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DISSERTATIONS -^^ 

ON THE HISTORY 

OF 

METAPHYSICAL AND ETHICAL, 

AND OF «i 

MATHEMATICAL AND PHYSICAL SCIENCE; 



DUGALD STEWART, F. R. SS. Lond. & Edin. 

THE RIGHT HON. SIR JAMES MACKINTOSH, LL. D. F. R. S. ; 

JOHN PLAYFAIR, F. R. SS. Lond. & Edin. 



SIR JOHN LESLIE, 

CORRESPONDING MEMBER OF THE ROYAL INSTITUTE OF FRANCE. 



WITH A GENERAL INDEX. 



ADAM AND CHARLES BLACK, EDINBURGH; 

SIMPKIN, MARSHALL, & CO., WHITTAKER & CO., AND HAMILTON, ADAMS, & CO., 
LONDON ; AND JOHN CUMMING, DUBLIN. 

M.DCCC,XXXV. 




90752.1 



Primed by Tuouas Allan & Companv 
265 High Street, Edinburgh. 



_^ AVAILABLE _ 






ADVERTISEMENT. 



The first of the following Dissertations, in its first Part, exhibits 
a view of the progress of Metaphysical and Ethical Philosophy from 
the revival of Letters till the close of the seventeenth century ; 
and its second Part is devoted to the Metaphysical Philosophy 
of the eighteenth. The history of the Ethical Philosophy of that 
period is continued in the Second Dissertation. The Third, in 
two Parts, brings down the history of Mathematical and Pliy- 
sical Science till the era marked by the discoveries of Newton 
and Leibnitz ; and the last continues the inquiry throughout the 
eighteenth century. The continuations just mentioned were ren- 
dered necessary by the death of the two eminent men who laid 
the foundations and raised the principal part of the superstructure 
of these celebrated Discourses. 

The First and Third were written for, and prefixed to, the Sup- 
plement to the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Editions of the Ency- 
cLOP/EDiA Britannica ; and the Second and Fourth were written 
for the Seventh Edition, now in course of publication ; the whole, 
printed in their natural order, constituting the first or introductory 
volume of that work. As these Dissertations exhibit a copious and 
accurate view of the progress of Knowledge and Discovery in those 



IV ADVERTISEMENT. 

grand divisions of Science of which they treat, and as tliey are 
tlie productions of writers of high and acknowledged reputation, 
the Publishers feel assured that they will meet the wishes of many 
by detaching them from the extensive work to which they are pre- 
fixed, and presenting them to the literary world in a separate form. 
In doing so, they have used the double column and type of that 
work, because, to have thrown the matter of this publication into 
any other form, would have so extended its bulk and price as 
materially to interfere with its circulation and utility. 

The Publishers have only to add, that in order to facilitate re- 
ference, they have annexed a general and copious Index of the 
contents of the several Dissertations above specified. 

Edinburgh, November 1833. 



CONTENTS. 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 

Progress of Metaphysical and Ethical Philosophy. 

Page. 
Preface, containing some Critical Remarks on tlie Discourse prefixed to the 

Fi'ench Eucyclopedie, .... 1 

PART FIRST.— Introduction, . . . • • 13 

Chapter I. From tlie Revival of Letters to the publication of Bacon's Philo- 
sophical Works, . . . • .14. 
Chapter II. From the publication of Bacon's Philosophical AVorks till that 
of tlie Essay on Human Understafiding. 
Section 1. Progress of philosophy in England during this period. — Bacon, 32 
Hobbes, ....... to 

Antagonists of Hobbes, . . • ■ • '^'^ 

Section 2. Progress of Philosophy in France during the seventeenth century. 

Montaigne — Charron — La Rochefoucauld, • • 49 

Descartes — Giissendi — Malebrauche, ... 36 

Section 3. Progress of Philosophy during the seventeenth century in some 

parts of Europe not included in the preceding Review, 84 

PART SECOND.— Introduction, ..... 99 

Progress of Metaphysics during the eighteenth century. 

Section 1. Historical and Critical Review of the Philosophical Works of 

Locke and Leibnitz — Locke, .... 100 

Section 2. Continuation of the Review of Locke and Leibnitz — Leibnitz, 123 
Section 3. Of the Metaphysical Speculations of Newton and Clarke. — Di- 
gression with respect to the system of Spinoza, Collins, and • 
.lonathan Edwards. — An.xicty of both to reconcile the scheme 
of Necessity with Man's Moral Agency. — Departure of some 
later Necessitarians irom their views, . . . 139 



VI 



CONTENTS. 



Page. 
Section 4. Of some Authors who have contributed, by their Critical or His- 
torical Writings, to diffuse a taste for Metaphysical Studies. 
— Bayle. — Fontenelle. — Addison. — Metaphysical Works of 
Berkeley, . . . . . .151 

Section 5. Hartleian School, ..... 169 

Section 6. Condillac, and other French metaphysicians of a later date, 172 

Section 7. Kant, and other metaphysicians of the New German School, 1 87 

Section 8. Metaphysical Philosophy of Scotland, . . . 204 

Notes and Illustrations, ...... 232 



DISSERTATION SECOND. 



Ethical Philosophy — Eighteenth Century. 

Introduction, ........ 293 

Section 1. Preliminary Observations, .... 296 

Section 2. Retrospect of Ancient Ethics, .... 299 

Section 3. Retrospect of Scholastic Ethics, .... 307 

Section 4. Modern Ethics, . . . . . .315 

Hobbes, ... ... 316 

Section 5. Controversies concerning the Moral Faculties and the Social Af- 
fections. 
Cumberland. — Cudworth. — Clarke. — Shaftesbury. — Bossuet. — 
Feuelon . — Leibnitz. — Malebranclie. — Edwards. — Buffier, 323 
Section 6. Foundations of a more just theory of Ethics. 

Butler. — Hutcheson. — Berkeley. — Hume. — Smith. — Price. — 

Hartley. — Tucker Paley. — Bentham. — Stewart. — Brown, 342 

Sectimi 7. General Remarks, ..... 400 

Notes and Illustrations, ...... 417 



DISSERTATION THIRD. 



Progress of Mathematical and Physical Science. 

PART FIRST, ...... 

Section 1. Mathematics. 1. Geometry, 

2. Algebra, ..... 

Section 2. Experimental Investigation. 1. Ancient Physics, 

2. Novum Organum, .... 



433 
434 
440 
449 
453 



CONTENTS. 



VU 



Section 3. Mechanics. 1 . Theory of Motion, 

2. Hydrostatics, ..... 
Section 4. Astronomy. 1. Ancient Astronomy, 

2. Copernicus and Tycho, 

3. Kepler and Galileo, .... 

4. Descartes, Huygens, &c. 
3. Establishment of Academies, &c. 
6. Figure and Magnitude of the Earth, 

Section 5. Optics. 1. Optical Knowledge of the Ancients, 

2. From Alhazen to Kepler, 

3. From Kepler to the commencement "of Newton's Optical 
Discoveries, ..... 

PART SECOND. — From the commencement of Newton's Discoveries to th( 
year 1818, ..... 

Period First. Section 1. The New Geometry, 
Section 2. Mechanics, General Physics, &c. 
Section 3. Optics, ...... 

Section 4. Astronomy, ..... 



Page. 

474 
480 
481 
484 
488 
493 
499 
501 
503 
506 

509 

517 
ibid. 
535 
545 
564 



DISSERTATION FOURTH. 



MatJiematical and Physical Science— Eighteenth Century. 



TRODUCTION, ........ 


575 


Section 1. Speculative Mathematics. 1. Geometry,' . 


580 


2. Arithmetic, ..... 


586 


3. Algebra, ..... 


591 


4. The Higher Calculus, ... * 


598 


Section 2. Applicate Science. 1. Dynamics, . 


602 


2. Hydrostatics and Pneumatics, . 


607 


3. Electricity, ..... 


617 


4. Magnetism, ..... 


624 


5. Optics, . . . . 


630 


6. Doctrine of Heat, .... 


639 


7. Astronomy, . . , , 


655 



DISSERTATION FIRST: 

EXHIBITING A GENERAL VIEW 

OF THE 

PROGRESS OF METAPHYSICAL AND ETHICAL PHILOSOPHY, 

SINCE THE REVIVAL OF LETTERS IN EUROPE. 
By DUGALD STEWART, Esq. F.R.SS. Loxd. and Edix. 

LATE PROFESSOR OF MORAL PHILOSOPHY IN THE UNIVERSITY 
OP EDINBURGH. 



PREFACE, 



CONTAINING SOME CRITICAL REMARKS ON THE DISCOURSE PREFIXED TO THE 



FRENCH ENCYCLOPEDIE. 



WHEN I ventured to undertake the task of 
contributing a Preliminary Dissertation 
to the Enajclop(edia Britannica, my original in- 
tention was, after the example of D'Alembert, 
to have begun with a general survey of the va- 
rious departments of human knowledge. The 
outline of such a survey, sketched by the com- 
prehensive genius of Bacon, together with the 
corrections and improvements suggested by his 
illustrious disciple, would, I thought, have reu- 
Jered it comparatively easy to adapt their- intel- 
lectual map to tlie present advanced state of the 
sciences ; while the unrivalled authority which 
their united work has long maintained in the 
republic of letters, wovdd, I ilattered myself, 
have softened those criticisms which might be 
expected to be incurred by any similar attempt 
of a more modern hand. On a closer examina- 
tion, however, of their labours, I found myself 
under the necessity of abandoning this design. 
Doubts immediately occurred to me with respect 
to the justness of their logical -views, and soon 
terminated in a conviction that these views are 
radically and essentially erroneous. Instead, 
therefore, of endeavouring to give additional 
currency to speculations which I conceived to 
be fundamentally unsound, I resolved to avail 



myself of the present opportunity to point out 
their most important defects ;— defects which, I 
am nevertheless very ready to acknowledge, it 
is much more easy to remark than to supply. 
The critical strictures which, in the course of 
this discussion, I shall have occasion to offer on 
my predecessors, will, at the same time, account 
for my forbearing to substitute a new map of 
my own, instead of that to which the names of 
Bacon and D'Alembert have lent so great and 
so well-merited a celebrity; and may perhaps 
suggest a doubt, whether the period be yet ar- 
rived for hazarding again, with any reasonable 
prospect of success, a repetition of their bold 
experiment. For the length to which these 
strictures are likely to extend, the only apology 
I have to offer is the peculiar importance of the 
questions to which they relate, and the liigh au- 
tliority of the writers whose opinions I presume 
to controvert. 

Before entering on his main subject, D'iVlem- 
bert is at pains to explain a distinction — which he 
represents as of considerable importance — be- 
tween the Genealogy of tlie sciences, and the 
Encyclopedical arrangement of the objects of 
Imman knowledge.* " In examining tlie for- 
mer," he observes, " our aim is, by remounting 



' " II ne faut pas confondre I'ordre Encyclop^dique des connoissances humaines avec la Gcnealogie des Sciences." 
Avertissement, p. 7- 

DISS. I. I'ART I. A ■ 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



to the origin and genesis of our ideas, to trace 
the causes to which the sciences owe their birth ; 
and to mark the characteristics by which they 
are distinguished from each other. In order to 
ascertain the latter, it is necessary to compre- 
hend, in one general scheme, all the A'arious de- 
partments of study ; to arrange them into pro- 
per classes ; and to point out their mutual rela- 
tions and dependencies." Such a scheme is some- 
times likened by D'Alembert to a map or chart 
of the intellectual woi'ld; sometimes to a Ge- 
nealogical or Encyclopedical Tree, indicating 
the manifold and complicated affinities of those 
studies, which, however apparently remote and 
unconnected, are all the common offspring of 
the human understanding. For executing suc- 
cessfully this chart or tree, a philosophical deli- 
neation of the natural progress of the mind may 
(according to him) furnish very useful lights; 
although he acknowledges that the results of the 
two undertakings cannot fail to diflfer ^videly in 
many instances, — the laws which regulate the 
generation of our ideas often interfering vniXi 
that systematical order in the relative arrange- 
ment of scientific pursuits, which it is the pur- 
pose of the Encyclopedical Tree to exliibit.^ 

In treating of the fii'st of tliese subjects, it can- 
not be denied that D'Alembert has displayed 
much ingenuity and invention; but the depth 
and solidity of his general train of thought may 
be questioned. On various occasions, he has 
e^'idently suffered himself to be misled by a spi- 
rit of false refinement ; and on others, where 
probably he was fully aware of his inability to 
render the theoretical chain complete, he seems 
to have aimed at concealing from his readers the 
faulty links, by availing himself of those epi- 
grammatic points, and other artifices of style, 
with which the genius of the French language 



enables a skilful writer to smooth and vamisb 
over his most illogical transitions. 

Tlie most essential imperfections, however, of 
this historical sketch, may be fanly ascribed to 
a certain vagueness and indecision in the au- 
thor's idea, with regard to the scope of his in- 
quiries. AVhat he lias in general pointed at is 
to trace, from the tlieory of the Mind, and from 
the order followed by nature in the develope- 
ment of its powers, the successive steps by which 
the curiosity may be conceived to have been 
gradually conducted fi-om one intellectual pur- 
suit to another; but, in the execution of this 
design (which in itself is highly philosophical 
and interesting), he does not appear to have 
paid due attention to the essential difference 
between the history of the human species, and 
that of the civilised and inquisitive indi^^dual. 
The former was undoubtedly that which prin- 
cipally figured in his conceptions, and to which, 
I apprehend, he ought to have confined himself 
exclusively; whereas, in fact, he has so com- 
pletely blended the two subjects together, that 
it is often impossible to say which of them was 
uppermost in his thoughts. The consequence 
is, that, instead of throwing upon either those 
strong and steady lights, which might have been 
expected from his powers, he has involved both 
in additional obscurity. This indistinctness is 
more peculiarly remarkable in the beginning of 
liis Discoiu'se, where he represents men in the 
earliest infancy of science, before they had time 
to take any precautions for securing the means 
of theii' subsistence, or of their safety, — as phi- 
losophising on their sensations, on the exist- 
ence of their own bodies, and on that of the 
material world. His Discom'se, accordingly, 
sets out with a series of Meditations, precisely 
analogous to those which form the introduction 



' It is to be regretted, that the epithet Genealogical should have been employed on this occasion, where the author's wish 
was to contradistingiiish the idea denoted by it, ft-ora that historical view of tiie sciences to which the word Genealogy bad 
been previously applied. 

- The true reason of this might perhaps have been assigned in simpler terms by remarking, that the order of invention 
is, in most cases, the reverse of that fitted for didactic communication. This observation ap]>lies not only to the analytical 
and synthetical processes of tlie indicidital^ but to the progressive improvements of the specks^ when compared with the 
arrangements prescribed by logical method, for conveying a knowledge of tliem to students. In an enlightened age, the 
sciences are justly considered as the basis of the arts ; and, in a course of liberal education, the former are always taught 
prior to the latter. But, in the order of invention and discovery, the arts preceded the sciences. IMen measured land 
before they studied speculative geometry ; and governments were established iaefore politics were studied as a science. A 
remark somewhat similar is made by Celsus, concerning the history of medicine : " Non medicinam rationi esse posterio- 
rem, sed post medicinam inventam, rationem esse qusesitam." 



PREFACE TO THE FIRST DISSERTATION. 



to the philosophy of Descartes ; meditations 
which, in the order of time, have heen uniform- 
ly posterior to the study of external nature ; 
and which, even in such an age as the present, 
are confined to a comparatively small numher 
of recluse metaphysicians. 

Of this sort of conjectural or theoretical his- 
tory, the most unexceptionable specimens which 
have yet appeared, are indisputably the frag- 
ments in Mr Smith's posthumous work on the 
History of Astronomy, and on that of the An- 
cient Systems of Physics and Metaphysics. 
That, in the latter of these, he may have occa- 
sionally accommodated his details to his own 
peculiar opinions concerning the object of Phi- 
losophy, may perhaps, with some truth, be al- 
leged ; but he must at least be allowed the me- 
rit of completely avoiding the error by which 
D'Alembert was misled ; and, even in those in- 
stances where he lumself seems to wander a 
little from the right path, of furnishing his suc- 
cessors with a tliread, leading by easy and al- 
most insensible steps, from the first gross per- 
ceptions of sense, to the most abstract refine- 
ments of the Grecian schools. Nor is this the 
only praise to which these fragments are en- 
titled. By seizing on the different points of 
view from which the same object was contem- 
plated by different sects, they often bestow a 
certain degree of unity and of interest on what 
before seemed calculated merely to bewilder 
and to confound ; and render tlic apparent aber- 
rations and caprices of the understanding, sub- 
servient to the study of its operations and laws. 

To the foregoing strictures on D'Alembert's 
view of the origin of the sciences, it may be 
added, that this introductory part of his Dis- 
course does not seem to have any immediate 
connection with tlie sequel. We are led, in- 
deed, to expect, that it is to prepare the way 
for the study of the Encyclopedical Tree after- 
wards to be exhibited ; but in this expectation 
we are completely disappointed, — no reference 
to it whatever being made by the author in the 
farther prosecution of his subject. It forms, 
accordingly, a portion of his Discom'so altoge- 
ther foreign to tlie general design ; wliile, from 
the metaphysical obscurity which pervades it, 
the generality of readers are likely to receive an 



impression, either unfavourable to tlie perspi- 
cuity of the writer, or to their own powers of 
compreliension and of reasoning. It were to be 
wished, therefore, that, instead of occupying the 
first pages of the Encyclopedic, it had been re- 
served for a separate article in the body of that 
work. There it might have been read by the 
logical student, with no small interest and ad- 
vantage ; for, with all its imperfections, it bears 
numerous and precious marks of its author's 
hand. 

In delineating his Encyclopedical Tree, D'A- 
lembert has, in my opinion, been still more un- 
successful than in the speculations which have 
been hitherto under our review. His venera- 
tion for Bacon seems, on this occasion, to have 
prevented him from giving due scope to his own 
powerful and fertile genius, and has engaged 
him in the fruitless task of attempting, by means 
of arbitrary definitions, to draw a veil over in- 
curable defects and blemishes. In this part of 
Bacon's logic, it must, at the same time, be 
owned, that there is something peculiarly capti- 
vating to the fancy ; and, accordingly, it has 
united in its favour the suffrages of almost all 
the succeeding authors who have treated of the 
same subject. It will be necessary for me, 
therefore, to explain fully the grounds of that 
censure, which, in opposition to so many illus- 
trious names, I have presumed to bestow on it. 

Of the leading ideas to which I more particu- 
larly object, the following statement is given by 
D'Alembert. I quote it in preference to the 
corresponding passage in Bacon, as it contains 
various explanatory clauses and glosses, for 
which we are indebted to the ingenuity of the 
commentator. 

" The objects about which our minds are oc- 
cupied, are either spiritual or material, and the 
media employed for this purpose are om* ideas, 
eitlier directly received, or derived from reflec- 
tion. The system of our direct knowledge con- 
sists entirely in the passive and mechanical ac- 
cumidation of the particulars it comprehends ; 
an accumulation which belongs exclusively to 
the province of Memory. Reflection is of two 
kinds, according as it is employed in reasoning 
on the objects of our direct ideas, or in study- 
ing them as models for imitation. 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



" Thus, Memory, Reason, strictly so called, 
and Imagination, are the three modes in which 
the mind operates on the subjects of its thoughts. 
By Imagination, however, is here to be under- 
stood, not the faculty of conceiving or repre- 
senting to ourselves what we have formerly per- 
ceived, a faculty which differs in nothing from 
the memory of these perceptions, and which, if it 
were not relieved by the invention of signs, 
would be in a state of continual exercise. The 
power which we denote by this name has a 
nobler pro^dnce allotted to it, that of render- 
ing imitation subservient to the creations of 
genius. 

" These three faculties suggest a con-espond- 
ing division of human knowledge into three 
branches, 1. History, which derives its materials 
from Memory ; 2. Philosophy, which is the pro- 
duct of Reason ; and 3. Poetry (comprehending 
under this title all the Fine Arts), which is the 
offspring of Imagination. ' If we place Reason 
before Imagination, it is because this order ap- 
pears to us conformable to the natural progress 
of our intellectual operations. ^ The Imagina- 
tion is a creative faculty ; and the mind, before 
it attempts to create, begins by reasoning upon 
what it sees and knows. Nor is this all. In 
the faculty of Imagination, both Reason and 
Memory are, to a certain extent, combined, — 
the mind never imagining or creating objects 
but such as are analogous to those whereof it 
has had pre-vious experience. Where this ana- 
logy is wanting, the combinations are extrava- 
gant and displeasing ; and consequently, in that 
agreeable imitation of nature, at wliich the fine 
arts aim in common, invention is necessarily 
subjected to the control of rules which it is the 
business of the philosopher to investigate. 

" In farther justification of this arrangement, 
it may be remarked, that reason, in the com'se 



of its successive operations on the subjects of 
thought, by creating abstract and general ideas, 
remote from the perceptions of sense, leads to 
the exercise of Imagination as the last step of 
the process. Thus metaphysics and geometry 
are, of all the sciences belonging to Reason, 
those in which Imagination has the greatest 
share. I ask pardon for this observation from 
those men of taste, who, little aware of the near 
affinity of geometry to their own pursuits, and 
still less suspecting that the -only intermediate 
step between them is formed by metaphysics, 
are disposed to employ their wit in depreciating 
its value. The truth is, that, to the geometer 
who invents. Imagination is not less essential 
than to the poet who creates. They operate, 
indeed, differently on their object, the former 
abstracting and analyzing, where the latter com- 
bines and adorns ; — two processes of the mind, 
it must at the same time be confessed, which 
seem from experience to be so little congenial, 
that it may be doubted if the talents of a great 
geometer and of a gieat poet will ever be united 
in the same person. But whether these talents 
be or be not mutually exclusive, certain it is, 
that they who possess the one, have no right to 
despise those who cultivate the other. Of all 
the great men of antiquity, Archimedes is per- 
haps he who is the best entitled to be placed by 
the side of Homer." 

D'Alembert afterwards proceeds to observe, 
that of these three general branches of the En- 
cyclopedical Tree, a natural and convenient sub- 
di-vdsion is afforded by the metaphysical distri- 
bution of things into Material and Spiritual. 
" With these two classes of existences," he ob- 
serves farther, " history and philosophy are 
equally conversant; but as for Imagination^ 
her imitations are entirely confined to the mate- 
rial ivorld ; — a cii'cumstance," he adds, " which 



' The latitude given by D'Alembert to the meaning of the word Poetry is a real and very important improvement on 
Bacon, who restricts it to' Fictitious History or Fables. (Dc Aug. Sciait. lAh. ii. cap. i.) D'Alembert, on the otlier hand, 
employs it in its natural signification, as synonymous with invention or creation. " I,a Peinture, la Sculpture, I'Architec- 
ture, ia Poe'sie, la 3Jusique, et leurs diffc'rentes divisions, composent la troisicme distribution g^nc'rale qui nait de I'lmagi- 
nation, et dont les parties sont comprises sous le nom de Beaux-Arts. On peut les rapporter tons a la Po&ie, en prenant 
ce mot dans sa signification naturelle, qui n'est autre chose qu'invention ou cre'ation." 

- In placing Reason liefore Imagination, D'Alembert departs from the order in wliich these faculties are arranged by 
Bacon. " Si nous n'avons pas plac^, corame lui, la Raison apres I'lmagination, c'est que nous avons suivi dans le systeme 
Encvclopedique, I'ordre metaphysique des operations de I'esprit, plutot que I'ordre historique de ses progres depuis la re- 
naissance des lettres (Disc. Prilim.) How far the motive here assigned for the change is valid, the reader will be enabled 

to judge from the sequel of the above quotation. 



PREFACE TO THE FIRST DISSERTATION. 



conspires with the other arguments ahove stated, 
in justifj-ing Bacon for assigning to her the last 
place in his enumeration of our intellectual fa- 
culties." '■ Upon tliis suhdivision he enlarges at 
some length, and with considerable ingenuity ; 
but on the present occasion it would be quite 
superfluous to follow him any farther, as more 
than enough has been already quoted to enable 
my readers to judge, whether the objections 
which I am now to state to the foregoing ex- 
tracts be as soundr and decisive as I apprehend 
them to be. 

Of these objections a very obx^ious one is sug- 
gested by a consideration, of which D'Alembert 
himself has taken notice, — that the three facul- 
ties to wliich he refers the whole operations of 
the understanding are perpetually blended to- 
gether in their actual exercise, insomuch that 
there is scarcely a branch of human knowledge 
which ^oes not, in a greater or less degree, 
furnish employment to them all. It may be 
said, indeed, that some pursuits exercise and in- 
vigorate particular faculties i?iore tliau others ; 
that the study of History, for example, al- 
though it may occasionally requu'e the aid both 
of Reason and of Imagination, yet chiefly fm'- 
nislies occupation to the Memory ; and that this 
is sufficient to justify the logical division of our 
mental powers as the ground-work of a corre- 
sponding Encyclopedical classification.* This, 
however, will be found more specious than solid, 
lu what respects is the faculty of IMemory more 
essentially neccssaiy to the student of history 
than to the philosopher or to the poet ; and, on 
the other hand, of what value, in the circle of the 
sciences, would be a collection of historical de- 
tails, accumulated without discrimination, with- 
out a scrupulous examination of evidence, or 



without any attempt to compare and to genera- 
lize ? For the cultivation of that species of his- 
tory, in particular, which alone deserves a place 
in the Encyclopedical Tree, it may be justly af- 
firmed, that the rarest and most comprehensive 
combination of all our mental gifts is indispen- 
sably requisite. 

Another, and a still more formidable objec- 
tion to Bacon's classification, may be derived 
from the very imperfect and partial analysis of 
the mind which it assumes as its basis. \^Tiy 
were the powers of Abstraction and Generaliza- 
tion passed over in silence ? — powers wliicb, ac- 
cording as they are cultivated or neglected, con- 
stitute the most essential of all distinctions be- 
tween the intellectual characters of indi^^duals. 
A corresponding distinction, too, not less im- 
portant, may be remarked ainoi:g the objects of 
human study, according as our aim is to treasure 
up particular facts, or to establish general con- 
clusions. Does not tliis distinction mark out, 
with gi'eater precision, the limits which separate 
philosophy from mere historical narrative, than 
that which turns upon the different proNinces of 
Reason and of Memory ? 

I shall only add one other criticism on tliis 
celebrated enumeration, and that is, its want of 
distinctness, in confounding together the Sciences 
and the Arts under the same general titles. 
Hence a variety of those capricious arrange- 
ments, which must immediately strike every 
reader who follows Bacon through his details ; — 
the reference, for instance, of the mechanical 
arts to the department of History ; and conse- 
quently, according to his own analysis of the 
Mind, the vdtimate reference of these arts to the 
faculty of Memory ; while at tlie same time, in 
his tripartite division of the whole field of hu- 



' In this exclusive limitation of the province of Imagination to things ^laterial and Sensible, D'Alembert has followed 
the definition given by Descartes in his second IMeditation : " Inutg'mari nihil uUud est quam rei corporecc ^fi^iram sen imagi- 
ncm contcmplari ;" — a power of the mind, which (as I have elsewhere observed) apjiears to me to oe most precisely ex- 
pressed in our language by the word Conception. The province assigned to Imagination by D'Alembert is more extensive 
than this, for he ascribes to her also a creative and combining power ; tut still his definition agrees with that of Descartes, 
inasmuch as it excludes entirely from her dominion both the intellectual and the moral worlds. 

• ' I allude here to the following apology for Uacon, suggested by a very learned and judicious writer: — " On a fait 
rependant h Bacon queliiues reiiroches assez fondi's. On a observi? que sa classification des sciences repose sur une 
distinction qui n'est jjas rigoureuse, jjuisiiue la memoire, la raison, et I'imagination concourent necessairemcnt dans 
chaque art, comme dans chaque science. JIais on pent repondre, que I'un ou I'autre A^ ces trbis facultes, quoique secondee 
par les deux autres, peut cependant joucr le role principal. Kn prenant la distinction de Bacon dans ce sens, sa classifica- 
tion reste exacte, et devieut trjs utile." — (Degekando, Hist. Ccmp. Tome I. p. 298.) 



6 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



man knowledge, the art of Poetry has one en- 
tire proAnnce allotted to itself. 

These objections apply in common to Bacon 
and to D'Alembert. That which follows has a 
particular reference to a passage already cited 
from the latter, where, by some false refinements 
concerning the nature and functions of Imagina- 
tion, he has rendered the classification of his pre- 
decessor incomparably more indistinct and illo- 
gical than it seemed to be before. 

That all the creations or new combinations of 
Imagination, imply the pre\4ous process of de- 
composition or analysis, is abundantly manifest; 
and, therefore, unthout departing from the com- 
mon and popular use of language, it may un- 
doubtedly be said, that the faculty of abstraction 
is not less essential to the Poet, than to the Geo- 
meter and the Metaphysician.* But this is not 
the doctrine of D'Alembert. On the contrary, 
he affirms, that Metaphysics and Geometry are, 
of all the sciences connected with reason, those 
in which Imagination has the gi'eatest share ; — 
an assertion which, it wiW not be disputed, has at 
first sight somewhat of the air of a paradox ; and 
Avhich, on closer examination, will, I apprehend, 
be found altogether inconsistent with fact. If 
indeed D'Alembert had, in this instance, used, 
as some ^vriters haA'e done, the word Imagina- 
tion as synonymous with Invention, I should not 
have thought it worth while (at least so far as the 
geometer is concerned) to dispute his proposi- 
tion. But that this was not the meaning annex- 
ed to it by the author, appears from a subsequent 
clause, where he tells us, that the most refined 
operations of reason, consisting in the creation 
of generals which do not fall under the cogniz- 
ance of our senses, naturally led to the exercise of 
Imagination. His doctrine, therefore, goes to the 
identification of Imagination with Abstraction ; 
two faculties so very different in the direction 
which they give to our thoughts, that, according 
to his own acknowledgment, the man who is 



habitually occupied in exerting the one, seldom 
fails to impair both his capacity and his relish 
for the exercise of the other. 

This identification of two faculties, so strong- 
ly contrasted in their characteristical features, 
was least of all to be expected from a logician, 
who had previously limited the province of Ima- 
gination to the imitation of material objects ; a 
limitation, it may be remarked in passing, uhich 
is neither sanctioned by common use, nor by 
just views of the philosophy of the mind. Upon 
what gi-ound can it be alleged, that Milton's 
portrait of Satan's intellectual and moral cha- 
racter was not the offspring of tlie same creative 
faculty which gave birth to his Garden of Eden ? 
After such a definition, however, it is difficult 
to conceive, how so very acute a WTiter should 
have referred to Imagination the abstractions 
of the geometer and of the metaphysician ; and 
still more, that he should have attempted to 
justify this reference, by observing, that these 
abstractions do not fall under the cognisance of 
the senses. My own opinion is, that, in the 
composition of the whole passage, he had a 
view to the unexpected parallel between Homer 
and Archimedes, with which he meant, at the 
close, to surprise his readers. 

If the foregoing strictures be well-founded, 
it seems to follow, not only that the attempt of 
Bacon and of D'Alembert to classify the sciences 
and arts according to a logical division of our 
faculties, is altogether nnsatisfactorj^ : but that 
every future attempt of the same kind may be 
expected to be liable to similar objections. In 
studying, indeed, the Theory of the Mind, it is 
necessary to push our analysis as far as the 
nature of the subject admits of; and, wherever 
the thing is possible, to examine its constituent 
principles separately and apart fi'om each other : 
but this consideration itself, when combined 
with what was before stated on the endless 
variety of forms in wliich they may be blended 



' This assertion must, however, be understood with some qualifications ; for, although the Poet, as well as the Geometer 
and the Metaphysician, be perpetually called upon to decompose, by means of abstraction, the complicated objects of per. 
ception, it must not be concluded that the abstractions of all the three are exactly of the same kind. Those of the Poet 
amount to nothing more than to a separation into parts of the realities presented to his senses ; which separation is only a 
preliminary step to a subsequent recomposition into new and ideal forms of the things abstracted ; whereas the abstractions 
of the Jletaphysician and of the Geometer form the very objects of their respective sciences. 



PREFACE TO THE FIRST DISSERTATION. 



together in our various intellectual pursuits, is 
sufficient to show how iU adapted such an ana- 
lysis must for ever remain to serve as the basis 
of an Encyclopedical distribution. ' 

The circumstance to which this part of Ba- 
con's philosophy is chiefly indebted for its po- 
pularity, is the specious simplicity and compre- 
hensiveness of the distribution itself; — not the 
soundness of the logical views by which it was . 
suggested. That all oui* intellectual pursuits 
may be referred to one or other of these three 
heads, History, Philosophy, and Poetry, may 
undoubtedly be said with considerable plausi- 
bility ; — the word History being understood to 
comprehend all our knowledge of particular 
facts and particular events ; the word Philoso- 
phy, all the general conclusions or laws inferred 
from these particulars by induction ; and the 
word Poetry, all the arts addressed to the ima- 
gination. Not that the enumeration, even with 
the help of this comment, can be considered as 
complete ; for, to pass over eutb'ely the other 
objections already stated, under which of these 
thr^e heads shall we arrange the various branches 
of pure mathematics ? 

Are we therefore to conclude, that the magni- 
ficent design, conceived by Bacon, of enumerat- 
ing, defining, and classifying the multifarious 
objects of human knowledge ; — a design, on the 
successful accomplishment of which he himself 
believed that the advancement of the sciences 
essentially depended ; — Are we to conclude, 
that this design was nothing more than the 
abortive offspring of a warm imagination, un- 
susceptible of any useful application to enlight- 
en tlie mind, or to accelerate its progress ? 
My own idea is widely different. Tlie design 
was, in every respect, worthy of the sublime 
genius by which it was formed. Nor docs it 
follow, because the execution was imperfect* 
that the attempt has been attended with no ad- 



vantage. At the period when Bacon wrote, it 
was of much more consequence to exliibit to the 
learned a comprehensive sketch, than an ac- 
curate survey of the intellectual world ; — such 
a sketch as, by pointing out to those whose 
views had been hitherto confined witliin the 
limits of particular regions, the relative positions 
and bearings of their respective districts as 
parts of one great whole, might invite them all, 
for the common benefit, to a reciprocal exchange 
of their local riches. The societies or acade- 
mies which, soon after, sprung up in different 
countries of Europe, for the avowed purpose of 
contributing to the general mass of information, 
by the collection of insulated facts, conjectures, 
and queries, afford sufficient proof, that the anti- 
cipations of Bacon were not, in this instance, 
altogether chimerical. 

In examining the details of Bacon's survey, it 
is impossible not to be struck (more especially 
when we reflect on the state of learning two 
hundred years ago) with the minuteness of his 
information, as well as with the extent of his 
views ; or to foi'bear admiring his sagacity in 
pointing out, to future adventurers, the unknown 
tracks still left to be explored by human cu- 
riosity. If his classifications be sometimes arti- 
ficial and arbitrary, they have at least the merit 
of including, under one head or another, every 
particular of importance ; and of exhibiting these 
particulai's with a degree of method and of ap- 
parent connection, which, if it does not always 
satisfy the judgment, never fails to interest the 
fancy, and to lay hold of the memory. Nor 
must it be forgotten, to the glory of his genius, 
that what he failed to accomplish remains to 
this day a desideratum in science ; — that the in- 
tellectual chart delineated by him is, with all its 
imperfections, the only one of which modern 
philosophy has yet to boast ; — and that the 
united talents of D'Alembert and of Diderot, 



' In justice to the authors of the Encyclopcilical Tree prefixed to the IVcnch Dictionary, it oupht to be observed, that 
it is spoken of by U'Alembert, in his Preliminary Discourse, with the utmost modesty and diliidence ; and that he has ex- 
pressed, not only his own conviction, but that of his colleague, of the impossibility of executing such a task in a manner 
likely to satisfy the public. " Nous soranies trop con\aincuoi de I'arbitniire qui r^nera tou jours dans une pareille division, 
pour croire que notre systeme soit I'unique ou le mciUeur ; il nous suffira que noire travail ne soit pas entierenient desap- 
jirouvd par les bons esprits." And, some pages allenvards, " Si le public t'claiie donne son approbation !^ ces changemens, 
elle sera la recompense dc notre docility! ; et s'il ne les approuve pas, nous n'ea serons que plus convaincus de I'lmpossi- 
bililt' de former un Arbre Encyclop^dique qui soit au gre de tout le monde." 



8 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



aided by all the lights of the eighteenth century, 
have been able to add but little to what Bacon 
performed. 

After the foregoing observations, it will not 
be expected that an attempt is to be made, in 
the following Essay, to solve a problem which 
has so recently baffled the powers of these 
eminent writers, and which will probably long 
continue to exercise the ingeniuty of our suc- 
cessors. How much remains to be prexaously 
done for the improvement of that part of Logic, 
whose pro^•ince it is to fix the limits by which 
contiguous departments of study are defined 
and separated ! And how many unsuspected 
affinities may be reasonably presumed to exist 
among sciences, which, to our circumscribed 
views, appear at present the most alien from 
each other ! The abstract geometry of Apol- 
lonius and Archimedes was found, after an in- 
terval of two thousand years, to furnish a torch 
to the physical inquiries of Newton ; while, in 
the further progress of knowledge, the Etymo- 
logy of Languages has been happily employed 
to fill up the chasms of Ancient History ; and 
the conclusions of Comparative Anatomy, to il- 
lustrate the Theory of the Earth. For my own 
part, even if the task were executed witli the 
most complete success, I should be strongly in- 
clined to think, that its appropriate place in an 
Encyclopaedia would be as a branch of the article 
on Logic ; — certainly 7iot as an exordium to the 
Preliminary Discourse; the enlarged and re- 
fined %-iews which it necessarily presu])poses be- 
ing peculiarly unsuitable to that part of the work 
which may be expected, in the first instance, to 
attract the curiosity of every reader. 

Before concluding tliis preface, I shall sub- 
join a few slight strictm'es on a very concise and 
comprehensive di^^sion of the objects of Human 
Elnowledge, proposed by Mr Locke, as the ba- 
sis of a new classification of the sciences. Al- 
though I do not know that any attempt has ever 
been made to follow out in detail the general 
idea, yet the repeated approbation which has 
been lately bestowed on a division essentially 



the same, by several writers of the highest rank, 
renders it in some measure necessary, on the 
present occasion, to consider how far it is found- 
ed on just principles; more especially as it is 
completely at variance not only with the lan- 
guage and arrangement adopted in these preli- 
minary essays, but with the whole of that plan on 
which the original projectors, as well as the con- 
tinuators, of the Encyclopadia Britannica, ap- 
pear to have proceeded. These strictures will, 
at the same time, afford an additional proof of 
the difficulty, or rather of the impossibility, in 
the actual state of logical science, of sohdng 
this gieat problem, in a manner calculated to 
unite the general suffrages of philosophers. 

" All that can fall," says INIr Locke, " with- 
in the compass of Human Understanding being 
either, first. The nature of things as they are in 
themselves, their relations, and their manner of 
operation ; or, secondly. That which man him- 
self ought to do as a rational and voluntary 
agent, for the attainment of any end, especially 
happiness; or, thirdly, Tlie ways and means 
whereby the knowledge of both the one and ihe 
other of these is attained and communicated; I 
think science may be di^vided properly into these 
three sorts : 

"1. ^Mdi-A-n, or Natural Philosophy. The end 
of this is bare speciJative truth ; and whatsoever 
can afford the mind of man any such, falls under 
this branch, whether it be God himself, angels, 
spirits, bodies, or any of their affections, as num- 
ber and figure, &c. 

" 2. n«azr/zji, The skill of right applying our 
own powers and actions for the attainment of 
things good and useful. The most considerable 
under tliis head is Ethics, which is the seeking 
out those rules and measures of human actions 
which lead to happiness, and the means to prac- 
tise them. The end of this is not bare specula- 
tion, but right, and a conduct suitable to it. ^ 

" 3. 'S.ri/isiuTixrj, or the doctrine of signs, the 
most usual whereof being words, it is aptly 
enough termed also Aoy/xji, Logic. The business 
of this is to consider the nature of signs the 



' From this definition it appears, that as Locke included under the title of Physics, not only Natural Philosophy, pro- 
perly so called, but Natural Theology, and the Philosophy of the Hurruin Mind, SO he meant tO refer to the head of Practict, 
not only Ethics, but all the various Arts of life, both mechanical and liberal. 



PREFACE TO THE FIRST DISSERTATION. 



mind makes use of for the understanding of 
things, or conveying its knowledge to otlicrs. 

" This seems to me," continues Mr Locke, 
" the first and most general, as well as natural, di- 
vision of tlic objects of our understanding ; for a 
man can employ his thouglits about nothing but 
eitlier the contemplation of things themselves, 
for tlie discovery of trutli ; or about the things 
in his own power, whicli are his own actions, 
for the attainment of his own ends ; or the 
signs the mind makes use of, botli in one and 
the other, and the riglit ordering of them for 
its clearer information. All which three, A-iz. 
things as they are in tliemselves knowable ; 
actions as they depend on us, in order to hap- 
piness ; and the riglit use of signs, in order to 
knowledge ; being toto ccelo different, they seem- 
ed to me to be the three great provinces of the 
intellectual world, wholly separate and distinct 
one from another."^ 

From the manner in which Mr Locke ex- 
presses himself in the above quotation, he ap- 
pears e^ddently to have considered the division 
proposed in it as an original idea of his own ; 
and yet the trutli is, that it coincides exactly 
with what was generally adopted by the philo- 
sophers of ancient Greece. " The ancient 
Greek Philosophy," says Mr Smith, " was divid- 
ed into three great branches. Physics, or Natural 
Philosopliy ; Ethics, or Moral Philosophy ; and 
Logic. This general division," he adds, " seems 
perfectly agreeable to the nature of things." Mr 
Smith afterwards observes, in strict conformity 
to Locke's definitions (of wliich, however, he 
seem-s to liave had no recollection when he 
wrote this passage), " That, as the human 
mind and the Deity, in wliatever their essence 
may be supposed to consist, are parts of the 
great system of the universe, and parts, too, 
productive of the most important effects, what- 



ever was taught in the ancient schools of Greece, 
concerning tlieir nature, made a part of the sys- 
tem of physics."^ 

Dr Campbell, in his Philosophy of Blietoric, 
has borrowed from the Grecian schools the 
same very extensive use of the words physics 
and physiology, which he employs as s}Tionymous 
terms; comprehending under this title " not 
merely Natural History, Astronomj-, Geography, 
Mechanics, Optics, Hydrostatics, Mcteorologj-, 
Medicine, Chemistry, but also Natural Theologj' 
and Psycliology, wliich," he» observes, " liave 
been, in his opinion, most unnaturally disjoined 
from Physiology by pliilosophers." " Spirit," he 
adds, " M'liich here comprises only the Supreme 
Being and the human soul, is surely as much in- 
cluded under the notion of natural object as body 
is ; and is knowable to the philosopher purely in 
the same way, by observation and experience."' 

A similar train of thinking led the late cele- 
brated M. Turgot to comprehend under the 
name of Physics, not only Natural Pliilosophy 
(as that phrase is understood by tlie Newtonians), 
but Metapliysics, Logic, and even History.* 

Notwithstanding all this weiglit of authority, 
it is difficult to reconcile one's self to an arrange- 
ment which, while it classes with Astronomy, 
witli Mechanics, with Optics, and with Hy- 
drostatics, the strikingly contrasted studios of 
Natural Theologj" and of the Philosophy of the 
Human Mind, disunites from the two last the 
far more congenial sciences of Ethics and of 
Logic. The human mind, it is true, as well as 
the material world which surrounds it, forms 
a part of the great system of the Universe ; but 
is it possililc to conceive two parts of the same 
whole more completely flissimilar, or rather 
more diametrically ojiposite, in all tlicir charac- 
tcristical attributes ? Is not the one the appro- 
priate field and province of olscrvat ion, — a poM-er 



' See the concluJiiig chapter of the Essay on ITumaii UnilcrsiaiulUis; «ilitlcd, " Of the Division of the Sciences." 

' IVealth of NalioHs, Book v. chap. i. 

' Philosophy of Ilheloric, Book i. ch.ip. v. Part iii. § 1. 

* " Sous le iioni ile sciences physii|ucs je compronds la logique, qui est la connoissance des opi?rations dc notre esprit et 
de la generation denos idces; la nKJtapliysiqvie, (|iii s'occupe de la nature et de I'originedesitres ; et cnfin la phvsiquc, pro- 
I)reinent dite, ([ui observe Taction mutuelle des corps les uns sur Ics autres, et Ics causes et renchaineuicnt des pheuointncs 
sensibles. On jionnoit y ajoutcr I'histoirc." — fCEiivns de Turgot, Tome II. ]ip 284, 2B5.) 

In the year 170'>, a quarto volume was published at Bath, entitled luiclliriind I'htjsies. It consists cntirclv of speculations 
concerning the human mind, and is by no means destitute of merit. The publication was anonymou.^ ; but I have reason 
to believe that the author was the late well-known Governor I'ownall. 

DISS. 1. I'AItT I. B 



10 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



habitually awake to all the perceptions and im- 
pressions of the bodily organs ? And does not 
the other fall exclusively under the cognisance 
of reflection ; — an operation which inverts all the 
ordinary habits of the understanding, abstract- 
ing the thoughts from every sensible object, 
and even striving to abstract them from every 
sensible image ? What abuse of language can 
be greater, than to apply a common name to 
departments of knowledge which incite the 
curiosity in directions precisely contrary, and 
which tend to form intellectual talents, which, 
if not altogether incompatible, are certainly not 
often found imited in the same individual ? 
The word Physics, in particular, which, in our 
language, long and constant use has restricted 
to the phenomena of Matter, cannot fail to strike 
every ear as anomalously, and therefore illogical- 
ly, applied, when extended to those of Thought 
and of Consciousness. 

Nor let it be imagined that these observations 
assume any particular theory about the nature 
or essence of Mind. Wliether we adopt, on this 
point, the language of the Materialists, or that 
of their opponents, it is a proposition equally 
certain and equally indisputable, that the phe- 
nomena of Mind and those of Matter, as far as 
they come under the cognisance of our faculties, 
appear to be more completely heterogeneous 
than any other classes of facts within the circle 
of om- knowledge ; and that the sources of our 
information concerning them are in every re- 
spect so radically different, that nothing is more 
carefully to be avoided, in the study of either, 
than an attempt to assimilate them, by means 
of analogical or metaphorical terms, applied to 
both in common. In those inquiries, above all, 
where we have occasion to consider Matter and 
Mind as conspiring to produce the same joint 
effects (in the constitution, for example, of om- 
own compounded frame), it becomes more pe- 
culiarly necessary to keep constantly in view 
the distinct pro^-ince of each, and to remember, 
that the business of philosophy is not to resolve 
the phenomena of the one into those of the 
other, but merely to ascertain the general laws 
which regulate their mutual connection. Mat- 
ter and Mind, therefore, it should seem, are the 
two most general beads which ought to form 



the ground-work of an Encyclopedical classifi- 
cation of the sciences and arts. No branch of 
human knowledge, no work of human skill, can 
be mentioned, which does not obviously fall un- 
der the former head or the latter. 

Agreeably to this twofold classification of the 
sciences and arts, it is proposed, in the follow- 
ing introductory Essays, to exhibit a rapid 
sketch of the progress made since the revival of 
letters : First, in those branches of knowledge 
which relate to Mind ; and, secondly, in those 
which relate to Matter. D'Alembert, in his 
Preliminary Discourse, has boldly attempted to 
embrace both subjects in one magnificent de- 
sign ; and never, certainly, was there a single 
mind more equal to such an undertaking. The 
historical outline which he has there traced 
forms by far the most valuable portion of that 
performance, and will for ever remain a proud 
monument to the depth, to the comprehensive- 
ness, and to the singular Tersatility of his genius. 
In the present state of science, however, it has 
been apprehended, that, by dividing so great a 
work among different hands, something might 
perhaps be gained, if not in point of reputation 
to the authors, at least in point of instruction 
to their readers. Tliis division of labour was, 
indeed, in some measure, rendered necessary 
(independently of all other considerations), by 
the important accessions which mathematics 
and physics have received since D'Alembert's 
time ; — by the innumerable improvements which 
the spirit of mercantile speculation, and the 
rivalship of commercial nations, have introduced 
into the mechanical arts ; — and, above all, by 
the rapid succession of chemical discoveries, 
which commences with the researches of Black 
and of Lavoisier. The part of this task which 
has fallen to my share is certainly, upon the 
whole, the least splendid in the results which it 
has to record ; but I am not without hopes, that 
this disadvantage may be partly compensated 
by its closer connection Avith (what ought to 
be the ultimate end of all our pursuits) the in- 
tellectual and moral improvement of the spe- 
cies. 

I am, at the same time, well aware that, in 
proportion as this last consideration increases 
the importance, it adds to the difficulty of my 



PREFACE TO THE FIRST DISSERTATION. 



11 



undertaking. It is chiefly in judging of ques- 
tions " coming home to their business and bo- 
soms," that casual associations lead mankind 
astray; and of such associations how incalcu- 
lable is tlie number arising from false systems of 
religion, oppressive forms of goA'crnment, and 
absurd plans of education ! The consequence 
is, tliat while the pliysical and mathematical dis- 
coveries of former ages present tliemselves to 
the hand of the historian, like masses of pui'e 
and native gold, the truths which we are here 
in quest of may be compared to iroJi, which, al- 
though at once the most necessary and the most 
widely diffused of all the metals, commonly re- 
quires a discriminating eye to detect its exist- 
ence, and a tedious, as well as nice process, to 
extract it from the ore. 

To the same circumstance it is owing, that 
improvements in Moral and in Political Science 
do not strike the imagination with nearly so 
great force as the discoveries of the Matliemati- 
cian or of the Chemist. Wlien an inveterate 
prejudice is destroyed by extirpating the casual 
associations on which it was gi-afted, how power- 
ful is the new impulse given to the intellectual 
faculties of man ! Yet how slow and silent the 
process by which the effect is accomplished ! 
Were it not, indeed, for a certain class of learned 
authors, wlio, from time to time, heave the log 
into the deep, we should hardly believe that the 
reason of the species is progressive. In this re- 
spect, the religious and academical establish- 
ments in some parts of Europe are not mthout 
their use to the Historian of the Human Mind. 
Immoveably moored to the same station by the 
strength of their cables, and the weight of their 
ancliors, they enable him to measure the rapi- 
dity of the current by which the rest of tlie 
world are borne along. 

77(1.5, too, is remarkable in the history of our 
prejudices; that, as soon as the film falls from 
the intellectual eye, we are apt to lose all recol- 
lection of our former blindness. Like the fan- 
tastic and giant shapes which, in a thick fog, the 
imagination lends to a block of stone, or to the 
stump of a tree, they produce, while the illusion 
lasts, the same effect with truths aiid realities ; 
but the moment the eye lias caught the exact 
form and dimensions of its object, the spell is 



broken for ever ; nor can any effort of thought 
again conjure up the spectres which have va- 
nished. 

As to the subdivisions of which the sciences 
of Matter and of Mind are susceptible, I have 
already said, that this is not the proper place for 
entering into any discussion concerning them. 
The passages above quoted from D'Alembert, 
from Locke, and from Smith, arc sufficient to 
show how little probability there is, in the actual 
state of Logical Science, of uniting the opinions 
of the learned in favour of any one scheme of 
partition. To prefix, therefore, such a scheme 
to a work which is professedly to be carried on 
by a set of unconnected wTiters, would be equal- 
ly presumptuous and useless ; and, on the most 
favourable supposition, could tend only to fetter, 
by means of dubious definitions, the subsequent 
freedom of thought and of expression. The ex- 
ample of the French Encyclopedie cannot here be 
justly alleged as a precedent. The preliminary 
pages by which it is introduced were WTitten by 
the two persons who projected the whole plan, 
and who considered themselves as responsible, 
not only for their ovm admirable articles, but 
for the general conduct of the execution ; where- 
as, on the present occasion, a porch was to be 
adapted to an irregular edifice, reared, at differ- 
ent periods, by different architects. It seemed, 
accordingly, most advisable to avoid, as much 
as possible, in these Introductory Essays, all in- 
novations in language, and, in describing the 
different arts and sciences, to follow scrupulous- 
ly the prevailing and most intelligible phrasc- 
ologj'. The task of defining them, with a gi-eatcr 
degree of precision, properly devolves upon those 
to whose province it belongs, in the progi-ess of 
the work, to unfold in detail their elementally 
principles. 

The sciences to which I mean to confine my 
observations are Metaphysics, Ethics, and Poli- 
tical Philosophy; imderstanding, l>y Metaphy- 
sics, not the Ontologj' and Pneumatology of the 
schools, but the inductive Philosophy of the 
Human Mind ; and limiting the phr.ase Political 
Philosophy almost exclusively to the modern 
science of Political Economy; or (to express 
myself in terms at once more comprehensive 
and more precise) to that branch of the theory 



12 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



of legislation wliicli, according to Bacon's defi- 
nition, aims to ascertain tliose " Leges Icgum, 
ex quibus informatio peti potest quid in singulis 
legibus bene aut perperam positum aut constitu- 
tum sit." The close affinity between these three 



departments of knowledge, and the easy transi- 
tions by which the curiosity is invited from the 
study of any one of them to that of the other 
two, will sufficiently appear from the following 
Historical Rc^dew. 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



PART FIRST. 



In the following Historical and Critical 
Sketches, it has heen judged proper by the dif- 
ferent WTiters, to confine their -s-iews entu'ely to 
the period which has elapsed since the revival of 
letters. To have extended their retrospects to 
the ancient world would have crowded too great 
a multiplicity of objects into the limited canvas 
on which they had to work. For my own part, 
I miglit, pei'haps wth still gi'eater propriety, 
have confined myself exclusively to the two last 
centuries; as the Sciences of which I am to 
treat, present but little matter for useful remark, 
prior to the time of Lord Bacon. I shall make 
no apology, however, for devoting, in the first 
place, a few pages to some observations of a more 
general nature, and to some scanty gleanings of 
literary detail, bearing more or less directly on 
my principal design. 



On this occasion, as well as in the sequel of 
my Discourse, I shall avoid, as far as is consist- 
ent with distinctness and perspicuity, the mi- 
nuteness of the mere bibliographer ; and, instead 
of attempting to amuse my readers with a series 
of critical epigrams, or to dazzle them with a 
rapid succession of evanescent portraits, shall 
study to fix their attention on those great lights 
of the world by whom the torch of science has 
been successively seized and transmitted.' It 
is, in fact, such leading characters alone which 
furnish matter for philosophical history. To enu- 
merate the names or the labours of obscure or 
even secondary authors, whatever amusement it 
might afford to men of curious erudition, would 
contribute but little to illustrate the origin and 
filiation of consecutive systems, or the gradual 
developement and progress of the human mind. 



' I have ventured here to combine a scriptural expression with an allusion of Plato's to a Grecian game ; — an allusion which, 
in his writings, is finely and pathetically applied to tlie rapid succession of generations, through which tlie continuity of 
human life is maintained from age to age ; and which are perpetually transferring from liand to hand the concerns and du- 
ties of this fleeting scene. Vmitm n xm' i«T{ij»»Ti,- ■rarSat, nulitn^ \iLiJ.^i%a. Tcv iiict xajoeJ/So>Tif ix>.tis ij £k>.m, — (Plato, Leg. 
lib. vi.) 

Et quasi cursorcs vitai' larapada tradunt Luchet. 



14 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



CHAPTER I. 

FROM THE REVIVAL OF LETTERS TO THE PUBLICATION OF BACON'S PHILOSOPHICAL 

WORKS. 



The long interval, commonly known by the 
name of the middle ages, which immediately pre- 
ceded the revival of letters in the western part 
of Europe, forms the most melanclioly blank 
which occurs, from the first dawn of recorded 
civilisation, in the intellectual and moral his- 
tory of the human race. In one point of view 
alone, the recollection of it is not altogether un- 
pleasing, inasmuch as, by the proof it exhibits 
of the inseparable connection between ignorance 
and prejudice on the one hand, and Adce, mi- 
sery, and sla^-ery on the other, it affords, in 
conjunction with other causes, which will after- 
wards fall under our review, some security 
against any future recuiTcnce of a similar cala- 
mity'. 

It would furnish a very interesting and in- 
structive subject of speculation, to record and 
to illustrate (with the spirit, however, rather of 
a philosopher than of an antiquary), the various 
abortive efforts, which, during this protracted 
and seemingly hopeless period of a thousand 
years, were made by enlightened individuals, to 
impart to their contemporaries the fruits of their 
own acquirements. For in no one age from its 
commencement to its close, does the continuity of 
knowledge (if I may borrow an expression of Ms 
Harris), seem to have been entirely interrupted : 
" Tliere was always a faint twilight, like that 
auspicious gleam wliich, in a summer's night, 
fills up the interval between the setting and the 
rising sun." "^ On the present occasion, I shall 
content myself with remarking the important 
efifects produced by the numerous monastic esta- 
blishments all over the Christian world, in pre- 
ser^dng, amidst the general wi-eck, the inesti- 



mable remains of Greek and Roman refinement ; 
and in keeping alive, during so many centuries, 
those scattered sparks of truth and of science, 
which were afterwards to kindle into so bright 
a flame. I mention this particularly, because, in 
our zeal against the vices and corruptions of the 
Romish church, we are too apt to forget, how 
deeply we are indebted to its superstitious and 
apparently useless foundations, for the most pre- 
cious advantages that we now enjoy. 

The study of the Roman Law, which, from a 
variety of causes, natural as %vell as accidental, 
became, in the course of the twelfth century, an 
object of general pursuit, shot a strong and aus- 
picious ray of intellectual light across the sur- 
rounding darkness. No study could then have 
been presented to the curiosity of men, more 
happily adapted to improve their taste, to enlarge 
their ^^ews, or to invigorate their reasoning 
powers ; and although, in the first instance, 
prosecuted merely as the object of a weak and 
undistinguishing idolatry, it nevertheless con- 
ducted the student to the very confines of ethical 
as well as of political speculation ; and served, in 
the meantime, as a substitute of no inconsider- 
able value for both these sciences. According- 
ly we find that, while in its immediate effects it 
powerfully contributed, wherever it struck its 
roots, by ameliorating and systematizing the ad- 
ministration of justice, to accelerate the progress 
of order and of civilization, it afterwards furnish- 
ed, in the further career of human advancement, 
the parent stock on which were grafted the first 
rudiments of pure ethics and of liberal politics 
taught in modem times. I need scarcely add, 
that I allude to the systems of natural jurispru- 



' Phihfogical Inquiries, Part III. chap. i. 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



15 



dence compiled by Grotius and his successors ; — 
systems which, for a hundred and fifty years, 
engrossed all the learned industry of the most 
enlightened part of Europe ; and which, how- 
ever unpromising in their first aspect, were des- 
tined, in the last result, to prepare the way for 
that never to be forgotten change in the literary 
taste of the eighteenth century, " which has 
everywhere turned the spirit of philosophical 
inquiry from frivolous or abstruse speculations, 
to the business and affairs of men."* 

The re\-ival of letters may be considered as 
coeval with the fall of the Eastern empire, to- 
wards the close of the fifteenth century. In con- 
sequence of this event, a number of learned 
Greeks took refuge in Italy, where the taste for 
literature already introduced by Dante, Petrarch, 
and Boccacio, together with the liberal patro- 
nage of the illustrious House of Medicis, secu- 
red them a welcome reception. A knowledge of 
the Greek tongue soon became fashionable ; and 
the learned, encouraged by the rapid diffusion 
which the art of printing now gave to their 
labours, vied with each other in rendering the 
Greek authors accessible, by means of Latin 
translations, to a still wider circle of readers. 

For a long time, indeed, after the era just 



mentioned, the progress of useful knowledge 
was extremely slow. The passion for logical 
disputation was succeeded by an unbounded ad- 
miration for the wisdom of antiquity : and in 
proportion as the pedantry of the schools disap- 
peared in the universities, that of erudition and 
philology occupied its place. 

Meanwhile, an important advantage was gain- 
ed in the immense stock of materials which the 
ancient authors supplied to the reflections of 
speculative men ; and which, although frequent- 
ly accumulated with little discrimination or pro- 
fit, were much more favourable to the develope- 
ment of taste and of genius than the unsubstan- 
tial subtleties of ontology or of dialectics. By 
such studies were formed Erasmus, ^ Ludovicus 
Vives,' Sir Thomas More,* and many other ac- 
complished scholars of a similar character, who, 
if they do not rank in the same line with the 
daring reformers by whom the errors of the 
Catholic church were openly assailed, certainly 
exhibit a very striking contrast to the barbarous 
and unenlightened ^Titers of the preceding age. 

Tlie Protestant Reformation, which followed 
immediately after, was itself one of the natural 
consequences of the revival of letters, and of the 
invention of printing. But although, in one 



' Dr Robertson, from whom I quote these words, lias mentioned this change as the glory of the present age, meaning, I 
presume, the period wliich has elapsed since the time of Blontesquieu. By what steps the philosophy to wliich he alludes 
took its rise from the systems of jurisprudence previously in fashion, will appear in the sequel of this Discourse. ^ 

^ The writings of Erasmus probably contributed still more than those of I,utlier himself to the progress of the Eeforma- 
tion among men of education and taste; but, without the co-operation of bolder and more decided characters than his, little 
would to this day have been eS'ccted in Europe among the lower orders. " Erasmus imagined," as is observed by his bio- 
grapher, " that at length, by training up youth in learning and useful knowledge, those religious improvements would 
gradually be brought about, which the Princes, the Prelates, and the Divines of his days coidd not be persuaded to admit 
or to tolerate." — (.Joktin, p. 279.) In yielding, however, to this pleasing expectation, Erasmus must have flattered himself 
with the hope, not only of a perfect freedom of literary discussion, but of such reforms in the prevailing modes of instruc- 
tion, as would give comiilcte scope to the energies of the human mind ; — for, where books and teachers are subjected to the 
censorship of those who are hostile to the dissemination of truth, they become the most powerful of all auxiliaries to the 
authority of established errors. 

It was long a proverbial saying among the ecclesiastics of the Ilomish church, that " Erasmus laid the egg, and Luther 
hatched it ;" and there is more truth in the remark, than in most of their sarcasms on the same subject. 

* Ludovicus Vives was a learned Spaniard, intimately connected both witli Erasmus and More ; with the former of 
whom he lived for some time at Louvain, " where they both promoted literature as much as they could, though not with- 
out great opposition from some of the divines." — Johtin, p. 255. 

" He was inviteil into England by ^Volse}', in 1523; and coming to Oxford, he read Ihe Cardinal's lecture of Htimanily, 
and also lectures of Civil Law, which Henry VIII. and his Queen, Catherine, did him the honour of attending. — (Il/iJ. p. 
207.) He died at Bruges in 1551. 

In jioint of good sense and acutcness, wherever he treats of philosophical questions, he yields to none of his contempo- 
raries ; and in some of his anticipations of the future progress of science, he discovers a mind more comprehensive and 
sagacious than any of them. Erasmus appears, from a letter of his to Budaeus, dated in 1521, to have foreseen the bril- 
liant career which Vivos, then a very young man, was about to run. " Vives in stadio literario, non minus feliciter quam 
gnaviter dccertat, et si satis ingenium hominis novi, non conquiescet, donee onmcs a tergo reliqucrit." — For this letter (the 
whole of which is peculiarly interesting, as it contains a character of Sir Thomas More, and an account of the extraordinary 
accomplishments of his daughters), See Jortin's Life ofErasmiu, Vol. II. p. 3G(i. ct seq. 

* See Note A. 



16 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



point of view, only an efftd, it is not, on the 
present occasion, less entitled to notice than tlie 
causes by which it was pi'oduced. 

The renunciation, in a ^-eat part of Europe, 
of theological opinions so long consecrated by 
time, and the adoption of a creed more pure in 
its principles and moi-e liberal in its spirit, could 
not fail to encourage, on all other subjects, a 
congenial freedom of inquiiy. These circum- 
stances operated still more directly and power- 
fully, by their influence, in undermining the au- 
thority of Aristotle ; — an authority which for 
many years was scarcely inferior in the schools 
to that of the Scriptures ; and which, in some 
Universities, was supported by statutes, requir- 
ing the teachers to promise upon oath, that in 
their public lectures, they would follow no other 
guide. 

Luther, ^ who was perfectly aware of the coi-- 
ruptions which the Romish church had contriv- 
ed to connect ^vith their veneration for the Sta- 
gii'ite, ^ not only threw off the yoke himself, but, 
in various parts of his writings, speaks of Aris- 
totle with the most unbecoming asperity and 
contempt.^ In one very remarkable passage, 
he asserts, that the study of Aristotle was wholly 
useless, not only in Theology, but in Natural 
Philosophy. " What does it contribute," he 
asks, " to the knowledge of things, to trifle and 
cavil in language conceived and prescribed by 



Aristotle, concerning matter, form, motion, and 
time?"* The same freedom of thought on to- 
pics not strictly theological, formed a prominent 
feature in the character of Calvin. A curious 
instance of it occurs in one of his letters, where 
he discusses an ethical question of no small mo- 
ment in the science of political economy j — 
" How far it is consistent with morality to ac- 
cept of interest for a pecuniary loan ?" On this 
question, which, even in Protestant countries, 
continued, till a very recent period, to divide the 
opinions both of divines and lawyers, Calvin 
treats the authority of Ai'istotle and that of the 
church with equal disregard. To the former he 
opposes a close and logical argument, not un- 
worthy of Mr Bentham. To the latter he replies, 
by showing, that the Mosaic law on this point 
was not a moral but a municipal prohibition ; 
a prohibition not to be judged of from any par- 
ticular text of Scriptiu-e, but upon the principles 
of natural equity. ' The example of these two 
Fathersof the Reformation would probably have 
been followed by consequences still greater and 
more immediate, if Melanchthon had not unfor- 
tunately given the sanction of his name to the 
doctrines of the Peripatetic school:® but still, 
among the Reformers in general, the credit of 
these doctrines gradually declined, and a spirit 
of research and of improvement prevailed. 
The invention of printing, which took place 



' Born l-!83, died 151G. 

' In one of his letters he writes thus : " Ego simplic'iter credo, quod impossibile sit ecclesiam refornoari, nisi funditus 
car.ones, decretales, scholastica theologia, philosophia, logica, ut nunc habentur, eradiceniur, et alia Instituantur." — Bruck- 
T.ni HUt. Ciit. Phil. Tom. IV. p. 95. 

