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and not as an idle spectator,--of making every thing around us a matter of reflection, is the source of the reproducing energies of the mind. It is in this way the novelist and dramatist, by watching the display of passion and the movements of feeling, replace in their creations the various characters that come before them; and mould a fiction into the reality of a living being :--and thus, too, by attempting to discover the causes of conduct, we lay open the secret history of every bosom. But there are modes of association peculiar to the individual that require great penetration to detect. There are irregular impulses that seem without cause, certain violent but transient influences, that agitate while they last, and act as if directed by some foreign power; and education, even if it does not alter the original structure of our minds, subdues or tempers, by the habitual control of its discipline; and then there are too dormant traits of character that circumstances have not developed to ourselves. The mere man of the world, who mingles with. a society governed altogether by conventional rules, forms but a superficial idea of human nature in general, and knows but little of the secret workings and concealed impulses of those with whom he is apparently intimate ; it is but the surface over which he moves, while beneath it lie all the heated elements of character. From this ignorance, or rather confined view of man, arises the surprise that is expressed at the unexpected conduct of some one, who, to all appearance, was a submissive bondsman to the arbitrary regulations of those among whom he lived, and thence the imputation of eccentricity and madness.
In thus attempting to generalise some of the sources of peculiarity to be found among men, we are enabled to gain a probable clue to the intellectual elements of Coleridge. There is ever a feeling of awe, in trying to analyse the structure of any mind, and a sense of imposing mystery in striving to disclose the shadowy and fleeting sources of thought. But when it is one of great powers, we seem to be viewing the interior of some vast edifice, made venerable by age, and hallowed by the dim and distant associations of the past; there we see acquired knowledge, the spoils of all time, brightened by the constant use, the daily polish of the individual's faculties, and the frequent impulses of sense, bringing from without, like the bird to its nest, the food that is to animate a new existence. Even if the soul, or whatever the power may be, which, as impalpable as air, gives life to intellect, that other unsubstantial element of man, should be but the inheritance from some former being, and all it gathers be but the renewal of former knowledge, still there is a daily accumulation that circumstances make fresh, and to appear, when reproduced in some
other form, as if the birth of a new principle. It seems not improbable, since there is nothing new under the sun, that all thought is but a renewal of that which has existed in other minds, and which now exists, though unawakened, in minds that possess none of what Coleridge calls a reflex consciousness. We are certainly not aware of any mental experience: all thought appears new to us, and as if born from the vitality of our own minds, until we compare it with that of others, and then it seems but a record of the past,--an instrument to be filed away for the use of succeeding generations; so that every new creation of the mind, like the human body, may be but a reproduction from the same elements cast in a new form. This is no disparaging view of human nature: though it may depreciate our admiration for an individual, yet certainly not for the general powers and results of the mind. It is thus we can associate all time by an intellectual chain, and the greatest intellect of antiquity becomes represented by some modern of equal power. In this view, the existence of a great mind is given to the world to continue out the chain of pre-existing thought, to raise the intellectual character of man above the level to which base pursuits depress him; to new ppen the reservoirs where all has become stagnant, and widen the realm of intellect. But if we can establish and estimate its use, there is still an imposing mystery in the creation and in all its modes of action, that raises our wonder. We regard it as an emblem of superior power,--as a sacred gift,--as the sole possession that reveals the elevation of our nature,--and, in its contemplation, when we throw by the lessening influence of familiarity, we feel subdued, as when our view is thrown towards the expanse of heaven, and our thoughts try to fathom its furthest abyss, and to find a use for, and the creating power which upholds, the spheres that rest upon its bosom. If the faculties are of a high order, and have been powerfully exerted, the attempt to measure them and assign to each its true extent and power, is a task of great difficulty. We enter boldly the wide and dark expanse of metaphysics, and choose, from its various obscure definitions, some guide that may lead to the interior of the structure we are examining. But such guide is of very doubtful truth.
It confuses us like the morning memory of a dream. There is no reality in its assertions, no intelligibility in its explanations; but we are amazed, and for the moment overwhelmed as when we 'enter one of England's great cathedrals; when our emotions kindle at its sublimity, and we are overawed and confused, but cannot account for the effect. The glare of day suddenly sinks to the subdued light of evening; the sun's rays, struggling through the painted windows, create the quiet light
VOL. XVIII.--No. 37.
of the horizon, and the variously coloured glass throws a thousand different hues over every object; and the sweeping aisles, down whose length we look as if towards eternity, with the shrouded space between the columns, and the great height of the roof, that rises over us like the canopy of heaven, and the silence, save when our voices echo from the walls, form that deep and dark solemnity which, with the divine character of the place, makes all sublime. At the first view of a great nind, there is an analogous effect. We know of the existence of great powers, because we have felt them; we know that there is a sublime creation near us, though we cannot analyse, explain, or even perceive with distinctness, the parts and their relations; we have been elevated as its energies awakened the slumbering sensibility of our souls; we feel, therefore, that it possesses a genial influence, and a power to enter the depths of the bosom. But it is in vain we ask how this is brought about. It cannot be by the exertion of a single faculty, but it must be by the combined exertion of all—and all in their highest degree.
The burnished light of fancy plays over our feelings, the gorgeous glow of imagination spreads its vast splendour, and the wide grasp of thought roaming the universe, choosing its materials, and concentrating all it gathers to one great end, hold us in amazement at the nature and dominion of the human intellect. All these various powers exist in the greatest minds; each one aids the other, and the due exercise of each represses the predominance of any one, and forms the clear, well regulated capacity.
