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ent. If I look at the volume, I almost think that I hear him arguing strenuously for the merits of his favourite, as in those evenings of social contention, when we have brought poets and philosophers to war against poets and philosophers. If I look at the Aute, I feel instantly a similar illusion. I hear him again animating it with his very touch,-breathing into it what might almost, without a metaphor, be said to be the breath of life,-and giving it not utterance merely, but eloquence. In these cases of simple suggestion, it is said the successive mental states which constitute the notions of my friend himself, of the arguments which I again seem to hear and combat, of the melodies that silently enchant me,-are conceptions indicating, therefore, a power of the mind from which they arise, that, in reference to the effects produced by it, may be called the power of conception. But, if they arise from a peculiar power of conception,--and if there be a power of association or suggestion, which is also concerned, how are these powers to be distinguished, and what part of the process is it which we owe to this latter power? If there were no suggestion of my friend, it is very evident that there could be no conception of my friend; and if there were no conception of him, it would be absurd to speak of a suggestion, in which nothing was suggested. Whether we use the term suggestion, or association, in this case, is of no consequence. Nothing more can be accurately meant by either term, in reference to the example which I have used, than the tendency of my mind, after existing in the state which constitutes the perception of the flute or volume, and of the room in which I observe it, to exist immediately afterwards in that different state which constitutes the conception of my
friend. The laws of suggestion or association are merely the general circumstances, according to which conceptions, or certain other feelings, arise. There is not, in any case of suggestion, both a sugo gestion and a conception, more than there is in any case of vision, both a vision and a sight. What one glance is to the capacity of vision, one conception is to the capacity of suggestion. We may see ipnumerable objects in succession ; we may conceive innumerable objects in succession. But we see them, because we are susceptible of vision; we conceive them, because we have that susceptibility of spontaneous suggestion, by which conceptions arise after each other in regular trains.
This duplication of a single power, to account for the production of a single state of mind, appears to me a very striking example of the influence of that misconception, with respect to association, which I occupied so much of your time in attempt. ing to dissipate. If association and suggestion had been considered as exactly synonymous, implying merely the succession of one state of mind to another state of mind,—without any mysterious process of union of the two feelings prior to the suggestion, the attention of inquirers would, in this just and simple view, have been fixed on the single moment of the suggestion itself:and I cannot think that any pbilosopher would, in this case, have contended for two powers, as operating together at the very same moment, in the production of the very same conception; but that one capacity would have been regarded as sufficient for this one simple effect, whether it were termed, with more immediate reference to the secondary feeling that is the effect, the power of conception, or with more immediate reference to the primary feeling which precedes it as its cause, the power of suggestion or association. It is very different, however, when the conception,the one simple effect produced,—is made to depend, not merely on the tendency of the mind to exist in that state, at the particular moment at which the conception arises, but on some process of association, which may have operated at a considerable interval before ; for in that case the process of association, which is supposed to have taken place at one period, must itself imply one power or function of the mind, and the actual suggestion, or rise of the conception; it an interval afterwards, some different power or function.
With respect to the supposed intellectual power of conception, then, as distinct from the intellectual power of association or suggestion, we may very safely conclude, that the belief of this is founded merely on a mistake as to the nature of association ;that the power of suggestion and the power of conception are the same, both being only that particular susceptibility of the mind, from which, in certain circumstances, conceptions arise, -or, at least, that if the power of conception differs from the more general powers of suggestion, it differs from it only as a part differs from the whole,-as the power of taking a single step disfers from the power of traversing a whole field,—the power of drawing a
single breath from the general power of respiration,—the moral susceptibility by which we are capable of forming one charitable purpose from that almost divine universality of benevolence, in a whole virtuous life, to which every moment is either some exertion for good, or some wish for good, which comprehends within its sphere of ACTION,—that has no limits but physical impossibility, -every being whom it can instruct or amend, or relieve or gladden: and, in its sphere of generous DESIRE, all that is beyond the limits of its power of benefitting.
The next supposed intellectual power to which I would call your attention, is the power of meinory.
