« הקודםהמשך »
in development. The powers usually styled perception, memory, reflection; or, if any one prefer the new nomenclature to the old, the perceptive and reflective powers, are the eyes, and ears, and hands of the soul; without which, its very existence were unknown to itself.
Instead, then, of descanting upon themes so trite as the usual dis. quisitions upon this noblest of our intellectual powers, permit me to invite your attention to it as one of the most sensible and incontrovert. ible demonstrations of the immateriality, if not immortality, of the human soul.
To locate this power is now-a-days regarded as wholly impossible. The new philosophy avers that though it have a name, it is without a habitation. Gall, Spurzheim, and Combe, the illustrious trio of the new school, can find for it no organ at all; and the metaphysicians of the old school could never find a single cavern for it within all the enclosures of head or heart. In their sublimated and ethereal science it is a faculty of the soul-an abstract essence, which the most exquisite forceps ever invented by imagination could not seize nor hold up to the visual ray of the mind, for the millionth part of the twinkling of an eje.
If material it be, it is matter borrowed from another sphere. It is some of the mould or clay of heaven-of a peculiar unearthy type and temper.
It is spiritual maiter—a substratum so ethereal and di. vine as to elude the intellectual grasp and comprehension of a new Aristotle, seventy times more ideal and refined than the celebrated author of the Ten Predicaments.
Upon its tablet it is, however, agreed there can be written not only all the words of a living or dead language, but of many living and dead languages, together with as many volumes of science and images of persons, places, events, facts, and documents of individual experience as would busily occupy the oldest antediluvian sage during his whole life of a thousand years to read. Gentlemen, can any of you deny the fact; or, affirming it, can you explain il? Can you show from any earthly material, analogy, or fact, how it is possible to engrare or write over a billion or a quadrillion of times the same substance, and still preserve the distinct clear legibility of every letter and point? Take the phrenological sianosities, folds, and convolutions of every organ, having its own book-keeper with his celestial patent for new shori-hand abbreviations, and ask how can he write a million of pages upon the ends and points of those intellectual horns which are only blunted by the ossificacious indentations that impose a veto upon their too democratic notions of liberty and equality. Or take the fine fluids of a Voltaire or an Epicurus, so subtle aud imperceptible that the very
nerves of sensation along which they roll their gentle current of animal life cannot detect them; and suppose the soul to embarlupon these tides of spiritual life all its discoveries, how could such a navy bear within its bosom the immense accumulation stowed away for years in the warehouses of Memory? Would not the smallest of Memory's craft, so often stranded on the numerous bars of such a river, be likely to fail of performing their regular trips at the calls of other powers constantly waiting upon their arrival to put themselves in motion! Ridiculous and preposterous though such visions and hallucinations be, there have not been wanting men of such a peculiar organization as not only to cherish within their own bosoms, but to seek to propagate such idealities in the world.
It has, indeed, also been affirmed that memory is not exclusively an attribute of mind; because creatures destitute of mind possess it; and, in reference to sensible objects, in some cases superior to man.
It is admitted that as respects ideas and impressions received through sensation and perception, as well as in matters of instinctire knowledge, some animals, such as the elephant, horse, dog, &c. possess that species of memory in a very liberal degree. But what does the fact of animal memory prove? Does it prove that terrestrial matter thinks, remembers, feels, or that irrational animals have that peculiar faculty called mind in man? Or does it only prove a proposition which all nature attests, viz.-that wherever there is organization there is life, either animal or vegetable; and wherever there is animal organization and animation there is a portion of the great Universal Mind. This is demonstrably a rue proposition. Mind is printed on paper, as well as possessed by him that writes; mind is impressed on all the works of the Creator, animate or inanimate; but in some of its modifications it is in, as well as upon, the animated creation of God. There is just such a portion of intelligence communicaied to every creature, according to its organization, sueh a measure of instinctive knowledge, wisdom, and memory, as fits it for its exact position in creation, that it may just fulfil the benevolent designs of the Creator. With one of our best reasoning Poets we may say
"Far as creation's ample range extends
The spider's touch, how exquisitely fine,
Is not thy reason all these powers in One!" Thus the memory of man, compared with that of the most gifted of the merely instinctive tribes, is as the solar beam of nature's noonday sun compared with the feeble ray of evening's glow-worm.
They are, indeed, essentially different powers—as different as instinct and reason-as the phosphorescent light of rotten wood cornpared with the bright glow of the most radiant gem that ever beamed upon a monarch's crown.
Let us not, however, gentlemen, lose ourselves or our subject in the curious labyrinth of fanciful speculations. The palpable fact is before us.
The tablet of human memory is neither a tablet of brass, of stone, or of flesh; it has neither length, breadth, nor thickness; it has neither solidity nor gravity; yet are inscribed on it not only the words of many languages, but the history of nations, their origin, progress, and their fall. The biography of their kings and princes—their heroes and their statesmen-their philosophers and their sages—their orators and their poets—with all their arts of war and their arts of peace, are clearly recorded not only on the same mysterious and unearthy suhstratum, but are written upon the same lines on the surface of each other for many quadrillions of times, and yet are clearly and unam. biguously legible.
