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§. 260. People may reason wrong but judge right.

It appears, then, that people may sometimes be wrong in their argument, but correct in their conclusion. We would not have these expressions misunderstood. All, that is intended, is, that an opinion may be given, which shall be correct, being founded on that silent, intellectual process, which has been mentioned, while an attempt at a verbal statement of the argument would prove an evident failure. In other words, the argument stated in language and the argument, as it exists in the mind, are not coincident; there being chasms and inconsistencies in the former, which did not exist in the latter.

This enables us to throw some light on a mental peculiarity in old people. Those, who are advanced in years and in the declination of their mental powers, very seldom enter into an argument. Still we regard them with reverence, and receive their sententious sayings, as a species of oracles. The opinion seems to have gained almost as wide a reception in these days, as in the time of Job;-" With the ancient is wisdom, and in length of days is understanding." Old men by a sort of necessity have formed that kind of intuitive tact, which we see in men much involved in the business of active life. Owing to weakness of memory and a difficulty in fixing their attention, they find themselves unable to give a verbal statement of a considerable number of consecutive propositions, either satisfactory to themselyes, or to others. Their reasonings, therefore, are mereły mental processes, leading them in general to conclusions, sufficiently just ;-the conclusions only, and not the propositions leading to them being communicated to others. -We see here an explanation, why old people are so fond of an aphoristical method, or rather why they express themselves so seldom in any other way, than by short sayings.

§. 261. Process of the mind in voting on Legislative and other subjects.

A proposition in some national legislature, perhaps whether the independence of some new formed republick

shall be acknowledged, is to be discussed. The votes are taken and a majority of them are in favour of the acknowledgment of independence in the case proposed. Under this general question, the acknowledgment of independence, it is easy to see, that there must be many subordinate propositions, having a connection more or less remote with the general question.

The question we suppose to have been decided in the affirmative. Condorcet has expressed an opinion of this kind, that, if the vote were taken on every subordinate proposition, the decision might be directly the reverse, in the negative, instead of the affirmative. But this intimation of Condorcet, there is reason to believe, in view of the remarks, which have been made, is incorrect.

In voting on the general question, every member thus voting virtually gives his opinion also on every subordinate inquiry. There are perhaps five, eight, or ten minor subjects, which it is important for him to examine; he has examined them, and has in his own mind made up an opinion on them. And the last opinion, the opinion on the general question, may properly be considered the comparison, combination, and the result of all the subordinate or minor decisions.

This is sometimes a very rapid mental process, so much so in some cases, as not to be remembered by the voter himself. But, if he be an honest man and desirous to give a judgment, which his own conscience would approve, something of this kind must have taken place.

§. 262. Notices of treatises on reasoning.

There are a few works in English, some of which will here be mentioned, which may give some further instruction on the subject of this, and of the two preceding chap

ters.

Locke's Conduct of the Understanding.-The object of this work is practical; it is of less extent, as well of less value, than his Essay. But it has a number of original and important remarks on demonstrative and other forms of reasoning, on fallacies or sophisms, on the influence of prac

tice, on difference of natural talents, &c. The book exhibits the characteristick excellencies and defects of the writer; great originality, but want of method, and too much of irrelevant discussion and of repetition for the economical habits of this busy age.

Watts' Improvement of the Mind.-Dr. Johnson remarked in regard to this book, that he had perused it with great pleasure, and further observed, that instructers might be charged with deficiency in their duty, if they did not recommend it. No doubt the warm commendations of Dr. Johnson are in the main correct; but it seems necessary to observe, that the writer has advanced some views on the philosophy of the mind, which at the present day are regarded as quite inadmissible. For instance, we find the notion, which was once prevalent, that ideas are pictures or images, that in memory these pictures are inscribed upon the brain, much the same as the impression of the seal is left upon the wax, and that the greater or less degree of readiness in memory will depend on the greater or less degree of rigidity in the cerebral fibres.

Gambier's Introduction to the Study of Moral Evidence.— This valuable treatise contains many useful directions relating to moral reasoning, and examines particularly the subject of evidence ;-it cannot fail to be interesting and instructive to the student.

The Study and Practice of the Law considered in their various relations to Society.-This work, written in a series of letters, is ascribed to Sir James Mackintosh. The letters are addressed to the young and rising mind, without professing to add greatly to the stores of science. They remark on the duties in general, one owes to society, and is bound to perform; suggest motives to great effort; show the distinction between the philosophy and the forms of law; with a variety of observations on method in business, on court pleadings, eloquence, imagination, &c. The work contains the suggestions of a philosophick mind, and is enlivened by eloquent passages.

CHAPTER TWENTY SECOND.

311

OF MEMORY.

§. 263. Explanation of the faculty of memory.

MEMORY is that power or susceptibility of the mind, from which arise those conceptions, which are modified by the relation of past time. It is not a simple, but complex state of the intellectual principle, implying, (1) a conception of the object, (2) the relation of priority in its existence. That is, we not only have a conception of the object, but this conception is attended with the conviction, that it underwent the examination of our senses, or was perceived by us at some former period.

When we imagine, that we stand in the midst of a forest, or on the top of a mountain, but are snug all the while in our own chimney corner, these pleasing ideas of woods, and of skies painted over us, and of plains under our feet, are mere conceptions. But when with these insulated conceptions, we connect the relation of time; and they gleam upon our souls, as the woods, plains, and mountains of our youthful days; then those intellectual states, which were before mere conceptions, become REMEMBRANCES. And the susceptibility, which the mind possesses of these latter complex states, is what usually goes under the name of the power or faculty of MEMORY.

$. 264. Of differences in the strength of memory.

The susceptibility of remembrances is the common privilege of all, and, generally speaking, it is possessed in nearly equal degrees. To each one there is given a sufficient readiness in this respect; his ability to remember is such, as to answer all the ordinary purposes of life. But, although there is in general a nearly equal distribution of this power, we find a few instances of great weakness and other instances of great strength of memory.

It is related of the Roman orator, Hortensius, by Seneca,

that, after sitting a whole day at a publick sale, he gave an account from memory, in the evening, of all things sold, with the prices and the names of the purchasers, and that this account, when compared with what had been taken in writing by a notary, was found to be exact in every particular.

The following is an instance of strength of memory somewhat remarkable.-An Englishman, at a certain time, came to Frederic the Great of Prussia for the express purpose of giving him an exhibition of his power of recollection. Frederic sent for Voltaire, who read to his majesty a pretty long poem, which he had just finished. The Englishman was present, and was in such a position, that he could hear every word of the poem; but was concealed from Voltaire's notice. After the reading of the poem was finished, Frederic observed to the author, that the production could not be an original one; as there was a foreign gentleman present, who could recite every word of it. Voltaire listened with amazement to the stranger, as he repeated, word for word, the poem, which he had been at so much pains in composing; and giving way to a momentary freak of passion, he tore the manuscript in pieces. A statement, being made to him of the circumstances, mitigated his anger, and he was very willing to do penance for the suddenness of his passion by copying down the work from a second repetition of it by the stranger, who was able to go through with it, as before.

A great number of instances of this description are found in the records of various individuals, but they must be considered as exceptions to the general features of the human mind, the existence of which cannot be explained on any known principles. As no one can tell, why one oak on the mountains is tall and large, while its neighbour, on the same soil and of the same description of trees, remains stinted and dwarfish; so we find ourselves unable to give any philosophick explanation of such instances as have been mentioned.

But there are also weak memories, so much so, as to be

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