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a rational and imperishable form to Beattie, and Reid-names still among that science to which a powerful in- the most illustrious that occur in stinct had attracted the elevated curi- Scottish literature, and whose fortune osity of every age, but of which it it was to raise the philosophical fame was given to him alone to fathom all of their country to a pitch of unrivala the depths, and unfold the hitherto led eminence. impenetrable mysteries. He alone The influence and renown of Enge carried the solidity of reason into the lish philosophy were not limited to recesses of that branch of philoso- this Island. It is the privilege of this phy, which had in all former times high department of intellectual exerbeen filled with the successive but tion, that its honours are not confined perishable shadows of the imagina- to the narrow boundaries which potion.
licy, laws, and manners prescribe to The supremacy of Locke is uni- the other triumphs of learning ; but versally confessed; but there were that, transcending the limits assigned others also, to whose genius this de- to a literature purely local and popu. partment of knowledge is profoundly lar, it unites in one illustrious school indebted. The subtle but amiable all that is lofty or profound in the ge-, scepticism of Berkeley, who, in the nius of the civilized world.
The high confidence of an original and light and airy, but liberal spirit of comprehensive mind, meditated the Voltaire, perceived the grandeur of a destruction of popular infidelity, by syste which it wanted strength to expunging the material world from have constructed; and with a noble the catalogue of philosophical realities, surrender of national prejudice, this gave an impulse, in spite of its start- singular man descended to the humling extravagance, to the spirit of in- ble toil of familiarising the philosophy tellectual philosophy, such as a great of England to the nations of the conand inventive genius can alone im- tinent. He made his universal lanpart. His theory, derided by wits guage the instrument of expounding, and stared at by the vulgar, in equal in a popular form, the sublime system ignorance of its aim, was admired by of Newton; with the armour of his philosophers for the depth, subtlety, wit he covered the name of Locke and vigour of understanding which it from the assaults of scholastic pedandisplayed, and the bold and original try and envenomed dulness; he spread cast of thought which this amiable throughout Europe the philosophical and enlightened ecclesiastic pre-emine reputation of England, and gave, even ently discovered.
to the name of philosopher, a high deThe philosophical spirit which pre- gree of popular estimation, by the zeal dominated in England, and which with which he ever vindicated it for communicated its depth and precision himself as the proudest of all his liteto the various departments of litera- rary distinctions. ture, was soon caught by the literary It thus happened, that during the men of Scotland, and followed with last century the spirit of a rational their characteristic perseverance into and profound philosophy made greater very splendid results. It was then progress throughout Europe than it that the quiet, frigid, incredulous, but had done at any former period. The subtle and profound intellect of Hume same principles of a wary and induc-attracted to the study of metaphysics tive logic-the same precision of exby the blaze of reputation which en- periment and accuracy of observation circled the philosophy of England -the same stem rejection of mere attempted to push the principles of hypothesis and gratuitous conjecture the pure and pious Locke to conclu- which had wrought so many wonders sions which would have struck their in physical science, were found no author with horror; and to construct less efficient in accelerating the proupon the foundation laid by a most gress of intellectual philosophy. The christian philosopher, a splendid and effects of the magnificent system imposing fabric of philosophical scep- which the genius of Bacon had creatticism. The road, to literary distinc- ed, and of the fresh impulse which tion, thus trodden by this eminent the progress of events had commuapostle of unbelief, was pursued, nicated to the human mind, were though with very different feelings, not limited to that profound and inand far other views, by Campbell, teresting science which treats of the
intellectual laws and faculties, for that cognised; and the result was not only capacity and love of abstract specula- a vast accession to the neglected protion-of comprehensive and philoso- vince of moral and intellectual philophical reasoning-which had become sophy, to which the works of Locke, the prominent feature of the literature and Montesquien, and Smith, and of the age, expanded itself through Hume, and Reid, bear ample testievery branch of moral and political mony, but the formation of a loftier science leading original and inquisi– and more philosophical cast of thinke tive minds to ascend from the humble ing throughout all the instructed level of a narrow and contracted ex. classes of society, which is yet visible perience to the lofty region of princi« in the general state of opinion, and ple--and to subdue the coarse resist even in the most ordinary efforts of ance of vulgar prejudice, before the literary composition. The humblest spirit of a predominating reason. of them all now breathes an affecta. Happy had it been for mankind if tion, at least, of general principle, and baser spirits had never interposed in a disdain of vulgar prejudice, such as this high intellectual cause, to disturb could have been generated only in the and disgust the world by contamina- triumph of a profound and rational ting the oracles of truth and of reason philosophy. with the blasphemies of atheism and It is true there was a coldness in the atrocities of revolution.
