ePub 版

the world to be totally ignorant of the properties of drugs, or their effect on the human body. True it is that a healthy mind in a healthy body is a thing worth having; a few deny that: and intellectual and medical science may do somewhat towards the preservation of both; this is also allowed: but to attempt to know anything about the matter is really too fatiguing for polished people, who can afford to pay tutors and physicians. But the writer is a Pariah, and having said thus much, he need hardly assure his readers, if any of that so-named “gentle" race ever take up these pages, that he never was great, or fashionable, or scientific enough, to have a pet of this kind: it would have been a troublesome, sometimes an expensive, always a disagreeable companion, a great hindrance to all rational employment, and no help to one who not unfrequently has found his wits his best heritage.

If such an one cannot afford to keep a pet ignorance, so neither can he afford to carry on abstract speculations which lead to no practical result: corporeal wants must be attended to; the difficulties of this life must be met and vanquished; and if in the midst of the struggles requisite to avoid being trodden under foot in the crowd, those great questions, which sooner or later occur to every reasonable mind, present themselves, it is not as curious contemplations, matters of philosophical research merely, which may occupy a portion of the time which is gliding away in the lap of ease and luxury, but as problems whose solution involves everything worth caring for in time or in eternity ; problems whose due solution may gild a life which has no other gilding, may set fortune at defiance, direct our steps in difficulties, and like oil upon the waves, spread calm where all was turmoil and danger before: it is then

that intellectual science loses its character of barren speculation; every step in advance raises us farther above the mists of earth; and the heart warms, and the limbs grow strong, at seeing the prospect brightening in the distance, under the unclouded beams of truth and love.

It seems, nevertheless, to be necessary that science, as well as man, should pass through its different stages of growth; at first, theoretic and fanciful, then abstruse, and finally, vigorous and practical. Astronomy has so proceeded; many a small wit jested at the idle “star-gazing” of Flamsted and Halley as satisfactorily as the same genus has scoffed from age to age at the “unintelligible” reveries of Socrates, or any other seeker of the truth, from Pythagoras down to Dugald Stewart and Theodore Jouffroy ; but no small wit now tries to ground his fame on a successful scoff at “star-gazers;" even Butler's “Elephant in the Moon” has followed the fate of the jests of lesser men, it is neither quoted, nor perhaps by the generality of the world remembered; and the science which guides the mariner over an untracked ocean with all the assurance of a mapped country, sits enthroned in the affections no less than the respect of the present generation. It is time that metaphysical, or, as I would rather term it, intellectual science,* should take a like place, for it has


* " Taken in its largest comprehension, as the knowledge of abstract and separate substances, Aristotle raises the philosophy of mind above all other parts of learning. He assigns to it the investigation of the principles and causes of things in general, and ranks it not only as superior, but also as prior in the order of Nature, to the whole of Arts and Sciences. But what is first to Nature is not first to Man. Nature begins with causes, which produce effects. Man begins with effects, and by them ascends

Thus all human study and investigation proceed of necessity in the reverse of the natural order of things; from

to causes.

in its power to do a greater work than this : it can map the gulph between earth and heaven, and teach man, amid the conflicting opinions of the pilots who undertake to steer his bark, to choose and follow the straight course which will lead him over that untracked ocean in safety. The great men whose lives were spent in the pursuit of abstract truth, have left the results of their labors to us, and as the fanciful dreams of proportion in numbers, pushed at last to the exactness of mathematical science, have given us practical astronomy, so it is for us now to avail ourselves of the severe truth to which they have reduced the more imaginative Greek philosophy, and draw from it practical metaphysic.

Had any one else appeared inclined to undertake the task, the writer would willingly have left it in the hands of the learned and the illustrious in science; but no such attempt seems likely to be made, and as there are but too many of the Pariah race, who, like himself, may find that something more than the trite instruction of the school-room, or even the pulpit, is wanting to brace the mind to resist the rude buffets of the world, he at length steps forward, not as thinking himself wise, but as feeling himself experienced :

sensible to intelligible, from body, the effect, to mind, which is both the first and final cause. Now physic being the name given by the Peripatetic to the philosophy of body, from this necessary course of human studies, some of his interpreters called that of mind, Metaphysic tous Meta ta puoixa, implying also by the term, that its subject being more sublime and difficult than any other, as relating to universals, the study of it would come most properly and successfully after that of physics. Taking it, however, in its natural order, as furnishing the general principles of all other parts of learning which descend from thence to the cultivation of particular subjects, Aristotle himself called this the First Philosophy; but as its subject is universal being, particularly mind, which is the highest and most universal, he gave it also the appellation of the Universal Science, common to all the rest; and lastly, to finish his encomium of this First and Universal philosophy, he honored it with the exclusive name of Wisdom.'"-Tatham's Chart and Scale of Truth, vol. i. p. 17.

-- Nec nos via fallit euntes :
Vidimus obscuris primam sub vallibus urbem
Venatu assiduo, et totum cognovimus amnem.'


THERE are some few important questions which have been constantly agitated from the earliest period that we have any record of man's history. The answers attempted have been various; but none, as yet, have been so generally satisfactory as to prevent them from being agitated afresh by every new generation, for to every new generation they present themselves with a never-fading interest. Man goes

forth at his entrance into life, confident in powers which, to his youthful fancy, seem to know no limit; he feels the happiness that his nature is capable of, and that it sighs for, and he rushes on to grasp and to enjoy it; but he soon perceives that a power, exterior to himself, limits, and often thwarts his endeavors; he finds himself at the mercy of circumstances which he can rarely guide, or at best only in a very slight degree; and amid the anguish of disppointed hope he asks himself, “What is this power which I can neither control nor escape from ?”

But he is young; he has probably expected to find his happiness in the pleasures of the senses; and a voice within him says that these are gross, and unworthy of the god-like nature which he is conscious of possessing. He launches into the pursuits of the man; forces himself to acquire science and greatness at the expense of exertions which exhaust his physical strength ; and then, when almost sinking under the fatigue of labors which, nevertheless, have not given him all that he sought, he asks himself again,

« 上一頁繼續 »