網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

the Stoics, to show that adversity is not in itself an evil; and mentions a noble saying of Demetrius, that

nothing would be more unhappy than a man who had never known affliction. He compares prosperity to the indulgence of a fond mother to a child, which often proves his ruin ; but the affection of the divine Being to that of a wise father who would have his sons exercised with labour, disappointment, and pain, that they may gather strength and improve their fortitude, On this occasion, the philosopher rises into that celebrated sentiment, that there is not on earth a spectacle more worthy the regard of a Creator intent on his works than a brave man superior to his sufferings ; to which he adds, that it must be a pleasure to Jupiter himself to look down from heaven, and see Cato amidst the ruins of his country preserving his integrity.

This thought will appear yet more reasonable, if we consider human life as a state of probation, and adversity as the post of honour in it, assigned often to the best and most select spirits.

But what I would chiefly insist on here, is, that we are not at present in a proper situation to judge of the. counsels by which Providence acts, since but little arrives at our knowledge, and even that little we discern imperfectly; or, according to the elegant figure in holy writ, - We see but in part, and as in a glass darkly*.' It is to be considered, that Providence in its ceconomy regards the whole system of time and things together, so that we cannot discover the beautiful connection between incidents which lie widely separate in time, and by losing so many links of the chain our reasonings become broken and imperfect. Thus those parts of

I Cor. xiii. 12.

the

the moral world which have not an absolute, may yet have a relative beauty, in respect of some other parts concealed from us, but open to his eye before whom past, present, and to come, are set together in one point of view; and those events, the permission of which seems now to accuse his goodness, may in the consumination of things both magnify his goodness and exalt his wisdom. And this is enough to check our presumption, since it is in vain to apply our measures of regularity to matters of which we know neither the antecedents nor the consequents, the beginning nor the end.

I shall relieve my readers from this abstracted thought, by relating here a Jewish tradition concerning Moses, which seems to be a kind of parable, illustrating what I have last mentioned. That great propbet, it is said, was called up by a voice from heaven to the top of a mountain ; where, in a conference with the Supreme Being, he was admitted to propose to him some questions concerning his administration of the universe. In the midst of this divine colloquy he was commanded to look down on the plain below. At the foot of the mountain there issued out a clear spring of water, at which a soldier alighted from his horse to drink. He was no sooner gone than a little boy came to the same place, and, finding a purse of gold which the soldier had dropped, rook it up and went away with it. Immediately after this came an infirm old man, weary with age and travelling, and, having quenched his thirst, sat down to rest himself by the side of the spring. The soldier missing his purse returns to search for it, and demands it of the old man, who affirms he had not seen it, and appeals to heaven in witness of his innocence. The soldier, not believing his protestations, kills him. Moses fell on his face with horror and amazement, when the divine voice thus prevented his expostulation : ' Be not surprised, Moses ; nor ask why the Judge of the whole earth has suffered this thing to come to pass : The child is the occasion that the blood of the old man is spilt ; but know that the old man whom thou sawest was the murderer of that child's father.'

HUGHES.

ON THE DIFFERENT MODES OF ARGUING,

No. 239.

This way

I have sometimes amused myself with considering the several methods of managing a debate which have obtained in the world.

The first races of mankind used to dispute, as our ordinary people do now-a-days, in a kind of wild logic, uncultivated by rules of art.

Socrates introduced a catechetical method of arguing. He would ask his adversary question upon question, until he had convinced him, out of his own mouth, that his opinions were wrong.

of debating drives an enemy up into a corner, seizes all the passes through which he can make an escape, and forçes him to surrender at discretion.

Aristotle changed this method of attack, and invented a great variety of little weapons, called syllogisms. As in the Socratic way of dispute you agree to every thing which your opponent advances, in the Aristotelic you are still denying and contradicting some part or other of what he says. Socrates conquers you by stratagem, Aristotle by force. The one takes the town by sap, the other sword in hand,

T

The universities of Europe, for many years, carried on their debates hy syllogism, insomuch that we see the knowledge of several centuries laid out into objections and answers, and all the good sense of the age cut and minced into almost an infinitude of distinctions.

When our universities found that there was no end of wrangling this way, they invented a kind of argument, which is not reducible to any mood or figure in Aristotle. It was called the argumentum basilinum, (others write it bacilinum or baculinum,) which is pretty well expressed in our English word club-law. When they were not able to confute their antagonist, they knocked him down. It was their method, in these polemical debates, first to discharge their syllogisms, and afterwards to betake themselves to their clubs, until such time as they had one way or other confounded their gainsayers. There is in Oxford a narrow defile (to make use of a military term), where the partisans used to encounter; for which reason it still retains the name of Logic Lane. I have heard an old gentleman, a physician, make his boasts, that when be was a young

fellow he marched several times at the head of a troop of Scotists*, and cudgelled a body of Smiglesiansi, half the length of High-street, until they had

* The followers of Duns Scotus, a celebrated doctor of the schools, who flourished about the year 1300, and, from his opposing some favourite doctrines of Thomas Aquinas, gave rise to a new party called the Scotists, in opposition to the Thomists, or followers of the other.

+ The followers of Martin Smiglecius, a famous logician of the 16th century, whose works were long admired in the schools even of protestant universities, though he himself was a popish jesuit..

dispersed

dispersed themselves for shelter into their respective garrisons.

This humour, I find, went very far in Erasmus's time. For that author tells us, that upon the revival of Greek letters, most of the universities in Europe were divided into Greeks and Trojans. The latter were those who bore a mortal enmity to the language of the Grecians, insomuch that, if they met with any who understood it, they did not fail to treat him as a foe. Erasmus himself had, it seems, the misfortune to fall into the hands of a party of Trojans, who laid him on with so many blows and buffets that he never forgot their hostilities to his dying day.

There is a way of managing an argument not much unlike the former, which is made use of by states and communities, when they draw up a hundred thousand disputants on each side, and convince one another by dint of sword. A certain grand monarch was so sensible of his strength in this way of reasoning, that he writ upon his great guns—Ratio ultima regum, The logic of kings; but, God be thanked, he is now pretty well baffled at his own weapons.

When one has to do with a philosopher of this kind, one should remember the old gentleman's saying, who had been engaged in an argument with one of the Roman emperors. Upon his friend's telling him that he wondered he would give up the question, when he had visibly the better of the dispute ; ' I am never ashamed, says he, to be confuted by one who is master of fifty legions.'

I shall but just mention another kind of reasoning which may be called arguing by poll; and another which is of equal force, in which wagers are made use

of

VOL. II.

E

« 上一頁繼續 »