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governs all human beings. The law, however, seems not to be inviolable it sometimes happens that an idea arises in the mind, without any perceived connection; as, for example, after a profound sleep.
55. But, though we cannot add to the train an unconnected idea, yet in a measure we can attend to some ideas, and dismiss others. There are few things but what are connected with many others; and when a thing thus connected becomes a subject of thought, it commonly suggests many of its connections: among these a choice is afforded; we can insist upon one, rejecting others; and sometimes we insist on what is commonly held the slighter connection. Where ideas are left to their natural course, they are continued through the strictest connections: the mind extends its view to a son more readily than to a servant; and more readily to a neighbor than to one living at a distance. This order, as observed, may be varied by will, but still within the limits of related objects; for though we can vary the order of a natural train, we cannot dissolve the train altogether, by carrying on our thoughts in a loose manner without any connection. So far doth our power extend; and that power is sufficient for all useful purposes: to have more power, would probably be hurtful, instead of being salutary.
56. Will is not the only cause that prevents a train of thought from being continued through the strictest connections: much depends on the present tone of mind: for a subject that accords with that tone is always welcome. Thus, in good spirits, a cheerful subject will be introduced by the slightest connection; and one that is melancholy, no less readily in low spirits: an interesting subject is recalled, from time to time, by any connection indifferently, strong or weak; which is finely touched by Shakspeare, with relation to a rich cargo at sea
My wind, cooling my broth,
Would blow me to an ague, when I thought
And not bethink me straight of dangerous rocks?
And now worth nothing. Merchant of Venice, Act I. Sc. 1.
57. Another cause clearly distinguishable from that now mentioned, hath also a considerable influence to vary the natural train of
54. Illustrate how the train of thought is regulated by relations.
55. The power we have over our trains of thoughts. The natural course of ideas. 56. Train of thought affected by the present tone of mind. Cargo at sea.
ideas; which is, that, in the minds of some persons, thoughts and circumstances crowd upon each other by the slightest connections. I ascribe this to a bluntness in the discerning faculty; for a person who cannot accurately distinguish between a slight connection and one that is more intimate, is equally affected by each: such a person must necessarily have a great flow of ideas, because they are introduced by any relation indifferently; and the slighter relations, being without number, furnish ideas without end. This doctrine is, in a lively manner, illustrated by Shakspeare.
Falstaff. What is the gross sum that I owe thee? ·
Hostess. Marry, if thou wert an honest man, thyself and thy money too. Thou didst swear to me on a parcel gilt-goblet, sitting in my Dolphin-chamber, at the round table, by a sea-coal fire, on Wednesday in Whitsun-week, when the Prince broke thy head for likening him to a singing man of Windsor; thou didst swear to me then, as I was washing thy wound, to marry me, and make me my Lady thy wife. Canst thou deny it? Did not Goodwife Keech, the butcher's wife, come in then, and call me Gossip Quickly? coming in to borrow a mess of vinegar; telling us she had a good dish of prawns; whereby thou didst desire to eat some; whereby I told thee they were ill for a green wound. And didst not thou, when she was gone down stairs, desire me to be no more so familiarity with such poor people, saying, that ere long they should call me Madame? And didst thou not kiss me, and bid me fetch thee thirty shillings? I put thee now to thy book-oath, deny it if thou canst?
Second Part, Henry IV. Act II. Sc. 2.
58. On the other hand, a man of accurate judgment cannot have a great flow of ideas; because the slighter relations, making no figure in his mind, have no power to introduce ideas. And hence it is, that accurate judgment is not friendly to declamation or copious eloquence. This reasoning is confirmed by experience; for it is a noted observation, That a great or comprehensive memory is seldom connected with a good judgment.
59. As an additional confirmation, I appeal to another noted observation, That wit and judgment are seldom united. Wit consists chiefly in joining things by distant and fanciful relations, which surprise because they are unexpected; such relations, being of the slightest kind, readily occur to those only who make every relation equally welcome. Wit, upon that account, is in a good measure incompatible with solid judgment; which, neglecting trivial relations, adheres to what are substantial and permanent. Thus memory and wit are often conjoined: solid judgment seldom with either.
60. Every man who attends to his own ideas, will discover order as well as connection in their succession. There is implanted in the breast of every man a principle of order, which governs the arrangement of his perceptions, of his ideas, and of his actions. With regard to perceptions, I observe that, in things of equal rank, such as sheep in a fold, or trees in a wood, it must be indifferent in what order they be surveyed. But, in things of unequal rank, our ten
57. Order of ideas, in some minds, varied by the slightest connections. Explain and illustrate.
58. Accuracy of judgment not favorable to a flow of ideas.
59. Wit and judgment, why so seldom united.
dency is, to view the principal subject before we descend to its accessories or ornaments, and the superior before the inferior or de pendent; we are equally averse to enter into a minute consideration of constituent parts, till the thing be first surveyed as a whole. It need scarce be added, that our ideas are governed by the same principle; and that, in thinking or reflecting upon a number of objects, we naturally follow the same order as when we actually survey them.
61. The principle of order is conspicuous with respect to natural operations; for it always directs our ideas in the order of nature: thinking upon a body in motion, we follow its natural course; the mind falls with a heavy body, descends with a river, and ascends with flame and smoke: in tracing out a family, we incline to begin at the founder, and to descend gradually to his latest posterity; on the contrary, musing on a lofty oak, we begin at the trunk, and mount from it to the branches: as to historical facts, we love to proceed in the order of time; or, which comes to the same, to proceed along the chain of causes and effects.
