by the greatest number of “ laughs,” “loud laughs,” and “. very loud laughs :"-(which, carefully marked by italics, form most conspicuous and strange parentheses in the newspaper reports.) Or if I must be philosophical, the last chemical discoveries provided I do not trouble my reader with the principle which gives them their highest interest, and the character of intellectual grandeur to the discoverer; or the last shower of stones, and that they were supposed, by certain philosophers, to have been projected from some volcano in the moon,-care being taken not to add any of the cramp reasons for this opinion! Something new, however, it must be, quite new and quite out of themselves ! for whatever is within them, whatever is deep within them, must be as old as the first dawn of human reason. But to find no contradiction in the union of old and new, to contemplate the Ancient of days with feelings as fresh, as if they then sprang forth at his own fiat_this characterizes the minds that feel the riddle of the world, and may help to unravel it! To carry on the feelings of childhood into the powers of manhood, to combine the child's sense of wonder and novelty with the appearances which every day for perhaps forty years has rendered familiar,

With sun and moon and stars throughout the year,
And man and woman

this is the character and privilege of genius, and one of the marks which distinguish genius from talent. And so to represent familiar objects as to awaken the minds of others to a like freshness of sensation concerning them—that constant accompaniment of mental, no less than of bodily, health-to the same modest questioning of a self-discovered and intelligent ignorance, which, like the deep and massy foundations of a Roman bridge, forms half of the whole structure-(prudens interrogatio dimidium scientiæ, says Lord Bacon)—this is the prime merit of genius, and its most unequivocal mode of manifestation. Who has not, a thousand times, seen it snow upon water ? Who has not seen it with a new feeling, since he has read Burns's comparison of sensual pleasure,

To snow that falls upon a river,
A moment white-then gone forever !*

* Tam O'Shanter.-Ed.

In philosophy equally, as in poetry, genius produces the strongest impressions of novelty, while it rescues the stalest and most admitted truths from the impotence caused by the very circumstance of their universal admission. Extremes meet ;-a proverb, by the by, to collect and explain all the instances and exemplifications of which, would constitute and exhaust all philosophy. Truths, of all others the most awful and mysterious, yet being at the same time of universal interest, are too often considered as so true that they lose all the powers of truth, and lie bed-ridden in the dormitory of the soul, side by side with the most despised and exploded errors.

But as the class of critics, whose contempt I have anticipated, commonly consider themselves as men of the world, instead of hazarding additional sneers by appealing to the authorities of recluse philosophers,—for such, in spite of all history, the men who have distinguished themselves by profound thought, are generally deemed, from Plato and Aristotle to Cicero, and from Bacon to Berkeley—I will refer them to the darling of the polished court of Augustus, to the man, whose works have been in all ages deemed the models of good sense, and are still the pocket companion of those who pride themselves on uniting the scholar with the gentleman. This accomplished man of the world has given us an account of the subjects of conversation between himself and the illustrious statesmen who governed, and the brightest luminaries who then adorned, the empire of the civilized world :

Sermo oritur non de villis domibusve alienis,
Nec male, necne, lepus saltet. Sed quod magis ad nos
Pertinet, et nescire malum est, agitamus : utrumne
Divitiis homines, an sint virtuté beati ?
Quidve ad amicitias, usus rectuinne, trahat nos ;

Et qua sit natura boni, summumque quid ejus.-HOR.*
Berkeley indeed asserts, and is supported in his assertion by
Lord Bacon and Sir Walter Raleigh, that without an habitual in-

* Serm. II. vi. 71. Conversation arises not concerning the country seats or families of strangers, nor whether the dancing hare performed well or ill. But we discuss what more nearly concerns us, and which it is an evil not to know: whether men are made happy by riches or by virtue: whether interest or a love of virtue should lead us to friendship; and in what consists the nature of good, and what is the ultimate or supreme good—the summum bonum.

* E

terest in these subjects, a man may be a dexterous intriguer, but never can be a statesman. Would to Heaven that the verdict to be passed on my labors depended on those who least needed them! The water-lily in the midst of waters lifts up its broad leaves, and expands its petals at the first pattering of the shower, and rejoices in the rain with a quicker sympathy, than the parched shrub in the sandy desert.

