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nal oojects, the suggestions of memory, and the discovery of the most closely connected and obvious relations. They never push their inquiries beyond a narrow circle, nor carry their reasonings further than the simplest steps. No lightning glances ever disclose to them the distant connexions, nor long trains of ratiocination conduct them to the remote conclusions of abstract knowledge.
This power, however, like all others, is susceptible of invigoration by exercise and culture. The diversities in its strength which are ultimately seen in different minds, are the result doubtless in a large degree, of its neglect or cultivation, and the energy and rapidity with which it acts, correspond probably, in a great measure, to the knowledge with which the mind is furnished, or the number and variety of the related truths with which it is familiar. The will seems, indeed, to be passive in regard to its agency, except so far as an effort of attention is requisite in order to its acting. One thought suggests another; the perception of one truth calls up a whole class of associated relations; and the mind is in that manner carried forward from object to object, till it has traversed the whole circle of connexions and resemblances; and to acquire the power and form the habit of thus maintaining attention to objects fixedly and intently, till full opportunity is enjoyed for all related truths and subjects to present themselves, and the whole power of association to become exhausted, is one of the happiest attainments in mental discipline. The secret of efficient investigation lies in thus fully exploring the field, before fixing on ultimate conclusions; in place of relapsing into inaction, after gaining a few glimpses of truth, or yielding to specious assumptions, without tracing them to their legitimate results. This attribute thus both presents
the chief excitements to knowledge, and is the instrument of its attainment. It is the source of all discoveries in abstract science, and progress in useful and ornamental arts. It forms the ground of the peculiar powers of the mathematician, the poet, the logician, and the orator, and gives birth to every adaptation of means to ends, and every contrivance of systems of agency, for the achievement of complicated results. It lies at the foundation likewise of religion, as it is on the perception of the relations of subjects to rulers, of laws to rights, and actions to happiness, that the feeling of obligation depends, and the operations of conscience proceed.
This power was possessed and cultivated in a superior degree by Mr. Evarts. His clear and well defined perceptions, eminently tenacious memory, and vigorous capacity for fixed and patient attention, happily qualified him for investigation and reasoning. Comparison, induction and generalization, were the congenial and spontaneous processes of his mind, and the acquisition of new ideas was thence the natural and almost inevitable consequence of his attention to objects. It is in this, doubtless, that the ground is seen of the facility with which he made himself master of the subjects which he attempted to investigate; the perspicuity, force, methodical arrangement, and logical accuracy, which mark his compositions; the success with which he treated alike the practical and abstract questions which his station called him to consider; and the skillful adaptation of means to ends, the sound sense and practical wisdom which characterized his conversation, writings, and agency at large.
III. Another characteristic for which he was distinguished, was the habit of founding his opinions on facts, and mak
ing his decisions the results of investigation: a most essential element in impartiality and independence of thought; but which unhappily is very far from being inseparably an attendant of superior quickness in the perceptions of relations.
In some minds the power of association or facility in perceiving connexions and resemblances, seems to lead to erroneous generalizations and the formation of artificial and baseless hypotheses, and consequently to obstruct and circumscribe, in place of facilitating their progress in knowledge. The history of theology, as well as philosophy, presents a multitude of melancholy verifications of this remark. The errors in each, indeed, essentially consist in, or spring from false views of the relations of objects, or the connexions of effects with their causes, and are founded accordingly on mere assumptions or conjectures, instead of facts. To the formation, however, of habits of safe and just thought, and correct and useful reasoning, it is indispensable that facts should be made the sole guides of opinions, and knowledge the foundation of determinations and judgments. And obviously in order to this, the mind must be disciplined to a prompt and spontaneous submission to evidence. To some, however, if we are to judge from their history, this is very far from being an easy, or grateful task. To welcome the access of truth, whatever may be its relations to their favorite views; spontaneously to relinquish opinions at the call of demonstration; to stand unresisting and willing spectators of the subversion of their theories when shown to be false and pernicious, and thus gladly to move on with the progress of light, is, it would seem, one of the most difficult, distressing, and impossible processes which they can be called to undergo. The dogmas and systems of thought
which they have struck out, or endeavoured to sustain, they regard as a portion of themselves, and most intimately involving their being and character, and accordingly adhere to them as tenaciously as to life, and sacrifice, not unfrequently for their support, what should be infinitely dearer, their reputation for candor, integrity and discernment. It would be incompatible, in their judgment, with dignity, to become pupils to experience, or receive instruction from their fellow-men. It would be to acknowledge that they are not infallible, to recall or modify any of their doctrines; and detract from their reputation to grow any wiser. Their schemes, therefore, because they are theirs, are to be adhered to at all events, however false, ridiculous, or hurtful they may be, or whatever may be the consequences to truth and the interests of their fellow-men. The weakness and wickedness of thus making it a matter of honor, incorrigibly to grope in darkness amidst the blaze of noon-day, is the deepest disgrace to which minds of any pretensions to superiority can degrade themselves, and constitute a total disqualification for stations of influence. They proceed on the assumption, that they have in fact explored the whole field of truth, discovered all its possible relations, and advanced to the ultimate limits of human knowledge, and that accordingly all differing or additional light is to be rejected, as false and deceptive. Those, however, who consider the brief period of our being here, the fact that we so frequently err in our apprehensions even of those topics with which our familiarity ought to render us the best acquainted, and that we are incessantly and almost necessarily advancing our discoveries, and enlarging our knowledge on every subject that falls under our habitual notice, will feel but little inclined to adopt such assumptions. In the infi
nite periods of existence, experience and observation through which we are hereafter to pass, it is impossible to believe that perpetual and immense accessions are not to be made to our knowledge; and that even of those subjects of which we have already attained the most adequate views, our apprehensions are not to be still further enlarged and advanced in intensity. It is clearly the part, therefore, of wisdom, to maintain the attitude of learners in regard to every subject, gladly to welcome every new accession of light, and spontaneously and conscientiously to submit ourselves to the guidance of evidence. It is one of the most peculiar and noblest characteristics of an enlarged and upright mind, to subject itself to the habit of thus instinctively yielding to the sway of truth, to constitute by its modes of reasoning and judging, a moral incapability of resisting the light of demonstration, to keep its conclusions and generalizations subject to the control of evidence, and instantly to yield them up without reluctance or regret, when the foundations on which they were erected are shown to be inadequate or unsubstantial. He who has thus gained a mastery over his spirit, taught his powers their proper office, and accustomed them to fulfil their duty, has secured a certainty of a rapid progress in wisdom. The worst obstacles to his advancement are broken down on the one hand, and the strongest safe-guards reared on the other, against his being betrayed into the rejection of truths which have already gained his assent. He has placed himself in a position in which the universe at large becomes his teacher, and all the objects by which he is surrounded, and influences that act on him, are rendered channels to him of fresh information.
This was pre-eminently the character of Mr. Evarts. Regarding himself as destined to an interminable career of ex