^ For a specimen of Luther's scurrility against Aristotle, see Bayle, Art. Luther, Note HH. 

In Lutlier's Co/loquia Mnisalia we are told, that " he abhorred the Schoolmen, and called tliem sophistical locusts, cater- 
pillars, frogs, and lice." From the same work we learn, that " he hated Aristotle, but highly esteemed Cicero, as a wise 
and a good man." — Sep Joktin's Life of Erasmus, p. 121. 

* " Niliil adjumenti ex ipso haberi posse non solum ad theologiam seu sacras literas, verum etiam ad ipsam naturalem 
philosophiam. Quid enira juvet ad rerum cognitionem, si de materia, forma, motu, tempore, nugari et cavillari queas ver- 
bis ab Aristotele conceptis et prsescriptis ?" — Brcck. Hist. Phil. Tom. IV. p. 101. 

The following passage to the same purjiose is quoted by Bayle : " Non mihi persuadebitis, philosopliiara esse garrulita- 
tera illam de materia, motu, infinito, loco, vacuo, tempore, quse fere in Aristotele sola discimus, talia quiE nee intellectum, 
nee affijctum, nee communes hominum mores quiilquam juvent ; tantum contentionib\i3 serendis, seminandisque idonea." — 
Bayle, Art. Luther, Note HH. 

I borrow from Bayle another short extract from Luther: " Nihil ita ardet animus, quam bistrionem ilium (Aristoteleni), 
qui tam vere Grreca larva ecclesiam lusit, niultis revelare, ignominiamque ejus eunctis ostendere, si otium esset. Habeo 
in manus commentariolos in 1. i'hysicorum, quibus fabulam Aristiei denuo agere statui in meum istum I'rotea (Aristoteleni). 
Pars crucis meoe vel maxima est, quod videre cogor fratrum ojitima ingenia, bonis studiis nata, in istis coenis vitara agere, 
ct operam perdere." — Ibid. 

That I^uthcr was deeply skilled in the scholastic philosophy we learn from very high authority, that of Melanchthon : 
who tells us farther, that he was a strenuous partizan of the sect of A'ominalisls, or, as they were then generally called, 
Tcrminists — Bruck. Tom. IV. pp. 93, 94, et scq, 

^ See Note B. 

' " Et Melanchthoni quidem prsecipue debetur conservatio philosophiiE AristotelicK in academiis protestantium. Scripsit 
is compendia plerariimnue disciplinarum philosopliise Aristotelicas, qure in Acad.'aiiis diu regnarunt." — Heineccti, Elem. 
Hist. Phil. § ciii. See also Bayle's Dictionary, Art. Melanchthon. 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



17 



vcr)' nearly at the i?ame time with the fall of 
tlie Eastern Empire, besides adding greatly to 
tlie efficacy of the causes above-mentioned, must 
have been attended with very important effects 
of its own, on the progress of the human mind. 
For us who have been accustomed, from our in- 
fancy, to tl'.e use of books, it is not easy to fonn 
an adequate idea of the disadvantages which 
those laboured under, who had to acquire the 
whole of their knowledge through the medium 
of universities and schools ; — blindly devoted as 
the generality of students must then have been 
to the pecidiar opinions of the teacher who first 
unfolded to their curiosity the treasures of lite- 
rature and the wonders of science. Tlius error 
was perpetuated ; and, instead of yielding to 
lime, acquired additional influence in each suc- 
cessive generation.' In modern times, this in- 
fluence of names is, comparatively speaking, at 
an end. The object of a public teacher is no 
longer to inculcate a particular system of dog- 
mas, but to prepare Ms pupils for exercising 
their own judgments; to exhibit to them an 
outline of the different sciences, and to suggest 
subjects for their future examination. The few 
attempts to establish schools and to found sects, 
liavc all, after perhaps a temporary success, 
proved abortive. Theu- effect, too, during their 
short continuance, has been perfectly the reverse 
of that of the schools of antiquity ; for where- 
as these were instrumental, on many occasions, 
in establishing and diffusing error in the world, 
the founders of our modern sects, by mixing up 
important truths wiili their own peculiar tenets, 
and by disguising them under the garb of a tech- 
nical phraseologj', have fostered such prejudices 
against themselves, as have blinded the public 
mind to all the lights they were able to commu- 
nicate. Of this remark a melancholy illustra- 
tion occurs, as M. Turgot long ago predicted, 



in the case of the French Economists ; and 
many examples of a similar import might be pro- 
duced from the history of science in our coun- 
try; more particularly from thehistoryof the va- 
rious medical and metaphysical schools which 
successively rose and fell during the last century. 

With the circumstances already suggested, as 
conspiring to accelerate the progi-ess of know- 
ledge, another has co-operated very extensively 
and powerfully ; the rise of the lower orders in 
the different countries of Europe, — in conse- 
quence partly of the enlargement of commerce, 
and partly of the efforts of the Sovereigns to re- 
duce the overgrown power of the feudal aristo- 
cracy. 

Without this emancipation of the lower or- 
ders, and the gradual diffusion of wealth by 
wluch it was accompanied, the advantages de- 
rived from the invention of printing woidd have 
been extremely limited. A certain degi'ce of 
ease and independence is essentially requisite to 
inspire men with the desire of knowledge, and 
to afford the leisure necessary for acquiring it ; 
and it is only by the encouragement which such 
a state of society presents to industry and ambi- 
tion, that the selfish passions of the multitude 
can be interested in the intellectual improve- 
ment of their children. It is only, too, in such 
a state of society, that education and books arc 
likely to increase the sum of human happiness ; 
for while these advantages are confined to one 
privileged description of individuals, they but 
furnish them with an additional engine for de- 
basing and misleading the minds of their infe- 
riors. To all which it may be added, that it is 
chiefly by the shock and collision of different and 
opposite prejudices, that truths are gradually 
cleared from that admixture of error which they 
have so strong a tendency to acquire, wherever 
the course of public opinion is forcibly con- 



' It was in consequence of this mode of condiictin^r education by moans of oral instruction alone, that the ililTerent sects 
of philosophy arose m ancient Greece ; and it seems to have been with a view of counteracting the obvious inconveniences 
resulting from them, that Socrates introduced his peculiar method of questioning, with an air of sceptical diffidence, those 
whom he was anxious to instruct ; so as to allow tliem, in forming their conclusions, the complete and unbiassed exercise 
of their own reason. Such, at least, is the apology oti'erod for tlie apparent indecision of the Academic school, by one of 
its wisest as well as most eloquent adherents. " As for other sects," says Cicero, " who are bound in fetters, before they 
are able to form any judgment of what is right or true, and who have been led to yield themselves up, in their tender 
years, to the guidance ot some friend, or to tlie captivating eloquence of the teacher whom they have first heard, they as- 
sume to themselves the right of pronouncing upon questions of which they are completely ignorant ; adhering to whale\cr 
creed the wind of doctrine may have driven them, as if it were the only rock on which their safety depended." — Cic. 
Luculliu, 3. 

DISS. I. PART I. C 



18 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



strained and guided within certain artificial 
channels, marked out by the narrow views of 
human policy. The diffusion of knowledge, 
therefore, occasioned by the rise of tlie lower 
orders, would necessarily contribute to the im- 
provement of useful science, not merely in pro- 
portion to the arithmetical number of cultivated 
minds now combined in the pursuit of truth, 
but in a proportion tending to accelerate that 
important effect with a far greater rapidity. 

Nor ought we here to overlook the influence 
of the foregoing causes, in encouraging among 
authors the practice of addressing the multitude 
in their own vernacular tongues. The zeal of 
the Reformers first gave birth to this invaluable 
innovation, and imposed on their adversaries 
the necessity of employing, in their own de- 
fence, the same weapons.^ From that moment 
the prejudice began to vanish which had so 
long confounded knowledge with erudition ; and 
a revolution commenced in the republic of let- 
ters, analogous to what the invention of gun- 
powder produced in the art of war. " All the 
splendid distinctions of mankind," as the Cham- 
pion and Flower of Cliivalry indignantly ex- 
claimed, " were thereby thrown do^Ti ; and 
the naked shepherd levelled with the knight 
clad in steel." 

To all these considerations may be added the 
gradual effects of time and experience in cor- 
recting the errors and prejudices which had 
misled philosophers during so long a succession 
of ages. To this cause, chiefly, must be ascrib- 
ed the ardour with which we find various inge- 
nious men, soon after the period in question, 
employed in prosecuting experimental inquiries ; 
a species of study to which nothing analogous 
occurs in the history of ancient science.* The 
boldest and most successful of this new school 
was the celebrated Paracelsus, born in 1493, 
and consequently only ten years younger than 
Luther. " It is impossible to doubt," says Le 



Clerc, in his HiMory of Physic, " that he pos- 
sessed an extensive knowledge of what is called 
the Materia Medica, and that he had employed 
much time in working on the animal, the vege- 
table, and the mineral substances of which it is 
composed. He seems, besides, to have tried an 
immense number of experiments in chemistry ; 
but he has this great defect, that he studiously 
conceals or disguises the results of his long ex- 
perience." The same author quotes from Pa- 
racelsus a remarkable expression, in which he 
calls the philosophy of Aristotle a wooden fimn- 
dation. " He ought to have attempted," con- 
tinues Le Clerc, " to have laid a better ; but if 
he has not done it, he has at least, by discover- 
ing its weakness, in^dted his successors to look 
out for a firmer basis."' 

Lord Bacon himself, while he censures the 
moral fraUties of Paracelsus, and the blind em- 
piricism of his followers, indirectly acknowledges 
the extent of his experimental information : 
" Tlie ancient sophists may be said to have hid, 
but Paracelsus extinguished the light of nature. 
Tlie sophists were only deserters of experience, 
but Paracelsus has betrayed it. At the same 
time, he is so far from understanding the right 
method of conducting experiments, or of record- 
ing their results, that he has added to the trouble 
and tediousness of experimenting. By wander- 
ing through the wilds of experience, his disciples 
sometimes stumble upon useful discoveries, not 
by reason, but by accident ; — whence rashly 
proceeding to form theories, they carrj' the 
smoke and tarnish of their art along -ndth them ; 
and, like childish operators at the furnace, at- 
tempt to raise a structure of philosophy with a 
few experiments of distillation." 

Two other circumstances, of a nature •nidely 
different from those hitherto enumerated, al- 
though, probably, in no small degree to be ac- 
counted for on the sarae ^inciples, seconded, 
wdth an incalculable accession of power, the sud- 



' " The sacred books were, in almost all the kingtlonis and states of Europe, translated into the latiffuage of each respec- 
tive people, particularly in Germany, Italy, France, and Britain." — (Mosheim's Eccles. Hist. Vol. III. p. 265.) The effect 
of this single circumstance in multiplying the number of readers and of thinkers, and in giving a certain stability to the 
mutable forms of oral speech, may be easily imagined. The common translation of the Bible into English is pronounced by 
Dr Lowth to be still the best standard of our language. 

' " Hxc nostra (ut saepe diximus) felicitatij cujusdam sunt potius quam &cultatis, etpothu temptrU partut quan, ingmii,"—. 
Nov. Org. Lib. i. c. xxiii. 

* Histoire de la Mcdecine (^ la Haye, 1729), p. fil9. 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



19 



den impulse which the human mind liad just re- 
ceived. The same century which tlie invention 
of printing and the revival of letters have made 
for ever memorable, was also illustrated by the dis- 
covery of the New World, and of the passage to 
India by the Cape of Good Hope ; — events which 
may be justly regarded as fixing a new era in 
the political and moral history of mankind, and 
which still continue to exert a growing influence 
over the general condition of our species. " It 
is an era," as Raynal observes, " which gave 
rise to a revolution, not only in the commerce 
of nations, but in the manners, industry, and 
government of the world. At this period new 
connections were formed by the inhabitants of 
the most distant regions, for the supply of wants 
which they had never before experienced. The 
productions of climates situated under the equa- 
tor, were consumed in countries bordering on 
the pole ; the industry of the north was trans- 
planted to the south ; and the inhabitants of the 
west were clothed with the manufactures of the 
east ; a general intercourse of opinions, laws and 
customs, diseases and remedies, virtues and vices, 
was established among men." 

" Every thing," continues the same wi'iter, 
" has changed, and must yet change more. But 
it is a question, whether the revolutions that are 
pa:it, or those which must hereafter take place, 
liave been, or can be, of any utility to the hu- 
man race. Will they add to the tranquillity, to 



the enjojTnents, and to the happiness of man- 
kind ? Can they improve our present state, or 
do they only change it ?" 

I have introduced this quotation, not with the 
design of attempting at present any reply to the 
very interesting question with which it con- 
cludes, but merely to convey some slight notion 
of the political and moral importance of the 
events in question. I cannot, however, forbear 
to remark, in addition to Raynal's eloquent and 
impressive summary, the inestimable treasure of 
new facts which these events have furnished for 
illustrating the versatile nature of man, and the 
history of civil society. In this respect (as Ba- 
con has well observed) they have fully verified 
the Scripture prophecy, muUi pertransibunt et au- 
gehitur sciejUia ; or, in the still more emphatical 
words of our English version, " Many shall go 
to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased."* 
Tiie same prediction may be applied to the gra- 
dual renewal, (in proportion as modem govern- 
ments became eff'ectual in secui'ing order and 
tranquillity) of that intercourse between the dif- 
ferent states of Europe, which had, in a gi'eat 
measure, ceased during the anarchy and turbu- 
lence of the middle ages. 

In consequence of these combined causes, aid- 
ed by some others of secondary importance,* the 
Genius of the human race seems, all at once, 
to have awakened vnt\\ renovated and giant 
strength, from his long sleep. In less than a 



• " Neque omittenda est prophetia Danielis de ultimis niundi temporibus; mulli pcrtramilmni el nugehitur scientia: Ma- 
nifestc iiinuens et sigiiificans, esse in fatis, id est, in providentia, lit pertransitus mundi (qui per tot longinquas navicationes 
impletur plane, aut jani in opere esse videtur) et augmenta scienliarum in eandeni tetatem nicidant.'" — I^ov. Org. I.ib. xciii. 

' Sncli as the accidental inventions of the telescope and of the microscope. The powerful influence of these inventions may 
be easily conceived, not only in advancing tRe sciences of Astronomy and of Natural History, but in banishing many of 
the scholastic prejudices then universally prevalent. The effects of the telescope, in this respect, have been often rc- 
markcil; but less attention has been given to those of the microscope, which, however, it is probable, contributed not a 
little to prepare the way for the modem revival of the Atomic or C'or])uscular Philosophy, by Bacon, Gassendi, and New- 
ton. That, on the mind of Bacon, the wonders disclosed by the microscope produced a strong impression in favour of the 
£picurean physics, may be inferred from his own words. " Perspicillum (niicroscopicum) si vidisset Democritus, exsilu- 
isset forte ; et modum videndi Atomum, quem ille in\'isibilcm omnino affirmavit, inventuni fuisse putasset." — Nov. Org. 
Lib. ii. § 39. 

Wc are told in the Life of Galileo, that when the telescope was invented, some individuals carried to so great a length 
their devotion to Aristotle, that they positively refused to look through that instrument : so averse were they to open 
their eyes to any tniths inconsistent with their favourite creed — (Vita di GfiWco, Venezia, 17-14). It is amusing to find 
Bome other followers of the Stagirite, a very few years afterwards, when they found it impossible any longer to call in 
question the evidence of sense, asserting that it was from a passage in Aristotle, where he attempts to explain why stars 
become visible in the day-time when viewed from the bottom of a deep well, that the invention of the telescope was bor- 
rowed. The two fiicts, when combined, exhibit a truly characteristical portrait of one of the most fatal weaknesses 
incident to humanity ; and form a moral apologue, daily exemplified on subjects of still nearer and higher interest than 
the phenomena of the heavens. 

In ascribing to accident the inventions of the telescope and of the microscope, I have expressed myself in conformity to 
common language; but it ought not to be overlooked, that an invention may be accident.^1 with respect to the particular 
author, and yet may be the natural result of the circumstances of society at the period when it took place. As to the in- 
struments in question, the combination of lenses employed in their structure is so simple, that it could scarcely escape the 
notice oiall the experimenters and mechanicians of that busy and inquisitive age. A similar remark has been made by 



20 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



century from the invention of printing, and the 
fall of the Eastern empire, Copernicus discovered 
the true theory of the planetary motions, and a 
very few years afterwards, was succeeded by the 
three great precursors of Newton,— TychoBrahe, 
Kepler, and Galileo. 

The step made by Copernicus may be justly 
regarded as one of the proudest triumphs of hu- 
man reason ; — wliethcr we consider the sagacity 
wliich enabled the author to obviate, to his own 
satisfaction, the many plausible objections which 
must have presented themselves against his con- 
clusions, at a period Avhen the theory of motion 
was so imperfectly understood ; or the bold spi- 
rit of inquiry which encouraged him to exercise 
his private judgment, in opposition to the autho- 
rity of Aristotle, — to the decrees of the church 
of Rome, — and to the universal belief of tlie 
learned, during a long succession of ages. He 
appears, indeed, to have well merited the enco- 
mium bestowed on him by Kepler, who calls 
him " a man of vast genius, and, what is of still 
greater moment in these researches, a man of a 
free mind." 

Tlie establishment of the Copernican system, 
beside the new field of studj^ which it opened to 
Astronomers, must have had gi-eat effects on 
philosophy in all its branches, by inspiring those 
sanguine prospects of future improvement, which 
stimulate curiosity, and inxngorate the inventive 
powers. It afforded to the common sense, even 
of the illiterate, a palpable and incontrovertible 
proof, that the ancients had not exhausted tlie 
stock of possible discoveries ; and tliat, in mat- 
ters of science, the creed of the Romish church 
was not infallible. In the conclusion of one of 
Kepler's works, we perceive tlie influence of 
these prospects on his mind. " Hcec et cetera 



hujusmodi latent in pandectis aevi sequentis, non 
antea discenda, quam librum hunc Deus arbiter 
sseculorum recluserit mortalibus."^ 

I have hitherto taken no notice of the effects 
of the revival of letters on Metaphysical, Moral, 
or Political science. The truth is, that little de- 
serving of our attention occurs in any of these 
departments prior to the seventeenth century ; 
and nothing which bears the most remote ana- 
logy to the rapid strides made, during the six- 
teenth, in mathematics, astronomy, and physics. 
The influence, indeed, of the Reformation on 
the practical doctrines of ethics appears to have 
been gi-eat and immediate. We may judge of 
this from a passage in Melanchthon, where he 
combats the pernicious and impious tenets of 
those theologians who maintained, that moral 
distinctions are created entirely by the arbitrary 
and revealed will of God. In opposition to this 
heresy, he expresses himself in these memorable 
words : — " Wherefore our decision is this ; that 
those precepts which learned men have commit- 
ted to writing, transcribing them from the com- 
mon reason and common feelings of human na- 
ture, are to be accoimted as not less divine, than 
those contained in the tables given to Moses; 
and that it could not be the intention of our 
Maker to supersede, by a law graven iipon stone, 
that which is written with his own finger on the 
table of the heart." ^ — This language was, un- 
doubtedly, a most important step towards a just 
system of Moral Philosophy ; but still, like the 
other steps of the Reformers, it was only a return 
to common sense, and to the genuine spirit of 
Christianity, from the dogmas imposed on the 
credulity of mankind by an ambitious priest- 
hood.' Many years were yet to elapse, before 



Condorcet concerning the invention of printing. " I/invcntion de I'Imprimerie a sans doute avanc^ le progres de I'espcce 
Immaine ; mais cette invention i?toit elle-mt me une suite de I'usage de la lecture repandu dans un grand nombre de pays." — 
Vie de Tiirgot. 

' Ejilf, Asiron, Copernic. 

- I'roinde sic statuimus, nihilo minus divina proecepta esse ea, quoe a sensu conimuni et naturre jadicio mutuati docti ho- 
mines gentiles literis mandarunt, quam quje extant in ipsis saxeis JMosis tabulis. Neque ille ipse cielestis Pater pluris a 
nobis tieri eas leges voluit, quas in saxo scripsit, quam quas in ipsos anmioriim nostrorum sensus impresserat." 

Not having it in my power at present to consult Melanclithoii's works, I have transcribed the foregoing paragraph on the 
authority of a learned German Professor, Christ. Bleiners See his Historia Doctrince de Vera Deo. Lemgovije, 1780, p. 12. 

^ It is observed by Dr Cudwortli, tliat the doctrine which refers the origin of moral distinctions to the arbitrary ap. 
poii^lmcnt of the Deity, was strongly reprobated by the ancient fathers of the Christian church, and that " it crept up 
afterward in the scholastic ages; Occam being among the first that maintained that there is no act evil, but as it is pruhi.' 
bited by God, arid which cannot be made good, if it "be commanded by him. In this doctrine he was quickly followed by 
Petrus Alliacus, Andreas de Novo Castro, and others." — See Treatise of Immidahle Hforalili/. 

It is pleasing to remark, how very generally the heresy here ascribed to Occam is now reprobated by good men of all 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 21 

any attempts were to be made to trace, with wards adopted in the casuistiy of the Jesuits, 
analytical accuracy, the moral phenomena of and so inimitably exposed by Pascal in the Pro- 
human life to their first principles in the consti- vincial Letters. The arguments against them 
tution and condition of man, or even to disen- employed by the Reformers, cannot, in strict pro- 
tangle the plain and practical lessons of ethics priety, be considered as positive accession to the 
from the speculative and controverted articles of stock of human knowledge ; but what scientific 
theological systems. ^ discoveries can be compared to them in value ! * 
A similar obsers-ation may be applied to the From this period may be dated the decline' 
powerful appeals, in the early Protestant wri- of that worst of all heresies of the Romish 
ters, to the moral judgment and moral feelings church, ^liich, bj^ opposing Revelation to Rea- 
of the human race, from those casuistical subtle- son, endeavoiu'cd to extinguish the light of both ; 
ties, with which the schoolmen and monks of and the absurdity, so happily described by 
the middle ages had studied to obscm-e the light Locke, became every day more manifest, of at- 
of nature, and to stifle the voice of conscience, tempting " to persuade men to put out their 
These subtleties were precisely analogous in eyes, that they might the better receive the re- 
their spirit to the pia et religiosa calliditas, after- mote light of an invisible star by a telescope." 



persuasions. The Catholics hare even begun to recriminate on the Reformers as the first hroachers of it; and it is to be 
regretted, that in sovie of the writings of the latter, too near approaches to it are to be found. The truth is, as Burnet 
long ago observed, that the effects of the Keformation have not been confined to the reformed churches ; — to which it niav- 
be added, that both Catholics and Protestants have, since that era, profited very largely by the general progress of the 
sciences and of human reason. 

I quote the following sentence from a highly respectable Catholic writer on the law of nature and nations: — " Qui ra- 
tionem exsulare jubent a moralibus prseceptis quae in sacris Uteris traduntur, et in absurdam enormemque Lutueri sen- 
tentiam imprudentes incidunt (quam egregie et elegantissime refutavit Jlelchior Canus Loc. Thcolog. Lib. ix. et x.), et ea 
docent, quje si sectatores inveniant moralia omnia susque deque miscere, ac revelationem ipsam inutilem omnino et ineffi- 
cacem reddere possent." — (Lampiiedi I'LonEXTixi Juris Nuliirccet Gentium Tfieoremaia,Tom. II. p. 195. Pisis, 1702). For 
the continuation of the passage, which would do credit to the most liberal Protestant, I must refer to the original work. The 
zeal of IjUther for the doctrine of the Nominalists had probably prepossessed him, in his early years, in favour of some of 
the theological tenets of Occam, and afterwards prevented him from testifying his disapprobation of them so explicitly and 
decidedly as Jlelanchthon and other reformers have done. 

' " The theological system (s.iys the learned and judicious Jlosheim) tluit r.ow prevails in the Lutheran academies, is not 
of tlic same tenor or spirit witli that which was adopteil in the infancy of the liet'ormation. The glorious defenders of re- 
ligious liberty, to whom we owe the various blessings of the Heformation, could not, at once, behold the truth in all its 
lustre, and in all its extent ; but, as usually hajipcns to peisons that have been long accustomed to the darkness of igno- 
rance, their approaches towards knowledge were but slow, and their views of things but imperfect" — (.Maclaixe's TraniL 
of Moiheim. jLondon, 2d ed. Vol. IV. p. 19.) He atlerwards mentions one of Luther's early disciples (Amsdorff) " who 
was so far transported and infatuated by his excessive zeal for the supposed doctrine of his master, as to maintain, that 
gt>od tcorJ:s arc an impedimrut to salvationV — Ihid. p. 39. 

Mosheim, after remarking that " there are more excellent rules of conduct in the few practical productions of Luther 
and Jlelanchthon, than are to be found in the innumerable volumes of all the ancient casuists and moraliscrs" candidly ac- 
knowledges, " that the notions of these great men concerning the important science of morality were far from being suffi- 
ciently accurate or extensive. Alelanchthon himself, whose exquisite judgment rendered him peculiarly capable of re- 
ducing into a compendious system the elements of every science, never seems to have thought of treating morals in this 
manner ; but has inserted, on the contrary, all his practical rules and instructions, under the theological articles that relate 
to the la-j!, sm,frec-v;i!l,fuith, /wpc, and charity." — JIosilEui's Eccks. HW. Vol. IV. pp 23. 2-1. 

The same author elsewhere observes, that " the progress of morality among the reformed was obstructed by the very 
same means that retarded its improvement among tlie Lutherans ; and that it was left in a rude and imperfect state by 
Calvin and his associates. It was neglected amidst the tumult of controversy ; and, while every pen was drawn to main- 
tain certain systems of doctrine, few were employed in cultivating that master-science which has virtue, life, and manners, 
for its objects." — Ibid. pp. TJO. 121. 

' " Kt tamen hi doctores annelid, clieruhici, srraphici, non modo universam philosophiam ac theologiam erroribiis quam- 
pluriniis inquinarunt : verum etiam in philosophiam moralem invexere sacerrima ista principia probabilismi, methodi dirigcndi 
intcniioncm, resen-ationis mnitiiHs,peccati philosopliid, quibus Jesuitic etiamnum niirifice delcctantur." — Heisecc. Elem. Histor. 
PhiL !i ci. Sec also the references. 

With respect to the ethics of the .Jesuits, which exhibit a very fair picture of the general state of that science, prior to 
the Reformation, See the Prorindal Letters ; Moshei.m's Ecclesiastical History, Vol. IV. p. 354 ; DonxFORD's Translation of 
Putter's Historical De-.rhprnunt of the present Political Constitution of the Germanic Empire, Vol. II. p. 6. ; and the Ajipendix 
to Penrose's Hampton Lectures. 

' I have said, tite decline of this heresy ; for it was by no means immcrfw/f/y extirpated even in the reformed churches. 
" As late as the year 1.598, D.iniel Ilofman, Professor of Divinity in the University of Helmstadt, Living hold of soine 
particular opinions of Luther, extravagantly maintained, that phi'osophy was the mortal enemy of relij^ion ; that truth was 
divisible into two branches, the one philosophical awd the other theological; and that what was true in pliilosophy vasfaUe in 
theology." — Mosheim, Vol. IV. p. 10. 



22 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



In the meantime, a powerful obstacle to the 
progress of practical morality and of sound policy, 
was superadded to those prcA-iously existing in 
Catholic countries, by the rapid growth and ex- 
tensive influence of the Machiavelian school. 
The founder of this new sect, or, to speak more 
correctly, the systematizer and apostle of its 
doctrines, was born as eai'ly as 1469, that is, 
about ten years before Luther ; and, like that 
reformer, acquu-ed, by the commanding superio- 
rity of his genius, an astonishing ascendant, 
though of a very different nature, over the 
minds of his followers. No wi-iter, certainly, 
either in ancient or in modern times, has ever 
united, in a more remarkable degree, a greater 
variety of the most dissimilar and seemingly 
the most discordant gifts and attainments ; — a 
profound acquaintance with all those arts of dis- 
simulation and intrigue, which in the petty 
cabinets of Italy, were then universally con- 
founded with political wisdom ; an imagination 
familiarized to the cool contemplation of what- 
ever is perfidious or atrocious in the liistory of 
conspirators and of tyrants ; combined with a 
graphical skill in holding up to laughter the 
comparatively harmless follies of ordinary life. 
His dramatic humour has been often compared 
to that of Moliere ; but it resembles it rather in 
comic force, than in benevolent gaiety or in 
chastened morality. Such as it is, however, it 
forms an extraordinary contrast to that strength 
of intellectual character, which, in one page, 
reminds us of the deep sense of Tacitus, and in 
the next, of the dark and infernal policy of 
Caesar Borgia. To all this must be supperadded 
a purity of taste, which has enabled him, as an 
liLstoriati, to rival the severe simplicity of the 
Grecian masters ; and a sagacity in combining 
historical facts, which was afterwards to afford 
lights to the school of Montesquieu. 

Eminent, however, as the talents of Ma- 
chiavel imquestionably were, he cannot be num- 
bered among the benefactors of mankind. In 
none of his writings does he exhibit any mai'ks 



of that lively sjinpathy with the fortunes of the 
human race, or of that warm zeal for the inte- 
rests of truth and justice, without the guidance 
of which, the highest mental endowments, when 
applied to moral or to political researches, are 
in perpetual danger of mistaking their way. 
AVliat is still more remarkable, he seems to have 
been altogether blind to the mighty changes in 
human affairs, which, in consequence of the re- 
cent invention of printing, were about to result 
from the progress of Reason and the diffusion 
of Knowledge. Through the whole oi his PriTice 
(the most noted as well as one of the latest of 
his publications) he proceeds on the supposition, 
that the sovereign has no other object in go- 
verning, but his own advantage ; the very cir- 
cumstance which, in the judgment of Ai'istotle, 
constitutes the essence of the worst species of 
tyranny.* He assumes also the possibility of 
retaining mankind in perpetual bondage by the 
old policy of the double doctrine ; or, in other 
words, by enlightening the few, and hoodwink- 
ing the many ; — a policy less or more practised 
by statesmen in all ages and countries ; but 
which, wherever the freedom of the press is re- 
spected, cannot fail, by the insult it offers to 
the discei'nment of the multitude, to increase 
the insecurity of those who have the weakness 
to employ it. It has been contended, indeed, 
by some of Machiavel's' apologists, that his real 
object in unfolding and systematising the mys- 
teries of King-Craft, was to point out indirectly 
to the governed the means by which the en- 
croachments of their rulers might be most ef- 
fectually resisted ; and, at the same time, to 
satirize, under the ironical mask of loyal and 
courtly admonition, the characteristical vices of 
princes.* But, although this hypothesis has 
been sanctioned by several distinguished names, 
and derives some verisimilitude from various in- 
cidents in the author's life, it will be found, on 
examination, quite untenable ; and accordingly 
it is now, I believe, very generally rejected. 
One thing is certain, that if such were actually 



' " There is a third kind of tyranny, which most properly deserves that odious name, and which stands in direct opposi- 
tion to royalty ; it takes place when one man, the worst perhaps and basest in the country, governs a kingdom with no 
other view than the advantage of liimself and lus famUy." — Aristoti-e's Politics, Book vi. chap. x. See Dr Gillies'* 
Translation. 

- See Not( C. 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



23 



Machiavel's ^^ews, they were much too refined 
for tlie capacity of his royal pupils. By many 
of these his book has been adopted as a manual 
for daUy use ; but I have never heard of a single 
instance, in which it has been regarded by this 
class of students as a disguised panegjTic upon 
liberty and Wrtue. The question concerning the 
motives of the author is surely of little moment, 
when experience has enabled iis to pronounce so 
decidedly on the practical effects of his precepts. 

" About the period of the Reformation," says 
Condorcet, " the principles of religious Machia- 
Tclism had become the only creed of princes, of 
ministers, and of pontiffs ; and the same opinions 
had contributed to corrupt philosophy. What 
code, indeed, of morals," he adds, " was to be 
expected from a system, of which one of the 
principles is, — that it is necessary to support the 
morality of the people by false pretences, and 
that men of enlightened minds have a right to 
retain others in the chains from which they have 
themselves contrived to escape !" The fact is 
perhaps stated in terms somewhat too unquali- 
fied ; but there are the best reasons for belie\'ing 
that the exceptions were few, when compared 
with the general proposition. 

The consequences of the prevalence of such a 
creed among tlie rulers of mankind were such 
as might be expected. " Infamous crimes, as- 
sassinations, and poisonings (says a French his- 
torian), prevailed more than ever. They were 
thought to be the growth of Italy, where the 
rage and weakness of the opposite factions con- 
spired to multiply them. Morality gradually 
disappeared, and with it all security in the inter- 
course of life. The first principles of duty 



were obliterated by the joint influence of atheism 
and of superstition." "^ 

And here, may I be permitted to caution my 
readers against the common error of confound- 
ing the double doctrine of Machiavelian politi- 
cians, with the benevolent reverence for establish- 
ed opinions, manifested in the noted maxim of 
Fontenelle, — " that a wise man, even when his 
hand was full of truths, would often content 
himself with opening his little finger." Of the 
advocates for the former, it may be justly said, 
that " they love dai-kness rather than light, 
because their deeds are evil ;" well knowing, if I 
may borrow the words of Bacon, " that the 
open day-light doth not show the masks and 
mummeries, and triumphs of the world, half so 
stately as candle-light." The philosopher, on 
the other hand, who is duly impressed with the 
latter, may be compared to the oculist, who, 
after remo\'ing the cataract of his patient, pre- 
pares the still iiTitable eye, by the glimmering 
dawn of a darkened apartment, for enjoj-ing in 
safety the light of day. * 

Machiavel is well known to have been, at 
bottom, no friend to the priesthood; and his 
character has been stigmatized by many of the 
order with the most opprobrious epithets. It is 
nevertheless cert.iin, that to his maxims the 
royal defenders of the Catholic faith have been 
indebted for the spirit of that policy which they 
have uniformly opposed to the innovations of the 
Reformers. The Prince was a favourite book of 
the Emperor Charles V. ; and was called the 
Bible of Catharine of Medicis. At the court of 
the latter, while Regent of France, those who 
approached her are said to have professed open- 



' MUlot. 

^ How strange is the following misrepresentation of Fontenelle's fine and deep saying, by the comparatively coarse hand 
of the Baron de Grimm ! " II disoit, que s'll cut tenu la verite dans ses mains comme iin oiseau, il I'auroit etouffe'e, tant il 
rcgardoit le plus beau present du ciel inutile et dangereux pour le genre humain." — (Mimoircs Hisiorlqiies, &c. par le 
Babon' de Grimm. Londres, 1S14. Tome I. p. 340.) Of the complete inconsistency of this statement, not only with the 
testimony of his most authentic biographers, but with the general tenor botli of his life and writings, a judgment may be 
formed from an expression of D'Alembert, in his very ingenious and philosophical parallel between Fontenelle and La 
Motte. " Tous deux ont porti trop loin leur revolte dt'cide'e, quoique douce en apparencc, contre les dieux et les lois du 
Pamasse ; mais la liberte aes opinions de la Sfotte scmble tenir plus iiitimenient a Tintertt personnel qu'il avoit de les 
soutenir; et la liberie' des opinions de Fontenelle iJ rintirct giiurnl, pcut-ttrc quelquefoU mat eniendn, qu'il pretwlt au progrcj 
de la raiton dans lotit let ffcnrrs. What follows mar be regarded in the light of a comment on the maxim above quoted : 
" La finesse de la Motte est plus de'veloppoe, celle de Fontenelle laisse plus ii devincr h son lecteur. I.a Motte, sans 
jamais en trop dire, n'oublio de ce que son sujet lui prcsente, met habilenient tout en ceuvre, et semble craindre perdre 
par des re'ticences trop subtiles quelqu'un de ses avantages ; Fontenelle, sans jamais etre obscur, exceptd pour ceux qui 
ne meritent pas mCine qu'on soil clair, se mi?nage h la fois et le plaisir de sous-entendre, et celui d'espc'rer qu'il sera pleine* 
ment entendu par ceux qui en sont dignes." — Eloge dc la Motte. 



24 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



ly its most atrocious maxims ; particularly that 
which recommends to sovereigns not to commit 
crimes by halves. The Italian cardinals, who 
are supposed to have been the secret instigators 
of the massacre of St Bartholomew, were bred 
in the same school.^ 

It is observed by Mr Hume, that " there is 
scarcely any maxim in the Prime, which subse- 
quent experience has not entirely refuted." 
" Machiavel," says the same writer, " was cer- 
tainly a great genius ; but having confined his 
study to the furious and tyrannical governments 
of ancient times, or to the little disorderly prin- 
cipalities of Italy, his reasonings, especially upon 
monarchical governments, have been found ex- 
tremely defective. The errors of this politician 
proceeded, in a great measure, from his ha^^ng 
lived in too early an age of the world, to be a 
good judge of political truth."* 

To these very judicious remarks, it may be 
added, that the bent of Machiavel's mind seems 
to have disposed him much more strongly to 
combine and to generalize liis historical reading, 
than to remount to the first principles of politi- 
cal science, in the constitution of human nature, 
and in the immutable truths of morality. His 
conclusions, accordingly, ingenious and refined 
as they commonly are, amount to little more 
(with a few very splendid exceptions) than em- 
pirical results from the events of past ages. To 
the student of ancient history they may be often 
both interesting and instructive ; but, to the 
modern politician, the most important lesson 
they afFofd is, the danger, in the present circum- 
stances of the world, of trusting to such re- 
sults, as maxims of universal application, or of 
permanent utility. 

The progress of political philosophy, and along 
with it of morality and good order, in every 
part of Europe, since the period of which I am 
now speaking, forms so pleasing a comment on 
the profligate and short-sighted policy of Ma- 
chiavel, that I cannot help pausing for a mo- 
ment to remark the fact. In stating it, I shall 
avail myself of the words of the same profound 
writer, whose strict iu"es on Machiavel's Piince I 



had already occasion to quote. " Though all 
kinds of government," says IVIr Hume, " be im- 
proved in modern times, yet monarchical govern- 
ment seems to have made the greatest advances 
towards perfection. It may now be affirmed of ■ 
civilized monarchies, what was formerly said of 
republics alone, that they arc a government of 
laws, not of men. They are found susceptible 
of order, method, and constancy, to a surprising 
degree. Property is there secure, industry en- 
couraged, the arts flourish, and the prince lives 
secure among his subjects, like a father among 
his chUdren. There are, perhaps, and have been 
for two centuries, near two hundred absolute 
princes, gi-eat and small, in Europe ; and allow- 
ing twenty years to each reign, we may suppose 
that there have been in the whole two thousand 
monarchs, or tyrants, as the Greeks would have 
called them. Yet of these there has not been 
one, not even Philip II. of Spain, so bad as 
Tiberius, Caligula, Nero, or Domitian, who were 
four in twelve among the Roman Emperors."* 
For this very remarkable fact, it seems diffi- 
cult to assign any cause equal to the effect, but 
the increased diff"usion of knowledge (imperfect, 
alas ! as this diff'usion still is) by means of the 
Press; which, whUe it has raised, in free states, a 
growing bulwark against the oppression of rulers, 
in the light and spirit of the people, has, even 
under the most absolute governments, had a 
powerful influence — by teaching princes to re- 
gard the wealth and prosperity and instruction of 
their subjects as the firmest basis of their gran- 
deur — in directing their attention to objects of 
national and permanent utility. How encoura- 
ging the prospect thus opened of the future his- 
tory of the world ! And what a motive to ani- 
mate the ambition of those, who, in the solitude 
of the closet, aspire to bequeath their contribu- 
tions, how slender soever, to the progressive 
mass of human improvement and happiness ! 

In the bright constellation of scholars, histo- 
I'ians, artists, and wits, who shed so strong a 
lustre on Italy during that splendid period of its 
history which commences with the revival of 



' VoLTAiEE, Essay on Universal Ilistorii. 



Essaii on Civil Libertij 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



za 



letters, it is surprising how few names occur, 
which it is possible to connect, by any palpable 
link, with the philosophical or political specula- 
tions of the present times. As an original and 
profound thinker, the genius of Machiavel com- 
pletely eclipses that of all liis contemporaries. 
Not that Italy wa-s then destitute of wi'iters who 
pretended to the character of philosophers ; but 
as their attempts were, in general, limited to the 
exclusive illustration and defence of some one 
or other of the ancient systems for which they 
had conceiA-ed a predilection, they added but 
little of their own to the stock of useful know- 
ledge, and are no%v remembered chiefly from 
the occasional recurrence of their names in the 
catalogues of the curious, or in the works of 
philological erudition. The zeal of Cardinal 
Bessarion, and of Marsifius Ficinus, for the re- 
vival of the Platonic philosophy, was more pe- 
culiarly remarkable, and, at one time, produced 
so general an impression, as to alarm the follow- 
ers of Aristotle for the tottering authority of 
their master. If we may credit Launoius, this 
great revolution was on the point of being ac- 
tually accomplished, when Cardinal Bellarmine 
warned Pope Clement VIII. of the peculiar dan- 
ger of showing any favour to a philosopher 
whose opinions approached so nearly as those 
of Plato to the truths revealed in the Gospel. 
In what manner Bellarmine connected his con- 
clusions with his premises, we are not informed. 
To those who are uninitiated in the mysteries of 
the conclave, his inference would certainly ap- 
pear much less logical than that of the old Ro- 
man Pagans, who petitioned the Senate to con- 
demn the works of Cicero to the flames, as they 
predisposed the minds of those who read them 
for embracing the Christian faith. 



By a small band of bolder innovators belong- 
ing to this golden age of Italian literature, the 
Aristotelian doctrines were more directly and 
powerfully assailed. Laurentius Valla, Marius 
Nizolius, and Franciscus Patricius, ^ have all of 
them transmitted their names to posterity as 
philosophical reformers, and, in particular, as 
revolters against the authority of the Stagirite. 
Of the individuals just mentioned, Nizolius is the 
only one who seems entitled to maintain a per- 
manent place in the annals of modern science. 
His principal work, entitled Antibarbanis,' is 
not only a bold invective against the prevailing 
ignorance and barbarism of the schools, but con- 
tains so able an argument against the then fashion- 
able doctrine of the Realists concerning general 
ideas, that Leibnitz thought it worth while, a centu- 
ry afterwards, to republish it, with the addition of 
a long and valuable preface written by himself. 

At the same period with Franciscus Patricius, 
floiu-ished another learned Italian, Albericus 
Gentilis, whose writings seem to have attracted 
more notice in England and Germany than in 
his own country. His attachment to the reform- 
ed faith having driven him from Italy, he sought 
an asylum at Oxford, where, in 1587, he was ap- 
pointed professor of the Ciril Law, an oflice 
which he held till the period of his death in 
1611.' He was the author of a treatise De Jtire 
Belli, in three books, which appeared successively 
in 1588 and 1589, and were first published to- 
gether at Hanau in 1598. His name, however, 
has already sunk into almost total oblirion ; and 
I should certainly not have mentioned it on the 
present occasion, were it not for his indisputable 
merits as the precursor of Grotius, in a depart- 
ment of study which, forty years afterwards, 
the celebrated treatise De Jure Belli et Pads was 



• His Ducusstoncs Peripateticcc were printed at Venice in 1571. Another work, entitled Ncn<a tie Univetsii PhUotophia, also 
printed at Venice, appeared in lo93. I have never happened to meet with eitlicr ; but from the aciount given of the au- 
thor by Thuanus, he does not seem to have attracted that notice from his contemporaries, to which his learning and talents 

entitled him (Thuan. Hist. Lib. cxix. xvii.). His Discussioncs Periputrtica: are mentioned by Brucker in tlie following 

terms : — " Opus egrrgium, doctum, varium^ luciilcnliim, set! invidia odinquc in Aristotctcm plenum satis superque." — (Hist. 
Phil. Tom. IV. p. 425). The same very laborious and candid writer acknowlcdgej the assistance lie had derived from Pa- 
Iricius in his account of the Peripatetic philosophy — " In qua tractationc fatenuir egregiam enitere Patricii doctrinam, in- 
genii elegantiam prorsus admirabilem, et quod primo loco ponendum est, insolitnm veteris philosophise cognitionem, cujus 
ope nos I'eripateticte discipliuie historian multoties lucom attulisse, grati suis locis professi sumus." — Itnd. p. 426. 

' Antibarbarus, sive dc Veris Principiis et Vera Hiitionc Pliilosophandi cuiiira Pscudo-philosopltos. Parmae, 1553. " Les faux 
pliUosophcs," dit Fontenelle, " ^tuient tous les scholastiques passi's et pro'sens ; et Nizolius s'eleve avec la demicre hanli- 
esse contre leurs idi?es monstrueuses et leur langage barbare. I.a longue et constante admiration qu'on avoit eu pour Aris- 
tote, ne prouvoit, disoit-il, que la multitude dcs sots et la durt'c de la sottise." The merits of this writer are much too 
lightly estimated by Urucker — See Hist. Phil. Tom. IV. I'ars I. pp. 91. 92. 

• Wood's Athena: Oxonienscs, Vol. II. col. 90. Dr Bliss's edition. 

DISS. I. PART I. D 



26 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



to raise to so conspicuous a rank among the 
branches of academical education. Tl»e avowed 
aim of tliis new science, when combined with 
the anxiety of Gentilis to counteract the effect 
of Macliiavel's Prince, by representing it as a 
warning to subjects rather tlian as a manual of 
instruction for tlieir rulers, may be regarded as 
satisfactory e^^dence of the gi-owing influence, 
even at that era, of bett^er ethical principles than 
those commonly imputed to the Florentine Secre- 
tary. ^ 

The only other Italian of whom I shall take 
notice at present, is Campanella;* a philoso- 
pher now remembered chiefly in consequence of 
his eccentric character and eventful life, but of 
whom Leibnitz has spoken in terms of such 
high admiration, as to place him in the same 
line with Bacon. After looking into several of 
his works with some attention, I must confess 
I am at a loss to conceive upon what grounds 
the eulogy of Leibnitz proceeds ; but as it is 
difiicult to suppose, that the praise of this great 
man was, in any instance, the result of mere 
caprice, I shall put it in the power of my read- 
ers to judge for themselves, by subjoining a 
faithful translation of his words. I do this the 
more willingly, as the passage itself (whatever 
may be thought of the critical judgments pro- 
nounced in it), contains some general remarks 
on iiitellectual character, which are in every re- 
spect worthy of the author. 

" Some men, in conducting operations where 
an attention to minutiae is requisite, discover a 
mind ■xogorous, subtile, and versatile, and seem 
to be equal to any undertaking, how arduous 



soever. But when they are called upon to act 
on a greater scale, they hesitate and are lost in 
their o\vn meditations ; distrustful of their judg- 
ment, and conscious of their incompetency to 
the scene in which they are placed : men, in a 
word, possessed of a genius rather acute than 
comprehensive. A similar difference may be 
traced among authors. What can be more 
acute than Descartes in Physics, or than Hobbes 
in Morals ! And yet, if the one be compa- 
red with Bacon, and the other with Campa- 
nella, the former writers seem to grovel upon 
the earth, — the latter to soar to the Heavens, by 
the vastness of their conceptions, their plans, 
and their enterprises, and to aim at objects be- 
yond the reach of the human powers. The 
former, accordingly, are best fitted for deliver- 
ing the first elements of knowledge, the latter 
for establishing conclusions of important and 
general application."* 

The annals of France, during this period, 
present very scanty materials for the History 
of Philosophy. The name of the Chancellor 
de I'Hopital, howcA'er, must not be passed over 
in silence. As an author, he does not rank 
high ; nor does he seem to have at all valued 
himself on the careless effusions of his literary 
hours ; but, as an upright and virtuous magis- 
trate, he has left behind him a reputation un- 
rivalled to this day.* His wise and indulgent 
principles on the subject of religious liberty, 
and the steadiness with which he adhered to 
them, under circumstances of extraordinary dif- 
ficulty and danger, exhibit a splendid contrast 
to the cruel intolerance, which, a few years be- 



' The claims of Albericus Gentilis to be regarded as the father of Natural Jurisprudence, are strongly asserted by his 
countryman Lampredi, in his very judicious and elegant work, entitled, Juris Publici Tlieoremata, published at Pisa in 
1782. " Hie primus jus aliquod I5elli et esse et tradi posse excogitavit, et BeUi et Pacis regulas explanavit primus, et 
fortasse in causa fuit cur Grotius opus suum conscribere aggrederetur : dignus sane qui prse ceteris memoretur, Italiae 
enim, in qua ortiis erat, et unde Juris Romani disciplinam hauserat, gloriam auxit, effecitque ut quse fuerat bonarum arti- 
um omnium restitutrix et altrix, eadem esset et prima Jurisprudentise Naturalis magistra." 

2 Born 15C8, died 1639. 

' Leibnit. Ojicra, Vol. "VI. p. 303, ed. Dutens — It is probable that, in the above passage, Leibnitz alluded more to the 
elevated tone of Campanella's reasoning on moral and political subjects, when contrasted with that of Hobbes, than to the 
intellectual superiority of the former writer above the latter. No philosopher, certainly, has spoken with more reverence 
than Campanella has done, on various occasions, of the dignity of human nature. A remarkable instance of this occurs in 
bis eloquent comparison of the human hand with the organs of touch in other animals. (Vide Campan. Phys'wlog. cap. XX. 
Art. 2.) Of his Political Aphorisms, which form the third part of his treatise on Morals, a sufficient idea for our purpose 
is conveyed by the concluding corollary, " Probitas custodit regem populosque ; non autem indocta Machiavellistarum astu- 
tia." On the other hand, Campanella's works abound with immoralities and extravagancies far exceeding those of 
Hobbes. In his idea of a perfect commonwealth (to which lie gives the name of Civitas Solis), the impurity of his imagi- 
nation, and the unsoundness of his judgment, are equally conspicuous. He recommends, under certain regulations, a com- 
munity of women ; and, in every thing connected with procreation, lays great stress on the opinions of astrologers. 

* Magistrat au-dessus de tout eloge ; et d'apres lequel on a juge tous ceux qui ont ose s'asseoir sur ee m^me tribunal 
Eans avoir son courage ni ses lumieres." — Henault, Abrlgi Chronologique. 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



27 



fore, had disgraced the character of an illustri- 
ous Chancellor of England. The same philo- 
sophical and truly catholic spirit distinguished 
his friend, the President de Thou, ' and gives 
the principal charm to the justly admired pre- 
face prefixed to his history. In tracing the pro- 
gress of the human mind during the sixteenth 
century, such insulated and anomalous examples 
of the triumph of reason over superstition and 
bigotry, deserve attention, not less than what 
is due, in a history of the experimental arts, to 
Friar Bacon's early anticipation of gunpowder, 
and of the telescope. 

Contemporary with these great men was Bo- 
din (or Bodinus),* an eminent French lawyer, 
who appears to have been one of the first that 
united a philosophical turn of thinking with an 
extensive knowledge of jurisprudence and of 
history. His learning is often ill digested, and 
his conclusions still oftener rash and unsound ; 
yet it is but justice to him to acknowledge, that, 
in his views of the philosophy of law, he has 
approached very nearly to some leading ideas 
of Lord Bacon ; * while, in his refined combina- 
tions of historical facts, he has more than once 
struck into a train of speculation, bearing a 
strong resemblance to that afterwards pursued 
by Montesquieu.* Of this resemblance, so re- 
markable an instance occurs in his chapter on 
the moral effects of Climate, and on the atten- 
tion due to this circumstance by the legislator, 
that it l»as repeatedly subjected the autlior of 
TTie Spirit of Lmvs (but in my opinion -ndthout 
any good reason) to the imputation of plagia- 
rism.* A resemblance to Montesquieu, still 



more honourable to Bodinus, may be traced in 
their common attachment to religious as well as 
to civil liberty. To have caught, in the six- 
teenth century, somewhat of the philosophical 
spirit of the eighteenth, reflects less credit on 
the force of his mind, than to have imbibed, in 
the midst of the theological controversies of his 
age, those lessons of mutual forbearance and 
charity, which a long and sad experience of the 
fatal effects of persecution has to this day so im- 
perfectly taught to the most enlightened nations 
of Europe. 

As a specimen of the liberal and moderate 
views of this philosophical politician, I shall 
quote two short passages from his Treatise De 
la Republiqiie, which seem to me objects of con- 
siderable curiosity, when contrasted with the 
general spirit of the age in which they were 
written. The first relates to liberty of con- 
science, for which he was a strenuous and in- 
trepid advocate, not only in his publications, but 
as a member of the Etats Generaux, assembled 
at Blois in 1576. " The mightier that a man 
is (says Bodin), the more justly and temperate- 
ly he ought to behave himself towards all men, 
but especially towards Ids subjects. Wherefore 
the senate and people of Basil did wisely, who, 
having renounced the Bishop of Rome's religion, 
would not, upon the sudden, thrust the monks 
and nuns, with the other religious persons, out 
of their abbeys and monasteries, but only took 
order, that, as they died they should die both for 
themselves and their successors, expressly for- 
bidding any new to be chosen in their places, so 
that, by that means, their colleges might, by 



' " One cannot help admiring," says Dr Jortin, " the decent manner in which the illustrious Thuanus hath spoken of 
Calvin :" " Acri vir ac vehementi ingenio, et admirabili facundia praeditus ; turn inter protestantes magni nominis theolo- 
f,Mi." — (lAfe of Erasmus, p. 555.) The same writer has remarked the great decency and moderation with which Thuanus 
speaks of I.uther Ibid. p. 113. 

= Born 1530, died 1590. 

' See, in particular, the preface to his book, entitled Mcthodus ad facikm 1/istoriarum cmpiitionem. 

♦ See the work Dc la Bipiibliqiic, passim. In this treatise there are two chapters singularly curious, considering the time 
when they were written ; the second and third chapters of the sixth book. The first is entitled. Dci Finances ; the second, 
Le Moyen d'emptchcr que les Monnoycs snt/cnt attcrics dc Prix ou fahijiees. The reasonings of the Author on various points 
there treated of, will be apt to excite a smile among those who have studied the Inquiry into the fVralth of Nations ; but it 
reflects no small credit on a lawyer of the sixteenth century to have subjected such questions to philosophical examination, 
and to have formed so just a conception as liodin appears evidently to have done, not only of the object, but of the im- 
portance of the modem science of political economy. 

Thuanus speaks highly of Bodin's dissertations De Re Monelaria, which I have never seen. The same historian thus ex- 
presses himself with respect to the work De Rcpublica ; " Ojnis in quo ut omni scientiarum gcnere non tincti sed inibuti in- 
genii fidem fecit, sic nonnullis, qui recte judicant, non omnino ab ostcntationis innato genii vitio vacuum se probavit — Hist. 
Lib. cxvii. ix. 

' Soe Note D. 



28 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



little and little, by the death of the fellows, be 
extinguished. Whereby it came to pass, that all 
the rest of the Carthusians, of their own accord, 
forsaking their cloisters, yet one of them all 
alone for a long time remained therein, quietly 
and without any disturbance, holding the right 
of his convent, being never enforced to change 
either his place, or habit, or old ceremonies, or 
religion before by him received. The like order 
was taken at Coire in the diet of the Grlsons ; 
wherein it was decreed, tliat the ministers of 
the reformed religion should be maintained of 
the profits and revenues of the church, the reli- 
gious men nevertheless still remaining in their 
cloisters and convents, to be by their death sup- 
pressed, they being now prohibited to choose any 
new instead of them which died. By which 
means, they which professed the new religion, 
and they who professed the old, were both pro- 
vided for."^ 

The aim pf the chapter from which I liave 
extracted the foregoing passage, is to show, that 
" it is a most dangerous thing, at one and the 
same time, to change the form, laws, and cus- 
toms of a commonwealth." The scope of the 
author's reasonings may be judged of from the 
concluding paragraph. 

" We ought then in the government of a 
well-ordered state and commonwealth, to imitate 



and follow the great God of Nature, who in all 
things proceedeth easily, and by little and little; 
who of a little seed causeth to grow a tree few 
height and greatness, right admirable, and yet 
for all that insensibly ; and still by means con- 
joining the extremities of nature, as by putting 
the spring between winter and summer, and 
autumn betwixt summer and ^-inter, mode- 
rating the extremities of the terms and seasons, 
with the self-same wisdom which it useth in all 
otlier things also, and that in such sort, as that 
no ■x'iolent force or course therein appeareth."* 

Notwithstanding these wise and enlightened 
maxims, it must be owned, on the other hand, 
that Bodin has indulged himself in vaiious spe- 
culations, wliich would expose a writer of the 
present times to the imputation of insanity. 
One of the most extraordinary of these, is liis 
elaborate argument to prove, tliat, in a well con- 
stituted state, the father should possess the right 
of life and death over his children ; — a paradox 
which forms an unaccountable contrast to the 
general tone of humanity which characterizes hia 
opinions. Of the extent of his credulity on the 
subject of witclicraft, and of the deep horror 
with which he regarded those who affected to be 
sceptical about the reality of that crime, he has 
left a lasting memorial in a learned and curious 
volume entitled Demonomanie ;' whUe the ec- 



' Book iv. chap, iii — The book from which this quotation is taken was published only twenty-three years after the mur> 
der of Servelus at Geneva ; an event which leaves so deep a stain on the memory not only of Calvin, but on that of the 
milder and more charitable Melanchthon. The epistle of tlie latter to Bullinger, where he applauds the conduct of the 
judges who condemned to the flames this incorrigible heretic, affords the most decisive of all proofs, how remote the senti- 
nients of the most enlightened Fathers of the Reformation were from those Christian and philosophical principles of tole- 
ration, to which their noble exertions have gradually, and now almost universally, led the way. 

= Ibid — The substance of the above reflection has been compressed by Bacon into the following well-known aphorisms. 

" Time is the greatest innovator ; shall we then not imitate time ? 

" What innovator imitates time, which innovates so silently as to mock the sense ?" 

The resemblance between the two passages is still more striking in the Latin versions of their respective authors. 

'■ Deum igitur praepotentera naturae parentem imitemur, qui omnia paulatira : namque semina perquam exigua in ar- 
bores excelsas excrescere jubet, idque tarn occulte ut nemo sentiat" Bodinus. 

" Novator maximus tempus ; quidni igitur tempus imitemur ?" 

" Quis novator tempus imitatur, quod novationes ita insinuat, ut sensus fallant ?" — BACOif. 

The Treatise of Bodin De la Republiquc (by far the most important of his works) was first printed at Paris in 1576, and 
was reprinted seven times in the space of three years. It was translated into Latin by the author himself, with a view 
chiefly (as is said) to the accommodation of the scholars of England, among whom it was so highly esteemed, that lectures 
upon it were given in the University of Cambridge, as early as 1580. In 1579, Bodin visited London in tlie suite of the 
Due d'Alencon ; a circumstance which probably contributed not a little to recommend his writings, so very soon after their 
publication, to the attention of our countrymen. In 1G06, the treatise of The Republic was doin: into English by Richard 
Knolles, who appears to have collated the French and Latin copies so carefully and judiciously, that his version is, in some 
respects, superior to either of the originals. It is from this version, accordingly, that I have transcribed the passages above 
quoted ; trusting, that it will not be unacceptable to my readers, while looking back to the intellectual attainments of our 
forefathers, to have an opportunity, at the same time, of marking the progress which had been made in England, more than 
two centuries ago, in the arts of writing and of translation. 

For Dr .lohnson's opinion of KnoUes's merits as an historian, and as an English writer, see the Rambler^ No. 123. 

^ De la Dcmonomanie dcs Sorciers. Par J. Bodin Angevin, a Paris, 15y0. This book, which exhibits so melancholy 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 29 

centricity of his religious tenets wassucli, as to with him on points of theology.* Nor was the 

incline the candid mind of Grotius to suspect study of the severer sciences, on all occasions, 

him of a secret leaning to the Jewish faith.' an effectual remedy against such illusions of the 

In contemplating the characters of the eminent imagination. The sagacmis Kepler was an as- 

persons who appeared about this era, nothing is trologer and a visionary ; and his friend Tycho 

more interesting and instructive, than to remark Brahe, the Prince of Astronomers, kept an idiot in 

the astonishing combination, in the same minds, his ser^dce, to whose prophecies he listened as 

of the highest intellectual endowments, with the revelations from above. * During the long night 

most deplorable aberrations of the understand- of Gothic barbarism, the intellectual world had 

ing ; and even, in numberless instances, with the again become, like the primitive earth, " with- 

most childish superstitions of the multitude, out form and void ;" the light had ah'eady ap- 

Of this apparent inconsistency, Bodinus dues peared ; " and God had seen the light that it wsis 

not furnish a solitary example. The same re- good ;" but the time was not yet come to " di- 

mark may be extended, in a greater or less de- A-ide it fi-om the darkness."-^ 
gree, to most of the other celebrated names In the midst of the disorders, both political 

hitherto mentioned. Melanchthon, as appears and moral, of that unfortunate age, it is pleasing 

from his letters, was an intei-preter of dreams, to observe the anticipations of brighter pro- 

and a caster of nativities ; " and Luther not only spects, in the speculations of a few individuals, 

sanctioned, by his authority, the popular fables Bodinus himself is one of the number ; ® and to 

about the sexual and prolific intercourse of Satan his name may be added that of his countrjTnan 

with the human race, but seems to have serious- and predecessor Budceus. '' But, of all the 

ly believed that he had liimself frequently seen writers of the sixteenth century, LudoAacus 

the arch enemy face to face, and held arguments VLves seems to have had the liveliest and the 

a contrast to the mental powers displayed in the treatise Dc la IHpuhUquc, was dedicated by the author to his friend, the 
President de Thou ; and it is somewhat amusing to find, that it exposed Bodin himself to the imputation of being a ma- 
gician. For tills we have the testimony of the illustrious historian just mentioned. — (Thuanus, Lib. cxvii. ix.) — Nor did it 
recommend the author to the good opinion of the Catholic church, having been formally condemned and prohibited by the 
Roman Inquisition. The Keflection of the Jesuit JMartin del Hio on this occasion is wortli transcribing. " Adeo tubricum 
et periculosunt de his disserere^ nisi Deum semper^ ct cathuUcam Jidcnij eccU'siccqne Boniajice caisurarn tanqiiam ci/iwsuram jt'juaru.'*— 
Disquisitioiium Miigicanim, Ijbri Sex. Auctore JMartino del llio, Societatis Jesu Presbytero. Venit. 1640, p. 8. 

' £pist. ad Cordcsium (quoted by Bayle.) 

' Joutin's Life of Erasmus, p. 156. 

' See Note E. 

♦ See (/"-■ Life of Tycho Bralu\ by Gassendi. 

» I liave allotted to Bodin a larger space than may seem due to his literary importance ; but the truth is, I know of no 
political writer, of the same date, wliose extensive and various and discriminating reading appears to me to have contri- 
buted more to facilitate and to guide the researches of his successors, or whose references to ancient learning have been 
more frequently transcribed without acknowledgment. Of late his works htive fallen into very general neglect; otherwise 
it is impossible that so many gross mistakes should be current about the scope and spirit of his principles. By many he 
has been mentioned as a zealot for republican forms of government, probably for no better reason than that he chose to call 
his book a Treatise De RepuUiea ; whereas, in point of fact, he is uniformly a warm and able advocate for monarchy ; and, 
although no friend to tyranny, has, on more than one occasion, carried his monarchical principles to a very blameable ex- 
cess (See, in particular, chapters fourth and fifth of the Sixth Book.) On the other band, Grouvelle, a writer of some 

note, has classetl Bodin with Aristotle, as an advocate for domestic slavery. " The reasonings of both," he says, " are re- 
futed by Montesquieu." — (Dc rAuloriti de Atontcsqnieu dans la Involution presenle. Paris, l/BJ.) Whoever has the 
curiosity to compare Bodin and Montesquieu together, will be satisfied, that, on this point, their sentiments were exactly 
the same; and that, so far from refuting Bodin, Montesquieu has borrowed from him more than one argument in support 
of bis general conclusion. 

The merits of Bodin have been, on the whole, very fiiivly estimated by Bayle, who pronounces him " one of the ablest 
men that appeared in France during the sixteenth century." " Si nous vouluns disputeri .Jean lioilin la qualite dVcrivain 
t'jtact ctjudicieux, laissons luisans controverse, un grand genie, un vaste savoiri une momoire et une lecture prodigieuses. 

' See, in particular, his Method of Studying History, chap. vii. entitled Confutatio eorum qui qnatuur Monarchias AureM/ne 
Saculastalncrunt. In this chajiter, after enumerating some of the most important discoveries and inventions of the moderns, 
he concludes with mentioning the art of printing, of the value of which he seems to have formed a very just estimate. 
" Una Typographia cum omnibus veteruni inventis certare facile potest. Ilaque non minus peccant, qiii a veteribus 
aiunt omnia compieliensa, qunm qui illos de veteri multarum artium possessione deturbant. Habet Natura scientiarum 
thesauros innuiuerabiles, qui nuUis letatibus exbauriri possunt." In the same chapter Bodinus expresses hinijielf thus : 
" Mtaa ilia quam aiiream vocant, si ad iiostram conferatur, /fjrrra videri possit." 

' The works of Biid^us were printed at Basle, in four volumes folio, lo.')/- My acquaintance with them is much too 
slight to enable me to speak of them from ray own judgment. No scholar certainly stood higher in the estimation of hi3 
aj5e. " Quo viro," says l.udovicus Vivos, " (Jallia acutiore ingenio, acriore judicio, exacliore diligeiitia, majore erudi- 
tione nullum unquani produxit ; hac vero ictate iiec Italia quidem." The praise bestowed on him by other contemporary 
writers of the highest eminence is equally lavish. 



