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with a faculty in his mind of retaining its own various complex notions and conceptions of the innumerable objects which have been presented to its view." Nothing equal to this is found among the irrational creatures. Though conceding that they may possess an endowment of the same nature with that of the human race, we aver that it is in an unspeakably inferior degree: for, what a contrast there is between the machine-like perfection and unalterable limitation of their instinct, or soul, and the nobility and limitless progress of man's reason! There are some structural affinities, and sorne feeble mental reseinblances, between man and some of the animals around him ; but, truly, the difference between any of these, even the most sagacious, and the human being, is as the difference between infioity and nothing.
3. Are we correct in affirming, that the remembrances of our youth are the strongest, and in assuming as the cause that the mind at this period is most impressible? Does not this imply decay or infirmity in the mind ? Or does it denote deterioration in the organs through which the mind manifests itself? It can only be in the latter sense, we will presume ; since the mind is ever free, youthful, strong. Even in advanced age some of its efforts have been prodigious. Marked deliverances and unexpected blessings, in the very decline of life, have been as distinctly impressed upon the mind, and afterwards as readily recalled, as any of the events of earlier existence. It is trae, nevertheless, that the memory of age is not as faithful and fervent as that of youth.
May not the case be thus explained? The aged do not, and, from their enfeebled bodily organization, cannot, as a general rule, put forth the effort to retain the transactions of their later years, that would have been put forth for those of the rise and meridian of life. Without the energy of the soul exerted, the brain itself cannot embrace and hold the impressions reported to it. According to the healthiness or derangement of that part of the constitution on which the association of ideas depends, and according, likewise, to the degree of attention, will be the strength of the images retained.
Other reasons for the freshness and integrity of youthful remembrances, and the difficulty of recalling recent events in the case of the aged, will be the constant reviewing of the past, and the want of interest in present occurrences. “The young live forward in hope ; the old live backward in memory." Have not our seniors through their life been reviving, thousands of times, the scenes and events of their earlier days ? and do they not in their last days lovingly, and to the neglect of what is passing, dwell upon them?
“Still o'er these scenes my memory wakes,
And fondly broods with miser care ;
As streams their channels deeper wear.” *
current events, and to cultivate a grateful and hopeful disposition. Much may be done to relieve the tedium of enfeebled age by laying up in active life stores of knowledge, and especially by having a worthy and religious pursuit to the close of our days. And, where imbecility from natural causes occurs, may there not be a Divine meaning, an unutterable compassion, in such cases ? Is there not often great mercy in withholding the aged, by what some designate a decay of faculties, from the excitements and burdens of life? Is not this tranquil old age an indication of the lovingkindness of God, and a summons to closer communion with Himself ? How often have some of the holiest of His children been tenderly drawn toward Him by the obscuration of earthly things, the cessation of worldly clamours, and the forgetfulness of many of life's social endearments ! In this mysteriousness of their existence, in this solitude of the soul, they were not alone, because the Father was with them. *
“ The soul's dark cottage, batter'd and decay'd,
As they draw near to their eternal home." + 4. On the subject of the association or suggestion of our ideas, we may draw lessons for ourselves, and warning and instruction for others. Certain conditions of the mind reproduce themselves, and that not loosely or confusedly, but according to laws better known froin experience than from books. On the wise management of the laws which govern the resuscitation or association of ideas, our moral and intellectual character largely depends. Whatever has been observed or felt by the mind, it is known to have the power of reproducing. We are not only “fearfully and wonderfully made,” but fearfully and wonderfully circumstanced. We can touch nothing, but it cleaves to us ; we can see nothing, but it abides with us; we can experience nothing, but it returns upon us. Not that the whole successive train of ideas necessarily impresses itself upon the mind : for the last link in the chain may have no connexion with the first, and an object never before seen may suggest one the most familiar to us. But the law is, that, according to an original and secret tendency, the mind restores whatever at any time has affected it. Thoughts and impressions entering the mind associate, and never can, as many suppose, be dissociated, except by disease. The laws of suggestion, both of ideas and feelings, are various; and metaphysicians are not agreed upon their names and number. Notwithstanding, as a great practical rule, purity, industry, and wise caution are ever favourable to our mental life, to our happiness and dignity, as well as beneficial to our fellow-beings; while their opposites renew themselves upon us and others, to stain, to degrade, to ruin.