By the term greatest mind, we mean one like Milton's; where there was an equal balance of each faculty, and no irregular action with any, and with whom, under whatever circumstances, each was under control, and submissive to the mastery of his will. We will not say that Milton possessed a greater mind than Shakspeare, as there is something wonderful, and even more than wonderful, in the writings of the last. His versatility, his constant, acute, and ever-ready observation, with his tact of becoming intimate with all the workings of the heart, and throwing himself into the souls of men, till he became a part of their very being, are all unrivaled, and admit of no comparison or controversy. But his power was rude, while with the other, all was refined; there was often vulgarity, while the other does not appear to have known the meaning of the word; there was great beauty, which with the other was combined with elegance; and there is something gross, that strongly contrasts with the matchless purity, the perfect brilliance, the pellucid and delicate refinement of a flow of thought, that seems to have opened from a mass of crystal. But these differences were rather the result of education than nature; for, even if Shakspeare is relieved from the charge of ignorance, he of course can in no way conipare with Milton in learning. And here, perhaps, we may strike the secret source of the power of the two, and at the same time, though with some allowance, of Coleridge.
We are inclined to think, though we make the assertion with hesitation, that there is a kind of activity of mind, which does not seem to admit, though it may not altogether preclude, the acquiring of great erudition. We are aware of the alteration circumstances may make in the destiny of all minds, but even with this obstacle placed strongly before us, there appears to be a limit, if nature has fixed no impassable barrier, to the mental action of individuals. This is probably the class Bacon calls bird-witted, where the mind seizes quickly, but has no power to retain; or to acquire more. The intellect stops short, like a stone thrown upon the earth, and most happily appears contented with its acquisition. There is a degree of intelligence beyond this, which includes what are commonly called clever men; who are incapable of any thing very distinguished, but secure some reputation, and considerable rank with the world. This kind, acted on by the common ambition of common minds, seek worldly dignity, and consume life upon the things that die. Beyond this, is a class who, with various degrees of genius, and unequal power, seem to roam through and rule the whole realm of thought. Their title to the first rank is undisputed; and after death their station is still undenied, their dominion still undivided. These with propriety may be called the class of philosophers, including among them poets and statesmen. All great genius is philosophical-so that the term philosopher, is never used correctly when confined to men of a particular talent, and employed on certain pursuits. It extends beyond the naturalist or the moralist, beyond him whose thoughts are fixed on the study of the material world, or in analysing human feeling. It takes in those who strive to know the causes of things—who feel within themselves a resistless energy, ever directed towards the farthest reach the mind of man can go-towards the limit of all intelligence-to the fountain-head whence all flows, where all ends. But they are not merely speculative; for we believe there is no instance of a great mind, that was not practical, or rather the results of whose contemplations could not be brought into use, and made to subserve the interests of mankind.
The speculative mind, is not that idle, dreary intellect, which inferior spirits, who cannot extend beyond the circle of personal interest, would make it; but it is the strong pioneer, exerting itself in regions others suppose impassable; clearing difficulties, and establishing principles beyond the space where the mass of men repose in ignorance. It is an intellect restless and dissatisfied with its condition ; yet, in its dissatisfaction, feels powerless from its own debility, and paralysed by the supremacy of some superior power. As Newton, in the beautiful and modest simplicity of his great mind, expresses it, after all his discoveries, which surpass, or nearly so, every other effort of intellect, " that he was but a child, picking up pebbles beside the great ocean of truth."
It should be remembered, by all ordinary and superficial minds, that they have no idea what contemplation is. They cannot conceive the pains of reflection, which are far deeper and more wasting than those of the passions; or imagine the vast space thought may traverse, when directed and urged by the ceaseless curiosity of a comprehensive capacity. It has the universe for its home, the world for its sphere of action. It has no limit, save the law of its creation. Like the ocean, it can draw and retain within itself every object that it meets. There is no fastidiousness, which recoils at the approach of that which is not to its taste, but all knowledge is its province, and the vast compass of its energies includes the power and extent of all science. But, like the mass of waters, it feels that there is a bound to its force-that, though unrestrained in its sphere, yet there is a control forbidding farther effort, and that its struggles become powerless before it, and seem made as if the mind were in chains. It is this incarceration of the spirit which the feeble cannot feel, but which with the strong forms the soul's most fearsul contest; and a contest the more bitter, since it is fought in despair. After a victory over all within its reach, it is obliged to submit to confinement; and having sighed for more. worlds to subdue, the mind wages war with itself. It desires perfection, and can only attain the imperfect; it elevates its views to the lofty and concealed realms, where rests the power which crushes it—where causes commence their action, and where the first impulse is given to the phenomena which attract and surprise—to the dark mysteries which awe and confuse—but it is compelled to retire, defeated and intimidated.
But in this struggle, where it feels and bows to its own weakness, it throws down the obstacles to the career of future minds, and succeeding intellects select and enrich themselves with the spoils of their predecessors; and find, like those who cultivate a field where some battle has left the bodies of thousands to manure the soil, that the wasted hours, the labours which once seemed as fragile and unworthy of remembrance as dreams, have become undying records; and from seeming ruin rise the harvest and the success of future effort. But in all great minds, there is a prophetic spirit; their sagacity looks