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THE Peem begins with the description of an
obscure village, and of the pleasing melancholy which it excites on being revisited after a long ab sence. This mixed sensation is an effect of the Memory. From an effect we naturally ascend to the cause; and the subject proposed is then unfolded with an investigation of the nature and leading principles of this faculty.
It is evident that there is a continued succession of ideas in the mind, and that they introduce each other with a certain degree of regularity. Their complexion depends greatly on the different perceptions of pleasure and pain which we receive through the medium of sense; and in return, they have a2 considerable influence on the animal economy.
They are sometimes excited by sensible objects, and sometimes by an internal operation of the mind. Of the former species is most probably the memory“ of brutes; and its many sources of pleasure to them, as well as to us are considered in the first part. The
latter is the most perfect degree of memory, and forms the subject of the second.
When ideas have any relation whatever, they are attractive of each other in the mind; and the perception of any object naturally leads to the idea of another which was connected with it either in time or place, or which can be compared or contrasted with it. Hence arises our attachment to inanimate objects; hence also, in some degree, the love of our country, and the emotion with which we contemplate the celebrated scenes of antiquity. Hence a picture directs our thoughts to the original: and, as cold and darkness suggest forcibly the ideas of heat and light; he, who feels the infirmities of age, dwells most on whatever reminds him of the vigour and vivacity of his youth.
The associating principle, as here employed, is no less conducive to virtue than to happiness; and, as such, it frequently discovers itself in the most tumultuous scenes of life. It addresses our finer feelings, and gives exercise to every mild and generous propensity.
Not confined to man, it extends through all animated nature; and its effects are peculiarly striking in the domestic tribes.
With magic tints to harmonise the scene.
Still is the hum that thro' the hamlet broke,1.
When round the ruins of their ancient oak.
The peasant's flock'd to hear the minstrel play,
All, all are fled; nor mirth nor music flows,
Mark yon old Minsion, frowning thro' the trees, Whose hollow turret wooes the whistling breeze. That casement, arch'd with ivy's brownest shade, First to these eyes the light of heav'n convey'd.
The mould'ring gateway strews the grass grown
Once the calm scene of many a simple sport;
See, thro' the fractur'd pediment reveal'd
Long may the ruin spare its hallow'd guest!
As jars the hinge, what sullen echoes call!
Now stain'd with dews, with cobwebs darkly
Oft has its roof with peals of rapture rung ; ~
'Twas here we chas'd the slipper by its sound; And turn'd the blindfold hero round and round. 'Twas here, at eve, we form'd our fairy ring 3 And fancy flutter'd on her wildest wing. Giants and genii chain'd each wondering ear; And orphan-sorrows drew the ready tear.
Oft with the babes we wander'd in the wood, Or view'd the forest-feats of Robin Hood: Oft, fancy-led, at midnight's fearful hour, With startling step we scal'd the lonely tow'r ; O'er infant innocence to hang and weep, Murder'd by ruffian hands, when smiling in its sleep.
Ye Household Deities! whose guardian eye Mark'd each pure thought ere register'd on high; Still, still ye walk the consecrated ground, And breathe the soul of Inspiration round.
As o'er the dusky furniture I bend,