"Bred to think as well as speak by rote, they furnish their minds, as they furnish their houses or cloath their bodies, with the fancies of other men, and according to the mode of the age and country."

— St John, Henry, styled first Viscount Bolingbroke (1678–1751)


Place of Publication
London
Date
1754
Metaphor
"Bred to think as well as speak by rote, they furnish their minds, as they furnish their houses or cloath their bodies, with the fancies of other men, and according to the mode of the age and country."
Metaphor in Context
Every man imagines that his ideas and notions are his own in every sense, but every man almost deceives himself in this case. When we learn the names of complex ideas and notions, we should accustom the mind to decompound them, as I believe it has been observed already, that we may verify these, and so make them our own, as well as learn to compound others. But very few are at this trouble, and the general turn of education is contrived to keep men from taking it. Bred to think as well as speak by rote, they furnish their minds, as they furnish their houses or cloath their bodies, with the fancies of other men, and according to the mode of the age and country. They pick up their ideas and notions in common conversation, or in their schools. The first are always superficial, and both are commonly false. These are defects in the first determination of our ideas and notions, and if we join to these the obstinacy and negligence that become habitual in most men, we shall find no reason to be surprized that absurd opinions are tenaciously embraced, and wildly and inconsistently defended. Uniformity of ideas in error would have, at least, this advantage: error would be more easily detected and more effectually exploded.
(Essay I, §4; vol. iii, pp. 421)
Provenance
Reading
Citation
At least 5 entries in ESTC (1754, 1777, 1793).

See "Letters or Essays Addressed to Alexander Pope, Esq." in the third volume of David Mallet's The Works of the Late Right Honorable Henry St. John, Lord Viscount Bolingbroke, 5 vols. (London : [s.n.], Printed in the Year 1754). <Link to ESTC><Link to ESTC>

Text from the third volume of The Works of the Late Right Honorable Henry St. John, Lord Viscount Bolingbroke, 5 vols. (Dublin: Printed by P. Byrne: 1793). <Link to Google Books>

Reading also in the 1967 reprint of The Works of Lord Bolingbroke, 4 vols. (London: Henry G. Bohn, 1844).
Date of Entry
03/14/2014

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