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telling its own tale. What can equal the magnificence of the neck, the column upon which the head reposes ! The ample chest may denote an almost infinite strength and power. Let us call to mind the Apollo Belvidere, and the Venus de Medicis, whose very “bends are adornings.” What loftiness and awe have I seen expressed in the step of an actress, not yet deceased, when first she advanced, and came down towards the audience! I was ravished, and with difficulty kept my seat. Pass we to the mazes of the dance, the inimitable charms and picturesque beauty that may be given to the figure while still unmoved, and the ravishing grace that dwells in it during its endless changes and evolutions.
The upright figure of man produces, incidentally as it were, and by the bye, another memorable effect. Hence we derive the power of meeting in halls, and congregations, and crowded assemblies. We are found “at large, though without number," at solemn commemorations and on festive occasions. We touch each other, as the members of a gay party are accustomed to do, when they wait the stroke of an electrical machine, and the spark spreads along from man to man. It is thus that we have our feelings in common at a theatrical representation and at a public dinner, that indignation is communicated, and patriotism become irrepressible. One man can convey his sentiments in articulate speech to a thousand ; and this is the nursing mother of oratory, of public morality, of public religion, and the drama. The privilege we thus possess, we are indeed too apt to abuse ; but man is scarcely ever so magnificent and so awful, as when hundreds of human heads are assembled together, hundreds of faces lifted up to contemplate one object, and hundreds of voices uttered in the expression of one common sentiment.
But, notwithstanding the infinite beauty, the magazine of excellencies and perfections, that appertains to the human body, the mind claims, and justly claims, an undoubted superiority. I am not going into an enumeration of the yarious faculties and endowments of the mind of man, as I have done of his body. The latter was necessary for my purpose. Before I proceeded to consider the ascendancy of mind, the dominion and loftiness it is accustomed to assert, it appeared but just to recollect what was the nature and value of its subject and its slave.
By the mind we understand that within us which feels and thinks, the seat of sensation and reason. Where it resides we cannot tell, nor can authoritatively pronounce, as the apostle says, relatively to a particular phenomenon, “whether it is in the body, or out of the body.” Be it however where or what it may, it is this which constitutes the great essence of, and gives value to, our existence; and all the wonders of our microcosm would without it be a form only, destined immediately to perish,
and of no greater account than as a clod of the valley.
It was an important remark, suggested to me many years ago by an eminent physiologer and anatomist, that, when I find my attention called to any particular part or member of my body, I may be morally sure that there is something amiss in the processes of that part or member. As long as the whole economy of the frame goes on well and without interruption, our attention is not called to it. The intellectual man is like a disembodied spirit. He is almost in the state of the dervise in the Arabian Nights, who had the power of darting his soul into the unanimated body of another, human or brute, while he left his own body in the condition of an insensible carcase, till it should be revivified by the same or some other spirit. When I am, as it is vulgarly understood, in a state of motion, I use my limbs as the implements of my will. When, in a quiescent state of the body, I continue to think, to reflect and to reason, I use, it may be, the substance of the brain as the implement of my thinking, reflecting and reasoning ; though of this in fact we know nothing.
We have every reason to believe that the mind cannot subsist without the body; at least we must be very
different creatures from what we are at present, when that shall take place. For a man to think, agreeably and with serenity, he must be in some degree of health. The corpus sanum is no less indispensible than the mens sana. We must eat, and drink, and sleep. We must have a reasonably good appetite and digestion, and a fitting temperature, neither too hot nor cold. It is desirable that we should have air and exercise. But this is instrumental merely. All these things are negatives, conditions without which we cannot think to the best purpose,
but which lend no active assistance to our thinking
Man is a godlike being. We launch ourselves in conceit into illimitable space, and take up our rest beyond the fixed stars. We proceed without impediment from country to country, and from century to century, through all the ages of the past, and through the vast creation of the imaginable future. We spurn at the bounds of time and space; nor would the thought be less futile that imagines to imprison the mind within the limits of the body, than the attempt of the booby clown who is said within a thick hedge to have plotted to shut in the flight of an eagle.
We never find our attention called to any particular part or member of the body, except when there is somewhat amiss in that part or member. And, in like manner as we do not think of any one part or member in particular, so neither do we consider our entire microcosm and frame. The body is apprehended as no more important and of intimate connection to a man engaged in a train of reflections, than the house or apartment in which he
dwells. The mind may aptly be described under the denomination of the “stranger at home.” On set occasions and at appropriate times we examine our stores, and ascertain the various commodities we have, laid up in our presses and our coffers. Like the governor of a fort in time of
peace, erected to keep out a foreign assailant, we occasionally visit our armoury, and take account of the muskets, the swords, and other implements of war it contains, but for the most part are engaged in the occupations of peace, and do not call the means of warfare in any sort to our recollection.
The mind may aptly be described under the denomination of the “stranger at home.” With their bodies most men are little acquainted. We are “ like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass, who beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he is.” In the ruminations of the inner man, and the dissecting our thoughts and desires, we employ our intellectual arithmetic, we add, and subtract, and multiply, and divide, without asking the aid, without adverting to the existence, of our joints and members. Even as to the more corporeal part of our avocations, we behold the external world, and proceed straight to the object of our desires, without almost ever thinking of this medium, our own material frame, unaided by which none of these things could be accomplished. In this sense we may properly be said to be spiritual existences,