"And reflecting on what is transacted within us, it seems to me a very diverting Scene to think when we strive to recollect something that does not then occur; how nimbly those volatil Messengers of ours will beat through all the Paths, and hunt every Enclosure of the Organ set aside for thinking, in quest of the Images we want, and when we have forgot a Word or Sentence, which yet we are sure the great Treasury of Images received our Memory has once been charged with, we may almost feel how some of the Spirits flying through all the Mazes and Meanders rommage the whole substance of the Brain; whilst others ferret themselves into the inmost recesses of it with so much eagerness and labour, that the difficulty they meet with some times makes us uneasie, and they often bewilder themselves in their search, till at last they light by chance on the Image that contains what they look'd for, or else dragging it, as it were, by piece-meals from the dark Caverns of oblivion, represent what they can find of it to our Imagination."

— Mandeville, Bernard (bap. 1670, d. 1733)


Place of Publication
London
Publisher
Printed and Sold by Dryden Leach
Date
1711
Metaphor
"And reflecting on what is transacted within us, it seems to me a very diverting Scene to think when we strive to recollect something that does not then occur; how nimbly those volatil Messengers of ours will beat through all the Paths, and hunt every Enclosure of the Organ set aside for thinking, in quest of the Images we want, and when we have forgot a Word or Sentence, which yet we are sure the great Treasury of Images received our Memory has once been charged with, we may almost feel how some of the Spirits flying through all the Mazes and Meanders rommage the whole substance of the Brain; whilst others ferret themselves into the inmost recesses of it with so much eagerness and labour, that the difficulty they meet with some times makes us uneasie, and they often bewilder themselves in their search, till at last they light by chance on the Image that contains what they look'd for, or else dragging it, as it were, by piece-meals from the dark Caverns of oblivion, represent what they can find of it to our Imagination."
Metaphor in Context
Misom
Then you would have this variously disposing of the Images to be the work of the Spirits, that act under the Soul, as so many Labourers under some great Architect.

Phil.
I would so: And reflecting on what is transacted within us, it seems to me a very diverting Scene to think when we strive to recollect something that does not then occur; how nimbly those volatil Messengers of ours will beat through all the Paths, and hunt every Enclosure of the Organ set aside for thinking, in quest of the Images we want, and when we have forgot a Word or Sentence, which yet we are sure the great Treasury of Images received our Memory has once been charged with, we may almost feel how some of the Spirits flying through all the Mazes and Meanders rommage the whole substance of the Brain; whilst others ferret themselves into the inmost recesses of it with so much eagerness and labour, that the difficulty they meet with some times makes us uneasie, and they often bewilder themselves in their search, till at last they light by chance on the Image that contains what they look'd for, or else dragging it, as it were, by piece-meals from the dark Caverns of oblivion, represent what they can find of it to our Imagination.
(pp. 130-1)
Provenance
Reading
Citation
5 entries in ESTC (1711, 1715, 1730).

Mandeville, Bernard. A Treatise of the Hypochondriack and Hysterick Passions vulgarly call'd Hypo in Men, and Vapours in Women; in which the Symptoms, Causes, and Cure or Those Diseases are Set Forth after a Method entirely New (London: Printed and Sold by D. Leach, 1711). <Link to ECCO>
Theme
Animal Spirits
Date of Entry
04/10/2012

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