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as it is from any point of view, must give precedence to the training of the will. Without a well-trained will at the helm, the life of every human being must drift aimlessly and helplessly, the sport of the capricious winds of impulse and passion that beat upon it. Surely, as Hinsdale said, if there is a will, a power of active volitional attention, its cultivation is the “educational problem.” As Dr. Carpenter puts it,' “it is in virtue of the will that we are not mere thinking automata, mere puppets to be pulled by suggesting strings capable of being played upon by every one who shall have made himself master of our springs of action.” Naturally, in the opinion of the same author, the acquirement of the “volitional direction of attention
should be the primary object of all mental discipline.” As the Herbartians, who do not believe in the existence of the will, contend that the primary object of education is the cultivation of interest, since it is the sole spring of action, so those who agree with Dr. Carpenter must believe in the preëminent importance of that power which alone distinguishes a man from an automaton.
Consequences of the Theory. - The difference between
the mind as the writer conceives it and the mind as the Herbartians conceive it, is fundamental. To say, as the latter do, that there is no such thing as will, that volition is merely the passing of a desire into action, that the mind is controlled by its interests, is to say that the mind at each moment is controlled by the feelings then present to consciousness. Yesterday I had certain feelings and under their influence formed certain resolutions; what significance can they have for me to-day when the feelings are gone? Absolutely none. Yesterday the wind blew from the west and my rudderless vessel went due east ; to-day it comes fresh and driving from the north and my course must be toward the south. There is nothing in me to enable me either to make headway against it or to offer any obstacle to it. I am the helpless victim of the wind and waves.
1 Hinsdale's Art of Study, p. 141.
If there were within me a principle of action not dependent for its exercise on feelings present to consciousness, this principle might by its control over the attention arouse some feeble interest of an antagonistic sort. And if the same principle of action were of such a sort as to make it possible for it to choose between interests present to it, then I might decide to act on the weaker and pursue my course steadily in spite of the tornadoes of passion that would turn me aside from it. But if there is in me no such principle, no such rudder of the mind, so to speak, it would seem that a steady, persistent adherence to a course in the face of all obstacles, not only from moment to moment, but from hour to hour and day to day and year to year, would be impossible.
Coleridge.—The difference between the mind as we conceive it and the mind as the Herbartians conceive it may perhaps be more clearly brought out by a study of Coleridge. All who knew him well agree that the great defect of his mind was his weakness of will — weakness of the
power whose function it is to make an effective stand against the unimportant interests of the moment which would turn the mind away from the course it has marked out for itself. “ At the very outset of his career,” says Dr. Carpenter, “when he had found a bookseller generous enough to promise him thirty guineas for poems which he recited to him, and might have received the whole sum immediately upon delivery of the manuscript, he went on week after week begging and borrowing for his daily needs in the most humiliating manner, until he had drawn from his patron the whole of the promised purchase-money, without supplying him with a line of that poetry which he had only to write down to free himself from obligation. All accounts of Coleridge's habits of thought as manifested in his conversation agree in showing that his train of mental operations once started went on of itself, sometimes for a long distance in the original direction with a divergence into some other track, according to the consecutive suggestions of his own mind, or to new suggestions introduced into it from without." How did it happen that the train of thought going on of itself sometimes travelled for a long distance in the same direction ? It was because of the continuance of the interests that dominated it at the start, not because he had marked out for himself a goal toward which he pressed forward in spite of interests that tended to draw him away from it.
This explanation is irresistibly suggested by another incident which Dr. Carpenter mentions. A lady narrated to him the experience which she and her schoolgirl friends at Highgate used to have at the time of Coleridge's residence there. When the latter succeeded in getting one of the children to talk with him, the conversation would soon “pass into the accustomed monologue, altogether beyond the comprehension of the poor child,” who vainly endeavored to free herself that she might resume her sport. Manifestly the cause of the conversation was not determined by some preconceived end, but by the predominance of metaphysical interests with which his mind
was full and on account of which the child was entirely forgotten.
Coleridge's conversation, as Carlyle describes it, admits of no other explanation. “He began anywhere; you put some question to him, made some suggestive observation; instead of answering this, or decidedly setting out towards answer of it, he would accumulate formidable apparatus, logical swim-bladders, transcendental life-preservers and other precautionary and vehiculatory gear for setting out ; perhaps did at last get under way, but was swiftly solicited, turned aside by the glance of some radiant new game on this hand or that, into new courses. . . His talk, alas ! was distinguished, like himself, by irresolution ; it disliked to be troubled with conditions, abstinences, definite fulfilments; loved to wander at its own sweet will. talk not flowing anywhither like a river, but abounding everywhere in inextricable currents and regurgitations like a sea or lake; terribly deficient in definite goal or aim, nay, often in logical intelligibility; what you were to believe or do on any earthly or heavenly thing obstinately refusing to appear from it." His notorious lack of punctuality may be ascribed to the
Says De Quincey : “Nobody who knew him ever thought of depending upon any appointment he might make; spite of his uniformly honorable intentions, nobody attached any weight to his assurance in futuro; those who asked him to dinner or any other party, as a matter of course sent a carriage for him, and went personally or by proxy to fetch him.”
The accounts given of Coleridge's lectures are just what we would expect upon the supposition that one of his most notable traits of mind was lack of will. Says Henry
Crabb Robinson: “Accompanied Mrs. Ruth to Coleridge's lecture. In this he surpassed himself in the art of talking in a very interesting way, without speaking at all on the subject announced. According to advertisement, he was to lecture on “Romeo and Juliet' and Shakespeare's female characters. Instead of this he began with schoolflogging, in preference at least to Lancaster's mode of punishing, without pretending to find the least connection between that topic and poetry. Afterwards he remarked on the character of the age of Elizabeth and James I. as compared with that of Charles; distinguished, not very clearly, between wit and fancy; referred to the different languages of Europe; attacked the fashionable notion concerning poetic diction ; ridiculed the tautology of Johnson's line, If observation with extended view,' etc.; and warmly defended Shakespeare against the charge of impurity.” Lamb's comment was certainly to the point : “He promised a lecture on the Muse in Romeo and Juliet,' and in its place he has given us one in the manner of the Muse.” In the next lecture Coleridge managed to stick to his subject, but, as we learn from the same authority, he failed completely the third time. Tuesday we were to hear a continuation of the theme. Alas! Coleridge began with a parallel between religion and love, which, though one of his favorite themes, he did not manage successfully Romeo and Juliet were forgotten. And in the next lecture we are really to hear something of these lovers. Instead of a lecture on a definite subject, we have an unmethodical rhapsody, very delightful to you and me and only offensive from the certainty that it
may and ought to offend those who came with other expectations.” It would be hard to find a more vivid illus