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whether there is not a satisfaction in it, which tells him he has been acting up to one of the great objects of his existence? The end of nature has been answered: his faculties have done that, which they were created to do, — not languidly occupied upon trifles, – not enervated by sensual gratification, but exercised in that toil which is so congenial to their nature, and so worthy of their strength. A life of knowledge is not often a life of injury and crime. Whom does such a man oppress 2 with whose happiness does he interfere? whom does his ambition destroy, and whom does his fraud deceive? In the pursuit of science he injures no man, and in the acquisition he does good to all. A man who dedicates his life to knowledge, becomes habituated to pleasure which carries with it no reproach: and there is one security that he will never love that pleasure which is paid for by anguish of heart, — his pleasures are all cheap, all dignified, and all innocent; and, as far as any human being can expect permanence in this changing scene, he has secured a happiness which no malignity of fortune can ever take away, but which must cleave to him while he lives, – ameliorating every good, and diminishing every evil, of his existence. With these reflections, therefore, upon the conduct of the understanding, I close my Lectures, and with them the Institution, for the present year: but, before I do so, I wish to say a few words respecting this latter subject. Another institution has now risen up in the eastern part of this metropolis; and there appears to be a very strong desire to do all that can be done for the increase of public institutions, by the foundation of libraries, and by lectures given to persons of both sexes. I allow myself to be no very impartial judge in such questions; but still I must take the liberty of expressing my astonishment, that sensible and reflecting men should seriously call in question the value and importance of such sort of establishments. If a man come here with his mind U
thoroughly stored, and his habits completely formed, and complain that he learns little or nothing; his complaint may be very true, but it applies to all other places of education, as well as to this. Such a man has got beyond what the aid of others can do for him; and must depend upon himself. Then, again, it is asked what are the great and mighty effects upon the manners of the age, that such institutions are to produce Great and mighty effects, none; but gradual and gentle effects, effects worth producing, sufficient to justify the expense and trouble bestowed upon institutions. It is, surely, not unfair to suppose that, of the numbers resorting to this Institution, some have felt a zeal for science, which they might not otherwise have felt; that this zeal may, in some instances, have furnished rational amusement to a whole life; in others, be productive of deep knowledge, and important discovery. Is it nothing to inflame young minds 2 is it nothing to please them with science, and to convey to them the first suspicion, that exquisite pleasure is to be derived from the mere occupations of the mind? Is it nothing to get science generally talked of though it may not be profoundly discussed; and knowledge widely honoured, though it may not be greedily pursued ? I cannot consider that man as a very attentive observer of human nature, who does not believe, that by all the conversation and occupation which this Institution has occasioned, much talent has been awakened, much curiosity for knowledge excited, the dominion of perilous idleness abridged, and the sum of laudable exertions increased. It is the greatest of all mistakes, to do nothing because you can only do little: but there are men who are always clamouring for immediate and stupendous effects, and think that virtue and knowledge are to be increased as a tower or a temple are to be increased, where the growth of its magnitude can be measured from day to day, and you cannot approach it without perceiving a fresh pillar, or admiring an added pinnacle. “But, then, such institutions increase the number of smatterers.” To be sure they do? And is it not one of the most desirable of all things that they should be increased ? If you plant 50,000 oaks in five acres, have you not a better chance of fine trees than when you only plant 10,000 in one acre 2 Has the production of eggs ever yet been considered as unfavourable to the growth of chickens? or has any reasoner yet contended, that in any country where boys and girls are very numerous, men and women must be very scarce? Every one, in every art and science, is of course, at first, nothing but a smatterer. Of these, some cannot advance from stupidity, others will not advance from idleness; some get in the wrong road from error, some quit the right from affectation; a few only reach the destined point, — but, of course, the number of these last, will be directly and immediately in the proportion of those who started for the race. In short, I have no manner of doubt, if these institutions conduct themselves with as much judgment as they have hitherto done, – if they provide able and upright men to read lectures in this place; and if those men do, without countenancing any narrow and illiberal opinions, and without lending themselves to childish jealousies and groundless alarms, display at all times an honest zeal for sound knowledge, rational freedom, and manly piety, - I see no reason why this Institution may not prosper, and be considered as a valuable addition to the public establishments of this country. That such may be its fate, is my most sincere desire, and ardent prayer: and with these wishes for its prosperity, and with my hearty thanks to this elegant and accomplished audience, for the attention with which I have been heard, I conclude my Lectures; wishing to you all, every possible happiness till we meet again.
ON THE ACTIVE POWERS OF THE MIND.
DIVISIONs of THE Active Powers INTo APPETITEs, DESIREs, AND AFFEcTIoNs. – of what Is MEANT BY THE TERM “PAssion.” – of THE origiN of our PAssions.—the APPLICATION or DR. HARTLEy's THEoRY to THE PASSIONS. — SOME REMARKS ON THE IMPERFECTIONS AND BEAUTIES OF Th AT THEORY.
I HAVE had the pleasure of reading here two sets of Lectures, – the one upon the Understanding, the other upon Taste. I come now to the consideration of the Active Powers of the Mind, or those principles of our nature which impel us to action. The distinction between the intellectual and the active powers, or the understanding and the will, is one of very great antiquity; far anterior, I fancy, to the time of Aristotle: and it appears to be one of the most convenient divisions, for arranging the complicated powers of the human mind. The two popular terms which express this division are head and heart; it being very natural that men, in their speculations concerning the connection of body and mind, should suppose that particular parts of the mind were more particularly associated with particular parts of the body. I need scarcely say that the notion is quite fanciful; — that it would be quite as philosophical to say of an able man that he had a good liver, or to praise a virtuous man for the soundness of his lungs, as it would be to speak of the head of the one, or the heart of the other. I mention this bodily distinction, not from any idea of the justice of the hypothesis it involves, but merely to show that the common notions of mankind have always gone along with this distinction of the powers of the mind, into those which are intellectual and those which are active. This science of mental philosophy has often been represented as vague and unsatisfactory. It certainly is not capable of that precision which many others are; but its most sceptical enemies would not pretend to confound an idea with a feeling. Nobody would pretend to say that the mind is affected in the same manner by hard, soft, green, or blue, as it is by anger, shame, hatred, and love. Every one feels the necessity of dividing the two classes, and naturally conceives that they are subjected to very different laws. It is not impossible, perhaps, that we might possess every intellectual faculty we now have, without feeling the influence of one single appetite, desire, or affection. Constituted as we now are, there are moments in our existence, when the soul of passion seems to be entirely laid to sleep, and when outward objects are noticed by the understanding without producing the slightest determination of the will: and there are opposite states of tempest and convulsion, when the passions confound the understanding in all its operations, and make it a false and faithless observer of the world without. In old age, in melancholy, and in sickness, the mind appears to be diseased, from the decay of all its active powers. In madness they all exist in excess. The great variety in human character, — that astonishing difference between us, which leaves one man in the little field where he was born, and drives another out to command armies and senates, – this difference principally depends upon the different degrees of curiosity and imitation in each, upon