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history of imagigary heroes and heroines. The dullest plodder over the obscurest desk, who sums up, in the evening, his daily tables of profit and loss, and who rises in the morning with the sole object of adding a few cyphers to that book of pounds and pence, which contains the whole annual history of his life,-even he, while he half lays down his quill to think of future prices, and future demands, or future possibilities of loss, has his visions and inspirations like the sublimest poet,-visions of a very different kind, indeed, from those to which poets are accustomed, but involving as truly the inspirations of fancy.
For these humble cases of imagination, it might perhaps be admitted, by those who are not aware how exactly they resemble in kind the sublimer examples of it, that no peculiar intellectual power different from simple suggestion is necessary. But is there not some peculiar power exerted in the splendid works of eloquence and poetic art,-in those fictions, which seem to give all the reality of nature to ideal things, or to add some new majesty or loveliness even to the very magnificence of nature itself, and which would seem, therefore, to raise art above nature, if this very art were not one of the forms which nature itself assumes ?
In these, too, if we analyze the phenomena with sufficient min. uteness, we shall find results similar to those which we discovered in our analysis of the former tribes of phenomena, ascribed in like manner erroneously to peculiar powers.
To this analysis let us now proceed.
Imagination has been generally regarded as implying, a voluntary selection and combination of images, for the production of compounds different from those which nature exhibits.
This opinion, to whatever extent it may be true, is certainly false in part at least.
We have seen, in considering some other mental processes, that these are rendered very different in appearance by the union of desire ;—that mere perception, in this way, becomes attention, -mere memory, recollection. A similar difference is produced by the union of the same feeling in the phenomena which we are at present considering.
Imagination then, may be considered in two different lights; as it takes place without desire,-or, as it takes place with desire or intention. Let us consider, then, in the first place, those new complex conceptions, which, when there is no accompanying desire, arise and start, as it were, upon the mind, in its passive trains of thought.
That there is imagination, or new combination of images and feelings, unaccompanied with any desire, and consequently, altogether void of selection, is as true, as that there is memory without intentional reminiscence. In the trains of our thought, conceptions rise often simply as they have existed before; they rise often mixed in various forms and proportions, as they never have existed before ; and in both cases equally without any desire on our part. We as little will the varying scenery of our reyeries, and all the strange forms which seem to people them, as we will the conception of any one with whom we are acquainted, when it rises to us in instant suggestion, merely on reading his familiar name.
I may conceive gold, it is said, -I may conceive a mountain ; and these states of my mind, which are only faint transcripts of the past, are simple conceptions. But if I conceive a golden mountain,—which I never saw,-I must, it is said, have put together these two conceptions; and this conception, different from any thing in nature, is, in strict language, not a mere conception, but an imagination.
Has any thing, however, taken place in this last case, different from what occurred in the two former?
The argument, which I used in treating of voluntary reminiscence, is equally applicable in the present instance. I then shewed
you the absurdity of supposing that we can will the existence of any particular idea; since this would be to suppose us either to will without knowing what we willed, which is absurd, -or to know already what we willed to know, which is not less absurd. In like manner, I cannot have selected the images of gold and a mountain with the intention of forming the compound of a golden mountain ; since it is very evident, that if I willed that particular compound, I must have had the conception of a golden mountain previously to my conception of a golden mountain. The argument in this case is surely demonstrative ; and the same argument will apply equally to every other indiv al case that may be supposed, whether the images be few or many,--transient, or continued through the longest reveries. If we select images with the view of forming a particular compound, we must already have formed this compound; and to select them for no purpose whatever, is, in truth, not to select at all.
But if there cannot have been any selection of images, for comparing with them the notion of a golden mountain, how happens it that the conception of this object, so different from any thing we have ever seen, should arise in the mind ?
