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impulses; whereas he may really possess the warmest feelings and loftiest views, but accompanied by too sound a judgment to allow himself to be carried away by imagination, and thus to become enthusiastic. For, as Mr. Taylor justly remarks, "Where there is no error of imagination, no misjudging of realities, no calculations which reason condemns, there is no enthusiasm, even though the soul may be on fire with the velocity of its movement in pursuit of its chosen object. If once we abandon this distinction, language will want a term for a well known and very common vice of the mind; and, from a wasteful perversion of phrases, we must be reduced to speak of qualities most noble and most base by the very same designation. If the objects which excite the ardour of the mind are substantial, and if the mode of pursuit be truly conducive to their attainment,if, in a word, all be real and genuine,—then it is not one degree more, or even many degrees more, of intensity of feeling that can alter the character of the emotion. Enthusiasm is not a terin of measurement, but of quality." Who, for instance, can suppose that there was less devotion of mind to his pursuit, less ardour in the researches of a Newton, than of some eager astrologer or alchemist of olden times? yet the title of Enthusiast, which belongs to the latter, could never be coupled with the revered name of the former. Or who could assert that there was less earnestness of purpose, less contempt of peril, less selfdevotion in a Columbus than a Walter Raleigh? Yet who will apply the word enthusiasm to the heroic perseverance of the discoverer of the New World?


The energy of the enthusiast springs from blindness to obstacles, to everything but the one object of passionate pursuit; that of the great man, from the power of a strong will and intellect, acting on a sound and well-considered plan, and triumphing over obstacles which he foresaw, but would not allow to impede his purpose. Imagination, in the former, overcomes the reason; in the latter, it aids in carrying out what reason has decreed, giving the warmth of an impulse to the convictions of the understanding.

Women are proverbially enthusiastic in whatever appeals strongly to their feelings,-a natural result of the over-activity of the latter, when combined with considerable power of imagination; and producing that love of any object somewhat removed from common experience, that neglect of all common means of attaining the end in view, and that contempt of all common objections against it, which are characteristic of enthusiasm.

Taylor. Nat. Hist. of Enthusiasm, sect. 1.



Women, in this, as in other things, are so restrained in the outward action of their impulses, that they can seldom become the heroines of their own rash projects, and their enthusiasm, therefore, either makes them the tools of others, as rash or more designing than themselves (as we daily see in every wild scheme which counts women among its first victims); or it assumes a more dreamy character, and then its effects are similar to those described above,-less injurious to society, though destructive to individual happiness and peace of mind.

It will, perhaps, be objected, that if the dangers to which imagination may lead are so great, and threaten women so peculiarly, it is rather advisable to repress than to cultivate the natural strength of that faculty. This conclusion, however, seems to us most erroneous. The attempt to repress imagination could only produce that chilling effect on the general character, which we have spoken of before, without necessarily adding to the strength of the other faculties; since the absence of imagination by no means implies vigour of reason, while the mere neglect of its cultivation would simply allow the natural power to run riot, without any of those preservatives against excess which are afforded by careful training, and the supply of worthy objects to excite it. It is because women are naturally endowed with lively imagination that the latter particularly needs cultivation to give it a proper tone, and to maintain its due position in the mental economy. The restraints upon it must come from raising its character and strengthening the reason. While conduct remains habitually under the control of the latter, there is no danger from the activity of imagination; its utmost powers may be exerted, and they will delight, not dazzle, elevate, but not mislead the mind.

In our own self-examination we are thus furnished with an unfailing criterion by which to judge the state of our minds on this subject. The instant we are conscious that imagination is stealing between reason and conscience, and acting upon the will either immediately in prompting to action, or more remotely in often-indulged wishes, or visions which we would carry out into action if we had liberty to do so, then we know she has overstepped her province. The moment she influences conduct, without an appeal to those constituted guides and judges of action, she is usurping power which she will wield with everincreasing despotism, unless checked resolutely at first. The perpetual reference to truth as our standard, and reason as our guide,will furnish the necessary check.

The best means of cultivating the imagination remain now to be considered, and we shall derive considerable help in ascer


taining what those are, by examining, first, how essential the love of the beautiful is to the full and perfect development of that faculty. This feeling may be said to preserve the moral balance of the imagination, and where it is wanting, the latter is left to wander wildly without a guide, to follow the chimeras of its own creating instead of the ideals of truth and excellence. It is when severed from this its natural companion that imagination is too justly accused of being the ally of falsehood, and of hindering men in their course towards purity and true knowledge. It is then that it too often loves to revel in the strange, the horrible, the unnatural, where no beauty dwells, or,-in a still lower degree of corrupt taste and inclination,-sinks to that degraded state which finds delight in images whence not only Beauty, but "her twin sister, Virtue,' ,"both have flown; and derives pleasure from impure emotion and the excitements of vice.

