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difficulty consists, is of the highest importance; first, as teaching us the nature of things; and, secondly, as diminish ing the difficulty of comprehending them.
With regard to the first without arrangement, we should never reach an idea of the plan of nature. All would be a confused mass, appearing boundless, and defying equally the judgment and memory. Order discovers the relation which one object or event bears to another, puts all things in their proper place, and offers them, like the tools of a workman, without the trouble of a search.
Arrangement is always grateful to the mind., In literature, it is beauty; in science, demonstration. In the military art, it constitutes strength; in business, it produces dispatch and ease; and where it is not demanded as a requisite, it is sought as an ornament. In order, consists one of the principles of beauty-regularity. The delight which we derive from the array of an army, or the simplicity of a system, arises from the utility of arrangement, and the relation which we perceive between the means, and the end. Method is valued even in the most trifling sciences. In dancing and music, it is what chiefly pleases. But, in literature, and those employments which more immediately represent the mind, the effects of order are most conspicuous. When extensive subjects are arranged, in such a manner that one cause naturally leads to another, and every succeeding idea is suggested by the immediately preceding, comprehension follows without effort, or by necessity. But, if the labour of arrangement be left to the reader, in any piece of composition, nothing is accomplished towards diminishing the natural difficulty of the subject, and every exertion of the mind remains to be made upon it.
Connection is, indeed, no less necessary than order. When transition is sudden or violent, the chain of ideas is broken; but when it is gradual and easy, our progress is imperceptible. But connection and order are inseparable. The rule of order is to place nearest, or in succession, those things which differ least, or are most connected.*
Order has several laws, or connection may be said to arise from various causes; viz. time, causation, and import
With regard to the second advantage of arrangement, it is to be remarked that the mind is limited. Thus, one acquisition is, in some degree, always balanced by the loss of a former; and, although attainment is on the whole progressive, the intellect is capable of containing only a certain number of images. On that very intricate subject, arithmetic, it can pass through but a very few parts without noting its steps by figures. Only one idea can, indeed, be present at a time; and the most extensive contemplation appears to be nothing more than a succession and transition of individual thoughts.
It has been observed that the art of thinking is to attempt but little at once. Arrangement, therefore, by dividing extensive subjects into parts, suits them to the grasp of the mind, and leads it forward by gradual steps.
But the chief advantage of arrangement, consists in di minishing the number of objects by classification, which, on account of its importance, we shall treat of by itself.
Classification, the great instrument of judgment.
Classification is the last improvement of knowledge, and that operation which is the origin of all intellectual ability. It, at first, appears to differ from arrangement, which seems merely to put every thing in its proper place, but it is, in fact, only a higher degree of the same act.
By mixing similar things, their variety may be increased to a great extent; but, by classification, many ideas are converted into few. The more, therefore, we can simplify and generalize things, the more easily can we comprehend them.
The first ideas which we acquire, are too imperfect for recollection but there can be little doubt that the mind originally views all objects as different and unconnected. By
ance. But, for precepts or reasoning, there is scarely any absolute order; as, it is said, from any one truth, all truth may be inferred. The proposition also may, at will, be made the condition, or the condition the proposition.
farther experience and exertion, modified always according to the original degree of capacity inherited from nature, we pêceive many to possess common qualities, and unite multitudes under one appellation. In this manner, the mind proceeds from individual to species, from species to genus, and from genus to order. It is, however, to be remarked, that classification depends also upon an inverse progress, and as much upon the observation of difference as of similarity. Hence the subdivisions which it comprehends, and the origin of ranks, which, perhaps, are not perceived in the progress of generalization. When we rise from parts to whole, it is called generalizing; when we descend from whole to parts, analyzing. Both, however, become perfect only in extensive views. Without seeing the whole, it would be impossible to assign each inferior class to its proper place, and, again, classification is never perfect until the subdivisions be united into one system.