God created man in his own image. To be the image of his own eternity created he man ! Of eternity and self-existence what other likeness is possible, but immortality and moral selfdetermination? In addition to sensation, perception, and practical judgment—instinctive or acquirable-concerning the notices furnished by the organs of perception, all which in kind at least, the dog possesses in common with his master; in addition to these, God gave us reason, and with reason he gave us reflective self-consciousness; gave us principles, distinguished from the maxims and generalizations of outward experience by their absolute and essential universality and necessity; and above all, by superadding to reason the mysterious faculty of free-will and consequent personal amenability, he gave us conscience—that law of conscience, which in the power, and as the indwelling word, of a holy and omnipotent legislator commands us—from among the numerous ideas mathematical and philosophical, which the reason by the necessity of its own excellence creates for itself,unconditionally commands us to attribute reality, and actual existence, to those ideas and to those only, without which the conscience itself would be baseless and contradictory, to the ideas of soul, of free-will, of immortality, and of God. To God, as the reality of the conscience and the source of all obligation ; to freewill, as the power of the human being to maintain the obedience which God through the conscience has commanded, against all the might of nature ; and to the immortality of the soul, as a state in which the weal and woe of man shall be proportioned to his moral worth. With this faith all nature,

-all the mighty world

Of eye and earpresents itself to us, now as the aggregated material of duty, and now as a vision of the Most High revealing to us the mode, and time, and particular instance of applying and realizing that universal rule, pre-established in the heart of our reason.

* Wordsworth. Lines near Tintern Abbey.- Ed.

“The displeasure of some readers,' to use Berkeley's words, * may, perhaps, be incurred by my having surprised them into certain reflections and inquiries, for which they have no curiosity. But perhaps some others may be pleased to find themselves carried into ancient times, even though they should consider the hoary maxims, defended in these essays, barely as hints to awaken and exercise the inquisitive reader, on points not beneath the attention of the ablest men. Those great men, Pythagoras, Plato, and Aristotle, men the most consummate in politics, who founded states, or instructed princes, or wrote most accurately on public government, were at the same time the most acute at all abstracted and sublime speculations ;—the clearest light being ever necessary to guide the most important actions. And whatever the world may opine, he who hath not much meditated upon God, the human mind, and the summum bonum, may possibly make a thriving earth-worm, but will most indubitably make a blundering patriot and a sorry statesman.”


Blind is that soul which from this truth can swerve,
No state stands sure, but on the grounds of right,
Of virtue, knowledge; judgment to preserve,
And all the pow'rs of learning requisite:
Though other shifts a present turn may serve,
Yet in the trial they will weigh too light.


I EARNESTLY entreat the reader not to be dissatisfied either with himself or with the author, if he should not at once understand every part of the preceding essay; but rather to consider it as a mere annunciation of a magnificent theme, the different parts of which are to be demonstrated and developed, explained, illustrated, and exemplified in the progress of the work. I likewise entreat him to peruse with attention and with candor, the weighty extract from the judicious Hooker, prefixed as the motto to a following essay.* In works of reasoning, as distinguished from narrations of events or statements of facts; but more particularly in works, the object of which is to make us better acquainted with our own nature, a writer whose meaning is everywhere comprehended as quickly as his sentences can be read, may indeed have produced an amusing composition, nay, by awakening and re-enlivening our recollections, a useful one ; but most assuredly he will not have added either to the stock of our knowledge, or to the vigor of our intellect. For how can we gather strength, but by exercise ? How can a truth, new to us, be made our own without examination and self-questioning—any new truth, I mean, that relates to the properties of the mind, and its various faculties and affections ? But whatever demands effort, requires time. Ignorance seldom vaults into knowledge, but passes into it through an intermediate state of obscurity, even as night into day through twilight. All speculative truths begin with a postulate, even the truths of geometry. They all suppose an act of the will; for in the moral being lies the source of the intellectual. The first step to knowledge, or rather the previous condition of all insight into truth, is to dare commune with our very and permanent self. It is Warburton's remark, not the Friend's, that of all literary exercitations, whether designed for the use or entertainment of the world, there are none of so much importance, or so immediately our concern, as those which let us into the knowledge of our own nature. Others

* Siris, 350. The words in italics are substituted for the original.-Ed. Musophilus. The line in italics is substituted.-Ed.

may exercise the understanding or amuse the imagination ; but these only can improve the heart and form the human mind to wisdom.

The recluse hermit ofttimes more doth know
Of the world's inmost wheels, than worldlings can.
As man is of the world, the heart of man
Is an epitome of God's great book

Of creatures, and men need no farther look. DONNE. The higher a man's station, the more arduous and full of peril his duties, the more comprehensive should his foresight be, the more rooted his tranquillity concerning life and death. But these

* Essay IV. Sect. On the Principles of Political Knowledge. See Eccl. Pol. I. c. I. 2.-Ed,

+ Eclogue. The words in italics are substituted.-Ed.

« 上一页继续 »