62. But though in following out an historical chain, our bent is to proceed orderly from causes to their effects, we find not the same bent in matters of science: there we seem rather disposed to proceed from effects to their causes, and from particular propositions to those which are more general. Why this difference in matters that appear so nearly related? I answer, The cases are similar in appearance only, not in reality. In an historical chain, every event is particular, the effect of some former event, and the cause of others that follow in such a chain, there is nothing to bias the mind from the order of nature. Widely different is science, when we endeavor to trace out causes and their effects: many experiments are commonly reduced under one cause; and again, many of these causes under one still more general and comprehensive: in our progress from particular effects to general causes, and from particular propositions to the more comprehensive, we feel a gradual dilatation or expansion of mind, like what is felt in an ascending series which is extremely pleasing: the pleasure here exceeds what arises from following the course of nature; and it is that pleasure which regulates our train of thought in the case now mentioned, and in others that are similar. These observations, by the way, furnish materials for instituting a comparison between the synthetic and analytic methods of reasoning the synthetic method, descending regularly from principles to their consequences, is more agreeable to the strictness of order; but in following the opposite course in the analytic method we have a sensible pleasure, like mounting upward, which is not felt in the other: the analytic method is more agreeable to the
60. The principle of order governing perceptions and ideas.-Things of equal and of un equal rank.
61. Instances of ideas following in the order of nature.
imagination; the other method will be preferred by those only who with rigidity adhere to order, and give no indulgence to natural emotions.
63. It now appears that we are framed by nature to relish order and connection. When an object is introduced by a proper connection, we are conscious of a certain pleasure arising from that circumstance. Among objects of equal rank, the pleasure is proportioned to the degree of connection: but among unequal objects, where we require a certain order, the pleasure arises chiefly from an orderly arrangement; of which one is sensible in tracing objects contrary to the course of nature, or contrary to our sense of order: the mind proceeds with alacrity down a flowing river, and with the same alacrity from a whole to its parts, or from a principal to its accessories; but in the contrary direction, it is sensible of a sort of retrograde motion, which is unpleasant. And here may be remarked the great influence of order upon the mind of man; grandeur, which makes a deep impression inclines us, in running over any series, to proceed from small to great, rather than from great to small; but order prevails over that tendency, and affords pleasure as well as facility in passing from a whole to its parts, and from a subject to its ornaments, which are not felt in the opposite course. Elevation touches the mind no less than grandeur doth; and in raising the mind to elevated objects, there is a sensible pleasure: the course of nature, however, hath still a greater influence than elevation; and therefore, the pleasure of falling with rain, and descending gradually with a river, prevails over that of mounting upward. But where the course of nature is joined with elevation, the effect must be delightful; and hence the singular beauty of smoke ascending in a calm morning.
64. Every work of art that is conformable to the natural course of our ideas, is so far agreeable; and every work of art that reverses that course, is so far disagreeable. Hence it is required in every such work, that, like an organic system, its parts be orderly arranged and mutually connected, bearing each of them a relation to the whole, some more intimate, some less, according to their destination: when due regard is had to these particulars, we have a sense of just composition, and so far are pleased with the performance. Homer is defect in order and connection; and Pindar more remarkably. Regularity, order, and connection are painful restraints on a bold and fertile imagination; and are not patiently submitted to, but after much culture and discipline. In Horace there is no fault more eminent than want of connection: insiances are without number. Of Virgil's Georgics, though esteemed the most complete work of that author, the parts are ill connected, and the transitions far from
62. Why, in matters of science, we reverse the order of nature in our arrangement.-The analytic and synthetic modes of reasoning.
63. The relish of the mind for order and connection.
being sweet and easy. The two prefaces of Sallust look as if by some blunder they had been prefixed to his two histories; they will suit any other history as well, or any subject as well as history. Even members of these prefaces are but loosely connected: they look more like a number of maxims, or observations, than a connected discourse.
65. An episode in a narrative poem, being in effect an accessory, demands not that strict union with the principal subject, which is requisite between a whole and its constituent parts: it demands, however, a degree of union, such as ought to subsist between a principal and accessory; and therefore will not be graceful if it be loosely connected with the principal subject. I give for an example the descent of Æneas into hell, which employs the sixth book of the Æneid: the reader is not prepared for that important event: no cause is assigned that can make it appear necessary, or even natural, to suspend for so long a time the principal action in its most interesting period: the poet can find no pretext for an adventure so extraordinary, but the hero's longing to visit the ghost of his father, recently dead in the mean time the story is interrupted, and the reader loses his ardor. Pity it is that an episode so extremely beautiful, were not more happily introduced. I must observe, at the same time, that full justice is done to this incident, by considering it to be an episode; for if it be a constituent part of the principal action, the connection ought to be still more intimate.
66. In a natural landscape, we every day perceive a multitude of objects connected by contiguity solely; which is not unpleasant, because objects of sight make an impression so lively, as that a relation even of the slightest kind is relished. This, however, ought not to be imitated in description: words are so far short of the eye in liveliness of impression, that in a description connection ought to be carefully studied; for new objects introduced in description are made more or less welcome in proportion to the degree of their connection with the principal subject. In the following passage, different things are brought together without the slightest connec tion, if it be not what may be called verbal, i. e. taking the same word in different meanings.
Surgamus: solet esse gravis cantantibus umbra.
Virg. Buc. x. 75.
67. The relations among objects have a considerable influence in the gratification of our passions, and even in their production. But that subject is reserved to be treated in the chapter of emotions and passions. (Chap. ii. part i. sect. 4.)
64. The requisites, accordingly, in every work of art.-Remarks upon Homer, Pindar Horace, Virgil, and Sallust.
65. Episodes. Example from the Æneid.
66. Rule for description.