this system-a sternness of abstracThe philosophy of the modern tion which a vigorous intellect alone school is the philosophy of reason, not could sustain ; it spoke neither to the that of imagination.' Hostile alike to imagination nor the heart, and prethe seductive dreams of fancy and the sented no other charm, but the subpresumptuous 'arrogance of system, lime and simple beauty of truth. Such and disdaining every other support are the profound and masterly discusbut the solid basis of experiment and sions of Locke, Berkeley, Smith, and observation, it aspires to raise the Reid, and of all the illustrious writers study of human nature which had who are now neglected as too subtle in all former ages been a tasteless age and frigid for the impassioned characgregate of insulated facts, and fascin- ter of the age. ating but unsatisfactory visions—to It must be owned, indeed, that the the dignity of a science. The sub- tendency of this cold and vigorous lime mysticism and charmed reveries system of reasoning-ambitious as it of Plato, which cast an air and aspect was inflexible penetrating, without of divinity around the aberrations of scruple, into the darkest mysteries human intellect-the ambitious, sub- connected with the origin, the conditle, and comprehensive scheme of Aris- tion, and the destinies of the species totle, which, aspiring to chain the and proud of sporting on the very universe of matter and of mind within brink of that abyss where the energy the limits of a system, lost all reality of human reason is extinguished, and in the expansion of its grasp, and re- the light of philosophy expires-was tained, in syllogistic fetters, only the but too favourable to that spirit of forms and shadows of existence--the scepticism which was the disgrace of wild visions of a speculative super- the last age. But it is on secondary stition and corrupted theology-and minds alone that modern philosophy the spirit of barren but laborious sub- produces this baneful effect. Witness tlety which usurped the honour of the profound and unshaken piety of genius during the long night of bar- Bacon, which was on a high level barian ignorance, were alike denounce with all the other elements of his ined and contemned in the bright æra tellectual greatness--with his grave of European intellect. Reason alone and awful cast of thought-with the was obeyed in the plenitude of her sobriety and majesty of his feeling and restored empire. The imperative de- comprehensive soul, which was too mands of the inductive logic were near an emanation from the Deity to scrupulously complied with the ne- forget for a moment its celestial deseessity of founding the generalizations cent. Witness also the venerable of philosophy upon a large experience, names of Locke and of Newton, to and of resting systems of knowledge whom it was not given to range over upon a wide survey of nature, was re- the universe of mind and of matter in
ignorance of the divine Author, of the ing and their creed; but if they are mighty gifts with which they were read in history, and familiar with the endųed, and of the magnificent scenes horrors which it records, that system spread out for their employment. The must be bad indeed, which shall not master spirits of every age have tow- appear to them tolerable in the comered above the seductions of scepti- parison. In the rashness and obsticism ; firm in the purity and stability nacy of their spirit of generalization, of their own character-exalted by the they will, on contemplating such privileges of a larger capacity, and a mournful records, pronounce upon the wider range of contemplation—by the irremediable depravity of the species, susceptibility of graver and loftier and repose contented in the arms of a feeling-by a clearer perception of the mild and mitigated despotism. They limits imposed by nature on the auda- expect no sudden renovation of mancity of human speculation-and a kind, -no rapid movement which deeper and more intense humility in should enable the intellect of the crowd the mingled consciousness of their to rival the velocity of their own enown gifts and frailties--they aban- lightened career. Who can, upon this doned to the minor race of cold and subject, forget the despotic prejudices contemptuous sophists the odious dis- of Hobbes, one of the greatest intinction of a daring and reckless un tellects of modern times, or the mebelief. The
progress of physical morable servility of Bacon, who, with science, and the multiplied power of a deep sense of his own intellectual matter which have been developed to omnipotence, and a lofty presage of its researches, cannot seduce their the miracles which knowledge was to calm and considerate minds into the work in after times, exemplified in his puny sophism, that matter is, there- own person, a submissive and boundfore, all-that a cold and repulsive less obedience to power, revolting even scepticism is the natural creed of an to the slavish spirit of his own fettered impassioned and aspiring soul, that age? What, again, could have roused the magnificent triumphs of human the mild and placid spirit of Newton intellect warrant a denial of its existe to resistance, or seduced it from the ence, or a doubt as to the supreme sublime harmony of the spheres to the and presiding power of that Spirit in vulgar discord of earthly turbulence whose might alone all that is great or and faction ? Locke was cast on disgood must be achieved.