30 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



most assured foresight of the new career on 
which the human mind was about to enter. 
The following passage from one of his works 
would have done no discredit to the Novu7n Or- 
ganon : — " The similitude which many have 
fancied between the superiority of the moderns 
to the ancients, and the elevation of a dwarf on 
the back of a giant, is altogether false and puerile. 
Neither were thet/ giants, nor are we dwarfs, but 
all of us men of the same standard, — and we the 
taller of the two, by adding their height to our 
own : Provided always that we do not yield to 
them in study, attention, >'igilance, and love of 
truth ; for, if these qualities be wanting, so far 
from mounting on the giant's shoulders, we throw 
away the advantages of our own just stature, by 
remaining prostrate on the ground." * 

I pass over, without any particular notice, the 
names of some French logicians who flourished 
about this period, because, however celebrated 
among their contemporaries, they do not seem 
to form essential links in the History of Science. 
The bold and persevering spirit with which Ra- 
mus disputed, in the University of Paris, the 
authority of Aristotle, and the persecutions he 
incurred by this philosophical heresy, entitle 
hira to an honourable distinction from the rest 
of his brethren. He was certainly a man of un- 
common acuteness as well as eloquence, and 



placed in a very strong light some of the most 
vulnerable parts of the Aristotelian logic ; with- 
out, however, exhibiting any marks of that deep 
sagacity which afterwards enabled Bacon, Des- 
cartes, and Locke, to strike at the very roots 
of the system. His copious and not inelegant 
style as a writer, recommended his innovations 
to those who were disgusted with the barbarism 
of the schools ; * while his avowed partiality for 
the reformed faith (to which he fell a martyr in 
the massacre of Paris), procured many prose- 
lytes to his opinions in all the Protestant coun- 
tries of Europe. In England his logic had the 
honom", in an age of comparative light and re- 
finement, to find an expounder and methodiser 
in the author of Paradise Lost; and in some of 
our northern universities, where it was very 
eai'ly introduced, it maintained its ground till it 
was supplanted by the logic of Locke. 

It has been justly said of Ramus, that, " al- 
though he had genius sufficient to shake the 
Aristotelian fabric, he was unable to substitute 
any thing more solid in its place ;" but it ought 
not to be forgotten, that even this praise, scanty 
as it may now appear, involves a large tribute 
to his merits as a philosophical reformer. Be- 
fore human reason was able to advance, it was 
necessary that it should first be released from 
the weight of its fetters.'' 



' VivEs de Cans. Corrupt. Ari'wm, Lib. i. Similar ideas occur in the works of Roger Bacon : " Quaiito juniores tanto 
perspicaciores, quia juniores posteriores successione temporum ingi-ediuntur labores priorum." — (Opus Majus, edit. Jebb. 
p. 9.) Nor were they altogether overlooked by ancient writers. " Veniet tempus, quo ista qu!e latent nunc in lucera 
dies extrahet, et longioris aevi diligentia. Veniet tempus, quo posteri nostri tam aperta nos ignorasse mirabuntur." 
(Seneca, Qucest. Nut. Lib. vii. c. 25.) This language coincides exactly with that of the Chancellor Bacon ; but it was re- 
served for the latter to illustrate the connection between the progress of human knowledge, and of human happinett ; or (to 
borrow his own phraseology) the connection between the progress of knowledge, and the enlargement of man's ^»wer over 
the destiny of his own species. Among other passages to this purpose, See Nov. Org. Lib. i. cxxix. 

- To the accomplishments of Ramus as a writer, a very flattering testimony is given by an eminent Knglish scholar, by 
no means disposed to overrate his merits as a logician. " Pulsa tandem barbarie, Petrus Ramus politioris literaturae vir, 
ausus est Aristotelem acrius ubique et liberjus incessere, universamque Peripateticam philosophiam exagitare. Ejus 
Dialctka exiguo tempore fuit apud plurimos summo in pretio, maxime eloquentije studiosos, idque idio scholasticorum, 
quorum dictio et stylus ingrata fuerant auribus Ciceronianis." — Logicce Artis Co7npendium, Auctore R. Sandebson, Episc. 
Lincoln, pp. 259. 251. Edit. Decima. Oxon. The first edition was printed in 1618. 

' Dr Barrow, in one of his mathematical lectures, speaks of Ramus in terms far too contemptuous. " Homo, ne quid 
gravius dicam, argutulus ct dlcaculus." — " Sane vix indignation! men; tempero, quin ilium accipiam pro suo merito, regeram- 
que validius in ejus caput, quae contra veteres jactat convicia." Had Barrow confined this censure to the weak and arro- 
gant attacks made by Ramus upon Euclid (particularly upon Euclid's definition of Proportion), it would not have been 
more than Ramus deserved ; but it is evident he meant to extend it also to the more powerful attacks of the same reformer 
upon the logic of Aristotle. Of these there are many which may be read with profit even in the present times. I select 
one passage as a specimen, recommending it strongly to the consideration of those logicians who have lately stood forward 
as advocates for Aristotle's abecedarian demonstrations of the syllogistic rules. " In Aristotelis arte, uuius praecepti uiii- 
cum exemplum est, ac ssepissime nullum : sed unico et singulari exemplo non potest artifex effici ; pluribus opus est et 
dissimilibus. Et quidem, ut Aristotelis exempla tantummoclo non falsa sint, qualia tanien sunt ? Omne b est a : omne cest 
i : ergo omne c est a. Exemplum Aristotehs est puero a grammaticis et oratoribus venienti, et istam mutorum IVIathema- 
ticorum linguam ignoranti, novum et durum : et in totis Analyticis ista non Attica, non lonica, non Dorica, non ^olica, 
non communi, sed geometrica lingua usus est Aristoteles, odiosa pueris, ignota populo, a communi sensu remota, a rhetoricse 
usu et ab humanitatis usu alienissima." — (P. Rajii pro PInlosophica Parisiensis Academicc Disciplina Oratio, 1550). If these 
strictures should be thought too loose and declamatory, the reader may consult the fourth chapter CDe Comer tionibut) of the 
seventh book of Ramus's Dialectics, where the same charge is urged, in my opinion, with irresistible force of argument. 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



31 



It is observed with great truth, hy Condorcet, 
that, in the times of which we are now speak- 
ing, " the science of political economy did not 
exist. Princes estimated not the number of 
men, but of soldiers in the state ; — finance was 
merely the art of plundering the people, witli- 
out dri\'ing them to the desperation tliat might 
end in revolt ; — and governments paid no other 
attention to commerce but that of loading it 
with taxes, of restricting it by privileges, or of 
disputing for its monopoly." 

The internal disorders then agitating the 
whole of Cliristendom, were still less favourable 
to the growth of this science, considered as a 
branch of speculative study. Religious con- 
troversies everjT\'here di^-ided the opinions of 
the multitude ; — invoh'ing those collateral dis- 
cussions concerning the liberty of conscience, 
and the relative claims of sovereigns and sub- 
jects, which, by threatening to resolve society 
into its first elements, present to restless and 
aspiring spirits the most inviting of all fields for 
enterprise and ambition. Amidst the shock of 
such discussions, the calm inquiries which medi- 
tate in silence the slow and gradual amelioration 
of the social order, were not likely to possess 
strong attractions, even to men of the most 
sanguine benevolence ; and, accordingly, the po- 
litical speculations of this period turn almost en- 
tirely on the comparative advantages and disad- 
vantages of different forms of government, or 
on the still more alarming questions concerning 
the limits of allegiance and the right of resist- 
ance. 

The dialogue of our illustrious countryman 
Buchanan, De Jure Regni apud Scofos, though 
occasionally disfigured by the keen and indig- 
nant temper of the wi-iter, and by a predilection 
(pardonable in a scholar warm from the schools 
of ancient Greece and Rome) for forms of policy 
unsuitable to the circumstances of modern 
Europe, bears, nevertheless, in its general spirit. 



a closer resemblance to the political philosophy 
of the eighteenth century, than any composition 
which had previously appeared. The ethical 
paradoxes afterwards inculcated by Ilobbes as 
the ground-work of his slavish theory of govern- 
ment, are anticipated and refuted, and a power- 
ful argument is urged against that doctrine of 
UtUity which has attracted so much notice in 
our times. The political reflections, too, inci- 
dentally introduced by the same author in his 
History of Scotland, bear marks of a mind 
worthy of a better age than fell to his lot. Of 
this kind are the remarks with which he closes 
his narrative of the wanton cruelties exercised 
in punishing the murderers of James the First. 
In reading them, one would almost imagine, that 
one is listening to the voice of Beccaria or of 
Montesquieu. " After this manner," says the 
historian, " was the cruel death of James stdl 
more cruelly avenged. For punishments so far 
exceeding the measure of humanity, have less 
effect in deterring the multitude from crimes, 
than in rousing them to greater efforts, both as 
actors and as sufferers. Nor do they tend so 
much to intimidate by their severity, as by their 
frequency to diminish the terroi-s of the specta- 
tors. The e^■il is more peculiarly great, when 
the mind of the criminal is hardened against the 
sense of pain ; for in the judgment of the un- 
thinking ATilgar, a stubborn confidence generally 
obtains the praise of heroic constancy." 

After the publication of this great work, the 
name of Scotland, so early distinguished over 
Europe by the leai-ning and by the fervid genius^ 
of her sons, disappears for more than a century 
and a half from the History of Letters. But 
from this subject, so pregnant with melancholy 
and humiliating recollections, our attention is 
forcibly drawn to a mighty and auspicious light 
which, in a more fortunate part of the island, 
was already beginning to rise on the philosophi- 
cal world.' 



' Pnefervidiini Scotarum inecnium. 

• That, at the end of the sixteenth century, the Scottish nation were advancing not less rapidly than their neighbours, 
in every species of mental cultivation, is sufficiently attested by their literary remains, both in the Latin language and in 
their own vernacular tongue. A remarkable testimony to the same purjiose occurs in the dialogue above quoted, tlie author 
of which had spent the best years of his life in the most polished society of the Continent. " As often," says Buchanan, 
" as I turn my eyes to the niceness and elegance of our own times, the ancient manners of our forefathers appear sober and 
venerable, but withal rough and horrid." — " Quoties oculos ad nostri temporis mundilias ct elegantiam refero, antiquitas ilia 
sancta et sobria, sed hurtidu tamen, et nondiim salis cvpoliln fuisse videtur." — (Dc Jure Bcffiii apud Scotos.) One would think, 
that he conceived the taste of his countrymen to have then arrived at the nc pfus ultra of national refinement, 
Aurca nimc, olim sylvestribus horrida dumis. 



32 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



CHAPTER 11. 



FROM THE PUBUCATION OF BACON'S PHILOSOPHICAL WORKS, TILL THAT OP THE ESSAY 
ON HUMAN UNDERSTANDING. 



SECTION I. 

Progress of Philosophy in England during this period. 

BACON.' 



The state of science towards the close of the 
sixteenth century, presented a field of observa- 
tion singidarly calculated to attract the curio- 
sity, and to awaken the genius of Bacon ; nor 
was it the least of his personal advantages, that, 
as the son of one of Queen Elizabeth's ministers, 
he had a ready access, wherever he went, to the 
most enlightened society in Europe. Wliile yet 
only in the seventeenth year of his age, he was 
removed by his father from Cambridge to Paris, 
where it is not to be doubted, that the novelty 
of the literary scene must have largely contri- 
buted to cherish the natural liberality and inde- 
pendence of hds mind. Sir Joshua Reynolds 
has remarked, in one of liis academical Dis- 
courses, that " every seminary of learning is 
surrounded with an atmosphere of floating 
knowledge, where every mind may imbibe some- 
what congenial to its own original concep- 
tions." ' He might have added, with stUl great- 
er truth, that it is an atmosphere, of which it is 
more peculiarly salutary for those who have 
been elsewhere reared to breathe the air. The 
remark is applicable to higher pursuits than 
were in the contemplation of this philosophical 
artist ; and it suggests a hint of no inconsider- 
able value for the education of youth. 

The merits of Bacon, as the father of Experi- 
mental Philosophy, are so universally acknow- 
ledged, that it wovJd be superfluous to touch 
upon them here. The lights which he has struck 



out in various branches of the Philosophy of 
Mind, have been much less attended to ; al- 
though the whole scope and tenor of his specu- 
lations show, that to this study his genius was 
far more strongly and happUy turned, than to 
that of the Material World. It was not, as some 
seem to have imagined, by sagacious anticipa- 
tions of particular discoveries afterwards to be 
made in physics, that his writings have had so 
powerful an influence in accelerating the ad- 
vancement of that science. In the extent and 
accuracy of his physical knowledge, he was far 
inferior to many of his predecessors ; but he 
surpassed them all in his knowledge of the laws, 
the resources, and the limits of the human un- 
derstanding. The sanguine expectations with 
which he looked forwards to the future, were 
founded solely on his confidence in the untried 
capacities of the mind, and on a conviction of 
the possibility of invigorating and guiding, by 
means of logical rules, those faculties which, in 
all our researches after truth, are the organs or 
instruments to be employed. " Such rules," as 
he himself has observed, " do in some sort equal 
men's wits, and leave no great advantage or pre- 
eminence to the perfect and excellent motions 
of the spirit. To draw a straight line, or to de- 
scribe a circle, by aim of hand only, there must 
be a great difi'erencc between an unsteady and 
unpractised hand, and a steady and practised ; 
but to do it by rule or compass it is much alike." 



Born 1561, died 1626. 



Discourse delivered at the opening of the Royal Academy, January 2, 1769. 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



33 



Nor IK it merely as a logician tliat Bacon is 
eutitled to notice on the present occasion. It 
would be difficult to name another writer prior 
to Locke, whose works are enriched with so 
many just observations on the intellectual phe- 
nomena. Among these, the most valuable re- 
late to the laws of Memory, and of Imagination ; 
the latter of which subjects he seems to have 
studied with peculiar care. In one short but 
beautiful paragraph concerning Poetry (under 
which title may be comprehended all the vari- 
ous creations of this faculty), he has exhausted 
every thing that philosophy and good sense have ' 
yet had to oifer, on what has been since called 
the Beau Ideal; a topic, which lias furnished 
occasion to so many over-refinements among 
the French critics, and to so much extravagance 
and mysticism in the cloud-clapt metaphysics of 
the new German school. ' In considering ima- 
gination as connected with the nervous system, 
more particulai'ly as connected with that species 
of sympathy to which medical wiiters have 
given the name of imitation, he has suggested 
some very important hints which none of his 
successors have hitherto prosecuted ; and has, 
at the same time, left an example of cautious 
inquiry, worthy to be studied by all who may 
attempt to investigate the laws regulating the 
union between Mind and Body.' His illustra- 
tion of the different classes of prejudices inci- 
dent to human nature, is, in point of practical 
utility, at least equal to any thing on that head 



to be found in Locke, of whom it is impossible 
to forbear remarking, as a circumstance not 
easily explicable, that he should have resumed 
this important discussion, ■without once mention- 
ing the name of his gi-eat predecessor. The 
chief improvement made by Locke, in the far- 
ther prosecution of the argument, is the appli- 
cation of Hobbcs's theory of association, to ex- 
plain in what manner these prejudices are ori- 
ginally generated. 

In Bacon's scattered hints on topics connected 
Avith the Philosophy of the Mind, strictly so 
called, nothing is more remarkable than the pre- 
cise and just ideas they displ.ny of the proper 
aim of this science. He had manifestly re- 
flected much and successfully on the operations 
of his own understanding, and had studied with 
uncommon sagacity the intellectual characters 
of others. Of his reflections and observations 
on both subjects, he has recorded many im- 
portant results, and has in general stated them 
without the slightest reference to any physiolo- 
gical theory concerning their causes, or to iiny 
analogical explanations founded on the caprices 
of metaphorical language. If, on some occasions, 
he assumes the existence of animal spirits, as the 
medium of communication between Soul and 
Body, it must be remembered, that this was 
then the universal belief of the learned ; and that 
it was at a much later period not less confidently 
avowed by Locke. Nor ought it to be over- 
looked (I mention it to the credit of both authors), 



' "Cum mumlus sensibilis sit anima rational! dignitate Inferior, videtur PoilHs hiEC humam nalune largiri quae liisloria 
deneeal; alque aiiinio umbris rerum uteunque satisfacere, cum solida haberi non possint. Si quis enim rem aculius in- 
trospiciat, firmum ex Po'Csi suniitur argumentum, magnitudinem rerum magis illustrem, ordinem iiiagis perfectum, et va. 
rietateni magis pulcliram, animoe huniaiije complacere, quam in natura ipsa, post lapsum, reperiri ullo motio possit. Qua- 
proptcr, cum res gestae et eventus, qui verae historitc subjiciuntur, non sint ejus amplitudinis, in qua anima humana sibi 
satislaciat, pnesto est I'uiiii, qute facta magis lieroica confingat. Cum liistoria vera successus rerum, iiiinime pro meritis 
virtutum et scelerum narret, corrigit earn Focsis, el exitus, et fortunas, secundum merita, et ex lege Nemeseos, exhibet. 
Cum liistoria vera obvia rerum salietate et similitudine, animae himianae fastidio sit reficit earn Poisis, inexpectata, et 
varia, et vicissitudinum plena canens. Adeo ut Foi-sit ista non solum ad dclectationem, sed ad animi magnitudinem, et ad 
mores conferat." — ( De Aug. Scicut. Lib. ii. cap. xiii.) 

' To tliis branch of the pliilosophy of mind, Bacon gives the title of Doctr'ma dc fitdcre, sive de commnni vinculo animtt et 

corporis (De Aug. Scictit. Lib. iv. cap. i.) Under this article, he mentions, among other desiderata, an inquiry (which he 

recommends to physicians) concerning the influence of imagination over the body. His own words are very remarkable r 
more particularly, the clause in which he remarlis the effect of fixing and concentrating the attention, in giving to ideal 
objects the power of realities over tlie belief. " Ad aliu<l ipiippiam, quod hue pertinet, parce adniodum, nee ])ro rei sub- 
tilitnte, vel utiUtate, inquisitum est; cpiatenus scilicet ijisa imagiHitio anima lel cogiliUio pcrquam fixa, el iclnti in fdcm 
giiaudiim aaltola, valeat ad innnutandum corpus imaginantis." — (Ihid) He suggests also, as a curious problem, to ascer- 
tain how far it is possible to fortify and exalt the imagination ; and by what means this may most effectually be done. 
The class of facts here alluded to, are manifestly of the same description with those to which the attention of philosophers 
has been lately called by the ))relensions of Mesmer and of I'erkins : " Atque huic conjuncta est disquisitio, quomodo ima- 
ginatio intendi et fortiticari possit ? Quippe, si imaginatio furtis tantarum sit virium, o|ierae prelium fuerit nusse, quibus 
mollis cam cxaltari, el se ipsa majorem fieri detur ? At(iue hie oblicpie, ncc minus periculose se iiisinuat paUiatio quaedom 
et defensio maxima.* partis Afagix Cercmoaialis," &c. &c — Dc Aug. Sciciil. Lib. iv. cap. iii. 

DISS. 1. PAUr 1. E 



34 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



that in such instances the fact is commonly so 
stated, as to render it easy for the reader to de- 
tach it from the theory. As to the scholastic 
questions concerning the nature and essence of 
mind, — whether it be extended or unextended ? 
whether it have any relation to space or to time ? 
or whether (as was contended by others) it exist 
in every tibi, but in iio place ? — Bacon has uni- 
formly passed them over with silent contempt ; 
and has probably contributed not less effectually 
to bring them into general discredit, by this in- 
direct intimation of his ovn\ opinion, than if he 
had descended to the ungrateful task of exposing 
their absurdity.^ 

While Bacon, however, so cautiously avoids 
these unprofitable discussions about the natiu-e 
of Mind, he decidedly states his conviction, that 
the faculties of Man differ not merely in degree, 
but in kind, from the instincts of the brutes. 
" I do not, therefore," he observes on one oc- 
casion, " approve of that confused and promiscu- 
ous method in which philosophers are accustomed 
to treat of pneumatology ; as if the human Soul 
ranked above those of brutes, merely like the 
sun above the stars, or like gold above other 
metals." 

Among the various topics started by Bacon 
for the consideration of future logicians, he did 
not overlook (what may be justly regarded, in 
a practical view, as the most interesting of all 
logical problems) the question concerning the 
mutual influence of Thought and of Language 
on each other. " Men believe," says he, " that 
their reason governs their words ; but it often 
happens, that words have power enough to re- 
act upon reason." This aphorism may be con- 
sidered as the text of by far the most valuable 
part of Locke's Essay, — that which relates to 
the imperfections and abuse of words ; but it 
was not until within the last twenty years that 



its depth and importance were perceived in all 
their extent. I need scarcely say, that I allude 
to the excellent Memoirs of M. Prevost and of 
M. Degerando, on " Signs considered in their 
connection with the Intellectual Operations." 
The anticipations formed by Bacon, of that branch 
of modern logic which relates to Universal Gram- 
mar, do no less honour to his sagacity. " Gram- 
mar," he obser\'es, " is of two kinds, the one lite- 
rary, the other philosophical. The former has 
for its object to trace the analogies running 
through the structure of a particular tongue, so 
as to facilitate its acquisition to a foreigner, or to 
enable him to speak it with coiTcctness and purity. 
The latter directs the attention, no^totheanalogies 
which words bear to words, but the analogies 
which words bear to things ;" * or, as he after- 
wards explains himself more clearly, " to lan- 
guage considered as the sensible portraiture or 
image of the mental process." In farther illus- 
tration of these hints, he takes notice of the lights 
which the different geniusof different languages 
reflect on the characters and habits of those by 
whom they were respectively spoken. " Thus," 
says he, " it is easy to perceive, that the 
Greeks were addicted to the culture of the arts, 
the Romans engrossed with the conduct of af- 
fairs ; inasmuch as the technical distinctions 
introduced in the progress of refinement require 
the aid of compounded words ; while the real 
business of life stands in no need of so artificial 
a phraseology."' Ideas of this sort liave, in the 
course of a very few years, already become com- 
mon, and almost tritical ; but how different was 
the case two centuries ago ! 

With these sound and enlarged Wews con- 
cerning the philosophy of the Mind, it will not 
appear surprising to those who have attended to 
the slowand irregular advancesof human reason, 
that Bacon should occasionally blend incidental 



• Notwithstanding the extravagance of Spinoza's own philosophical creed, he is one of the very few among Bacon's 
successors, who seem to have been fully aware of the justness, importance, and originality of the method pointed out in 
the Notutii Organon for the study of the Mind. " Ad hcec intelligenda, non est opus natnram mentis cognoscere, sed suf- 
ficit, mentis sive perceptionum historiolam concinnare modo illo quo S'^erllamius docet." — Spis. Ep'ist. 42. 

In order to comprehend the whole merit of this remark, it is necessary to know that, according to the Cartesian phrase- 
ology, which is here adopted by Spinoza, the word perception is a general term, eq\ially applicable to all the intellectual 
operations. The words of Descartes himself are these : " Omnes modi cogitandi, quos in nobis experimur, ad duos gene- 
rales referri possunt : quorum unus est, perception sive operatio intellectus ; alius vero, vulitio^ sive operatio voluntatis- 
Nam sentiri, imaginari, et pure inlelUgerc, sunt iantum divcrsi modi percijnendi ; ut et cupere, aversari, affirmare, negare, 
dubitare, sunt diversi modi volendi." — Princij). Phil. Pars I. § 32. 

' De Aug. Scient. Lib. vi. can. i. 

• Ibid. 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



35 



remarks, savouring of the habits of thinking 
prevalent in his time. A curious example of 
this occurs in the same cliapter which contains 
his excellent definition or description of uni- 
versal grammar. " This too," he observes, " is 
worthy of notice, that the ancient languages 
were full of declensions, of cases, of conjugations, 
of tenses, and of other similar inflections; wliile 
the modern, almost entirely destitute of these, 
indolently accomplish the same piu-pose by the 
help of prepositions, and of auxiliary verbs. 
Whence," he continues, " may be inferred, 
(however we may flatter ourselves with the idea 
of our own superiority), that the human intellect 
was much more acute and subtile in ancient, than 
it now is in modern times."' How very un- 
like is this last reflection to the usual strain of 
Bacon's writings ! It seems, indeed, much more 
congenial to the pliilosophy of Mr Harris and of 
Lord Monboddo ; and it has accordingly been 
sanctioned with the approbation of both these 
learned authors. If my memory does not deceive 
me, it is the only passage in Bacon's works, 
which Lord Monboddo has anywhere conde- 
scended to quote. 

These observations afford me a convenient 
opportunity for remarking the progress and dif- 
fusion of the philosophical spirit, since the begin- 
ning of the seventeenth century. In the short 
passage just cited from Bacon, there are involv- 
ed no less than two capital errors, wliich are 
now almost universally ranked, by men of edu- 
cation, among the grossest prejudices of the 
multitude. The one, that the declensions and 
conjugations of the ancient languages, and the 
modern substitution in their place of preposi- 
tions and auxiliary verbs, are, both of them, the 
deliberate and systematical contrivances of spe- 
culative grammarians; the other (still less ana- 
logous to Bacon's general style of reasoning), 
that the faculties of man have declined, as the 
world has growni older. Both of these errors 
may be now said to have disappeared entirely. 
The latter, more particularly, must, to the ris- 
ing generation, seem so absurd, that it almost 
requires an apology to have mentioned it. That 



the capacities of the human mind have been in 
all ages the same; and that the diversity of 
phenomena exliibited by our species, is the re- 
sult merely of the difi'erent circumstances in 
which men are placed, has been long receiv- 
ed as an incontrovertible logical maxim ; or ra- 
ther, such is the influence of early instruction, 
that we are apt to regard it as one of the most 
ob^^ous suggestions of common sense. And 
yet, till about the time of Montesquieu, it was 
by no means so generally recognised by the 
learned, as to have a sensible influence on the 
fashionable tone of thinking over Europe. The 
application of this fundamental and leading idea 
to the natural or theoretical history of society in 
all its various aspects ; — to the history of lan- 
guages, of the arts, of the sciences, of laws, of 
government, of manners, and of religion, — is 
the peculiar glory of the latter half of the eigh- 
teenth century, and forms a characteristical 
feature in its philosophy, wliich even the ima- 
gination of Bacon was unable to foresee. 

It would be endless to particularize the ori- 
ginal suggestions tlurown out by Bacon on topics 
connected with the science of Mind. The few 
passages of this sort already quoted, are produ- 
ced merely as a specimen of the rest. Tliey are 
by no means selected as the most important in 
his writings ; but as they happened to be those 
which had left the strongest impression on my 
memory, I thought them as likely as any other, 
to in^dte the curiosity of my readers to a careful 
examination of the rich mine from which they 
are extracted. 

The Ethical disquisitions of Bacon are almost 
entirely of a practical nature. Of the two theo- 
retical questions so much agitated, in both parts 
of this island, during the eighteenth century, 
concerning the principle and the ol)ject of moral 
approbation, he has said nothing ; but he has 
opened some new and interesting views with re- 
spect to the influence of custom and the forma- 
tion of habits ; — a most important article of mo- 
ral philosophy, on which, he has enlarged more 
ably and more usefully than any wTiter since 
Aristotle.* Under the same head of Ethics may 



' De Aug. ScienU Lib. vi. cap. i. 



De Aug. Seicnt. Lib. vii. cap. iii. 



36 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



be mentioned the small volume to which he has 
given the title of Essays ; the best known and 
the most popular of all his works. It is also 
one of those where the superiority of his genius 
appears to the greatest advantage ; the novelty 
and depth of his reflections often recei\'ing a 
strong relief from the triteness of his subject. 
It may be read from beginning to end in a few 
hours, — and yet, after the twentieth perusal, 
one seldom fails to remark in it something over- 
looked before. This, indeed, is a characteristic 
of all Bacon's writings, and is only to be ac- 
counted for by the inexhaustible aliment they 
furnish to our own thoughts, and the sympa- 
thetic acti\'ity they impart to our torpid faculties. 

Tlie suggestions of Bacon for the improve- 
ment of Political Philosophy, exhibit as strong 
a contrast to the narrow systems of contcmjKi- 
rary statesmen, as the Inductive Logic to that 
of the Schools. How profound and comprehen- 
sive are the Anews opened in tlie following pas- 
sages, when compai-ed with the scope of the cele- 
brated treatise De Jure Belli et Pads ; a work 
which was first published about a year before 
Bacon's death, and which continued, for a hun- 
dred and fifty years afterwards, to be regarded 
in all the Protestant universities of Europe as 
an inexhaustible treasure of mor.il and jurispru- 
dential wisdom ! 

" The ultimate object which legislators ought 
to have in view, and to which all their enact- 
ments and sanctions ought to be subservient, is, 
that the citizens may live happily. For this pur- 
pose, it is necessary that they should receive a 
religious and pious education; that they should 
be trained to good morals ; that they should be 



secured from foreign enemies by proper mili- 
tary an-angements ; that they should be guard- 
ed by an effectual police against seditions and 
private injuries; that they should be loyal to 
government, and obedient to magistrates ; and, 
finally, that they should abound in wealth, and 
in other national resources."^ — " Tlie science 
of such matters certainly belongs more parti- 
cularly to the proAince of men who, by habits 
of public business, have been led to take a com- 
prehensive survey of the social order ; of the in- 
terests of the community at large ; of the rules 
of natural equity ; of the manners of nations ; 
of the different forms of government ; and who 
are thus prepared to reason concerning the wis- 
dom of laws, both from considerations of jus- 
tice and of policy. The great desideratum, 
acconlingly, is, by investigating the principles 
of natural justice, and those of political expedi- 
ency, to exhibit a theoretical model of legisla- 
tion, which, while it serves as a standard for 
estimating the comparative excellence of muni- 
cipal codes, may suggest hints for their correc- 
tion and imjirovement, to such as have at heart 
the welfare of mankind."^ 

How precise the notion was that Bacon had 
formed of a philosopliical system of jurispru- 
dence (with which as a standard the municipal 
laws of different nations might be compared), 
appears from a remarkable ex'pression, in which 
he mentions it as the proper business of those 
who might attempt to carry his plan into execu- 
tion, to investigate those " leges legum, ex 
quibus inforniatio pcti possit, quid in singulis 
legibus l)eue aut perperam positum aut consti- 
tutum sit."' I do not know if, in Bacon's 



' Exemphivi TraclatM tie ForU'ilms Juris, Aphor. 5. Tliis enumeration of the dlft'ercnt objects of law approaches very 
nearly to Mr Smith's ideas on the same subject, as expressed by liimself in the concluding sentence of his Theory of Moral 
Sentiments. " In another Discourse, I shall endeavour to give an account of the general i)rinciples of law and govern- 
ment, and of the different revolutions they have undergone in the different ages and periods of society ; not only in what 
concerns justice, but in what concerns police, revenue, and arms, and whatever else is the object of law." 

* Dc Ai(g. Scirnt. Lib. viii. cap. iii. 

^ De Foiilibus Jiirh, Aphor. G. 

From tlie preface to a small tract of Bacon's entitled, Tlie Elements of the Common Ln-xs of Englatid, written while he was 
Solicitor-General to Queen Elizabeth, we learn, that tlie phrase Icgum leges had been previously used by some " great 
Civilian." To what CiMian Bacon here alludes, I know not ; but, whoever he was, I doubt much if he annexed to it the 
comprehensive and philosopliical meaning so precisely explained in the above definition. Bacon himself, when he wrote 
his Tract on the Common Laws, does not seem to have yet risen to this vantage-ground of Universal Jurisprudence. His 
great object (he tells us) was " to collect the rules and grounds disjiersed throughout the body of the same laws, in order 
to see more profoundly into the reason of such judgments and ruled cases, and thereby to make more use of them for the 
decision of other cases more doubtful ; so that the uncertainty of law, which is the principal and most just challenge that is 
made to the laws of our nation at this time, will, by this new strength laid to the foundation, be somewhat the more settled 
and corrected." In this passage, no reference nhatever is made to the Universal Justice spoken of in the aphorisms De 
Fontibus Jurii ; but merely to the leading and governing rules which give to a municiiial system whatever it possesses of 



DISSERTATION FIRST". 



37 



prophetic anticipations of the future progress of 
Physics, there be any thing more characteristi- 
cal, both of the grandeur and of the justness of 
his conceptions, than this short definition ; more 
particularly, when we consider how widely Gro- 
tius, in a work ])rofessedly devoted to this very 
inquiry, was soon after to wander from the 
right path, in consequence of his vague and 
wavering idea of the aim of his researches. 

The sagacity, however, displayed in these, and 
various other passages of a similar import, can 
by no means be duly appreciated, without at- 
tending, at the same time, to tlie cautious and 
temperate maxims so frequently inculcated by 
the author, on the subject of political innova- 
tion. " A stubborn retention of customs is a 
turbulent thing, not less than the introduction 
of new." — " Time is the greatest innovator ; 
shall we then not imitate time, which innovates 
80 silently as to mock the sense ?" Nearly con- 
nected with these aphorisms, are the profound 
reflections in the first book De Aiigmentis Scien- 
tiaruni, on the necessity of accommodating every 
new institution to the character and circirai- 
stances of the people for whom it is intended ; 
and on the peculiar danger which literary men 
run of overlooking this consideration, from the 
familiar acquaintance they acquire, in the course 
of their early studies, with the ideas and senti- 
ments of the ancient classics. 

The remark of Bacon on the systematical 
policy of Henry VII. was manifestly suggested 
by the same train of thinking. " His laws 
(whoso marks them well) were deep and not 
vulgar; not made on the spur of a particular 
occasion for the present, hut out of pro^^dence 
for the future ; to make the estate of his people 
still more and more happy, after the manner of 
the legislators in ancient and heroic times." 
How far this noble eulogy was merited, either 
by the legislators of antiquity, or by the modern 
Prince on whom Bacon has bestowed it, is a 
question of little moment. I quote it merely on 
account of the important philosophical distinc- 
tion which it indirectly marks, between " deep 



and vulgar laws ;" the former invariably aiming 
to accomplish their end, not by gi^^ng any sud- 
den shock to the feelings and interests of the 
existing generation, but by allowing to natural 
causes time and opportunity to operate ; and 
by removing those artificial obstacles which 
check the progressive tendencies of society. It 
is probable, that, on this occasion. Bacon had 
an eye more particularly to the memorable sta- 
tute of alimation; to the effects of which (what- 
ever were the motives of its author) the above 
description certainly applies in an eminent de- 
gree. 

AJ"ter all, however, it must be acknowledged, 
that it is rather in his general ■\'iews and maxims, 
than in the details of his political theories, that 
Bacon's sagacity appears to advantage. His 
notions with respect to commercial policy seem 
to have been more peculiarly erroneous ; origi- 
nating in an overweening opinion of the efficacy 
of law, in matters where natural causes ought 
to be allowed a free operation. It is observed 
by Mr Hume, that the statutes of Henry VII. re- 
lating to the police of his kingdom, are generally 
contrived with more judgment than his com- 
mercial regulations. The same writer adds, that 
" the more simple ideas of order and equity are 
sufficient to guide a legislator in every thing that 
regards the internal administration of justice; 
but that the principles of commerce are much 
more complicated, and require long experience 
and deep reflection to be well understood in any 
state. The real consequence is there often con- 
trary to first appearances. No wonder, that, 
during the reign of Henry VII., these matters 
were frequently mistaken ; and it may safely be 
affirmed, that, even in the age of Lord Bacon, 
very imperfect and erroneous ideas were formed 
on that subject." 

The instances mentioned by Hume in con- 
firmation of these general remarks, are pe- 
culiarly gratifying to those who have a pleasure 
in tracing the slow but certain progress of rea- 
son and liberality. " During the reign," says 
he, " of Henry VII. it was prohibited to ex- 



analogy and consistency. To these rules Bacon gives the title of teges ki^nm ; but the meaning of the phrase, on this oc- 
casiou, differs from that in which he afterwards employed it, not less widely tlian the rules of Latin or of Greek syntax 
differ from the principles of universal grammai-. 



38 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



port horses, as if that exportation did not en- 
courage the breed, and make them more })len- 
tiful in the kingdom. Prices were also affixed 
to woollen cloths, to caps and hats, and the wages 
of labourers were regulated by law. It is evi- 
dent, that these matters ought always to he left free, 
and be entrusted to the common course of business 
and commerce." — " For a like reason," the his- 
torian continues, the " law enacted against in- 
closures, and for the keeping up of farm-houses, 
scarcely deserves the praises bestowed on it by 
Lord Bacon. If husbandmen understand agri- 
culture, and have a ready vent for their com- 
modities, we need not dread a diminution of the 
people employed in the country. During a cen- 
tury and a half after this period, there was a 
frequent renewal of laws and edicts against de- 
population ; whence we may infer, that none of 
them were ever executed. Tlie natural course 
of improvement at last provided a remedy." 

These acute and decisive strictures on the im- 
policy of some laws highly applauded by Bacon, 
while they strongly illustrate the narrow and 
mistaken views in political economy entertained 
by the wisest statesmen and philosophers two 
centuries ago, afford, at the same time, a proof 
of the general diffusion which has since taken place 
among the people of Great Britain, of juster and 
more enlightened opinions on this important 
branch of legislation. Wherever such doctrines 
find their way into the page of history, it may 
be safely inferred, that the public mind is not 
indisposed to give them a welcome reception. 

The ideas of Bacon concerning the education 
of youth, were such as might be expected from 
a philosophical statesman. On the conduct of 
education in general, with a view to the de- 
Telopement and improvement of the intellectual 
character, he has suggested various useful hints 
in diflferent parts of his works ; but what I wish 
chiefly to remark at present is, the paramount 
importance which he has attached to the education 
of the people, — comparing, as he has repeatedly 
done, the effects of early culture on the un- 



derstanding and the heart, to the abundant har- 
vest which rewards the diligent husbandman for 
the toils of the spring. To this analogy he seems 
to have been particularly anxious to attract the 
attention of his readers, by bestowing on educa- 
tion the title of the Georgics of the Mind ; iden- 
tifying, by a happy and impressive metaphor, the 
two proudest functions entrusted to the legi- 
slator, — the encouragement of agricultural in- 
dustry, and the care of national instruction. In \ 
both instances, the legislator exerts a power 
which is literally productive or creative; com- 
pelling, in the one case, the improfitable desert 
to pour forth its latent riches ; and in the other, 
vivifjing the dormant seeds of genius and virtue, ■ 
and redeeming from the neglected wastes of hu- 
man intellect, a new and unexpected accession ; 
to the common inheritance of mankind. 

When from such speculations as these we 
descend to the treatise De Jure Belli et Pads, the 
contrast is mortifying indeed. And yet, so 
much better suited were the talents and accom- 
plishments of Grotius to the taste, not only of 
his contemporaries, but of their remote descend- 
ants, that, wliile the merits of Bacon failed, for 
a century and a half, to command the general 
admiration of Europe, ' Grotius continued, even 
in our British universities, the acknowledged 
Oracle of Jurisprudence and of Ethics, till long 
after the death of Montesquieu. Nor was Bacon 
himself unapprised of the slow growth of his 
posthumous fame. No writer seems ever to have 
felt more deeply, that he properly belonged to a 
later and more enlightened age ; — a sentiment 
which he has pathetically expressed in thatclause 
of his testament where he " bequeaths his name 
to posterity, after some generations shall be 
past."' 

Unbounded, however, as the reputation of 
Grotius was on the Continent, even before his 
own death, it was not till many years after the 
publication of the treatise De Jure Belli et Pads, 
that the science of Natural Jurisprudence became, 
in this island, an object of much attention, even 



' " La celebrity en France des e'crits du Chancelier Bacon n'a gufere pour date que eelle de I'Encyclopedie." — CHutoire 
det Mathematiqiies par Montucla, Preface, p. ix.) It is an extraordinary circumstance, that Bayle, who has so often wasted 
his erudition and acuteness on the most insignificant characters, and to whom Le Clerc has very justly ascribed the merit 
oiune exactitude donnante dans dts chosei de neant, should have devoted to Bacon only twelve lines of his Dictionary. 

' See Note F. 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



39 



to the learned. In order, therefore, to give to 
the sequel of this section some degree of con- 
tinuity, I shall reserve my ohservations on Gro- 
tius and his successors, tiU I sliall have finished 
all that I think it necessary to mention further, 
with respect to the literature of our own coun- 
try, prior to the appearance of Mr Locke's 
Essay. 

The rapid advancement of intellectual culti- 
vation in England, between the years 1588 and 
1640 (a period of almost uninterrupted peace), 
has been remarked by Mr Fox. " The general 
improvement," he observes, " in all arts of ci\dl 
life, and, above all, the astonishing progress of 
literature, are the most striking among the gene- 
ral features of that period ; and are in themselves 
causes sufficient to produce effects of the utmost 
importance. A country whose language was en- 
riched by the works of Hooker, Raleigh, and Ba- 
con, could not but experience a sensible change 
in its manners, and in its style of thinking ; and 
even to speak the same language in which Spen- 
cer and Shakspeare had written, seemed a suf- 
ficient plea to rescue the Commons of England 
from the appellation of Brutes, with which Hen'- 
ry the Eightli had addressed them." — The re- 
mark is equally just and refined. It is by the 
mediation of an impro'S'ing language, that the 
progress of the mind is chiefly continued from 
one generation to another ; and that tlie acquire- 
ments of the enlightened few are insensibly im- 
parted to the many. Wliatever tends to diminish 
the ambiguities of speech, or to fix, with more 
logical ])recision, the import of general terms ; — 
above all, whatever tends to embody, in popular 
forms of expression, the ideas and feelings of the 



wise and good, augments the natural powers 
of the human understanding, and enables the 
succeeding race to start from a higher ground 
than was occupied by their fathers. Tlie remark 
applies with peculiar force to the study of the 
Mind itself ; a study, where the chief source of 
error is the imperfection of words ; and where 
every improvement on this great instrument of 
thought may be justly regarded in the light of 
a discovery. * 

In the foregoing list of illustrious names, Mr 
Fox has, with much proprietj^, connected those 
of Bacon and Raleigh ; two men, who, not- 
withstanding the diversity of their professional 
pursuits, and the strong contrast of their cha- 
racters, exhibit, nevertheless, in their capacity 
of authors, some striking features of resem- 
blance. Both of them owed to the force of their 
own minds, their emancipation from the fetters 
of the schools ; both were eminently distinguish- 
ed above their contemporaries, by the originality 
and enlargement of their philosophical Anews ; 
and both divide, ■n'ith the venerable Hooker, 
the glory of exemplifj-ing, to their yet unpolish- 
ed countrymen, the richness, variety, and grace, 
which might be lent to the English idiom, by 
the hand of a master." 

It is not improbable that ^Ii- Fox might have 
included the name of Hobbes in the same enu- 
meration, had he not been prevented by an 
aversion to his slavish principles of government, 
and byhisown disrelish for metaphysical theories. 
As a wTiter, Hobbes unquestionably ranks high 
among the older English classics, and is so pe- 
culiarly distingirishcd by the simplicity and ease 
of his manner, that one would naturally have 
expected from Mr Fox's characteristical taste, 



' It is not so foreign as mav at first be supposed to the object of this Discourse, to take notice here of tlie extraordinary 
demand for books on Agriculture under the government of .lames I. The fact is thus very strongly stated by Dr Johnson, 
in his introduction to tlie Harleian Miscellany. '• It deserves to be remarked, because it is not generally known, that the 
treatises on husbandry and agriculture, which were published during the reign of King James, are so numerous, that it can 
scarcely be imagined by whom they were written, or to whom they were sold." Nothing can illustrate more strongly the 
effects of a pacific system of policy, in encouraging a general taste for reading, as well as an active spirit of national im- 
provement. At all times, and in every country, the extensive sale of liooks on agriculture, may be regarded as one of the 
most pleasing symptoms of mental cultivation in the great body of a people. 

• To prevent being misunderstood, it is necessary for me to add, tliat I do not speak of the general style of these old au- 
thors; but only of detached pass.iges, which may be selected from all of them, as earnests or first fruits of a new and 
brighter era in Knglish literature. It may be safely affirmed, that in Miir works, and in tlie prose compositions of Jlilton, 
are to bo found some of the finest sentences of which our language has yet to boast. To jiropose them no-j> as models for 
imitation would be quite absurd. Dr Lowth certainly went much too far when he said, " That in correctneti, propriety, 
and purity of English style. Hooker hath hardly been surpassed, or even equalled, by any of his successors."— /"rc/if* to 
I^WTU's Engliik Grammar, 



m 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



that he would have relished his style still more 
than that of Bacon' or of Raleigh. It is with 
the philosophical merits, however, of Hohbes, 
that we are alone concerned at present ; and, in 
this point of view, what a space is filled in the 
subsequent history of our domestic literature, 
by his own works, and by those of his innume- 
rable opponents ! Little else, indeed, but the 
systems which he published, and the contro- 
versies which they provoked, occurs, during the 
interval between Bacon and Locke, to mark the 



progress of English Philosophy, cither in the 
study of the Mind, or in the kindred researches 
of Ethical and Political Science. 

Of the few and comparatively trifling excep- 
tions to this remark, furnished by the metaphy- 
sical tracts of Glanville, of Henry More, and 
of John Smith, I must delay taking notice, till 
some account shall be given of the Cartesian 
Philosophy ; to which their most interesting dis- 
cufisions have a constant reference, either in the 
way of comment or refutation. 



" The philosopher of Malmesbury," says Dr 
Warburton, " was the terror of the last age, as 
Tindall and Collins are of this. The press 
sweat with controversy ; and every young 
churchman militant, would try his arms in 
thundering on Hobbes's steel cap."' Nor was 
the opposition to Hobbes confined to the clerical 
order, or to the controversialists of his own 
times. The most eminent moralists and politi- 
cians of the eighteenth century may be ranked 
in the number of his antagonists ; and even at 
the present moment, scarcely does there appear 
a new publication on Ethics or Jurisprudence, 
where a refutation of Hobbism is not to be found. 

The period when Hobbes began his literary 
career, as well as the principal incidents of his 
life, were, in a singular degi'ee, favourable to a 
mind like liis ; impatient of the yoke of autho- 
lity, and ambitious to attract attention, if not 
by solid and useful discoveries, at least by an 
ingenious defence of paradoxical tenets. After 
a residence of five years at Oxford, and a very 
extensive tour through France and Italy, he 



had the good fortune, upon his return to Eng- 
land, to be admitted into the intimacy and con- 
fidence of Lord Bacon ; a circumstance which, 
we may presume, contributed not a little to en- 
coui'age that bold spirit of inquiry, and that 
aversion to scholastic learning, which character- 
ise his wi'itlngs. Happy, if he had, at the same 
time, imbibed some portion of that love of truth 
and zeal for the advancement of knowledge, 
which seem to have been Bacon's ruling pas- 
sions ! But such was the obstinacy of his tem- 
per, and his overweening self-conceit, that, in- 
stead of co-operating with Bacon in the execu- 
tion of his magnificent design, he resolved to 
rear, on a foundation exclusively his own, a com- 
plete structure both of Moral and Physical 
Science ; disdaining to avail himself even of the 
materials collected by his predecessors, and 
treating the eaperimetUarian philosophers as ob- 
jects only of contempt and ridicule !* 

In the political writings of Hobbes, we may 
perceive the influence also of other motives. 
From his earliest years, he seems to have been 



> According to Dr Burnet (no contemptible judge of style), Bacon was " the first that airit our language correctly." 
The same learned prelate pronounces Bacon to be " ttill our best author ;" and iliit, at a time when the works of Sprat, 
and many of the prose compositions of Cowley and of Dryden, were already in the hands of the public. It is difficult to 
conceive on what grounds Burnet proceeded, in hazarding so extraordinary an opinion See the preface IoBuknet's Trans- 
lation of _1Mobe's Utopia. 

It is still more difficult, on the other hand, to account for the following very bold decision of Mr Hume. I transcribe 
it from an essay first published in 1742 ; but the same passage is to be found in the last edition of his works, corrected 
by himself. " The first polite prose we have, was writ by a man (Dr Swift) who is still alive. As to Sprat, Locke, and 
even Temple, they knew too Uttle of the rules of art to be esteemed elegant writers. The prose of Bacon, Harrington, 
and Milton, is altogether stiff and pedantic, though their sense be excellent." 

How insignificant are the petty grammatical improvements proposed by Swift, wlien compared with the inexhaustible 
riches imparted to the English tongue by the writers of the seventeenth century ; and how inferior, in all the higher qua- 
lities and graces of style, are his prose compositions, to those of his immediate predecessors, Drvden, Pope, and Addison ! 

2 Born 1588, died'l(J79. 

' Divine Legntion, Pre£ to Vol. II. p. 9. 

♦ See Note G. 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



41 



decidedly hostile to all the forms of popular go- 
vernment ; and it is said to have heen with the 
design of impressing his countrymen with a just 
sense of the disorders incident to democratical 
establishment^!, that he published, in 1618, an 
English translation of Thucydides. In these 
opinions he was more and more confirmed by 
the events he afterwards witnessed in England ; 
the fatal consequences of which he early foresaw 
with so much alarm, that, in 1640, he withdrew 
from the approaching stonn, to enjoy the so- 
ciety of his philosophical friends at Paris. It 
was there he wrote his "book De Cive, a few 
copies of which were printed, and privately 
circulated in 1642. The same work was after- 
wards given to the public, with material cor- 
rections and improvements, in 1647, when the 
author's attachment to the royal cause being 
strengthened by his personal connection with the 
exUed king, he thought it incumbent on him 
to stand fortli avowedly as an advocate for those 
principles which he had long professed. The 
great object of this performance was to strength- 
en the hands of sovereigns against the rising 
spirit of democracy, by arming them with the 
weapons of a new philosophy. 

The fundamental doctrines inculcated in the 
political works of Hobbes are contained in the 
following propositions. I recapitulate them 
here, not on their own account, but to prepare 
the way for some remarks which I mean after- 
wards to offer on the coincidence between the 
principles of Hobbes and those of Locke. In 
their practical conclusions, indeed, with re- 
spect to the rights and duties of citizens, the 
two writers diflFer widely ; but it is curious to 
observe how very nearly they set out from the 
same hypothetical assumptions. 

All men are by nature equal ; and, prior to 
government, they had all an equal right to en- 
joy the good things of this world. Man, too, is 
(according to Hobbes) by nature a solitary and 
purely selfish animal ; the social union being en- 
tirely an interested league, suggested by prudei>- 
tial views of personal advantage. The necessary 



consequence is, that a state of nature mnst be a 
state of perpetual warfare, in which no indi\i- 
dual has any other means of safety than his own 
strength or ingenuity ; and in which there is no 
room for regular industrj', becauso no secure en- 
joyment of its fruits. In confirmation of this 
view of the origin of society, Hobbes appeals to 
fects falling daily wdthin the circle of our o^ti 
experience. " Does not a man (he asks), when 
taking a journey, arm himself, and seek to go 
well accompanied ? When going to sleep, does 
he not lock liis doors ? Nay, even in his own 
house, does he not lock his chests ? Does he 
not there as much accuse mankind by his actions, 
as I do by my words ?"* An additional argu- 
ment to the same purpose may, according to 
some later Hobbists, be derived from the in- 
stinctive aversion of infants for strangers ; and 
from the apprehension which, it is alleged, 
every person feels, when he hears the tread of 
an imknown foot in the dark. 

For the sake of peace and seeuritj', it is ne- 
cessary that each indi-vidual should surrender a 
part of his natural right, and be contented with 
such a share of liberty as he is willing to allow 
to others ; or, to use Hobbes's o'wn language, 
" every man must divest himself of the right he 
has to all things by nature ; the right of all men 
to all things being in effect no better than if no 
man had a right to any thing."* In conse- 
quence of this transference of natural rights to 
an individual, or to a body of individuals, the 
multitude become one person, imder the name 
of a State or Republic, by which person the 
common will and power are exercised for the 
common defence. The ruling power cannot be 
withdrawn from those to whom it has been com- 
mitted ; nor can they be punished for misgovem- 
ment. The interpretation of the laws is to be 
sought, not from the comments of philosophers, 
but from the authority of the ruler ; otherwise 
society would every moment be in danger of re- 
solving it«elf into the discordant elements of 
which it was at first composed. The will of the 
magistrate, therefore, is to be regarded as theulti- 



DISS. I. PART I. 



' Of Man, Part I. chap. xiii. 

» De Corf ore Politico, Part I. chap. i. § 10. 



42 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



mate standard of right and wrong, and his voice 
to be listened to by every citizen as the voice of 
conscience. 

Not many years afterwards, ' Hobbes pushed 
the argument for the absolute power of princes 
still further, in a work to which he gave the 
name of Leviathan. Under this appellation he 
means the body politic ; insinuating that man is 
an untameable beast of prey, and that govern- 
ment is the strong chain by which he is kept 
from mischief. The fundamental principles here 
maintained are the same as in the book De Give; 
but as it inveighs more particularly against ec- 
clesiastical tjTanny, with the ^dew of subjecting 
the consciences of men to the civil authority, it 
lost the author the favour of some powerful pro- 
tectors he had hitherto enjoyed among the Eng- 
lish divines who attended Charles II. in France ; 
and he even found it convenient to quit that 
kingdom, and to return to England, where Crom- 
well (to whose government his political tenets 
were now as favourable as they were meant to be 
to the royal claims) suffered him to remain un- 
molested. The same circumstances operated to 
his disadvantage after the Restoration, and 
obliged the King, who always retained for liim 
. a very strong attachment, to confer his marks 
of favour on him with the utmost reserve and 
circumspection. ' 

The details which I have entered into, with 
respect to the history of Hobbes's political writ- 
ings, will be found, by those who may peruse 
them, to throw much light on the author's reason- 
ings. Indeed, it is only by thus considering 
them in their connection with the circumstances 
of the times, and the fortunes of the writer, 
that a just notion can be formed of their spirit 
and tendency. 

The ethical principles of Hobbes are so com- 
pletely interwoven with his political system, 



that all which has been said of the one may be 
applied to the other. It is very remarkable, 
that Descartes should have thought so highly 
of the former, as to pronounce Hobbes to be 
" a much greater master of morality than of 
metaphysics;" a judgment which is of itself 
sufficient to mark the very low state of ethical 
science in France about the middle of the seven- 
teenth century. Mr Addison, on the other 
hand, gives a decided preference (among all the 
books written by Hobbes) to his Treatise on Hu- 
man Nature ; and to his opinion on this point I 
most implicitly subscribe ; including, however, 
in the same commendation, some of his other 
philosophical essays on similiar topics. They 
are the only part of his works which it is pos- 
sible now to read with any interest ; and they 
everywhere evince in their author, even when 
he thinks most unsoundly himself, that power 
of setting his reader a-thiuking, which is one of 
the most unequivocal marks of original genius. 
They have plainly been studied with the utmost 
care both by Locke and Hume. To the former 
they have suggested some of his most important 
observations on the Association of Ideas, as well 
as much of the sophistry displayed in the first 
book of his Essay, on the Origin of our Know- 
ledge, and on the factitious nature of our moral 
principles ; to the latter (among a variety of 
hints of less consequence), his theory concern- 
ing the nature of those established connections 
among physical events, which it is the business 
of the natural philosopher to ascertain,' and the 
substance of his argument against the scho- 
lastic doctrine of general conceptions. It is from 
the works of Hobbes, too, that our later Neces- 
sitarians have borrowed the most formidable of 
those weapons with which they have combated 
the doctrine of moral liberty ; and from the 
same source has been derived the leading idea 



' In 1651. 

' See Note H. 

' The same doctrine, concerning tiie proper object of natural pliilosophy (commonly ascribed to Mr Hume, both by his 
followers and by his opponents), is to be found in various writers contemporary with Hobbes. It is stated, with uncom- 
mon precision and clearness, in a book entitled Scepsis Sclentijica, or Confessed Ignorance the way to Science, by Joseph 
Glanvill, (printed in 1665). The whole work is strongly marked with the features of an acute, an original, and, in matters 
of science, a somewhat sceptical genius ; and, when compared with the treatise on witchcraft, by the same author, adds 
another proof to those already mentioned, of the possible union of the highest intellectual gifts with the most degrading 
intellectual weaknesses. 

With respect to the Scepsis Sclentijica, it deserves to be noticed, that the doctrine maintained in it concerning physical 
causes and effects does not occur in the form of a detached observation, of the value of which the author might not have 
been fully aware, but is the very basis of the general argument running through all his discussions. 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



43 



which runs through the philolo^cal materialism 
of Mr Home Tooke. It is probable, indeed, 
that this last author borrowed it, at second- 
hand, from a hint in Locke's Essay ; but it is 
repeatedly stated by Hobbes, in the most ex- 
plicit and confident terms. Of this idea (than 
which, in point of fact, nothing can be imagin- 
ed more puerile and unsound), Mr Tooke's 
etymologies, when he applies them to the solu- 
tion of metaphysical questions, are little more 
than an ingenious expansion, adapted and level- 
led to the comprehension of the multitude. 

The speculations of Hobbes, however, con- 
cerning the theory of the understanding, do not 
^ to have been nearly so much attended to 



during his own life, as some of his other doc- 
trines, which, having a more immediate refer- 
ence to human affairs, were better adapted to 
the unsettled and revolutionary spirit of the 
times. It is by these doctrines, chiefly, that his 
name has since become so memorable in the an- 
nals of modern literature ; and although they 
now derive their whole interest from the extra- 
ordinary combination they exhibit of acuteness 
and subtlety with a dead-palsy in the powers of 
taste and of moral sensibility, yet they will be 
found, on an attentive examination, to have had 
a far more extensive influence on the subsequent 
history, both of political and of ethical science, 
than any other publication of the same period. 



ANTAGONISTS OF HOBBES. 



Cud worth' was one of the first who success- 
fully combated this new philosophy. As Hobbes, 
in the frenzy of his political zeal, had been led 
to sacrifice wantonly all the principles of re- 
ligion and morality to the establishment of his 
conclusions, his works not only gave offence to 
the friends of liberty, but excited a general 
alarm among all sound moralists. His doctrine, 
in pai'ticular, that there is no natural distinction 
between Right and Wrong, and that these are 
dependent on the arbitrary will of the civil ma- 
gistrate, was so obviously subversive of all the 
commonly received ideas concerning the moral 
constitution of human nature, that it became in- 
dispensably necessary, either, to expose the so- 
phistry of the attempt, or to admit, with Hobbes, 
that man is a beast of prey, incapable of being 
governed by any motives but fear, and the de- 
sire of self-preservation. 

Between some of these tenets of the courtly 



Hobbists, and those inculcated by the Cromwel- 
lian Antinomians, there was a very extraor- 
dinary and unfortunate coincidence ; the latter 
insisting, that, in expectation of Christ's second 
coming, " the obligations of morality and natural 
law were suspended ; and that the elect, guided 
by an internal principle, more perfect and divine, 
were superior to the beggarly elements of justice 
and humanity." ' It was the object of Cudworth 
to vindicate, against the assaults of both parties, 
the immutability of moral distinctions. 

In the prosecution of his very able argument 
on this subject, Cudworth displays a rich store 
of enlightened and choice erudition, penetrated 
throughout with a peculiar A-ein of sobered and 
subdued Platonism, from whence some German 
systems, which have attracted no small notice 
in oxir own times, will be found, when stripped 
of their deep neological disguise, to have bor- 
rowed their most valuable materials.^ 



' Born 1617, died 1C88. 

• Hume— For a more particular account of the English Antinomians, See Mosheim, VoL IV. p. 534, ct acq. 

• The mind, according to Cudworth, perceives, by occasion of outward objects, as much more than is represented to it 
by sense, as a learned man docs in the best written book, than an illiterate person or brute. " To the eves of both, the 
same characters will appear ; but the learned man, in those characters, will see heaven, earth, sun, and stars ; read pro- 
found theorems of philosophy or geometry ; learn a groat deal of new knowledge from them, and admire the wisdom of 
the composer; while, to the other, nothing appears but black strokes drawn on white paper. The reason of which is, 
that the mind of the one is furnished with certain previous inward anticipations, ideas, and instruction, that the other 
wants." — " In the room of this book of human composition, let us now substitute tlie book of Nature, written all 
over with the characters and impressions of divine wisdom and goodness, but legible only to an intellectual eye. To the 
sense both of man and brute, there appears nothing else in it, but, as in the other, so many inky scrawls ; that is, nothing 
but figures and colours. But the mind, which hath a participation of the divine wisdom that made it, upon occasion of 
those sensible delineations, exerting its own inward activity, will have not only a wonderful scene, and Large prospects of 



44 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



Another coincidence between the Hohbists 
and the Antinomians, may he remarked in their 
common zeal for the scheme of necessity ; which 
both of them stated in such a way a£ to be 
equally inconsistent with the moral agency of 
man, and with the moral attributes of God.' 
The strongest of all presumptions against this 
scheme ia afforded by the other tenets with 
which it is almost universally combined ; and ac- 
cordingly, it was very shrewdly observed by 
Cudworth, that the licentious system which flou- 
rished in Ids time (under which title, I pre- 
sume, he comprehended the immoral tenets of 
the fanatics as well as of the Hohbists), " grew 
up from the doctrine of the fatal necessity of all 
actions and events, as from its proper root." 
The unsettled, and, at the same time, disputa- 
tious period during which Cudworth lived, af- 
forded him peculiarly favourable opportunities 
of judging from experience, of the practical ten- 
dency of this metaphysical dogma ; and the re- 
sult of his observations deserves the serious at- 
tention of those who may be disposed to regard 
it in the light of a fair and harmless theme for 
the display of controversial subtUity. To argue, 
in this manner, against a speculative principle 
from its palpable effects, is not always so illogi- 
cal as some authors have supposed. " You re- 
peat to me incessantly," says Rousseau to one 
of his correspondents, " tliat truth can never be 
injurious to the world. I myself believe so as 
firmly as you do ; and it is for this very reason 
I am satisfied that your proposition is false." * 

But the principal importance of Cudworth, as 
an ethical writer, arises from the influence of 
his argument concerning the immutability of 



right and wrong on the various theories of mo- 
rals which appeared in the course of the eigh- 
teenth century. To this argument may, more 
particularly, be traced the origin of the cele- 
brated question, Whether the principle of morfd 
approbation is to be ultimately resolved into 
Reason, or into Sentiment ? — a question which 
has furnished the chief ground of difference be- 
tween the Systems of Cudworth and of Clarke, 
on the one hand ; and those of Shaftesbury, 
Hutcheson, Hume, and Smith, on the other. 
The remarks which I have to offer on this con- 
troversy must evidently be delayed, till the writ- 
ings of these mcM'e modem authors shall fall un- 
der review. 

The Intelkctual System of Cudworth embraces 
a field much wider than his treatise of Immu- 
table Morality. The latter is particularly direct- 
ed against the ethical doctrines of Hobbes, and 
of the Antinomians ; but the former aspires to 
tear up by the roots all the principles, both phy- 
sical and metaphysical, of the Epicurean philo- 
sophy. It is a work, certainly, which reflects 
much honour on the talents of the author, and 
still more on the boundless extent of his learn- 
ing ,: but it is so ill suited to the taste of the 
present age, that, since the time of Mr Harris 
and Dr Price, I scarcely recollect the slightest 
reference to it in the writings of our British me- 
taphysicians. Of its faults (beside the general 
disposition of the author to discuss questions 
placed altogether beyond the reach of our facul- 
ties), the most prominent is the wild hypothesis 
of a plastic nature ; or, in other words, " of a 
■satal and spiritual, but unintelligent and neces- 
sary agent, created by the Deity for the execu- 



other thoughts laid open before it, and variety of knowledge, logical, mathematical, and moral, displayed ; but also clearly 
read the dirine wisdom and goodness in every page of this great volume, as it were written in large and legible characters." 

I do not pretend to be an adept in the philosophy of Kant ; but I certainly think I pay it a very high compliment, when 
I suppose, that, in the Critic of Pure Reason^ the leading idea is somewhat analogous to what Ls so much better expressed in 
the foregoing passage. To Kant it was probably suggested by tlie following very acute and decisive remark of Leibnitz on 
Locke's Essay : " Nempe, nihil est in intcllectu, quod non fuerit in sensu, nisi ipie intcUectus." 

In justice to Aristotle, it may be here observed, that, although the general strain of his language is strictly conformable 
to the scholastic maxim just quoted, he does not seem to have altogether overlooked the important exception to it pointed 
out by Leibnitz. Indeed, this exception or limitation is very nearly a translation of Aristotle's words. K«i avris Si (tcvs) 
yanrc; Itrrtv^ urvt^ to. v8»)Ta* iwi /*iv ya.^ t*v anu u\*isy to aiira ivn veetjy^ xai to voovf^ivov. " And the mind itself is an object of 
knowledge, as well as other things whic'n are intelligible. For, in immaterial beings, that which understands is the same 
with that which is understood." — (De Anima, Lib. iii. cap. iv.) I quote this very curious, and, I suspect, very little 
known sentence, in order to vindicate Aristotle against the misrepresentations of some of his present idolators, who, in 
their anxiety to secure to him all the credit of Locke's doctrine concerning the origin of our Ideas, have overlooked the 
occasional traces which occur in his works, of that higher and sounder philosophy in which he had been educated. 

' " The doctrines of fate or destiny were deemed by the Independents essential to all religion. In these rigid opinions, 
the whole sectaries, amidst all their other differences, unanimously concurred." — Hujie's History, chap. Ivii. 

' " Vous ri^p^tez sans cesse que la ve'rite' ne peut jamais faire de mal aux hommes ; je le crois, et c'est pour moi la 
preuve que ce que vous dites n'est pas la ve'rite." 



i 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



45 



tion of his purposes." Notwithstanding, how- 
ever, these, and many other abatements of its 
merits, the Intellectual Si/stem will for ever re- 
main a precious mine of information to those 
whose curiosity may lead them to study the spi- 
rit of the ancient theories ; and to it we may 
justly apply what Leibnitz has somewhere said, 
witli far less reason, of the works of the school- 
m£n, " Scholastieos aguosco abundare Ineptiis ; 
sed aurum est in illo ccsno."^ 

Before dismissing the doctrines of Hobbes, it 
may be worth while to remark, that all his lead- 
ing principles are traced by Cudwortli to the re- 
mains of the ancient sceptics, by some of whom, 
as well as by Hobbes, they seem to have been 
adopted from a wish to flatter the uncontrolled 
passions of sovereigns. Not that I am disposed 
to call in question the originality of Hobbes ; 
for it appears, from the testimony of all his 
friends, that he had much less pleasure in read- 
ing than in thinking. " If I had read," he was 
accustomed to say, " as much as some others, I 
should have been as ignorant as they are." But 
similar political circumstances invariably repro- 
duce similar philosophical theories ; and it is 
one of the numerous disadvantages attending an 
inventive mind, not properly furnished with ac- 
quired information, to be continually liable to a 
waste of its powers on subjects previously ex- 
hausted. 

