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and sickness. We are alternately the recipients of joy and sorrow, of cheerfulness and melancholy. Our passions are excited by similar means, whether of love or hatred, complacency or indignation, sympathy or resentment. I could fill many pages with a description of the properties or accidents, which belong to man as such, or to which he is liable.
Now with all these each man is acquainted in the sphere of his inward experience, whether he is a single being standing by himself, or is an individual belonging to a numerous species.
Observe then the difference between my acquaintance with the phenomena of the material universe, and with the individuals of my own species. The former say nothing to me; they are a series of events and no more ; I cannot penetrate into their causes; that which gives rise to my sensations, may or may not be similar to the sensations themselves. The follower of Berkeley or Newton has satisfied himself in the negative.
But the case is very different in my intercourse with my fellow-men. Agreeably to the statement already made I know the reality of human nature ; for I feel the particulars that constitute it within myself. The impressions I receive from that intercourse say something to me; for they talk to me of beings like myself. My own existence becomes multiplied in infinitum. Of the possibility of matter I know nothing; but with the possibility of mind I am acquainted; for I am myself an example.
I am amazed at the consistency and systematic succession of the phenomena of the material universe; though I cannot penetrate the veil which presents itself to my grosser sense, nor see effects in their
But I can see, in other words, I have the most cogent reasons to believe in, the causes of the phenomena that occur in my apparent intercourse with my
fellow-men. What solution so natural, as that they are produced by beings like myself, the duplicates, with certain variations, of what I feel within me?
The belief in the reality of matter explains nothing. Supposing it to exist, if Newton is right, no particle of extraneous matter ever touched the matter of my body; and therefore it is not just to regard it as the cause of my sensations. It would amount to no more than two systems going on at the same time by a preestablished harmony, but totally independent of and disjointed from each other.
But the belief in the existence of our fellow-men explains much. It makes level before us the wonder of the method of their proceedings, and affords an obvious reason why they should be in so many respects like our own. If I dismiss from
creed the existence of inert matter, I lose nothing. The phenomena, the train of antecedents and consequents, remain as before ; and this is all that I am truly concerned with. But take away the existence of my fellow-men ; and you reduce all that is, and all that I experience, to a senseless mummery.
“You take my life, taking the thing whereon I live."
Human nature, and the nature of mind, are to us a theme of endless investigation. “ The proper study of mankind is man.” All the subtlety of metaphysics, or (if there be men captious and prejudiced enough to dislike that term) the science of ourselves, depends upon it. The science of morals hangs upon the actions of men, and the effects they produce upon our brother-men, in a narrower or a wider circle. The endless, and inexpressibly interesting, roll of history relies for its meaning and its spirit upon the reality and substance of the sub. jects of which it treats. Poetry, and all the wonders and endless varieties that imagination creates, have this for their solution and their soul. Sympathy is the only reality of which we are susceptible ; it is our heart of hearts : and, if the world had been “one entire and perfect chrysolite,” without this it would have been no more than one heap of rubbish.
Observe the difference between what we know of the material world, and what of the intellectual. The material goes on for ever according to certain laws that admit of no discrimination. They proceed upon a first principle, an impulse given them from the beginning of things. Their effects are regulated by something that we call their nature: fire burns ; water suffocates ; the substances around us that we call solid, depend for their effects, when put in motion, upon momentumn and gravity. The principle
that regulates the dead universe, “acts by general, not by partial laws.”
When the loose mountain trembles from on high,
Shall gravitation cease, if you go by ? No: the chain of antecedents and consequents proceeds in this respect for ever the same. The laws of what we call the material world continue unvaried. And, when the vast system of things was first set in motion, every thing, so far as depends on inert matter, was determined to the minutest particle, even to the end of time.
The material world, or that train of antecedents and consequents which we understand by that term, goes on for ever in a train agreeably to the impulse previously given. It is deaf and inexorable. It is unmoved by the consideration of any accidents and miseries that may result, and unalterable. But man is a source of events of a very different nature. He looks to results, and is governed by views growing out of the contemplation of them. He acts in a way diametrically opposite to the action of inert matter, and “turns, and turns, and turns again,” at the impulse of the thought that strikes him, the appetite that prompts, the passions that move, and the effects that he anticipates. It is therefore in a high degree unreasonable, to make that train of inferences which may satisfy us on the subject of material phenomena, a standard of what we ought to think respecting the phenomena of mind.
It is further worthy of our notice to recollect,
that the same reasonings which apply to our brethren of mankind, apply also to the brute creation. They, like ourselves, act from motives; that is, the elections they form are adopted by them for the sake of certain consequences they expect to see result from them. Whatever becomes therefore of the phenomena of what we call dead matter, we are here presented with tribes of being, susceptible of pleasure and pain, of hope and fear, of regard and resentment. How beautifully does this conviction vary the scene of things! What a source to us is the animal creation, of amusement, of curious observations upon the impulses of inferior intellect, of the exhaustless varieties of what we call instinct, of the care we can exercise for their accommodation and welfare, and of the attachment and affection we win from them in return! If I travel alone through pathless deserts, if I journey from the rising to the setting sun, with no object around me but nature's desolation, or the sublime, the magnificent and the exuberant scenery she occasionally presents, still I have that noble animal, the horse, and my
faithful dog, the companions of my toil, and with whom, when my solitude would otherwise become insuf ferable, I can hold communion, and engage in dumb dialogues of sentiment and affection.
I have heard of a man, who, talking to his friend on the subject of these speculations, said, “What then, are you so poor and pusillanimous a creature, that you could not preserve your serenity, be per