tracted times he was in his person In politics, the influence of abstract the victim of persecution—he was comphilosophy was still more variable. pelled, in self-defence, to weigh the Men of great genius, wholly occupied claims of freedom against the arrogance with their own speculations, seldom of power—and to become a liberal engage with much ardour in political theorist in matters of policy, that he discussion, unless they are dragged might baffle with effect the vengeance from their beloved retirement by the of an odious despotism. Hume again, unexpected approach of persecution, or phlegmatic by nature, became slavish the arrival of some great public con by learning; he was a man of the vulsion, which sweeps every thing world, and had studied much of its within its baleful and degrading vor- history; and every page spoke so much tex. They are naturally calm and of actual tyranny, that he came at last submissive; and it must be the fault to think freedom but a dream, which of governments if they are ever roused could never be realized, but through to disturb them by their opposition. scenes of blood, from which the timiWhat to them are the petty intrigues dity of his nature recoiled. Voltaire the vulgar jealousies—the warring fac and Rousseau, persecuted by power, tions-theostentatious bustle-the pig by pedantry, and by superstition, remy magnificence of the actors or the sisted accordingly ; and the warfare fugitive importance of the ordinary once begun was perpetuated by the events which agitate and distract the pride of wit, and the quenchless enworld—compared with the grandeur thusiasm of perverted genius. of their own enduring speculations ? The passion for abstract science, If they be men of mere theory, which distinguished the last age, has strangers to the business and the cares perished before the power of that very of the world, such will be their feel- spirit which was generated by its as
buse. The bold and frequent dissec- grateful compensation. Have not some tions of the inmost frame of society, profound metaphysicians verified the which were conducted with unfaul, justice of these remarks in the history tering hand, under the auspices, and of their philosophical career? Have in the name of philosophy,—the con- they not sometimes been over-ambi. temptuous triumph which it arrogated tious of popularity, and feeling with over many of the salutary prejudices anguish, that the tide of public sentia of mankind,—the unsparing ferocity ment was turning against their fawith which its later and perverted vourite pursuits, have they not occadisciples vowed, and in part accome sionally made abortive efforts to acplished the destruction of religion and commodate themselves to the light and of government,--have generated a se fickle taste of the multitude ; to lower ries of events of a new and oppressive the dignity of science to the prejudices interest, before which its own refined of the vulgar; to transplant the smalabstractions have disappeared. The ler graces which the public taste affects long train of stupendous occurrences to demand, into regions where they the swift and regular succession of ap are either stinted in their growth, or palling realities, which it has been pernicious in their luxuriance; to miour fortune to witness, has forcibly mic the language of feeling, where withdrawn every mind from all other they ought to have aspired, only at the contemplations but that of the passing strength of argument; and to comscene ; and by inverting the ordinary promise the lofty character of the vulgarities of political discussion with science by a feigned contempt for its an interest and importance which they profounder branches, and a feeble prenever attained in any former age, has ference of its more tasteful appendages? attracted to them the intense regard, And what has been the result? Even and almost undivided sympathy of with the aid of their impolitic conmankind.