After the mind can view nature as connected by a few general qualities, or as divided into classes by distinctions, it forms to itself those extensive rules called principles. When our ideas have reached this point, whatever object be presented to the mind, it is at no loss to discover its rank, and to
Thus, let us see a number of stags, at first, we will be apt to consider each individual, as unconnected with another, he having some property, in colour or form, to distinguish him. But after a little experience and reflection, we find these distinctions trivial, and perceive a general resemblance of individuals, so as to form the species of stag. By further experience, we find the stag species but an individual of the genus of deer, and that the whole are included in the order of quadrupeds. Or, let us see a white horse, a white wall, or a white garment, we will, at first, consider them as so many different things, but will soon learn to select whiteness from all. Again, we find whiteness to be only a speciesof colour, and that all colours are but modifications of light.
The qualities of the mind, as well as those of actions. may, likewise, be classified. All those which are agreeable come under the denomination of good, and all those which are disagreeable under the denomination of bud, whatever may be the peculiar mode of agreeableness or disagreeableness. In like manner, all mediums are called virtues, and all excesses vices.
refer it to its proper place in the order of things. Hence, experience becomes useful, and knowledge is rendered valuable; and, in this manner, the past becomes a rule for the future.
Yet nothing is more certain than that experience may be possessed without wisdom, and learning without ability. Travellers are not always wise; " neither do the aged understand judgment." A person may, in fact, pass through all the gradations of schools and seminaries with but a very slender acquisition of ideas, or with ideas devoid of selection and connection. How often do we see men load their memories with facts and circumstances, with dates and names, without inference or conclusion! and how often do we find learning consist in the servile repetition of the opinions of another, without the consciousness of understanding in the person who adopts them!
Mental improvement is not gained by experience, but by thinking. The improvement of the mind depends upon its activity; is subsequent to experience and information, and is accomplished merely by comparing ideas. Without previous thought, any attempt at reasoning must be vain. When a person endeavours to discuss what he has not considered, he discovers many exceptions, conditions, and modifications which he had overlooked, and lays himself open to a multitude of corrections and exposures. Even let his acquaintance with things be ever so general, the acquisitions of his understanding, if he has seen without reflecting, or read without digesting, cannot be great.
It is not in accumulating in disorder and confusion, but in assembling with discrimination; in subdividing and combining; in separating and uniting; in multiplying distinctions, and extending connections; in which the perfection of know-' ledge consists.
All mental excellence is, indeed, founded on experience; of which there are two kinds; the first derived from the ohservation of nature, the second from reading. The latter is that which chiefly furnishes the materials of wisdom; but both become our own merely by the transmutations of reflection. Besides knowledge and learning, an exertion of the under standing is necessary to compare ideas, and contrast opinions; to adjust experience, and moc'ify the notions of others accord
ing to the standard of our own judgment. By contemplating that information which we receive from reading, new distinctions are traced and associations formed, suitable to every occasion; and, by revolving in our minds those ideas furnished by outward objects, they assume a shape and polish which they had not already attained. Almost every excellence and beauty which occasion draws forth, previously exist in the mind. For, even the readiest replies, the most unexpected instances of wit, and the acutest remarks, are, for the most part, but recollections and applications of wisdom formerly acquired; although, certainly, they are sometimes suggested by the moment, and no less new to their author than to others.
The effect of classification is always distinctness; which is the greatest attainment of the mind, and the ultimate object of both remote research and minute investigation. From it, is derived all readiness of combination, all strength of reasoning, and force of argument. As words always correspond with thoughts, it is also the origin of conciseness and energy of expression. Locke and Demosthenes are not more remarkable for the force of their language, than for the distinctness of their ideas.*
Simplicity of conception is an excellence from which all others, undoubtedly, flow. With clear ideas, it is easy to decide; to group images, and form complications of qualities; to compose pictures, and extend delineations.
To possess capacity is, in fact, only to understand things. As general ideas are acquired, talents are uniformly multiplied. After our view is far extended, if an object be presented to the imagination, all others rise up which have the smallest connection with it. Hence, wit and wisdom are gerated; hence the mind is rendered prompt and decisive, and prepared for every contingency.
Classification, indeed, ultimately resolves itself into abstraction, by which an essence is, as it were, drawn from things, or a wide range of ideas reduced to a small focus; and its advantage refers to the limited nature of the mind.
* Strong language (as it is called), without strong ideas, is merely vulgarity.