In treating of our suggestions, and consequently, as you have seen, of our conceptions, which are only parts of the suggested series, I have, at the same time, treated of our remembrances, or, at least, of the more important part of our remembrances, because our remembrances are nothing more than conceptions united with the notion of a certain relation of time. They are conceptions of the past, felt as conceptions of the past, that is to say, felt as having a certain relation of antecedence to our present feeling. The remembrance is not a simple but a complex state of mind; and all which is necessary to reduce a remembrance to a mere conception, is to separate from it a part of the complexity,—that part of it which constitutes the notion of a certain relation of antecedence. We are conscious of our present feeling, whatever it may be; for this is, in truth, only another name for our consciousness itself. The moment of present time, at which we are thus conscious, is a bright point,-ever moving, and yet, as it were, ever fixed, which divides the darkness of the future from the twilight of the past. It is, in short, what Cowley terms the whole of human life,
“ A weak isthmus, that doth proudly rise
The present moment, then, though ever fleeting, is to us, as it were, a fixed point; and it is a point which guides us in the most
Cowley' Ode on Lise and Fame, Stanza I. ver. 10, 11, slightly altered.
“ Vain weak-built Isthmus, that dost proudly rise
important of our measurements, in our retrospects of the past, and our hopes of the future. The particular feeling of any moment before the present, as it rises again in our mind, would be a simple conception, if we did not think of it, either immediately or indirectly, in relation to some other feeling earlier or later. It becomes a remembrance when we combine with it this feeling of relation,the relation which constitutes our notion of time ;-for time, as far as we are capable of understanding it, or rather of feeling it, is nothing more than the varieties of this felt relation, which, in reference to one of the subjects of the relation, we distinguish by the word before,--in reference to the other, by the word after. It is a relation, I may remark, which we feel nearly
I in the same manner as we feel the relation which bodies bear to each other, as coexisting in space. We say of a house, that it is two iniles from a particular village, half a mile from the river, a mile from the bridge, with a feeling of relation very similar to that with which we say of one event, that it occurred a month ago, of another event, that it occurred in the memorable year of our first going to school,-of another, that it happened in our infancy. There is some point to which, in estimating distance of space, we refer the objects which we measure, as there is a point of time in the present moment, or in some event which we have before learned to consider thus relatively, to which, directly or indirectly, we refer the events of which we speak as past or future, or more or less recent.
If we had been incapable of considering more than two events together, we probably never should have invented the word time, but should have contented ourselves with simpler words, expressive of the simple relation of the two. But we are capable of considering a variety of events, all of which are felt by us to bear to that state of mind which constitutes our present consciousness, some relation of priority or subsequence,—which they seem to us to bear also reciprocally to each other; and the varieties of this relation oblige us to invent a general term for expressing them all. This general word, invented by us for expressing all the varieties of priority and subsequence, is time,-a word, therefore, which expresses no actual reality, but only relations that are felt by us, in the objects of our conception. To think of time is not
to think of any thing existing of itself, for time is not a thing but a relation; it is only to have some conceptions of objects, which we regard as prior and subsequent; and without the conception of objects of some kind, as subjects of the relation of priority and subsequence, it is as little possible for us to imagine any time, as to imagine brightness or dimness without a single ray of light,-proportional magnitude without any dimensions, or any other relation without any other subject. When the notion of time, then, is combined with any of our conceptions, as in memory, all which is combined with the simple conception is the feeling of a certain relation. To be capable of remembering, in short, we must have a capacity of the feelings which we term relations, and a capacity of the feelings which we term conceptions, that may be the subjects of the relations ; but with these two powers no other is requisite,
-no power of memory distinct from the conception and relation which that complex form denotes.
When I say that time, as far as we are capable of understanding it, is nothing more than a certain felt relation of certain conceptions of our own mind, I am sufficiently aware of the necessity of this qualifying clause with respect to the limits of our understanding, and of the truth of the very striking remark of St Austin on this most obscure subject, that he knew well what time was till he was asked about it, and that then he knew nothing of it." Quid ergo est tempus? Quis hoc facile explicuerit ? Si nemo a me quærat, scio. Si quærenti explicare velim, nescio."
It is truly one of those subjects, which, instead of growing clearer as we gaze upon it, grows more obscure beneath our very gaze. All of which we can be said to be conscious, is certainly the present moment alone. But of that complex state of mind, which forms to us the present moment, there are parts which impress us irresistibly, and beyond all the power of scepticism, with the relation, which, as I have already said, we term priority, in reference to the one, and succession or subsequence, in reference to the other; time, as felt by us, being this relation of the two, and nothing more. It is not because we have a previous notion of time that we regard objects as prior and posterior, more than we regard objects as large or small, because we have a previous notion of magnitude ; but time, as a general word, is significant to us merely of the felt varieties of the relation of priority and subse.