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God, and that it is deftined for immortality, And, in all our inquiries, let it be our care, to guard against prejudice and vain theory, and confine our views to matters of fact, and to plain and practical truth.






General Account of Imagination.

CCORDING to the common ufe of words, Imagination and Fancy are not perfectly fynonymous. They are, indeed, names for the fame faculty; but the former feems to be applied to the more folemn, and the latter to the more trivial, exertions of it. A witty author is a man of lively Fancy; but a fublime poet is said to possess a vast Imagination. However, as these words are often, and by the best writers, used indifcriminately, 1 fhall not further diftinguish them.

In what refpect Imagination and Memory differ, was formerly explained. When we remember, we revolve or revise past perceptions, with a view to


our experience of them, and to their reality. When we imagine, we confider the notion or thought now prefent to the mind, fimply as it is in itself, without any view to real existence, or to past experience. Thoughts fuggefted by Memory may also be confidered in this way in which cafe they become what, in the ftyle of modern philofophy, would be called Ideas of Imagination. Thus, the features of a portrait, or of a perfon, whom I faw fome time ago, may occur to my mind, and be for a while contemplated, without my confidering, whether I ever faw fuch a thing before, or whether the idea be, or be not, a fiction of my own fancy. And fometimes, there will remain in the mind the idea of a particular event, of which we cannot fay, whether we learned it from information, or only dreamed of it.

Addifon, fpeaking of fight, in the four hundred and eleventh paper of the Spectator, fays, "that it is the faculty which furnishes the Ima"gination with its ideas ;" and, a little after, he adds, "that we cannot have a fingle image in "the fancy, that did not make its first entrance "through the fight." If by the term Image he mean, what he elsewhere calls, and what is commonly understood by the word, idea, it will follow, from this account, that men born blind, or who retain no Memory of light and colour, can have no Imagination. But this is not agreeable to fact. I am particularly acquainted with a perfon*, who, having at the age of five months loft his fight by the small pox, retains not the idea of any thing visible; and is yet a good poet, philofopher, and divine, and, in a word, a moft ingenious, as well as a moft worthy man. lle.

The Reverend Dr. Blacklock, of Edinburgh.


dreams too, as frequently as other people; and dreams are univerfally ascribed to the fancy: and his writings prove, that he poffeffes, what every critick will allow to be, and what Addifon himself would have called, a fublime Imagination.

Invention is by all philofophers confidered, as an operation of the fame faculty. Now, one may invent, and confequently imagine, tunes, or fentiments, which one never heard or faw; and which cannot be perceived by fight, till committed to writing. It would appear then, that Addison's use of the word in question, is rather too limited, when he fays, that ideas derived from fight are the only objects of Imagination: which yet, perhaps, may have been the opinion of thofe, who firft diftinguished this power of the mind by a name derived from the word image.

Some authors define Imagination, "The fim"ple apprehenfion of corporeal objects when ab"fent." But the common ufe of language would warrant a more comprehenfive definition. The anxiety of a mifer, and the remorfe of a murderer, are not corporeal objects; and yet may be imagined by those who never felt them. Shakefpeare, who was neither a murderer nor a mifer, but on the contrary poffeffed a generous and benevolent heart, has expreffed thefe feelings in fuch a manner, as will fatisfy every reader, that his conception of them was equally just and lively.

In the language of modern philofophy, the word Imagination feems to denote; first, the power of apprehending or conceiving ideas, fimply as they are in themselves, without any view


to their reality and fecondly, the power of combining into new forms, or affemblages, thofe thoughts, ideas, or notions, which we have derived from experience, or from information.

These two powers, though diftinguishable, are not effentially different. If one can apprehend, or imagine, a thing that one has feen, one may also imagine two or more fuch things united fo as to form what has nothing fimilar to it in nature. If I, for example, have the idea of a dog's head and a man's body, it is eafy for me to imagine them united in one and the fame animal; to which my fancy can add wings, and horns, and cloven feet, and as many odd appendages as you please. These two faculties, therefore, of fimple Apprehenfion and Combination (as I fhall take the liberty to call them) are fo nearly allied, that there can be no harm in referring both to the Imagination or Fancy,

That the nature of this Combining Power may be the better understood, I muft remark, that philofophers have divided our ideas, and other objects of perception, into Simple and Complex, A fimple object is that which does not feem to confift of parts that can be conceived separate; as heat, cold, hunger, thirft, &c. A complex object confifts of parts or qualities, which are feparable, or may at leaft be conceived as fuch by the mind. The smallest grain of fand, the minutest particle of matter that fenfe can perceive, is a complex object; because it confists of parts that may be feparated, and is characterised by qualities, which it is poffible to think of apart from each other, as figure, colour, folidity, weight, &c.


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