The sudden tide of licentiousness, both in 
principles and in practice, which burst into this 
island at the moment of the Restoration, con- 
spired with the paradoxes of Hobbes, and with 
the no less dangerous errors recently propagated 
among the people by their religious instructors, 
to turn the thoughts of sober and speculative 
men towards etliical disquisitions. Tlie esta- 
blished clergy assumed a higher tone than be- 
fore in their sermons; sometimes employing 



them in combating that Epicurean and Machia- 
velian philosophy which was then fashionable at 
court, and which may be always suspected to 
form the secret creed of the enemies of civU and 
religious liberty ; — on other occasions, to over- 
whelm, with the united force of argument and 
learning, the extravagances by which the igno- 
rant enthusiasts of the preceding period had ex- 
posed Christianity itself to the scofis of their li- 
bertine opponents. Among the divines who ap- 
peared at tlus era, it is impossible to pass over 
in silence the name of Barrow, whose theological 
works (adorned throughout by classical erudition, 
and by a -vagorous, though unpolished eloquence), 
exhibit, in every page, marks of the same inven- 
tive genius which, in mathematics, has secured to 
him a rank second alone to that of Newton. As 
a writer, he is equally distinguished by the re- 
dundancy of his matter, and by the pregnant 
brevity of his expression ; but what more pecu- 
liarly characterises his manner, is a certain air 
of powerful and of conscious facility in the exe- 
cution of whatever he undertakes. A^Tiether 
the subject be mathematical, metaphysical, or 
theological, he seems always to bring to it a 
mind which feels itself superior to the occasion ; 
and which, in contending with the greatest dif- 
ficidties, " puts forth but half its strength." 
He has somewhere spoken of his Lcctioncs Ma- 
themaiiccB ( which it may, in passing, be remarked, 
display metaphysical talents of the highest order), 
as extemporaneous effusions of his pen ; aud I 
have no doubt that the same epithet is still more 
literally applicable to his pulpit discourses. It 
is, indeed, ouly thus we can account for the va- 
riety and extent of his voluminous remains, 
when we recollect that the author died at the 
age of forty-six.* 

To the extreme rapidity with which Barrow 
conunitted his thoughts to writing, I am inclino<l 
to ascribe the hasty and not altogetlier consist- 



' The Inlillcctual System was published in 1C78. The Treatise concerning Eternal and Immutabie Morality did not appear 
till 3 considerable number ofvears after the author's deatli. 

■ III a note annexed to an English translation of the Cardinal ^laurj-'s Principles of Eloquence, it is stated, upon tlie au- 
thority of a manuscript of l)r Doddridge, that nioit of Barrow's sermons were transcribed three times, and some much 
oftener. They seem to me to contain very strong intrinsic evidence of the incorrectness of this anecdote. IWr Abraham 
Hill, in his Account of t lie Life of Barro-w, addressed to Dr TiUotson, contents hmiself with saying, that " Some of his ser- 
mons were written four or live times over;" — mentioning, at the same time, a circumstance which may account for this 
fact, in perfect consistency with what I have stated above, — that Barrow was very ready to lend his sermons as often as 
desired." 



46 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



ent opinions which he has hazarded on some im- 
portant topics. I shall confine myself to a single 
example, which I select in preference to others, 
as it bears directly on the most interesting of all 
questions connected with the theory of morals. 
" If we scan," says he, " the particular nature, 
and search into the oi'iginal causes of the seve- 
ral kinds of naughty dispositions in our souls, 
and of miscarriages in our lives, we shall find 
inordinate self-love to be a main ingredient, and 
a common soiu'ce of them all ; so that a divine 
of great name had some reason to affirm, — that 
original sin (or that innate distemper from which 
men generally become so very prone to evil, and 
averse to good), doth consist in self-love, dispo- 
sing us to all kinds of irregularity and excess." 
In another passage, the same author expresses 
himself thus : — " Reason dictateth and pre- 
scribeth to us, that we should have a sober re- 
gard to our true good and welfare ; to our best 
interests and solid content ; to that which (all 
things being rightly stated, considered, and com- 
puted) will, in the final event, prove most bene- 
ficial and satisfactory to us : a self-love working 
in prosecution of such things, common sense 
cannot but allow and approve." 

Of these two opposite and irreconcileable opi- 
nions, the latter is incomparably the least wide 
of the truth ; and accordingly Mr Locke, and 
his innumerable followers, both in England and 
on the Continent, have maintained, that virtue 
and an enlightened self-love are one and the 
same. I shall afterwards find a more conve- 
nient opportunity for stating some objections to 
the latter doctrine, as well as to the former. I 
have quoted the two passages here, merely to 
show the very little attention that had been 
paid, at the era in question, to ethical science, 
by one of the most learned and profound divines 
of his age. This is the more remarkable, as his 
works everywhere inculcate the purest lessons 
of practical morality, and evince a singular 
acuteness and justness of eye in the observation 
of human character. Whoever compares the 
views of Barrow, when he touches on the theory 
of morals, with those opened about fifty years 
afterwards by Dr Butler, in his Discourses on 
Human Nature, will be abxmdantly satisfied, 
that, in this science, as well as in others, the 



progress of the philosophical spirit during the 
intervening period was not inconsiderable. 

The name of Wilkins (although he too wrote 
with some reputation against the Epicureans of 
his day), is now remembered chiefly in conse- 
quence of his treatises concerning a universal lan- 
guage and a real character. Of these treatises, I 
shall hereafter have occasion to take some notice, 
under a different article. With all the ingenuity 
displayed in them, they cannot be considered as 
accessions of much value to science ; and the 
long period since elapsed, during which no at- 
tempt has been made to turn them to any prac- 
tical use, affords of itself no slight presumption 
against the solidity of the project. 

A few years before the death of Hobbes, Dr 
Cumberland (afterwards Bishop of Peterbo- 
rough) published a book, entitled, De Legibus 
NaturcB, Disquisitio Philosophica ; the principal 
aim of which was to confirm and illustrate, in 
opposition to Hobbes, the conclusions of Grotius, 
concerning Natural Law. The work is executed 
with ability, and discovers juster \-iews of the 
object of moral science, than any modem sys- 
tem that had yet appeared ; the author resting 
the strength of his argument, not, as Grotius 
had done, on an accumulation of authorities, but 
on the principles of the human frame, and the 
mutual relations of the human race. The cir- 
cumstance, however, which chiefly entitles this 
publication to our notice, is, that it seems to 
have been the earliest on the subject which at- 
tracted, in any considerable degree, the attention 
of English scholars. From this time, the writings 
of Grotius and of Puff'endorfi" began to be gene- 
rally studied, and soon after made their way 
into the Universities. In Scotland, the im- 
pression produced by them was more peculiarly 
remarkable. They were everywhere adopted as 
the best manuals of ethical and of political in- 
struction that could be put into the hands of 
students, and gradually contributed to form that 
memorable school, from whence so many philo- 
sophers and philosophical historians were after- 
wards to proceed. 

From the wi-itings of Hobbes to those of 
Locke, the transition is easy and obvious ; but 
before prosecuting farther the history of philo- 
sophy in England, it will be proper to tixm our 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



47 



attention to its progress abroad, since the period 
at which this section commences.' In the first 
place, however, I shall add a few miscellaneous 
remarks on some important events which oc- 
curred in tills country during the lifetime of 
Hobbes, and of wliich his extraordinary longe- 
vity prevented me sooner from taking notice. 

Among these events, that which is most im- 
mediately connected with our present subject, 
is the establishment of the Royal Society of 
London in 1662, which was followed a few years 
afterwards by that of the Royal Academy of 
Sciences at Paris. The professed object of both 
institutions was the improvement of Experi- 
mental Knowledge, and of the auxiliary science 
of Mathematics ; but their influence on the 
general progress of human reason has been far 
greater than could possibly have been foreseen 
at the moment of their foundation. On the 
happy effects resulting from them in this re- 
spect, La Place has introduced some just reflec- 
tions in his System of the World, which, as they 
discover more originality of thought than he com- 
monly displays, when he ventures to step beyond 
the circumference of liis own magic circle, I shall 
quote, in a literal translation of his words. 

" The chief advantage of learned societies, is 
the philosophical spirit to which they may be ex- 
pected to give birth, and which they cannot fail 
to diffuse over all the various pursuits of the 
nations among whom they are established. The 



insulated scholar may without dread abandon 
himself to the spirit of system ; he hears the 
voice of contradiction only from afar. But in 
a learned society, the collision of systematic 
opinions soon terminates in their common de- 
struction ; while the desire of mutual conviction 
creates among the members a tacit compact, to 
admit nothing but the results of observation, or 
the conclusions of mathematical reasoning. Ac- 
cordingly, experience has shown, how much 
these establishments have contributed, since 
their origin, to the spread of true philosophy. 
By setting the example of submitting every 
thing to the examination of a severe logic, they 
have dissipated the prejudices which had too 
long reigned in the sciences, and which the 
strongest minds of the preceding centuries had 
not been able to resist. They have constantly 
opposed to empiricism a mass of knowledge, 
against which the errors adopted by the vulgar, 
with an enthusiasm which, in former times, 
would have perpetuated their empire, have spent 
their force in vain. In a word, it has been in 
their bosoms that those grand theories have been 
conceived, which, although far exalted by their 
generfdity above the reach of the multitude, are 
for this very reason entitled to special encourage- 
ment, from their innumerable applications to 
the phenonema of nature, and to the practice of 
the arts."* 

In confirmation of these judicious remarks, it 



' Throughout the whole of this Discourse, I have avoiJed touchlnsr on the discussions which, on various occasions, have 
arisen witli regard to the theory of government, and the comparative advantages or disadvantages of different political 
forms. Of the scope and spirit of these discussions it would be seldom possible to convey a just idea, without entering 
into details of a local or temporary nature, inconsistent with my general design. In the present circumstances of the 
world, besides, the theory of government (although, in one point of view, the most important of all studies) seems to possess 
a very subordinate interest to inquiries connected with political economy, and with the fundamental principles of Icgisla- 
tion. What is it, indeed, that renders one form of government more favourable than another to human liajipiness, but 
the superior security it provides for the enactment of wise laws, and for their impartial and vigorous execution ? These 
considerations will sufficiently account for my passing over in silence, not only the names of Needham, of Sidney, and of 
Ulilton, but that of Harrington, whose Orfaiio is justly regarded as one of the boasts of Knglish literature, and is pronounced 
by Hume to be "the only valuable model of a commonwealth that has yet been otlered to the public." — Essays aiiJ. Trea- 
tises, Vol. I. Essay xvi. 

A remark w hich Hume has elsewhere made on the Occam, appears to me so striking and so instructive, that I shall give 
it a place in this note. '' Harrington," he observes, " thought himself so sure of his general principle, t/ml the balance of 
power depends on that of property, that he ventured to pronounce it impossible ever to re-establish monarchy in England : 
But his book was scarcely published when the King was restored ; and we see that monarchy has ever since subsisted on 
the same footing as before. So dangerous is it for a politician to venture to foretell the situation of public affairs a few 
years hence." — Ibid, p'.ssav vii. 

How much nearer the truth, even in the science of politics, is Bacon's cardinal principle, that knorvledffc is power ! — a 
principle, which applies to .'Man not less in his corporate than in his individual capacity ; and which may be safely trusted 
to as the most solid of all foundations for our reasonings concerning the future history of the world. 

« The Royal Society of London, though not incorporated by charter till lKfi2, may be considercil as virtually existing, 
at Icasr. as far back as 1638, when some ot the most eminent of the original members began first to hold regular meetings 
at Gresham College, for the purpose of philosophical discussion. Even these meetings were but a continuation of those 
previously held by the same individuals, at the apartments of Dr Wilkins in Oxford — See Spbat's History of the Hoyal 
Society. 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



may be farther observed, that nothing could 
have been more happily imagined than the esta- 
blishment of learned corporations for correcting 
those prejudices which (under the significant 
title of Idola SpecusJ, Bacon has described as in- 
cident to the retired student. While these idols 
of the den maintain their authority, the cultiva- 
tion of the philosophical spirit is impossible ; or 
rather, it is in a renunciation of this idolatry 
that the philosophical spirit essentially consists. 
It was accordingly in tliis great school of the 
learned world, that the characters of Bacon, 
Descartes, Leibnitz, and Locke were formed ; 
the four indiidduals who have contributed the 
most to diffuse the philosophical spirit over 
Europe. The remark applies more peculiarly 
to Bacon, who first pointed out the inconveni- 
ences to be apprehended from a minute and 
mechanical subdivision of literarv labour ; and 
anticipated the advantages to be expected from 
the institution of learned academies, in enlar- 
ging the field of scientific curiosity, and the cor- 
respondent grasp of the emancipated mind. For 
accomplishing this object, what means so eflfec- 
tual as habits of daily intercourse with men 
whose pursuits are different from our own ; and 
that expanded knowledge, both of man and of 
nature, of which such an intercourse must ne- 
cessarily be productive ! 

Another event which operated still more for- 
cibly and universally on the intellectual cha- 
racter of our countrymen, was the civil war 
which began in 1640, and which ultimately 
terminated in the usurpation of Cromwell. It 
is observed by Mr Hume, that " the prevalence 
of democratical principles, under the Common- 
wealth, engaged the country gentlemen to bind 
their sons apprentices to merchants ; and that 
commerce has ever since been more honourable 
in England, than in any other European king- 
dom."^ " The higher and the lower ranks (as 
a later writer has remarked) were thus brought 
closer together, and all of them inspired with 
an activity and vigour that, in former ages, had 
no example."* 



To this combination of the pTireuits of trade, 
■with the advantages of a liberal education, may 
be ascribed the great multitude of ingenious and 
enlightened speculations on commerce, and on 
the other branches of national industry, which 
issued from the press, in the short interval be- 
tween the Restoration and the Revolution ; an 
interval during which the sudden and immense 
extension of the trade of England, and the cor- 
responding rise of the commercial interest, must 
have presented a spectacle peculiarly calculated 
to awaken the curiosity of inquisitive observers. 
It is a very remarkable circumstance with re- 
spect to these economical researches, which now 
engage so much of the attention both of states- 
men and of philosophers, that they are altogether 
of modern origin. " There is scarcely," says 
Mr Hume, " any ancient writer on politics who 
has made mention of trade ; nor was it ever con- 
sidered as an affair of state till the seventeenth 
century."' — The work of the celebrated John de 
Witt, entitled, " The true interest and political 
maxims of the republic of Holland and West Fries- 
land," is the earliest publication of any note, in 
which commerce is treated of as an object of tia- 
tioTuil and politiccd concera,m opposition to the par- 
tial interests of corporations and of monopolists. 

Of the English publications to which I have 
just alluded, the greater part consists of anony- 
mous pamphlets, now only to be met with in the 
collections of the curious. A few bear the 
names of eminent English merchants. I shall 
have occasion to refer to them more particularly 
afterwards, when I come to speak of the writings 
of Smith, Quesnay, and Tirrgot. At present, 
I shall only observe, that, in these fugitive and 
now neglected tracts, are to be found the first 
rudiments of that science of Political Hconomy, 
which is justly considered as the boast of the 
present age ; and which, although the aid of 
learning and philosophy was necessary to rear it 
to maturity, may be justly said to have had its 
cradle in the Royal Exchange of London. 

Mr Locke was one of the first retired theorists 
(and this singular feature in his history has not 



HMory of England, chap. Ixii. 

Chalubrs's Political Estimate, &c. (London, 1804) p. 44. 

Estay of Civil Liierty. 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



49 



been sufficiently attended tobyliis biographers), 
who condescended to treat of trade as an object 
of liberal study. Notwithstanding the manifold 
errors into which he fell in the course of his 
reasonings concerning it, it may be faii-ly ques- 
tioned, if he has anywhere else given gieater 



proofs, either of the vigour or of the originality 
of liis genius. But the name of Locke reminds 
me, that it is now time to interrupt these nation- 
al details, and to tiu-n our attention to the pro- 
gress of science on the Continent, since the times 
of Bodinus and of C'ampanella. 



SECTION 11. 

Progress of Philosophy in France during the Seventeenth Century. 



MONTAIGNE—CHAREON—LA ROCHEFOUCAULD. 



At the head of the French wTiters who con- 
tributed, in the beginning of the seventeenth 
century, to turn the thoughts of then" country- 
men to subjects connected with the Philosophy 
of Mind, Montaigne may, I apprehend, be justly 
placed. Properly speaking, he belongs to a 
period somewhat earlier ; but his tone of think- 
ing and of wxiting classes him much more natu- 
rally with his successors, than with any French 
author who had appeared before him.' 

In assigning to Montaigne so distinguished a 
rank in the history of modern philosophy, I need 
scarcely say, that I leave entirely out of the ac- 
count what constitutes (and justly constitutes) 
to the generality of readers the principal charm 
of his Essays ; the good nature, humanity, and 
unaffected sensibility, which so irresistibly attach 
us to liis character, — lending, it must be owned, 
but too often a fascination to his talk, when he 
cannot be recommended as the safest of com- 
panions. Nor do I lay much stress on the in- 
viting frankness and vivacity \vith which he un- 
bosoms himself about all his domestic habits and 
concerns, and which render his book so ex- 
pressive a portrait, not only of the author, but 
of the Gascon country gentleman, two himdred 
years ago. I have in view chiefly the minute- 
ness and good faith of his details concerning his 



own personal qualities, both intellectual and mo- 
ral. The only study which seems ever to have 
engaged his attention was that of man ; and for 
this he was singularly fitted, by a rare com- 
bination of that talent for observation which be- 
longs to men of the world, with those habits of 
abstracted reflection, which men of the world 
have commonly so little disposition to cultivate. 
" I study myself," says he, " more tlian any 
other subject. This is my metaphysic ; this my 
natural philosophy." ' He has accordingly pro- 
duced a work, miiqite in its kind ; valuable, in 
an eminent degree, as an authentic record of 
many interesting facts relative to human nature ; 
but more valuable by far, as holding up a mirror 
in which every indi^^dual, if be does not see his 
own image, will at least occasionally perceive 
so many traits of resemblance to it, as can scarce- 
ly fail to invite his curiosity to a more careful 
review of himself. In this respect, Montaigne's 
writings may be regarded in the light of what 
I)ainters call studies ; in other words, of those 
slight sketches which were originally designed 
for the improvement or amusement of the artist, 
but which, on that account, are the more likely 
to be useful in devehiping the germs of similar 
endowments in others. 

Without a union of these two powers (reflection 



■ Montaigne was born in 1533. and died in 1392. 
DISS. 1. TAUT I. 



Essayi, Book iU. cliap. xiii. 



50 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



and observation), the study of Man can never 
be successfully prosecuted. It is only by re- 
tiring within ourselves that we can obtain a key 
to the characters of others ; and it is only by 
observing and comparing the characters of others 
that we can thoroughly understand and appre- 
ciate our own. 

After all, however, it maybe fairly questioned, 
notwithstanding the scrupulous fidelity with 
which Montaigne has endeavoured to delineate 
his own portrait, if he has been always sufficient- 
ly aware of the secret folds and reduplications 
of the human heart. That he was by no means 
exempted from the common delusions of self-love 
and self-deceit, has been fully evinced in a A'ery 
acute, though somewhat uncharitable, section of 
the Port-Royal logic ; but this consideration, so 
far from diminishing the value of his Essays, is 
one of the most instructive lessons they afford to 
those who, after the example of the author, may 
tmdertake the salutary but humiliating task of 
self-examination. 

As Montaigne's scientific knowledge was, ac- 
cording to his own account, " very vague and 
imperfect,"' and his book-learning ratlier sen- 
tentious and gossiping, than comprehensive and 
systematical, it would be unreasonable to expect, 
in his philosophical arguments, much either of 
depth or of solidity. ^ The sentiments he hazards 
are to be regarded but as the impressions of the 
moment ; consisting chiefly of the more obvious 
doubts and difficulties which, on all metaphysical 
and moral questions, are apt to present them- 
selves to a speculative mind, when it first at- 
tempts to dig below the surface of common 
opinions. In reading Montaigne, accordingly, 
what chiefly strikes us, is not the novelty or the 
refinement of his ideas, but the liveliness and 
felicity with which we see embodied in words 
the previous wanderings of oirrown imaginations. 
It is probably owing to this circumstance, rather 
than to any direct plagiarism, that his Essays 
appear to cont^n the germs of so many of the 



paradoxical theories which, in later times, Hel- 
vetius and others have laboured to systematise 
and to support witli the parade of metaphysical 
discussion. In the mind of Montaigne, the same 
paradoxes may be easily traced to those deceitful 
appearances which, in order to stimulate our 
faculties to their best exertions, nature seems 
purposely to have thro\vn in our way, as stum- 
bling-blocks in the pursuit of truth ; and it is 
only to be regi'etted on such occasions, for the 
sake of his o\vn happiness, that his genius and 
temper qualified and disposed him more to start 
the problem than to investigate the solution. 

Wlien Montaigne touches on religion, lie is, 
in general, less pleasing than on other subjects. 
His constitutional temper, it is probable, pre- 
dis])osed him to scepticism ; but this original 
bias could not fail to be mightily strengthened 
by the disputes, botli religious and political, 
which, during his lifetime, convulsed Europe, 
and more particularly his own country. On a 
mind like his it may be safely presumed, that 
the writings of the Reformers, and the instruc- 
tions of Buchanan, were not altogether without 
effiict ; and hence, in all probability, the per- 
petual struggle, which he is at no pains to con- 
ceal, between the creed of his infancy, and the 
lights of his mature understanding. He speaks, 
indeed, of " reposing tranquilly on the pillow of 
doubt ;" but this language is neither reconcileable 
with the general complexion of his works, nor 
with the most authentic accounts we have re- 
ceived of his dying moments. It is a maxim of 
his own, that, " in forming a judgment of a 
man's life, particular regard should be paid to 
his behaviour at the end of it ;" to which he 
pathetically adds, " that the chief study of his 
own life was, that his latter end might be de- 
cent, calm, and silent." The fact is (if we may 
credit the testimony of his biographers), that, 
in his declining years, he exchanged liis boast- 
ed pillow of doubt for the more powerful opiates 
prescribed by the infallible church ; and that he 



' Book i. chap. xxv. 

' Montaigne's education, however, had not been neglected by his father. On the contrary, he tells us himself, that 
" George Buchanan, the great -poet of Scotland, and Marcus Antonius IMuretus, the best orator of his time, were among 
the number of his domestic preceptors." — " Buchanan," he adds, " when I saw him afterwards in the retinue of the late 
Slareschal de Brissae, told me, that he was about to write a treatise on the education of children, and that he would take 
the model of it from mine." — Book i. chap. xxv. 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



51 



expired in performing what his old preceptor 
Buchanan would not have scrupled to describe 
as an act of idolatry.* 

The scepticism of Montaigne seems to have 
been of a very peculiar cast, and to have had 
little in common with that either of Bayle or of 
Hume. The great aim of the two latter \\Titers 
e\'idently was, by exposing the uncertainty of 
our reasonings whenever we pass the limit of 
sensible objects, to inspire tlieir readers with a 
complete distrust of the human faculties on all 
moral and metaphysical topics. Montaigne, on 
the other hand, never thinks of forming a sect ; 
but, yielding passively to the current of his re- 
flections and feelings, argues, at different times, 
according to the varying state of his impressions 
and temper, on opposite sides of the same ques- 
tion. On all occasions, he preserves an air of 
the most perfect sincerity ; and it was to this, 
I presume, much more than to the superiority 
of his reasoning powers, that Montesquieu al- 
luded, when he said, " In the gi'eater part of 
authors I see the writer ; in Montaigne I see 
nothing but the thinker." The radical fault of 
Ins understanding consisted in an incapacity of 
forming, on disputable points, those decided and 
fixed opinions whicli can alone impart either 
force or consistency to intellectual character. 
For remedying this weakness, the religious con- 
troversies, and the civil wars recently engender- 
ed by the Reformation, were but ill calculated. 
The minds of the most serious men, all over 
Christendom, must have been then unsettled in 
an extraordinary degree ; and where any pre- 
disposition to scepticism existed, every external 
circumstance must have conspired to cherish and 
confirm it. Of the extent to which it was car- 
ried, about the same period, in England, some 
judgment may be formed from the following de- 



scription of a Sceptic by a writer not many years 
posterior to Montaigne. 

" A sceptic in religion is one that hangs in 
the balance with all sorts of opinions ; whereof 
not one but stirs him, and none sways him. A 
man guiltier of credulity than he is taken to be ; 
for it is out of his belief of every thing that he 
believes nothing. Each religion scares him 
from its conti'ary, none persuades him to itself. 
He would be wholly a Christian, but that he is 
something of an Atheist ; and wholly an Atheist, 
but that he is partly a Christian ; and a perfect 
Heretic, but that there are so many to distract 
him. He finds reason in all opinions, truth in 
none ; indeed, the least reason perplexes him, 
and the best will not satisfy him. He finds 
doubts and scruples better than resolves them, 
and is always too hard for himself."^ If this 
portrait had been presented to Montaigne, I have 
little doubt that he would have had the candour 
to acknowledge, that he recognised in it some 
of the most prominent and characteristlcal fea- 
tures of liis own mind.' 

The most elaborate, and seemingly the most 
serious, of all Montaigne's essays, is his long 
and somewhat tedious Apology for Baimond de 
Sebonde, contained in the twelfth chapter of his 
second book. This author appears, from Mon- 
taigne's account, to have been a Spaniard, who 
professed physic at Thoulouse, towards the end 
of the fourteenth century ; and who published 
a treatise, entitled, Theologia Naturalis, wliich 
was put into the hands of Montaigne's father by 
a friend, as a useful antidote against the inno- 
vations with which Luther was then beginning 
to disturb the ancient faith. That, in this parti- 
cular instance, the book answered the intended 
purjjose, may be presumed from the request of 
old Montaigne to his son, a few days before his 



' " Sentant sa fin approcher, il fit dire la messe dans sa chambre. A I'tlcvation He I'hostie, il se leva sur son lit pour 
Tadorer; mais une foiblesse I'enleva dans ce moment meme, le 15 Septembre 1592, Ji CO ans." — A'otticau Diet. Ilislor. h 
Lyon, 1804, Art. Montaigne. 

- Aficro-cosmofiraphij, or a Piece of the IVorld Diicorcrcd, in Essays and Characters. For a sbort notice of the author of this 
very curious book (Bishop Karle), Sec tlie editi<m published at London in 1811. The chapter containing the above passage 
is entitled, A Sceptic in ndigion ; and it has plainly suggested to Lord Clarendon some of the ideas, and even expressions, 
which occur in his account of Chillingworth. 

' " The writings of the best authors among the ancients," IMontaigne tells us on one occasion, " being full and solid, 
tempt and carry me which way almost they will. He that I am reading seems always to have the most force ; and I find 
that every one in turn has reason, though they contradict one another." — Book U. chap. xii. 



52 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



death, to translate it into French from the Spa- 
nisli original. His request was accordingly 
complied with ; and the translation is referred 
to by Montaig-ne in the first edition of his Essays, 
prmted at Bourdcanx in 1580 ; but the execu- 
tion of this filial duty seems to have produced 
on Montaigne's own mind very different effects 
from what his father had anticipated.* 

Tlie principal aim of Sebonde's book, accord- 
ing to Montaigne, is to show that " Christians 
are in the wrong to make human reasoning the 
basis of their belief, since the object of it is only 
conceived by faith, and by a special inspiration 
of the divine grace." To this doctrine Mon- 
taigne professes to yield an implicit assent ; and, 
under the shelter of it, contr^ives to give free 
vent to all the extravagances of scepticism. The 
essential distinction between the reason of man, 
and the instincts of the lower animals, is at 
great length, and with no inconsiderable inge- 
nuity, disputed; the powers of the human un- 
derstanding, in all inquiries, whether physical 
or moral, are held up to ridicule ; an universal 
PpThonism is recommended ; and we are again 
and again reminded, that " the senses are the be- 
ginning and the end of all our knowledge." Who- 
ever has the patience to peruse this chapter with 
attention, will be surprised to find in it the ru- 
diments of a great part of the licentious philo- 
sophy of the eighteentb century ; nor can he 
fall to remark the addi-ess with which the author 
avails himself of the language afterwards adopt- 
ed by Bayle, Helvetius, and Hume : — " That, 
to be a philosophical sceptic, is the first step to- 



wards becoming a sound believing Christian."* 
It is a melancholy fact in ecclesiastical history, 
that this insidious maxim should have been 
sanctioned, in our times, by some theologians of 
no common pretensions to orthodoxy ; who, in 
direct contradiction to the words of Scripture, 
have ventm'ed to assert, that " he who comes 
to God must first believe that he is not." Is 
it necessary to remind these grave retailers of 
Bayle's sly and ironical sophistry, that every 
argument for Christianity, drawn from its in- 
ternal evidence, tacitly recognises the authority 
of human reason ; and assumes, as the ultimate 
criteria of truth and of falsehood, of right and 
of wrong, certain fundamental articles of belief, 
discoverable by the light of Nature ?' 

Charron is well known as the chosen friend 
of Montaigne's latter years, and as the confi- 
dential depositary of his philosophical senti- 
ments. Endowed with talents far inferior in 
force and originality to those of his master, he 
possessed, nevertheless, a much sounder and 
more regulated judgment ; and as his reputation, 
notwithstanding tlie liberality of some of his 
peculiar tenets, was high among the most re- 
spectable and conscientious di^dnes of his own 
church, it is far from improbable, that Mon- 
taigne committed to him the guardianship of his 
posthumous fame, from motives similar to those 
which influenced Pope, in selecting Warburton 
as his literary executor. The discharge of this 
trust, however, seems to have done less good to 
Montaigne than harm to Charron ; for while the 
unlimited sceplicism, and the indecent levities 



' The very few particulars known with respect to Sebonde have been collected by Bayle See his Dictionary, Art. 

Sebonde. 

- This expression is !Mr Hume's ; but the same proposition, in substance, is frequently repeated by the two other 
writei-s, and is very fully enlarged upon by Bayle in tlie Illustrathm upon the Sceptics, annexed to bis Dictionary. 

^ " I once asked Adrian Tiirncbiis," says Hlontaigne, " what he thought of Sebonde's treatise. The answer he made to 
me was, That he believed it to be some extract from Thtnims Aquinas, for that none but a genius like his was capable of 
such ideas." 

I must not, however, omit to mention, that a very learned Protestant, Hugo Grotius, has expressed himself to his friend 
Bignon not unfavourably of Sebonde's intentions, although the terms in which he speaks of him are somewhat equivocal, 
and imply but little satisfaction with the execution of his design. " Non ignoras quantum excoluerint istam materiam 
( argumentum scil. pro RcUgioiic Christiana) pliilosnphica suitilitaic Raimundus Sebundus, dialogorum varietate Ludovicus 
Vives, maxima autem tum eruditione turn facundia vestras Philippus fllornaeus." The authors of the Nouvcau Dictionnaire 
Historique (Lyons, 1804) have entered much more completely into the spirit and drift of Sebonde's reasoning, when they 
observe, " Ce' livre offre des singularite's hardies, qui plurent dans le temps aux philosophes de ce siecle, et qui ne deplairoicnt 
pas a cctix du notrc.^* 

It is proper to add, that I am acquainted with Sebonde only through the medium of Jfontaigne's version, which does not 
lay claim to the merit of strict tideliiy ; the translator himseljf having acknowledged, that he had given to the Spanish phi- 
losopher " un accoutrement a la Frani;oise, et qu'il I'a de'vetu de son port farouche et maiiitien barbaresque, de maniere 
qu'il a mes.hui assez de fa^on pour se pre'senter en toute bonne compagnie." 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



53 



of the former, were viewed by the zealots of 
those days with a smile of tenderness and indul- 
gence, the slighter heresies of the latter were 
marked with a severity the more rigorous and 
unrelenting, that, in points of essential import- 
ance, they deviated so very little from the stand- 
ard of the Catholic faith. It is not easy to 
guess the motives of this inconsistency; hut 
such we find from the fact to have been the 
temper of religious bigotry, or, to speak more 
correctly, of political religionism in all ages of 
the world. ^ 

As an example of Charron's solicitude to pro- 
vide an antidote against the more pernicious er- 
rors of his friend, I shall only mention his inge- 
nious and philosophical attempt to reconcile, 
with the moral constitution of human natm'c, 
the apparent discordancy in the judgments of 
different nations concerning right and wTong. 
His argument on this point is in substance the 
very same with that so well urged by Beattie, 
in opposition to Locke's reasonings against the 
existence of innate practical principles. It is 
difficult ^o say, whether, in this instance, the 
coincidence between Montaigne and Locke, or 
that between Charron and Beattie, be the more 
remarkable.* 

Although Charron has affected to give to his 
work a systematical form, by dividing and sub- 
dividing it into books and chapters, it is in re- 
ality little more than an unconnected series of 
essays on various topics, more or less distantly 



related to the science of Ethics^ On the powers 
of the understanding he has touched but slight- 
ly ; nor has he imitated Montaigne, in anato- 
mizing, for the edification of the world, the pe- 
culiarities of his own moral character. It has 
probably been owing to the desultory and po- 
pular style of composition common to both, that 
so little attention has been paid to either by 
those who have treated of the history of French 
philosophy. To Montaigne's merits, indeed, as 
a lively and amusing essayist, ample justice has 
been done ; but his influence on the subsequent 
habits of thinking among his countrjTnen re- 
mains still to be illustrated. He has done more, 
perhaps, than any other author (I am inclined 
to think with the most honest intentions), to in- 
troduce into men's houses (if I may borrow an 
expression of Cicero) what is now called the 
iiew philosophy, — a philosophy certainly very 
different from that of Socrates. In the fashion- 
able world, he has, for more than two centuries, 
maintained his place as the first of moralists ; a 
circumstance easUy accounted for, when we at- 
tend to the singular combination, exhibited in 
his writings, of a sembiauce of erudition, with 
what Malebranche happily calls his air du 
monde, and air cavalier.' As for the graver and 
less attractive Charron, his name would pro- 
bably before now have sunk into oblivion, had 
it not been so closely associated, by the acci- 
dental events of his life, with the more cele- 
brated name of Montaigne.* 



■ Montaigne, cet auteur charmant, 
Tour-Ji-tour profond et frirole, 
Dans son chateau paisiblement, 
Loin de tout irondeur malt'vole, 
Doutoit de tout impuncment, 
VX se raoquoit ties librement 
Des bavards fourri?s de I'ccole. 
!Mais quand son clove Charron, 
Plus retenu, plus methodique, 
De sagessc donna leijon, 
II fut pros de pt-rir, dit-on, 
I'ar la hainc Ihuologique. 

VoLTAinE, Epitre au Priaident Hciiaiilt. 

• See Beattie's Esia;/ on Falle and Rotnance ; and Charron de la Sagcsse, l,iv. ii. c 8. It may amuse the curious reader 
also to compare the theoretical reasonings of Charron with a memoir in the Phil. Trans, for 1773, by Sir Roger Curtis, 
containing s(»nc particulars with respect to the country of Labrador. 

» " Ah I'aimable homme, qu'il est de bonne comjiaffnie ! C'est mon ancien ami ; mais, !i force d'etre ancien, il m'est nou- 
veau." — Madame de Sevigne'. 

* Montaigne himself seems, from the general strain of his writings, to have had but little expectation of the posthumous 
fame which he has so long continued to enjoy. One of his reflections on this head is so characteristical of the author as a 
man, and, at the same time, affords so fine a specimen of the graphical powers of his now antiquated style, that I am tempted 
to transcribe it in his own words : " J'ucris mon livre Si peu d'hommcs ct il peu d'annees ; s'il s'eCit e'te une matitre de 
duree, il I'eCit fallu commettre ^ un langage plus ferme. Selon la variation contmuelle qui a suivi le notrc juiqu'ii cette 



54 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



The preceding remarks lead me, by a natural 
connection of ideas (to which I am here much 
more inclined to attend than to the order of 
dates), to another writer of the seventeenth cen- 
tury, whose influence over the literary and phi- 
losophical taste of France has been far greater 
than seems to be commonly imagined. I aUude 
to the Duke of La Rochefoucauld, author of the 
Maxims and Moral Reflections. 

Voltaire was, I believe, the first who ventur- 
ed to assign to La Rochefoucauld the pre-emi- 
nent rank which belongs to him among the French 
classics. " One of the works," says he, "which 
contributed most to form the taste of the nation 
to a justness and precision of thought and ex- 
pression, was the small collection of maxims by 
Francis Duke of La Rochefoucauld. Although 
there be little more than one idea in the book, 
that self-love is the spring of all our actions, yet 
this idea is presented in so great a variety of 
forms, as to be always amusing. When it first 
appeared, it was read with avidity ; and it con- 
tributed, more than any other performance, since 
the rcAdval of letters, to improve the vivacity, 
correctness, and delicacy of French composition." 

Another very eminent judge of literary merit 
(the late Dr Johnson) was accustomed to say 
of La Rochefoucauld's Maxims, that it was al- 
most the only book wi-itten by a man of fashion, 
of which professed authors had reason to be jea- 
lous. Nor is this wonderfid, when we consider 
the unwearied industry of the very accomplish- 
ed writer, in giving to every part of it the high- 
est and most finished polish which his exquisite 
taste could bestow. Wlien he had committed a 
maxim to paper, he was in use to circulate it 
among his friends, that he might avail himself 
of their critical animadversions ; and, if we may 
credit Segrais, altered some of them no less than 
thirty times, before venturing to submit them to 
the public eye. 



That the tendency of these maxims is, upon 
the whole, unfavourable to morality, and that 
they always leave a disagreeable impression on 
the mind, must, I think, be granted. At the 
same time, it may be fairly questioned, if the 
motives of the author have in general been well 
understood, either by his admirers or his oppo- 
nents. In affirming that self-love is the spring 
of all our actions, there is no good reason for 
supposing that he meant to deny the reality of 
moral distinctions as a philosophical truth ; — a 
supposition quite inconsistent with his own fine 
and deep remark, that hypocrisy is itself an ho- 
mage which vice renders to virtue. He states it 
merely as a position which, in the course of his 
experience as a man of the world, he had found 
very generally verified in the higher classes of 
society, and which he was induced to announce 
without any qualification or restriction, in order 
to give more force and poignancy to his satire 
In adopting this mode of writing, he has un- 
consciously conformed himself, like many other 
French authors, who have since followed his 
example, to a suggestion which Aristotle has 
stated with admirable depth and acuteness in 
his Rhetoric. " Sentences or apophthegms lend 
much aid to eloquence. One reason of this is, 
that they flatter the pride of the hearers, who 
are delighted when the speaker, making use of 
general language, touches upon opinions which 
they had before known to be true in part. Thus, 
a person who had the misfortune to live in a bad 
neighbourhood, or to have worthless children, 
would easily assent to the speaker who should 
aflirm, that nothing is more vexatious than to 
have any neighbours ; nothing more irrational 
than to bring children into the world."* This 
observation of Aristotle, while it goes far to ac- 
count for the imposing and dazzling effect of 
these rhetorical exaggerations, ought to guard us 
against the common and popular error of mis- 



heure, qui peut espe'rer que sa forme pre'sente soit en usage d'ici k cinquante ans ? il ^coule tous les jours de nos mains, et 
depuis que je vis s'est alte'ri^ de raoitie. Nous disons qu'il est ^ cette heure parfait : Autant en dit du sien chaque siecle. 
C'est aux hons et utiles ecrits de le clouer a eux, et ira sa fortune scion Ic credit de notre etat." 

How completely have both the predictions in the last sentence been verified by the subsequent history of the French 
language ! 

^ "E^ovffi it (^yvtj/xai) tie rou; Xoyov! [ionhixv filyaiXnv, fttai fiii oil, dia. 7"«y ^o^rtKornTa rut uK^aarui' •^ai^gvfi yd^, i«» Tif »afioXev Xiyvr, 
iXtru^n Topv io\uv, a; ixetiai xetra fiioo; i^ovffi.—'H ^uly ya^ yvufiv, cSeirt^ ii^riTeu, xotioXcv i'Tofayffit ifri' ^eci^oi/ffi it xecPoKou Xtyofiittv, 
Kara fjti^os frgot/VoXa^/3ayavT£f ruy^iiovfft' oiot, U rif yurairi rC^i^ Kt^pnftitot v TlKroif ^avXotf, aToei^air «» rati tirenros, ti/Oiif ynvcrietf 
Xaktrurifcf n, Sri oiSU iiXifiairt^Sf rtxtania; AbIBT. Rhet. Lib. il. C. Xxi. 

The whole chapter is interesting and instructive, and shows how profoundly Aristotle had meditated the principles of 
the rhetorical art. 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



OD 



taking them for the serious and profound genera- 
lisations of science. As for La Rochefoucauld, 
we know, from the best authorities, that, in pri- 
vate life, he was a conspicuous example of all 
those moral qualities of which he seemed to deny 
the existence; and that lie exhibited, in this 
respect, a striking contrast to the Cardinal de 
Retz, who has presumed to censure him for his 
want of faith in the reality of virtue. 

In reading La Rochefoucauld, it should ne- 
ver be forgotten, that it was within the vortex 
of a court he enjoyed his chief opportunities of 
studying the world; and that the narrow and 
exclusive circle in wliich he moved was not 
likely to aflFord him the most favoiu-ablc speci- 
mens of human nature in general. Of the 
Court of Lewis XIV. in particular, we are told 
by a very nice and reflecting observer (Madame 
de la Fayette), that " ambition and gallantry 
were t/te soul, actuating alike both men and wo- 
men. So many contending interests, so many 
different cabals were constantly at work, and in 
all of these, women bore so important a part, 
that love was always mingled with business, and 
business with love. Nobody was tranquil or in- 
different. Every one studied to advance him- 
self by pleasing, ser\-ing, or ruining others. Idle- 
ness and languor were unknown, and nothing 
was thought of but intrigues or pleasures." 

In the passage already quoted from Voltaire, 
he takes notice of the effect of La Rochefou- 
cauld's Maxims, in improAnng the style of French 
composition. Wc may add to this remaik, that 
their effect has not been less sensible in satiating 
the tone and character of French philosophy, by 
bringing into vogue those false and degrading 
representations of human nature and of human 
life, which have prevailed in that country, more 
or less, for a century past. Mr Addison, in 
one of the papers of the Toiler, expresses his in- 
dignation at this general bias among the French 
^v^iters of his age. " It is impossible," he ob- 
serves, " to read a passage in Plato or Tully, 
and a thousand other ancient moralists, without 
being a greater and better man for it. On the 
contrary, I could never read any of our modish 



French authors, or those of our own country, 
who are the imitators and admirers of that nation, 
without being, for some time, out of humour 
with myself, and at every thing about me. Their 
business is to depreciate human nature, and to 
consider it under the worst appearances ; they 
give mean interpretations and base motives to 
the worthiest actions. In short, they endeavour 
to make no distinction between man and man, 
or between the species of man and that of the 
brutes."* 

It is very remarkable, that the censure here 
bestowed by Addison on the fashionable French 
wits of his time should be so strictly applicable 
to Helvetius, and to many others of the most 
admired authors whom France has produced in 
our own day. It is still more remarkable to find 
the same depressing spirit shedding its malig- 
nant influence on French literature, as early as 
the time of La Rochefoucauld, and even of Mon- 
taigne ; and to observe how veiy little has been 
done by the successors of these old writers, but 
to expand into grave philosophical systems their 
loose and lively paradoxes ; disguising and for- 
tifjdng them by the aid of those logical princi- 
ples, to which the name and authority of Locke 
have given so ^dde a circulation in Europe. 

In tracing the origin of that false philosophy 
on which the excesses of the French revolu- 
tionists have entailed such merited disgrace, it is 
usual to remount no higher than to the profli- 
gate period of the Regency ; but the seeds of its 
most exceptionable doctrines had been sown in 
that country at an earlier era, aiul were indebt- 
ed for the luxuriancy of their harvest, much 
more to the political and religious soil where 
they struck their roots, than to the skill or fore- 
sight of the individuals by whose hands they 
were scattered. 

I have united the names of Montaigne and of 
La Rochefoucauld, because I consider their 
\\Titings as rather addressed to the world at 
large, than to the small and select class of spe- 
culative students. Neither of them can be said 
to have enriched the stock of human knowledge 
l)y the iiddition of any one important general 



' Taller, No. 103. The last paper of the Tathr was published in 1711 ; and, consequently, the above passage must be 
understood as referring to the modish tone of French philosophy prior to the death of Louis XIV. 



56 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



conclusion ; but the maxims of both have ope- 
rated very extensively and powerfully on the 
taste and principles of the higher orders all over 
Europe, and predisposed them to.give a welcome 
reception to the same ideas, when afterwards 
reproduced witli the imposing appendage of lo- 
gical method, and of a technical phraseolog}^ 



The foregoing reflections, therefore, are not. so 
foreign as might at first be apprehended, to the 
subsequent history of ethical and of metaphysi- 
cal speculation. It is time, however, now to 
turn our attention to a subject far more inti- 
mately connected with the general progress of 
human reason, — the philosophy of Descartes. 



DESCARTES— GASSKNDI—MALEBEANCHE. 



According to a late writer, ' whose literary 
decisions (excepting where he touches on reli- 
gion or politics) are justly entitled to the high- 
est deference, Descartes has a better claim than 
any other individual, to be regarded as the fa- 
ther of that spiiit of free inquiry, which in mo- 
dern Europe has so remarkably displayed itself 
in all the various departments of knowledge. 
Of Bacon, he observes, " that though he pos- 
sessed, in a most eminent degree, the genius of 
philosophy, he did not unite with it the genius 
of the sciences ; and that the methods proposed 
by him for tlie investigation of truth, consisting 
entirely of precepts which he was unable to ex- 
emplify, had little or no effect in accelerating 
the rate of discovery." As for Galileo, he re- 
marks, on the other hand, " that his exclu- 
sive taste for mathematical and physical re- 
searches, disqualified him for communicating to 
the general mind that impulse of which it stood 
in need." 

" This honour," he adds, " was reserved for 
Descartes, who combined in himself the cha- 
racteristical endowments of both his predecessors. 
If, in the physical sciences, his march be less 
sure than that of Galileo — if his logic be less 
cautious than that of Bacon — yet the very te- 
merity of his errors was instrumental to the 
progress of the human race. He gave acti^aty 
to minds which the circumspection of his rivals 
could not awake from their lethargy. He call- 
ed upon men to throw off the yoke of authority, 
acknowledging no influence but what reason 
should avow : And his call was obeved bv a 



multitude of followers, encouraged by the bold- 
ness, and fascinated by the enthusiasm of their 
leader." 

In these observations, the ingenious author has 
rashly generalised a conclusion deduced from 
the literary history of his own country. That 
the works of Bacon were but little read there till 
after the publication ofD'Alembert'sPreliminary 
Discourse, is, I believe, an unquestionable fact;" 
not that it necessarily follows from this, that, even 
in France, no previous effect had been produced 
by the labours of Boyle, of Newton, and of the 
other English experimentalists, trained in Bacon's 
school. With respect to England, it is a fact not 
less certain, that at no period did the philosophy of 
Descartes produce such an impression on public 
opinion, either in Physics or in Ethics, as to 
give the slightest colour to the supposition, that it 
contributed, in the most distant degree, to the 
subsequent advances made by our countrjinen 
in these sciences. In Logic and Metaphysics, 
indeed, the case was different. Here the writings 
of Descartes did much ; and if they had been 
studied with proper attention, they might have 
done much more. But of this part of their me- 
rits, Condorcet seems to have had no idea. His 
eulogy, therefore, is rather misplaced than ex- 
cessive. He has extolled Descartes as the father 
of Experimental Physics : He would have been 
nearer the truth, if he had pointed him out as 
the father of the Experimental Philosophy of 
the Human Mind. 

In bestowing this title on Descartes, I am far 
from being inclined to compare him, in the num- 



' Condorcet. 

= One reason for this is well pointed out by D!Alembertt " II n'y a que les chefe de secte en tout genre, dont les 
ouvrages pnissent avoir un certain e'clat ; JBacon n'a pas e'td du nombre, et la forme de sa philosophie s'y opposoit : eUe 
e'toit trop sage pour Conner personne." — Disc. Pre!. 



1 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



57 



ber or importance of the facts which he has re- 
marked concerning our intellectual powers, to 
various other writers of an earlier date. I al- 
lude merely to his clear and precise conception 
of that operation of the understanding (distin- 
guished afterwards in Locke's Essay by the name 
of Reflection), through the medium of wliich all 
our knowledge of Mind is exclusively to be ob- 
tained. Of the essential subserviency of this 
power to every satisfactory conclusion that can 
be formed with respect to the mental phenome- 
na, and of the futility of every theory which 
woul'd attempt to explain them by metaphors 
borrowed from the material world, no other phi- 
losopher prior to Locke seems to have been ful- 
ly aware ; and from the moment that these truths 
were recognised as logical principles in the study 
of mind, a new era commences in the history of 
that branch of science. It will be necessary, 
therefore, to allot to the illustration of this part 
of the Cartesian philosophy a larger space than 
the limits of my undertaking will permit me 
to afford to the researches of some succeeding 
inquirers, who may, at first sight, appear more 
worthy of attention in the present times. 

It has been repeatedly asserted by the Ma- 
terialists of the last century, that Descartes was 
the first Metaphysician by whom the pure im- 
materiality of the human soul was taught ; and 
that the ancient philosophers, as well as the 
schoolmen, went no farther than to consider 
mind as the result of a material organisation, in 
which the constituent elements approached to 
evanescence in point of subtlety. Both of 
these propositions I conceive to be totally un- 
founded. That many of the schoolmen, and 
that the wisest of the ancient pliilosophers, when 
they described the mind as a spirit, or as a spark 
of celestial fire, employed these expressions, not 
with any intention to materialise its essence, but 
merely from want of more unexceptionable lan- 
guage, might be shown with demonstrative evi- 
dence, if this were the proper jjlacc for entering 
into the discussion. But what is of more im- 
porUince to be attended to, on the present oc- 
casion, is the effect of Descartes' writings in dis- 
entangling the logical principle above mentioned, 
from the scholastic question about the nature of 
mind, as contradistinguished from matter. It 

DISS. I. PART. ' 



were indeed to be wished, .that he had perceiv- 
ed still more clearly and steadily the essential 
importance of keeping this distinction constant- 
ly in view ; but he had at least the merit of il- 
lustrating, by his OTVTi example, in a far greater 
degree than any of his predecessors, the possi- 
bility of studj-ing the mental phenomena, with- 
out reference to any facts but those which rest 
on the evidence of consciousness. The meta- 
physical question about the nature of mind he 
seems to liave considered as a problem, the so- 
lution of which was an easy corollary from these 
facts, if distinctly apprehended ; but still as a 
problem, whereof it was possible that different 
■N-iews might be taken by those who agreed in 
opinion, as far as facts alone were concerned. 
Of this a verj- remarkable example has since oc- 
curred in the case of Mr Locke, who, although 
he has been at great pains to show, that the 
power of reflection bears the same relation to the 
study of the mental phenomena, which the power 
of observation bears to the study of the material 
world, appears, nevertheless, to have been far 
less decided than Descai'tes with respect to the 
essential distinction between Mind and Matter ; 
and has even gone so far as to hazard the un- 
guarded proposition, that there is no absiu'dity 
in supposing the Deity to have superadded to 
the other qualities of matter the power of thinking. 
His scepticism, however, on this point, did not 
prevent his good sense from percei^^ng, with the 
most complete conviction, the indispensable ne- 
cessity of abstracting from the analogy of mat- 
ter, in studying the laws of our intellectual frame. 
The question about the nature or essence of 
the soul, has been, in all ages, a favourite sub- 
ject of discussion among INIctaphysicians, from 
its supposed connection with the argiiment in 
jiroof of its immortality. In this light it has 
plainly been considered by both parties in the 
dispute ; the one conceiving, that if Mind could 
be sbowai to have no quality in common with 
Matter, its dissolution was physically impossible ; 
the other, that if this assumption could be dis- 
proved, it would necessarily follow, that the tvhole 
man must perish at death. For the last of these 
opinions Dr Priestley and many other specula- 
tive theologians have of late very zealously con- 
tended j flattering themselves, no doubt, with 



58 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



the idea, that they were thus preparing a triumph 
for theu" own peculiar schemes of Christianity. 
Neglecting, accordingly, all the presumptions 
for a future state, afforded by a comparion of 
the course of human aifairs with the moral judg- 
ments and moral feelings of the human heart ; 
and overlooking, with the same disdain, the 
presumptions arising from the narrow sphere of 
human knowledge, when compared with the in- 
definite imjirovement of which our intellectual 
powers seem to be susceptible, this acute but 
superficial writer attached liimself exclusively 
to the old and hackneyed pneumatological argu- 
ment ; tacitly assuming as a principle, that the 
future prospects of man depend entirely on the 
determination of a physical problem, analogous 
to that which was then dividing chemists about 
the existence or non-existence of Phlogiston. 
In the actual state of science, these speculations 
might well have been spared. Wliere is the 
sober metaphysician to be found, who now 
speaks of the immortality of the soul as a logi- 
cal consequence of its immateriality ; instead of 
considering it as depending on the will of that 
Being by whom it was at first called into exist- 
ence ? And, on the other hand, is it not uni- 
versally admitted by the best philosophers, that 
whatever hopes the light of nature encourages 
beyond the present scene, rest solely (like all 
our other anticipations of future events) on the 
general tenor and analogj' of the laws by which 
we perceive the universe to be governed ? The 
proper use of the argument concerning the im- 
maieriality of mind, is not to establish any posi- 
tive conclusion as to its destiny hereafter ; but 
to repel the reasonings alleged by materialists, 
as proofs that its annihilation must be the ob- 



vious and necessary effect of the dissolution of 
the body.* 

I thought it proper to state tliis consideration 
pretty fully, lest it should be supposed that tlie 
logical method recommended by Descartes for 
studying the phenomena of mind, lias any ne- 
cessary dependence on his metaphysical opinion 
concerning its being and properties, as a separate 
substance.* Between these two parts of his 
system, however, there is, if not a demonstrative 
connection, at least a natural and manifest af- 
finity ; inasmuch as a steady adherence to his 
logical method (or, in other words, the habitual 
exercise of patient reflection), by accustoming 
us to break asunder the obstinate associations 
to which materialism is indebted for the early 
hold it is apt to take of the fancy, gradually and 
insensibly predisposes us in favour of his me- 
taphysical conclusion. It is to be regretted, 
that, in stating this conclusion, his commentators 
should so frequently make use of the word spiri- 
tuality ; for which I do not recollect that his 
own works afford any authority. The proper 
expression is immateriality, conveying merely a 
negative idea; and, of consequence, impljHng 
nothing more than a rejection of that hj^othesis 
concerning the nature of Mind, which the scheme 
of materialism so gratuitously, yet so dogmati- 
cally assumes.' 

The power of Reflection, it is well known, is 
the last of our intellectual facidties that unfolds 
itself; and, in by far the greater number of in- 
di\'iduals, it never unfolds itself in any consider- 
able degree. It is a fact equally certain, that, 
long before the period of life when this power 
begins to exercise its appropriate functions, the 
understanding is already preoccupied with a 



' " We shall here be content," says the learned John Smith of Cambridge, " with that sober thesis of Plato, in his 
Timarus, wlio attributes the perpetuation of all substances to the benignity and liberality of the Creator; whom he there- 
fore brings in thus speaking, ifiSi; ix im ifdiocrti aliii iXurm, X. T. \. Ymi are not of jjoursehcs immortal nor iniiissoliihle, hut zvouUi 
relapse and slide lack from that being rcliieh I hare given you, should I mthdraw the influence of my own power from you; 
hut yet you shall hold your immortality by a patent from myself." — ("Select Discourses, Caiiibridge, 1C60.) I quote this pas- 
sage from one of the oldest partisans of Descartes among the English philosophers. 

Descartes himself is said to have been of a different opinion. " On a e-te' etonne," says Thomas, " que dans ses Medi- 
tations Metaphysiqucs, Descartes n'ait point parli? de rimmortalitd de Tame. JIais il nous apprend lui-memepar une de ses 
lettres, qu'ayant etabli clairement, dans cet oiivrage, la distinction de I'ame et de la matiere, il suivoit nt^cessairement de 
cette distinction, que Tame par sa nature ne pouvoit pe'rir avec le corps." — Elogc de Descartes. Note 21. 

' I employ the scholastic word substance, in conformity to the phraseology of Descartes ; but I am fully aware of the 
strong objections to which it is liable, not only as a wide deviation from popular use, which has appropriated it to things 
material and tangible, but as implying a greater degree of positive knowledge concerning the nature of mind, than our fa- 
culties are fitted to attain. — For some further remarks on this point, See Note I. 

^ See Note K. 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



chaos of opinions, notions, impressions, and as- 
sociations, bearing on the most important ob- 
jects of human inquiry ; not to mention the in- 
numerable sources of illusion and error con- 
nected with the use of a vernacular language, 
learned in infancy by rote, and identified with 
the first processes of thought and perception. 
The consequence is, that when man begins to 
reflect, he finds himself (if I may borrow an 
allusion of M. Turgot's) lost in a labjTinth, in- 
to which he had been led blindfold. ^ To the 
same purpose, it was long ago complained of by 
Bacon, " that no one has yet been found of so 
constant and severe a mind, as to have de- 
termined and tasked himself utterly to abolish 
theories and common notions, and to apply his 
intellect, altogether smooth and even, to par- 
ticulars anew. Accordingly, that human reason 
which we have, is a kind of medley and unsorted 
collection, from much trust and much accident, 
and the childish notions which we first drank 
in. Whereas, if one of ripe age and sound 
senses, and a mind thoroughly cleared, should 
apply himself freshly to experiment and par- 
ticulars, of him were better things to be hoped." 
'Wliat Bacon has here recommended, Des- 
cartes attempted to execute ; and so exact is the 
coincidence of his riews on this fundamental 
point \rith those of his predecessor, that it is with 
difficulty I can persuade myself that he had 
never read Bacon's works. • In the prosecution 
of this undertaking, the first steps of Descartes 
are pecidiarly interesting and instructive ; and 
it is these alone which merit our attention at 
present. As for the details of his system, they 
are now curious only as exhibiting an amusing 
contrast to the extreme rigour of the principle 
from which the author sets out ; a contrast so 
very striking, as fidly to justify the epigram- 
matic saying of D'Aleinbert, that " Descartes 



began with doubting of every thing, and ended 
inbelieringthat he had left nothing unexplained." 

Among the various articles of common belief 
which Descartes proposed to subject to a severe 
scrutiny, he enumerates particularly, the con- 
clusiveness of mathematical demonstration ; the 
existence of God ; the existence of the material 
world ; and even the existence of his own body. 
The only thing that appeared to him certain and 
incontrovertible, was his own existence; by 
which he repeatedly reminds us, we are to un- 
derstand merely the existence of his mind, ab- 
stracted from all consideration of the material 
organs connected with it. About every other 
proposition, he conceived, that doubts might 
reasonably be entertained ; but to suppose the 
non-existence of that which thinks, at the very 
moment it is conscious of thinking, appeared to 
him a contradiction in terms. From this single 
postulatum, accordingly, he took his departure ; 
resolved to admit nothing as a philosophical 
truth, which coidd not be deduced from it by a 
chain of logical reasoning.' 

Having first satisfied himself of his own ex- 
istence, his next step was to inquire, how far 
his perceptive and intellectual faculties were en- 
titled to credit. For this purpose, he begins 
with offering a proof of the existence and at- 
tributes of God ; — truths which he conceived to 
be necessarily involved in the idea he was able 
to form of a perfect, self-existent, and eternal 
being. His reasonings on this point it would 
be useless to state. It is sufficient to observe, 
that they led him to conclude, that God cannot 
possibly be supposed to deceive his creatures ; 
and therefore, that the intimations of our senses, 
and the decisions of our reason, are to be trusted 
to with entire confidence, wherever they affijrd 
us ckar and distinct ideas of their respective ob- 
jects.* 



' " Quand rhomme a voulu se repUer sur lui-meme, il s'est trouv^ dans un labyrinthe, ou U ^toit entr^ !es yeux 
band^" — CEuvrci de Turgot, Tom. II. p. 2G1. 

• See Note I^. 

' '• Sic autem rejicientes ilia omnia, de quibus aliquo modo possumus dubilare, ac etiam falsa esse fingentes, facile quidem 
supponimus nullum esse Deura, nullum coelum, nulla corpora ; nosque etiam ipsos, non habere manus, nee pedes, nee 
denique ullum corpus : non autem ideo nos qui talia cogitamus nihil esse : repuguat enim, ut putemus id quod cogitat, eo 
ipso tempore quo coeilat, non existere. Ac proinde hsec copnitio, ego cogiio, ergo turn, est omnium prima et certissima, 
qute cuilibet ordine philosophanti oecurrat." — Princip. PhUvs. I'ars I. § 7- 

• The substance of Descartes' argument on these fundamental points, is thus briefly recapitulated by himself in the 
conclusion of his third Meditation : — " Uum in meipsum mentis acieni converto, non modo intelligo me esse rem in. 
completam, et ab alio dependentem, remque ad majoi-a et meliora indefinite aspirantem, sed simul etiam iiitelligo ilium, a 



60 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



As Descartes conceived the existence of God 
(next to the existence of his OAvn mind) to he 
the most indisputable of all truths, and rested 
his confidence in the conclusions of human rea- 
son entu'ely on his faith in the divine veracity, 
it is not surprising that he should have rejected 
the argument from final causes, as superfluous 
and unsatisfactory. To have availed himself of 
its assistance would not only have betrayed a 
want of confidence in what he professed to re- 
gard as much more certain than any mathema- 
tical theorem ; hut would obviously have ex- 
posed him to the charge of first appealing to 
the divine attributes in proof of the authority 
of his faculties; and afterwards, of appealing 
to these faculties, in proof of the existence of 
God. 

It is wonderful that it should have escaped 
the penetration of this most acute thinker, that 
a vicious circle of the same description is involved 
in every appeal to the intellectual powers, in 
proof of their own credibility ; and that unless 
this credibility be assumed as unquestionable, the 
farther exercise of human reason is altogether 
nugatory. The evidence for the existence of 
God seems to have appeared to Descartes too 
irresistible and overwhelming, to be subjected 
to those logical canons whicli apply to all the 
other conclusions of the understanding. ^ 

Extravagant and hopeless as these prelimi- 
nary steps must now appear, they had neA'er- 
theless an obvious tendency to direct the atten- 
tion of the author, in a singular degree, to the 



phenomena of thought; and to train him to 
those habits of abstraction from external objects, 
which, to the hulk of mankind, are next to im- 
possible. In this way he was led to perceive, 
with the evidence of consciousness, that the at- 
tributes of Mind were still more clearly and 
distinctly knowable than those of Matter; and 
that, in studying the former, so far from at- 
tempting to explain them by analogies borrowed 
from the latter, our chief aim ought to be, to 
banish as much as possible from the fancy every 
analogy, and even every analogical expression, 
which, by inviting the attention abroad, might 
divert it from its proper business at liome. In 
one word, that the only right method of philo- 
sophising on this subject was comprised in the 
old stoical precept (understood in a sense some- 
what different from that originally annexed to 
it) nee te qu<Bsiveris extra. A just conception of 
this rule, and a steady adherence to its spirit, 
constitutes the ground-work of what is properly 
called the Experimental Philosophy of the Hu- 
man Mind. It is thus that all our facts relating 
to Mind must be ascertained ; and it is only 
upon facts thus attested by our own conscious- 
ness, that any just theory of Mind can he 
reared. 

Agreeably to these -Naews, Descartes was, I 
think, the first who clearly saw that our idea of 
Mind is not direct, but relative ; — relative to the 
various operations of which we are conscious. 
What am I ? he asks, in his second Meditation : 
A thinking being, — that is, a being doubting. 



quo pendeo, majora ista omnia non indefinite et potentia tantum, sed reipsa infinite in se habere, atque ita Deum esse ; 
totaque vis argumenti in eo est, quod agnoscam fieri non posse ut existani talis naturoe qualis sum, nempe ideam Dei in 
me habens, nisi revera Deus etiam existeret, Deus, inquani, ille idem cujus idea in me est, hoe est, liabens onines illas 
perfectiones quas ego non comprehendere, sed quocunque modo attingere cogitatione possum, et nuUis plane defectibus 
obnoxius. Ex his satis patet, ilium f'allacem esse non posse : omnem enim fraudem et deccptionem a defectu aliquo pen- 
dere lumine naturali manifestum est." 

' The above argument for the existence of God (very improperly called by some foreigners an argument ff ^riori^, was 
long considered by the most eminent men in Europe as quite demonstrative. For my own part, although I do not think 
that it is by any means so level to the apprehension of common inquirers, as the argument from the marks of design every- 
where manifested in the universe, I am still less inclined to reject it as altogether unworthy of attention. It is far from 
being so metaphysically abstruse as the reasonings of Newton and Clarke, founded on our conceptions of space and of ^imc; 
nor would it appear, perhaps, less logical and conclusive than that celebrated demonstration, if it were properly unfolded, 
and stated in more simple and popular temis. The two arguments, however, are in no respect exclusive of each other ; 
and I have ahva3's thought, that, by combining them together, a proof of the point in question might be formed, more im- 
pressive and luminous than is to be obtained t'rcm either, when stated apart. 

' How painful is it to recollect, that the philosopher who had represented liis faith in the veracity of God, as the sole 
foundation of his confidence in the demonstrations of mathematics, was accused and persecuted by his contemporaries as an 
atheist ; and thai, too, in the same country (Holland), where, for more than half a century after his death, his doctrines 
were to be taught in all the universities with a blind idolatry ! A zeal without knowledge, and the influence of those earth- 
ly passions, from which even Protestant divines are not always exempted, may, it is to be hoped, go far to account for this 
inconsistency and injustice, without adopting the uncharitable instnuation of D'Alerabert : " Malgre' toute la sagacity qu'il 
avoit employee pour prouver I'existence de Dieu, il fut accusi^ de la nier par des ministres, qui pcut-tire ne Id croyoient pai." 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



61 



knowing, affirming, denying, consenting, refu- 
sing, susceptible of pleasure and of pain. ^ Of 
all these things I might have had complete ex- 
perience, without any previous acquaintance 
with the qualities and laws of matter ; and 
therefore it is impossible that the study of mat- 
ter can avail me aught in the study of my- 
self. This, accordingly, Descartes laid down 
as a first principle, that nothing comprehensible 
by (he imagincfiion can be at all subservient to the 
knowledge of Mind ; and that the sensible images 
involved in all our common forms of speaking 
concerning its operations, are to be guarded 
against with the most anxious care, as tending 
to confound, in our apprehensions, two classes 
of phenomena, which it is of the last importance 
to distinguish accurately from each other.'' 