Too much importance cannot be attached to early associations. It should be the earnest labour of the wise and good to clear away from the path of the rising immortals among us, and of the young in general, all that is
opposed to virtue, and all that is defiling to character. The ancients were wise in inculcating a reverential regard for youth. Into what cruel and demoralizing associations some are born! What a blessing many even of the purest among men would receive by the obliteration of some early scenes and impressions ! Most seriously and firmly should parents and guardians of childhood seek to discharge their weighty obligations. Most carefully are we all summoned to attend to our activities and companionships. A world of meaning there is in Solomon's words :-“Keep thy heart with all diligence ; for out of it are the issues of life :” “Ponder the path of thy feet, and all thy ways shall be ordered aright.”*
Absolute forgetfulness or obliteration is impossible ; and the thoughts, associations, and deeds of our lives are recorded on the soul. The incidents and experiences of our past dáys may be concealed from us for a time, apparently obscured, and blotted out; but they cleave to us, and, if not resuscitated by an act of voluntary recollection, some association, or even a morbid affection of the body, may arouse them, and cause them to flash into intelligent wakefulness. Mental activities, facts of knowledge, variations of emotion, are possessions of the spirit. In what an affecting light this presents the great subject of final retribution ! In incredible multitude the facts of our mental history may be lost upon us while here; but at the bar of God the faded pages of memory will again be illuminated, and its characters be made to stand out in the distinctness of their first impression. This is one of the judgment-books which will be opened. The thought wards us to make memory our friend, and to move and act with circumspection. The theory which regards mental impressions as indestructible is supported by phenomena sometimes manifested immediately before death, and in the crisis of drowning. Our very thoughts are undying ; and in affecting painfulness may they return upon us. Let us labour so to live, that memory, when touched by the fingers of suggestion or association, may respond in tones of animating music ; like the statue of Memnon, which is said to have given forth sweet melody when struck by the morning sunbeams. While it is happily possible for memory to be a fountain of exhilarating joys, it may be so charged with folly and sin as to turn the past into bitterness, and provide material out of which the imagination will Weave forms of sorrow and despair. So speaks one who knew its power of terror :
“ She tells of time misspent, of comfort lost,
Of fair occasions gone for ever by ;
Of many a cause to wish, yet fear, to die." Having thus far referred to the immateriality of the human memory, the question now presents itself, In what way can we make the most of it? Like the other powers of the mind, it may be largely developed and strengthened by proper culture, or weakened by neglect and indolence. One of the
* Marginal version.
evident marks of a liberal education is the power it imparts of withdrawing the attention from the present objects of perception, and enabling the mind to dwell with pleasure on the past, the absent, or the future. There is, undoubtedly, much difference in the natural strength and appetency of memory. Some persons are vigorous in one particular kind of memory, but are defective in others. Some are remarkable for the wonderful copiousness and accuracy of their memory. “I myself could in my youth have repeated all that ever I had made, and so continued until I was past forty; since, it is much decayed in me. Yet I can repeat the whole books that I have read, and poems of some selected friends which I have liked to charge my memory with. It was wont to be faithful to me; but shaken with age now, and with sloth, (which weakens the strongest abilities,) it may perform somewhat, but cannot promise much.” *
But, whatever may be the natural differences of the “ temper” of the memory, it is capable in all of immense improvement. Nor should we give too much heed to the notion, that, because a youth makes little progress in a particular branch of learning, he has no natural aptitude for it. The dislike to this particular pursuit is often but a disrelish for mental labour. We may affirm our belief, that there are no naturally bad memories. It is the easiest thing in the world for people, who almost boast of their want of the mnemonic organ, to remember what they happen to love and desire. The healthy activity of the memory depends upon early but not excessive educational discipline, and the absence of agitation and anxiety. Youthful excesses, and intemperance and sloth at any age, will impair the fresh vigour of this useful faculty. We have little faith in systems of mnemonics, the “gymnastics of the intellect,” as one has aptly designated them. As of old, so in our day, God gives nothing to man without great labour.
A good and desirable memory will possess the attributes of capaciousness, retentiveness, and readiness. It will be largely and methodically stored ; able to hold its possessions with tenacity ; and prompt to refund them at the summons of the will. Such a memory may be attained by cultivating the habit of intense application, in whatever line it may be at any time directed ; by searching out the causes of facts and sentiments, and by cla-si. fying them; and by often re-producing in writing what we wish to impress on the mind. The “art of memory can only be acquired by earnest perseverance ; and the following old-fashioned rules may still be insisted upon : - What we wish to remember must receive our undivided attention ; must be distinctly apprehended ; must be pursued with orderly arrangement; and must be frequently recapitulated. As the memory has to do with the enlargement of the mind, all earnest students should give it their utmost consideration. Great things may be accomplished by industry and prudence. This precious capacity and power of the soul does not grow wild, or expand of its own accord. Wakefield.
* Ben Jonson,
EXAMPLES OF EMINENCE ATTAINED BY THE BLIND. This very interesting topic has been already brought before the readers of this Magazine. But they will, probably, be glad to have the list of cases enlarged, though at the risk of encountering some little repetition. And this service a contemporary enables us to render them.
It remains (says he) that we notice a few of those who, notwithstanding their lost sense, and though in most cases ignorant of the alphabet for the blind, have risen to eminence. The number is greater than we can describe within the limited space at our disposal. But it includes poets, historians, musicians, men of science, preachers and theologians, linguists and artists, warriors and monarchs. They form a series of chapters in the “ Pursuit of Knowledge under Difficulties,” most stimulating to all, and especially encouraging to those who are similarly affected.
" Poetry,” says Prescott, “ from the time of Thamyris and the blind Mæonides, down to the Welsh harper and the ballad-grinder of our day, has been assigned as the peculiar province of those bereft of vision :
• As the wakeful bird
Tunes her nocturnal note.' The greatest epic poem of antiquity was probably, as that of modern days was certainly, composed in darkness.” * Milton lost his sight in 1652, in the midst of his literary activity. He was then only forty-four ; but his affliction was enhanced by the bereavement of his wife, who left him with three infant daughters, all under seven years of age. The following fine sonnet, well known, doubtless, to most of our readers, was written with reference to his calamity :
“When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide ;
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
Doth God exact day-labour, light denied ?'
I fondly ask : but Patience, to prevent
Either man's work, or His own gifts : who best
Bear His mild yoke ; they serve Him best. His state
And post o'er land and ocean without rest :
They also serve who only stand and wait.' After darkness had settled down upon him, Milton continued his literary industry, and twice entered into matrimony. His daughters were his ainannenses, and they read without understanding the learned tongues to
* “ Essays," p. 54.