The art of reading these monuments and inscriptions of the past is as mysterious and inexplicable as the art of writing upon the same substance and upon the same lines already written over so unspeakably often, the scenes and the transactions, the thoughts and the emotions of the present. Who of these prosing materialists, so profoundly read in the secret operations of nature, can explain to us, on their own philosophy, that imponderable, intactable, immeasurable, invisible point, or line, or substance on which can be written, and from which can be read, so many millions of ideas and impressions? With what curious magnifying microscope shall its dimensions or its location be ascertained? If it be a lonely pilgrim, wandering from organ to organ-having, too, neither sympathy, homopathy, nor antipathy in common with flesh, blood, or bones, who can describe its most peculiar personality, or draw out the lineaments of its singular physiognomy, that we may distinguish and honor it with appropriate regards!
It is found in the heart, and yet is no part of it. Its presence or its absence affects not in the least its dimensions or its gravity. What a new and sublime chapter in intellectual chemistry will the development of this singular fact afford!--the exposition of the reason why one head in the balance, without a single idea and destitute of life, will weigh just as much as one of the same dimensions, density, and solidity, having within it life, and in legible characters imprinted a hundred or a thousand volumes. Who can survey that curious point, or line, or surface on which may be engraven the history of a world, and the experiences of an eternity; itself, too, subject to impressions from every sense, and from every ing real and imag nary, commanded by something called attention, and controlled by something called volition.
Where now the Materialist, the Sceptic, the Atheist? Let them expatiate on matter, solid, fluid, gaseous, aeriform; let them bring their intactable crucibles, their hypothetical laboratories, their imponderable agencies, and distil the quintessence of that substratum cn which are legibly inscribed all that is written upon the ten thousand baquare miles of an Alexandrian library; let them demonstrate the peculiar attributes, essential and accidental, that telong to that name. less substance, more durable than marble or brass, and yet of so delicate a texture and so fine a surface as to receive the most gentle touch of the softest pencil in Fancy's pallet when portraying upon it the phantoms of some imaginative scene.
I presume not to speculate on a subject so incomprehensible: I only affirm the conviction that a more instructive exemplification of the infinite superiority of mind above all earthly matter, and a more soulsubduing demonstration of the fact that there is a spirit in man composed of no earthy elements, cannot, in my humble opinion, be afforded, than is deducible from the philosophy of memory, and the art of recollecting or reading off whatever may have been fairly inscribed
But when the whole philosophy of memory and of commemorative institutions becomes the theme of contemplation, we are obliged to inquire after the cui bono, the benevolent designs of the Great Author of all good, in those manifestations of his bountifulness to man. And in the first place our attention is called to the use of memory itself, before we consider the character and object of her commemorative rites.
It requires but a little power of abstraction to perceive that man, though possessing every other attribute and capacity that belongs to his nature, wanting only the single power we call memory, must have continued as he was born—a perfect infant in knowledge-a speechless, idealess, thoughtless biped, deriving neither intelligence, impulse, nor motive from a single incideni, sensation, or reflection in his whole antecedent existence. The Universe, in all its developments of wisdom, power, and goodness; in all its demonstrations of riches, beauty, and magnificence, as well as the soul within him, would be to him one universal and perpetual carte blanch--an indistinguishable inass of being without a single manifestation of design indicative of its great and glorious Author. Destitute, as the animal man is, of that measure of instinct belonging to inferior creatures, without memory, we may safely affirm, he could not live at all. Eating and drinking would be to him as great a mystery every hour as it was when first he appeared upon the stage of life. It is, then, an essential attribute of the human soul--of the being designated man; without which, neither the past, the present, nor the future, would be known, appreciated, or enjoyed.
But to delineate even the outlines of its designs in the development of the human soul and in the formation of human character, it is requisite that we briefly advert to one or two of its primary functions.
It as certainly causes the soul, or mind, to grow in s'atre, in all its dimensions, as the atmosphere we inhale and the food we eat contribute to the growth of the body. There is as certainly a spiritual system with which the human soul is homogeneous, as there is a material system with which the body, sympathizes. Each element in man seeks its kindred system, and as naturally tends to it as the atoms of material nature seek their kindred and common centres.
It is requisite, therefore, that the mind have powers of assimilation and accretion as well as the body. The body is destined to grow, and for this purpose it hias its apparatus of separating from external and surrounding elements whatever is congenial with its peculiar organization. It has the power of gradually assimilating such elements, and finally of incorporating them with itself. - Just so the inward man, and the spiritual system with which it is kindred. li communes with mind and all its manifestation in sensible nature; and for this purpose it needs and is provided with an appropriate apparatus for secerning from inert matter the indications of reason, adaptation, and designof assimilaiing these and of incorporating them with itself, and thus of increasing its stature, its capacities, and its vigor.
Who does not perceive, when the question is presented to him,