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soul, it is the most serviceable. It may be strong, indeed, where the intellect is weak; but without it there can be no expansion and wealth of intellect. Some writers on mental science speak disparagingly of it; but what could we do if we had it not? The more attentive the other powers are to its claims and office, the more assiduously and effectively it serves
hem. How tenacious its grasp ! How immense its capacity! How yielding and improvable its strength!
Memory is a striking evidence of our Creator's beneficence. By its aid we recall the past, and live it over again. The paths of childhood, the green meadows and bright skies of youth, are preserved. If we had not possessed this friendly power, the past would have been a dark and impenetrable oblivion ; but its happy and ennobling thoughts, its exciting scenes, its instructive experiences, can be recalled, and come to us again with increased sweetness and impressiveness. Mingling with the rose and purple of its ally, Fancy, the joys of the past reappear in purer charms; and even its sorrows not only lose their bitterness, but are revived with brightening rays. Yet, to warn us against indolence and immorality, we have all found that we are not only bound by golden chains to the sunshine and flower of our early existence, but that we may be “darkly bound,” and the past may return upon us with a scorpion's sting. It may come up to recollection a haunting shadow, a threatening finger, pointing to an avenging future. We need, then, to be alive to the value and importance of this power of retention. The mind is constantly receiving impressions along the lines of the nerves, and by its movements upon them producing new ideas, and securing accessions of knowledge ; but this would have availed little without its faculty of memory, whose original aptitude to preserve and recall its acquisitions cannot be resolved into any other of its endowments. All that affected it from without, and all that was elaborated within, would have perished in the process. Knowledge and science we could have had none, -no family images and recognitions, no social reminiscences and delights. The mind wanted not only the ability to conquer and acquire, but the capacity to retain, as an incentive to farther advances, and as a storer of acquirements for future service. Memory lays the foundation of our greatness, and opens innumerable sources of mental power and enjoyment.
What a mysterious but important attribute of this faculty is its competency to preserve its stores in secret, beyond the immediate reach of consciousness! This is known as the association of ideas, or the mental law of suggestion or re-production. The mind is so constituted, that certain states follow other states.
“Lull'd in the countless chambers of the brain,
Our thoughts are link'd by many a hidden chain :
Each stamps its image as the other flies."*
* Rogers's “ Pleasures of Memory.”
not been thought of for years ? A sound, a túrn of scenery, a flower, a picture, a thought, may revire a thousand familiar things of bygone days. An illustration is furnished by the poet Cowper, in his beautiful and pathetic effusion, composed in his fifty-ninth year, on receiving the portrait of his mother. That" faithful remembrancer of one so dear” touched the chords of memory, and assisted him to live his childhood over again in some of its minutest circumstances. The power of suggestion is termed, by some writers on mental science, the reproductive faculty of the soul; and they distinguish it from memory, whose special work they regard as conservative. But it will be sufficient for our purpose to associate it with that part of our intellectual being which retains and restores for us the ideas, experiences, and events with which we have once been acquainted. We may not all possess it in equal measure, but we are familiar with its operations. We recall a name, and impressions of excellence or meanness, of pleasure or grief, are at once revived. Even thoughts, as well as facts, are suddenly renewed by a train of association which we can hardly trace, and which had long ceased to interest us. That which is within springs to that which is without, and crowds of restored images are instantly before us. “An old native African,” says an American writer, “obtained permission from his master, some years ago, to go from home to see a lion, that was conducted as a show through the State of New Jersey. The moment he saw the animal, in spite of the torpid habits of body and mind contracted by many years of slavery, he was transported with joy, which he vented by jumping, dancing, and loud acclamations. He had been familiar with the lion when a boy in his native country, and the sight of him suddenly poured upon his mind the recollection of all his enjoyments, from liberty and domestic endearments, in his own country, in the early part of his life.”