To those who are familiarly acquainted with 
the writings of Locke, and of the very few 
among his successors who have thoroughly en- 
tered into the spirit of his philosophy, the fore- 
going observations may not appear to possess 
much either of originality or of importance ; but 
when first given to the world, they formed the 
greatest step ever made in the science of Mind, by 
a single individual. ^V^lat a contrast do they ex- 
hibit, not only to the discussions of the scliool- 
mcn, but to the analogical theories of Hobbes 



at the very same period ! and how often have 
they been since lost sight of, notwithstanding 
the clearest speculative conviction of their truth 
and importance, by Locke himself, and by the 
greatest part of his professed followers ! Had 
they been duly studied and understood by Mi' 
Home Tooke, they would have furnished him 
with a key for solving those etjinological riddles, 
which, although mistaken by many of his con- 
temporaries for profound philosophical discove- 
ries, deiive, in fact, the whole of their mysterj', 
from the strong bias of shallow reasoners to re- 
lapse into the same scholastic errors, from which 
Descartes, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and Reid, 
have so successfully laboured to emancipate the 
mind. 

If any thing can add to our admiration of a 
train of thought manifesting in its author so un- 
exampled a triumph over the strongest prejudices 
of sense, it is the extraordinary circumstance of 
its having first occiuTed to a young man, who 
had spent the years commonly devoted to aca- 
demical study, amid the dissipation and tumult 
of camps.' Nothing could make this conceiv- 
able, but the very liberal education which he 
had p^e^^ously received under the Jesuits, at the 
college of La Fleche ;*^ where, we are told, that 
while yet a boy, he was so distinguished by 



' " Non sura compages ilia membrorum, qua? corpus liumanum appellatur ; lion sum etiam tenuis aliquis aer istis mem- 

bris infusus ; non ventus, non ignis, non vapor, non halitus Quid igitur sum ? res cogitans ; quid est hoc ? nempe du- 

bitans, intelligens, affirmans, negang, rolens, nolens," &c. Med. Sec. 

» " Itaque cognosco, nihil eorum qute possum Imnginatione comprehendere, ad banc quam de me habeo notitiam perti- 
nere ; mentemque ab illis diligentissime esse avocandam, ut suani ipsa naturam quam distinctissime percipiat — Ibid. A 
few sentences before, Descartes explains with precision in what sense lynagination is here to be understood. " Nihil aliud 
est ima/^inari quam rei corporca; iiguram seu iniaginem contemplari." 

The following extracts from a book published at Cambridge in IGGO (precisely ten years after the death of Descartes), 
while they furnish a useful comment on some of the above remarks, may serve to show, how completely the spirit of the 
Cartesian philosophy of Alind had been seized even then, by some of the members of that university. 

" The souls of men exercising themselves first of all nivr.^u *{5/3aTi«ii, as the Greek philosopher expresseth himself, merely 
by a progressive kind of molion, spending themselves about bodily and material acts, and conversing only with sensible things ; 
they are apt to acquire such deep stamps of material phantasms to themselves, that they cannot imagine their own Being 
to be any other than material and divisible, though of a fine ethereal nature. It is not possible for us well to know what our 
souls are, but only by their xlyniru; xuxXlxxi, their circular or rejlcx nwtions, and converse with themselves, which can only 
steal from them their own secrets." — Smith's Select Discourses, p. 65, GO. 

" If we reflect but upon our own souls, how manifestly do the notions of reason, freedom, perception, and the like, offer 
themselves to us, whereby we may kno^v a thousand times more dislinetl;/ what our souls are than what our bmlies are. For 
the former, we know by an immediate converse with ourselves, and a distinct sense of their operations ; whereas all our 
knowledge of the body is little better than merely historical, which we gather up by scraps and piecemeal, from more 
doubtful and uncertain experiments which we make of them ; but the notions which we have of a mind, i. c. something 
within us that thinks, apprehends, reasons, and discourses, are so clear and distinct from all those notions which we can 
fasten upon a body, that we can easily conceive that if all body-being in the world were destroyed, yet we might then as 
well subsist as now we do." — Jbid. p. 98. 

' " Descartes porta les armes, d'abord en Ilollande, sous le ci^lebre Maurice de Nassau ; de-lh en AUemagne, sous Alaxi- 
milien de Uavicre, au commencement de la guerre de trente ans. II passa ensuite au service de I'Empereur Ferdinand II. 
pour voir de |)lus pres les troubles de la Ilongrie. On croit aussi, qu'au siege de la Uochelle, il combattit, comme volon- 
taire, dans une bataille contre la flotte Angloise." — Thomas, Eloge de Descartes, Note 8. 

When Descartes quitted the profession of arms, he had arrived at the age of twenty-five. 

• It is a curious coincidence, that it was in the same village of La FUclu that Mr Hume fixed his residence, while com- 



62 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



iiabits of deep meditation, that he went among 
his companions by the name of the Philosopher. 
Indeed, it is only at that early age, that such 
habits are to be cultivated with complete suc- 
cess. 

The glory, however, of having pointed out to 
his successors the true method of studying the 
theory of Mind, is almost all that can be claimed 
by Descartes in logical and metaphysical science. 
Many important hints, indeed, may be gleaned 
from his works ; but, on the whole, he has added 
very little to our knowledge of human nature. 
Nor will this appear surprising, when it is re- 
collected, that he aspired to accomplish a simi- 
lar revolution in all the various departments of 
physical knowledge ; — not to mention the time 
and thought he must have employed in those 
mathematical researches, which, however lightly 
esteemed by himself, have been long regarded 
as the most solid basis of his fame.^ 

Among the principal articles of the Cartesian 
philosophy, which are now incorporated with 
our prevailing and most accredited doctrines, 
the following seem to me to be chiefly entitled 
to notice : 

1. His luminous exposition of the common 
logical error of attempting to define words 
which express notions too simple to admit of 
analysis. Mr Locke claims this improvement 
as entirely his own ; but the merit of it un- 
questionably belongs to Descartes, although it 
must be owned that he has not always sufficient- 
ly attended to it in his own researches. * 

2. His observations on the different classes of 
our prejudices — particularly on the errors to 
which we are liable in consequence of a careless 
use of language as the instrument of thought. 



Tlie greater part of these observations, if not 
the whole, had been previously hinted at by 
Bacon ; but they are expressed by Descartes 
with greater precision and simplicity, and in a 
style better adapted to the taste of the present 

age- 

3. The paramoimt and indisputable authority 
which, in all our reasonings concerning the hu- 
man mind, he ascribes to the evidence of con- 
sciousness. Of this logical principle he has 
availed himself, with irresistible force, in refu- 
ting the scholastic sophisms against the liberty 
of human actions, drawn from the prescience of 
the Deity, and other considerations of a theolo- 
gical nature. 

4. The most important, however, of all his 
improvements in metaphysics, is the distinction 
which he has so clearly and so strongly drawn 
between the primary and the secondary qualities 
of matter. This distinction was not unknown 
to some of the ancient schools of philosophy in 
Greece ; but it was afterwards rejected by Aris- 
totle, and by the schoolmen ; and it was reserv- 
ed for Descartes to place it in such a light, as 
(with the exception of a very few sceptical or 
rather paradoxical theorists) to unite the opi- 
nions of all succeeding inquirers. For this step, 
so apparently easy, but so momentous in its con- 
sequences, Descartes was not indebted to any 
long or difficult processes of reasoning ; but to 
those habits of accurate and patient attention to 
the operations'of his own mind, which, from his 
early years, it was the great business of his life 
to cultivate. It may be proper to add, that the 
epithets primary and secondary, now universally 
employed to mark the distinction in question, 
were first introduced by Locke ; a circumstance 



posing his Treatise of Human Nature. Is it not probable, that he was partly attracted to it, by associations similar to 
those which presented theraselves to the fancy of Cicero, when he visited the walks of the Academy ? 

In the beginning of Descartes' dissertation upon Method, he lias given a very interesting account of the pursuits which 
occupied his youth, and of the considerations which suggested to him the bold undertaking of reforming philosophy. 

' Such too is the judgment pronounced by D'Alembert. " Les Math^matiques, dont Descartes semble avoir fait assez 
peu de eas, font neanmoms aujourd'hui la partie la plus solide et la moins contestee de sa gloire." To this he adds a very in- 
genious reflection on the comparative merits of Descartes, considered as a geometer and as a philosopher. " Comme philo- 
sophe, U a peut-etre ^te aussi grand, mais il n'a pas ^tf^ si heureux. La Ge'ometrie, qui par la nature de son objet doit 
toujours gagner sans perdre, ne pouvoit manquer, ^tant manii^e par un aussi grand g^nie de faire des progres trfes-sensibles 
et apparens pour tout le monde. La Philosophie se trouvoit dans un ^tat bien different, tout y ^toit a commencer ; 
ci que ne coutcnt point les premiers pas en tout genre ! le mirite dc les faire dispense de celui d'cn faire de grands." — Disc. Prelim. 

' " The names of simple ideas are not capable of any definitions ; the names of all complex ideas are. It has not, that I 
know, been yet observed by any body, what words are, and what are not capable of being defined.".— (Locke's Essay, 
Book iii. chap. iv. § iv.) — Compare this with the Principia of Descartes, 1. 10. ; and with Lord Stair's Philologia Xova Expe- 
rimental':), pp. 9 and 79, printed at Leyden in 1686. 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



63 



which may have contrihuted to throw into the 
shade the merits of those inquu-ers who had pre- 
viously struck into the same path. 

As this last article of the Cartesian system 
has a close connection with several of the most 
refined conclusions yet formed concerning the 
intellectual phenomena, I feel it due to the me- 
mory of the author, to pause for a few moments, 
in order to vindicate his claim to some leading 
ideas, commonly supposed hy the present race 
of metaphysicians to be of mudi later origin. In 
doing so, I shall have an opportunity, at the 
same time, of introducing one or two remarks, 
■which, I trust, will be useful in clearing up the 
obscurity, which is allowed by some of the ablest 
followers of Descartes and Locke, still to hang 
over this curious discussion. 

I have elsewhere observed, that Descartes has 
been very generally charged by the writers of 
the last century, with a sophistical play upon 
words in his doctrine concerning the non-exist- 
ence of secondary qualities ; while, in fact, he 
was the first person by whom the fallacy of this 
scholastic paralogism was exposed to the world. ^ 
In proof of this, it might be sufficient to refer to 
his o^vn statement, in the first part of the Prin- 
cipia ;' but, for a reason which will immediate- 
ly appear, I tliink it more advisable, on this occa- 
sion, to borrow the words of one of his earliest and 
ablest commentators. " It is only (says Father 



Malebranche) since the time of Descartes, that 
to those confused and indeterminate questions, 
whether fire is hot, grass green, and sugar sweet, 
philosophers are in use to reply, by distinguish- 
ing the equivocal meaning of the words express- 
ing sensible qualities. If by heat, cold, and 
savour, you understand such and such a dispo- 
sition of parts, or some unknown motion of 
sensible qualities, then fire is hot, grass green, 
and sugar sweet. But if by heat and other 
qualities you understand what I feel by fire, 
what I see in grass, &c. fire is not hot, nor grass 
gieen ; for the heat I feel, and the colours I see, 
are only in the soul."* It is surprising how this, 
and other passages to the same purpose in Male- 
branche, should have escaped the notice of Dr- 
Reid ; for nothing more precise on the ambigui- 
ty in the names of secondary qualities is to be 
found in his own works. It is stiU more sur- 
prising that Buffier, who might have been ex- 
pected to have studied with care the speculations 
of his illustrious countryman, should have di- 
rectly charged, not only Descartes, but Male- 
branche, with maintaining a paradox, which 
they were at so much pains to banish from the 
schools of philosophy.* 

The important obsers'ations of Descartes upon 
this subject, made theu- way into England very 
soon after his death. They are illustrated at 
considerable length, and with great ingenuity, 
by Glanville, in his Scepsis Scierdifica, published 



' " Descartes, Malebranche, and Locke, revived the distinction between primary and secondary qualities. But they 
made the secondary qualities mere sensations, and the primary ones resemblances of our sensations. They maintained 

that colour, sound, and heat, are not any thing in bodies, but sensations of the mind The paradoxes of these philo- 

Bophers were only an abuse of words. For when they maintain, as an important modern discovcnj, that there is no heat in 
the fire, they mean no more than that the fire does not feel heat, which every one knew before." — Reld's Inquiry, chap. 
V. sect. viii. 

• See sections Ixix. Ixx. IxxL The whole of these three paragraphs is highly interesting; but I shall only quote two 
sentences, which are fully sufficient to show, that, in the above observations, I have done Descartes no more than strict 

justice. . I- -J • 

" Patet itaque in re idem esse, cum dicimus nos percipere colores in objectis, ac si diceremus nos percipere aliquid m 
objectis, quod quidem quid sit ignoramus, sed a quo efficitur in nobis ipsis sensus quidam valde manifestus et perspicuus, 

qui vocatur sensus colorum Cum vero putamus nos percipere colores in objectis, etsi revera nesciamus quidnara 

sit quod tunc nomine coloris appellaraus, nee uUam similitudinem intelligere possimus, inter colorem quern suppnnimus 
esse in objectis, et ilium quem experimur esse in sensu, (piia lamen hoe ipsum non advertimus, et multa alia sunt, ut uiag- 
nitudo, figura, n\mierus, &c. qua; clarc percipimus not alitor a nobis sentiri vel intelligi, quam ut sunt, aut saltem esse 
possunt in objectis, facile, in eum errorem delabimur, ut.judicemus id, quod in objectis vocamus colorem, esse quid omnino 
simile colori quem sentimus, alque ita ut id quod nullo modo percipimus, a nobis clare percipi arbitraremur." 
' Rcclicrdu: dc la I'i-rilc, Livre vi. chap. ii. 

* "J'ai adniir<< souvent que d'aussi grands hommcs que Descartes et Slalebranche, avec leurs sectateurs, fissent valoir, 
comme une rare de'couvcrte de leur philosojihie, que la chalcur iloil dans nous.memcs et nullcmcnt dans le feu ; au lieu que le 

commun dcs hommcs trouvoient que la cluilcnr itoit dans lefeu aussi bien que dans nous JIais en ce fameux ddbat, de 

quoi s'agit-il ? Uniquement de I'imperfection du langage, qui causoit une ide'e confuse par le mot de chalcur, ce mot cxpri- 
mant egalement deux clioses, qui h la vt'ritJ ont quelque rapport ou analogie, et pourtant qui sont tr^s dift'^rentes ; savoir, 
1. le sentiment de chaleur qui nous ^prouvons en nous ; 2. la disposition qui est dans le feu il produire en nous ce senti- 
ment de chaleur." — Cours dc Sciences, par le Piire Buifier, p. BIK. A Paris, 1732. 



C4 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



about thirteen years before Malebranche's Search 
after Truth. So slow, however, is the progress 
of good sense, when it has to struggle against 
the prejudices of the learned, that, as lately as 
1713, the paradox so clearly explained and re- 
futed by Descartes, appears to have kept some 
footing in the English universities. In a paper 
of the Giiardian, giving an account of a visit 
paid by Jack Lizard to his mother and sisters, 
after a year and half's residence at Oxford, the 
following pi'ecis is given of his logical attain- 
ments. " For the first week (it is said) Jack 
dealt wholly in paradoxes. It was a common 
jest with him to pinch one of his sister's lap 
dogs, and afterwards prove he could not feel it. 
\Vlien the girls were sorting a set of knots, he 
would demonstrate to them that all the ribbons 
were of the same colour ; or rather, says Jack, 
of no colour at all. My Lady Lizard herself, 
though she was not a little pleased ^vith her son's 
improvements, was one day almost angry with 
him ; for having accidentally bm-nt her fingers 
as she was lighting the lamp for her tea-pot, in 
the midst of her anguish. Jack laid hold of the 
opportunity to instruct her, that there was no 
such thing as heat in the fire.". 

This miserable quibble about the non-exist- 
ence of secondary qualities, never could have 
attracted the notice of so many profound think- 
ers, had it not been for a peculiar difficulty con- 
nected with our notions of colour, of which I do 
not know anyone English philosopher who seems 
to have been sufficiently aware. That this qua- 
lity belongs to the same class with sounds, smells, 
tastes, heat and cold, is equally admitted by the 
partisans of Descartes and of Locke ; and must, 
indeed, appear an indisputable fact to all who 
are capable of reflecting accurately on the sub- 
ject. But stUl, between colour and the other 
qualities now mentioned, a very important dis- 
tinction must be allowed to exist. In the case 
of smells, tastes, sounds, heat and cold, every 
person must immediately perceive, that his senses 
give him only a relative idea of the external 
quality ; in other words, that they only convey 
to him the knowledge of the existence of cer- 



tain properties or powers In external objecta, 
which fit them to produce certain sensations in 
his mind; and, accordingly, nobody ever hesitat- 
ed a moment about tlie truth of this part of the 
Cartesian philosophy, in so far as these qualities 
alone are concerned. But, in the application of 
the same doctrine to colour, I have conversed 
with many, with whom I found it quite in vain 
to argue ; and this, not from any defect in their 
reasoning powers, but from their incapacity to 
reflect steadily on the subjects of their conscious- 
ness ; or rather, perhaps, from their incapacity 
to separate, as objects of the understanding, two 
things indissolubly combined by early and con- 
stant habit, as objects of the imagination. The 
silence of modern metaphysicians on this head 
is the more surprising, as D'Alembert long ago 
invited their attention to it as one of the most 
wonderful phenomena in the history of the hu- 
man mind. " The bias we acquire," I quote 
his owTi words, " in consequence of habits con- 
tracted in infancy, to refer to a substance ma- 
terial and divisible, what really belongs to a sub- 
stance spiritual and simple, is a thing well 
worthy of the attention of metaphysicians. No- 
thing," he adds, " is perhaps more extraordi- 
nary, in the operations of the mind, than to see 
it transport its sensations out of itself, and to 
spread them, as it were, over a substance to 
which they cannot possibly belong." — It would 
be difficult to state the fact in question in terms 
more brief, precise, and perspicuous. 

That the illusion, so well described in the 
aboA'e quotation, was not overlooked by Des- 
cartes and Malebranche, appears unquestionable, 
fi'om their extreme solicitude to reconcile it with 
that implicit faith, which, from religious con- 
siderations, they conceived to be due to the testi- 
mony of those faculties with which our Maker 
has endowed us. Malebranche, in particular, is 
at pains to distinguish between the sensation, and 
the judgment combined with it. " The sensa- 
tion never deceives us ; it differs in no respect 
fi-om what we conceiA'e it to be. The judgment, 
too, is natural, or rather (says Malebranche), 
it is only a sort of compound sensation ;' but this 



' He would have expressed himself more accurately, if be bad said, that the judgment is indissolubly combined with the 
sensation ; but his meaning is sufficiently obvious. 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



65 



judgment leads iis into no error with respect to 
philosophical truth. The moment we exercise 
our reason, we see the fact in its true light, and 
can account completely for that illusive appear- 
ance which it presents to the imagination." 

Not satisfied, however, with this solution of 
the difficulty, or rather perhaps apprehensive 
that it might not appear quite satisfactory to 
some others, he has called in to his assistance 
the doctrine of original sin ; asserting, that all 
tlie mistaken judgments which our constitution 
leads us to form concerning external objects and 
tlieir qualities, are the consequences of the fall 
of our fii'st parents ; since which adventure (as it 
is somewhat irreverently called by Dr Beattie), 
it requires the constant vigilance of reason to 
guard against the numberless tricks and im- 
postures practised upon us by our external 
senses.^ In another passage, Malebranche ob- 
serves very beautifully (though not very con- 
sistently with liis theological argimient on the 
same point), that our senses being given us for 
the preservation of our bodies, it was requisite 
for om' well-being, that we should judge as we 
do of sensible qualities. " In the case of the 
sensations of pain and of Iieat, it was much 
more advantageous that we should seem to feel 
them in those parts of the body whicli are im- 
mediately affected by them, than that we should 
associate them with the external objects by which 
tliey are occasioned ; because pain and heat, 
having the power to injure our members, it was 
necessary that we should be warned in what 
place to apply the remedy ; whereas colours not 
being likely, in ordinary cases, to hurt the eye, 



it would have been superfluous for us to know 
that they are painted on the retina. On the 
contraiy, as they are only useful to us, from the 
information they convey wth respect to things 
external, it was essential that we should be so 
formed as to attach them to the corresponding 
objects on which they depend."* 

The two following remarks, which I shall state 
with all possible brevity, appear to me to go far 
towards a solution of the problem proposed by 
D'Alembert. 

1. According to the new theory of vision coni- 
■monhj (but, as I shall afterwards show, not alto- 
gether yMS%^ ascribed to Dr Berkeley, lineal dis- 
tance from the eye is not an original perception of 
sight. In the meantime, from the first moment 
that the eye opens, the most intimate connection 
must necessarily be established between the notion 
of cofowr and those of visible extension and figure. 
At first, it is not improbable that all of them 
may be conceived to be merely modiJicatioJis t>f 
the mind ; but, however this may be, the mani- 
fest consequence is, that when a comparison 
between the senses of Sight and of Touch has 
taught us to refer to a distance the objects of 
the one, the indissolubly associated sensations 
of the other must of course accompany them, 
how far soever that distance may extend.' 

2. It is well kno«Ti to be a general law of our 
constitution, when one tiling is destined, either 
by nature or by convention, to be the sit/n of 
another, that the mind has a disposition to pass 
on, as rapidly ;is possible, to the thiug signified, 
without dwelling on the sign as an object wortliy 
of its attention. The most remarkable of all ex- 



I « Wg arg informed l)y Father Malebranche, that the senses were at first as honest faculties as one could desire to be 
endued with, till after they were debauched by original sin ; an adventure from which they contracted such an invincible 
propensity to cheating, that they are now continually lying in wait to deceive us." — Essay on Truth, p. 241, second edition. 

' Heckeriiie de la Vcrile, Liv. i. chap. xiii. § 5. In Dr Iteid's strictures on Descartes and Locke there are two remarks 
which I am at a loss how to reconcile. " Colour," says he, " differs from other secondary qualities in this, that whereas 
the name of the quality is sometimes given to the sen.sation which indicates it, and is occasioned by it, we never, as far as 
I can judge, give the name of colour to the sensation, but to the quality only." A few sentences before, he had observed, 
" That when we think or speak of any particular colour, however simple the notion may seem to be which is presented to 
the imagination, it is really in some sort compounded. It involves an unknown cause, and a known eti'ect. The name of 
colour belongs indeed to the cause only, and not to the effect. But as the cause is unknown, we can Ibrni no distinct con. 
ceplion of it, but by its relation to the known effect. And, therefore, both go together in the imagination, and are so close- 
ly united, that they are mistaken for one simple object of thought." Inquinj, chap. vi. sect. 4. 

These two passages seem quite inconsistent with each other. If in the perception of colour, the sens;ition and the qua- 
lity " be so closely united as to be mistidien for one single objctt of thought," does it not obviously follow, that it is to 
this compounded notion the name of colour must, in general, be given ? On the other hand, when it is said that the name nf 
colour IS never f^lven to the sensation, but to the qnalHij ouhj, does not this imply, that every time the word is pronounced, the 
quality is separated from the sensation, even in ttie imaginations of the vulgar ? 

•" .See Note M. 
DISS. I. PART I. I 



66 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



amples of this occurs in the acquired perceptions 
of sight, where our estimates of distance are 
frequently the result of an intellectual process, 
comparing a vai-iety of different signs together, 
without a possibility on our part, the moment 
afterwards, of recalling one single step of the 
process to our recollection. Our inattention to 
tlie sensations of coloui', considered as affections 
of the Mind, or as modifications of our own 
being, appears to me to be a fact of precisely 
the same description ; for all these sensations 
were plainly intended by nature to perform the 
office of signs, indicating to us the figures and 
distances of things external. Of their essential 
importance in this point of ^^ew, an idea may 
be formed, by supposing for a moment the whole 
face of nature to exhibit onlj'one uniform colour, 
without the slightest variety even of light and 
shade. Is it not self-e^^dent that, on this sup- 
position, the organ of sight would be entirely 
useless, inasmuch as it is by the varieties of 
colour alone that the outlines or visible figures 
of bodies are so defined, as to he distinguishable 
one from another ? Nor could the eye, in this 
case, give us any information concerning diver- 
sities of distance ; for all the various signs of it, 
enumerated by optical writers, pre-suppose the 
antecedent recognition of the bodies aroxmd us, 
as separate objects of perception. It is not there- 
fore surprising, that signs so indispensably sub- 
servient to the exercise of our noblest sense, 
should cease, in early infancy, to attract notice 
as the subjects of our consciousness ; and that 
afterwards they should present themselves to the 
imagination rather as qualities of Matter, than 
as attributes of Mind.^ 

To this reference of the sensation of colour 
to the external object, I can think of nothing so 
analogous as the feelings we experience in sur- 



veying a library of books. We speak of the 
volumes piled up on its shelves, as treasures or 
magazines of the knowledge of past ages ; and 
contemplate them with gratitude and reverence, 
as inexhaustible sources of instruction and delight 
to the mind. Even in lookiDg at a page of print 
or of manuscript, we are apt to say, that the ideas 
we acquire are received by the sense of sight ; 
and we are scarcely conscious of a metaphor, 
when we employ this language. On such oc- 
casions we seldom recollect, that nothing is per- 
ceived by the eye but a multitude of black strokes 
drawn upon 2vhite paper, and that it is our own 
acquired habits which communicate to these 
strokes the whole of that significancy whereby 
they are distingiushed from the unmeaning 
scrawling of an infant or a changeling. The 
knowledge which we conceive to be preserved in 
books, like the fragrance of a rose, or the gild- 
ing of the clouds, depends, for its existence, on 
the relation between the object and the percipient 
mind ; and the only difference between the two 
cases is, that in the one, this relation is the local 
and temporary effect of conventional habits ; in 
the other, it is the universal and the unchange- 
able work of nature. The art of printing, it is 
to be hoped, ^vill in futiu-e render the former 
relation, as well as the latter, coeval with our 
species ; but, in the past history of mankind, it 
is impossible to say how often it may have been 
dissolved. WTiat vestiges can now be traced of 
those scientific attainments which, in early times, 
drew to Egypt, from everj' part of the ciA^ilised 
world, all those who were anxious to be initia- 
ted in the mysteries of philosophy ? The sym- 
bols which stUl remain in that celebrated coun- 
try, inscribed on eternal monuments, have long 
lost the correspondent »ni«ds wliich reflected upon 
them their own intellectual attributes. To us 



' In Dr Reid's Inquiry, he has introduced a discussion concerning the perception of xisiUc figure, which has puzzled me 
since the first time (more than forty years ago) that I read liis work. The discussion relates to this question, " Whether 
there he any sensation proper to visible figure, by which it is suggested in vision ?" The result of the argument is, that 
" our eye might have been so framed as to suggest the figure of the object, without suggesting colour, or any other quality ; 
and, of consequence, there seems to be no sensation appropriated to visible figure ; this quality being suggested immediatelii 
by the material impression upon the organ, of which impression we are not conscious." — Inquir;/, &c. chap. vi. sect. 8. To 
my apprehension, nothing can appear more manifest than this, that, if there had been no varietyin our sensations of colour, 
and still more, if we had had no sensation of colour whatsoever, the organ cf sight could have given us no information, 
either with respect to figures or to distances ; and, of consequence, would have been as useless to us, as if we had been af- 
flicted, from the moment of our birth, with & gutta screna. 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



67 



tlicy are useless and silent, and serve only to at- 
test the existence of arts, of which it is impos- 
sible to unriddle the nature and the objects. 

Variis nunc sculpta figuris 



Marmora, trunca tamen visuntur mutaque nobis ; 
Signa repertonira tuimur, cecidere reperta. 

\VTiat has now been remarked with respect to 
written characters, may be extended very nearly 
to oral language. ^VTien we listen to the dis- 
course of a public speaker, eloquence and per- 
suasion seem to issue from his lips ; and we are 
little aware, that we ourselves infuse the soul 
into every word that he utters. The case is 
exactly the same when we enjoy the conversa- 
tion of a friend. We ascribe the charm entirely 
to liis voice and accents ; but without our co- 
operation, its potency would vanish. How very 
small the comparative proportion is, which, in 
such cases, the words spoken contribute to the 
intellectual and moral effect, I have elsewhere 
endeavoiu-ed to show. 

I have enlarged on this part of the Cartesian 
system, not certainly on account of its intrinsic 
value, as connected with the theory of our ex- 
ternal perceptions (although even in this respect 
of the deepest interest to every philosopliical in- 
quirer), but because it aflFords the most palpable 
and striking example I know of, to illustrate the 
indissoluble associations established during the 
period of infancy between the intellectual and 
the material worlds. It was plainly the inten- 
tion of nature, that our thoughts should be ha- 
bitually directed to things external ; and accord- 
ingly the bulk of mankind are not only indis- 
posed to study the intellectual phenomena, but 
are incapable of that degixc of reflection which 
is necessary for their examination. Hence it is, 
that when we begin to analyse our own internal 
constitution, we find the facts it presents to us 
so very intimately combined in our conceptions 
with the qualities of matter, that it is impossible 
for us to draw distinctly and steadily the line 
between them ; and that, when Mind and Mat- 
ter are concerned in the same result, the former 
is either entirely overlooked, or is regarded only 
as an accessary principle, dependent for its ex- 



istence on the latter. To the same cause it is 
owing, that we find it so difficult (if it be at all 
practicable) to form an idea of any of our intel- 
lectual operations, abstracted from the images 
suggested by their metaphorical names. It wa.s 
objected to Descartes by some of his contempo- 
raries, that the impossibility of accomplishing 
the abstractions which he recommended, fur- 
nished of itself a strong argument agauist the 
soundness of his doctrines.^ The proper an- 
swer to this objection does not seem to have oc- 
curred to him, nor, so far as I know, to any 
of his successors ; — that the abstractions of the 
understanding are totally different from the ab- 
stractions of the imagination ; and that we ma)- 
reason with most logical correctness about things 
considered apart, which it is impossible, even in 
thought, to conceive as sepai-ated from each 
other. His own speculations concerning the 
indissolubility of the union established in the 
mind between the sensations of colom* and the 
primary qualities of extension and figure, might 
have furnished him, on this occasion, with a tri- 
umphant reply to his adversaries ; not to men- 
tion that the variety of metaphors, equally fitted 
to denote the same intellectual powers and ope- 
rations, might have been urged as a demonstra- 
tive proof, that none of these metaphors have 
any connection with the general laws to which 
it is the business of the philosopher to trace the 
mental phenomena. 

Wlien Descartes established it as a general 
principle, that nothing conceivable by the power of 
imagination could throw any light on tlie operations 
of tlwught (a principle which I consider as ex- 
clusively his own), he laid the foundation-stone 
of the Experimental Philosophy of the Human 
Mind. Tliat the same truth had been previous- 
ly perceived, more or less distinctly, by Bacon 
and others, appears probable from the general 
complexion of their speculations ; but which of 
them has expressed it with equal precision, or 
laid it down as a fundamental maxim in their 
logic ? It is for this reason, that I am disposed 
to date the origin of the true Philosophy of 
Mind from the Principia of Descartes rather 



' See, in particular, Gaisendi Opera, Tom. 111. pp. 300, 301. Lugduni, KJJtJ. 



68 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



than from the Organon of Bacon, or the Essay 
of Locke ; without, however, meaning to com- 
pare the French author with our two country- 
men, either as a contributor to our stock oi facts 
relating to the intellectual plienomena, or as the 
author of any important conclusion concerning 
the general laws to which they may be referred. 
It is mortifying to reflect on the inconceivably 
small number of subsequent inquirers by whom 
the spirit of this cardinal maxim has been fully 
seized ; and that, even in our own times, the 
old and inveterate prejudice to which it is op- 
posed, should not only have been revived with 
success, but should have been very generally re- 
garded as an original and profound discovery 
in metaphysical science. These circumstances 
must plead my apology for the space I have as- 
signed to the CartChian Metaphysics in the 
crowded historical picture which I am at present 
attempting to sketch. The fulness of illustra- 
tion which I have bestowed on the works of the 
master, will enable me to pass over those of his 
disciples, and even of his antagonists, with a 
correspondent brevity.' 

After having said so much of the singular 
merits of Descartes as the father of genuine me- 
taphysics, it is incumbent on me to add, that his 
errors in tliis science were on a scale of propor- 
tionate magnitude. Of these the most promi- 



nent (for I must content myself with barely 
mentioning a few of essential importance) were 
his obstinate rejection of all speculations about 
final causes;* his hypothesis concerning the 
lower animals, which he considered as mere ma- 
chines;' his doctrine of innate ideas, as under- 
stood and expounded by himself;* his noted para- 
dox of placing the essence of mind in thinking, 
and of matter in extension ;* and his new modi- 
fication of the ideal theory of perception, adopt- 
ed afterwards, with some very slight charges, 
by Malebranche, Locke, Berkeley, and Hume.' 
To some of these eiTors I shall have occasion to 
refer in the sequel of this Discourse. The fore- 
going slight enumeration is sufficient for my 
present purpose. 

In what I have hitherto said of Descartes, I 
have taken no notice of his metaphysico-physio- 
logical theories relative to the connection be- 
tween soul and body. Of these theories, how- 
ever, gi'oundless and puerile as they are, it is 
necessary for me, before I proceed farther, to 
say a few words, on account of their extensive 
and lasting influence on the subsequent history 
of the science of Mind, not only upon the Con- 
tinent, but in our own island. 

The h\'pothesis of Descartes, which assigns to 
the soul for its principal seat the pineal gland or 
conarimi, is known to every one who has perused 



' Tlie Cartesian doctrine conceininj^ llip secondary qualities of matter, is susceptible of various other important applica- 
tions. Slight it not be employed, at least as an argvmcntum ad hominem against Sir Himie and others, who, admitting l/tis 
])arl of the Cartesian system, seem nevertheless to have a secret leaning to the scheme of materialism ? Mr Hume has 
somewhere spoken of t/ml Utile a/rilntion of lite brain we call tliojig/il. If it be unphilosophical to confound our sensalioiis of co- 
lour, of heat, and of cold, wiih such qualities as extension, figure, and solidity, is it not, if possible, still more so, to con- 
found with these qualities the phenomena of thought, of volition, and of moral emotion ? 

- It is not unworthy of notice, that, in spite of his own logical rules, Descartes sometimes seems insensibly to adopt, 
on this subject, the common ideas and feelings of mankind. Several instances of this occur in his treatise on the Passions, 
where he offers various conjectures concerning the usts to which they are subservient. The following sentence is more 
l)eculiarly remarkable : "Jlihi persuadere nequeo, naturam indedisse hominibus ulluni affectum qui semper vitiosus sit, 
nullumqvie usum bonum et laudabilem habeat." — Art. clxxv. 

' This hypothesis never gained much ground in England ; and yet a late writer of distinguished eminence in sotnc 
branches of science, has plainly intimated that, in his opinion, the balance of probiibilities inclined in its favour. " I omit 
mentioning other animals here," says Mr Kirwan in his Mcluphysical Essays, " as it is at least doiihlful -xlicther they are not 
mere aiilmnaluiis." — Met. Essai/s, p. 41. I.ond. 180!). 

' I hare added the clause in Italics, because, in Descartes' reasonings on this question, there is no inconsiderable portion 
of most important truth, debased by a large and manifest alloy of error. 

* To this paradox may be traced many of the conclusions of the author, both on physical and on metaphysical subjects. 
One of the most cbaracteristical features, indeed, of his genius, is the mathematical concatenation of his opinions, even on 
questions which, at first sight, seem the most remote from each other; a circumstance which, when combined with the ex- 
traordinary pers|)icuily of his style, completely accounts for the strong hold his philosophy took of every mind, thoroughly 
initiated, at an early period of life, in its principles and doctrines. In consequence of conceiving the essence of matter to 
consist in extension, he was necessarily obliged to maintain the doctrine of a universal pkiiiim ; u])Oit » hich doctrine the 
theory of the Vortices came to l>e grafted by a very short and easy process. The same idea forced him, at the very outset 
of his Mettipluisiral Meditations, to assert, much more dogmatically than his premises seem to wanant, the non-extension of 
Mind ; and led him on many occasions to blend, very illogically, this comparatively disputable dogma, with the facts he lias to 
state concerning the mental phenomena. 

' See Note X. 



I 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



69 



the Alma of Prior. It is not, perhaps, equally 
known, that the circumstance which determined 
him to fix on this particular spot, was the very 
plausible consideration, that, among the different 
parts of the brain, this was the only one he 
could find, which, being single and central, 
was fitted for the habitation of a being, of which 
he conceived unity and indivisibility to be essen- 
tial and obvious attributes.' In what manner 
the animal spirits, by their motions forwards and 
backwards in the nervous tubes, keep up the 
communication between this gland and the dif- 
ferent parts of the body, so as to produce the 
phenomena of perception, memory, imagination, 
and muscular motion, he has attempted parti- 
cularly to explain ; describing the processes by 
which these various effects are accomplished, 
with as decisive a tone of authority, as if he had 
been demonstrating experimentally the cii'cula- 
tion of the blood. How curious to meet with 
such speculations in the works of the same phi- 
losopher, who had so clearly perceived the ne- 
cessity, in studjdng tlie laws of Mind, of ab- 
stracting entirely from the analogies of Matter ; 
and who, at the outset of his inquiries, had car- 
ried his scepticism so far, as to require a proof 
even of the existence of his own body ! To 
those, however, who reflect with attention on 
the met/iod adopted by Descartes, this inconsist- 
ency will not appear so inexplicable as at first 
sight may be imagined ; inasmuch as the same 
scepticism which led him to suspend his faith in 



his intellectual faculties till he liad once proved 
to his satisfaction, from the necessary veracitv 
of God, that these faculties were to be regarded 
as divine oracles, prepared him, in all the sub- 
sequent steps of his progress, to listen to the 
suggestions of his own fallible judgment, with 
more than common credulity and confidence. 

The ideas of Descartes, respecting the com- 
munication between soul and bodj', are now so 
universally rejected, that I should not have al- 
luded to them here, had it not been for their 
manifest influence in producing, at the distance 
of a century, the rival hj-pothesis of Dr Hartley. 
The first traces of this h)q)othesis occur in some 
queries of Sir Isaac Newton, which he was pro- 
bably induced to propose, less from the convic- 
tion of his own mind, than from a «dsh to turn 
the attention of philosophers to an examination 
of the coiTespondent part of the Cartesian sys- 
tem. Not that I woidd be understood to deny 
that this great man seems, on more than one oc- 
casion, to have been so far misled by the ex- 
ample of his predecessor, as to indulge himself 
in speculating on questions altogether unsuscep- 
tible of solution. In the present instance, how- 
ever, there cannot, I apprehend, be a doubt, 
that it was the application made by Descartes of 
the old theory of animal spirits, to ex])lain the 
mental phenomena, which led Newton into that 
train of tlunking which served as the ground- 
work of Hartley's Theory of Vibratims. - 

It would be useless to dwell longer on the re- 



' See in particular, the treatise Dc Passionibus, Art. 31. 32. See also Note O. 

' The physiological theory of Descartes, concerning the connection between soul and body, was adopted, together with 
some of his sounder opinions, by a contemporary English philosopher, Mr Smith of Cambridge, whom I had occasion to 
mention in a former note ; and that, for some time after the beginning of the eighteenth century, it continued to afford 
one of the chief subjects of controversy between the two English universities, the Alma of Prior affords incontestable evi- 
dence. Vrom the same poem it appears, how much the reveries of Descartes .about the sent qfihe soul, contributed to wean 
the wits of Cambridge from their former attachment to the still more incomprehensible pneumatology of the schoolmen. 

Here Matthew said, 

Alma in verse, in prose the mind 

By Aristotle's pen defin'd. 

Throughout the body squat or tall, ' 

Is, bonafidr, all in all. 

And yet, slap-dash, is all again 

In every sinew, nerve, and vein ; 

Runs liere and there like Hamlet's Ghost, 

While everywhere she rules the roast- 
This system, llichard, we are told. 

The men of Oxford firmly hold ; 

The Cambridge wits, you know, deny 

With ipse di.ril to comply. 

They say, (for in good truth they speak 

With small respect of that old Circck) 

That putting all his words together, 

'Tis three blue beans in one blue bladder. 



70 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



veries of ;i pliilosopher, much better known to 
the learned of the present age by the boldness 
of his exploded errors, than by the profound and 
important truths contained in his works. At 
the period when he appeared, it may perhaps be 
questioned, whether the truths which he taught, 
or the errors into which he fell, were most in- 
structive to the world. The controversies pro- 
voked by the latter had certainly a more imme- 
diate and j)alpable effect in awakening a general 
spirit of free inquiry. To this consideration 
may be added an ingenious and not altogether 
unsound remark of D'Alembert, that " when 
absurd opinions are become inveterate, it is 
sometimes necessary to replace tliem by other 
errors, if nothing better can be done. Such (he 
continues) are the uncertainty and the vanity of 
the human mind, that it has always need of an 
opinion on which it may lean ; it is a child to 
wliom a play-thing must occasionally be present- 
ed, in order to get out of its hands a mischie- 
vous weapon ; the play-thing will soon be aban- 
doned, when the light of reason begins to dawn. ' 

Among the opponents of Descartes, Gassendi 
was one of the earliest, and by far the most for- 
midable. No two philosophers were ever more 
strongly contrasted, both in point of talents and 
of temper ; the former as far superior to the 
latter in originality of genius — ^in powers of con- 
centrated attention to the phenomena of the in- 
ternal world — in classical taste — in moral sensi- 
bility, and in all the rarer gifts of the mind, as 
he fell short of him in erudition — in industry as 
a book-maker — in the justness of his logical 
■vnews, so far as the phenomena of the material 
universe are concerned — and, in general, in 
those literary qualities and attainments, of which 
the bulk of mankind either are, or think them- 
selves best qualified to form an estimate. Tlie 
reputation of Gassendi, accordingly, seems to 



have been at its height in liis own lifetime ; that 
of Descartes made but little progress, till a con- 
siderable time after his death. 

The comparative justness of Gassendi's ^dews 
in natural philosophy may be partly, perhaps 
chiefly, ascribed to his diligent study of Bacon's 
works ; which Descartes (if he ever read them), 
has nowhere alluded to in his writings. This 
extraordinary circumstance in the character of 
Descartes is the more unaccountable, that not 
only Gassendi, but some of his other corre- 
spondents, repeatedly speak of Bacon in terms 
which one should think could scarcely have fail- 
ed to induce him to satisfy his own mind whe- 
ther their encomiums were well or ill founded. 
One of these, while he contents himself, from 
very obvious feelings of delicacy, with mention- 
ing the Chancellor of England as the person 
who, before the time of Descartes, had entertained 
the justest notions about the method of prose- 
cuting physical inquiries, takes occasion, in the 
same letter, to present him, in the form of a 
i'riendly admonition from himself, with the fol- 
lowing admirable summary of the instauraUo 
magna. " To aU this it must be added, that no 
architect, however skilful, can raise an edifice, 
unless he be pro^'ided with proper materials. In 
like manner, your method, supposing it to be 
perfect, can never advance you a single step in 
the explanation of natural causes, imless you are 
in possession of the facts necessary for determin- 
ing their eflfects. They who, without stirring 
from their libraries, attempt to discourse con- 
cerning the works of nature, may indeed tell us 
what sort of world they would have made, if 
God had committed that task to then- ingenuity ; 
but, without a wisdom truly di^dne, it is impos- 
sible for them to form an idea of the universe, 
at all approaching to that in the mind of its 
Creator. And, although your method promises 
everything that can be expected from human 



Alma they strenuously maintain. 
Sits cock-horse on her throne the brain. 
And fi-om that seat of thought dispenses 
Her sovereign pleasure to the senses, &c. &c. 

The whole poem, from beginning to end, is one continued piece of ridicule upon the various hypotheses of physiologists 
concerning the nature of the communication between soul and body. The amusing contrast between the solemn absurdity 
of these disputes, and the light pleasantry of the excursions to which they lead the fancy of the poet, constitutes the prin- 
cipal charm of tliis performance; by far the most original and characteiistical of all Prior's Works. 

■ See Note P. 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



71 



genius, it does not, therefoi'e, lay any claim to 
the art of divination ; but only boasts of dedu- 
cing from the assumed data, all the truths 
which follow from them as legitimate conse- 
quences ; which data can, in physics, be nothing 
else but principles pre^aously established by ex- 
periment."' In Gassendi's controversies with 
Descartes, the name of Bacon seems to be studi- 
ously introduced on various occasions, in a man- 
ner still better calculated to excite the curiosity 
of his antagonist ; and in his historical re\4ew 
of logical systems, the heroical attempt which 
gave birth to the Novum Organon is made the sub- 
ject of a separate chapter, immediately preced- 
ing that which relates to the Metaphysical Medi- 
tations of Descartes. 

The partialitj' of Gussendi for the Epicurean 
physics, if not originally imbibed from Bacon, 
must have been powerfully encouraged by the 
favourable terms in which he always mentions 
the Atomic or Corpuscular theory. In its con- 
formity to that luminous simplicity which every- 
where characterises the operations of nature, 
this theory certainly possesses a decided superio- 
rity over all the other conjectures of the ancient 
philosophers concerning the material universe ; 
and it reflects no small honour on the sagacity 
both of Bacon and of Gassendi, to have perceiv- 
ed so clearly the strong analogical presumption 
which this conformity afforded in its favour, 
prior to the unexpected lustre thrown upon it by 
the researches of the Newtonian school. With 
all his admiration, however, of the Epicurean 
physics. Bacon nowhere shows the slightest 
leaning towards tlie metaphysical or ethical doc- 
trines of the same sect ; but, on the contrary, 
considered (and, I apprehend, rightly consider- 
ed) the atomic theory as incomparably more hos- 
tile to atheism, than the hj'pothesis of four 
mutable elements, and of one immutable fifth 
essence. In this last opinion, there is every 
reason to believe that Gassendi fully concurred ; 
more especially, as he was a zealous advocate for 
the investigation oi final catises, even in inquiries 
strictly pliysical. At the same time, it cannot be 
denied, tliat, o7i many questions, both of Metaphy- 



sics and of Ethics, this very learned theologian 
(one of the most orthodox, professedly, of whom 
the Catholic church has to boast), earned his 
veneration for the authority of Epicurus to a de- 
gree bordering on weakness and serrility ; and 
although, on such occasions, he is at the utmost 
pains to guard his readers against the dangerous 
conclusions commonly ascribed to his master, he 
has nevertheless retained more than enough of 
his system, to give a plausible colour to a very 
general suspicion, that he secretly adopted more 
of it than he chose to avow. 

As Gassendi's attachment to the physical doc- 
trines of Epicurus, predisposed him to give an 
easier reception than he might otherwise have 
done to his opinions in Metaphysics and in 
Ethics, so his unqualified contempt for the hy- 
pothesis of the Vortices seems to have created 
in bis mind an undue prejudice against the spe- 
culations of Descartes on all other subjects. His 
objections to the argument by which Descartes 
has so triumphantly established the distinction 
between Mind and Matter, as separate and he- 
terogeneous objects of human knowledge, must 
now appear, to every person capable of forming 
a judgment upon the question, altogether frivo- 
lous and puerile ; amounting to nothing more 
than this, that all our knowledge is received by 
the channel of the external senses, — insomuch, 
that there is not a single object of the under- 
standing which may not be idtimately analysed 
into sensible images ; and, of consequence, that 
when Descartes proposed to abstract from these 
images in studying the mind, he rejected the 
only materials out of which it is possible for our 
faculties to rear any superstructure. Tlie sum 
of the whole matter is (to use his own language), 
that " there is no real distinction between //««- 
gination and intellection ; meaning, by the former 
of these words, the power \\hich tlie mind pos- 
sesses of rejiresenting to itself the material ob- 
jects and qualities it has previously perceived. 
It is evident, that this conclusion coincides ex- 
actly with the tenets inculcated in England at 
the same period by his friend Ilobbcs," jis well 
as with those re\'ived at a later period by Dide- 



' See the first Epistle to Descartes, prefixed to his Treatise on the Passions. Amstcl. 10«4. 
' The affection of Gassendi for Hobbes, and his psteem for his writings, arc mentioned in 



cry strong tenns by Sor- 



72 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



rot, Home Tooke, and many other writers, both 
French and English, who, while they were only 
repeating the exploded dogmas of Epicurus, 
fancied they were pursuing, with miraculous 
success, the new path struck out by the genius 
of Locke. 

It is worthy of remark, that the argument em- 
ployed by Gassendi against Descartes, is copied 
almost verbatim from his own version of the ac- 
count given by Diogenes Laertms of the sources 
of our knowledge, according to the principles of 
the Epicurean pliilosophy:^ — so very little is 
there of novelty in the consequences deduced 
by modern materialists from the scholastic pro- 
position. Nihil est in inteUectu quod nonfuit prius 
in sensu. The same doctrine is very concisely 
and explicitly stated in a maxim formerly quot- 
ed from Montaigne, that " the senses are the 
beginning and end of all our knowledge;" — a 
maxim which Montaigne learned from his oracle 
Raymond de Sebonde ; which, by the present 
race of French philosophers, is almost univer- 
sally supposed to be sanctioned by the autliority 
of Locke; and which, if true, would at once 
cut up by the roots, not only all metaphysics, 
but all ethics, and all religion, both natural and 
revealed. It is accordingly with this very maxim 
tliat Madame du Deffand (in a letter which ri- 
vals anytliing that the fancy of Moliere has con- 
ceived in his Femmes Savantes) assails Voltaire 
for his imbecility in attempting a reply to an 
atheistical book then recently published. In 
justice to this celebrated lady, I sliall transcribe 
part of it in her own words, as a precious and 
authentic document of the philosophical tone af- 
fected by the higher orders in France, during 
the reign of Louis XV. 

" J'entends parler d'une refutation d'un cer- 



tain li\Te (Syst^me de la Nature). Je voudrois 
I'avoir. Je m'en tiens a connoitre ce livre par 
vous. Toutes refutations de systeme doivent 
etre bonnes, surtout quand c'est vous qui les 
faites. Mais, mon cher Voltaire, ne vous en- 
nuyez-vous pas de tons les raisonnemens meta- 
physiques sur les matieres inintelligibles. Peut- 
on donner des idees, ou peut-on en admettre dauires 
que celles que nous refevons par nos sens ?" — If 
the Senses be t/ie beginning and end of all our 
knowledge, the inference here pointed at is 
quite irresistible.* 

A learned and profound writer has lately 
complained of the injustice done by the present 
age to Gassendi; in whose works, he asserts, 
may be found the whole of the doctrine com- 
monly ascribed to Locke concerning the origin 
of our knowledge.' The remark is certainly 
just, if restricted to Locke's doctrine as inter- 
preted by the greater part of philosophers on 
the Continent ; but it is very wide of the truth, 
if applied to it as now explained and modifietl 
by the most intelligent of his disciples in this 
country. The main scope, indeed, of Gassendi's 
argument against Descartes, is to materialise 
that class of our ideas which the Loekists as 
well as the Cartesians consider as the exclusive 
objects of the power of reflection ; and to show 
that these ideas are all ultimately resolvable into 
images or conceptions borrowed from things ex- 
ternal. It is not, therefore, what is sound and 
valuable in this part of Locke's system, but the 
errors gi'afted on it in the comments of some of 
his followers, that can justly be said to have 
been borrowed from Gassendi. Nor has Gassendi 
the merit of originality, even in these errors ; 
for scarcely a remark on the subject occurs in 
his works, but what is copied from the accounts 



biere. " Tliomas Hobbiiis Gassendo charissimus, ciijus libelliim De Corforc paucis ante obitum niensibus accipiens, oscu- 
latus est, subjungens, mole qnidcm parvus est iste liber, rcrutn lo'iis, ut opiiior, medulla seatet .'" — (Sohbekii Pref.) Gassendi's 
admiration of Hobbes' Treatise De Che, was equally warm ; as we learn from a letter of his to Sorbiere, prefixed to that 
work. 

' Compare Gassendi Opera, Tom. III. p. 300, 301 ; and Tom. V. p. 12. 

- Notwithstanding the evidence (according to my judgment) of this conclusion, I trust it wiU not be supposed that I im- 
pute the slightest bias in its favour to the gener.Jitv of those who have adopted the premises. If an author is to he held 
cliargeable with all the consequences logically deducible from his opinions, who can hope to escape censure ? And, in the 
present instance, how few are there among Montaigne's disciples, who have ever reflected for a moment on the real mean- 
ing and import of the proverbial maxim in question ! 

^ Gassendi fnt le pre'mier auteur de la nouvelle philosophie de I'esprit humain ; car il est terns de lui rendre, a cet e'gard, 
une justice qu'il u'a presque jamais obtenue de ses propres compatriotes. II est tres singulier en eflTet, qu'en parlant de 
la nouvelle philosophie de I'esprit humain, nous disions toujours, la philosophie dc Locke. D'Alembert et Condillac ont au- 

torise cette expression, en rapportant I'un et I'autre a Locke exclusivement la gloire de cette invention, &c. &c Dege- 

BAXDO, Hist. Comp. dcs Systimes, Tome 1. p. 30L 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



73 



transmitted to us of the Epicurean metapby- 
eics. 

Unfortunately for Descartes, while he so clear- 
ly perceived that the origin of those ideas which 
are the most interesting to human happiness, 
could not be traced to oui" external senses, he 
had the weakness, instead of stating this funda- 
mental proposition in plain and precise terms, 
to attempt an explanation of it by the extrava- 
gant hypothesis of innate ideas. This hypothesis 
gave Gassendi great advantages over him, in the 
management of their controve«sy; while the 
subsequent adoption of Gassendi's reasonings 
against it by Locke, has led to a very general 
but ill-founded Ijelief, that the latter, as well as 
the former, rejected, along with the doctrine of 
innate ideas, the various important and well- 
ascertained truths combined with it in the Car- 
te^n system.' 

Tlie hypothetical language afterwards intro- 
duced by Leibnitz concerning tlie human soul 
( which he sometimes calls a living mirror of t/ie 
universe, and sometimes supposes to contain 
within itself the seeds of that knowledge which 
is gradually unfolded in the progressive exercise 
of its faculties), is another impotent attempt to 
explain a mystery unfathomable by human rea- 
son. The same remark may be extended to 
some of Plato's reveries on this question, more 
particularly to his supposition, that those ideas 
which cannot be traced to any of our external 
senses, were acquired by the soul in its state of 
pre-existence. In all of these theories, as well 
as in that of Descartes, the cardinal truth is as- 
sumed as indisputable, that the Senses are not 
the only sources of human knowledge ; nor is 
any thing wanting to render them correctly lo- 
gical, but the statement of this truth as an ulti- 
mate fact (or at least as a fact hitherto imex- 
plained) in our intellectual frame. 

It is very justly observed by Mr Hume, with 
respect to Sir Isaac Newton, that " wliile he 
seemed to draw off the veil from some of the 
mysteries of nature, he showed, at the same 
time, the imperfections of the mechanical philo- 
sophy, and thereby restored her ultimate secrets 



to that obscurity in which they ever did, and 
ever vstII remain."* 'When the justness of this 
remark shall be as universally acknowledged in 
the science of Mind as it now is in Natural Phi- 
losophy, we may reasonably expect that an end 
win be put to those idle controversies which 
have so long diverted the attention of metaphy-. 
sicians from the proper objects of their studies. 

The text of Scripture, prefixed by Dr Reid as 
a motto to his Inquiry, conveys, in a few words, 
the result of his own modest and truly philoso- 
phical speculations on the origin of our know- 
ledge, and expresses this result in terms strictly 
analogous to those in which Newton speaks of 
the law of gravitation : — " The inspiration of the 
AlmigJity hath given Utem understanding." Let 
our researches concerning the developement 
of Mind, and the occasions on which its various 
notions are fii'st formed, be carried back ever so 
far towards the commencement of its history, in 
this humble confession of human ignorance they 
must terminate at last. 

I have dwelt thus long on the writings of 
Gassendi, much less from my own idea of their 
merits, than out of respect to an author, in 
whose footsteps Locke has frequently conde- 
scended to tread. Tlie epigrammatic encomium 
bestowed on him by Gibbon, who calls him, 
" le meilleur phdosophe des litterateurs, et le 
meUleur litterateur des philosophes," appears to 
me quite extravagant.' His learning, indeed, 
was at once vast and accurate ; and, as a philo- 
sopher he is justly entitled to the praise of being 
one of the first who entered thoroughly into the 
spirit of the Baconian logic. But his inventive 
powers, which were probably not of the highest 
order, seem to have been either dissipated amidst 
the multiplicity of his literary pursuits, or laid 
asleep by his indefatigable labours as a com- 
mentator and a compiler. From a writer of 
this class, new lights were not to be expected 
in the study of the human Mind ; and accord- 
ingly, here he has done little or nothing, but to 
revive and to repeat over the doctrines of the 
old Epicureans. His works amount to six 
large volumes in folio ; but the substance of 



» See Note Q. 
DISS. I. PART 1. 



' History of Great Britain, chap. Ixxi. 



£s!ai tiir P Elude dc la Litterature. 



74 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



them might he compressed into a much smaller 
compass, without any diminution of their value. 
In one respect Gassendi had certainly- a great 
advantage over his antagonist, — the good humour 
which never forsook him in the lieat of a pliiloso- 
phical argument. The comparative indifference 
with which he regarded most of the points at 
issue between them, was perhaps the chief cause 
of that command of temper so uniformly dis- 
played in all his controversies, and so remarkably 
contrasted with the constitutional irritability of 
Descartes. Even the faith of Gassendi in his 
own favourite master, Epicurus, does not seem 
to have been very strong or dogmatical, if it be 
true that he was accustomed to allege, as the 
chief giound of his preferring the Epicurean 
physics to the theory of the Vortices, " that 
chimei'a for chimera, he could not help feeling 
some partiality for that which was two thousand 
years older than the other."* 

About twenty years after the death of Gassendi 
(who did not long sur\'ive Descartes), Male- 
branche entered upon his philosophical career. 
The earlier part of his life had, by the ad^^ce of 
some of his preceptors, been devoted to the 
study of ecclesiastical history, and of the learn- 
ed languages ; for neither of which pui'suits does 
he seem to have felt that marked predilection 
which afforded any promise of future eminence. 
At length, in the twenty-fifth year of his age, 
he accidentally met with Descartes' Treatise on 
Man, which opened to liim at once a new world, 
and awakened him to a consciousness of powers, 
till then unsuspected either by himself or by 
others. Fontenelle has given a lively picture of 
the enthusiastic ardour with which Malebranche 
first read this performance ; and describes its 
effects on his nervous system as sometimes so 
great, that he was forced to lay aside the book 
till the palpitation of his heart had subsided. 

It was only ten years after tliis occurrence 



when he published TJie Search after Truth ; a 
work which, whatever judgment may now be 
passed on its philosophical merits, will always 
form an interesting study to readers of taste, and 
a useful one to students of human nature. Few 
books can l)e mentioned, combining, in so great 
a degree, the iitmost depth and abstraction of 
thought, with the most pleasing sallies of ima^- 
nation and eloquence; and none, where they 
who delight in the observation of intellectual 
character may find more ample illustrations, 
both of the strength and weakness of the human 
understanding. It is a singular feature in the 
liistory of Malebranche, that, notwithstanding the 
poetical colouring which adds so much animation 
and gi"ace to his style, he never could read, 
without disgust, a page of the finest verses ; * 
and that, although Imagination was manifestly 
the predominant ingi-edient in the composition 
of his own genius, the most elaborate passages 
in his works are those where he inveighs against 
this treacherous faculty, as the prolific parent of 
our most fatal delusions.' 

In addition to the errors, more or less incident 
to all men, from the unresisted sway of imagina- 
tion during the infancy of reason, Malebranche 
had, in his own case, to struggle with all the 
prejudices connected with the peculiar dogmas 
of the Roman Catholic faitli. Unfortunately, 
too, he everywhere discovers a strong disposi- 
tion to blend his theology and his metaphysics 
together ; availing himself of the one as an auxi- 
liary to the other, wherever in either science 
his ingenuity fails him in establishing a favourite 
conclusion. To this cause is chiefly to be as- 
cribed the little attention now paid to a writer 
formerly so universally admired, and, in point 
of fact, the indisputable author of some of the 
most refined speculations claimed by the theo- 
rists of the eighteenth century. As for those 
mystical controversies about Grace ■with An- 
thony Arnauld, on which he wasted so much of 



' See Note U. 

= Bayle — Fontenelle — D'Alembert. 

' In one of his arguments on this head, Malebranche refers to the remarks previously made on the same subject by an 
English philosopher, who, like himself, has more than once taken occasion, while warning his readers against the undue in- 
fluence of imagination over the judgment, to exemplify the boundless fertility and originaUty of his own. The following 
allusion of Bacon's, quoted by Malebranche, is eminently apposite and happy : — " Omnes perceptiones tam sensus quam 
mentis sunt ex analogia hominis, non ex analogia universi : JEstque intellectus humanus instar speculi inoequalis ad radios 
rerum, qui suam naturam naturse rerum immiscet, eamque distorquet et inficit. 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



/O 



his genius, they have long sunk into utter obli- 
vion ; nor should I have here revived the recol- 
lection of them, were it not for the authentic 
record they furnish of the passive bondage in 
which, little more tlian a hundred years ago, 
two of the most powerful minds of that memor- 
able period were held by a creed, renounced at 
the Reformation by all tlie Protestant countries 
of Europe, and the fruitful source, wherever it 
has been retained, of other prejudices, not less 
to be lamented, of an opposite description. ^ 

When jNIalebranche touches on questions not 
positively decided by the church, he exhibits a 
remarkable boldness and freedom of inquiry ; 
setting at nought those human authorities which 
have so much weight with men of unenlighten- 
ed erudition ; and sturdily opposing his own 
reason to the most inveterate prejudices of his 
age. His disbelief in the reality of sorcery, 
which, although cautiously expressed, seems to 
have been complete, affords a decisive proof of 
the soundness of his judgment, where he con- 
ceived himself to have any latitude in exercising 
it. The following sentences contain more good 
sense on the subject, than I recollect in any 
contemporary author. I shall quote them, as 
well as the other passages I may afterwards ex- 
tract from his writings, in his own words, to 
which it is seldom possible to do justice in an 
English version. 

" Les hommes mcme les plus sages se con- 
duisent plntot par I'imagination des autres, je 
veux dire par I'opinion et par la coutume, que 
par les regies de la raison. Ainsi dans les lieux 
ou Ton brule les sorciers, on ne voit autre chose, 
parce que dans les lieux ou Ton les condamne au 
feu, on croit vcritahlement qu'ils Ic sont, et cette 
croyance se fortifie par les discours qu'on en 
tient. Que I'on cesse de les punir, et qu'on les 



traite comme des fous, et Ton verra qu'avec le 
tems ils ne seront plus sorciers ; parce que ceux 
qui ne le sont que par imagination, qui font 
certainement le plus grand nombre, deviendront 
comme les autres hommes. 

" C'est done avec raison que plusieurs Parle- 
mens ne punissent point les sorciers : ils s'en 
trouve beaucoup moins dans les terres de leur 
ressort : Et I'enAde, et la malice des mechans ne 
peuvent se servir de ce pretexte pour accabler 
les innocens." 

How strikingly has the sagacity of these an- 
ticipations and reflections been verified, by the 
subsequent history of this popular superstition 
in our own country, and indeed in every other 
instance where the experiment recommended by 
Malebranche has been tried ! Of this sagacity 
much must, no doubt, be ascribed to the native 
\4gour of a mind struggling against and control- 
ling early prejudices ; but it must not be for- 
gotten, that, notwithstanding his retired and 
monastic life, Malebranche had breathed the 
same air with the associates and friends of Des- 
cartes and of Gassendi ; and that no philosopher 
seems ever to have been more deeply impressed 
with the truth of that golden maxim of Mon- 
taigne — " n est bon de frotter et limer notre 
cervelle centre celle d'autrui." 

Another feature in the intellectual character 
of Malebranche, presenting an unexpected con- 
trast to his powers of abstract meditation, is the 
attentive and discriminating eye with which he 
appears to have surveyed the habits and man- 
ners of the comparatively little circle around 
him; and the delicate yet expressive touches 
with which he has marked and defined some of 
the nicest shades and varieties of genius. ' To 
this branch of the Philosophy of Mind, not cer- 
tainly the least important and interesting, he 



' Of this disposition to blend theological dogmas with philosophical discussions, JIalebranche was so little conscious in 
himself, that he seriously warned his readers against it, by quoting an aphorism of Bacon's, peculiarly applicable to his own 
writings: — Es divinorum et hunianorum malesana admixtione non solum educitur philosophia phantastica, sed etiam reh- 
gio hteretica. Itaque salutare admodum est si niente sobria fidei tantum dentur quse fidei sunt." In transcribing these 
words, it is amusing to observe, that ^lalebranche has slily suppressed the name of the author from whom they are bor- 
rowed ; manifestly from an unwillingness to weaken their effect, by the suspicious authority of a philosopher not in com- 
munion with the Church of Kome Recherche lic la Viritc^ lAv. ii. chap. ix. 

Dr Reid, proceeding on the supposition that Jfalebranchc was a Jesuit, has ascribed to the antipathy between this order 
and the Janscnists, the warmth displayed on both sides, in his disputes with Arnauld CEssaiis cm the Inlell. Po-^ers. p. 124.) : 
but the fact is, that .Malebranche belonged to the Congregation of the Oratory ; a society much more nearly allied to the 
.Tansenists than to the Jesuits; and honourably distinguished, since its first origin, by the moderation as well as learning 
of its members. 

' See, among other passages, Recherche Je la Virile, Liv. ii. chap. ix. 



