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of literary Journals in every part of Europe has greatly increased within the last fifty years, their plans have been much improved, and their circulation prodigiously extended; learned individuals and societies now maintain a more free and friendly correspondence than formerly; the great improvements in Post-office establishments, within this period, have facilitated, to an unparalleled degree, the intercourse between distant parts of the earth; foreigners of distinction are more frequently elected members of academies and other associations of a similar kind; Commerce, as its channels became multiplied and enlarged, furnished, at once, a convenient medium, and strong incentives to literary intercourse; the great increase in the practice of translating respectable works into all polished languages, has also served to render books of value, and their authors, more generally known:-to all

be added, that the increased frequency and extent of modern travels, have been decidedly favourable to the correspondence of learned men, and to a knowledge of the works and characters of one another.

which may

Such is an imperfect outline of the literary and scientific character of the century to which we have just bidden adieu. The picture is necessarily extensive and various; and the features, however unskilfully sketched, are presented with sufficient accuracy to show that they are striking, and worthy of more minute examination. They are not, indeed, all calculated to give pleasure to the benevolent mind: some are distorted and disgusting, and a few heavy and uninteresting; but a much greater number are at once strong, highly illuminated, and pre-eminently engaging. If these be mingled, as in most pictures that are drawn true to nature, it is presumed that, in the present instance, the agreeable features predominate in a greater degree than in any

o To illustrate this remark, two or three facts will be stated with regard to a single post-office establishment. In 1728 the London post arrived one day at Edinburgh with only one six-penny London letter, and that was addressed to the Post-Master-General on office business. The arrival of the post was then only once a fortnight; now it is six times a week. The post then employed ten days in travelling from London to Edinburgh; now it employs only three. Then the mail produced no revenue or nett profit to government, but was rather a continual charge; but the revenue of the post-office in Scotland, for the year ending in April, 1802, was £ 85,791 11s. 3d. sterling, or about 300,000 dollars. A corresponding increase in commercial and literary intercourse has taken place in the same period, in almost every cultivated part of the world,

delineation of a former period of similar extent.

Those, therefore, who have witnessed the close of the century under review, have indeed reason to congratulate themselves as an highly favoured generation. Though they have been pained with the sight of some degrading retrocessions in human knowledge, and almost stunned with the noisy pretensions of false philosophy, they have seen, at the same time, improvements in science, which their fathers, a century ago, would have anticipated with astonishment, or pronounced altogether impossible. They have seen a larger portion of human society enlightened, polished, and comfortable, than ever before greeted the eye of benevolence. They have, in a word, witnessed, on the one hand, the accession of honours to science, which it could boast in no former period; and, on the other, a degree of usefulness reflected from science to economy and art, no less conspicuous and unrivalled. The lapse of another century such as the eighteenth—a century that should bring with it an equal amount of discoveries and improvements, and present an equally rapid increase in the means, and in the diffusion of knowledge, would confer an aspect on systems of science, of which we, at present, are little qualified to judge. Such a century the nineteenth is likely

to prove.

in

came.

But let none indulge the vain dream that all darkness is about to be banished from the earth, and that human nature is rapidly hastening to perfection. “When the philosophers of the seventeenth century were first congregated into tlre Royal Society, we are told that great expectations were raised of the sudden progress of useful arts. The time was supposed to be near when engines should turn by a perpetual motion, and health be secured by the universal medicine; when learning should be facilitated by a real character, and commerce extended by ships which could reach their ports defiance of the tempest. But that time never

The Society met and parted without any visible diminution of the miseries of life. The gout and stone were still painful; the ground that was not ploughed brought forth no harvest ; and neither oranges nor grapes could grow upon the hawthorn."! The same result, it may

be confidently predicted, will appear at the close of the century on which we have now entered. The advocates of the supremacy of Reason and the perfectibility of Man, at every successive retrospect of human affairs, will find themselves refuted and confounded. And though Science, slowly advancing amidst the opposing hosts of prejudice, mistaken facts, and false theories, will reach far beyond its present limits, it must ever fall short of those extravagant expectations which, founded in ignorance of human nature, and discarding the dictates of experience, cannot avoid proceeding in error, and ending in disappointment.

Philosophers of the Nineteenth Century! your predecessors of the past age have bequeathed to you an immeasurable mass both of good and evil. Contemplate the labours and the progress of your

VOL. II.

3L

p Idler, vol. iiNo. 88.

fathers, and be animated in your course! Mark the mistakes of those deluded and presumptuous spirits who have misled and corrupted their species, and learn caution and wisdom from their errors ! Behold how much has been done by patient inquiry, by faithful observation, by accurate expe. riment, and by careful analysis and induction; but how little by fanciful speculation, by the dreams of hypothesis, by vain boasting, or by waging war against Nature's God! Learn to distinguish that Philosophy which is the friend of truth, the handmaid of virtue, the humble interpreter of JEHOvah's works, and the ornament of rational minds, from that ignis fatuus which shines but to deceive, and allures but to destroy. Remember that by giving yourselves up to the guidance of the latter, you can gain nothing but disappointment and shame; but that the sober, diligent, and persevering pursuit of the former is the plain and only road to those discoveries which will yet further enrich the sciences; to those improvements which will adorn life; to those practical arts which will add utility to ornament; and to that substantial advancement in knowledge which the enlightened and benevolent mind anticipates with a glow of delight.

ADDITIONAL NOTES.

NOTES ON CHAPTER XII.

Metaphysical Science not popular. p. 3. THE disposition to undervalue and neglect metaphysical science is one of the most disgraceful characteristics of the last age. The influence of this disposition is more extensive and more mischievous than is commonly imagined. It is unfavourable to strength and accuracy of reasoning; has a most pernicious effect on inorals and religion, and, consequeritly, on private and public happiness. When a man declares that he has no taste for metaphysical reading and inquiries, he pronounces a satire on his own mind; but when he ridicules those who have such a 'taste, he attempts to trample on the dignity and the happiness of his species. Such persons surely forget that some of the most important questions that interest us as men, as scholars, and as Christians, can only receive a correct solution by means of metaphysical principles.

DES CARTES. P, 3.

Renes Des CARTES was born at La Haye, in France, in 1596, and educated among the Jesuits. His doctrines concerning the human mind were first published about the year 1633, and soon began to excite much attention among the learned. For a number of years before his death he resided chiefly in Holland. Removing

Removing to Stockholm, in consequence of an invitation given to him by the Queen of Sweden, in 1649, he died there in 1650. It is universally known that the opinions taught by this great man long filled an immense space in the philosophical world,

LOCKE. p. 4.

John Locke was born at Wrington, near Bristol, in SouthBritain, in the year 1632. He was educated at the University of Oxford, which he entered in 1651, After leaving

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