Most precious is this gift of mental association and reminiscence. It affords at the same time both power and repose to the mind, freeing it from the toil of storing away every impression, and leaving it at liberty to follow the requirements immediately urgent. But how mysterious is such a power! What are the hidden causes which regulate these resuscitations ? All we really know is, that our thoughts suggest each other ; that there is a tendency in ideas to revive their fellows, without any renewed perception of their original causes ; and that there are some principles of connexion among ideas, so that they come to us in trains. How truly wonderful is the ability to look upon the past !—as wonderful as we should deem a capacity to peer into the future, only that the marvellousness of this power is lost upon us by familiarity with its exercise.
“How soft the music of those village bells,
And with it all its pleasures and its pains,
The windings of my way through many years. 1. Memory is evidently in closest alliance with our bodily organization, and is the most exposed of our mental faculties to physical changes. A blow on the head has in some instances destroyed it, apparently, altogether ; in other cases it has been interrupted by a similar injury, after which it has gradually or suddenly returned. Fevers and other maladies have also, as is well known, impaired its vigour, and in some instances proved its overthrow. And, clearly, it is not in every part of the nervous system that the memory resides, but particularly in the brain : for, while a blow on the head has at once suspended its operations, an injury of the spine, or a disease of the spinal chord, has in no way affected it. Since this mental power betrays greater dependence upon corporeal conditions than, perhaps, any other faculty, it has afforded strong temptations for materialistic conjecture. It is undeniable that certain mental operations are under control of the nervous matter of the brain, and that its most subtile and microscopic changes affect the exercise of the memory. But it must be borne in mind, that, when the memory has even been destroyed, the soul has not been lost. The other faculties of this active and thinking principle remain in their entireness. The paralysis and overthrow of memory have not obliterated affection, judgment, moral sentiments, and spiritual aspirations. Multiplied examples have been adduced to show that the brain presides over the phenomena of memory, and that it is the organ of intellect, and the centre of sensation. We have all found that bodily renovation aids intellectual exercise, and that physical feebleness causes mental languor and interruption. The schoolboy places his task under his pillow, that with the returning invigoration of morning he may accomplish what he found it difficult to do with a tired frame at departing day. The human body is a living machine constructed for the use of a spiritual being; and we may rationally suppose a derangement of some of its parts, which shall not cause anything more than an interruption of the exercise or manifestation of certain faculties of this being.
Beyond this we are not required to proceed. What may be the secret connexion between the office of the memory and the substance of the brain,
- whether any actual changes or impressions are produced upon the latter by the workings of the former, or whether a special organ in the brain is reserved for this faculty,-on these points we have no reliable information. We have admitted as much as the materialist ought to require; but our admissions give no countenance to his doctrine. We have not bordered on the concession, that the brain by itself exercises the functions of thought, desire, and recollection. In no circumstances is matter found to think ; and our most accurate knowledge of its convolutions, properties, and results,
* « The Task,"
only the more compels the conclusion that there must be in man an inorganic and purely spiritual entity. Cerebral diseases and physical conditions influence the manifestations of the mind; but they show nothing more. Cases are known in which the brain has been injured and diseased to an extraordinary extent, without appreciable effect on the mental functions ; and frequently has the mind been obscured for a time, and then suddenly restored to its original integrity,
If memory consists only of impressions or sensations formed on the tissues of the brain, we may inquire of the materialist, What is it that experiences all these impressions or sensations ? What is it that produces mental acts, elicits facts, and then dwells upon them in voluntary inspection? What is it within us that knows that certain impressions are produced, and that certain things are stored in the brain, which can be revived by an effort of attention or recollection? “As innages on the retina are not ideas until a man attends to them, for he does not see them while his wind is intently engaged about other things ; so whatever may exist actively, or passively, in the brain, affects not the consciousness until the mind is in correspondence with it.” Allowing, as we do, that the brain is the medium through which the inind holds intercourse with the external world, and that in some sense it is the repository of impressions ; yet no idea will remain, and no impression abide, without the self-applied action of the soul. There must be mental effort, (call it determination, or desire, or attention,) to preserve the impression, and to distinguish it from others. Recollection is not the act of the brain, but of a voluntary and intelligent influence upon it; for, in some inexplicable manner, the spirit employs it as an organ for this purpose. As is well known, both the fact and power of retention are in proportion to the determination with which we attend to the subject we wish to remember. Memory, as a faculty, is the selfenergy of mind, and is weakened by cursory and superficial surveys of things, but enlarged and strengthened according to the force and fixedness of effort with which we employ it. If the brain, however, by itself, without “the mysterious entity,” remembered, why all this exertion? Whatever its size and excellence of formation, it will remain absolutely destitute of life and intelligence, unless affected by mental and moral influence. Memory is a state of mind; its im materiality is revealed by its works.