76 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



has contributed a greater number of original re- who believed that 1>£ saw all things in God. 

marks than Locke himself;^ since whose time, Who would suppose that the following para- 

with the single exception of Helvetius, hardly graph forms part of a profound argument on 

any attention has been paid to it, either by the influence of the external senses over the hu- 

French or English metaphysicians. The same man intellect ? 

practical knowledge of the human understand- " Si, par exemple, celui qui parle s'enonce 

ing, modified and diversified, as we everywhere avee facilite, s'il garde une mesure agreable dans 

see it, by education and external circumstances, ses periodes, s'U a I'au- d'un honnete homme et 

is occasionally discovered by his very able anta- d'un homme d' esprit, si c'est ime personne de 

gonist Arnauld ; affording, in both cases, a sa- qualite, s'Q est suivi d'un grand train, s'il parle 

tisfactory proof, that the narrowest field of ex- avec autorite et avec gravite, si les autres 

perience may disclose to a superior mind those I'ecoutent avec respect et in silence, s'il a 

refined and comprehensive results, which com- quelque reputation, et quelque commerce avec 

mon observers are forced to collect from an ex- les esprits du premier ordi-e, enfin, s'il est assez 

tensive and varied commerce mth the world. heureux pour plaire, ou pour etre cstime, il aura 

In some of Malebranche's incidental strictures raison dans tout ce qu'U avancera ; et U n'y 

on men and manners, there is a lightness of aura pas jusqu'a son collet et a ses manchettes, 

style and fineness of tact, which one would qui ne prouvent quelque chose."' 

scarcely have expected from the mystical divine. In liis philosophical capacity, Malebranche is 



' In one of Locke's most noted remarks of this sort, he has been anticipated by Malebranche, on whose clear 
yet concise statement he does not seem to have thrown much new light by his very diffuse and wordy commentary. 
" If in having our ideas in the memory ready at hr-.nd, consists quickness of parts ; in this of having them unconfuaed, 
and being able nicely to distinguish one thing from another, where there is but the least difference, consists, in a great 
measure, the exactness of judgment and clearness of reason, which is to be observed in one man above another. And 
hence, perhaps, may be given some reason of that common observation, that men who have a great deal of wit, and prompt 
memories, have not always the clearest judgment, or deepest reason. For ^^'it, lying most in the assemblage of ideas, 
and putting those together with quickness and variety, -.oliercin can be found any resemblance or congruity, thereby to make 
up pleasant pictures, and agreeable visions in the iancy ; Judgment, on the contrary, lies quite on the other side, in se- 
parating carefully, one from another, ideas icherc'in can be found the least difference, Clierehij to avoid being misled by simi- 
litude, and by affinity to take one thing for another." — Essay, rfj-c. B. ii. c. xi. g 2. 

" II y a done des esprits de deux sortes. Les una remarquent aise'ment les differences des choses, et ce sont les bona 
esprits. Les autres imaginent et supposent de la ressemblauce entr'elles, et ce sont les esprits superficiels." — Rech. de la 
Verite, Liv. ii. Seconde Pariie, chap. ix. 

At a still earlier period, Bacon had pointed out the same cardinal distinction in the intellectual characters of 
individuals. 

" ]\Iaximum et velut radicale discrimen ingeniorum, quoad philosophiam ct scientias, illud est ; quod alia ingenia sint 
fortiora et aptiora ad notandas rerum ditfcrentias ; alia, ad notandas rerum similitudines. Ingenia enim constantia et acuta, 
figere contemplationes, et morari, et hoerere in omni subtilitate diiFerentiarum possunt. Ingenia autem sublimia, et dis- 
cursiva, etiam tenuissimas et catholicas rerum similitudines et cognoscunt, et componunt. Utrumque autem ingenium 
facile labitur in excessum, prensando aut gradus rerum, aut umbras." 

Tliat stiaii! J heard was of a higher mood ! It is evident, that Bacon has here seized, in its most general form, the very 
important truth perceived by his two ingenious successors in particular cases. Wit, which Locke contrasts vi'iih judgment, 
is only one of the various talents connected with wliat Bacon calls the discursive genius ; and indeed, a talent very subor- 
dinate in dignity to most of the others. 

= I shall indulge myself only in one other citation from iMalebranche, which I select partly on account of the curious 
extract it contains fi-om an Knglish publication long since forgotten in this country ; and partly as a proof that this learn- 
ed and pious father was not altogether insensible to the ludicrous. 

" Un illustre entre les Scjavans, qui a fonde des chaires de Geometrie et d'Astronomie dans I'Universit^ d'Oxford,* 
commence un livre, qu'il s'est avise de faire sur les huit premieres propositions d'JJuclide, par ces paroles : Consilium nicum est, 
auditores, si vires ct valeludo suffeccrint, explicare dejimtioncs, peiitiones, communes sentcntias, cl octo priorcs propositioncs primi libri 
Mkmentorum, cectera post me venientibus rclinquere : et il le finit par celles-ci : Exsolvi per Dei gratiam, Domini auditores, pro- 
missum, liberavi Jidem mcam, cxplicavi pro modulo mco definitiones, pctitioncs, communes sentcntias, cl octo priorcs propositioncs Ele. 
mentorum Euelidis. Hie annisfcssus ci/clos artemque rcpono, Succedeni in hoc munus alii fortasse magis vcgcto corporc ct lizido 
ingenio. II ne faut pas une heure a un esprit mediocre, pour apprendre par lui-niLme, ou par le secours du plus petit geo- 
metrie qu'il y ait, les definitions, demandes, axiomes, et les huit premieres propositions d'Euclide : et voici un auteur qui 
parle de cette entreprise, comme de quelque chose de fort grand et de fort difficile. II a peur que les forces lui manquent : 
Si vires et valctudo sujfecerint. II laisse a ses successeurs a pousser ces choses : camera post mc vcnicniiius rclinquere. II remercie 
Dieu de ce que, par une grace particuliere, il a execute ce qu'il avoit proniis : cxsohi per Dei pratiam promissum, liberavi fdem 
meam, explicavi pro modulo mco. Quoi ? la quadrature du cercle ? la duplication ducube? Ce grande homme a explique 
pro modulo suo, les definitions, les demandes, les axiomes, et les huit premieres propositions du premier livre des Elemcns 

• Sir Henry Savile. The work here referred to is a 4to volume, entitled, Prclectioncs xiii. in Principium Elcmeniorum 
Euelidis, Oxoniae habitcc, anno 1620. 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



77 



to be considered in two points of view : 1. As a 
commentator on Descartes; and, 2. As the 
author of some conclusions from the CiU'tesian 
principles, not perceived or not avowed by Hs 
predecessors of the same school. 

I. I have already taken notice of Malebranche's 
comments on the Cartesian doctrine concerning 
the seiisibk, or, as they are now more commonly 
called, the secondary qualities of matter. The 
same fulness and happiness of illustration are 
evervAvhere else to be found in his elucidations 
of his master's system ; to the popularity of which 
he certainly contributed greatly by the liveliness 
of his fancy, and the charms of his composition. 
Even in this part of his writings, he always pre- 
serves the air of an original thinker ; and, while 
pursuing the same path with Descartes, seems 
rather to have accidentally struck into it from 
his own casual choice, than to have selected it 
out of any deference for the judgment of another. 
Perhaps it may be doubted, if it is not on such 
occasions that the inventive powers of his genius, 
by being somewhat restrained and guided in 
their aim, are most vigorously and most useful- 
ly displayed. 

In confirmation of this last remark, I shall 



only mention, by way of examples, his com- 
ments on the Cartesian theory of Vision, — more 
especially on that part of it which relates to our 
experimental estimates of the distances and 
magnitudes of objects ; and his admirable illus- 
tration of the errors to which we are liable from 
the illusions of sense, of imagination, and of the 
passions. In his physiological reveries on the 
union of soul and body, he wanders, like his 
master, in the dark, from the total want of facts 
as a foundation for liis reasonings ; but even 
here his genius has had no inconsiderable in- 
fluence on the inquiries of later WTiters. The 
fundamental principle of Hartley is most expli- 
citly stated in Tlie Search after Truth ;^ as well 
as a hypothesis concerning the nature of habits, 
which, rash and unwarranted as it must now 
appear to every novice in science, was not 
thought unworthy of adoption in The Essay on 
Human Understanding. ^ 

2. Among the opinions which chiefly charac- 
terise the system of Malebranche, the leading 
one is, that the causes which it is the aim of 
philosophy to investigate are only occasional 
catcses ; and that the Deity is himself the effi- 
cient and immediate cause of every efitct in the 



d'Euclide. Peut-etre qu'entre ceux qui lui suceederont, il s'en trouvera qui auront plus de sant^, et plus de force que lui 
pour continucr ce bel ouvrage : Succedent in hoc mitnus alii foutasse rnagis wgcio corpore et viiido ingcnio. ^lais pour lui 
il est tcms qii*il se repose; hie anitis ft-ssus cijclos nrtcmquc rfpono" 

After rcaclin;; the above passage, it is impossible to avoid rctlecting, with satisfaction, on the effect which the progress of 
philosophy has since hail, in removing those obstacles to the acquisition of useful knowledge, which were created by the 
jjedanf ic taste prevalent two centuries ago. What a contrast to a quarto commentary on the definitions, postulates, axioms, 
and first eight projjositions of Kuclid's I'irst Book, is presented by Condorcet's estimate of the time now sufficient to con- 
duct a student to the higliest branches of iNIathomatics ! " Dans le siecle dernier, il suffisoit de quelques annces d'etude 
pour savoir tout ce qu'Archimede et Ilipparque avoient pu connoitre ; et aujourd'hui deux ann^es de I'enseignement 
d'un professcur vont au dcla de ce que savoient Leibnitz ou Newton." — ( Sur I'lnstruction Publiquc.) In this particular 
science, I am aware that much is to be ascribed to the subsequent invention of new and more general methods ; but, 
I apprehend, not a little also to the improvements gradually suggested by experience, in what Bacon calls the traditivc part 
of logic. 

' "• Toutcs nos diffcrcntes perceptions sont attachees aux dilTerens changemens qui arrivent dans Ics fibres de la partie 
principale du cerveau dans laquelle Tame reside plus particulieiement." — (Rcch. de la Firiti; Liv. ii. chaj). v.) These 
changes in tlie fibres of the brain are commonly called by IMalebranche ibranh-mens ; — a word wliich is frequently rendered 
by his old English translator (Taylor) vibrations. " lia seconde chose," says Malebranche, " qui se trouve dans chacune 
des sensations, est I'tbranlemeni des fibres de nos nerfs, qui se communique jusqu'au cerveau :" tlius translated by Taylor : 
" The second thing that occurs in every sensation is the vibration of the fibres of our nerves, which is communicated to the 
brain." — Liv. i. chap, xii.) Nor was the theory of association overlooked by i\ralebranche. See, in particular, the third 
chapter of his second book, entitled, De la liaison mutuclle des idiet de I'cspril, et des traces du ccri'eau ; et de la liaiion mutuellc 
des traces avcc les traces^ et des idees avec Ics Ulees. 

' " Rfais afin de suivre notre explication, il faut remarquer que les esprits nc trouvent pas toujours les chemins, par oil 
ils doivent passer assez ouverts et assez fibres : et que cela fait qui nous avons de la diffieulte ^ remuer, par exemplc, les 
doigts avec lavitessequi est nccessaire pour jouer des instrumens de musique, ou les muscles qui servcnt Jl la prononciation, 
pour prononcer les mots d'une langue etrangere : jMais que peu-a-peu les esprils animaux par Icnr cours continucl ouvrcnt ct 
applai.issciit ces chemins, en sortequ'avec le terns ils iVy trouvent plus de resistance. Car c'est dans cette fiicilite' que les 
esprits animaux ont de passer dans les menibres de notre corps que consistent les habitudes." — flcc/t. de la Virite, Liv. ii. 
chap. V. 

" Habits seem to be but trains of motion in the animal spirits, which, once set a-going, continue in the same steps they 
have been used to, which, bi/ often treading, arc xeorn into a smooth patli." — Locke, Book ii. chap, xsxiii. §. C. 



78 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



universe. * From this single principle, the greater 
pai't of his distinguishing doctrines may be easily 
deduced, as obvious corollaries. 

That we are completely ignorant of the man- 
ner in which physical causes and effects are con- 
nected, and that all our knowledge concerning 
them amounts merely to a perception of constant 
conjunciimi, bad been before remarked by Hobbes, 
and more fully shown by Glanville in his Scepsis 
Scientifica. Malebranche, however, has treated 
the same argument much more profoundly and 
ably than any of his predecessors, and has, in- 
deed, anticipated Hume in some of the most in- 
genious reasonings contained in his Essay on 
Necessary Connexion. From these data, it was 
not unnatural for his pious mind to conclude, 
that what are commonly called second causes have 
no existence ; and that the Di^ane power, inces- 
santly and universally exerted, is, in truth, the 
connecting link of all the phenomena of nature. 
It is obxdous that, in this conclusion, he went 
farther than his premises warranted; for, al- 
though no necessary connections among pliysical 
events can be traced by our faculties, it does not 
therefore follow that such connections are im- 
possible. The only sound inference was, that 
the laws of nature are to be discovered, not, as 
the ancients supposed, by a priori reasonings 
from causes to effects, but by experience and ob- 
servation. It is but justice to Malebranche to 
own, that he was one of the first who placed in 
a just and strong light this fundamental prin- 
ciple of the inductive logic. 



On the other hand, the objections to the 
theory of occasional causes, chiefly insisted on by 
Malebranche's opponents, were far from satis- 
factory. By some it was alleged, that it ascribed 
every event to a miraculous interposition of the 
Deity ; as if this objection were not directly met 
by the general and constant laws everj-where 
manifested to our senses, — in a departure from 
which laws, the very essence of a miracle con- 
sists. Nor was it more to the purpose to con- 
tend, that the beauty and perfection of the uni- 
verse were degraded by excluding the idea of 
mechanism ; the whole of this argument turning, 
as is manifest, upon an application to Omnipo- 
tence of ideas borrowed from the limited sphere 
of human power. ^ As to the study of natural 
plulosophy, it is plainly not at all affected by the 
hypothesis in question ; as the investigation and 
generalisation of the laws of nature, wliich are 
its only proper objects, present exactly the same 
field to our curiosity, whether we suppose these 
laws to be the immediate effects of the Divine 
agency, or the effects of second causes, placed 
beyond the reach of our faculties.' 

Such, however, were the chief reasonings op- 
posed to Malebranche by Leibnitz, in order to 
prepare the way for the system of Pre-established 
Harmony ; a system more nearly allied to that 
of occasional causes than its author seems to have 
suspected, and encumbered with every solid dif- 
ficulty connected with the other. 

From the theory of occasional causes, it is easy 
to trace the process which led Malebranche to 



' " Afin qu'on ne puisse plus douter de la fausset^ de cette miserable philosophie, il est iK^eessaire de prouver qu'il n'y a 
qu'un vrai l5ieu, parce qu'il n'v a qu'une vraie cause ; que la nature ou la force de chaque chose n'est que la volonte' de 

Bieu : que toutes les causes naturelles ne sont point des v^ritables causes, mais seulement des causes occasionelles De la 

Verite, I.ivre vi. 2de Partie, chap. iii. 

^ This objection, frivolous as it is, was strongly urged bv Mr Boyle (Inquinj into the Vulgar Idea concerning Nature), and 
has been copied from him by JMr Hume, Lord Kaimes, and many other writers. Blr Hume's words are these: — " It ar- 
gues more wisdom to contrive at first the fabric of the world with such perfect foresight, that, of itself, and by its proper 
operation, it may serve all the purposes of Providence, than if the great Creator were obliged every moment to adjust its 
parts, and animate by his breath all the wheels of that stupendous machine." — Essay on the Idea of Necessary Connection, j An 
observation somewhiit similar occurs in the Treatise Dc Mundo, commonly ascribed to Aristotle. 

' In speaking of the theory oi occasional causes, Jlr Hume has committed a historical mistake, which it may be proper to 
rectify. " Malebranche," he observes, and other Cartesians, made the doctrine of the universal and sole efficacy of the 
Deity, the foundation of aU their philosophy. /( had, ho-wevcr, no authority in England. Locke, Clarke, and Cudworth, 
never so much as take notice of it, but suppose all along that matter has a real, though subordinate and derived power." — 
Hume's Essays, Vol. II. p. 475. Edit, of 1/84. 

]\Ir Hume was probably led to connect, in this last sentence, the name of Clarke with those of Locke and Cudworth, by 
taking for granted that his metaphysical opinions agreed exactly with those commonly ascribed to Sir Isaac Newton. In 
fact, on the point now in question, his creed was the same with that of Slalebranche. The following sentence is very 
nearly a translation of a passage already quoted from the latter. " The course of nature, truly and properly speaking, is 
nothing but the will of God producing certaiji effects in a continued, regular, constant, and uniform manner." — Clabee's 
Works',\ol II. p. C98. FoL Ed. 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



79 



conclude, that we see all things in God. The 
same arguments which convinced him, that the 
Deity carries into execution every volition of tlie 
mind, in the movements of the hody, could not 
fail to suggest, as a farther consequence, that 
every perception of the mind is the immediate 
effect of the divine illumination. As to the 
manner in which this illumination is accom- 
plished, the extraordinary hypothesis adopted 
by Malebranche was forced upon him, by the 
opinion then universally held, that the imme- 
diate objects of our perceptions are not things 
external, but their ideas or images. The only 
possible expedient for reconciling these two ar- 
ticles of his creed, was to transfer the seat of 
our ideas from our own minds to that of the 
Creator. * 

In tliis theory of Malebranche, there is un- 
doubtedly, as Bayle has remarked, * an approach 
to some speculations of the latter Platonists; 
but there is a much closer coincidence between 
it and the system of those Hindoo philosophers, 
who, according to Sir William Jones, " believed 
that the whole creation was rather an energy 
than a work ; by which the Infinite Mind, who 
is present at all times, and in all places, exhibits 
to his creatures a set of perceptions, like a won- 
derful picture, or piece of music, always varied, 
yet always uniform."' 

In some of Malebranche's reasonings upon this 
subject, he has struck into the same train of 
thought which was afterwards pursued by Berke- 
ley, an author to whom he bore a very strong 
resemblance in some of the most characteristical 
features of his genius ; and, had he not been 
restrained by religious scruples, he would, in all 
probability, have asserted, not less confidently 
than his successor, that the existence of matter 



was demonstrably inconsistent with the prin- 
ciples then universally admitted by philosophers. 
But this conclusion Malebranche rejects, as not 
reconcileable with the words of Scripture, that 
" in the beginning God created the heavens and 
the earth." " La foi m'apprend que Dieu a 
cree le ciel et la terre. Elle m'apprend que 
I'Ecriture est un livre divin. Et ce livre on son 
apparence me dit nettement et positivement, 
qu'il y a mille et nulle creatures. Done voila 
toutes mes apparences changees en realites. II 
y a des corps ; cela est d^montre en toute ri- 
gueur la foy supposee."* 

In reflecting on the repeated reproduction of 
these, and other ancient paradoxes, by modern 
authors, whom it would be highly unjust to ac- 
cuse of plagiarism ; — still more, in reflecting on 
the affinity of some of our most refined theories 
to the popular belief in a remote quarter of the 
globe, one is almost tempted to suppose, that 
human invention is limited, like a barrel-organ, 
to a specific number of tunes. But is it not a 
fairer inference, that the province of pure Ima- 
gination, unbounded as it may at first appear, is 
narrow, when compared with the regions open- 
ed by truth and nature to our powers of observa- 
tion and reasoning?^ Prior to the time of Bacon, 
the physical systems of the learned performed 
their periodical revolutions in orbits as small as 
the metaphysical h}^otheses of their successors ; 
and yet, who would now set any bounds to our 
curiosity in the study of the material universe ? 
Is it reasonable to think, that the phenomena of 
the intellectual world are less various, or less 
marked ^vith the signatm-es of Divine wisdom ? 

It forms an interesting circumstance in the 
history of the two memorable persons who have 
suggested these remarks, that they had once. 



' Wc are indebted to I^a Haqie for the preservation of an epigrammatic line f«n vers fort plaisant, as he justly calls it), 
on this celebrated hypothesis : " Lni, yiii voit tout en Oku, n'y tjuH-U pas qu'il cslfou ! — C'e'toit au moins," La llarpe adds, 
" un fou qui avoit beaucoup d'esprit." 

' See his Dictionary, article Amclius. 

' Introduction to a Translation of some Hindoo verses. 

* Etitretictts stir la Mltaplnjsique, p. 207. 

The celebrated doubt of Descartes concemin;; all truths but the existence of his own mind (it cannot be too often re- 
peated), was the real source, not only of the inconsistency of JIalebranche on this head, but of the chief metaphysical 
pu:dcs afterwards started by Berkeley and Hume. The illogical transition by which he attempted to pass from this first 
principle to other truths, was early remarked by some of his own followers, who were accordingly led to conclude, that no 
man can have full assurance of any thing but of his own individual existence. If the fundamental doubt of Descartes be admit- 
ted as reasoniible, the conclusion of these jihilosophers (who were distinguished by the name o{ Egoists), is unavoidable. 

' The limited number of fables, of humorous tales, and even of jests, which, it should seem, are in circulation over the 
iace of the globe, might perhaps be alleged as an additional confirmation of this idea. 



80 PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 

and only onct, the pleasure of a short interview, mated very nearly to his own refutation of this 

" The conversation," we are told, " turned on ancient and inveterate prejudice.' A step so 

the non-existence of matter. Malehranche, important would, of itself, be sufficient to esta- 

who had an inflammation in his lungs, and whom blish his claim to a place in literary history ; but 

Berkeley found preparing a medicine in his cell, what chiefly induces me again to bring forward 

and cooking it in a small pipkin, exerted his his name, is the reputation he has so justly ac- 

voice so violently in the heat of their dispute, quired by his treatise, entitled, Hie Art of 

that he increased his disorder, which cairied Tliinhing ;* a treatise written by Amavdd, in 

him off a few days after."' It is impossible not conjunction with his friend Nicole, and of which 

to regret, that of this interview there is no other (considering the time when it appeared) it is 

record ; — or rather, that Berkeley had not made hardly possible to estimate the merits too highly, 

it the groundwork of one of his own dialogues. No publication, certainly, prior to Locke's Essay, 

Fine as his imagination was, it could scarcely can be named, containing so much good sense, 

have added to the picturesque efi'ect of the real and so little nonsense on the science of Logic ; 

scene.* and very few have since appeared on the same 

subject, which can be justly preferred to it, in 
Anthony Arnauld, whom I have already men- point of practical utility. If the author had 
tioned as one of the theological antagonists of lived in the present age, or had been less fetter- 
Malebranche, is also entitled to a distinguished ed by a prudent regard to existing prejudices, 
rank among the French philosophers of this the technical part would probably have been re- 
period. In his book on true and false ideas, writ- duced within a still narrower compass ; but even 
ten in opposition to Malebranche's scheme of there, he has contriA'ed to substitute for the 
cm- seeing all things in God, he is acknowledg- puerile and contemptible examples of common 
ed by Dr Reid to have struck the first mortal logicians, several interesting illustrations from 
hlovf ai ihe idealtheory ; and to have approxi- the physical discoveries of his immediate pre- 



' Biog. Brit. VoL II. p. 251. 

= This interview happened in 1715, when Berkeley was in the thirty-first, and Malobranche in the seventy-seventh 
year of his age. What a change in the state of the philosophical world (whether for the better or worse is a difierent 
question) has taken place in the course of the intervening century ! 

Dr Warburton, who, even when he thinks the most unsoundly, always possesses the rare merit of thinking for himself, 
is one of the very few English authors who have spoken of Jlalebranche with the respect due to his extraordinary talents. 
" All you say of Alalebranche," he observes in a letter to Dr Hurd, " is strictly true ; he is an admirable writer. There 
is something very different in the fortune of JIalebranche and Locke. Wlien Jlalebranche first appeared, it was with a 
general applause and admiration ; when Locke first published his £ssa;/, he had hardly a single approver. Now Locke 
is universal, and JIalebranche sunk into obscurity. All this may be easily accounted for. The intrinsic merit of either 
was out of the question. But Slalebranche supported his first appearance on a philosophy in the highest vogue ; that phi- 
losophy has been overturned by the Newtonian, and jNIalebranche has fallen with his master. It was to no purpose to 
tell the world, that ]\Ialebianche could stand without him. The public never examines so narrowly. Not but that 
there was another cause sufllcient to do the business ; and that is, his debasing his noble work with his system of seeing all 
things in God. When this happens to a great author, one half of his readers out of folly, the other out of malice, dwell 
only'on the unsound part, and forget the other, or use all their arts to have it forgotten. 

" But the sage Locke supported himself by no system on the one hand ; nor, on the other, did he dishonour himself by 
any whimsies. The consequence of which was, that, neither following the fashion, nor striking the imagination, he, at 
first, had neither followers nor admirers ; but being everywhere clear, and everywhere solid, he at length worked Ills way, 
and afterwards was subject to no reverses. He was not adfected by the new fashions in philosophy, who leaned upon none 
of the old ; nor did he afford ground for the after-attacks of envy and folly by any fanciful hyiiotheses, which, when grown 
stale, are the most nauseous of all things." 

The foregoing reflections on the opposite fUes of these two philosophers, do honour on the whole to Warburton's pene- 
tration ; but the unqualified panegyric on Locke will be now very generally allowed to ftirnish an additional example of 
" that national spirit, wliich," according to Hume, " forms the great happiness of the English, and leads them to bestow 
on all their eminent writers such praises and acclamations, as may often appear partial and excessive." 

' The following very concise and accurate sunuiiarv of Arnauld's doctrine concerning ideas, is given by Brucker. " An- 
tonius Arnaldus, ut argumenta JIalebranchii eo fortius everteret, peculiarem sententiam defendit, asseruitque, ideas earum- 
que perceptiones esse unum idemque, et non nisi relationibus difien-e. Ideam scilicet esse, quatenus ad objectum refertur 
quod mens considerat ; perceptionem vero, quatenus ad ipsam mentem quae percipit ; duplicem tamen illam relationem ad 
unam pertinere mentis modificationem." — Hist. Phil, de Jdeis, pp. 24/. 248. Anthony Arnauld farther held, that " Jlate- 
rial things are perceived immediately by the mind, without the intervention o( ideas." — {Hist, dc Ideis, p. 26.) lu this re. 
sped his doctrine coincided exactly with that of Eeid. 

* Hlore commonly known by the name of the Port-Royal Logic. 



I 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



81 



decessors : and has indulged himself in some 
short excursions, which excite a lively regret 
that he had not, more frequently and freely, 
given scope to his original reflections. Among 
these excursions, the most valuable, in my opi- 
nion, is the twentieth chapter of the third part, 
which deserves tlie attention of every logical 
student, as an important and instructive supple- 
ment to the enumeration of sophisms given by 
Aristotle. • 

The soundness of judgment, so eminently 
displayed in the Art of Thinking, forms a curi- 
ous contrast to that passion for tlieological con- 
troversy, and that zeal for what he conceived 
to be the purity of the Faith, which seems to 
hav£ been the ruling passions of the author's 
mind. He lived to the age of eighty-three, con- 
tinuing to write against Malebranche's opinions 
concerning Nature and Grace, to his last hour. 
" He died," says his biographer, " in an obscui'e 
retreat at Brussels, in 1692, without fortune, 
and even without the comfort of a ser\'ant ; he, 
whose nephew liad been a Minister of State, 
and who might himself have been a Cardinal. 
The pleasure of Ijeing able to publish his senti- 
ments, was to him a sufficient recompense." 
Nicole, his friend and companion in arms, worn 
out at length with these incessant disputes, ex- 
pressed a wish to retire from the field, and to 
enjoy repose. " Repose f" replied Amauld ; 
" won't you have the whole of eternity to re- 
pose in ?" 

An anecdote which is told of his infancy, 
when considered in connection with his subse- 
quent life, affords a good illustration of the force 



of impressions received in the first dawn of 
reason. He was amusing himself one day with 
some childish sport, in the library of the Cardi- 
nal du Perron, when he requested of the Cardi- 
nal to give him a pen : — " And for what pur- 
pose ?" said the Cardinal. — " To write books, like 
you, against the Huguenots." The Cardinal, it 
is added, who was then old and infirm, coidd not 
conceal his joy at the prospect of so hopeful a 
successor ; and, as he was putting the pen into 
his hand, said, " I give it to you, as the djdng 
shepherd Damoetas bequeathed his pipe to the 
little Corj'don." 

The name of Pascal (that prodigy of parts, as 
Locke calls him) is more familiar to modem ears 
than that of any of the other learned and polish- 
ed anchorites, who have rendered the sanctuary 
of Port-Royal so illustrious ; but his ^vritings 
furnish few materials for philosophical history. 
Abstracting from his great merits in mathema- 
tics and in physics, Ms reputation rests chiefly 
on the Provincial Letters ; a work from which 
Voltaire, notwithstanding his strong prejudices 
against the author, dates the fixation of the 
French language ; and of which the same ex- 
cellent judge has said, that " Moliere's best 
comedies do not excel them in wit, nor the com- 
positions of Bossuet in sublimity." The enthu- 
siastic admiration of Gibbon for this book, which 
he was accustomed from his youth to read once 
a year, is well known, and is sufficient to ac- 
count for the rapture with which it never fails 
to be spoken of by the erudite iidgar* in this 
country. I cannot help, however, suspecting, 



' According to Crousaz, The Art of Thinking contributed more than either the Organon of Bacon, or tlie Method of Des- 
cartes, to impro\'e the established modes of academical education on the Continent. (See the Preface to his Logic, 

printed at Geneva, l"-'4.) Leibnitz himself has mentioned it in the most flattering terms ; coupling the name of the 
author with that of Pascal, a still more illustrious ornament of the Port-Royal Society : — " Ingeniosissimus Pascalius in 
pracclura dissertatione do ingemo Geomctrico, cujus fragmentuni extat in egregio Ubro celeberrimi viri Antonii Ar- 
naldi de Arte bene Cogitandi," &c. ; but lest this encomium from so high an authority should excite a curiosity somewhat 
out of proportion to the real value of the two works here mentioned, I think it right to add, that the praises bestowed by 
Leibnitz, whether on living or dead authors, are not always to be strictly and literally interpreted. " No one," says 
Hume, " is so liable to an excess of admiration as a truly great genius." Wherever Leibnitz has occa.>^iOn to refer to any 
work of solid merit, this remaik applies to him with peculiar force ; partly, it is probable, from his quick and sympathetic 
perception of congenial excellence, and partly from a generous anxiety to point it out to the notice of the worlil. It af. 
fords, on the other hand, a remarkable illustration of the force of prejudice, that Butfier, a learned and most able Jesuit, 
should have been so far influenced by the hatred of his order to the Jansenists, as to distinguish the Furt-Royal Logic with 
the cold approbation of being " a judicious compilation fnmi former works on the same subject, — particularly from a trea- 
tise by a Spanish Jesuit, Fontrca." — Court dc Sciences, p. 8/3. Paris, 1732. Gibbon also has remarked how much " the 
learned Society of Port-Uoyal contributed to establish in France a taste for just reasoning, simplicity of style, and philoso- 
phical method " — Misc. IVorki, Vol. II. p. "0. 

' Enidiltim Vulgiit — Plik. A'<i(. Hitl. J^b. ii. 

DISS. 1. P.VRT :. L 



82 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



that it is now more prjlised than read in Great 
Britain ; so completely have those disputes, to 
which it owed its first celebrity, lost their in- 
terest. Many passages in it, indeed, will al- 
ways be perused with delight ; but . it may be 
questioned, if Gibbon himself would have read 
it so often from beginning to end, had it not 
been for the strong hold wliicli ecclesiastical con- 
troversies, and the Roman Catholic faith, had 
early taken of his mind. 

In one respect, the Prmiiicial Letters are well 
entitled to the attention of philosophers ; inas- 
much as they present so faithful and lively a 
picture of the influence of false religious ^^ews 
in perverting the moral sentiments of mankind. 
The overwhelming ridicule lavished by Pascal on 
the whole system of Jesuitical casuistry, and the 
happy effects of his pleasantry in preparing, 
from a distance, the fall of that formidable 
order, might be quoted as proofs, that there are 
at least some truths, in whose defence tliis weapon 
may be safely employed ; — perhaps with more 
advantage than the commanding voice of Reason 
herself. The mischievous absurdities which it 
was his aim to correct, scarcely admitted of the 
gravity of logical discussion ; requiring only the 
extirpation or the prevention of those early pre- 
judices which choke the growth of common 
sense and of conscience : And for tliis pm'pose, 
what so likely to succeed with the open and ge- 
nerous minds of youth, as Ridicule, managed 
with decency and taste ; more especially when 
seconded, as in the Provincial Letters, by acute- 
ness of argument, and by the powerful eloquence 
of the heart ? In this point of A-iew, few practi- 
cal moralists can boast of having rendered a 
more important service than Pascal to the gene- 
ral interests of humanity. Were it not, indeed, 
for his exquisite satire, we should already be 
tempted to doubt, if, at so recent a date, it were 
possible for such extravagances to have main- 
tained a dangerous ascendant over the human 
understanding. 

The unconnected fragment of Pascal, entitled 
Thoughts an Religion, contains various reflec- 
tions which are equally just and ingenious; 
some which are truly sublime ; and not a. few 



which are fiilse and puerile : the whole, how- 
ever, deeply tinctured with that ascetic and mor- 
bid melancholy, which seems to have at last 
produced a partial eclipse of his faculties. Vol- 
taire has animadverted on this fragment Avith 
much le\aty and petulance ; mingling, at the 
same time, with many very exceptionable stric- 
tures, several of which it is impossible to dispute 
the justness. The following reflection is worthy 
of Addison, and bears a strong resemblance in 
its spirit to the amiable lessons inculcated in liis 
papers on Cheerfulness;* "To consider the 
world as a dungeon, and the whole human race 
as so many criminals doomed to execution, is 
the idea of an enthusiast ; to suppose the world 
to be a seat of delight, where we are to expect 
notliing but pleasure, is the dream of a Sybarite ; 
but to conclude that the Earth, Man, and the 
lower Animals, are, all of them, subservient to 
the pui-poses of an unening Pro^vidence, is, in 
my opinion, the system of a wise and good 



From the sad history of this great and excel- 
lent person (on whose deep superstitious gloom 
it is the more painful to dwell, that, by an un- 
accountable, though not singular coincidence, 
it was occasionally brightened by the inoffen- 
sive play of a lively and sportive fancy) the eye 
turns with pleasure to repose on the mitis sa- 
pientia, and the Elysian imagination of Fenelon. 
The interval between the deaths of these two 
writers is indeed considerable ; but that between 
their births does not amount to thirty years ; 
and, in point of education, both enjoyed nearly 
the same advantages. 

The reputation of Fenelon as a philosopher 
would probably have been higher and more uni- 
versal than it is, if he had not added to the 
depth, comprehension, and soundness of his 
judgment, so rich a variety of those more pleas- 
ing and attractive qualities, which are common- 
ly regarded rather as the flowers than the fruits 
of study. The same remark may be extended 
to the Fenelon of England, whose ingenious and 
original essays on the Pleasures of Imagination 
would have been much more valued by modern 



' Spectator, No. 381 and 387. 



DISSERTATION FIRST, 



83 



metaphysicians, Lad they been less beautifully 
and happily wTitten. The characteristical ex- 
cellence, however, of the Archbishop of Cam- 
bray is, that moral wisdom, which (as Shaftes- 
bury has well observed), " comes more from 
the heart than from the head ;" and which seems 
to depend less on the reach of om- reasoning 
powers, than on the absence of those narrow 
and malignant passions, which, on all questions 
of ethics and politics (perhaps I might add of 
religion also), are the chief source of our specu- 
lative errors. 

The Adventures of Telemachus, when consider- 
ed as a production of the seventeenth centuiy, 
and stUl more as the work of a Roman Catholic 
Bishop, is a sort of prodig)' ; and it may, to this 
day, be confidently recommended, as the best 
manual extant, for impressing on the minds of 
youth the leading truths, both of practical mo- 
rals and of political economy. Nor ought it to be 
concluded, because these truths appear to lie so 
near the surfiice, and command so immediately 
the cordial assent of the understanding, that 
they are therefore obvious or trite ; for the case 
is the same with aU the truths most essential to 
human happiness. The importance of agricul- 
ture and of religious toleration to the prosperity 
of states ; the criminal impolicy of thwiu-ting 
the kind arrangements of Pro^'idence, by re- 
straints upon commerce ; and the duty of legis- 
lators to study the laws of the moral A\'orld as 
the groundwork and standard of their own, ap- 
pear, to minds imsopliisticated by inveterate 
prejudices, as approaching nearly to the class of 
axioms ; — yet, how much ingenious and refined 
discussion has been employed, even in our ovin 
times, to combat the prejudices which evcry- 
wliere continue to struggle against them ; and 
how remote does the period yet seem, when 
there is any probability that these prejudices 
shall be completely abandoned ! 

" But how," said Telemachus to Narbal, 
" can such a commerce as this of Tjtc be es- 
tablished at Ithaca ?" "By the same means," 
said Nai'bal, " that have established it here. 
Receive all strangers with readiness and hospi- 



tality ; let them find convenience and liberty in 
your ports ; and be careful never to disgust 
them by avarice or pride : above all, never re- 
strain the freedom of commerce, by rendering 
it subservient to your own immediate gain. The 
pecuniary advantages of commerce should be 
left wholly to those by whose labour it subsists ; 
lest tills labour, for want of a suflBcient motive, 
should cease. There are more than equivalent 
advantages of another kind, which must neces- 
sarily result to the Prince from the wealth 
which a free commerce ■«'ill bring into his state ; 
and commerce is a kind of spring, which to di- 
vert from its natural channel is to lose." ^ Had 
the same question been put to Smith or to 
Franklin in the present age, what sounder ad- 
■\Ace could they have offered? 

In one of Fenelon's Dialogues of tfie Dead, the 
following remarkable words are put into the 
mouth of Socrates : " It is necessary that a 
people should have written laws, always the 
same, and consecrated by the whole nation ; 
that these laws should be paramount to every 
thing else ; that those who govern should derive 
their authority from them alone ; possessing an 
unbounded power to do all the good which the 
laws prescrilje, and restrained from everj' act of 
injustice which the laws prohibit." 

But it is chiefly in a work which did not ap- 
pear till many years after his death, th.it we 
have an opportunity of tracing the eidargement 
of Fenelon's political ■\'icws, and the extent of 
his Christian charity. It is entitled. Direction 
pour la Conscience dun Roi ; and abounds vr\ib 
as liberal and enlightened maxims of govern- 
ment as, under the freest constitutions, have 
ever been offered by a subject to a sovereign. 
Wliere the variety of excellence renders selec- 
tion so difficult, I must not venture upon any 
extracts; nor, indeed, would I willingly injure 
the effect of the whole by quoting detached pas- 
sages. A few sentences on liberty if coriscitnce 
(which I will not presume to translate) may 
suffice to convey an idea of the general spirit 
with which it is animated. " Sur toute chose, 
ne forcez jamais vos sujets a changer de religion. 



IIawkeswortu's Translation. 



84 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



Nulle puissance humaine ne peut forcer le re- 
tranchement impenetrable de la liberie du cceur. 
La force ne peut jamais persuader les hommes ; 
elle ne fait que des hypocrites. Quand les rois 
se melent de religion, au lieu de la proteger, Os 
la mettent en servitude. Accordez a tous la to- 
lerance civile, non en approuvant tout comme 
indifferent, mais en souffrant avec patience tout 
ce que Dieu souflfre, et en tacliant de ramener 
les hommes par une douce persuasion." 

And so mucli for the French philosophy of 
the seventeentli century. The extracts last 



quoted forewarn us, that we are fast approaching 
to a new era in the history of the Human 
Mind. The glow-worm 'gins to pak his ineffectual 
fire ; and we scent the morning air of the coming 
day. This era I propose to date from the pub- 
lications of Locke and of Leibnitz : but the re- 
marks which I have to offer on their writings, 
and on those of their most distinguished suc- 
cessors, I reserve for the Second Part of this 
Discourse, confining myself, at present, to a 
very short retrospect of the state of philosophy, 
during the preceding period, in some other 
countries of Europe.* 



SECTION III. 

Progress of Philosophy during the Seventeenth Century, in some parts of Europe, not included in the 

preceding Review. 



During the first half of the seventeenth cen- 
tury, the pliilosophical spirit which had arisen 
with such happy auspices in England and in 
France, has left behind it few or no traces of its 
existence in the rest of Europe. On all ques- 
tions connected with the science of mind (a phrase 
which I here use in its lajrgest acceptation), au- 
thority continued to be everywhere mistaken for 
argument ; nor can a single work be named, 
bearing, in its character, the most distant resem- 
blance to the Organon of Bacon ; to the Medita- 
tions of Descartes; or to the bold theories of 
that sublime genius, who, soon after, was to shed 
so dazzling a lustre on the north of Germany. 
Kepler and Galileo still lived ; — the former lan- 
guishing in poverty at Prague; the latter op- 
pressed with blindness, and with ecclesiastical 
persecution, at Florence: but their pursuits 
were of a nature altogether foreign to our pre- 
sent subject. 



One celebrated work alone, the treatise of 
Grotius De Jure Belli et Pads (first printed in 
1625), aiTests our attention among the crowd 
of useless and forgotten volumes, which were 
then issuing from the presses of Holland, Ger- 
many, and Italy. The influence of this treatise, 
in giving a new direction to the studies of the 
learned, was so remarkable, and continued so 
long to operate with undiminished effect, that it 
is necessary to allot to the author, and to his 
successors, a space considerably larger than may, 
at first sight, seem due to their merits. Not- 
\vithstanding the just neglect into wliich they 
have lately fallen in our universities, it will be 
found, on a close examination, that they form 
an important link in the history of modern lite- 
rature. It was from their school that most of 
our best writers on Ethics have proceeded, and 
many of our most original inquirers into the 
Human Mind ; and it is to the same school (as 



' I liave classed Telimague and the Direction pour la Conscience d'un Roi with the philosophy of the seventeenth century, 
although the publication of the former was not permitted till after the death of Louis XIV. nor that of the latter till 1748. 
The tardy appearance of both only shows how far the author had shot a-head of the orthodox religion and politics of his 
times. 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



85 



I shall endeavour to show in the Second Part of 
this Discourse), that we are chiefly indebted for 
the modern science of Political Economy. ' 

For the information of those who have not 
read the treatise De Jure Belli et Pacis, it may 
be proper to observe, that, under this title, Gro- 
tius has aimed at a complete system of Natural 
Law. Gondii lac says, that he chose the title, in 
order to excite a more general curiosity ; add- 
ing (and, I believe, very justly), that many of 
the most prominent defects of his works may be 
fairly ascribed to a compliance with the taste 
of his age. " The author," says CondiUac, 
" was able to think for himself; but he con- 
stantly labours to support his conclusions by the 
authority of others; producing, on many oc- 
casions, in support of the most obvious and in- 
disputable propositions, a long string of quota- 
tions from the Mosaic law ; from the Gospels ; 
from the Fathers of the Church ; from the Ca- 
suists; and, not unfrcquently, in the very same 
paragraph, from 0^^d and Aristophanes." In 
consequence of this cloud of witnesses, always 
at hand to attest the truth of his axioms, not 
only is the attention perpetually interrupted and 
distracted; but the author's reasonings, even 
when perfectly solid and satisfactory, fail in 
making a due impression on the reader's mind ; 
while the very little that there probably was of 
systematical arrangement in the general plan of 
the book, is totally kept out of view. 

In spite of these defects, or rather, perhaps, 
in consequence of some of them, the impression 
produced by the treatise in question, on its first 
publication, was singularly great. The stores 
of erudition displayed in it recommended it to 
the classical scholar ; while the happy applica- 
tion of the author's reading to the affairs of hu- 
man life, drew the attention of such men as 
Gustavus Adolphus ; of his Prime Minister, the 



Chancellor Oxenstiern ; and of the Elector Pa- 
latine, Charles Lewis. The last of these was so 
struck with it, that he founded at Heidelberg a 
Professorsliip for the express purpose of teach- 
ing the Law of Natui-e and Nations ; — an office 
which he bestowed on Puffendorff, the most 
noted, and, on the whole, the most eminent of 
those who have aspired to tread in the footsteps 
of Grotius. 

Tlie fimdamental principles of Puffendorff 
possess little merit in point of originality, being 
a sort of medley of the doctrines of Grotius, 
with some opinions of Hobbes ; but his book is 
entitled to the praise of comparative conciseness, 
order, and perspicuity; and accordingly came 
very generally to supplant the treatise of Gro- 
tius, as a manual or institute for students, not- 
withstanding its immense inferiority in genius, 
in learning, and in classical composition. 

The authors who, in different parts of the 
Continent, have since employed themselves in 
commenting on Grotius and Puffendorff; or in 
abridging their systems ; or in altering their ar- 
rangements, are innumerable : but notwithstand- 
ing all their industry and learning, it would be 
very difficult to name any class of wi-iters whose 
labours have been of less utility to the world. 
The same ideas are constantly recurring in an 
eternal circle ; the opinions of Grotius and of 
Puffendorff, where they are at all equivocal, are 
anxiously investigated, and sometimes involved 
in additional obscurity; while, in the meantime, 
the science of Natural Jurisprudence never ad- 
vances one single step ; but, notwithstanding its 
recent birth, seems already sunk into a state of 
dotage. * 

In perusing the sj'stems now referred to, it is 
impossible not to feel a very painful dissatisfac- 
tion, from the difficulty of ascertaining the pre- 
cise object aimed at by the authors. So vague 



' From a letter ol'drotius, (quoted by Gassendi, we learn, that the treatise Dc Jure Belli et PacU was undertaken at the 
request of his learned friend I'eireskius. " Non otior, sed in illo de jure gentium ofiere pergo, quod si tale futurum est, ut 
lectores demereri ])03sit, habebit quod tibi debeat posteritas, qui me ad hunc laborcni et auxlJio et hortatu tuo excitasti." — 
Gassendi Opera, Tom. V. p. 21)4. 

' t have borrowed, in this last paragraph, some expressions from I.arapredi. " Grotii et PuflFendorfii interpretes, viri 
quidem dilipenlissimi, sed qui vix fructum ali(iueni tot eonimentariis, adnotationibus, compendiis, tabulis, coeterisque ejus- 
modi aridissiniis laboribus attulerunt : iierpetuo circulo eadem res circumagitur, quid uterque sen.?erit quaeritur, interdum 
etiam utriusque sentential obscurantur ; disciplina nostra tamen ne latum quidem unguem progreditur, et dum alionim 
sententiae disquiruntur et explanantur, llerum Natura quasi senio confeeta squalescit, neglectaque jacet et inobservata 
omnino (Jiiria Publiei Theorcmata, p. 34.) 



86 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



and indeterminate is the general scope of their 
researches, that not only are dijBferent views of 
the suhject taken by different writers, but even 
by the same writer in diflferent parts of his 
work ; — a circumstance which, of itself, suflS- 
ciently accounts for the slender additions they 
have made to the stock of useful knowledge ; 
and which is the real source of that chaos of 
heterogeneous discussions, through which the 
reader is perpetually forced to fight his way. A 
distinct conception of these different ■\'iews will 
be found to throw more light than might at first 
be expected on the subsequent history of Moral 
and of Political Science ; and I shall therefore 
endeavour, as accurately as I can, to disen- 
tangle and separate them from each other, at 
the risk perhaps of incui-ring, from some read- 
ers, the charge of prolixitj^. The most import- 
ant of them may, I apprehend, he referred to 
one or other of the following heads : 

1. Among the different ideas wliich have 
been formed of Natui'al Jurisprudence, one of 
the most common (particularly in the earlier 
systems) supposes its object to he — to lay down 
those rules of justice which ■would be binding on 
men living in a social state, \vitliout any posi- 
tive institutions ; or (as it is fi-equently called 
by writers on tliis subject), living together iu a 
state of nature. This idea of the province of 
Jurisprudence seems to have been uppermost in 
the mind of Grotius, in various parts of his 
treatise. 

To this speculation about the state of nature, 
Grotius was manifestly led by his laudable anxi- 
ety to counteract the attempts then recently 
made to undermine the foundations of morality. 
That moral distinctions are created entirely by 
the arbitrai-y and revealed will of God, had, be- 
fore his time, been zealously maintained by some 
theologians even of the reformed church ; wliile, 
among the political theorists of the same period. 



it was not unusual to refer these distinctions (as 
was afterwards done by Hobbes) to the positive 
institutions of the civil magistrate. In opposi- 
tion to both, it was contended by Grotius, that 
there is a natural law coeval with the human 
constitution, from which positive institutions 
derive all their force ; a truth which, how ob- 
vious and trite soever it may now appear, was 
so opposite in its spirit to the illiberal systems 
taught in the monkish establishments, that he 
thought it necessary to exhaust in its support 
all his stores of ancient learning. Tlie older 
writers on Jurisprudence must, I think, be al- 
lowed to have had great merit in dwelling so 
much on tliis fundamental principle ; a principle 
wliich renders " Man a Law to himself ;" and 
which, if it be once admitted, reduces the meta- 
physical question concerning the nature of the 
moral faculty, to an object merely of speculative 
ciuiosity.' To this faculty the ancients fre- 
quently give the name of reason ; as in that 
noted passage of Cicero, where he observes, that 
" right reason is itself a law ; congenial to the 
feelings of nature ; diffused among all men ; 
uniform ; eternal ; calling us imperiously to our 
duty, and peremptorily prohibiting every viola- 
tion of it. Nor does it speak," continues the 
same author, " one language at Rome and ano- 
ther at Athens, varying from place to place, or 
time to time ; but it addresses itself to all na- 
tions and to all ages ; deriving its authority 
from the common sovereign of the universe, and 
carrying home its sanctions to every breast, by 
the inevitable punishment which it inflicts on 
transgressors." ' 

The habit of considering morality under the 
similitude of a law fa law engraved on the hu- 
man heart), led not unnaturally to an applica- 
tion to ethical subjects of the technical language 
and arrangements of the Roman jurisprudence, 
and this innovation was at once facilitated and 



' " Upon whatever we suppose that our moral faculties are founded, whether upon a certain modification of reason, upon 
an original instinct, called a moral sense, or upon some other principle of our nature, it cannot be doubted that they were 
given us for the direction of our conduct in this life. They carry along with them the most evident badges of this autho- 
rity, which denote that they were set up within us to be the supreme arbiters of all our actions, to superintend all our 
senses, passions, and appetites, and to judge how far each of them was either to be indulged or restrained. The rules, 
therefore, which they prescribe, are to be regarded as the commands and la-^s of the Deity, promulgated by those vicege- 
rents which he has set up within us." — Smith's TJuory of Moral Seniimenti, Part iii. chap. v.)_See also Dr Butleb's very 
original and philosopliical DUcourset on Human Nature. 

» Frag. Lib. iii. dc Reji. 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



87 



encouraged, by certain peculiarities in the nature 
of the most important of all the virtues, — that 
of justice; peculiarities which, although first 
explained fully by Hume and Smitli, were too 
prominent to escape altogether the notice of pre- 
ceding moralists. 

The circumstances which distinguish justice 
from the other virtues, are cliiefly two. In the 
first place, its rules may he laid down %vith a 
degree of accuracy, whereof moral precepts do 
not, in any other instance, admit. Secondly, 
its rules may be enforced, inasmuch as every 
transgression of them implies a violation of the 
rights of others. For the illustration of both 
propositions, I must refer to the eminent au- 
thors just mentioned. 

As, in the case of justice, there is always a 
right, on the one hand, corresponding to an obliga- 
tion on tlie other, the various rules enjoined by 
it may be stated in two different forms ; either 
as a system of duties, or as a system of rights, 
Tlie former view of the subject belongs properly 
to the moralist — the latter to the lawyer. It is 
this last view that the -ivi-iters on Natural Juris- 
prudence (most of whom were la^vyers by pro- 
fession) have in general chosen to adopt; al- 
though, in the same works, both ^-iews will be 
found to be not unfrcquently blended together. 

To some indistinct conception among the earlier 
■\vriters on Natui'al Law, of these peculiarities 
in tlie nature of justice, we may probably ascribe 
the remarkable contrast pointed out by Mr 
Smitli, l>ctvvcen the ethical systems of ancient 
and of modern times. " In none of the ancient 
moralists," he observes, " do we find any at- 
tempt towards a particular enumeration of the 
rules of justice. On the contrary, Cicero in his 
Offices, and Aristotle in his Ethics, treat of jus- 
tice in the same general manner in which they 
treat of generosity or of charity."* 

But although the rules of justice are in every 
case precise and indispensable ; and although 
tlielr authority is altogether indejiendcnt of that 
of the civil magistrate, it would obviously bo 
absurd to spend much time in speculating about 
the principles of this natural law, as applicable 



to men, before the establishment of government. 
The same state of society wliich diversifies the 
condition of individuals to so great a degree as 
to suggest problematical questions with respect 
to their rights and their duties, necessarily gives 
birth to certain conventional laws or customs, 
by wliich the conduct of the different members 
of the association is to be giiided ; and agreeably 
to which the disputes that may arise among them 
are to be adjusted. The imaginary state refer- 
red to under the title of the State of Nature, 
though it certainly does not exclude the idea of 
a moral right of property arising from labour, yet 
excludes all that variety of cases concerning its 
alienation and transmission, and the mutual co- 
venants of parties, wliich the political union 
alone could create ; — an order of things, indeed, 
wluch is \irtually supposed in almost all the spe- 
culations about which the law of nature is com- 
monly employed, 

2. It was probably in consequence of the very 
narrow field of study wliich Jurisprudence, con- 
sidered in this light, was found to open, that its 
province was gi'adually eulai'ged, so as to com- 
prehend, not merely the rules of justice, but the 
rules enjoining all our other moral duties. Nor 
was it only i\ic province of Jurisprudence which 
was thus enlarged. A corresponding extension 
was also given, by the help of arbitrary defini- 
tions, to its technical phraseology, till at length 
the whole doctrines of practical ethics came to 
be moidded into an artificial form, originally 
copied from the Roman code. Although justice 
is the only branch of ■\^rtue in which every mo- 
ral Obligation implies a corresponding Right, 
the writers on Natural Law have contrived, by 
fictions of imperfect rights, and of external rights, 
to treat indirectly of all our various duties, by 
pointing out the rights which are supposed to be 
their correlates : — in other words, they have con- 
trived to exhibit, in the form of a system of 
rights, a connected view of the whole duty of 
man. This idea of Jurisprudence, which iden- 
tifies its object with that of IVIoral Philosophy, 
seems to coincide nearly with that of Puffen- 
dorff ; and some vague notion of the same sort 



» Tlieory of Moral Scnt'imenti, Part vii. sect. ir. 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



lias manifestly given birth to many of the di- 
gressions of Grotius. 

Wliatever judgment may now be pronounced 
on the effects of this innovation, it is certain 
that they were considered, not only at the time, 
but for many years afterwards, as highly favour- 
able. A very learned and respectable writer, 
Mr Carmichael of Glasgow, compares them to 
the improvements made in Natural Philosophy 
by the followers of Lord Bacon. " No person," 
he observes, " liberally educated, can be igno- 
rant, that, within the recollection of ourselves 
and of our fathers, philosophy has advanced to 
a state of progi'essive improvement hitherto un- 
exampled ; in consequence partly of the rejection 
of scholastic absurdities, and partly of the ac- 
cession .of new discoveries. Nor does this re- 
mark apply solely to Natural Philosophy, in 
which the improvements accomplished by the 
united labours of the learned have forced them- 
selves on the notice even of the vulgar, by their 
palpable influence on the mechanical arts. The 
other branches of philosophy also have been pro- 
secuted during the last century with no less suc- 
cess ; and none of them in a more remarkable 
degree than the science of Morals. 

" This science, so much esteemed, and so as- 
siduously cultivated by the sages of antiquity, 
lay, for a length of time, in common with all the 
other useful arts, buried in the rubbish of the 



dark ages, till (soon after the commencement of 
the seventeenth century), the incomparable 
treatise of Grotius de Jitre Belli et Pads restored 
to more than its ancient splendour that part of 
it which defines the relative duties of individu- 
als ; and which, in consequence of the immense 
variety of cases comprehended under it, is by 
far the most extensive of any. Since that period, 
the most learned and polite scholars of Europe, 
as if suddenly roused by the alarm of a trumpet, 
have vied with each other in the prosecution of 
this study, — so strongly recommended to their 
attention, not merely by its novelty, but by the 
importance of its conclusions, and the dignity 
of its object." ^ 

I liave selected this passage, in preference to 
many others that might be quoted to the same 
purpose from writers of higher name ; because, 
in the sequel of this historical sketch, it appears 
to me peculiarly interesting to mark the progress 
of Ethical and Political speculation in that seat 
of learning, which, not many years afterwards, 
was to give biith to the Tlieory of Moral SetUi- 
ments, and to thelnquiry into the Nature and Causes 
of the Wealth of Nations. The powerful effect 
which the last of these works has produced on 
tlie political opinions of the whole ci\'ilised world, 
renders it unnecessary, in a Discourse destined 
to form part of a Scotish Encyclopedia, to oflFer 
any apology for attempting to trace, with some 



' Tlie last sentence is thus expressed in the original. "• Ex illo tempore, quasi classico dato, ab eruditissimis passim et 
politissimis viris excoU certatim ccepit, utilissima h«c nobilissiniaque doctrina." — See the edition of PuffendorfF, De Officio 
Homlnis et Ciiis, by Prot'essor Gerschom Carmichael of Glasgow, 1/24 ; an author whom Dr Hutchison pronounces to be 
" by far the best commentator on Puffendorff ; and " whose notes," he adds, " are of much more value than the tejrt." — 
See his short Itilroduction to Moral Philosophy. 

Puflfendoi-ff's principal work, entitled De Jure Naturw et Gentium, was first printed in 1672, and was afterwards abridged 
by the author into the small volume referred to in the foregoing paragraph. Tlie idea of PuffendorfF's aim, formed by 5lr 
Carmichael, coincides exactly with the account of it given in the text : " Hue denium tractatu edito, facile intellexerunt 
aequiores harum reruni arbitri, non aliam esse genuinam Morum PJiilosophiam, quam quae ex evidentibus principiis, in ipsa 
reriim natura fundatis, hominis atque civis officia, in singulis vitae humanap circumstantiis debita, eruit ac demonstrat ; 
atqueadeo Juris Naturalis scientiam, quantumvis diversam ab Ethica quae in scholis dudum obtinuerat, prse se ferret 
faciem, non esse, quod ad scopum et rem tractandam, vere aliam disciplinam, sed eandem rectius duntaxat et solidius tra- 
ditam, ita ut, ad quam prius male collineaverit, tandem reipsa feriret scopum." — See Cakmichael's edition of the treatise 
De Officio Hominis et Civis, p. 7- 

To so late a period did this admiration of the treatise De Officio Hominis et Civis, continue in our Scotch Universities, 
that the very learned and respectable Sir John Pringle (afterwards President of the Itoyal Society of London), adopted it 
as the text-book for his lectures, while he held the Professorship of Moral Philosophy at Edinburgh. Nor does the case 
seem to have been different in England. " I am going," says Gray, in a letter written while a student at Cambridge, " to 
attend a lecture on one PutFendorft'." And, much in the same spirit, Voltaire thus expresses himself with respect to the 
schools of the Continent : — •' On est partage, dans les e'coles, entre Grotius et PuffendorfF. Croyez-moi, lisez les Offices 
de Ciceron." From the contemptuous tone of these two writers, it should seem that the old systems of Natural Jurispru- 
dence had entirely lost their credit among men of taste and of enlarged views, long before they ceased to form an essential 
part of academical instruction ; thus affording an additional confirmation of Mr Smith's complaint, that the greater part of 
universities have not been very forward to adopt improvements after they were made ; and that several of those learned 
societies have chosen to remain, for a long time, the sanctuaries in which exploded systems found shelter and protection, 
after they had been hunted out of every other corner of the world." Considering his own successful exertions in his aca- 
demical capacity, to remedy this evil, it is more than probable that Mr Smith had Grotius and PuffendorfF in his view 
when he wrote the foregoing sentence. 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



89 



minuteness, the train of thought by which an 
undertaking, so higldy lionourable to the lite- 
rary character of our country, seems to have 
been suggested to the author. 

The extravagance of the praise lavished on 
Grotius and Puffendorff, in the above citation 
from Carmichael, can be accounted for only by 
the degraded state into which Ethics had fallen 
in the hands of those who were led to the study 
of it, either as a preparation for the casuistical 
discussions subservient to the practice of auricular 
confession, or to justify a scheme of morality 
which recommended the useless austerities of an 
ascetic retirement, in preference to the manly 
duties of social life. Tlie practical doctrines 
inculcated by the writers on Natural Law, were 
all of them favourable to active \4rtue ; and, how 
reprehensible soever in point of form, were not 
only harmless, but highly beneficial in their 
tendency. They were at the same time so di- 
versified (particularly in the work of Grotius) 
with beautiful quotations from the Greek and 
Roman classics, that they could not fail to pre- 
sent a striking contrast to the absurd and illibe- 
ral systems which they supplanted ; and per- 
haps to these passages, to which they thus gave 
a sort of systematical connection, the progress 
wluch the science made in the course of the 
eighteenth century may, in no inconsiderable 
degree, be ascribed. Even now, when so vei-y 
different a taste prevails, the treatise de Jure 
Belli et Pads possesses many charms to a classi- 
cal reader ; who, although he may not always 
set a very high value on the author's reasonings, 
must at least be dazzled and delighted with the 
splendid profusion of his learning. 

The field of Natural Jurisprudence, however, 
was not long to remain circumscribed within the 
narrow limits commonly assigned to the province 
of Ethics. The contrast between natural law 
and positive institution, which it constantly pre- 
sents to the mind, gradually and insensibly 
suggested the idea of comprehending under it 
every question concerning right and wrong, on 
which positive law is silent. Hence the origin 
of two different departments of Jurisprudence, 
little attended to by some of the first autlu)rs 
who treated of it, but afterwards, from their 
practical importance, gradually encroaching 

DISS. I. I'AIIT. 1. 



more and more on those ethical disquisitions by 
which they were suggested. Of these depart- 
ments, the one refers to the conduct of indivi- 
duals in those violent and critical moments when 
the bonds of political society are torn asunder ; 
the other, to the mutual relations of independ- 
ent communities. The questions connected with 
the former article, lie indeed within a compara- 
tively narrow compass ; but on the latter so 
much has been written, that what was formerly 
called Natural Jurisprudence, has been, in later 
times, not uufrequently distinguished by the 
title of the Law of Nature and Nations. The 
train of thought by which both subjects came to 
be connected wdth the systems now under con- 
sideration, consists of a few very simple and 
obvdous steps. 

As an indi^ddual who is a member of a politi- 
cal body necessarily gives up his will to that of 
the governors who are entrusted by the people 
vvith the supreme power, it is his duty to sub- 
mit to those inconveniences which, in conse- 
quence of the imperfection of all human esta- 
blishments, may incidentally fall to his own lot. 
This duty is founded on the Law of Nature, 
from which, indeed, (as must appear evident on 
the slightest reflection) conventional law derives 
all its moral force and obligation. The great 
end, howev'er, of the political union being a 
sense of general utility, if tliis end should be 
manifestly frustrated, either by the injustice of 
laws, or the tyranny of rulers, individuals must 
have recourse to the priuci])les of Natural Law, 
in order to determine how far it is competent 
for them to withdraw themselves from their 
country, or to resist its governors by force. To 
Jurisprudence, therefore, considered in this light, 
came with great propriety to be referred all 
those practical discussions which relate to the 
limits of allegiance, and the right of resistance. 

By a step equally simple, the province of the 
science was still farther extended. As inde- 
pendent states acknowledge no superior, the 
obvnous inference wa.s, that the disputes arising 
among them must be determined by an appeal 
to the Law of Nature ; and accordingly, this law, 
when applied to states, forms a separate part of 
Jurisprudence, under the title of the Law of Na- 
tions. By some writers we are told, that the 



90 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



general principles of the Law of Nature, and of 
the Law of Nations, are one and the same, and 
that the distinction between them is merely ver- 
bal. To this opinion, which is very confidently 
stated by Hobbes, ^ PuffendorflF has given his 
sanction ; and in conformity to it, contents him- 
self with laying down the general principles of 
Natural Law, leaving it to the reader to apply it 
as he may find necessary, to individuals or to 
societies. 

The later writers on Jurisprudence have 
thought it expedient to separate the law of na- 
tions from that part of the science which treats 
of the duties of individuals ; * but without being 
at sufiicient pains to form to themselves a definite 
idea of the object of their studies. AVlioever 
takes the trouble to look into their systems, will 
immediately perceive, that their leading aim is 
not, as might have been expected, to ascertain 
the great principles of morality binding on all 
nations in their intercourse with each other ; or 
to point out with what limitations the ethical 
rules recognised among individuals must be 
understood, when extended to political and un- 
connected bodies ; but to exhibit a digest of 
those laws and usages, which, partly from con- 
siderations of utility, partly from accidental cir- 
cumstances, and partly from positive conven- 
tions, have gradually arisen among those states 



of Christendom, which, from their mutual con- 
nections, maybe considered as forming one great 
republic. It is evident, that such a digest has 
no more connection with the Law of Nature, 
properly so called, than it has with the rules of 
the Roman Law, or of any other municipal code. 
The details contained in it are highly interesting 
and useful in themselves ; but they belong to a 
science altogether different ; a science, in which 
the ultimate appeal is made, not to abstract 
maxims of right and wrong, but to precedents, 
to established customs, and to the authority of 
the learned. 

The intimate alliance, however, thus establish- 
ed between the Law of Nature and the conven- 
tional Law of Nations, has been on the whole 
attended with fortunate effects. In consequence 
of the discussions concerning questions of justice 
and of expediency which came to be blended 
with the details of public law, more enlarged 
and philosophical views have gradually present- 
ed themseh-es to the minds of speculative states- 
men ; and, in the last result, have led, by easy 
steps, to those liberal doctrines concerning com- 
mercial policy, and the other mutual relations 
of separate and independent states, which, if they 
should ever become the creed of the rulers of 
mankind, promise so large an accession to hu- 
man happiness. 



' " Lex Naturalis divitli potest in naturalem hominum quae sola obtinuit dici Lex Naturae, et naturalem civitatum 
qute dici potest Lex Gentium, vulgo autem Jus Gentium appelJatur. Priecepta utriusque eadem sunt ; sed quia civitates 
semel institutoe induunt proprietates hominum personates, lex quam loquentes de hominum singulorum officio naturalem 
dicimus, applicata totis civitatibus, nationibus, sive gentibus, vocatur Jus Gentium." — De Ciir, cap. xiv. § 4. 

In a late publication, from the title of which some attention to dates might have been expected, we are told, that 
" Hobbes's book Dc Ch'c appeared but a little time Icfore the treatise of Grotius ;" whereas, in point of feet, Hobbes's book 
did not appear till twenty -two years after it. A few copies were indeed printed at Paris, and privately circulated by Hobbes, 

as early as 1C42, but the book was not published till 1C47 (See " An Impiiry biio the Foundation and History of the Law of 

Nations in Europe" &c. by Robert Ward of the Inner Temple, Esq. London, 1795). This inaccuracy, however, is trifling, 
when compared with those committed in the same work, in stating the distinguishing doctrines of the two systems. 

