrations.

state, makes a great part of the enjoyment. The case is different where external objects enter into the train; for these, making their appearance without order and without connection, save that of contiguity, form a train of perceptions that may be extremely uniform or extremely diversified; which, for opposite reasons, are both of them painful.

270. To alter, by an act of will, that degree of variety which nature requires, is not less painful than to alter that degree of velocity which it requires. Contemplation, when the mind is long attached to one subject, becomes painful by restraining the free range of perception: curiosity, and the prospect of useful discoveries, may fortify one to bear that pain; but it is deeply felt by the bulk of mankind, and produceth in them aversion to all abstract sciences. In any profession or calling, a train of operation that is simple and reiterated without intromission, makes the operator languish, and lose vigor: he complains neither of too great labor, nor of too little action; but regrets the want of variety, and the being obliged to do the same thing over and over: where the operation is sufficiently varied, the mind retains its vigor, and is pleased with its condition. Actions again create uneasiness when excessive in number or variety, though in every other respect pleasant: thus a throng of business in law, in physic, or in traffic, distresses and distracts the mind, unless where

habit of application is acquired by long and constant exercise: he excessive variety is the distressing circumstance; and the mind uffers grievously by being kept constantly upon the stretch.

271. With relation to involuntary causes disturbing that degree of variety which nature requires, a slight pain affecting one part of the body without variation, becomes, by its constancy and long duration, almost insupportable: the patient, sensible that the pain is not increased in degree, complains of its constancy more than of its severity, of its engrossing his whole thoughts, and admitting no other object. A shifting pain is more tolerable, because change of place contributes to variety; and an intermitting pain, suffering other objects to intervene, still more so. Again, any single color or sound, often returning, becomes unpleasant; as may be observed in viewing a train of similar apartments in a great house painted with the same color, and in hearing the prolonged tollings of a bell. Color and sound varied within certain limits, though without any order, are pleasant; witness the various colors of plants and flowers in a field, and the various notes of birds in a thicket: increase the number of variety, and the feeling becomes inpleasant; thus a great variety of colors, crowded upon a small canvas, or in quick succession, create

269. The train, with respect to pleasure and pain. When natural. When greatly accelerated. When retarded-Number of ideas without variety, not agreeable.-When uniformity is pleasant; when unpleasant.-Excess in variety.-Reverie.

270. The net of altering, by will, the degree of variety which nature requires.- Contem plation long confined to one object.-Where operations are simple and reiterated.-Effect of actions excessive in number and variety.

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