Since the brain is the material instrument of man's intellect, and his conceptions and energies are largely influenced by the brain's condition, should not these truths enforce upon us careful prudence in the management of the body? The intimate and peculiar alliance of the mind with the physical organization is in nothing more clearly revealed than in the capacity of memory. The health and habitudes of the body must be carefully studied by all who would secure for the soul its greatest freedom and com pass of power. The memory often gives the earliest intimations of brain-disease and mental disorder. In these days of competition and worry, of abounding excitement and undne straining, why should we marvel at an increase of apoplexy, paralysis, and insanity ? Various diseases of the brain
may be precluded by temperance, virtue, and self-control, but invited and fostered by neglect of these duties. “Some narcotics, such as opium, act directly on the brain ; others, on the sympathetic or ganglionic system of nerves; others, on the spinal chord ; and others, such as tobacco, operate on the nervous system generally. Hence diversified effects on the emotions and intellectual faculties. All those substances which soothe the nerves contain more carbon than hydrogen in their composition; they seem to hinder the blood from being vitalized properly in the lungs; and Liebig believes that they actually combine with the substance of the brain and nerves, so as to alter their character. Now, we can find no difficulty in understanding how the habitual and unnecessary use of such agents must prove injurious, since they produce an unnatural state of the instruments of energy, both as regards body and mind."*
2. We may be reminded, that the power of laying up and preserving ideas which are brought into the mind is shared by the lower animals. In this age, strange as it may appear, there is an eagerness to connect or even to identify man with these. There are, unquestionably, points of resemblance between him and the brute tribes; but, at the same time, there are irreconcilable contrasts. The memory of some of the most sagacious of the lower creatures makes the nearest approach to the excellence of man's intellectual nature. The senses of many of them are more acute than his ; and, in consequence, they are more highly susceptible of quick and deep impressions from sensible objects. And, in their case, the mental principle, if we may so call it, by which these impressions are retained, works more by the outward pressure of images, than in man. Why is the dog attached to his unkind master? He does not reach the conception of ownership, and regard himself as his master's property. But the representation of the image of one who often feeds him, and is frequently his companion, is imprinted, within, and makes the animal familiar with his voice, his peculiarities of temper, and his various requirements. We find that those impressions which are peculiar to the finer senses, (such, for instance, as arise out of the chase,) are strong even in sleep, and act convulsively in a state of bodily repose, producing what are known as the dreams of animals, evidencing their possession of a power very much like mind. But its limited range is seen in their memory, as well as in all other seeining resemblances to the human soul.
Man's memory can review at pleasure the ideas of external objects, in the absence of those objects for which the images stand ; clearing them up, after they have grown obscure, without excitement from outward things. He can make the external and the distant flash and glow upon the mirror of his soul. The brute lives in present sensations. The world of yesterday is lost to it, while man carries within him all that the world has ever been to him. His memory is “a power in his intellect of impregnating the imagination with all its own combinations and alterations of those impressions, together
* Dr. Moore's “Use of the Body in relation to the Mind.”