« PreviousContinue »
A N A L Y SI S
The Memory has hitherto acted only in fubfer
vience to the senses, and so far man is not emi
nently distinguished from other animals : but, with
respect to man, she has a higher province; and is
often busily employed, when excited by no external
She preserves, for his use, the
treasures of art and science, history and philoso.
phy. She colours all the prospects of life: for
we can only anticipate the future, by conclud
ing what is possible from what is past.'
her agency depends every effufion of the Fancy,
whose boldest effort can only compound or trans
pose, augment or diminish the materials which she
has collected and retained.
When the first emotions of despair have subsided,
and sorrow has softened into melancholy, she
amuses with a retrospect of innocent pleasures,
and inspires that noble confidence which results
from the consciousness of having acted well.
When fleep has fupended the organs of sense
from their office, she not only supplies the mind
with images, but assists in their combination.
And even in madness itself, when the foul is
resigned over to the tyranny of a distempered
imagination, she revives past perceptions, and awakens the train of thought which was formerly
Nor are we pleased only with a review of the
brighter passages of life; events, the most distress
ing in their immediate consequences, are often
cherished in remembrance with a degree of en
But the world and its occupations give a mecha
nical impulse to the passions, which is not very
favourable to the indulgence of this feeling. It is
in a calm and well-regulated mind that the Memory
is most perfect; and solitude is her best sphere of
action. With this sentiment is introduced a Tale,
illustrative of her influence in solitude, sickness,
and sorrow. And the subject having now been
considered, so far as it relates to man and the
animal world, the Poem concludes with a conjec
ture, that superior beings are blest with a nobler
exercise of this faculty.