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CHAPTER VIII.

IMAGINATION AND FANOY.

THESE remarks concerning the powers of criticism and production proceed of course upon the supposition that the mind has powers. A train of thoughts without a mind to think, is altogether inconceivable. A favorite theory may induce a man to adopt the doctrine, but no theory can enable him to form a distinct conception of such a reality. And that other notion that the mind is merely a passive basis, capable of being resolved, now into one state, and then into another, by certain agents, called laws, involves an inexplicable difficulty of gratuitous assumption. Every man's consciousness, if he will only appeal to it, will assure him that nothing extraneous calls his thoughts before him; but that he himself thinks: and the being that thinks and feels, must certainly have power to think and feel-an inference so obvious as to have obtained a place in the common language of men. Many words are employed for no other purpose than to name intellectual powers. Taste, genius, and talent, are never conceived of as thoughts or states of the mind; but always as powers. Neither is originality spoken of as thought; but as a characteristic tone of thinking. Thus imagination and fancy, though sometimes applied to the results of thinking, are more commonly and properly confined to mental powers.

I would not deem it necessary to speak of these latter, any more than of several other subordinate faculties which I omit, were not a distinctive understanding of them requisite to a true conception of the most commanding exercise of genius. Without genius, talent, or at least some degree of tact, no excellence of any kind can be produced. There are sovereign powers, or to speak more correctly, degrees of the inventive power, without which all the rest would be silent and unproductive; and genius, while wielding a dominion over every faculty of the soul, finds its highest delight in the work of impersonation.

The meaning of imagination, as the name of a mental faculty, is pretty well established in good and popular usage; but is greatly disputed by metaphysicians. Brown absorbs it in his gigantic theory of suggestion. In his view, there is no power of any kind. Although that doctrine of his philosophy is explicitly rejected by the common voice, it is at the same time implicitly adopted by all who admit without modification his intellectual theory. In what is commonly called imagination, he regards the mind as entirely passive, or at most, incapable of exercising anything but selection, and that only partially, not as extending farther than to those images which this arbitrary suggestion chooses to bring before it; making, thereby, suggestion superior to the thinking being of whom it is only a property, and denying the ability to call up any idea whatever. Now, is it true that you have no power to call up an idea which has escaped you for the present? In a particular case it may be so ; but is it universally so? The idea must come according to the laws of suggestion. True; but have you no control over those suggestions, or must you just take that train of ideas which suggestion itself determines to give you, and hold on to the best? Is that all the mind can do ? Did you never determine to recollect anything, and take means to do it? Have you never determined to meditate upon a certain subject, and taken means to do it? Have you never determined to work out a certain result, whose existence you suspect, and taken means to accomplish it? If you have, then think what were the means taken. You did not sit down passively, and wait to have ideas paraded before you by some uncontrollable agency; but you set yourself to work, with a very distinct and vigorous effort, to observe such relations and such things as you believed would lead to the desired result, and if upon trial you found that such relations, and such things, did not enable you to reach it, you have abandoned that train of ideas, and instituted another for the attainment of the same purpose.

And when you succeed, or relinquish the attempt, you are just as conscious of relieving your mind from effort. The mind, therefore, has some power over the current of its own suggestions, to guide them toward one result rather than another.

Moreover, any argument founded upon the passivity of the mind in suggestion, must be futile: because suggestion is itself a mental power. It is not a separately existing agent, acting upon a passive mind; but merely the method whereby the thinking being calls up the items of conception. Indeed, to suppose any

, other activity in the mind than its own, is absurd. The thinking being lays hold of the relations of things, to facilitate its knowledge and recollection of them. It has a power to that effect, whereby it directs those suggestions, is at all times directing them, and frequently chooses to change their direction. Suggestion depends upon the power to perceive the relations of things. It is vain to talk of a perception of these relations as governing and holding in subjection the mind by whose activity alone it can exist.

Imagination is a power by which the mind, in determinate combination, conceives of its own preëxisting ideas and feelings. It is not the singular gift of a favored few, but is exercised, in some degree, by every man every day of his life. Men do not differ by possessing or lacking it, but in the infinitely varied degrees of its energy, and of its coöperation with other ingredients of character. All principles of suggestion are employed in its service; but among the uneducated and feeble, the relations of contiguity are generally followed, as being of most common occurrence and easiest comprehension. Educated minds, and those of naturally larger grasp, prefer the relations of resemblance, as presenting a basis of broader generalizations, and in themselves more intimate and animating. Individuals differ, also, in degree of force in concentrating attention upon a given class of ideas, and in the rapidity with which they bring kindred ideas together, as well as in clearness of conception and liveliness of the feelings attendant thereupon. The higher degrees of this faculty always bring up conceptions so vividly as to suggest warm emotion in the mind to whom they belong; and, when communicated in suitable language, are calculated to awaken similar feelings in all who can appreciate the original ideas.

Conceptions, obtained through the senses, can be communicated directly by the simple statement, or enumeration of them. Not so, feelings. The humblest of them refuse to obey a muster-roll. There is no possibility of enlisting them by direct call, or by any other method than that of presenting their antecedent ideas. Nor is it every presentation of the antecedent, which is sufficiently vivid to effect that end. Formal language addresses itself to intellection. Music is perhaps the only art that aims to lay direct hold of emotion. Certainly, in all the rest, emotion is only suggested by the conceptions they convey. Written words have no voice for it, except only as it is yoked with conception. The same is true of those arts that

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