As a writer on the Law of Nations, Hobbes is now altogether unworthy of notice. I shall therefore only remark on this 
part of his philosophy, that its aim is precisely the reverse of that of Grotius; the latter labouring, through the whole of 
his treatise, to extend, as far as possible, among independent states, the same laws of justice and of humanity which are 
universally recognised among individuals ; while Hobbes, by inverting the argiuiient, exerts his ingenuity to shew, that 
the moral repulsion which commonly exists between independent and neighbouring communities, is an exact picture of that 
which existed among individuals prior to the origin of government. The inference, indeed, was most illogical, inasmuch 
as it is the social attraction among individuals which is the source of the mutual repulsion among nations, and as this at- 
traction invariably operates with the greatest force where the individual is the most completely independent of his 
species, and where the advantages of the political union are the least sensibly felt. If, in any state of human nature, it be 
in danger of becoming quite evanescent, it is in large and civilised empires, where man becomes indispensably necessary to 
man, depending for the gratification of his artificial wants on the co-operation of thousands of his fellow citizens. 

Let me add, that the theory so fashionable at present, which resolves the whole of morality into the principle of utility, 
is more nearly akin to Hobbism, than some of its partisans are aware of. 

" The credit of this improvement is ascribed by Vattel (one of the most esteemed writers on the subject), to the cele- 
brated German philosopher Wolfius, whose labours in this department of study he estimates very highly. — (Qutstioru de 
Droit Naturel. Berne, 1762.) Of this great work I know nothing but the title, which is not calculated to excite much 
curiosity in the present times : " Christiani Wolfii Jus Naturae mcthodo scientijica pertraetatum, in 9 Tomos distributum." 
(Francof. 17'tO-) " Non est," says Lampredi, himself a professor of public law, " qui non deterreatur tanta librorum 
larragine, quasi vero Herculeo labore opus esset ut quis bonestatem et justitiam addiscat." 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



91 



3. Another idea of Natural Jurisprudence, 
essentially distinct from those hitherto mention- 
ed, remains to be considered. According to 
this, its object is to ascertain the general prin- 
ciples of justice which ought to he recognised in 
every municipal code ; and to which it oitf/ht to 
be tlie aim of every legislator to accommodate 
his institutions. It is to this idea of Jurispru- 
dence that ]VIr Smith has given his sanction in 
the conclusion of his Theory of Moral Senti- 
ments ; and this he seems to have conceived to 
have been likewise the idea of Grotius, in the 
treatise de Jure Belli et Pacts. 

" It might have been expected," says Mr 
Smith, " that the reasonings of lawj'ers upon 
the different imperfections and improvements 
of the laws of different countries, should have 
given occasion to an inquiry into what were 
the natm-al rules of justice, independent of all 
positive institution. It might have been ex- 
pected, that these reasonings should have led 
them to aim at establishing a system of what 
might properly be called Natural Jurisprudence, 
or a tfieort/ of the principles which ought to run 
through, and to be the foundation of the laws of all 
nations. But, though the reasonings of lawyers 
did produce something of this kind, and though 
no man has treated systematically of the laws of 
any particular country, without intermixing in 
his work many observations of this sort, it was 
very late in the world before any such general 
system was thought of, or before the philosophy 
of laws was treated of by itself, and without 
regard to the particular institutions of any na- 
tion. Grotius seems to have been the first who 
attempted to give the world any thing like a 
system of those principles which ought to run 
through, and be the foundation of the laws of 
all nations ; and his Treatise of the Laws of 
Peace and War, with all its imperfections, is per- 
haps, at this day, the most complete work tliat 
has yet been given on the subject." 

Whether this was, or was not, the leading 
object of Grotius, it is not material to decide ; 
but if this was his object, it will not be disputed 



that he has executed his design in a very desul- 
tory manner, and that he often seems to have 
lost sight of it altogether, in the midst of those 
miscellaneous speculations on political, ethical, 
and historical subjects, which form so large a 
portion of his Treatise, and which so frequently 
succeed each other without any apparent con- 
nection or common aim.* 

Nor do the views of Grotius appear always 
enlarged or just, even when he is pointing at 
the object described by Mr Smith. The Roman 
system of Jurisprudence seems to have warped, 
in no inconsiderable degree, his notions on all 
questions connected with the theory of legisla- 
tion, and to have diverted his attention from 
that philosophical idea of law, so well expressed 
by Cicero, — " Non a -prsetoris edicto, neque a 
duodecim tabulis, sed penitus ex intima philo- 
sophia, ham-iendam juris disciplinam." In this 
idolatry, indeed, of the Roman law, he has not 
gone so far as some of his commentators, who 
have affirmed, that it is only a different name 
for the Law of Nature ; but that his partiality 
for his professional pursuits has often led him to 
overlook the immense difference between the 
state of society in ancient and modem Eiuope, 
will not, I believe, be now disputed. It must, 
at the same time, be mentioned to his praise, 
that no writer appears to have been, in theory, 
more completely aware of the essential distinc- 
tion between Natural and Municipal laws. In 
one of the paragraphs of his Prolegomena, he 
mentions it as a part of liis general plan, to illus- 
trate the Roman code, and to systematise those 
parts of it which have their origin in the Law 
of Nature. " The task," says lie, " of mould- 
ing it into the form of a system, has been pro- 
jected by many, but hitherto accomplished by 
none. Nor indeed was the tiling possible, while 
so little attention was paid to the distinction 
between natural and positive institutions ; for 
the former being everj'wherc the same, may be 
easily traced to a few general principles, while 
the latter, exhibiting different appearances at 
different times, and in different places, elude 



' " Of what stamp," says a most ingenious and original thinker, " are the worts of Grotius, Pu6Fenilorff, and Burla> 
maqui? Are tbey political or ethical, historical or juridical, expository or censorial? — Sometimes one thing, sometimes 
another: they seem hardly to have settled the matter with themselves.".— Bent Ball's Introduction to the Principlo of Mo- 
ral) and LcgUlation, p. 327. 



92 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



every attempt towards methodical arrangement, 
no less than the insulated facts which indi- 
vidual objects present to our external senses." 

This passage of Grotius has given great of- 
fence to two of the most eminent of his com- 
mentators, Henry and Samuel de Cocceii, wlio 
have laboured much to vindicate the Roman le- 
gislators against tliat indirect censure which the 
words of Grotius appear to convey. " My chief 
object," says the latter of those writers, " was, 
by deducing the Roman Law from its source in 
the nature of things, to reconcile Natm-al Juris- 
prudence with the civil code ; and, at the same 
time, to correct the supposition implied in the 
foregoing passage of Grotius, which is indeed one 
of the most exceptionable to be found in his work. 
The remarks on tliis subject, scattered over the 
following commentary, the reader will find ar- 
ranged in due order in my twelfth Preliminary 
Dissertation, the chief design of whicli is to sys- 
tematise the whole Roman Law, and to demon- 
strate its beautiful coincidence with the Law of 
Nature." In the execution of this design, Coc- 
ceii must, I think, be allowed to have contri- 
buted a very useful supplement to the jurispru- 
dential labours of Grotius, the Dissertation in 
question being eminently distinguished by that 
distinct and luminous method, the want of 
which renders the study of the treatise de Jure 
Belli et Pacts so peculiarly irksome and unsatis- 
factory. 

The superstitious veneration for the Roman 
code expressed by such writers as the Cocceii, 
will appear less wonderful, when we attend to 
the influence of the same prejudice on the libe- 
ral and philosophical mind of Leibnitz ; an au- 
thor who has noj only gone so far as to com- 
pare the civil law (considered as a monument 
of human genius) with the remains of the an- 
cient Greek geometry; but has strongly inti- 
mated his dissent from the opinions of those who 
have represented its principles as being fre- 
quently at variance ^vith the Law of Nature. 
In one very powerful paragi'aph, he expresses 
himself thus : — " I have often said, that, after 
the writings of geometricians, there exists no- 
thing wliich, in point of strength, subtlety, and 
depth, can be compared to the works of the Ro- 
man lawyers. And as it would be scarcely pos- 



sible, from mere intrinsic evidence, to distin- 
guish a demonstration of Euclid's from one of 
Archimedes or of Appollonius (the style of all 
of them appearing no less uniform than if rea- 
son herself were speaking through their organs), 
so also tL'e Roman lawyers all resemble each 
other like twin-brothers ; inasmuch that, from 
the style alone of any particular opinion or ar- 
gument, hardly any conjecture could be formed 
about its author. Nor are the traces of a re- 
fined and deeply meditated system of Natural Ju- 
risprudence anywhere to be found more visible, 
or in greater abundance. And even in those 
cases where its principles are departed from, 
either in compliance with the language conse- 
crated by technical forms, or in consequence of 
new statutes, or of ancient traditions, the con- 
clusions which the assumed hypothesis renders 
it necessary to incorporate vnih. the eternal dic- 
tates of right reason, are deduced with the 
soundest logic, and with an ingenuity that ex- 
cites admiration. Nor are these deviations from 
the Law of Nature so frequent as is commonly 
apprehended." 

In tlie last sentence of this passage, Leibnitz 
had probably an eye to the works of Grotius and 
his followers ; which, however narrow and ti- 
mid in their views they may now appear, were, 
for a long time, regarded among civilians as 
savouring somewhat of theoretical innovation, 
and of political heresy. 

To all this may be added, as a defect still 
more important and radical in the systems of 
Natural Jurisprudence considered as models of 
universal legislation, that their authors reason 
concerning laws too abstractedly, without spe- 
cifying the particular circumstances of the so- 
ciety to which they mean that their conclusions 
should be applied. It is very justly observed 
by Mr Bentham, that " if there are any books 
of universal Jurisprudence, they must be look- 
ed for within very narrow limits." He cer- 
tainly, however, caraes this idea too far, when 
he asserts, that " to be susceptible of an uni- 
versal application, aH that a book of the expo- 
sitory kind can have to treat of is the import 
of words ; and that, to be strictly speaking 
universal, it must confine itself to terminology ; 
that is, to an explanation of such words con- 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



93 



nected with law, as power, right, obligation, li- 
berty, to which are words pretty exactly cor- 
respondent in all languages."' His expres- 
sions, too, are somewhat unguarded, when he 
calls the Law of Nature " an obscure phantom, 
which in the imaginations of those who go in 
chase of it, points sometimes to manners, some- 
times to laws, sometimes to what law is, some- 
times to what it ought to be." * Nothing, indeed, 
can be more exact and judicious than this de- 
scription, when restricted to the Law of Nature, 
as commonly treated of by writers on Jurispru- 
dence ; but if extended to the Law of Nature, as 
originally understood among ethical writers, it 
is impossible to assent to it, without abandon- 
ing all the principles on which the science of 
morals ultimately rests. With these obvious, 
but, in my opinion, very essential limitations, I 
perfectly agi'ee with Mr Bentham, in consider- 
ing an abstract code of laws as a thing equally 
unphUosopliical in the design, and useless in the 
execution. 

In stating these observations, I would not be 
understood to dispute thfe utility of turning the 
attention of students to a comparatiA'e view of 
the municipal institutions of different nations ; 
but only to express my doubts whether tliis can 
be done with advantage, by referring these in- 
stitutions to that abstract theory called the Law 
of Nature, as to a common standard. The code 
of some particular country must be fixed on as 
a groundwork for our speculations ; and its laws 
studied, not as consequences of any abstract 
principles of justice, but in their connection 
with the circumstances of the people among 
whom they originated. A comparison of these 
laws with the corresponding laws of other na- 
tions, considered also in their connection with 
the circumstances whence they arose, would 
form a branch of study equally interesting and 
useful, not merely to those wlio have in view 
the profession of law, but to all wlio receive the 
advantages of a liberal education. In fixing on 
such a standard, the preference must undoubt- 
edly be given to the Roman Law, if for no other 
reason than this, tliat its technical langujige is 
more or less incorporated with all our munici- 



pal regulations in this pait of the world : and 
the study of this language, as well as of the 
other technical parts of Jurisprudence (so re- 
volting to the taste when considered as the ar- 
bitrary jargon of a philosophical theory), woidd 
possess sufficient attractions to excite the curio- 
sity, when considered as a necessary passport to 
a knowledge of that system which so long de- 
termiued the rights of the greatest and most 
celebrated of nations. 

" Universal grammai-," says Dr Lowth, 
" cannot be taught abstractedly; it must be 
done with reference to some language already 
known, in which the terms are to be explained 
and the rules exemplified."' The same obser- 
vation may be applied (and for reasons strik- 
ingly analogous) to the science of Natural or 
Universal Jurisprudence. 

Of the truth of tliis last j>roposition Bacon 
seems to have been fully aware; and it was 
manifestly some ideas of the same kind which 
gave bu"th to Montesquieu's historical specula- 
tions with respect to the origin of la\rs, and the 
reference which they may be expected to bear, 
in different parts of the world, to the physical 
and moral circumstances of the nations among 
whom they have sprung up. During this long 
interval, it would be difficult to name anv in- 
termediate writer, by whom the important con- 
siderations just stated were duly attended to. 

In toucliing formerly on some of Bacon's 
ideas concerning the philosophy of law, I quotcfl 
a few of the most prominent of those fortunate 
anticipations, so profusely scattered over his 
works, which, outstripping the ordinary march 
of human reason, associate his mind with the 
luminaries of the eighteenth century, rather 
than with liis own contemporaries. These an- 
ticipations, as well as many others of a similar 
description, hazarded by his bold yet proph.etic 
imagination, have often struck me as resembling 
the pierres (fattente jutting out from the corners 
of an ancient building, and inviting the fancy 
to complete what was left unfinished of the 
architect's design ; — or the slight and broken 
sketches traced on tlie skirts of an American 



' Introduction to the Princiiila of Morals and LegisUUlon, p. 323. = Ibhi. p. 327. ' Prefa(^ to his EnglUh Grammar. 



94 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



map, to connect its chains of hills and branches 
of rivers with some future survey of the con- 
tiguous wilderness. Yielding to such impres- 
sions, and eager to pursue the rapid flight of 
his genius, let me abandon for a moment the 
order of time, while I pass from the Fontes Ju- 
ris to the Spirit of Laws. To have a just con- 
ception of the comparatively limited views of 
Grotius, it is necessary to attend to what was 
planned by his immediate predecessor, and fii'st 
executed (or rather first begun to be executed) 
by one of his remote successors. 

The main object of the Spirit of Laws (it is 
necessary here to premise) is to show, not, as 
has been frequently supposed, what laws ojight 
to be, but how the diversities in the physical 
and moral circumstances of the human race 
have contributed to produce diversities in their 
political establishments, and in their municipal 
regulations. ^ On this point, indeed, an appeal 
may be made to the author himself. " I write 
not," says he, " to censure any thing establish- 
ed in any country whatsoever ; every nation 
win here find the reasons on wliich its maxims 
are founded." This plan, however, which, 
when understood with proper limitations, is 
liighly pliilosophical, and which raises Juris- 
prudence, from the uninteresting and useless 
state in which we find it in Grotius and PulFen- 
dorff, to be one of the most agreeable and im- 
portant branches of useful knowledge (although 
the execution of it occupies by far the greater 
part of his work), is prosecuted by Montesquieu 
in so very desultory a manner, that I am in- 
clined to think he rather fell into it insensibly, 
in consequence of the occasional impulse of ac- 
cidental curiosity, than from any regular de- 
sign he had formed to himself when he began 
to collect materials for that celebrated perform- 
ance. He seems, indeed, to confess this in the 
following passage of his preface : " Often have 
I begun, and as often laid aside, this undertak- 
ing. I have followed my observations without 



any fixed plan, and without thinking either of 
rules or exceptions. I have found the truth 
only to lose it again." 

But whatever opinion we may form on this 
point, Montesquieu enjoys an unquestionable 
claim to the grand idea of connecting Juris- 
prudence with History and Philosophy, in such 
a manner as to render them all subservient to 
their mutual illustration. Some occasional dis- 
quisitions of the same kind may, it is true, be 
traced in earlier writers, particularly in the 
works of Bodinus ; but they are of a nature too 
trifling to detract from the glory of Montesquieu. 
When we compare the jurisprudential researches 
of the latter vrith the systems previously in 'pos- 
session of the schools, the step which he made 
appears to have been so vast as almost to justify 
the somewhat too ostentatious motto prefixed to 
them by the author ; Prolem sine Matre creatam. 
Instead of confining himself, after the example of 
his predecessors, to an interpretation of one part 
of the Roman code by another, he studied the 
Spirit of these laws in the political views of 
their authors, and in the peculiar circumstances 
of that extraordinary race. He combined the 
science of law with the history of political 
society, employing the latter to account for the 
varying aims of the legislator ; and the former, 
in its turn, to explain the nature of the govern- 
ment, and the manners of the people. Nor did 
he limit his inquiries to the Roman Law, and to 
Roman History ; but, convinced that the general 
principles of human nature are everywhere the 
same, he searched for new lights among the sub- 
jects of every government, and the inhabitants 
of every climate ; and, while he thus opened 
inexhaustible and xmthought of resources to the 
student of Jurisprudence, he indirectly marked 
out to the legislator the extent and the limits of 
his power, and recalled the attention of the 
philosopher from abstract and useless theories, 
to the only authentic monuments of the history 
of mankind. ^ 



' This, though somewhat amhiguously expressed, musi, I think, have been the idea of D'Alembert in the following sen- 
tence ; '■ Dans cet ouvrage, M. de Montesquieu s'occupe moing des loix qu'on a faites, que de celles qu'on a du faire." — 
( Eloge de M. do Montesquieu. J According to the most obvious interpretation of his words, they convey a meaning 
which I conceive to be the very reverse of the truth. 

= As examples of Montesquieu's peculiar and characteristical style of thinking in The Spirit of Lairs., may be mentioned 
his Observations on. the Origin and Revolutions of the Roman Laws on Successions ; and what he has written on the History of the 
Civil Laws in his own Country ; above all, his Theory of the Feudal Lavs among the Franks, considered in relation to the re- 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



95 



This view of law, which unites History and 
Philosophy with Jurisprudence, has been follow- 
ed out with remarkable success by various au- 
thors since Montesquieu's time ; and for a con- 
siderable number of years after the publication 
of the Spirit of Laws, became so very fashionable, 
particularly in this country, that many seem 
to have considered it, not as a step towards a 
farther end, but as exhausting the whole science 
of Jurisprudence. For such a conclusion there 
is undoubtedly some foundation, so long as we 
confine our attention to the ruder periods of so- 
ciety, in which governments and laws may be 
universally regarded as the gradual result of 
time and experience, of circumstances and emer- 
gencies. In enlightened ages, however, there 
cannot be a doubt, that political wisdom comes 
in for its share in the administration of human 
affairs ; and there is reasonable ground for hop- 
ing, that its influence will continue to increase, 
in proportion as the principles of legislation are 
more generally studied and understood. To 
suppose the contrary, would reduce us to be 
mere spectators of the progress and decline of so- 
ciety, and put an end to every species of pa- 
triotic exertion. 

Montesquieu's own aim in his historical dis- 
quisitions, was obviously much more deep and 
refined. In various instances, one would almost 
think he had in his mind the very shrewd 
aphorism of Lord Coke, that, " to trace an 
error to its fountain-head, is to refute it ;" — a 
species of refutation, which, as Mr Bcntham 
has well remarked, is, with many understand- 
ings, the only one that has any weight.* To 
men prepossessed with a blind veneration for the 
wisdom of antiquity, and strongly impressed 



with a conviction that every thing they see 
around them is the result of the legislative wis- 
dom of their ancestors, the very existence of a 
legal principle, or of an established custom, be- 
comes an argument in its favour ; and an argu- 
ment to which no reply can be made, but by 
tracing it to some acknowledged prejudice, or to 
a form of society so diSerent from that existing 
at present, that the same considerations which 
serve to account for its first origin, demonstrate 
indirectly the expediency of now accommodating 
it to the actual circumstances of mankind. 

According to this view of the subject, the 
speculations of Montesquieu were ultimately 
directed to the same practical conclusion with 
that pointed out in the prophetic suggestions of 
Bacon; aiming, however, at tliis object, by a 
process more circuitous ; and, perhaps, on that 
account, the more likely to be effectual. The 
plans of both have been since combined with 
extraordinary sagacity, by some of the later 
writers on Political Economy ; * but with their 
systems we have no concern in the present sec- 
tion. I shall therefore only remark, in addition 
to the foregoing observations, the peculiar utUity 
of these researches concerning the history of laws, 
in repressing the folly of sudden and violent in- 
novation, by illustrating the reference which 
laws must necessarily have to the actual circum- 
stances of a people, — and the tendency which 
natural causes have to improve gradually and 
progressively the condition of mankind, under 
every government which allows them to enjoy 
the blessings of peace and of liberty. 

The well-merited popularity of the Spirit of 
Laws, gave the first fatal blow to the study of 
Natural Jurisprudence ; p.irtly by the proofs 



volutions of their monarchy. On many points connected witli these researches, his conclusions have been since controverted ; 
l)Ut all his successors have agreed in acknowledging him as their common master and guide. 

' '■'■ If our ancestors have been all iiUmg iinilcr a vi'istakr, how came they lo hai-c fallen into it? is a question that naturally 
occurs upon all such occasions. The case is, that, in matters of law more especially, such is the dominion of authority over our 
minds, and such the prejudice it creates in favour of whatever institution it has taken under its wing, tliat, after all 
manner of reasons that can be thought of in favour of the institution have been shewn to be insutlicient, we still can- 
not forbear looking to some unassignable and latent reason for its elKcient cause. But if, instead of i>ny such reason, we 
can find a cause for it in some notion, of the erroneousness of which we are already satisfied, then at last we are content 
to give it up without farther struggle ; and then, and not till then, our satisfaction is complete." — Defence of Usury, pp. 1)4, 95. 

^ Above all, by .'\lr Smith; who, in his H'eatlU of Xalions, lias judiciously and skilfully combined with the inwstigation 
of general principles, the most luminous sketches of theoretical history relative to that form of political society which has 

given birth to so many of the institutions and customs peculiar to modern Europe " The strong ray of philosophic light 

on this interesting subject," whicli, according to Ciibhon, " broke from Scotland in our times," was but a rejieetion, though 
with a far steadier and more concentrated force, from the scattered but brilliant sparks kindled by the genius of Jlontesquieu. 
I shall afterwards have occasion to take notice of the mighty intlueuee which bis writings have had on the subsequent 
history of Scottish literature. 



96 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



which, in every page, the work afforded, of the 
absurdity of all schemes of Universal Legisla- 
tion ; and partly by the attractions which it 
possessed, in point of eloquence and taste, when 
contrasted with the insupportable dulness of the 
systems then in possession of the schools. It is 
remarkable, that Montesquieu has never once 
mentioned the name of Grotius ; — in this, pro- 
bably, as in numberless other instances, con- 
ceiving it to be less expedient to attack esta- 
blished prejudices openly and in front, than 
gradually to undermine the unsuspected errors 
upon which they rest. 

If the foregoing detaUs should appear tedious 
to some of my readers, I must request them to 
recollect, that they relate to a science which, 
for much more than a hundred years, constitu- 
ted tlie whole of pliilosophy, both ethical and 
political, of the largest portion of civilised Eu- 
rope. With respect to Germany, in particu- 
lar, it appears from the Count de Hertzberg, 
that this science continued to maintain its un- 
disputed ground, till it was supplanted by that 
gi'owing passion for Statistical details, which, 
of late, has given a direction so different, and 
in some respects so opposite, to the studies of 
his countrymen.' 

When from Germany we turn our eyes to 
the south of Europe, the prospect seems not 
merely sterile, but afflicting and almost hope- 
less. Of Spanish literature I know nothing but 
through the medium of Translations ; a very 
imperfect one, undoubtedly, when a judgment 
is to be passed on compositions addressed to 
the powers of imagination and taste ; yet fully 
sufficient to enable us to form an estimate of 
works which treat of science and philosophy. 
On such subjects, it may be safely concluded, 



that whatever is unfit to stand the test of a literal 
version, is not worth the trouble of being studied 
in the original. The progress of the Mind in 
Spain during the seventeenth century, we may 
therefore confidently pronounce, if not entirely 
suspended, to have been too inconsiderable to 
merit attention. 

" The only good book," says Montesquieu, 
" which the Spaniards have to boast of, is that 
which exposes the absurdity of all the rest." In 
this remark, I have little doubt that there is a 
considerable sacrifice of truth to the pointed 
effect of an antithesis. The unqualified censure, 
at the same time, of this great man, is not un- 
worthy of notice, as a strong expression of his 
feelings with respect to the general insignificance 
of the Spanish writers. ' 

The inimitable work here referred to by 
Montesquieu, is itself entitled to a place in this 
Discourse, not only as one of the happiest and 
most wonderful creations of human fancy, but 
as the record of a force of character, and an en- 
largement of mind, which, when contrasted with 
the prejudices of the author's age and nation, 
seem almost miraculous. It is not merely 
against Books of Chivalry that the satire of Cer- 
vantes is directed. Many other follies and ab- 
surdities of a less local and temporary nature 
have their share in his ridicule ; while not a 
single expression escapes his pen that can give 
offence to the most fastidious moralist. Hence 
those amusing and interesting contrasts by 
which Cervantes so powerfully attaches us to 
the hero of his story ; chastising the wildest 
fi'eaks of a disordered imagination, by a stateli- 
ness yet courtesy of virtue, and (on all subjects 
but one) by a superiority of good sense and of 
philosophical refinement, which, even under the 
most ludicrous circumstances, never cease to 



' " La eonnoissance des ^tats qu'on se plait aujourd'hui d'appeller Siatistigue, est une de ces sciences qui sont devenues 
k la mode, et qui out pris une vogue g^nc'rale depuis quelques ann^es ; elle a presque depossed^ celle du Droit Public, 
(jui r^gnoit au commencement et jusques vers le milieu du siecle present." — Rcflexiont mr la Force des Etats. Par M. le 
Comte de Hertzberg. Berlin, 1782. 

- " Lord Bolingbroke told Mr Spence, as he informs us in his Anecdotes, that Dryden assured him, he was more in- 
debted to the Spanish critics, than to the writers of any other nation."— (Malone, in a Note on Dryden't Essay on 
Drat/iatic Poesy. 

The same anecdote is told, though with a considerable difference in the circumstances, by Warton, in his Essay on 
the writings of Pope. " Lord Bolingbroke assured Pope, that Dryden often declared to him, that he got more from the 
Spanish critics, than from the Italian, French, and all other critics put together." 

I suspect that there is some mistake in this story. A Spanish gentleman, equally well acquainted with the literature 
of his own country and with that of England, assures me, that he cannot recollect a single Spanish critic from whom 
Dryden can reasonably be Supposed to have derived any important lights. 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



97 



command our respect, and to keep alive our 
sympathy. 

In Italj', notwithstanding the persecution 
undergone by Galileo, Pliysics and Astronomy 
continued to be cultivated with success by Tor- 
ricelli, Borelli, Cassini, and others ; and in pure 
Geometry, Viviani rose to the very first emi- 
nence, as the Restorer, or rather as the Diviner 
of ancient discoveries ; but, in all those studies 
which require the animating spirit of civil and 
religious liberty, this once renottTied country 
exhibited the most melancholy symptoms of 
mental decrepitude. " Rome," says a French 
historian, " was too much interested in main- 
taining her principles, not to raise every ima- 
ginable barrier against wliat might destroy them. 
Hence that Index of prohibited books, into whicli 
were put tlie liistory of the President de Thou ; 
the works on the liberties of the Galilean church; 
and (who could have believed it?) the transla- 
tions of the Holy Scriptures. Meanwhile, this 
tribunal, though always ready to condemn ju- 
dicious authors upon frivolous suspicions of 
lieresy, approved those seditious and fanatical 
theologists, whose writings tended to the en- 
couragement of regicide, and the destruction of 
government. The approbation and censiu-e of 
books (it is justly added) deserves a place in the 
history of the human mind." 

The great glory of tlie Continent towards the 
end of the seventeenth century (I except only the 
philosopliers of France) wa.s Leibnitz. He was 
born as early iis 1646, and distinguished him- 
self, wliile still a very young man, by a display 
of tliose talents which were afterwards to con- 
tend with the united powers of Clarke and of 
Newton. I have already introduced his name 
among the writers on Natural Law ; but, in 
every other respect, he ranks more fitly with 
the contemporaries of his old age tliaa with 
those of his youth. My reasons for thinking so 
will appear in the sequel. In tlie meantime, it 
may suffice to remark, that Leibnitz, the Jurist, 
belongs to one century, and Leibnitz, the Phi- 
losopher, to another. 

In this, and other analogous distril)utions of 
my materials, as well as in the order I have fol- 



lowed in the arrangement of particular facts, it 
may be proper, ouce for all, to observe, tliat 
much must necessarily be left to the discretion- 
ary, though not to the arbitrary decision of the 
author's judgment ; — that the dates which sepa- 
rate from each other the different stages in the 
progress of Human Reason, do not, like those 
whicli occur in the history of the exact sciences, 
admit of being fixed with chronological and in- 
disputable precision ; while, in adjusting the 
perplexed rights of the innumerable claimants 
in this intellectual and shadow}' region, a task 
is imposed on the T\Titer, resembling not unfre- 
quently the labour of him, who should have 
attempted to circumscribe, by mathematical 
lines, the melting and intermingling colours of 
Arachne's web ; 

In quo divers! niteant cum mille colores, 

Transitus ipse tamen spectantia lumina fallit ; 

Usque adeo quod tangit idem est, tamen ultima distant. 

But I wHl not add to the number (already 
too great) of the foregoing pages, by anticipat- 
ing, and attempting to obviate, the criticisms to 
which they may be liable. Nor vrAX I dissem- 
ble the confidence vAt\i which, amid a variety 
of doubts and misgivings, I look forward to the 
candid indulgence of those who are best fitted 
to appreciate the difficulties of my undertaking. 
I am certainly not prepared to say with John- 
son, that " I dismiss my work with frigid in- 
difference, and that to me success and miscar- 
riage are empty sounds." My feelings are more 
in unison with those expressed by the same 
m'iter in the conclusion of the admirable pre- 
face to his edition of Shakspeare. One of his 
reflections, more particularly, falls in so com- 
pletely with the train of my own thoughts, that 
I cannot forbear, before laying dowai the pen, 
to offer it to the consideration of my readers. 

" Perhaps I may not be more ccnsui'ed for 
doing wrong, than for doing little ; for raising 
in the public, expectations which at last I have 
not answered. The expectation of ignorance is 
indefinite, and that of knowledge is often tyran- 
nical. It is hard to satisfv those who know not 
what to doniaud, or those who demand by de- 
sign what they think impossible to be done." 



DISS. I. PART. I. 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



PART SECOND. 



In the farther prosecution of the plan of 
whic}i I traced the outline in the Preface to the 
First Part of this Dissertation, I find it neces- 
sary to depart considerably from the arrange- 
ment which I adopted in treating of the Phi- 
losophy of the seventeenth century. During 
that period, the literary intercourse between the 
different nations of Europe was comparatively 
so slight, that it seemed adN^isable to consider, 
separately and successively, the progress of the 
mind in England, in France, and in Germany. 
But from the era at which we are now arrived, 
tlie Republic of Letters may be justly understood 
to comprehend, not only these and other coun- 
tries in their neighbourhood, but every region 
of the civilised earth. Disregarding, according- 
ly, all diversities of language and of geogi-aphi- 
cal situation, I shall direct my attention to the 
intellectual j)rogress of the species in general ; 
enlarging, however, chiefly on the Philosophy 
of those parts of Europe, from whence the rays 
of science have, in modern times, diverged to 
the other quarters of the globe. I propose also, 
in consequence of the thickening crowd of useful 
authors, keeping pace in their numbers with the 
diffusion of knowledge and of liberality, to allot 
separate discourses to the history of Metaphysics, 
of Ethics, and of Politics ; a distributi(m which, 
while it promises a more distinct and connected 
view of these different subjects, will furnish con- 
venient resting-pliiccs, both to the writer and 
to the reader, and cau scarcely fail to place, iu 



a stronger and more concentrated light, what- 
ever general conclusions may occur in the course 
of this survey. 

The foregoing considerations, combined witli 
the narrow limits assigned to the sequel of my 
work, will sufficiently account for the contract- 
ed scale of some of the following sketches, when 
compared with the magnitude of the questions 
to which they relate, and the peculiar interest 
which they derive from their immediate influ- 
ence on the opinions of our own times. 

In the case of Locke and Leibnitz, with whom 
the metaphysical history of the eighteenth cen- 
tury opens, I mean to allow myself a greater de- 
gree of latitude. Tlie rank which I have as- 
signed to both in my general plan seems to re- 
quire, of course, a more ample space for their 
leading doctrines, as well as for those of some 
of their contemporaries and immediate succes- 
sors, than I can spare for metaphysical systems 
of a more modern date ; and as the rudiments 
of the most important of these are to be found 
in the speculations either of one or of the i>ther, 
I shall endeavour, by connecting with my re- 
view of their works, those longer and more ab- 
stract discussions which are necessary for the 
illustration of fundamental principles, to avoid, 
as far as possible, iu the remaining part of my 
discourse, any tedious digressions into the thorny 
paths of scholastic controversy. The critical 
remarks, accordingly, which I am now to offer 
on their philosophicid writings, will, I trust, 



100 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



enable me to execute the very slight sketches 
which are to follow, in a manner at once more 
easy to myself, and more satisfactory to the bulk 
of ray readers. 

But what I have chieflj' in view in these pre- 
liminary observations, is to correct certain mis- 
apprehensions concerning the opinions of Locke 
and of Leibnitz, which have misled (with very 
few exceptions) all the later historians who 
liave treated of the literature of the eighteenth 
century. I have felt a more particular solici- 
tude to vindicate the fame of Locke, not only 
against the censures of his opponents, but against 
the mistaken comments and eulogies of his ad- 
mirers, both in England and on the Continent. 
Appeals to his authority are so frequent in the 
reasonings of all who have since canvassed the 
same subjects, that, without a precise idea of 
his distinguishing tenets, it is impossible to form 
a just estimate, either of the merits or demerits 



of his successors. In order to assist my readers 
in this previous study, I shall endeavour, as far 
as I can, to make Locke his own commentator ; 
earnestly entreating them, before they proceed 
to the sequel of this dissertation, to collate care- 
fully those scattered extracts from his works, 
which, in the following section, they will find 
brought into contact with each other, with a 
view to their mutual illustration. My own con- 
viction, I confess, is, that the Essay on Human 
Understanding has been much more generally 
applaiided than read ; and if I could only flatter 
myself with the hope of drawing the atten- 
tion of the public from the glosses of commen- 
tators to the author's text, I should think that 
I had made a considerable step towards the 
correction of some radical and prevailing 
errors, which- the supposed sanction of his 
name has hitherto sheltered from a free exami- 
nation. 



PROGRESS OF METAPHYSICS DURING THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY. 



SECTION I. 



Historical and Critical Review of the Philosophical Works of Locke and Leibnitz. 



LOCKE. 



Before entering on the subject of this sec- 
tion, it is proper to premise, that, although my 
design is to treat separately of Metaphysics, 
Ethics, and Politics, it will be impossible to 
keep these sciences wholly unmLxed in the course 
of my reflections. They all run into each other 
by insensible gradations ; and they have all been 
happily united in the comprehensive speculations 
of some of the most distinguished writers of the 
eighteenth century. The connection between 
Metaphysics and Ethics is more peculiarly close ; 
the theory of Morals having fiu-nished, ever 
since the time of Cudworth, several of the most 
abstruse questions which have been agitated 



concerning the general principles, both intel- 
lectual and active, of the human frame. The 
inseparable affinity, however, between the dif- 
ferent branches of the Philosophy of the Mind, 
does not afibrd any argument against the arrange- 
ment which I have adopted. It only shows, 
that it cannot, in every instance, be rigorously 
adhered to. It shall be my aim to deviate from 
it as seldom, and as slightly, as the miscellaneous 
nature of my materials will permit. 

John Locke, from the publication of whose 
Essay on Human Understanding a new era is to 
be dated in the History of Philosophy, was born 
at Wriugton in Somersetshire, in 1632. Of 



^ 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



101 



his father nothing remarkable is recorded, but 
that he was a captain in the Parliament's army 
during the civil wars ; a circumstance which, it 
may be presumed from the son's political opi- 
nions, would not be regarded by him as a stain 
on the memory of his parent. 

In the earlier part of Mr Locke's life, he pro- 
secuted for some years, with great ardour, the 
study of medicine ; an art, however, which he 
never actually exercised as a profession. Ac- 
cording to his friend Le Clerc, the delicacy of 
his constitution rendered this impossible. But, 
that his proficiency in the study was not in- 
considerable, we have good evidence in the de- 
dication prefixed to Dr Sydenham's Observations 
on the History and Cure of Acute Diseases ;* where 
he boasts of the approbation bestowed on his 
Method by Mr John Locke, who (to borrow 
Sydenham's own words) " examined it to the 
bottom ; and who, if we consider his genius and 
penetrating and exact judgment, has scarce any 
superior, and few equals, now living." The 
merit of this Method, therefore, which still 
continues to be regarded as a model by the most 
competent judges, may be presumed to have be- 
longed ?'« /jar< to Mr Locke,' — a circumstance 
which deserves to be noticed, as an additional 
confirmation of what Bacon has so sagaciously 
taught, concerning the dependence of all the 
sciences relating to the phenomena, either of 
Matter or of Mind, on principles and rules de- 
rived from the resources of a higher philosophy. 
On the other hand, no science could have been 
chosen, more happily calculated than Medicine, 
to prepare such a mind as that of Locke for the 
prosecution of those speculations which liave 
immortalised liis name ; the complicated, and 
fugitive, and often equivocal phenomena of dis- 
ease, requiring in the observer a far greater 
portion of discriminating sagacity, than those 



of Physics, strictly so called; resembling, in 
this respect, much more nearly, the phenomena 
about which Metaphysics, Ethics, and Politics, 
are conversant. 

I have said, that the study of Medicine forms 
one of the best preparations for the study of 
Mind, to such an understanding as Lockers. To 
an understanding less comprehensive, and less 
cidtivated by a liberal education, the effect of 
this study is likely to be similar to what we 
may trace in the works of Hartley, Darwin, and 
Cabanis ; to all of whom we may more or less 
apply the sarcasm of Cicero on Aristoxenus, the 
Musician, who attempted to explain the nature 
of the soul by comparing it to a Harmony ; Hic 

AB ARTIFICIO SUO NON RECESSIT.' In Locke's 

Essay, not a single passage occurs, savouring of 
the Anatomical Theatre, or of the Chemical 
Laboratory. 

In 1666, Mr Locke, then in his thirty-fifth 
year, formed an intimate acquaintance with 
Lord Ashley, afterwards Earl of Shaftesbury ; 
from which period a complete change took place, 
both in the direction of his studies, and in his 
habits of life. His attention appears to have been 
then turned, for the first time, to politic.il subjects: 
and his place of residence transferred from the 
university to the metropolis. From London (a 
scene which gave him access to a society very 
different from what he had previously lived in)* 
he occasionally passed over to the Continent, 
where he had an opportunity of profiting by tlie 
conversation of some of the most distinguished 
persons of his age. In the course of his fo- 
reign excursions, he visited France, Germany, 
and Holland ; but the last of these countries 
seems to have been his favourite place of resi- 
dence ; the blessings which the people there en- 
joyed, under a governjuent peculiarly favourable 
to civil and religious liberty, amply compensat- 



' Published in tlie .year IC/fi. 

' It is remarked of Svdenliam, by the late Dr John Gregory, " That though full of hypothetical reasoning, it had not the 
usual effect of making liim less attentive to observation ; and that his hypotheses seem to have sat so loosely about him, 
that eillicr they did not influence his practice at all, or ho could easily abandon them, whenever they would not bend tu 
his experience." 

This is precisely the idea of I.ocke concerning the true use of hypotheses. " Hypotheses, if they are well made, are at 
least great helps to the memory, and often direct us to now discoveries." — Locke's IVorks, Vol. III. p. 81. See also some 
remarks on the same subject in" one of his letters to Mr fliolyneux. (The edition of Locke to whicli I uniformly refer, is 
that printed at I>ond(m in liU2, in Ten Volumes 8vo.) 

' Tusc. Qu:est. Lib. 1. 

* Villiers Duke of Buckingliam, and tlie Lord Halifax, are particularly mentioned among those who were delighted with 
his conversation. 



102 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



ing, in his view, for what their uninviting ter- 
ritory wanted in point of scenery and of climate. 
In this respect, the coincidence between the taste 
of Locke and that of Descartes tlu'ows a pleasing 
light on the characters of both. 

The plan of the Essay on Human Understanding 
is said to have been formed as early as 1670; 
but the A'arious employments and avocations of 
the Author prevented him from finishing it till 
1687, when he fortunately availed himself of the 
leisure which his exile in Holland afforded him, 
to complete his long meditated design. He re- 
turned to England soon after the Revolution, 
and published the first edition of his work in 
1690 ; the busy and diversified scenes through 
which he had passed during its progress, haNang 
probably contributed, not less tlian the acade- 
mical retirement in which he liad spent his 
youth, to enhance its peculiar and characte- 
ristical merits. 

Of the circumstances which gave occasion to 
this great and memorable luidertakiug, the fol- 
lowing interesting account is given in the Pre- 
fatonj Epistle to the Reader. " Five or six 
friends, meeting at my chamber, and discoursing 
on a subject very remote from this, found them- 
selves quickly at a stand, by the difficulties 
that rose on every side. After we had a while 
puzzled ourselves, without coming any nearer a 
resolution of those doubts which perplexed us, 
it came into my thoughts that we took a wrong 
course, and that, before we set ourselves upon 
inquiries of that nature, it was necessaiy to ex- 
amine our ovm abilities, and see what objects 
our understandings were, or were not, fitted to 
deal with. This I proposed to the company, 
who all readily assented, and thereupon it was 
agi'eed, that tliis should be our first inquiry. 
Some hasty and undigested thoughts on a sub- 
ject I had never before considered, which I set 
do\vu against our next meeting, gave the first 
entrance into this discourse, which lumng been 
thus begun by chance, was continued by en- 
treaty ; Avrittcn by incoherent parcels, and, after 
long intervals of neglect, resumed again as my 
Immoui" or occasions permitted ; and at last in 
retirement, where an attendance on my health 
gave me leisure, it was brought into that order 
thou now seest it." 



Mr Locke afterwards informs us, that " when 
he first put pen to paper, he thought all he 
should have to say on this matter would have 
been contained in one sheet, but that the far- 
ther he went the larger prospect he had ; — new 
discoveries still leading him on, tUl liis book 
grew insensibly to the bulk it now appears in." 

On comparing the Essay on Human Under- 
standing with the foregoing account of its origin 
and progress, it is curious to observe, that it is 
the fourth and last book alone which bears di- 
rectly on the author's principal object. In this 
book, it is further remarkable, that there are 
few, if any references to the preceding parts of 
the Essay ; insomuch that it might have been 
published separately, without being less intel- 
ligible than it is. Hence, it seems not unreason- 
able to conjecture, that it was the Jirst part 
of the work in the order of composition, and 
that it contains those leading and fundamental 
thoughts wliich offered themselves to the au- 
thor's mind, when he first began to reflect on 
the friendly conA'ersation which gave rise to his 
philosophical researches. The inquii'ies in the 
first and second books, which are of a much 
more abstract, as well as scholastic nature, than 
the sequel of the work, probably opened gradu- 
ally on the author's mind in proportion as he 
studied his subject with a closer and more con- 
tinued attention. Tliey relate cliiefly to the 
origin and to the technical classification of our 
ideas, frequently branching out into collateral, 
and sometimes into digressive discussions, with- 
out much regard to method or connection. The 
third book (by far the most important of the 
whole), where the nature, the use, and the abuse 
of language are so cleai-ly and happily illustrated, 
seems, from Locke's own account, to have been 
a sort of after-thought ; and the two excellent 
chapters on the Association of Ideas and on En- 
thusiasm (the former of wliich has contributed, 
as much as any thing else in Locke's writings, 
to the subsequent progress of Metaphysical Phi- 
losophy, were printed, for the first time, in the 
fourth edition of the Essay. 

I would not be understood, by these remarks, 
to undervalue the two first books. All tliat I 
have said amounts to this, that the subjects which 
they treat of are seldom susceptible of any prac' 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



103 



tical application to the conduct of the under- 
standing ; and that the author has adopted a new 
phraseology of his own, where, in some in- 
stances, he might have much more clearly con- 
veyed his meaning without any departure from 
the ordinary forms of speech. But although 
these considerations render the two first books 
inferior in point of general utility to the two 
last, they do not materially detract from their 
merit, as a precious accession to the theory of 
the Human Mind. On the contrary, I do not 
hesitate to consider them as the richest con- 
tribution of well-observed and well-described 
facts, which was ever bequeathed to this branch 
of science by a single individual, and as the 
indisputable, though not always acknowledged, 
source of some of the most refined conclusions, 
with respect to the intellectual phenomena, which 
have been since brought to light by succeeding 
inquirers. 

After the details given by Locke himself, of 
the circumstances in which his Essay was be- 
gun and completed ; more especially, after what 
he has stated of the " discontinued way of writ- 
ing," imposed on him by the avocations of a 
busy and unsettled life, it cannot be thought 
surprising, that so very little of method should 
appear in the disposition of his materials ; or that 
the opinions which, on different occasions, he 
hiis pronounced on the same subject, should not 
always seem perfectly steady and consistent. 
In these last eases, however, I am incliniMl to 
think that the inconsistencies, if duly reflected 
on, would be found rather apparent than real. 
It is but seldom that a wi'iter possessed of the 
powerful and upright mind of Locke, can rea- 
sonably be suspected of stating propositions in 
direct contradiction to each other. The pre- 
sumption is, that, in each of these propositions, 
there is a mixture of truth, and that the error 



lies chiefly in the unqualified manner in which 
the truth is stated ; proper allowances not being 
made, during the fervour of composition, for 
the partial survey taken of the objects from a 
particular point of view. Perhaps it would not 
be going too far to assert, that most of the seem- 
ing contradictions which occur in authors ani- 
mated with a sincere love of truth, might be 
fairly accounted for by the different aspects 
which the same object presented to them upon 
different occasions. In reading such authors, 
accordingly, when we meet with discordant ex- 
pressions, instead of indulging ourselves in the 
captiousncss of verbal criticism, it would better 
become us carefully and candidly to collate the 
questionable passages ; and to study so to re- 
concile them by judicious modifications and cor- 
rections, as to render the oversights and mis- 
takes of our illustrious guides subservient to the 
precision and soundness of our own conclusions. 
In the case of Locke, it must be owned, that this 
is not always an easy task, as the limitations of 
some of his most exceptionable propositions are 
to be collected, not from the context, but from 
different and widely separated parts of his 
Essay. ' 

In a work thus composed by snatches (to bor- 
row a phrase of the author's), it was not to be 
expected, that he should be able accurately to 
draw the line between his own ideas, and the 
hints for which he was indebted to others. To 
those who are wcll_ acquainted with his specula- 
tions, it must appear evident, that he had studied 
diligently the metaphysical writings both of 
Hobbes and of Gassendi ; and that he was no 
stranger to the Essays of jNIontaigne, to the phi- 
losophical works of Bacon, or to Malebranche's 
Inquiry after Tnit/i." That he was familiarly 
conversant with the Cartesian system may be 
presumed from what we are told by his bio- 



' That Locke himself was sensible that some of his expressions required explanation, and was anxious that his opi- 
nions should be Judged of rather from the general tone and s|)irit of his work, than from detached and isolated proposi- 
tions, may be inferred from a passage in one of his notes, where he replies to the animadversions of one of his antagonists 
ilhe lleverend Mr I.owde), who had accused him of calling in question the immutability of moral distinctions. " Byt 
says Locke) the good man does well, and as becomes his calling, to be watchful in such points, and to take the alarm, even 
at expressions which, standing alone bv themselves, might sound ill, and be suspected." — (Locke's t^'orks, VoL II. p. 93. 
Note.) 

• Jlr Addison has remarked, that jralebranchc had the start of Locke, by several years, in his notions on the subject of 
Duration — (.Spectator, No. U4.) Some otlier coincidences, not less remarkable, might be easily pointed out in the opinions 
of the English and of the French philosopher. 



104 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



graphcr, tliat it was this wliich first inspired him 
with a disgust at the jargon of the schools, and 
led him into that triiin of thinking which he after- 
wards prosecuted so successfully. I do not, 
however, recollect that he has anywhere in his 
Essay mentioned the name of any one of these 
authors.' It is probable, tliat, when he sat 
down to write, he found the result of his youth- 
ful reading so completely identified with the 
fruits of his subsequent reflections, that it was 
impossible for him to attempt a separation of 
the one from the other ; and that he was thus 
occasionally led to mistake the treasures of me- 
mory for those of invention. That this was 
really the case, may be farther presumed from 
the peculiar and originiil cast of his phraseo- 
logy, which, though in general careless and un- 
polished, hiis always the merit of that charac- 
teristical unity and raciness of style, which de- 
monstrate, that, while he was wi'iting, he con- 
ceived himself to be drawing only from his own 
resources. 

With respect to his style, it may be further ob- 
served, that it resembles that of a well educated 
and well informed man of the world, rather than 
of a recluse student who had made an object of 
the art of composition. It everywhere abounds 
with colloquial expressions, which he had pro- 
bably caught by the ear from those whom he 
considered as models of good conversation ; and 
hence, though it now seems somewhat antiqua- 
ted, and not altogether suited to the dignity of 
the subject, it may be presumed to have contri- 
buted its share towards his great object of turn- 
ing the thoughts of his contemporaries to logi- 
cal and metaphysical inquiries. The author of 
the Characteristics, who will not be accused of 
an undue partiality for Locke, acknowledges, in 
strong terms, the favourable reception which his 
book had met with among the higher classes. 
" I am not soriy, however," says Shaftesburj', 
to one of his correspondents, " that I lent you 
Locke's Essay, a book that may as well qualify 



men for business and the world, as for the sciences 
and a university. No one has dcnic more to- 
wards the recalling of philosophy from barbarity, 
into use and pi'actice of the world, and into the 
company of the better and politer sort, who 
might well be ashamed of it in its other dress. 
No one has opened a better and clearer way to 
reasoning." - 

In a passage of one of Warburton's letters to 
Hurd, which I had occasion to quote in the first 
part of this Dissertation, it is stated as a fact, 
that, " when Locke first published his Essay, he 
had neither followers nor admirers, and hardly a 
single approver." I cannot help suspecting very 
strongly the correctness of this assertion, not 
only from the flattering terms in which the Essay 
is mentioned by Shaftesbury in the foregoing 
quotation, and from the frequent allusions to its 
doctrines by Addison and other popular ^Titers 
of the same period, but from the unexampled 
sale of the book, during the fourteen years 
which elapsed between its publication and Locke's 
death. Four editions were pi'inted in the space 
of ten years, and three others must have ap- 
peared in the space of the next four ; a refer- 
ence being made to the sixth edition by the au- 
thor himself, in the epistle to the reader, prefix- 
ed to all the subsequent impressions. A copy 
of the thirteenth edition, printed as early as 
1748, is now lying befoi-e me. So rapid and so 
extensive a circulation of a work, on a subject 
so little within the reach of common readers, is 
the best proof of the established popularity of 
the author's name, and of the respect generally 
entertained for his talents and his opinions. 

That the Essay on Human Understanding should 
have excited some alarm in the University of 
Oxford, was no more than the author had rea- 
son to expect from his boldness as a philosoplii- 
cal reformer; from his avowed zeal in the cause 
of liberty, both civil and religious ; from the 
suspected orthodoxy of his Tlieological Creed ; 
and (it is but candid to add) from the apparent 



' The name of Hobbes occurs in Mr Locke's Beply to the Bishop of Worcester. See the Notes on his Essay, B. iv. c. 3. 
It is curious that he classes Hobbes and Spinoza together, as writers of the same stamp ; and that he disclaims any intimate 
acquaintance with tlie works of either. " I am not so well read in Hobbes and Spinoza as to be able to say what were their 
opinions in this matter, but possibly there be those who will think your Lordship's authority of more use than those just- 
ly decried names," &c. &c. 

' See Shaftesbury's First Letter to a Student at the University. 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



105 



coincidence of his ethical doctrines with those of 
Hobhes.'^ It is more difficult to account for the 
long continuance, in that illustrious seat of learn- 
ing, of the prejudice against the logic of Locke 
(l>y far the most valuable part of his work), and 
of that partiality for the logic of Aristotle, of 
which Locke has so fully exposed the futility. 
In the University of Cambridge, on the other 
hand, the Essay on Human Understanding was, 
for many years, regarded with a reverence ap- 
proaching to idolatry ; and to the authority of 
some distinguished persons connected with that 
learned body may be traced (as will afterwards 
appear) the origin of the greater part of the ex- 
travagancies which, towards the close of the last 
century, were grafted on Locke's errors, by the 
disciples of Hartley, of Law, of Priestley, of 
Tooke, and of Darwin.^ 

To a person who now reads with attention 
and candour the work in question, it is much more 
easy to enter into the prejudices which at first 
opposed themselves to its complete success, than 
to conceive how it should so soon have acquired 
its just celebrity. Something, I suspect, must 
be ascribed to the political importance which Mr 
Locke had pre^'iously acquired as the champion 
of religious toleration ; as the great apostle of 
the Revolution ; and as the intrepid opposer of 
a tyranny wliich had been recently overthrown. 

In Scotland, where the liberal constitution of 
the universities has been always peculiarly fa- 
vourable to the diffusion of a free and eclectic 
spirit of inquiry, the philosophy of Locke seems 



very early to have struck its roots, deeply and 
permanently, into a kindly and congenial soil. 
Nor were the errors of this great man implicit- 
ly adopted from a blind reverence for his name. 
The works of Descartes still continued to be 
studied and admii-ed ; and the combined systems 
of the English and the French metaphysicians 
served, in many respects, to correct what was 
faulty, and to supply what was deficient, in 
each. As to the ethical principles of Locke, 
where they appear to lean towards Hobbism, 
a powerful antidote against them was already 
prepared in the Treatise De Jure Belli et Pads, 
which was then universally and deservedly re- 
garded in this country as the best introduction 
that had yet appeared to the study of moral 
science. If Scotland, at this period, produced 
no eminent authors in these branches of learn- 
ing, it was not from want of erudition or of ta- 
lents ; nor yet from the narrowness of mind in- 
cident to the inhabitants of remote and insula- 
ted regions ; but irom the almost insuperable 
difficulty of writing in a dialect, which imposed 
upon an author the double task of at once ac- 
quiring a new language, and of unlearning his 
own.' 

The success of Locke's Essay, in some parts 
of the Continent, was equally remarkable ; 
owing, no doubt, in the first instance, to the 
very accurate translation of it into the French 
language by Coste, and to the eagerness with 
which every thing proceeding from the author of 
the Letters on Toleration* may be presumed to 



' " It was proposed at a meetine of the heads of houses of the University of Oxford, to censure and discourajre the 
reading of Locke's Essay; and, alter various debates among themselves, it was concluded, that each head of a house 

should endeavour to prevent its being read in his college, without coming to any public censure." (See Des JIaizeaux's 

note on a letter from Locke to Collins Locke's WurKs, Vol. X. p. i\H. 

' I have taken notice, witli due praise, in the former jiart of this discourse, of the metaphysical speculations of John 
Smith, Henry IVIore, and Ualph Cudworth ; all of them members and ornaments of the University of Cambridge about 
the middle of the seventeeth century. They were deeply conversant in the Platonic Philosophy, and applied it with great 
success in combating the Materialists and Necessitarians of their times. They carried, indeed, some of their Platonic no- 
tions to an excess bordering on mysticism, and may, perhaps, have contributed to give a bias to some of their academical 
successors towards the opposite extreme. A very pleasing and interesting account of the characters of these amiable and 
ingenious men, and of the spirit of their pliilosophy, is given by Burnet in the History of his Orc« Times. 

To the credit of Smith and of More it may be added, tliat they were among the first in England to perceive and to 
acknowledge the merits of the Cartesian Metaphysics. 

' Note S. 

* The principle of religious toleration was at that time very imperfectly admitted, even by those philosophers who 
were the most zealously attached to the cause of civil liberty. The great Scottish lawyer and statesman. Lord Stair, 
himself no mean philosopher, and, like Locke, a warm partizan of the Revolution, seems evidently to have regretted the 
impunity which Spinoza had experienced in Holland, and Hobbes in England. " Execrabilis ille Atheus Spinosa adeo 
impudens est, ut affirmet omnia esse absolute necess,iria, et nihil quod est, fuit, aut erit, aliter fieri potuisse, in quo omnes 
superiorcs Atheos excessit, ajierte negans oninem Deitatem, nihilque proeter potentias naturx agnoscens. 

" Vaninus Deitatem non aperte negavit, scd causam illius prodidit, in tractatu quem edidit, argumenta pro Dei existen- 
tia tanquam futilia et vana rejiciens, adfcrendo contrarias omncs rationes per modum objectionum, casque prosequendo ut 
DISS. I. PART II. O 



106 PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 

have been read by the multitude of learned and to as the great oracle in every branch of leam- 
enlightened refugees, whom the revocation of ing and of science. If I am not mistaken, it 
the edict of Nantz forced to seek an asylum in was in Switzerland, where (as Gibbon observes) 
Protestant countries. In Holland, where Locke " the intermixture of sects had rendered the 
was personally known to the most distinguish- clergy acute and learned on controversial topics," 
ed characters, both literary and political, his that Locke's real merits were first appreciated 
work was read and praised by a discerning few, on the Continent with a discriminating impartial 
with all the partiality of friendship ; ' but it does lity. In Crousaz's Treatise of Logic (a book 
not seem to have made its way into the schools which, if not distinguished by originality of ge- 
till a period considerably later. The doctrines nius, is at least strongly marked with the sound 
of Descartes, at fii'st so vehemently opposed in and unprejudiced judgment of the author), we 
that country, were now so completely triumph- everywhere trace the influence of Locke's doc- 
ant, both among philosophers and divines, * that trines ; and, at the same time, the efifects of the 
it was diflScult for a new reformer to obtain a Cartesian Metaphysics, in limiting those hasty 
hearing. The case was very nearly similar in expressions of Locke, which have been so often 
Germany, where Leibnitz (who always speaks misinterpreted by his followers.* Nor do Crou- 
coldly of Locke's Essay)* was then looked up saz's academical labours appear to have been less 

indissolubiles videantur; postea tamen larvam exuit, et atheismum clare professus est, et jdstissime in inclyta uebe 

TUOLOSA DAMNATUS EST ET CREMATUS. 

" Horrendus Hobbesius tertius erat atheismi promotor, qui omnia principia moralia et politica subvertit, eorumque 
loco naturalem vim et humana pacta, ut prima principia moralitatis, societatis, et politic! regiminis substituit : nec ta- 

BIEN SpINOSA AHT HoBBIUS, QUAMVIS in IIEGIONIBUS KEFORMATIS VIXEBINT ET MORTUI SINT, NEDUM EXEMPLA 

FACTi SUNT IV ATHEOBUM TERnoiiEJi, DT NE VEL ULLAM PjEnam senserint." — (Physiol. Nova Experimentalii. Lugd. 
Batav. lUGC, pp. IC, I7.) 

' Among those whose society Locke chiefly cultivated while in Holland, was the celebrated Le Clerc, the author of the 
SibUoHitquc UniverscUe, and the Bihl'wtheqne C/ioisie, besides many other learned and ingenious publications. He appears to 
have been warmly attached to Locke, and embraced the fundamental doctrines of his Essay without any slavish deference 
for his authority. Though he fixed his residence at Amsterdam, wliere he taught Pliilosophy and the Belles Lettres, he 
was a native of Geneva, where he also received his academical education. He is, therefore, to be numbered with Locke's 
Swiss disciples. I shall have occasion to speak of him more at length afterwards, when I come to mention his controversy 
with Bayle. At present, I shall only observe, that his Eloge on Locke was published in the Billiothtque Cfioidc (Ann^e 
1705,) Tom. VI. ; and that some important remarks on the £ssay on Human Understanding, particularly on the chapter on 
Power, are to be found in the 12th Vol. of the same work (AnnJe 1707-) 

- Quamvis huic sectse (Cartesianse) initio acriter se opponerent Theologi et Philosophi Belgse, in Academiis tamen 
eorum /iodic (1727,) vix alia, quam Cartesiana principia inculcantur. — (Heineccii Elcm. Hist. Philosoph.) In Gravesande's 
Introductio ad Philosojihiam, published in 1730, the name of Locke is not once mentioned. It is probable that this last au- 
thor was partly influenced by his admiration for Leibnitz, whom he servilely followed even in his physical errors. 

' In Lockio sunt quaedam particularia non male exposita, sed in summa longe aberravit a janua, nec naturam mentis 

veritatisque intellexit (Leibnitz. Op. Tom. V. p. 353. ed. Dutens.) 

M. Locke avoit de la subtilite et de I'addresse, et quelque espece de metaphysique superficielle qu'il savoit relever 

{Ibid. pp. 11, 12.) 

Heineccius, a native of Saxony, in a Sketch of the History of Philosophy, printed in 1728, omits altogether the name of 
Locke in his enumeration of the logical and metaphysical writers of modern Europe. In a passage of his logic, where 
the same author treats of clear and obscure, adequate and inadequate ideas (a subject on which little or nothing of any value 
had been advanced before Locke), he observes, in a note, " Debemus banc Doctrinam Leibnitio, eamque delude sequutus 
est illust. Wolfius." 

■* Of the Essay on Human Understanding Crousaz speaks in the following terms : " Clarissimi, et merito celebratissimi 
Lockii de Intellectu Ilumano eximium opus, et auctore suo dignissimum, logicis utilissimis semper annumerabitur." — 
(Prmfat.) If Pope had ever looked into this Treatise, he could not have committed so gross a mistake, as to introduce 
the author into the Dunciad, among Locke's iVristotelian opponents ; a distinction for which Crousaz was probably indebted 
to his acute strictures on those passages in the Essay on Man, which seem favourable to fatalism. 

Prompt at the call, around the goddess roU 

Broad hats, and hoods, and caps, a sable shoal ; 

Thick and more thick the black blockade extends, 

A hundred head of Aristotle's friends. 

Nor wert thou, Isis ! wanting to the day 

(Though Christ-church long kept prudishly away). 

Each staunch Polemic, stubborn as a rock. 

Each fierce Logician, still expelling Locke, 

Came whip and spur, and dash'd through thin and thick 

On German Crousaz, and Dutch Burgersdyck. 
Warburton, with his usual scurriUty towards all Pope's adversaries as well as his own, has called Crousaz a blundering 
Swiss ; but a very different estimate of his merits has been formed by Gibbon, who seems to have studied his works much 
more earefuUy than the Right Reverend Commentator on the Dunciad. 
" M. de Crousaz, the adversary of Bayle and Pope, is not distinguished by lively fancy or profound reflection ; and 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 107 

useful than his writings ; if a judgment on this public notice in France. Voltaire, in a letter to 

point may be formed from the sound philosophi- Horace Walpole, asserts, that he was the first 

cal principles which he diffused among a nume- person who made the name of Locke known to 

rous race of pupils. One of these (M. Alia- his countrymen ; * but I suspect that this asser- 

mand), the friend and correspondent of Gibbon, tion must be received with considerable quali- 

deserves particularly to be noticed here, on ac- fications. The striking coincidence between 

count of two letters published in the posthumous some of Locke's most celebrated doctrines and 

works of tliat historian, containing a criticism those of Gassendi, can scarcely be supposed to 

on Locke's argument against innate ideas, so very have been altogether overlooked by the followers 

able and judicious, that it may still be read with and admirers of the latter ; considering the im- 

advantage by many logicians of no small note mediate and very general circulation given on the 

in the learned world. Had these letters bap- Continent to the Essay on Human Understanding, 

pened to have sooner attracted my attention, I by Coste's French version. The Gassendisfs, too, 

should not have delayed so long to do this tardy it must be remembered, formed, even before 

justice to their merits." the death of their master, a party formidable in 

I am not able to speak \vith confidence of the talents as well as in numbers ; including, among 

period at which Locke's Essay began to attract other distinguished names, those of Moliere,* 

even in his own country, at the end of a few years, his name and writings are almost obliterated. But his Philosophy had 
been formed in the school of Locke, his Divinity in that of I^imborch and Le Clerc ; in a long and laborious life, several 
generations of pupils were taught to think, and even to write ; his lessons rescued the Academy of Lausanne from Cal- 
vinistic prejudices ; and he had the rare merit of diffusing a more liberal spirit among the people of the Payi de Vaud." — 
(GlBBOx's Memoirs.) 

In a subsequent passage Gibbon says, " the logic of Crousaz had prepared me to engage with his master lyocke, and his 
antagonist Bayle ; of whom the former may be used as a bridle, and the latter applied as a spur to the curiosity of a young 
ph ilosopher. " — Clbid. ) 

The following details, independently of their reference to Crousaz, are so interesting in themselves, and afford so strong 
a testimony to the utility of logical studies, when rationally conducted, that I am tempted to transcribe them. 

" December 17J5- In finishing this year, I must remark how favourable it was to my studies. In the space of eight 
months, I learned the principles of drawing ; made myself completely master of the French and Latin languages, with 
which I was very superficially acquainted before, and wrote and translated a great deal in both ; read Cicero's Epistles ad 
Familiares, his ijrutus, all his Orations, his Dialogues de Amicitia et deSenectute; Terence twice, and Pliny's Epistles. 
In French, (iiannoni's History of Naples, TAbbe Banier's Jlythology, and -11. Koehafs Jlemoires sur la Suisse, and wrote 
a very ample relation of my tour. I likewise began to study Greek, and went through the grammar. I began to make 
very large collections of what I read. But what I esteem most of all, — from the perusal and meditation of De Crousaz's 
logic, I not only understood the principles of that science, but formed my mind to a habit of thinking and reasoning, I had 
no idea of before." 

After all, I very readily grant, that Crousaz's logic is chiefly to be regarded as the work of a sagacious and enlightened 
compiler ; but even this (due allowance being made for the state of philosophy when it appeared) is no mean praise. 
" Good sense (as Gibbon has very truly observed) is a quality of mind hardly less rare than genius." 

' For some remarks of SI. Allamand, which approach very near to Reid's Objections to the Ideal Theory, See Note T. 

