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The vividness of our mere approbation, then, might be sufficient of itself to vivify in some degree, the conceptions with which it harmonizes, as our desire in attention renders more vivid the perceptions to which it directly relates. But it is not merely as approbation that it operates,-it operates also indirectly by inducing that very feeling, or combination of feelings, which we term attention; and adding, therefore, all the vivacity, which attention gives, to the relative and harmonizing image. When a conception arises to the poetic mind that seems peculiarly related to the primary con-e ception of the subject, there is of course an instant approbation of it; and, in consequence of this approbation, an almost instant desire of considering the image more fully, and developing or embodying, in the most powerful language, that beautiful relation which is perceived. There arises, in short, as I have said, that complex feeling of attention, which consists in the union of a certain desire with a certain perception or conception; and when attention is thus excited, it is not wonderful that all the usual consequences of attention should follow, in the increased vividness of the conception to which we attend, and the lessened vividness, and therefore more rapid decay of the coexisting images that have no relation to our desire.
Of the various images that exist in the mind of the poet, in those efforts of fancy which we term creative, because they exhibit to us results different from any that have been before exhibited to us, he does not, then, banish by his will, because he is not capable of thus directly banishing a single image of the confused group; but he has already some leading conception in his mind; he perceives the relation which certain images of the group bear to this leading conception ; and these images instantly becoming more lively, and therefore more permanent, the others gradually disappear, and leave those beautiful groups which he seems to have brought together by an effort of volition, merely because the simple laws of suggestion that have operated without any controul on his part, have brought into his mind a multitude of conceptions, of which he is capable of feeling the relation of fitness or unfitness to his general plan. What is suitable remains-not because he wills it to remain, but because it is rendered more vivid by his approval and intent admiration. What is unsuitable disappears—not because he wills it to disappear--for his will would,
in this case, serve only to retain it longer; but simply because it has not attracted his admiration and attention, and therefore fades like every other faint conception. Nature is thus, to him, wbat she has been in every age, the only true and everlasting musethe Inspirer to whom we are indebted as much for every thing which is magnificent in human art, as for those glorious models of excellence, which in the living and inanimate scene of existing things she has presented to the admiration of the genius which she inspires.
REDUCTION OF CERTAIN SUPPOSED FACULTIES, TO SIMPLE SUG
GESTION-IV. HABIT-ADVANTAGES DERIVED FROM THE AC-
TION ONLY, IN THE REFUTATION OF MECHANICAL THEORIES
GENTLEMEN, we were engaged yesterday in considering and analyzing the complex phenomena, usually referred to a distinct intellectual faculty, which has been termed the Power of Imagination or Fancy; and particularly, in tracing the most important elements of these complex states, or successions of states of the mind, to that principle of simple suggestion which has been the subject of our late examination.
The various analyses into which we were led, in considering imagination, first, as it occurs without desire, in the short reveries of every hour, and afterwards, as it occurs in combination with desire, in the intentional processes of composition, were too long to admit of minute recapitulation; and, I flatter myself, that you do not need any recapitulation to bring their results at least, fully be
That in those short reveries which, intermingled as they are with our perceptions of actual things, and often giving their own colours to them, form so much of human happiness, and often too so much of human misery-imagination, the producer of new forms, does not imply any new or peculiar faculty distinguishable from common suggestion, was made, I hope, sufficiently apparent; and I trust you were equally convinced, that in the longest process of intentional composition, the new combinations that arise to us are VOL. II.
as little capable of being directly willed ;—that they do not imply in us any power of combining by our will various conceptions, or of banishing from our mind, by any effort of our mere will, other conceptions which appear to us inappropriate.
As we cannot will the existence of any group of images, or of any image in a group, since this very will to produce it would imply its actual present existence as an object of our will; so, what we call selection, cannot single from the group an image to the direct exclusion of others, since the operation of the mere will to exclude any image, by rendering it more vivid as an object of our desire, would tend more effectually to retain it. But there are, in that selection of which we speak, a feeling of the relation of certain parts of a complex group, to one leading conception of a particular subject-a consequent approbation of them, as in preference fit for our purpose, and a continued exclusive attention to them; or, in other words, a continued desire of tracing and developing and embodying, in the fittest language, the peculiar relations which these parts of the complex group are felt by us to bear to the plan which we had primarily in view. The common effects, therefore, of attention or desire, take place in this, as in every other instance. The particular images to which we attend, become instantly more vivid, and, therefore, more prominent, so as to separate themselves, by their mere permanence, from the fainter conceptions that fade more rapidly; the remaining images, which were all that seemed to us to harmonize in the wider group, thus mingling together, as if we had formed by our very will the direct combination, and excluded by our very will those incongruous parts, which our will, if we had vainly attempted to make the experiment, could have served only to render more vivid, and therefore, more lasting.
It is thus, without any exertion of faculties, different in kind from those which are exercised, in the humblest intellectual functions of vulgar life,-by the mere capacity of simple suggestion, which, as long as the conception of any subject, or part of a subject remains,-presents, in accordance with it, image after image, by the capacity of feelings of relation in the perceived fitness or unfitness of certain images for a particular design,-by that primary general desire, which constituted, or gave birth to the design itself, and other more particular and subordinate desires,
which form the chief elements of the varying process of attention to the varying images in the train of thought,--all those miracles of human art have arisen, which have not merely immortalized their authors, but which confer a sort of dignity,--and a dignity of no slight species, even on those who are capable merely of admiring them, with an admiration that feels their real excellence. Indeed, next to the glory of producing them, and, perhaps, not inferior to it in happiness, is the pleasure of being able thus to appreciate and admire.
Simple as the faculties may be, however, which are concerned in the complex process of imagination, to the fancy itself, by which these miracles are produced, there are truly no limits,not in external things, for these it can mingle at pleasure, not in the affections of the soul, for these, in its spiritual creations, are as obedient to it as the mere forms of matter,—not even in infinity itself, for, after it has conceived one infinity, it can still, in its speculations, add to it another and another, as if what would be iinpossible in nature, were possible in it.
" What wealth io souls,
The conceptions, which rise and mingle in our living pictures of fancy, being derived, not merely from the various climes of the earth which we inhabit, but from every part of the immensity of the universe, give to our imagination, if we consider it relatively to the objects of conception, a species of virtual omnipresence, or a rapidity of passage almost as wonderful as omnipresence itself. “ Tot virtutes accepimus tot artes, animum denique,” says Seneca, “ animum denique, cui nihil non eodem quo intendit momento pervium est, sideribus, velociorem, quorum post multa sæcula futuros cursus antecedit."* To the same purpose, but more quaintly, says an ingenious French writer, comparing the velocity of our thought with that of the swiftest of material things. “Whatever rapidity we may give to light, what is it to that of my imagina
# De Beneficiis, Lib. II. c. xxix.