Page:EB1911 - Volume 02.djvu/928

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
880
ATTENTION—ATTERBURY

if the evidence so warrants, be found guilty only of the attempt, provided that it too is a misdemeanour.

ATTENTION (from Lat. ad-tendo, await, expect; the condition of being “stretched” or “tense”), in psychology, the concentration of consciousness upon a definite object or objects. The result is brought about, not by effecting any change in the perceptions themselves, but simply by isolating them from other objects. Since all consciousness involves this isolation, attention may be defined generally as the necessary condition of consciousness. Such a definition, however, throws no light upon the nature of the psychological process, which is partly explained by the general law that the greater the number of objects on which attention is concentrated the less will each receive (“pluribus intentus, minor est ad singula sensus”), and conversely. There are also special circumstances which determine the amount of attention, e.g. influences not subject to the will, such as the vividness of the impression (e.g. in the case of a shock), strong change in pleasurable or painful sensations. Secondly, an exercise of volition is employed in fixing the mind upon a definite object. This is a purely voluntary act, which can be strengthened by habit and is variable in different individuals; to it the name “attention” is sometimes restricted. The distinction is expressed by the words “reflex” or “passive,” and “volitional” or “active.” It is important to notice that in every case of attention to an object, there must be in consciousness an implicit apprehension of surrounding objects from which the particular object is isolated. These objects are known as the “psychic fringe,” and are essential to the systematic unity of the attention-process. Attempts have been made to examine the attention-process from the physiological standpoint by investigating the muscular and neural changes which accompany it, and even to assign to it a specific local centre. It has, for example, been remarked that uniformity of environment, resulting in practically automatic activity, produces mental equilibrium and the comparative disappearance of attention-processes; whereas the necessity of adapting activity to abnormal conditions produces a comparatively high degree of attention. In other words, attention is absent where there is uniformity of activity in accordance with uniform, or uniformly changing, environment. In spite of the progress made in this branch of study, it has to be remembered that all psycho-physical experiments are to some extent vitiated by the fact that the phenomena can scarcely remain normal under inspection.

See G. F. Stout, Analytic Psychology (London, 1896), especially part ii. chap. 2; also Psychology, Brain, &c.

ATTERBOM, PER DANIEL AMADEUS (1790-1855), Swedish poet, son of a country parson, was born in the province of Östergötland on the 19th of January 1790. He studied in the university of Upsala from 1805 to 1815, and became professor of philosophy there in 1828. He was the first great poet of the romantic movement which, inaugurated by the critical work of Lorenzo Hammersköld, was to revolutionize Swedish literature. In 1807, when in his seventeenth year, he founded at Upsala an artistic society, called the Aurora League, the members of which included V. F. Palmblad, A. A. Grafström (d. 1870), Samuel Hedborn (d. 1849), and other youths whose names were destined to take a foremost rank in the literature of their generation. Their first newspaper, Polyfem, was a crude effort, soon abandoned, but in 1810 there began to appear a journal, Fosforos, edited by Atterbom, which lasted for three years and finds a place in classic Swedish literature. It consisted entirely of poetry and aesthetico-polemical essays; it introduced the study of the newly arisen Romantic school of Germany, and formed a vehicle for the early works, not of Atterbom only, but of Hammersköld, Dahlgren, Palmblad and others. Later, the members of the Aurora League established the Poetisk Kalender (1812-1822), in which their poems appeared, and a new critical organ, Svensk Litteraturtidning (1813-1824). Among Atterbom’s independent works the most celebrated is Lycksalighetens Ö (The Fortunate Island), a romantic drama of extraordinary beauty, published in 1823. Before this he had published a cycle of lyrics, Blommorna (The Flowers), of a mystical character, somewhat in the manner of Novalis. Of a dramatized fairy tale, Fågel blå (The Blue Bird), only a fragment, which is among the most exquisite of his writings, is preserved. As a purely lyrical poet he has not been excelled in Sweden, but his more ambitious works are injured by his weakness for allegory and symbolism, and his consistent adoption of the mannerisms of Tieck and Novalis. In his later years he became less violent in literary controversy. He became in 1835 professor of aesthetics and literature at Upsala, and four years later he was admitted to the Swedish Academy. He died on the 21st of July 1855. His Svenska Siare och Skalder (6 vols., 1841-1855, supplement, 1864) consists of a series of biographies of Swedish poets and men of letters, which forms a valuable history of Swedish letters down to the end of the “classical” period. Atterbom’s works were collected (13 vols., Örebro) in 1854-1870.

ATTERBURY, FRANCIS (1662-1732), English man of letters, politician and bishop, was born in the year 1662, at Milton or Middleton Keynes in Buckinghamshire, a parish of which his father was rector. He was educated at Westminster school and at Christ Church, Oxford, where he became a tutor. In 1682 he published a translation of Absalom and Ahithophel into Latin verse; but neither the style nor the versification was that of the Augustan age. In English composition he succeeded much better. In 1687 he published An Answer to some Considerations on the Spirit of Martin Luther and the Original of the Reformation, a reply to Obadiah Walker, who, elected master of University College in 1676, had printed in a press set up by him there an attack on the Reformation, written by Abraham Woodhead. Atterbury’s treatise, though highly praised by Bishop Burnet, is perhaps more distinguished for the vigour of his rhetoric than for the soundness of his arguments, and the Papists were so much galled by his sarcasms and invectives that they accused him of treason, and of having, by implication, called King James a Judas.

After the Revolution, Atterbury, though bred in the doctrines of non-resistance and passive obedience, readily swore fealty to the new government. He had taken holy orders in 1687, preached occasionally in London with an eloquence which raised his reputation, and was soon appointed one of the royal chaplains. But he ordinarily resided at Oxford, where he was the chief adviser and assistant of Dean Aldrich, under whom Christ Church was a stronghold of Toryism. Thus he became the inspirer of his pupil, Charles Boyle, in the attack (1698) on the Whig scholar, Richard Bentley (q.v.), arising out of Bentley’s impugnment of the genuineness of the Epistles of Phalaris. He was figured by Swift in the Battle of the Books as the Apollo who directed the fight, and was, no doubt, largely the author of Boyle’s essay. Bentley spent two years in preparing his famous reply, which proved not only that the letters ascribed to Phalaris were spurious, but that all Atterbury’s wit, eloquence and skill in controversial fence was only a cloak for an audacious pretence of scholarship.

Atterbury was soon occupied, however, in a dispute about matters still more important and exciting. The rage of religious factions was extreme. High Church and Low Church divided the nation. The great majority of the clergy were on the High Church side; the majority of King William’s bishops were inclined to latitudinarianism. In 1700 Convocation, of which the lower house was overwhelmingly Tory, had not been suffered to meet for ten years. This produced a lively controversy, into which Atterbury threw himself with characteristic energy, publishing a series of treatises written with much wit, audacity and acrimony. By the mass of the clergy he was regarded as the most intrepid champion that had ever defended their rights against the oligarchy of Erastian prelates. In 1701 he was rewarded with the archdeaconry of Totnes and a prebend in Exeter cathedral. The lower house of Convocation voted him thanks for his services; the university of Oxford created him a doctor of divinity; and in 1704, soon after the accession of Anne, while the Tories still had the chief weight in the government, he was promoted to the deanery of Carlisle.

Soon after he had obtained this preferment the Whig party