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directed my attention, and my conclusions concerning which he had made more lucid to myself by many happy instances drawn from the operation of natural objects on the mind. But it was Mr. Wordsworth's purpose to consider the influences of fancy and imagination as they are manifested in poetry, and from the different effects to conclude their diversity in kind; while it is my object to investigate the seminal principle, and then from the kind to deduce the degree. My friend has drawn a masterly sketch of the branches with their poetic fruitage. I wish to add the trunk, and even the roots as far as they lift themselves above ground, and are visible to the naked eye of our com
Yet even in this attempt I am aware that I shall be obliged to draw more largely on the reader's attention, than so immethodical a miscellany as this can authorize; when in such a work (the Ecclesiastical Policy) of such a mind as Hooker's, the judicious author, though no less admirable for the perspicuity than for the port and dignity of his language, and though he wrote for men of learning in a learned age,—saw nevertheless occasion to anticipate and guard against "complaints of obscurity," as often as he was to trace his subject "to the highest well-spring and fountain." Which, (continues he)" because men are not accustomed to, the pains we take are more needful a great deal, than acceptable; and the matters we handle, seem by reason of newness (till the mind grow better acquainted with them) dark and intricate." I would gladly therefore spare both myself and others this labour, if I knew how without it to present an intelligible statement of my poetic creed, not as my
21 [B. I. ch. i. s. 2. Ed.]
opinions, which weigh for nothing, but as deductions from established premises conveyed in such a form, as is calculated either to effect a fundamental conviction, or to receive a fundamental confutation. If I may dare once more adopt the words of Hooker, "they, unto whom we shall seem tedious, are in no wise injured by us, because it is in their own hands to spare that labour, which they are not willing to endure." 22 Those at least, let me be permitted to add, who have taken so much pains to render me ridiculous for a perversion of taste, and have supported the charge by attributing strange notions to me on no other authority than their own conjectures, owe it to themselves as well as to me not to refuse their attention to my own statement of the theory which I do acknowledge; or shrink from the trouble of examining the grounds on which I rest it, or the arguments which I offer in its justification.
On the law of Association-Its history traced from
HERE have been men in all ages, who have been impelled as by an instinct to propose their own nature as a problem, and who devote their attempts to its solu tion. The first step was to construct a table of distinctions, which they seem to have formed on the principle of the absence or presence of the
22 [B. I. ch. i. s. 2. Ed.]
Will. Our various sensations, perceptions, and movements were classed as active or passive, or as media partaking of both. A still finer distinction was soon established between the voluntary and the spontaneous. In our perceptions we seem to ourselves merely passive to an external power, whether as a mirror reflecting the landscape, or as a blank canvass on which some unknown hand paints it. For it is worthy of notice, that the latter, or the system of Idealism may be traced to sources equally remote with the former, or Materialism; and Berkeley can boast an ancestry at least as venerable as Gassendi' or Hobbes. These conjectures, however, concerning the mode in which our perceptions originated, could not alter the natural difference of Things and Thoughts. In the former, the cause appeared wholly external, while in the latter, sometimes our will interfered as the producing or determining cause, and sometimes our nature seemed to act by a mechanism of its own, without any conscious
1 [Pierre Gassendi, a philosopher whose aim it was to revive, reform, and improve the system of Epicurus, and who wrote against Des Cartes, was born in 1592, at Chantersier in Provence and died at Paris in 1656. S. C.]
2 [Thomas Hobbes was born at Malmesbury, in 1588, died 1679, aged ninety-one. His works, which are philosophical and political, moral and mathematical, and translations, are now first collected and edited by Sir Wm. Molesworth-the Latin works in five vols. 8vo.; of the English 9 vols. 8vo. have appeared. Cousin observes that the speculative philosophy of Hobbes, who was a materialist in doctrine, has not attracted as much attention as the practical. His style is very excellent, condensed, yet with all the ease and freedom of diffuse writing. It is sharp and sparkling as a diamond. Sir James Mackintosh praises it highly in his well known Dissertation on the Progress of Ethical Philosophy. He says of it; "short, clear, precise, pithy, his language never has more than one meaning, which never requires a second thought to find." See his whole character of it at p. 40. S. C.]
effort of the will, or even against it. Our inward experiences were thus arranged in three separate classes, the passive sense, or what the School-men call the merely receptive quality of the mind; the voluntary; and the spontaneous, which holds the middle place between both. But it is not in human nature to meditate on any mode of action, without inquiring after the law that governs it; and in the explanation of the spontaneous movements of our being, the metaphysician took the lead of the anatomist and natural philosopher. In Egypt, Palestine, Greece, and India the analysis of the mind had reached its noon and manhood, while experimental research was still in its dawn and infancy. For many, very many centuries, it has been difficult to advance a new truth, or even a new error, in the philosophy of the intellect or morals. With regard, however, to the laws that direct the spontaneous movements of thought and the principle of their intellectual mechanism there exists, it has been asserted, an important exception most honourable to the moderns, and in the merit of which our own country claims the largest share. Sir James Mackintosh, -(who, amid the variety of his talents and attainments, is not of less repute for the depth and accuracy of his philosophical inquiries than for the eloquence with which he is said to render their most difficult results perspicuous, and the driest attractive,)-affirmed in the Lectures, delivered by him in Lincoln's Inn Hall, that the law of association as established in the contemporaneity of the original impressions, formed the basis of all true psychology; and that any ontological or metaphysical science, not contained in such (that is, an empirical) psychology, was but a web of abstractions and generalizations. Of this prolific truth, of this great fundamental law, he declared Hobbes to have been the original discoverer, while its full appli
cation to the whole intellectual system we owed to Hartley; who stood in the same relation to Hobbes as Newton to Kepler; the law of association being that to the mind, which gravitation is to matter.
Of the former clause in this assertion, as it respects the comparative merits of the ancient metaphysicians, including their commentators, the School-men, and of the modern British and French philosophers from Hobbes to Hume, Hartley, and Condillac, this is not the place to speak. So wide indeed is the chasm between Sir James Mackintosh's philosophical creed and mine, that so far from being able to join hands, we could scarcely make our voices intelligible to each other and to bridge it over would require more time, skill, and power than I believe myself to possess. But the latter clause involves for the greater part a mere question of fact and history, and the accuracy of the statement is to be tried by documents rather than reasoning.
First then, I deny Hobbes's claim in toto: for he had been anticipated by Des Cartes, whose work De Methodo, preceded Hobbes's De Natura Humana, by more than a year. But what is of much more importance, Hobbes builds nothing on the principle which
3 [Hobbes's Treatise, “Human Nature,” written by him in English, was published in 1650, although his dedication of it to the Earl of Newcastle is dated in 1640. Des Cartes (born at La Haye, in Touraine, in 1596) died in Sweden, to which country he had been called by Queen Christina, in 1650. His treatise, De Methodo, was originally written in French, and published in 1637; the Latin version, revised and augmented by Des Cartes himself, appeared in 1644. But neither the one nor the other contains any thing upon the subject mentioned in the text. The incident, to which Mr. Coleridge afterwards refers, as told in the De Methodo, is to be found in the