For the solution of this supposed difficulty, I might remark, that it is far from necessary to suggestion, that there should be any complete resemblance of the object suggested to that which suggests it, or that they should formerly have been proximate as the direct images of things existing together; and that, on the same principle as that by which a giant suggests a pigmy, or, still more, as analogous objects suggest objects merely analogous,—a tempest, for example, the short violence of mortal tyranny, or a day of vernal sunshine, the serene benevolence of its God, -50 the mere conception of a mountain of one substance or colour, may suggest the analogous conception of a mountain of gold. But, though this general tendency to analogous suggestions might seem, perbaps, sufficient to explain the whole difficulty, the true theory of this, and of every other species of complex conception, appears to me to depend, not on this general tendency merely, but, in a great degree also, on that fact with respect to suggestion, which I stated and illustrated in a former Lecture,- the fact that various conceptions, in that particular sense of coexistence or complexity, which I explained to you as all that can be understood in the case of mind, may exist together, forming one complex feeling, and that one part of this complexity may suggest one conception, while another part suggests a different conception, that may in like manner unite, and form one harmonizing whole. The conception of the colour of gold, for example, and the conception of a mountain, may be thus, as it were, separately suggested, by parts of some preceding group of images coexisting in the mind; or the conception of a mountain remaining, its greenness or brownness, which are parts of the complex feeling, may, as colours, suggest various other colours, in the same way as if the conception of the form of the mountain bad ceased; the colours thus suggested by some former colour,—that of gold among the rest,-coalescing,
as they arise, with the remaining conception of the projecting mass ; and all this happens, not in consequence of any selection of ours, but merely in conformity with the common laws of suggestion; with those laws, by which, as I have shewn to you, in every instance of vision, a mere sensation of colour continues to coexist with what is in truth only an associate conception of some particular tangible form, and to blend itself, in intimate diffusion, with the conception which it has suggested, -as if the eye were itself capable of originally distinguishing convexity, concavity, and every varied form of position and magnitude.
The momentary groups of images that arise, independently of any desire or choice on our part, and arise in almost every minute, to almost every mind, constitute by far the greater number of our imaginations; and to suppose a predetermining selection necessary to every new complex conception, would therefore be almost to annihilate imagination itself. It might leave it, indeed, to the writers of poetry and romance, and to all who are in the habit of embellishing their conversation with the graces and the wonders of extemporary romance; but in the greater number of mankind, it would be to annihilate it wholly ; since, in them, there is no intentional creation of images, but their fancy presents to them spontaneous images; or rather, to speak more accurately, since fancy is but a general term, expressive of the variety of these very states of the mind, their mind, in consequence of its own original susceptibilities of change, exists, of itself, successively, in those various states which constitute the feelings referred to fancy or imagination.
Such is imagination, considered, as it most frequently occurs, without any accompanying desire ;-a mode of the general capacity of simple suggestion, and nothing more. But there are, unquestionably, cases in which desire, or intention of some sort, accompanies it during the whole, or the chief part of the process; and it is of these cases chiefly that we are accustomed to think, in speaking of this supposed power. Such is the frame of the mind, in composition of every species, in prose or verse. In this state, conceptions follow each other, and new assemblages are formed. It is a continued exercise of imagination :-What, then, is the analysis of our feelings in this state of voluntary thought, when there is a desire of forming new groups of images, and new groups of images arise ?
In the first place, to sit down to compose, is to have a general notion of some subject which we are about to treat, with the desire of developing it, and the expectation, or perhaps the confidence, that we shall be able to develope it more or less fully. The desire, like every other vivid feeling, has a degree of permanence which our vivid feelings only possess; and, by its permanence, tends to keep the accompanying conception of the subject, which is the object of the desire, also permanent before us; and while it is thus permanent, the usual spontaneous suggestions take place; conception following conception, in rapid but relative series, and our judgment, all the time, approving and rejecting, according to those relations of fitness and unfitness to the subject, which it perceives in the parts of the train.
Such I conceive to be a faithful picture of the state or successive states of the mind, in the process of composition. It is not the exercise of a single power, but the developement of various susceptibilities,- of desire,-of simple suggestion, by which conceptions rise after conceptions,-of judgment or relative suggestion, by which a feeling of relative fitness or unfitness arises, on the contemplation of the conceptions that have thus spontaneously presented themselves. We think of some subject,—the thought of this subject induces various conceptions related to it. We approve of some, as having a relation of fitness for our end, and disapprove of others, as unfit. We may term this complex state, or series of states, imagination, or, fancy,—and the term may be convenient for its brevity. But, in using it, we must not forget, that the term, bowever brief and simple, is still the name of a state that is complex, or of a succession of certain states ;-that the phenomena comprehended under it, being the same in nature, are not rendered, by this use of a mere word, different from those to which we have already given peculiar names, expressive of them as they exist separately ;-and that it is to the classes of these elementary phenomena, therefore, that we must refer the whole process of imagination in our philosophic analysis :-unless we exclude analysis altogether, and fill our mental vocabulary with as many names of powers, as there are complex affections of the mind.
The feeling of which I have spoken, as most important in fixing our train of thought so as to allow continuous composition, is