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ability in the mind when it will to revive them again,
ideas. those which are accompanied with pleasure or pain. The great business of the senses being to make us take notice of what hurts or advantages the body, it is wisely ordered by nature (as has been shown) that pain should accompany the reception of several ideas; which supplying the place of consideration and reasoning in children, and acting quicker than consideration in grown men, makes both the old and young avoid painful objects, with that haste which is necessary for their preservation ; and, in both, settles in the meinory a caution for the future. $. 4. Concerning the several degrees of
Ideas fade in lasting, wherewith ideas are imprinted on the memory, we may observe, that some of them have been produced in the understanding, by an object affecting the senses once only, and no more than once; others, that have more than once offered themselves to the senses, have yet been little taken notice of: the mind either hecdless, as in children, or otherwise employed, as in men, intent only on one thing, not setting the stamp deep into itself. And in some, where they are set on with care and repeated impressions, either through the temper of the body, or some other fault, the memory is very weak. In all these cases, idcas in the mind quickly fade, and often vanish quite out of the understanding, leaving no more footsteps or remaining VOL. I.
characters of themselves, than shadows do flying over fields of corn ; and the mind is as void of them, as if they had never been there.
9. 5. Thus many of those ideas, which were produced in the minds of children, in the beginning of their sensation (some of which perhaps, as of some pleasures and pains, were before they were born, and others in their infancy) if in the future course of their lives they are not repeated again, are quite lost, without the least glimpse remaining of them. This may be observed in those who by some mischance have lost their sight when they were very young, in whom the ideas of colours having been but slightly taken notice of, and ceasing to be repeated, do quite wear out: so that some years after there is no more notion nor memory of colours left in their minds, than in those of people born blind. The memory of sone, 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 renewed by repeated exercise of the senses, or reflection on those kind of objects which at first occasioned 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. Tlie pictures drawn in our minds are laid in fading colours
, and, if not sometimes refreshed, vanish and disappear. How much the constitution of our bodies and the make of our animal spirits are concérned in this, and whether the temper of the brain makes this difference, that in some it retains the characters drawn on it like marble, in others like free-stone, and in others little better than sand; I shall not here inquire: though it may seem probable, that the constitution of the body does sometimes influence the memory; since we oftentimes find a disease quite strip the mind of all its ideas, and the flames of a fever in a few days cal
can scarce be
cine all those imagės to dust and confusion, which seemed to be as lasting as if graved in marble.
§. 6. But concerning the ideas themselves Constantly it is easy to remark, that those that are repeatedideas oftenest refreshed (amongst which are those
lost. that are conveyed into the mind by more tays than one) by a frequent return of the objects or actions that produce them, fix themselves best in the inemory, and remain clearest and longest there : and therefore those which are of the original qualities of bodies, viz. solidity, extension, figure, motion, and rest; and those that almost constantly affect our bodies, as heat and cold; and those which are the affections of all kinds of beings, as existence, duration and number, which almost every object that affects our senses, every thought which employs our minds, bring along with them : these, I say, and the like ideas, are seldom quite lost
, whilst the mind retains any ideas at all. $. 7. In this secondary perception, as I In remema may so call it, or viewing again the ideas bering, the that are lodged in the memory, the mind is
mind is often
active, oftentimes more than barely passive ; the appearance of those dormant pictures depending sometimes on the will. The mind very often sets itself on work in search of some hidden idea, and turns as it were the eye of the soul upon it ; though sometimes too they start up in our minds of their own accord, and offer themselves to the understanding; and very often are roused and tumbled out of their dark cells into open day-light, by turbulent and tempestuous passions : our affections bringing ideas to our memory, which had otherwise lain quiet and unregarded. This farther is to be observed, concerning ideas lodged in the memory, and upon occasion revived by the mind, that they are not only (as the word revive imports) none of them new ones; but also that the mind takes notice of them, as of a former impression, and renews its acquaintance with them, as with ideas it had known before. So that though ideas formerly imprinted are not all constantly in view, yet in remembrance they are constantly known K2
to be such as have been formerly imprinted ; i. e. in view, and taken notice of before by the understanding.
Two defects $. S. Vemory, in an intellectual creature, in the me. is necessary in the next degree to percepmory, obli.
tion. It is of so great moment, that where vion and slowness.
it is wanting, all the rest of our faculties
are in a great measure useless : and we in our thoughts, reasonings, and knowledge, could not proceed Beyond present objects, were it not for the assistance of our memories, wherein there may be two defects.
First, that it loses the idea quite, and so far it produces perfect ignorance. For since we can know notlung farther than we have the idea of it, when that is gone, we are in perfect ignorance.
Secondly, That it moves slowly, and retrieves not the ideas that it has, and are laid up in store, quick enough to serve the mind upon occasion. This, if it be to a great degree, is stupidity; and he, who, through this default in his memory, has not the ideas that are really preserved there, ready at hand when need and occasion calls for them, were almost as good be without them quite, since they serve him to little purpose. The dull man who loses the opportunity whilst he is seeking in his mind for those ideas that should serve his turn, is not much more happy in his knowledge than one that is perfectly ignorant. It is the business therefore of the memory to furnish the mind with those dormant ideas which it has present occasion for; in the having them ready at hand on all occasions, consists that which we call invention, fancy, and quickness of parts.
$. 9. These are detects, we may observe, in the memory of one man compared with another. There is another detect which we may conceive to be in the meinory of man in general, compared with some superior created intellectual beings, which in this faculty may so far excel inan, that they may have constantly in view the whole scene of all their former actions, wherein no one of the thoughts they have ever had may slip out of their sight. The omniscience of God, who knows all things, past, present, and to come, and to whom the thoughts of men's hearts always lie open, may satisfy us of the possibility of this. For who can doubt but God may communicate to those glorious spirits, his immediate attendants, any of his perfections, in what proportions he pleases, as far as created finite beings can be capable ? It is reported of that prodigy of parts, monsieur Pascal, that till the decay of his health had impaired his memory, he forgot nothing of what he had done, read, or thought, in any part of his rational age. This is a privilege so little known to most men, that it seems almost incredible to those, who, after the ordinary way, measure all others by themselves; but yet, when considered, may help us to enlarge our thoughts towards greater perfection of it in superior ranks of spirits. For this of Mr. Pascal was still with the narrowness that human minds are confined to here, of having great variety of ideas only by succession, not all at once : whereas the several degrees of angels may probably have larger views, and some of them be endowed with capacities able to retain together, and constantly set before them, as in one picture, all their past knowledge at once. This, we may conceive, would be no small advantage to the knowledge of a thinking man, if all his past thoughts and reasonings could be always present to him. And therefore we may suppose it one of those ways, wherein the knowledge of separate spirits may exceedingly surpass ours. §. 10. This faculty of laying up and re
Brutes have taining the ideas that are brought into the
memory. mind, şeveral other animals seen to have to a great degree, as well as man. For to pass by other instances, birds learning of tunes, and the endeavours one may observe in them to hit the notes right, put it past doubt with me, that they have perception, and retain ideas in their memories, and use thein for patterns. T'or it seems to me impossible, that they should endea: vour to conform their voices to notes (as it is plain they do) of which they had no ideas. For though I should