"The vulgar have not the power of emptying their mind of the only ideas they imbibed whilst their hands were employed; they cannot quickly turn from one kind of life to another."

— Wollstonecraft, Mary (1759-1797)


Place of Publication
London
Publisher
Joseph Johnson
Date
December 1790
Metaphor
"The vulgar have not the power of emptying their mind of the only ideas they imbibed whilst their hands were employed; they cannot quickly turn from one kind of life to another."
Metaphor in Context
It would be straying still further into metaphysics to add, that this is one of the strongest arguments for the natural immortality of the soul. – Every thing looks like a means, nothing like an end, or point of rest, when we can say, now let us sit down and enjoy the present moment; our faculties and wishes are proportioned to the present scene; we may return without repining to our sister clod. And, if no conscious dignity whisper that we are capable of relishing more refined pleasures, the thirst of truth appears to be allayed; and thought, the faint type of an immaterial energy, no longer bounding it knows not where, is confined to the tenement that affords it sufficient variety .– The rich man may then thank his God that he is not like other men – but when is retribution to be made to the miserable, who cry day and night for help, and there is no one at hand to help them? And not only misery but immorality proceeds from this stretch of arbitrary authority. The vulgar have not the power of emptying their mind of the only ideas they imbibed whilst their hands were employed; they cannot quickly turn from one kind of life to another. Pressing them entirely unhinges their minds; they acquire new habits, and cannot return to their old occupations with their former readiness; consequently they fall into idleness, drunkenness, and the whole train of vices which you stigmatise as gross.
(pp. 46-7)
Provenance
Reading
Citation
First edition appears in December of 1790. Second edition, with MW's name on the cover, published December 14. 2 entries in ESTC (1790).

Reading The Vindications. eds. D. L. Macdonald and Kathleen Scherf. (Toronto: Broadview Press, 2001). [Based on the 2nd ed.] See also edition at the Online Library of Liberty <Link to OLL>.
Date of Entry
12/02/2009

The Mind is a Metaphor is authored by Brad Pasanek, Assistant Professor of English, University of Virginia.