descension they have been wholly eThe mightiest of all modern revo- clipsed by lighter and inferior spirits, lutions, indeed, is that which has been who, by the exclusive devotion of their accomplished in the state of the pub- slenderer talent to its appropriate purlic mind. Forms may be revived, and suits, have ever vindicated for theminstitutions may be restored ; but the selves the literary honours in which a restoration of intellect and feeling to competition so unwise had been attheir former level, is beyond the power tempted with them. of armies, and above the scope of al The philosophers have had themliances. An intellectual movement selves to blame, indeed, for a portion has been made, whether for good or of that neglect with which they have for evil signifies not, and it cannot be of late been visited. They have long arrested ; for the progress of know- rejected, it is true, the embarrassing ledge, with the existing safeguards for formality of the syllogism in the strucits perpetuity, scorns all impediment. ture of their dissertations ; but they It advances by a myriad of avenues, are often no less insipid than if they which no vigilance can secure,-it is yet adhered to the tedious rigour of buried deep in the human heart, and that obsolete appendage. The method the freezing severity of despotism can of induction is indeed excellent; but not reach the sacred recess. But the it is by no means a talisman against consequence of this diffused knowo drivelling enumerations and operose ledge is to alter the standard of lite- and unfruitful disquisitions. The efrary taste,—to change the distributors fect of writing a great deal about that of favour, and vary the objects of re which all understand at a glance, even ward,—to establish a real democracy although the entire gravity of the Baof literature, in which the candidate conian method should be scrupulously for its envied honours must appeal, not kept up-—of descanting upon commonto the few, but to the many,—to vulc places, and demonstrating truisms, garize philosophy and learning, -and of setting out from the very beginning, to extinguish in all, but the noblest when every one is more than half adbosoms, the old longing after immor- vanced on the road, is extremely untality for which the tumultuous ap- propitious to the credit of the philoplause of the moment is in most cases sopher, and of the science, however felt to be not only a prompt but a profound and ingenious, which he pro
fesses to teach. But it is an error into anxious speculation are willingly exwhich philosophers are too apt to fall, changed for the charm of a momentary and which their readers never fail to impulse, and the attractions of an ima visit with unsparing, derision. It is mediate but transitory reputation. from this failing of their own, rather There is much unmeaning pedantry, than from the insignificant effect of to be sure, much idle, and tasteless, the dissertations lately written to prove and drivelling speculation in books that intellectual science is not the field which profess to teach philosophy; of discovery, that we must reckon the but still the very grandeur of their melancholy decline of their reputation. scheme, which endeavours to rise aFor what can be meant in this absurd bove the vulgarity of ordinary discusargument by discovery? The general sion; to ascend to the loftier regions laws of nature are familiar to the most of thought, and to penetrate the ultivulgar experience in physics as well as mate recesses of principle, has a powerin morals ; discoveries of such laws ful tendency to check the commontherefore are,
and ever have been, in place arrogance, and expand the narboth cases, out of the question; but if row grasp of uninstructed intellect. it be the exclusive province, and the The preponderating influence of the highest boast of philosophy to gene- crowd, an influence essentially vulgar ralize,—to detect a latent principle in the distribution of literary honours, pervading a large class of phenomena, has wrought the momentous change although invisible to vulgar eyes,-to which we have remarked ; a change seize analogies, and mark distinctions which has taken from philosophical lithat have no existence for vulgar cu terature its highest aims, and all the riosity,—to exhibit a rational and mag- spirit of its most original enterprises, nificent classification of the various and substituted, towards the general elements which nature scatters around, edification, the superficial intelligence, and philosophy alone can arrange, and sophistical levity of periodical and then do the spiritual faculties and in- perishable disquisition, for the massive finitely varied operations of intellectual and enduring fabrics of original disnature, afford a much loftier employ, cussion. It is well that philosophy ment to the curiosity of a great and should be familiarized to the general penetrating mind, than the phenomena capacity,-it is well that the public of the material world in all their va should be educated to receive it, and riety of brightness and of wonder. should be stirred up to the ambition of
There has, upon the whole, there- literary attainment; but it is not so fore, been a very marked, and as we fortunate for the interests of learning apprehend, not a very favourable change or of truth, that this influence should of late years in the genius of our na- predominate so far as to reduce science tional literature. In poetry, perhaps, to the capacity of the multitude, inthere has been a great improvement; stead of raising the latter, by suitable for the depth of feeling, and energy of gradations, to the standard of superior sentiment, which characterize one or minds. We rejoice that philosophy two of the very greatest poets of the now descends by a thousand streams, day, have no prototype in the cold, ele- and overflows the surface of society; gant, constrained, and derisive compo- but we should wish also to see the sitions of the preceding age. But if fountain more frequently stirred by poetry has had a triumph, philosophy the higher genius to which the guarhas visibly declined ; the taste for ab- dianship of its purity is entrusted, and stract speculation has perished in the to which alone we can look for that intensity of feeling and the blaze of regular and increasing supply which sentiment. The mighty masters of the wants and interests, and even the reason are now postponed without caprice of human nature imperiously scruple to the experienced ministers of demands. enjoyment; and the toils of deep and