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by which it is known to our senses; and substituting, instead of what is commonly meant by that word, infinitesimal or evanescent entities, in the pursuit of which imagination herself is quickly lost. The prosecution of this remark would, if I be not mistaken, open a view of the subject widely different from that which modern materialists have takefi. But as it would lead me too far aside from my present design, I shall content myself with observing here, that the reasonings which have been lately brought forward in their support, by their new philological allies, have proceeded upon two errors, extremely common even among our best philosophers: —first, the error of confounding the historical progress of an art with its theoretical principles when advanced to maturity; and, secondly, that of considering language as a much more exact and complete picture of thought, than it is in any state of society, whether barbarous or refined. With both of these errors, Mr Tooke appears to me to be chargeable in an eminent degree. Of the latter, I have already produced various instances; and of the former, his whole work is one continued illustration. After stating, for example, the beautiful result of his researches concerning conjunctions, the leading inference which he deduces from it is, that the common arrangement of the parts of speech, in the writings of grammarians, being inaccurate and unphilosophieal, must contribute greatly to retard the progress of students in the acquisition of particular languages: whereas nothing can be more indisputable than this, that his speculations do not relate, in the least, to the analysis of a language, after it has assumed a re
gular and systematical form; but to the gradual steps by which it proceeded to that state, from the inartificial jargon of savages. They are speculations, not of a metaphysical, but of a purely philological nature; belonging to that particular species of disquisition which I have elsewhere called theoretical history." To prove that conjunctions are a derivative part of speech, and that, at first, their place was supplied by words which are confessedly pronouns or articles, does not prove that they ought not to be considered as a separate part of speech at present, any more than Mr Smith's theory with respect to the gradual transformation of proper names into appellatives, proves that proper names and appellatives are now radically and essentially the same ; or than the employment of substantives to supply the place of adjectives (which Mr Tooke tells us is one of the signs of an imperfect language), proves that nogrammatical distinction exists between these two parts of speech, in such tongues as the Greek, the Latin, or the English. Mr Tooke, indeed, has not hesitated to draw this last inference also ; but, in my own opinion, with nearly as great precipitation as if he had concluded, because savages supply the want of forks by their fingers, that therefore a finger and a fork are the same thing. The application of these considerations to our metaphorical phraseology relative to the Mind, will appear more clearly from the following chapter.
* See the Account of the Life and Writings of Mr Smith, prefixed to his Posthumous Essays. P
CHAPTER TH IRD.
Theincidental observations which ihavemade in dif. ferent parts of the Philosophy of the Human Mind, on the circumstances which contribute to deprive that branch of science of an appropriate and specific phraseology, together with those on the same subject in the former chapter of this Essay, preclude the necessity of a formal reply to the philological comments of Mr Tooke on the origin of our ideas. If anything farther be wanting for a complete refutation of the conclusion which he ... them to establish, an objection to it, little short of demonstrative, may be derived from the variety of metaphors which may be all employed, with equal propriety, wherever the phenomena of Mind are concerned. As this observation(obvious as it may seem) has been hitherto very little, if at all attended to, in its connection with our present argument, I shall endeavour to place it in as strong a light as I can. A very apposite example, for my purpose, presents itself immediately, in our common language with respect to memory. In speaking of that faculty, everybody must have remarked, how numerous and how incongruous are the similitudes involved in our expressions. At one time, we liken it to a receptacle, in which the images of things are treasured up in a certain order; at another time, we fancy it to resemble a tablet, on which these images are stamped, more or less deeply; on other occasions, again, we seem to consider it as something analogous to the canvas of a painter. Instances of all these modes of speaking may be collected from no less a writer than Mr Locke. “Methinks,” says he, in one place, “the understanding is not much unlike a “closet, wholly shut up from light, with only some “little opening left, to let in external visible resem“blances, or ideas, of things without : Would the “ pictures coming into such a dark room but stay “ there, and lie so orderly as to be found upon oc“casion, it would very much resemble the under“standing of a man, in reference to all objects of “sight, and the ideas of them.”—In a different part of his Essay, he has crowded into a few sentences a variety of such theories; shifting backwards and forwards from one to another, as they happen at the moment to strike his fancy. I allude to a very interesting passage with respect to the decay of memory, produced occasionally by disease or old age;—a passage where, I cannot help remarking by the way, that the impression of the writer, with respect to the precariousness of the tenure by which the mind holds its most precious gifts, has elevated the tone of his composition to a strain of figurative and pathetic eloquence, of which I do not recollect that his works afford any similar example. “The “memory, in some men, it is true, is very tenacious, “even to a miracle; but yet there seems to be a “constant decay of all our ideas, even of those “ which are struck deepest, and in minds the most “ retentive ; so that, if they be not sometimes re“newed by repeated exercise of the senses, or re“flection on those kind of objects which at first oc“casioned them, the print wears out, and at last “there remains nothing to be seen. Thus, the ideas, “as well as children of our youth, often die before “us: And our minds represent to us those tombs “to which we are approaching; where, though the “brass and marble remain, yet the inscriptions are “effaced by time, and the imagery moulders away. “The pictures drawn in our minds are laid in fad. “ing colours, and if not sometimes refreshed, vanish “ and disappear.” He afterwards adds, that “we “sometimes find a disease strip the mind of all its “ideas, and the flames of a fever, in a few days, “calcine all those images to dust and confusion, “which seemed to be as lasting as if graved on “ marble.” Such is the poverty of language, that it is, perhaps, impossible to find words with respect to memory, which do not seem to imply one or other of these different hypotheses; and to the sound philosopher, they are all of them (when considered merely as modes of expression) equally unexceptionable; because, in employing them, he, in no case, rests his reasoning upon the sign, but only upon the thing signified. To the Materialist, however, it may not be improper to hint, that the several hypotheses already alluded to are completely exclusive of each other; and to submit to his consideration, whether the indiscriminate use, among all