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hearing, and finally the taste and smell, these two being of the least service at an early age. Thus subjects for the exercise of thought are collected we may almost say in the cradle; images of external objects are impressed upon the mind; and infant reason, though under the influence of the senses, gives evident proofs of the commencement of its operations. As soon as the child begins to walk and to speak, he shews still greater eagerness to enlarge his stock of ideas. The young stranger wants to be made acquainted with every thing in the new world, into which he has been lately introduced; and that curiosity, the main spring of all knowledge, never quits him while he remains in it. Every step in his farther progress is marked by some fresh acquisition, some perception of the difference between truth and error, between right and wrong, between wisdom and its opposite. He becomes in time a practical logician, without knowing any thing of the theory; and his natural good sense, assisted by experience, and by the habit of examining and comparing his own ideas, will commonly enable him to judge, to decide, to argue rationally on any point within the sphere of his comprehension.
In the present state of society, however, the regularity of this process cannot be always relied upon, or waited for; and such an untaught expertness in practical logic may come too late to be of any essential service. The aid of instruction ought therefore to be called in to co-operate with the designs of Nature, to abridge her course of training, and to put young people as soon as possible upon their guard against the deceptions of others, and the still more dangerous sophistry of their own passions. But the early study of logic, though so obviously useful to every body, is of indispensible importance to the orator, whose grand aim is to convince his hearers; and who must also be qualified to detect and refute the fallacious arguments of his adversaries. He should have a clear and quick per
ception, says CICERO, of the force, the extension, and the different species of words, as they stand singly, or connected with sentences: he should likewise be acquainted with the various modes and forms, in which any conception of the mind may be expressed; with the methods of distinguishing a true proposition from a false one; with the different conclusions which result from different premises; with the true consequences and opposites to any given proposition; and, if an argument is embarrassed by ambiguities, he should know how to unravel each of them by an accurate distinction *. To these qualifications his attention will be directed in the study of logic.
After all, the great difficulty does not consist in proving that practical expertness in logic is a desirable or necessary accomplishment, but in pointing out an easy method by which it may be acquired. This is what I shall now attempt to do in a few remarks, ranged under. three distinct heads, in conformity to the three principal functions or operations of the mind, thinking, judging, and reasoning.
THINKING or perception is that operation of the mind, by which it becomes acquainted with every idea or image impressed upon it by external objects, or arising from its own reflections. All our ideas are at first received through the medium of the senses, the sight, the hearing, the touch, the taste, the smell; and in their original state simple representations of the qualities of objects, as they happen to be big or little, round or square, black or white, loud or low, hard or soft, sweet or bitter, fetid or fragrant,
Orator ad Brutum,
&c. But these representations soon become blended, and from what are called complex ideas, made out of two or more simple ones, and attached to the objects of which they form the mental picture or image. Thus the child's rattle strikes his eye by its figure, and his ear by its sound, and makes upon the mind a complicated impression, em-. bracing those two different ideas; to which are afterwards added ideas of its color, of the smoothness of its surface, and of the pleasure it affords, accompanied with a desire of enjoying that gratification. Here we perceive how soon our primary ideas not only mix with one another, but are associated also with a new set of ideas produced by the feelings and operations of the mind and will, which are as distinct and impressive as those that we receive through the medium of the external senses.
As the ideas thus derived from various sources constitute the materials of all reasoning, it is of the utmost consequence to acquire very early the habit of increasing our stock, but at the same time taking care that our ideas be as clear as possible, free from obscurity or confusion, duly prepared for the exercise of our rational faculties, and of course for the discovery of truth and knowledge.
An attentive survey of Nature, and a careful perusal of the writings of those who have given us the best descriptions of her works, are the surest and most agreeable means of enriching the stores of the mind. In these first attempts, Logic does nothing more than enjoin a strict attention to perspicuity, precision, and methodical arrangement. The most essential quality of every thought or idea is that it should be clear: otherwise it cannot afford a striking image of the object which it is designed to represent. The picture must also be exact, neither more nor less than the original; and distinct, so as to mark its peculiarities, and keep it separate from other objects that
surround it. Frequent and careful comparison can alone determine the accuracy of the resemblance.
With regard to the arrangement of ideas, they must be reduced to different classes, and have different names assigned them, in order to prevent the confusion that would otherwise arise from their number and variety. We should also attend to the like exactness in the choice of proper words to express each idea with the same clearness, precision, and force that is conceived in the mind. Most of the controversies that take place in the world are owing to ignorance or negligence in this respect: they are more frequently disputes about words than about things; and a simple definition would often settle the difference.
All the points here lightly touched upon will be found ⚫ discussed at full length in LOCKE's Essay on the Human Understanding, to which inestimable work the attention of the student must be directed as soon as his age, capacity, and some little previous instruction qualify him for the attempt.
But as many of my readers may smile at my recommending so much pains and labor in an Introduction to the art of thinking, I shall avail myself of the authority of an ingenious writer, Mr. MELMOTH, who has placed in a very just light the uncommonness of such an accomplishment, and the evils arising from the neglect of it. "There is not a more singular character in the world," he says, "than that of a thinking man. It is not merely having a succession of ideas, which lightly skim over the mind, that can with any propriety be styled by that denomination. It is observing them separately and distinctly, and ranging them under their respective classes: it is calmly and steadily viewing our opinions on every side, and resolutely tracing them through all their consequences and connections, that constitutes the man of reflection, and distinguishes reason from fancy. Providence, indeed, does not seem to have formed any very considerable num
ber of our species for an extensive exercise of this higher faculty; as the thoughts of the far greater part of mankind are necessarily restrained within the ordinary purposes of animal life but even if we look up to those who move in much superior orbits, and who have opportunities to improve, as well as leisure to exercise their understandings, we shall find that thinking is one of the last exerted privileges of cultivated humanity. It is, indeed, an operation of the mind which meets with many obstructions to check its just and free direction; but there are two principles, which prevail more or less in the constitutions of most men, that particularly contribute to keep this faculty of the soul unemployed; I mean pride and indolence. To descend to truth through the tedious progression of wellexamined deductions, is considered as a reproach to the quickness of understanding; as it is by much too laborious a method for any but those who are possessed of a vigorous and resolute activity of mind. For this reason, the greater part of our species generally choose either to seize upon their conclusions at once, or to take them by rebound from others, as best suiting with their vanity or their laziness. Accordingly, Mr. LOCKE observes, that there are not so many errors and wrong opinions in the world as is generally imagined. Not that he thinks mankind are by any means uniform in embracing truth; but because the majority of them, he maintains, have no thought or opinion at all about those doctrines concerning which they raise the greatest clamor. Like the common soldiers in an army, they follow where their leaders direct, without knowing, or even inquiring into the cause for which they so warmly contend.
"This will account for the slow steps by which truth has advanced in the world on one side, and for those absurd systems which, at different periods, have had an universal currency on the other. For there is a strange disposition in human nature, either blindly to tread the same