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"Having (says he) been long engaged on a work which is intended to demonstrate the necessary connexion, relation, and dependence of physics, metaphysics, and morals, I found the whole of these topics a perfect chaos, from the deceptive character of language."
I leave the hosts of preceding philosophers to be defended from the onset of this formidable antagonist as they may, by some one more chivalrous in their cause than I am. This writer (from subsequent expressions) seems to have some plan of dispensing with words altogether, whilst another whom I shall quote, abuses language because it does not contain nearly enough! Philology comes badly off between them! Thus writes Jeremy Bentham, or his editor, Dr. Bowring:
"The general imperfection of language is one of the greatest impediments to the progress of philosophy. Correct ideas find great difficulty in discovering appropriate terms. Language lags behind science. (Poor unfortunate language!) It prides itself upon its poverty," &c., &c.†
But, in seriousness, the use and abuse of words is a subject worthy of deep consideration, too far beyond the scope of this work to be enlarged on here; and too far beyond the ability of him who would fain enlarge on it. My only object was to shew that the lamentations of modern metaphysicians on this score had been anticipated by the Clown in Twelfth Night.
* "Prodromus; or, An Inquiry into the First Principles of Reasoning." By Sir Graves C. Haughton.
Leonato. Which is the villain? Let me see his eyes;
That when I note another man like him,
I may avoid him.
Pembroke. The image of a wicked heinous fault
Lives in his eye; that close aspect of his
Does show the mood of a much troubled breast.
King John. Act iv. Scene 2.
King John. A fearful eye thou hast: where is that blood That I have seen inhabit in those cheeks?
So foul a sky clears not without a storm:
Pour down thy weather!
Scroop. Men judge by the complexion of the sky
So may you by my dull and heavy eye,
Northumberland. Yea, this man's brow, like to a title
Foretells the nature of a tragic volume;
So looks the strond, whereon the imperious flood
Thou tremblest; and the whiteness in thy cheek
2nd part King Henry IV. Act i. Scene 1.
Q. Margaret. Who cannot steal a shape, that means deceit ?
2nd part King Henry VI. Act iii. Scene 1.
Gloster. Sweet prince, the untainted virtue of your years Hath not yet div'd into the world's deceit ;
No more can you distinguish of a man,
Than of his outward show; which, God he knows,
Seldom, or never, jumpeth with the heart.
King Richard III. Act iii. Scene 1.
Cæsar. Let me have men about me, that are fat; Sleek-headed men, and such as sleep o' nights;
* Mr. Stevens, in explanation of this simile, mentions that in Shakspere's time, it was usual to make the title page, and also intermediate leaves of elegies, totally black.
Yond' Cassius has a lean and hungry look;
Julius Cæsar. Act i. Scene 2.
THERE are here some apparently contradictory extracts relating to physiognomy, but which are easily enough reconciled. "I saw his heart in his face," says one. "There is no art to find the mind's construction in the face," says another. They are both true. It is man's hypocrisy that explains the paradox: for as Shakspere afterwards remarks,
"No more can you distinguish of a man,
Than of his outward show; which, God he knows,
The sum of the matter is this: when a man is honest, you can sometimes trace the effect of passion and temper in his countenance. But habits of deception and conventional form generally prevent your doing so. As an index of the mind, physiognomy is next to useless. You will often see a clever man with the general character of his physiognomy on ordinary occasions exceedingly stupid; whilst the reverse holds too; for some folks, without two ideas in their head, have the knack of infusing a certain brilliancy of expression closely counterfeiting a flash of genius. Lavater brought physiognomy into fashion for a time, but there seem to be insuperable obstacles to its ever becomiug a science of much worth.
Some thoughtless persons compare it with phrenology, which stands on a totally different ground. Whether the latter science be true or false, it is certain that a phrenological developement cannot be counterfeited. A man cannot alter the shape of his skull at pleasure.
LIES IN THE PURSUIT OR ANTICIPATION.
Who riseth from a feast,
Cressida. Men prize the thing ungain'd more than it is.
Troilus and Cressida. Act i. Scene 2.
It is no new observation that actual fruition is insignificant when compared with the pleasures of anticipation and recollection. There appears to me much truth in Shakspere's views of this subject.