The love of moral beauty and excellence is the highest form which this feeling can take, and we have already considered this in its strictly moral influence ;* but the love of the beautiful manifests itself also in other modes; and when we speak of it here, we mean generally that affection of the mind which seeks after, and delights in, whatever is fair and excellent in the material or spiritual universe,—the loveliness and magnificence of nature, the beauty of art, the grandeur of intellectual achievements, and, above all, the sublimity of virtue. It is this affection which, in its highest development, inspires the poet and the artist; and in its lower degree draws forth, in our daily intercourse, all that is gentle and graceful in character; prompts the taste which adorns our dwellings and pleasure-grounds, refines the tone of society, and beautifies the details of life. Few minds, and those only the coarsest and lowest, are wholly devoid of this feeling; that is, are beyond some appeal to it, however little it may influence them as an habitual sentiment. It is not in its refinement that it is known to them; for the emotions which belong to a fine taste and cultivated imagination, must of course be foreign to their experience; but in its really highest form, namely, as the reverence for moral beauty. How deeply this is rooted in the human heart may be seen in any theatre or other popular concourse, where the feelings are strongly excited. The appeal on behalf of oppressed virtue, of noble fortitude, of generous sentiments or heroic self-sacrifice, is never unanswered; their triumph over the base and malignant passions opposed to them never unapplauded even by the mob: thus proving that the sympathies even of the lowest of mankind are on the side of good, and not of evil. This

* See Chap. vi.



fact is indeed one of the strongest arguments for the theatre, as affording a means of cultivating such sympathies among classes so remote from all the ennobling and softening influences of life. It is true that the licentious jest, the coarse humour, are also applauded. And, alas! is not wit too often allowed to be a passport for such things among higher circles? But the low and sordid, the selfish and the cruel passions, never share in the applause; and this sufficiently proves how hard it is for the most degraded course of life wholly to efface in the heart of man that feeling, implanted by the Creator, to raise his aspirations towards the good and the pure. It ceases indeed, unless carefully cherished, to be a guide and a safeguard; but it is not wholly extinct; and at the touch of sympathy it may rise in sudden splendour from amidst the moral ruin, like some precious flower springing up and blooming in momentary beauty amid pestilence and decay.

The instinctive reverence for the great and the good is, as we have before remarked, one of the primary sources of religious feeling. It is among the strongest evidences of natural religion that we find in studying the constitution of our own minds. From the conviction of the eternal basis of virtue which such contemplations bring to the mind, we rise to the spiritual, heartfelt worship of Him in whom all virtue and all perfection dwell, and whose attributes we delight to study, as manifested in the wonders of His creation. It is this love which St. Paul would have us cultivate, when he says, "Whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, if there be any praise, think on these things."*

Next to such contemplations, the love of nature has most power in fostering this tendency of the mind towards the great and the beautiful, and is at once the source of some of our most unmixed, as well as our healthiest and most enduring pleasures; the true lover of nature will, to the last hour of life, find the same delight in beholding her in all her various aspects and manifestations. So long as the eye can discern forms and colours, the ear drink in the harmony of sound, or the mind rise to the contemplation of the most sublime grandeur which science has revealed, so long through all other chances and changes will the face and voice of Nature remain to him as those of a loved and familiar friend. And truly as a friend's do they often soothe in affliction or cheer the soul in solitude, while the sore and aching heart which would shrink from human consolation, revives under their calm and gentle influences. There is not a flower, not a passing cloud, not a mur

*Phil. iv. 8.



mur of the breeze, not a change in Nature's varied aspect, which has not a voice and meaning for the heart that has truly loved her.


This love of the beautiful in nature, joined to that of moral grandeur, tend together to refine the intellect, to exalt the power of genius, and guide its noblest efforts in poetry and the fine arts. It is thus guided and inspired that human imagination is enabled to reach those heights from which it seems almost divine in its sublimity; to produce now an Apollo Belvidere, a Parthenon, or a Madonna del Sisto,-now a Hamlet or a Paradise Lost,-now such strains as seem to convert earthly temples into those bright abodes where

"The cherubic host, in thousand quires, Touch their immortal harps of golden wires."

Who has not occasionally, when dwelling upon such achievements of human genius, paused almost bewildered, and questioned whether those who performed them were indeed only sons of earth like ourselves, or were not favoured with some direct inspiration from Heaven!—whether intrusted with some peculiar mission from above to raise our grosser senses and remind us of the sublime nature of the faculties of which we also in some measure partake, they had not obtained also the special aid of superhuman intelligence? Cold, at least, must be the imagination to whom such an impression is wholly unknown, to whom Homer and Michael Angelo, Handel and Shakspeare, had never seemed "if less than gods, yet more than men." We might almost say of such a one, as Shakspeare of the man who is insensible to music, that he

"Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils;
The motions of his spirit are dull as night,
And his affections dark as Erebus;
Let no such man be trusted."

The love of the beautiful in art will naturally follow the love of nature, wherever there have been the means of cultivating it. And the attempt to cultivate it, the study for instance of poetry, or of any branch of the fine arts, will tend at once to draw out, and give a right direction to the imaginative power; since the love of nature and truth will be more and more developed by it, ånd will act as a check upon the errors of fancy. We see this strongly illustrated in the different effect produced on the mind by reading really fine poetry or the common works of fiction with which our press abounds. The imagination may revel in the beautiful creation of the poet, as if transported into a new and

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