Of this extraordinani' man Gibbon gives the following account in his Journal ; '■ C'est un niinistre dans le Pays de Vaud, 
et un des i)lus beaux gc'nies que je connoisse. II a voulu embrasser tous les genres ; mais c'est la Philosophie qu'il a le 
plus approfondi. Sur toutes les questions il s'est fait des systOmes, ou du moins des argumens toujours originaux et tou- 
jours ingenieux. Ses idees sont fines et lumineuses, son expression hcureuse et facile. On lui reproche avec raison 
trop de rafinement etde sulitilite dans I'esprit ; tro]) de fierte, trop d'ambition, et trop de violence dans lecaraet^re. Get 
homme, qui auroit pu e'clairer ou troubler une nation, vit et mourra dans I'obscurit^." 

It is of the same person that Gibbon sneeringly says, in the words of Vossius, " Est sacr\ficulus in pago, cl riuticos 
decipil." 

' " .Je peux vous assurer qu'avant moi personne en France ne connoissoit la poesie Angloise ; h peine avoit on entendu 
parler de Locke. J'ai c'tu persecute pendant trente ans par une nue'e de fanatiques pour avoir dit que Locke est I'Her- 
culede la Sletaphysique, qui a pose les bornes de I'Esprit Humain." — (Ferney, 1768.) 

In the following pass.ige of t/ic A:;e of Louis XIV. the same celebrated writer is so lavish and undistinguishing in his 
praise of Locke, as almost to justify a doubt whether he had ever read the book which he extols so highly. " Locke seul 
a dt'vcloiipt' riiitttidcment humain., dans un livre ou il n'y a que des vi?ritt's; et ce qui rend I'ouvrage parfait, toutes ces 
v^ritc's sont elaires." 

' Moliere was in hisj-outh so strongly attached to the Epicurean theories, that he had projected a translation of Lu- 
cretius into French. He is even said to have made some progress in executing his design, when a trifling accident de- 
termined him, in a moment of ill humour, to throw his manuscript into the fire. The plan on which ho was to proceed in 
this bold undertaking does honour to his good sense and good taste, and seems to me the only one on wliich a successful 
version of Lucretius can ever be executed. The didactic passages of the poem were to be translated into prose, and the 
descriptive passages into verse. Both parts would have gained greatly by this comiiromise; for, where Lucretius wishes 
to untold the philosophy of his master, he is not less admirable for the perspicuity and precision of his expressions, than 
he is on other occasions, where his object is to detain and delight the imaginations of his readers, for the charms of his 
figurative diction, and for the bold relief of his images. In instances of the former kiud, no modern language can give 



108 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



Chapellc, * and Bernier;* all of them eminent- 
ly calculated to give the tone, on disputed ques- 
tions of Metaphysics, to that numerous class of 
Parisians of both sexes, with whom the pi'actical 
lessons, vulgarly imputed to Epicurus, were not 
likely to operate to the prejudice of his specu- 
lative principles. Of the tlu^ce persons just men- 
tioned, the two last died only a few years before 
Locke's Essaij was published ; and may be pre- 
sumed to have left behind them many younger 
pupils of the same school. One thing is certain, 
that, long before the middle of the last century, 
the Essay on Human Understanding was not only 
read by the learned, but had made its way into 
the circles of fashion at Paris.' In what man- 
ner this is to be accounted for, it is not easy 
to say ; but the fact will not be disputed by 
those who are at all acquainted with the his- 
tory of French literature. 

In consequence of this rapid and extensive 
circulation of the work in question, and the 
strong impression that it everywhere produced, 
by the new and striking contrast which it ex- 
hibited to the doctrines of the schools, a very re- 
markable change soon manifested itself in the 



prevailing habits of thinking on philosophical 
subjects. Not that it is to be supposed that the 
opinions of men, on particular articles of their 
former creed, underwent a sudden alteration. I 
speak only of the geTieral effect of Locke's dis- 
cussions, in preparing the thinking part of his 
readers, to a degree till then unknown, for the 
unshackled use of their own reason. This has 
always appeared to me the most characteristical 
feature of Locke's Essay ; and that to which it is 
chiefly indebted for its immense influence on the 
philosophy of the eighteenth century. Few books 
can be named, from which it is possible to ex- 
tract more exceptionable passages ; but, such is 
the liberal tone of the author ; such the man- 
liness with wluch he constantly appeals to reason, 
as the paramount authority which, even in re- 
ligious controversy, every candid disputant is 
bound to acknowledge ; and such the sincerity 
and simplicity with which, on all occasions, he 
appears to inquire after truth, that the general 
effect of the whole work may be regarded as the 
best of all antidotes against the error's involved in 
some of its particular conclusions.* 

To attempt any general review of the doctrines 



even the semblance of poetry to the theories of Epicurus ; while, at the same time, in the vain attempt to conquer this dif- 
ficulty, the rigorous precision and simplicity of tlie original are inevitably lost. 

The influence of Gassendi's instructions may be traced in several of Moliere's comedies; particularly in ihe Femmet 
Savantcs, aud in a little piece Le Manage Force, where an Aristotelian and a Cartesian doctor are both held up to tlie same 
sort of ridicule, which, in some other of his performances, he has so lavishly bestowed on the medical professors of his time. 

' The joint author, with Bachaumont, of the Voijage en Provence, which is stiU regarded as the most perfect model of 
that light, easy, and graceful ladinage which seems to belong exclusively to French poetry. Gassendi, who was an in- 
timate friend of liis father, was so charmed with his vivacity while a boy, that he condescended to be his instructor in phi- 
losophy ; admitting, at the same time, to his lessons, two other illustrious pupils, Mohere and Bernier. The life of Cha- 
pelle, according to all liis biographers, exhibited a complete contrast to the simple and ascetic manners of his master ; but, 
if the following account is to be credited, he missed no opportunity of propagating, as widely as he could, the speculative 
principles in which he had been educated. " 11 dtoit fort eloquent dans I'ivresse. II restoit ordinairement le dernier a 
table, et se mettoit a expliquer aux valets la philosophie d'Epicure." — (Biographic UniverscUe, article Chapelle, Paris, 
1813.) He died in 1G8G. 

= The well known author of one of our most interesting and instructive books of travels. After his return from the 
East, where he resided twelve years at the court of the Great Mogul, he published at Lyons, an excellent Abridgment of 
ilte Philosophy of Gassendi, in 8 vols. 12mo ; a second edition of which, corrected by himself, afterwards appeared, in seven 
volumes. To this second edition (which 1 have never met witli) is annexed a Supplement, entitled Dontes de M. Bernier 
sur quelqucs tins dcs principaii.c Chapitres de son Abregi de la Philosophie dc Gassendi. It is to tliis work, I presume, that 
Leibnitz alludes in the following passage of a letter to .John BernouiUi ; and, from the manner in which he speaks of its 
contents, it would seem to be an object of some curiosity. " Frustra quaesivi apud typographos librum cui titulus ; 
Dontes de M. Bernier sur la Philosophic, in GalMa ante annos aliquot editum et mihi visum, sed nunc non repertum. Vel- 
lem autem ideo iterum legere, quia iUe Gassendistorum fuit Princeps ; sed pauUo ante mortem, libello hoc edito ingenue 
professus est, in quibus nee Gassendus nee Cartesius satisfaciant." — (Leibnitii et Jo. Bebnouilh Commcrc. Epist. 2 voL 
4to. Laussanje et Genevoe, 1745.) 

Bernier died in 1G88. 

' A decisive proof of this is afforded by the allusions to Locke's doctrines in the dramatic pieces then in possession of 
the French stage. See Note U. 

■* The maxim wdiicb he constantly inculcates is, that " Reason must be our last judge and guide in every thing." — 
(Locke's Works, Vol. III. p. 145.) To the same purpose, he elsewhere observes, that " he who makes use of the light 
and faculties Gnd has given him, and seeks sincerely to discover truth by those lielps and abilities he has, may have this 
satisfaction in doing his duty as a rational creature ; that, though he should miss truth, he will not miss the reward of it. 
For he governs his assent right, and places it as he should, who in any case or matter whatsoever, believes or disbelieves, 
according as reason directs him. He that does otherwise, transgresses against his own light, and misuses those faculties 
which were given him to no other end, but to search and follow the clearer evidence and greater probability." — {lUi. p. 125.) 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



109 



sanctioned, or supposed to be sanctioned, by the 
name of Locke, would be ob\dously incompatible 
with the design of this Discourse ; but, among 
these doctrines, there are tico, of fundamental 
importance, which have misled so many of his 
successors, that a few remarks on each form a 
necessary preparation for some historical details 
which will afterwards occur. The first of these 
doctrines relates to the origin of our ideas; 
the second to the power of moral perception, 

AND THE IMMUTABILITY OF MORAL DISTINC- 
TIONS. On both questions, the real opinion of 
Locke has, if I am not widely mistaken, been 
very grossly misapprehended or misrepresented, 
by a large portion of his professed followers, as 
well as of his avowed antagonists. 

1. The objections to which Locke's doctrine 
concerning the origin of our ideas, or, in other 
words, concerning the sources of our knowledge, 
are, in my judgment, liable, I have stated so 
fully in a former work, ' that I shall not touch 
on them here. It is quite sufficient, on the pre- 
sent occasion, to remark, how very unjustly this 
doctrine (imperfect, on the most favourable con- 
struction, as it undoubtedly is) has been con- 
founded \vith those of Gasscndi, of Condillac, of 
Diderot, and of Home Tooke. The substance 
of all that is common in the conclusions of these 
last writers, cannot be better expressed than in 



the words of their Master, Gassendi. " All our 
knowledge (he observes in a letter to Descartes) 
appears plainly to derive its origin from the 
senses ; and although you deny the maxim, 
' Quicquid est in intellectu prjeesse debere in 
sensu,^ yet this maxim appears, nevertheless, to 
be true ; since our knowledge is all ultimately 
obtained by an influx or incursion from things 
external ; which knowledge afterwards under- 
goes various modifications by means of analogy, 
composition, division, amplification, extenuation, 
and other similar processes, wliicli it is un- 
necessary to enumerate."* 

This doctrine of Ga.ssendi's coincides exactly 
with that ascribed to Locke by Diderot and by 
Home Tooke ; and it diffir-rs only verbally from 
the more concise statement of Condillac, that 
" our ideas are nothing more than transformed 
sensations." " Every idea," says the first of 
these writers, " must necessarily, when brought 
to its state of ultimate decomposition, resolve it- 
self into a sensible representation or picture ; and 
since every thing in our understanding has been 
introduced there by the channel of sensation, 
whatever proceeds out of the understanding is 
either chimerical, or must be able, in returning 
by the same road, to re-attach itself to its sensible 
archetjije. Hence an important rule in phi- 
losophy, — that every expression which cannot 
find an external and a sensible object, to which 



' Philosophical Essays. 

' " Dcinde omnis nostra notitia videtur plane ducere origincm a sensibus ; et quamvis tu neges quicquid est in intellectu 
praeesse debere in sensu, videtur id esse nihiloniinus verum, cum nisi sola incursione «o!Ti tijiVt-iuo-iv, ut loquuntur, fiat ; per- 
iiciatur tamen analogia, corapositione, divisione, ampliatione, cxtenuatione, aliisque similibus modis, quoscommemorare nihil 
est necesse." — (Objcclioncs in Meditationcm Sccuudam. ) 

Tbis doctrine of Gassendi's is thus very clearly stated and illustrated, by the judicious authors of the Port Royal Logic : 
" Un philosophe qui est estime dans le monde commence sa loi^ique par cette proposition : Omnis idea orsum ducit a sensibus. 
Toute idee tire son origine des sens. II avoue ntanmoins que toulcs nos idjes n'ont pas ete dans nos sens telles qu'elles sont 
dans notre esprit : mais il pretend qu'elles ont au moins e'ti; forme'es de celles qui ont passe par nos sens, ou par composition, 
comme lorsque des images separoes de Tor et d'une montagne, on s'eii fait uiie montagne d'or ; ou par ampHtition et diminti- 
lion, comme lorsque de i'image d'un homme d'une grandeur ordinaire on s"en forme un geant ou un pigmee ; ou par ae. 
nmimodation et proportion., comme lorsque de I'idde d'une maison qu'on a vue, on s'en forme I'image d'une maison qu'on n'a 
pas vue. Kt ainsi, dit il, nous concevons Dieu qui ne peut tomber sous les sens, sous i.'image d'un vene- 
rable viEiLLAHD." " Selon cette pense'e, quoique toutes nos idees ne fussent semblables ^ quelque corps particulier que 
nous ayons vu, ou qui ait frappe nos sens, elles seroient n&nmoins toutes corporelles, et ne vous representeroient rieu qui 
ne fiit entrd dans nos sens, au moins par parties. Et ainsi nous ne concevons rien que par des images, semblables Ji celles 
qui se forment dans les cerveau quand nous voyons, ou nous nous imaginons des corps." — (L'Art de Pcnscr, 1. I'artie. c. 1.) 

The reference made, in the foregoing quotation, to Gassendi's illustration drawn from the idea of God, affords me an 
opportunity, of which I gladly avail myself, to contrast it with Locke's opinion on the same subject. " How many amongst 
us will be found, upon inquiry, to fancy God, in the shape of a man, sitting in heaven, and to have many other absurd and 
unfit conceptions of him ? Christians, as well a.s Turks, have had whole sects owning, or contending cimestly for it, that 
the Deity was corporeal and of human shape : And although we find few amongst us, who profess themselves Anthropomor- 
phitcs (though some I have met with that own it), yet, 1 believe, he that will make it his business, may find amongst the 
ignorant and uninstructed Christians, many of that opinion." ' — (Vol. I. p. C7.) 

* In the judgment of a very learned and pious divine, the bias towards Anthropomorphism, which Mr I.ocke has here so 
severely reprehended, is not confined tu " ignorant and uninstructed Christians." " If Anthropomorphism (s.iys Dr Maclaine) 
ma banished from theology, orthodoxy would be deprived of some of its most precious phrases, and our confessions of faitli 



110 PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 

it can thus establish its affinity, is destitute of language, that various detached passages may- 
signification." — [Oeuvres de Diderot, Tom. VI.) be quoted from his work, which seem, on a 

Such is the exposition given by Diderot, of superficial view, to justify their comments, yet 

what is regarded in France as Locke's great of what weight, it may be asked, are these pas- 

and capital discovery ; and precisely to the same sages, when compared with the stress laid by 

purpose we are told by Condorcet, that " Locke the author on Re/lection, as an original source of 

was the first who proved that all our ideas are our ideas, altogether different from Sensation ? 

compounded of sensatiotis." — (Esquisse Historique, " The other fountain," says Locke, " from which 

&c.) experience furnisheth the understanding with 

If this were to be admitted as a fair account ideas, is the perception of the operations of our 

of Locke's opinion, it would follow, that he has own minds within us, as it is employed about 

not advanced a single step beyond Gassendi and the ideas it has got ; which operations, when the 

Hobbes; bothof whom have repeatedly expressed soul comes to reflect on and consider, do furnish 

themselves in nearly the same words with Di- the understanding with another set of ideas, 

derot and Condorcet. But although it must be which could not be had from things \%'ithout ; 

granted, in favour of their interpretation of his and such are Perception, Thinking, Doubting, Be- 

" Let the ideas of being and matter be strongly joined either by education or much thought, whilst these are still com- 
bined in the mind, what notions, what reasonings will there be about separate spirits ? Let custom, from the very childhood, 
have joined figure and shape to the idea of God, and what absurdities will that mind be liable to about the Deity?" — (Vol. 
II. p. 144.) 

The authors of the Pnrt Royal Logic have expressed themselves on this point to the very same purpose with Locke ; and 
have enlarged upon it still morefully and forcibly. (See the sequel of the passage above quoted.) Some of their remarks on 
the subject, whicli are more particularly directed against Gassendi, have led Brucker to rank them among the advocates for 
innate ideas (Brucker, Hisloria de Idcis, p. 271), although these remarks coincide exactly in substance with the foregoing quo- 
tation from Locke. Like many other modern metaphysicians, this learned and laborious, but not very acute historian, 
could imagine no intermediate opinion between the theory of innate ideas, as taught by the Cartesians, and the Epicurean 
account of our knowledge, as revived by Gassendi and Hobbes ; and accordingly thought' himself entitled to conclude, that 
whoever rejected the one must necessarily have adopted the other. The doctrines of Locke and of his predecessor Arnauld 
will be found, on examination, essentially difi'erent from both. 

Persons little acquainted with the metaphysical speculations of the two last centuries are apt to imagine, that when " all 
knowledge is said to have its origin in the senses," nothing more is to be understood than this, that it is by the impressions 
of external objects on our organs of perception, that t/tc dormant powers of the understanding are at first awakened. The 
foregoing quotation from Gassendi, together with those which I am about to produce from IJiderot and Condorcet, may, I 
trust, be useful in correcting this very common mistake ; all of these quotations explicitly asserting, that the external senses 
furnish not only the occasions by which our intellectual powers are excited and developed, but all the materials ahout which 
our thoughts are conversant ; or, in other words, that it is impossible for us to think of anything, which is not either a 
sensible image, or the result of sensible images combined together, and transmuted into new forms by a sort of logical che- 
mistry. That the powers of the luiderstanding would for ever continue dormant, were it not for the action of things ex- 
ternal on the bodily frame, is a proposition now universally admitted by philosophers. Even jMr HaiTis and Lord Mon- 
boddo, the two most zealous, as well as most learned of JNIr Locke's adversaries in England, have, in the most explicit man- 
ner, expressed their assent to the common doctrine. " The first class of ideas (says Monboddo) is produced from ideas fur- 
nished by the senses ; the second arises from the operations of the mind upon these materials : for I do not deny, that in 
this our present state of existence, all our ideas, and all our knowledge, are ultimately to be derived from sense and matter." 
("Vol. I. p. 44. 2d Ed.) jNIr Harris, while he holds the same language, points out, with greater precision, the essential dif- 
ference between his philosophy and that of the Hobbists. " Though sensible objects may be the destined medium to awa- 
ken the dormant energies of man's understanding, yet are those energies themselves no more contained in sense, than the 
explosion of a cannon in the spark which gave it fire." — (Hermes.) On this subject see Elements of tlie Philosophy of the 
Human Mind, Vol. I. chap. i. sect. 4. 

To this doctrine I have little doubt that Descartes himself would have assented, although the contrary opinion has been 
generally supposed by his adversaries to be virtually involved in his Theory of Innate Ideas. My reasons for thinking so, 
the reader will find stated in Note X. 

and systems of doctrine would be reduced within much narrower bounds." — (Note on Slosheim's Church History, Vol. IV. 
p. .i50.) 

On this point I do not presume to offer any opinion ; but one thing I consider as indisputable, that it is by means of 
Anihropomorphism, and other idolatrous pictures of the invisible world, that superstition lays hold of the infant mind. 
Such pictures operate not upon Reason, but upon the Imagination ; producing that temporary belief with which I conceive 
all the illusions of imagination to be accompanied. 

In point of fact, the bias of which Locke speaks extends in a greater or less degree to all men of strong imaginations, 
whose education has not been very carefully superintended in early infancy. 

I have applied to Anthropomorphism the epithet idolatrous, as it seems to be essentially the same thing to bow down and 
worship a graven image of the Supreme Being, and to worship a supposed likeness of Him conceived by the Imagination. 

\n 'Qermer's Abridgment of Gassendi' s Philosophy CYom. III. p. 13 rt seq.) an attempt is made to reconcile with the Epi- 
curean account of the origin of our knowledge, that more pure and exalted idea of God to which the mind is gradually led 
by the exercise of its reasoning powers : But I am very doubtful, if Gassendi would have subscribed, in this instance, to 
the comments of his ingenious disciple. 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



Ill 



lieving. Reasoning, Knowing, Willing, and all the 
diflFerent actings of our own minds, which, we 
being conscious of, and observing in ourselves, 
do from these receive into our understandings 
ideas as distinct as we do from bodies affecting 
our senses. This source of ideas every man has 
wholly in himself: And though it be not sense, 
as having nothing to do with external objects, yet it 
is very like it, and might properly enough be 
called internal sense. But as I call the other 
Sensation, so I call this Reflection ; the ideas 
it affords being such only as the mind gets by 
reflecting on. \is own operations within itself."' 
—(Locke's Works, Vol. I. p. 78.) 

" The understanding seems to me not to have 
the least glimmering of any ideas which it doth 
not receive from one of these two. ILxternal 
objects furnish the mind with the ideas of sensible 
qualities ; and the mind furnishes the understand- 
ing with ideas of its own operations.^' — {Ibid. 
p. 79.) 

In another part of the same chapter, Locke 
expresses himself thus : " Men come to be fur- 
nished with fewer or more simple ideas from 
without, according as the objects they converse 
with afford greater or less variety ; and from the 
operations of their minds within, according as 
they more or less heflect on them. For, 
though he that contemplates the operations of 
his mind, cannot but have plain and clear ideas 
of them ; yet, unless he turn his thoughts that 
way, and consider them attentively, he will no 
more have clear and distinct ideas of all the ope- 
rations of his mind, and all that may be ob- 
served therein, than he will have all the parti- 
cular ideas of any landscape, or of the parts and 
motions of a clock, who wUl not turn his eyes 
to it, and with attention heed all the parts of it. 
The pictui'e, or clock, may be so placed, that 
they may come in his way every day ; but yet 
he will have but a confused idea of all the parts 
they are made up of, till he applies himself with 
attention to consider them in each particular. 

" And hence we see the reason why it is 



pretty late before most children get ideas of the 
operations of their own minds ; and some have 
not any very clear or perfect ideas of the great- 
est part of them all their lives Children, 

when they first come into it, are surrounded 
with a world of new things, which, by a con- 
stant solicitation of their senses, draw the mind 
constantly to them, — forward to take notice of 
new, and apt to be delighted with the variety of 
changing objects. Thus, the first years are 
usually employed and directed in looking abroad. 
Men's business in them is to acquaint themselves 
with what is to be found without ; and so grow- 
ing up in a constant attention to outward sensa- 
tions, seldom make any considerable reflection on 
what passes within them, till they come to be 
of riper years ; and some scarce ever at all." — 
{Ibid. pp. 80. 81.) 

I beg leave to request more particulai-ly the 
attention of my readers to the following pa- 
ragi'aphs : 

" If it be demanded, when a man begins to have 
any ideas ? I think the true answer is, ^\-hen 

he first has any sensation I conceive that 

ideas in the understanding are coeval with sen- 
sation ; which is such an impression or motion, 
made in some part of the body, as produces some 
perception in the understanding. It is about 
these impressions made on om' senses by out- 
ward objects, that the mind seems flrst to em- 
ploy itself in such operations as we call Percep- 
tion, Remembering, Consideration, Reasoning, &.c. 

" In time, the mind comes to reflect on its 
own operations, and about the ideas got by sen- 
sation, and thereby stores itself with a new set 
of ideas, %vhich I call ideas of reflection. These 
impressions that are made on our senses by ob- 
jects extrinsical to the mind ; and its own opera- 
tions, proceeding frcnn powers intrinsical and pro- 
per to itself (which, when reflected on by itself, 
become also objects of its contemplation), are, 
as I have said, the original of all knoicledge." ^ — 
{Ibid. pp. 91. 92.) 

A few other scattered sentences, collected 



' NoteY. 

' The idea attached by I>ockc in Uie above passages to the word lii-flection is clear and precise. But in the course oi' his 
subsequent specuhitions, he does not always rigidly adhere to it, frequently employing it in that more extensive and popu- 
lar sense in which it denotes the attentive and deliberate consideration of any object of thought, whether relating to the ex- 



112 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



from diflferent parts of Locke's Essay, may throw 
additional light on the point in question. 

" I know that people, whose thoughts are im- 
mersed in matter, and have so subjected their 
minds to their senses, that tliey seldom reflect on 
anything beyond them, are apt to say, they can- 
not comprehend a thinking thing, which perhaps 
is true : But I affirm, when they consider it 
well, they can no more comprehend an extended 
thing. 

" If any one say, he knows not what 'tis 
thinks in him ; he means he knows not what 
the substance is of that thinking thing : No more, 
say I, knows he what the substance is of that 
solid thing. Farther, if he says, he knows not 
luno he thinks ; I answer, Neither knows he haw 
he is extended ; how the solid parts of body are 
united, or cohere together to make extension." 
—{Vol. II. p. 22.) 

" I think we have as many and as clear ideas 
belonging to mind, as we have belonging to body, 
the substance of each being equally unknown to 
us ; and the idea of thinking in mind as clear as 
of extension in body ; and the communication of 
motion by thought which we attribute to mind, 
is as evident as that by impulse, which we 
ascribe to body. Constant experience makes us 
sensible of both of these, though our narrow un- 
derstanding can comprehend neither. ^ 

" To conclude ; Sensation convinces us, that 
there are solid extended substances ; and Re- 



flection, that there are thinking ones : Expe- 
rience assures us of the existence of such beings ; 
and that the one hath a power to move body by 
impulse, the other by thought ; this we cannot 
doubt of. But beyond these ideas, as received 
from their proper sources, our faculties wDl not 
reach. If we would inquire farther into their 
nature, causes, and manner, we perceive not the 
nature of Extension clearer than we do of Think- 
ing. K we would explain them any farther, one 
is as easy as the other ; and there is no more 
difficulty to conceive Iww a substance we know 
not should by thought set body into motion, than 
how a substance we know not should, by im- 
pvlse, set body into motion." — [Ibid. pp. 26. 27. ) 

The passage in Locke which, on a superficial 
view, appears the most favourable to the misin- 
terpretation put on his account of the Sources of 
our Knowledge, by so many of his professed 
followers, is, in my opinion, the following : 

" It may also lead us a little towards the ori- 
ginal of all our notions and knowledge, if we re- 
mark, how great a dependence our words have 
on common sensible ideas ; and how those which 
are made use of to stand for actions and notions 
quite removed from sense, have their rise from 
thence, and from obvious sensible ideas are 
transferred to more abstruse significations, and 
made to stand for ideas that come not under the 
cognizance of our senses ; v. g. to imagine, appre- 
hend, comprehend, adJtere, conceive, instil, disgust. 



ternal or to the internal world. It is in this sense he uses it when he refers to Reflection our ideas of Cause and Effect, 
of Identity and Diversity, and of aZ/ o(/i<rr re/a(ionj. " All of these (he observes) tomina/e in, and ^le concerned aboiil, those 
simple ideas, either of Sensation or Reflection, which I think to be the whole materials of all our knowledge." — (Book II. 
c. XXV. sect. 9.) From this explanation it would appear that Locke conceived it sufficient to justify his account of the ori- 
gin of our knowledge, if it could be shown that all our ideas terminate in, and are concerned ahont, ideas derived either from 
Sensation or Reflection, according to which comment it will not be a difficult task to obviate every objection to which his 
fundamental principle concerning the two sources of our ideas may appear to be liable. 

In this las interpretation of a principle so completely interwoven with the whole of his philosophy, there is undoubtedly 
a departure from logical accuracy ; and the same remark may be extended to the vague and indefinite use which he occasion- 
ally makes of the word Reflection ; a word which expresses the peculiar and characteristical doctrine, by which his system is 
distinguished from that of the Gassendists and Hobbists. All this, however, serves only to prove still more clearly, how 
widely remote his real opinion on this subject was from that commonly ascribed to him by the French and German com- 
mentators. For my own part, I do not think, notwithstanding some casual expressions which may seem to favour the con- 
trary supposition, that Locke would have hesitated for a moment to admit, with Cudworth and Price, that the Understand- 
ing is itself a source of new ideas. That it is by He/lection (which, according to his own definition, means merely the exercise 
of the Understanding on the internal phenomena) that we get our ideas of memory, imagination, reasoning, and of all other 
intellectual powers, Mr Locke has again and again told us ; and from this principle it is so obvious an inference, that all the 
simple ideas which are necessarily implied in our intellectual operations, are ultimately to be referred to the same source, 
that we cannot reasonably suppose a philosopher of Locke's sagacity to admit the former proposition, and to withhold his 
assent to the latter. 

' In transcribing this paragraph, I have taken the liberty to substitute the word Mind instead of Spirit. The two words 
were plainly considered by Locke, on tin? present occasion, as quite synonymous ; and the latter (which seems to involve a 
theory concerning the nature of the thinking principle) is now almost universally rejected by English metaphysicians 
from their Philosophical Vocabulary. 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



113 



disturbance, tranquiUity, &c. are all words taken 
from the operations of sensible things, and ap- 
plied to certain modes of thinking. Spirit, in 
its primary signification, is breatli ; angel, a mes- 
senger : and I doubt not, but if we could trace them 
to their sources, we should find, in ail languages, 
the names which stand for things thai fall not under 
our senses, to have had their first rise from sensible 
ideas. By which we may give some kind of 
guess what kind of notions they were, and 
whence derived, which filled their minds, who 
were the first beginners of languages ; and how 
nature, even in the naming of things, unawares 
suggested to men the originals and principles of 
all their knowledge." 

So far the words of Locke coincide very near- 
ly, if not exactly, with the doctrines of Hobbes 
and of Gassendi ; and I have not a doubt, that 
a mistaken interpretation of the clause which I 
liave distinguished by italics, fui-nished the germ 
of all the mighty discoveries contained in the 
ETja IlnjoEvra. If Mr Tooke, however, had studied 
with due attention the import of what immediate- 
ly follows, he must have instantly perceived how 
essentially different Locke's real opinion on the 
subject was from what he conceived it to be. — 
" Whilst to give names, that might make known 
to others any operations they felt in themselves, 
or any other ideas that came not under their 
senses, they were fain to borrow words from 
ordinary known ideas of sensation, by that means 
to make others the more easily to conceive those 
operations they experienced in themselves, which 
made no outward sensible appearances ; and 
then, when they had got known and agreed 
names, to signify those internal operations of 
their own minds, they were sufficiently furnish- 
ed to make known by words all their other ideas ; 
since they could consist of nothing but either of 
outward sensible perceptions, or of the inward 
operations of their minds about them." — (Vol. 
n. pp. 147, 118.) 

From the sentences last quoted it is manifest, 
that when Locke remarked the material etymo- 
logy of all our language about mind, he had not 
the most distant intention to draw from it any 
inference which might tend to identify the 
sensible images which this language presents to 
the fancy, witli the metaphysical notions which 

DISS. I. PAllT II. 



it figuratively expresses. Through the whole of 
his Essay, he uniformly represents sensation and 
reflection as radically distinct sources of know- 
ledge ; and, of consequence, he must have con- 
ceived it to be not less unphilosophical to attempt 
an explanation of the phenomena of mind by 
the analogy of matter, than to think of explain- 
ing the phenomena of matter by the analogy of 
mind. To this fundamental principle concern- 
ing the origin of our ideas, he has added, in the 
passage now before us. That, as our knowledge 
of mind is posterior in the order of time to that 
of matter (the first years of our existence being 
necessarily occupied about objects of sense), it 
is not surprising, that " when men wished to 
give names that might make known to others any 
operations they felt in themselves, or any other 
ideas that came not under their senses, they 
should have been fain to borrow words from 
ordinary known ideas of sensation, by that means 
to make others the more easily to conceive those 
operations which make no outward sensible ap- 
pearances." According to this statement, the 
purpose of these " borrowed" or metaphorical 
words is not (as Mr Tooke concluded) to explain 
the nature of the operations, but to direct the 
attention of the hearer to that internal world, 
the phenomena of which he can only learn to 
comprehend by the exercise of his own power 
of reflection. If Locke has nowhere affirmed 
so explicitly as his predecessor Descartes, that 
" nothing conceivable by the power of imagina- 
tion can throw any light on the operations of 
thought," it may be presumed that he consider- 
ed this as unnecessary, after having dwelt so 
much on reflection as the exclusive source of all 
our ideas relating to mind ; and on the peculiar 
difficulties attending the exercise of this power, 
in consequence of the effect of early associations 
in confounding together our notions of mind and 
of matter. 

The misapprehensions so prevalent on the 
Continent, with respect to Locke's doctrine on 
this most important of all metaphysical questions, 
began during his own life time, and were coun- 
tenanced by the authority of no less a writer than 
Leibnitz, who always represents Locke as a par- 
tizan of the scholastic maxim, Xihil est in intel- 
lectu quod non fucrit in scnsu. — " Nempe (says 



114 PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 

Leibnitz, in reply to this maxim) nihil est in in- honour to the acuteness of the critic ; but it is 
tellectu quod non fuerit in sensu, . 7iisi ipse Intel- not easy to conceive on what grounds it should 
lectus." ^ The remark is excellent, and does have been urged as an objection to a writer, who 



' Opera, Tom. V. pp. 358, 359. 

That the same mistake still keeps its ground among many foreign writers of the highest class, the following passage affords 
a sufficient proof : " Leibnitz a combattu avcc une force de dialectique admirable le Systeme de Locke, qui attribue toutes 
nos idi^es a nos sensations. On avoit mis en avant cet axiome si connu, qu'il n'y avoit rien dans rintclligence qui n'eut ^t^ 
d'abord dans les sensations, et Leibnitz y ajouta cette sublime restriction, si ce n'est riniettigence elle-meme. De ce principe 
derive toute la pliilosophie nouvelle qui exerce tant d'influence sur les esprits en Allemagne." — (jNIad. de Stael de VAUe- 
magne, Tom. III. p. C5.) 

i observed in the First Part of this Dissertation (page 67), that this sublime restriction on which so much stress has been 
laid by the partizans of the German school, is little more than a translation of the following words of Aristotle : Kai avrit 

Tl vovs vy/tro; Effrjv, uffTi^ Ta votito.' W] fzlv ya^ Ttuv a)/w vXt};, to avro Irri To vocvv xa) to v6ovf^ivcv.—-( Dc Anima^ Lib. III. cap. V.) 

As to Locke, the same injustice which he received from Leibnitz was very early done to him in his own country. In a 
tract printed in WiT, by a mathematician of some note, the author of the Essai/ on Human Understanding is represented as 
holding the same opinion with Gassendi concerning the origin of our ideas. " Idea: nomine sensu utor; earum origineman 
a sensibus solum, ut Gassendo et Lockio nostrati, cseterisque plurimis visum est, an aliunde, hujus loci nori est inquirere." — 
(De Spatio JRcali, sen Ente Injinito Conamen Malhcmaiico-JStctaphysicum. Auctore JosEPHO Raphsos, Reg. Soc. Socio- This 
tract is annexed to the second edition of a work entitled Anali/sis JEquationum Universalis. Lond. 1702.) 



In order to enable my readers more easily to form a judgment on the argument in the text, I must beg leave once more 
to remind them of the distinction already pointed out between tlie Gassendists and the Cartesians ; the former asserting, 
that, as aU our ideas are derived from the external senses, the intellectual phenomena can admit of no other explanation 
than what is furnished by analogies drawn from tlie material world ; the latter rejecting these analogies altogether, as de- 
lusive and treacherous lights in the study of mind; and contending, that the exercise of tlie power of reflection is the only 
medium through which any knowledge of its operations is to be obtained. To the one or the other of these two classes, all 
the metaphysicians of the last century may be referred ; and even at the present day, the fundamental question which 
fonncd the chief ground of controversy between Gassendi and Descartes (I mean the question concerning the proper logical 
method of studying the mind) still continues tlie hinge on which the most important disputes relating to the internal world 
will be found ultimately to turn. 

According to this distinction, Locke, notwithstanding some occasional slips of his pen, belongs indisputably to the class 
of Cartesians ; as well as the very small number of his followers who have entered thoroughly into the spirit of his philo- 
sophy. To the class of Gassendists, on the other hand, belong all those French metaphysicians, who professing to tread 
in Locke's footsteps, have derived all their knowledge of the Essay im Human Understanding from the works of CondiUac ; 
together with most of the commentators on Locke who have proceeded from the school of Bishop Law. To these may be 
added (among the writers of later times) Priestley, Darwin, Beddoes, and, above all, Home Tooke with his numerous 
disciples. 

The doctrine of Hobbes on this cardinal question coincided entirely with that of Gassendi, and, accordingly, it is not 
unusual in the present times, among Hobbes's disciples, to ascribe to him the whole merit of that account of the origin of 
our knowledge, which, from a strange misconception, has been supposed to have been claimed by Locke as his own dis- 
covery. But where, it may be asked, has Hobbes said anything about the origin of those ideas which I>ocke refers to the 
power of reflection^ and may not the numerous observations which Locke has made on Mm power as a source of ideas peculiar 
to itself, be regarded as an indirect refutation of that theory whicli wouhi resolve all the objects of our knowledge into 
sensations, as their ultimate elements ? This was not merely a step hcijond Hobbes ; but the correction of an error which lies 
at the very root of Hobbes's system ; — an error under whicli (it may be added) the gi'eater part of Hobbes's eulogists 
have the misfortune still to labour. 

It is with much regret I add, that a very large proportion of the English writers, who call themselves Lockists, and 
who, I have no doubt, believe themselves to be so in reality, are at bottom (at least in tlieir metaphysical opinions) 
Gassendists or Hohbists. In what respect do the following observations differ from the Epicurean theory concerning the 
origin of our knowledge, as expounded by Gassendi ? " The ideas conveyed by sight, and by our other senses, having 
entered the mind, intermingle, unite, separate, throw themselves into various combinations and postures, and thereby 
generate new ideas of reflection, strictly so called; such as those of comparing, dividinir. distineuishing, — of abstraction, 
relation, with many others ; aU which remain with us as stock for our further use on futvire occasions." I do not recollect 
any passage, either in Helvetius or Diderot, which contains a more "explicit and decided avowal of that Epicurean system 
of Jletaphysics, which it was the great aim both of Descartes and of Locke to overthrow. 

In the following conjectures concerning the nature of our ideas, the same author has far exceeded in extravagance any of 
the Jletaphysicians of the French school. " What those substances are, whereof our ideas are the modifications, '.cheilier parti 
of the mind as the members are of our body, or contained in it like icafcrs in a box, or enveloped by it Ukefsh in water, whether of a spiri- 
tual, corporeal, or middle nature bet-xeen both, I need not now ascertain. All I mean to lay down at present is this, that, 
in every exercise of tlie understanding, that which discerns \s numerically and substantially distinct from that which is dis- 
cerned ; and that an act of the understanding is not so much our own proper act, as the act of something else operating 
upon us." 

I should scarcely have thought it worth while to take notice of these passages, had not the doctrines contained in the 
work from which they are taken, been sanctioned in the most unqualified terms by the high authority of DrPaley. "There 
is one work (he observes) to which I owe so much, that it would be ungrateful not to confess the obUgatiou: I mean the 
writings of the late Abraham Tucker, Esq. part of which were published by himself, and the remainder since his death, 
under the title of the Light of N'ature Pursued, by Edward Search, Esq." '• J have found, in this -.criter, more original tliinkmg 
aTid observation upon the several subjects that he has taken in hand, than in anyother, noitosaythaninallothersputtogether. His talent 
also for illustratiun is unrivalled. But his thoughts are diffused through a long, various, and irregular work. I shall account 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



115 



has insisted so explicitly and so frequently on re- 
jkcUon as the source of a class of ideas essential- 
ly different from those which are derived from 
sensation. To myself it appears, that the words 
of Leibnitz only convey, in a more concise and 
epigrammatic form, the substance of Locke's 
doctrine. Is any thing implied in them which 
Locke has not more fully and clearly stated in 
• the following sentence ? " External objects 
furnish the mind with the ideas of sensible 
qualities; and tlie mind furnishes the under- 
standing with ideas of its own operations." 
(Locke's Works, Vol. I. p. 79.) 

The extraordinary zeal displayed by Locke, 
at the very outset of his work, against the hy- 
pothesis of innate ideas, goes far to account for 
the mistakes committed by his commentators, in 
interpreting his account of the origin of oui" 
knowledge. It ought, however, to be always 
kept in view, in reading his argument on the 
subject, that it is the Cartesian theory of innate 
ideas which lie is here combating ; according to 
which theory (as understood by Locke), an in- 
nate idea signifies something coeval in its existence 
with the niind to which it belongs, and illuminat- 
ing the understanding before the external senses 
begin to operate. The very close affinity be- 
tween tliis theory, and some of the doctrines of 
the Platonic school, prevented Leibnitz, it is 
probable, from judging of Locke's argument 
against it, with his usual candour ; and disposed 



him hastily to conclude, that the opposition of 
Locke to Descartes proceeded from views essen- 
tially the same with those of Gassendi, and of 
his other Epicurean antagonists. How very 
widely he was mistaken in this conclusion, the 
numerous passages which I have quoted in 
Locke's own words sufficiently demonstrate. 

In what respects Locke's account of the origin 
of our idetis falls short of the truth, will appear, 
wlien the metaphysical discussions of later times 
come under our review. Enough has been al- 
ready said to show, how completely this account 
has been misapprehended, not only by his oppo- 
nents, but by the most devoted of his admirers ; — 
a misapprehension so very general, and at tlie 
same time so obviously at variance with the 
whole spirit of his Essay, as to prove to a de- 
monstration that, in point of numbers, the in- 
telligent readers of tliis celebrated work have 
hitherto borne but a small proportion to its 
purchasers and panegyrists. AVhat an illustra- 
tion of the folly of trusting, in matters of lite- 
rary history, to the traditionaryjudgments copied 
by one commentator or critic from another, when 
recourse may so easily be had to the original 
sources of information \^ 

II. Another misapprehension, not less pre- 
valent than the former, with respect to Locke's 
])hilosophical creed, relates to the power of mo- 
ral perception, and the immutability of moral 
distinctions. Tlie consideration of such ques- 



' Injustice to Dr Hartley, I must here observe, that, allhoiij^h his account of the origin of our iileas is precisely the 
same with that of Gassendi, Ilobbes, and CondiUac — one of his fundamental principles beini^, that the ideas of sensation are 
the elements of which all the rest are comjiounded — (Hartley on Man, 4th Kd. p. 2. of the Introduction) — he has not availed 
himself, like the other (lassendists of later times, of the name of Locke to recommend this theory to the favour of liis 
readera. On the contrary, he has very clearly and candidly pointed out the wide and essential distinction between the 
two opinions. " It may not be amiss here to take notice how far the theory of these papers has led me to differ, in respect 
of logic, from Mr Locke's excellent Essay on Vie Human Understanding, to which the world is so much indebted for re- 
moving prejudices and encumbrances, and advancing real and useful knowledge. 

" I'"u"st, then, it appears to me, that all the most complex ideas arise from sensation, and that reflection is not a distinct 
tource, as Mr Locke makes it." — (Hautlky on Man, 4th Ed. p. 300 of the Introduction.) 

This last jiroposition Hartley seems to have considered as an important and original improvement of his own on Locke's 



it no mean praise, if I have been sometimes able to dispose into method, to collect into heads and articles, or to exhibit in 
more compact and tangible masses, what, in tliat excellent performance, is spread over too much surface." — fl'rinciplet of 
Moral and Political P/tilosopli;/, Preface, pp. 25, 2G.) 

Of an author whom Dr I'aley has honoured with so very warm an eulogy, it would be equally absurd and presumptuous 
to dispute the merits. Nor have I any wish to detract from the praise here bestowed on him as an original thinker and ob- 
server. I readily admit, also, his talent for illustration, although it sometimes leads him to soar into bombast, and more 
frequently to sink into buffoonery. As an honest incjuirer after moral and religious truth, he is entitled to the most un- 
qualified approbation. Rut, I must be permitted to add, that, as a metaphysician, he seems to me much more fanciful than 
solid ; and, at the same time, to be so rambling, verbose, and excursive, as to be more likely lo unsettle than to fix the 
principles of his readers. 



116 PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 

tions, it may at first sight be thought, belongs nature ; and when combined with the premises 

rather to the history of Ethics than of Meta- from which it is deduced, aflfords a good illus- 

physics ; but it must be recollected, that, in in- tration of the impossibility, in tracing the pro- 

troducing them here, I follow the example of gress of these two sciences, of separating com- 

Locke himself, who has enlarged upon them at pletely the history of the one from that of the 

considerable length, in his Argument against other. 

the Theory of Innate Ideas. An Ethical disqui- In what sense Locke's reasonings against /n- 

sition of this sort formed, it must be owned, an note Ideas have been commonly understood, may 

aukward introduction to a work on the Human be collected from the following passage of an 

Understanding; but the conclusion on which it author, who had certainly no wish to do injuB- 

is meant to bear is purely of a Metaphysical tice to Locke's opinions. 



logic ; whereas, in fact, it is only a relapse into the old Epicurean hypothesis, which it was one of the main objects of Locke's 
Essay to explode. 



I would not have enlarged so fully on Locke's account of the origin of our ideas, had not a mistaken view of his argument 
on this head, served as a ground-work for the whole IMetaphysical Philosophy of the French Encyclopedic. That all our 
knowledge is derived from our external senses, is everywhere assumed by the conductors of that work as a demonstrated 
principle ; and the credit of this demonstration is uniformly ascribed to Locke, who, we are told, was the first that fully un- 
folded and established a truth, of whicli his predecessors had only an imperfect glimpse. La Harpe, in his Lycee, has, on 
this account, justly censured the metaphysical phraseology of the Encyclopedic, as tending to degrade the intellectual natui« 
of man ; while, with a strange inconsistency, he bestows the most unqualified praise on the writings of CondiUac. Little 
did he suspect, when he wrote the following sentences, how much the reasonings of his favourite logician had contributed to 
pave the way for those conclusions which he reprobates with so much asperity in Diderot and D'Alembert. 

" La gloire de Condillae est d'avoir t^tt' le premier disciple de Locke ; mais si CondiUac eut un maitre, il merita d'en ser- 
vir a tous les autres ; il repandit meme une plus grande lumiere sur les de'couvertes du philosophe Anglois ; il les rendit 
pour ainsi dire sensibles, et c'est grace a lui qu'elles sont devenues communes et familieres. En un mot, la saine M^ta- 
physique ne date en France, que des ouvrages de CondiUac, et a ce litre il doit ttre compte dans le petit nombre d'hommes 
qui ont avanc^ la science qu'ils ont cultive'e." — {Lycec, Tome XV. pp. 13C. 137. 

La Harpe proceeds in the same panegyrical strain through more than seventy pages, and concludes his eulogy of Con- 
diUac with these words : '' Le style de CondUlac est clair et pur comme ses conceptions ; c'est en general I'esprit le plus 
juste et le plus lumineux qui ait contribue', dans ce siecle, aux progres de la bonne philosophie." — {Ibid. p. 214.) 

La Harpe's account of the power of Refiection wiU form an appropriate supplement to his comments on t'ondillac. " L'im- 
pression sentie des objets se nomme perception ; Taction de I'ume qui les considere, se nomme rejlciion. Ce mot, il est vrai, 
exprime un mou vement physique, celui de se replier sur soi-meme ou sur quelque chose ; mais toutes nos idees venant dei sent, 
nous sommes souvent obliges de nous servir de termes physiques pour exprimer les operations de I'arae." — {Jbid. p. 158.) 
In another passage, he defines Reflection as follows : " La faculti^ de reflexion, c'est-a-dire, le pouvoir qu'a notre ame, de 
comparer, d'assembler, de combiner les perceptions." — {Ibid. p. Itl3.) How widely do these definitions oi reflection differ 
from that given bv Locke; and how exactlv do they accord with the Philosopliy of Gassendi, of Hobbes, and of Diderot! 

In a lately published sketch Of the State of French Literature during the Eighteenth Century (a work, to which the Author's 
taste and powers as a writer liave attracted a degree of pubUc attention something beyond what was due to his philosophi- 
cal depth and discernment), there are some shrewd, and, in my opinion, sound remarks, on the tnoral tendency of that me- 
taphysical system to which CondiUac gave so much circulation and celebrity. I shall quote some of his strictures which 
bear more particularly on the foregoing argument. 

" Autrefois, negligeant d'examiner tout ce me'eanisme des sens, tous ces rapports directs du corps avec les objets, les phi- 
losophes ne s'occupoienl que de ce qui se passe au-dedans de Thomme. I^a science de I'ame, telle a ete la noble ^tude de 

Descartes, de Pascal, de Slalebranche, de Leibnitz. (Why omit in this list the name of Locke ?) Peut-ttre se per- 

doient-Us quelquefois dans les nuages des hautes regions ou ils avoient pris leur vol ; peut-ttre leurs travaux etoient-ils 
sans application directe ; mais du moins ils suivoient une direction «?leve'e, leur doctrine e'toit en rapport avec les pensees 
qui nous agitent quand nous reflechissons profonde'ment sur nous-memes. Cetle route conduisoit n^cessairement au plus 
nobles des sciences, fi la religion, et il la morale. EUe supposoit dans ceux qui la cultivoient un g^nie eleve et de vastes 
meditations. , . , JL 

" On se lassa de les suivre ; on traita de vaines subtilits^s, on fle'trit du titre de re'veries scholastiques les travaux de ces ■ 

grandes esprits. On se jeta dans la science des sensations, espt-rant qu'elte seroit plus h la jiortt'e de I'inteUigence humaine. ^J 

On s'occupa de plus en plus des rapports m^caniques de I'homme avec les objets, et de Tinfiuence de son organisation phy- 
sique. De cette sorte, la mt^taphysique aUa toujours se rabaissant, au point que maintenant, pour quelques personnes, eUe 
se confond presque avec la physiologic. . . . Le dix-huitieme siecle a voulu faire de cette nianiC-re d'envisager i'homme un de 
ses principaux titres de gloire 

" CondiUac est le chef de cette e'cole. C'est dans ses ouvrages que cette m^taphysique exerce toutes les seductions de la 
m^thode, et de la lucidite ; d'autant plus claire, qu'eUe est moins profonde. Peu d'e'crivains ont obtenu plus de succes. II 
reduisit a la portce du vulgaire la science de la pensue, en retranchant tout ce qu'elle avoit d'^lev^. Chacun fiit surpris et 
glorieux de pouvoir philosopher si facilement ; et Ton eut une grande reconnoissance pour celui h qui Ton devoit ce bienfait. 
On ne s'apperijut pas qu'il avoit rabaissd la science, au lieu de rendre ses disciples capable d'y atteindre." — [Tableau de la 
Littcraturc Francoise pendant le dix-huitieme Siecle, pp. 87- 88. 89. 92.) 



I 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



117 



" Tlie First Book (says Dr Beattic) of the 
Essay on Human Understanding, which, with sub- 
mission, I think the worst, tends to establish 
tliis dangerous doctrine, that the human mind, 
previous to education and habit, is as suscep- 
tible of any one impression as of any other : — a 
doctrine which, if true, would go near to prove, 
that truth and -virtue are no better than human 
contrivances ; or at least, that they have nothing 
permanent in their nature, but may be as 
changeable as the incliuations and capacities of 
men." Dr Beattie, however, candidly and judi- 
ciously adds, " Surely this is not the doctrine 
that Locke meant to establish ; but his zeal 
against innate ideas, and innate principles, put 
him off his guard, and made him allow too little 
to instinct, for fear of alloT\dng too much." 

In this last remark, I perfectly agree with Dr 
Beattie ; although I am well aware, that a con- 
siderable number of Locke's English disciples 
liave not only chosen to interpret tlie first book 
of his Essay in that very sense in which it ap- 
peared to Dr Beattie to be of so mischievous a 
tendency, but have avowed Locke's doctrine, 
when thus interpreted, as their own ethical creed. 
In tliis number, I am sorry to say, the respec- 
table name of Paley must be included.' 

It is fortunate for Locke's reputation, that, in 
other parts of his Essay, he has disavowed, in 
the most unequivocal terms, those dangerous 
conclusions which, it must be owned, the gene- 
ral strain of liis first book has too much the ap- 
pearance of favouring. " He that hath the idea 
(he observes on one occasion) of an intelligent, 
but frail and weak being, made by and depend- 
ing on another, who is omnipotent, perfectly 
wise, and good, will as certainly know, that man 
is to honour, fear, and obey God, as that the sun 
shines when he sees it ; nor can he be surer, in 
a clear morning, that tlie sun is risen, if he will 
but open his eyes, and turn them that way. 
But yet these truths being never so certain, never 
so cleiir, he may be ignorant of either, or all of 
them, wlio will never take the pains to employ 
his faculties as he should to inform himself about 



them." To the same purpose, he has elsewhere 
said, that " there is a Law of Nature, as intel- 
ligible to a rational creature and studier of that 
law, as the positive laws of commonwealths." 
Nay, he has himself, in the most explicit terms, 
anticipated and disclaimed those dangerous con- 
sequences which, it has been so often supposed, 
it was the chief scope of this introductory chap- 
ter to establish. " I would not be mistaken, 
as if, because I deny an innate law, I thought 
there were none but positive laws. Tliere is a 
great deal of difference between an innate law 
and a law of nature ; between something im- 
printed on our minds in their very original, and 
something that we, being ignorant of, may at- 
tain to the knowledge of, by the use and due 
application of our natural faculties. And I 
think they equally forsake the truth, who, run- 
ning into the contrary extremes, either afiirm 
an innate law, or deny that there is a law know- 
able by the light of nature, without the help of 
a positive revelation." (Vol. I. p. 44.) Nor 
was Locke unaware of the influence on men's 
lives of their speculative tenets concerning these 
metaphysical and ethical questions. On this 
jjoint, which can alone render such discussions 
interesting to human happiness, he has express- 
ed himself thus : " Let that principle of some 
of the philosophers, that ail is matter, and that 
there is nothing else, be received for certain and 
indubitable, and it will be easy to be seen, by 
the writings of some that have re\-ived it again 
in our days, what consequences it will lead in- 
to.. ..Nothing can be so dangerous as principles 
thus taken up ^Adthout due questioning or exami- 
nation ; especially if they be such as influence 
men's lives, and give a bias to all their actions. 
He that with Archelaus shall lay it down as a 
principle, that right and WTong, honest and dis- 
honest, are defined only by laws, and not by 
nature, will have other measures of moral recti- 
tude and pra^^ty, than those who take it for 
granted, that we are under obligations antece- 
dent to all human constitutions." — (Vol. III. p. 
75.) Is not the whole of this passage evidently 



' Sec Prim-ipUi of Moral and Political P/iilosojphy, Book I. Cliap. 5, where the author discusses the ([Uestion concerning 
» moral sense. 



lis 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



pointed at the Epicurean maxims of Hobbes and 
of Gassendi ? ^ 

Lord Shaftesbury was one of the first who 
sounded the ahirm against what he conceived to 
be the drift of that philosophy which denies the 
existence of innate principles. Various strictures 
on this subject occur in the Characteristics ; pai*- 
ticularly in tlie treatise entitled Advice to an Au- 
tlior ; but the most direct of all his attacks upon 
Locke is to be found in his 8th Letter, address- 
ed to a Student at the University. In this let- 
ter he observes, that " all those called free wri- 
ters now-a-days have espoused those principles 
which Mr Hobbes set a foot in this last age." — 
" Mr Locke (he continues), as much as I ho- 
nour him on account of other writings (on Go- 
vernment, Policy, Trade, Coin, Education, To- 
leration, &c.) and as well as I knew him, and 
can answer for his sincerity as a most zealous 
Christian and believer, did however go in the 
self-same tract ; and is followed by the Tindals, 
and all the other free authors of our times ! 

" 'Twas Mr Locke that struck the home blow : 
for Mr Hobbes's character, and base slavish 
principles of government, took off the poison of 
his ]>hilosophy. 'Twas Mr Locke that struck 
at all fundamentals, threw all order and virtue 
out of the world, and made the very ideas of 
these (which are the same with those of God) 
mmahi/'al, and v/itliout foundation in our minds. 



Innate is a word he poorly plays upon : the right 
word, though less used, is connatural. For what 
has birth or progress of the foetus out of the 
womb to do in this case ? — the question is not 
about the time the ideas entered, or the moment 
that one body came out of the other ; but whe- 
ther the constitution of man be such, that, being 
adult and grown iip, * at such a time, sooner or 
later (no matter when,) the idea and sense of 
order, administration, and a God, -will not infal- 
libly, incA'itably, necessarily spring up in him." 

In this last remark Shaftesbury appears to me 
to place the question about innate ideas upon the 
right and only philosophical footing ; and to af- 
ford a key to all the confusion running through 
Locke's argument against their existence. The 
sequel of the above quotation is not less just and 
valuable — but I must not indulge myself in any 
farther extracts. It is sufficient to mention the 
perfect coincidence between the opinion of 
Shaftesbury, as here stated by himself, and that 
formerly quoted in the words of Locke; and, of 
consequence, the injustice of concluding, from 
some imguarded expressions of the latter, that 
there was, at bottom, any essential difference 
between their real sentiments.' 

Under the title of Locke's Metaphysical (or, 
to speak with more strict precision, his Ijogical) 
writings, may also be classed his tracts on Edu- 
cation, and on the Conduct of the Understand- 



' To the above quotations from Locke, the following deserves to be added : " Whilst the parties of men cram their 
tenets down all men's throats, whom thej' can get into their power, without permitting them to examine their truth or 
falsehood, and will not let truth have f;iir play in the world, nor men the liberty to search after it ; what improvements 
can be expected of this kind ? What greater light can be hoped for in the moral sciences ? The subject part of mankind 
in most places might, instead thereof, with Egyptian bondage expect Egyptian darkness, were not the candle of the Lord set 
up hj himself in vicn^s minds, which it is iinpossihk for the hreaih or power of man wholly to extinguish.'''' — Vol. II. pp. 343, 
344. 

' Lord Sliaftesbury should have said, " grown up to the possession and exercise of his reasoning powers." 

^ I must, at the same time, again repeat, tliat the facts and reasonings contained in the introduction to Locke's Essay 
go very far to account for the severity of Shaftesbury's censures on this part of his work. Sir Isaac Newton himself, an in- 
timate friend of Locke's, appears, from a letter of his which I have read in his own handwriting, to have felt precisely in 
the same manner with the author of the Characteristics. Such, at least, were h'is first impressions; although he afterwards 
requested, with a humility and candour worthy of himself, the forgiveness of Locke, for this injustice done to his character. 
" I beg your pardon (says he) for representing that you struck at the root of morality in a principle you laid down in your 
book of ideas, and designed to pursue in another book ; and that I took you for a Hobbist." In the same letter Newton 
alludes to certain unfounded suspicions which he had been led to entertain of the propriety of Locke's conduct in some of 
their private concerns ; adding, with an ingenuous and almost infantine simplicity, '' I was so much affected with this, that 
when one told me you was siclcly and would not livej I answered, 'twere better if you were dead. I desire you to forgive 
me this uncharitableness." The letter is subscribed, your most humhlc and most unfortunate servant. Is. Newton.' 

The rough draft of Blr Locke's reply to these aiilicting acknowledgments was kindly' communicated to me by a friend 
some years ago. It is written with the magnanimity of a philosopher, and with the good-humoured forbearance of a man 
of the world ; and it breathes througliout so tender and so unaffected a veneration for the good as well as gieat qualities of 
the excellent person to whom it is addressed, as demonstrates at once the conscious integrity of the writer, and the supe- 
riority of his mind to the irritation of little passions. I know of nothing from Locke's pen which does more honour to his 

* It is dated at the Bull in Shorcdiich, London, Scptcniher 1693 ; and is addressed, For John Locke, Esq. at Sir Era. Masham'i 
Bart, at Gates, in Essex. 



{ 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 119 

ing. These tracts are entirely of a practical of Locke. The candid and unreserved thoughts 

nature, and were plainly intended for a wider of such a writer upon such subjects as Education, 

circle of readers than his Essay ; but tliey every- and the culture of the intellectual powers, possess 

where bear the strongest marks of the same zeal an intrinsic value, which is not diminished by 

for extending the empire of Truth and of Reason, the consideration of their triteness. They not 

and may be justly regarded as parts of the same only serve to illustrate the peculiarities of the 

great design. * It has been often remarked, that author's own character and views, but, con- 

they display less originality than might have sidered in a practical light, come recommended 

been expected from so bold and powerful a think- to us by all the additional weight of his dis- 

er ; and, accordingly, both of them have long criminating experience. In this point of view, 

fallen into verj' general neglect. It ought, how- tlie two tracts in question, but more especially 

ever, to be remembered, that, on the most ini- that on the Conduct of the Understanding, will 

jjortant points discussed in them, new suggestions always continue to be interesting manuals to 

are not now to be looked for ; and that the great such as are qualified to appreciate the mind from 

object of the reader should be, not to learn some- which they proceeded.* 

thing which he never heard of before, but to It must not, however, be concluded from the 

learn, among the multiplicity of discordant pre- o/:ipa/"e«^ triteness of some of Locke's remarks, to 

cepts cuiTcnt in the world, which of them were the present generation of readers, that they were 

sanctioned, and w/«'c/< reprobated by the judgment viewed in the same light by his own contempo- 

temper and character ; and I introduce it with peculiar satisfaction, in connection with those strictures which truth has ex- 
torted from me on that part of his system whicli to the moralist stands most in need of explanation and apology. 

MR LOCKE TO MK NEWTON. 

" SlE, Outrs, 5th Octohcr 93. 

" I have heen ever since I first knew you so kindly and sincerely your friend, and thoui^ht you so much 
mine, that I could not have believed what you tell me of yourself, had I had it from any body else. And though I cannot 
but be mightily troubled that you should have had so many wrong and unjust thoughts of me, yet, next to the return of 
ijood offices, such as from a sincere good will I have ever done you, 1 receive your acknowledgment of the contrary as the 
kindest thing you could have done uie, since it gives me hopes I have not lost a friend I so much valued. After what your 
letter expresses, I shall not need to say anything to justify myself to you : I shall always think your own rcHection on vay 
carriage l)oth to you and all mankind will sufficiently do that. Instead of that, give nie leave to assure you, that I am more 
ready to forgive you than you can be to desire it; and I do it so freely and fully that I wish for nothing more than the op- 
portunity to convince you that I truly love and esteem you ; and that I have still the same good will for you as if nothing 
of this had happened. To confirm this to you more fully, I should be glad to meet you anywhere, and the rather, because the 
conclusion of your letter makes me apprehend it would not be wholly useless to you. I shall always be ready to serve you 
to my utmost, in any way you shall like, and shall only need your commands or permission to do it. 

"• My book is going to press for a second edition ; and, though I can answer for the design with which I writ it, yet, 
since you have so opportunely given me notice of what you liave said of it, I should take it as a favour if you would point 
out to me the places that gave occasion to that censure, that, by explaining myself better, I may avoid being mistaken by 
others, or unwillingly doing the least prejudice to truth or virtue. I am sure you are so much a friend to both, that, were 
you no.ne to me, I could expect this from you. But I cannot doubt but you would do a great deal more th:in this for my 
sake, who, after all, have all the concern of a friend for you, wish you extremely well, and am, without compliiiiei-.t," &c. &c. 

(For the preservation of this precious memorial of Mr Locke, the public is indebted to tie descendants of his friend and 
relation the Lord Chancellor King, to whom his papers and library were benuealhed. The original is still in the posses. 
siou of the present representative of that noble family ; for whose flattering permission to enrich my Dissertation with the 
above extracts, I feel the more grateful, as I have not the honour of being personally known to his Lordship.) • 

' Mr Locke, it would appear, had once intended to publish his thoughts on the Conduct of the Understanding, as an ad- 
ditional chapter to his Kssay. " I have lately," s,iys he, in a Letter to Jlr .Molyneux, " got a little leisure to think of 
some additions to my book against tlie next edition, anil within tliese few d,ays have fallen upon a subject that I know not 
how far it will lead me. I have written several pages on it, but the matter, the farther I g.>, opens the more upon nie, 
and 1 cannot get sight of any end of it. The title of the chapter will be. Of the Cmirluct of Ihc Undirxlandivg^ which, if I 
shall pursue as far as I imagine it will reach, and as it deserves, will, I conclude, make the largest chapter of my Kssav." 
( Locke's JForft*, Vol. IX. p. 407.) 

= A similar remark may be extended to a letter from Locke tohis friend Mr Samuel Hold, who had complained to him 
of the disadvantages he laboured under from a weakness of memory. It contains nothing but what might have come from 
the pen of one of Newberry's authors ; but with what additional intenst do we read it, when considered as a comment by 
LiK-ke on a suggestion of liacon's ! — (Locke's Works, Vol. X. p. 317.) 

It is a judicious reflection of Shenstone's, that " every single ob.servation published by a man of genius, l>e it ever so tri. 
vial, shoulil be esteemed of importance, because he speaks from his own impressions ; whereas connnon men publish common 
things, which they have perhaps y/caHcif from frivolous writers. I know of few authors to whom this observation a|)plies 
more forcibly and happily than to Locke, when be touches on the culture of the intellectual powers. His precepts, indeed, 
are not all equally sound ; but they, in general, contain a large proportion of truth, and may always furnish to a specula- 
tive mind matter of useful meditation. 



120 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



raries. On the contrary, Leibnitz speaks of the 
Treatise on Education as a work of still greater 
merit than the Essay 07i Human Understanding. ^ 
Nor 'ndll this judgment be wondered at by those 
who, abstracting from the habits of thinking in 
which they have been reared, transport them- 
selves in imagination to the state of Europe a 
hundred years ago. How flat and nugatory 
seem now the cautions to parents about watching 
over those associations on which the dread of 
spirits in the dark is founded ! But how different 
was the case (even in Protestant countries) till 
a very recent period of the last century ! 

I have, on a former occasion, taken notice of 
the slow but (since the invention of printing) cer- 
tain steps by whicli Truth makes its way in the 
world ; " the discoveries, which, in one age, are 
confined to the studious and enlightened few, be- 
coming, in the next, the established creed of the 
learned ; and, in the third, forming part of the 
elementary principles of education." The har- 
mony, in the meantime, which exists among truths 
of all descriptions, tends perpetually, by blending 
them into one common mass, to increase the 
joint influence of the whole ; the contributions 
of individuals to this mass (to borrow the fine 
allusion of Middleton) " resembling the drops of 
rain, which, falling separately into the water, 
mingle at once with the stream, and strengthen 
the general current." Hence the ambition, so 
natural to weak minds, to distinguish themselves 
by paradoxical and extravagant opinions ; for 
these, having no chance to incorporate themselves 
with the progressive reason of the species, are 
the more likely to immortalise the eccentricity 
of theu" authors, and to furnish subjects of won- 
der to the common compilers of literary history. 
This ambition is the more general, as so little 
expcnce of genius is necessary for its gratification. 
" Truth (as Mr Hume has well observed) is one 
thing, but eiTors are numberless;" and hence 



(he might have added) the difficulty of seizing 
the former, and the facility of swelling the num- 
ber of the latter. • 

Having said so much in Ulustration of Locke's 
philosophical merits, and in reply to the common 
charge against his metaphysical and ethical prin- 
ciples, it now only remains for me to take notice 
of one or two defects in liis intellectual character, 
which exhibit a strong contrast to the general 
vigour of his mental powers. 

Among these defects, the most prominent is, 
the facility with wliich he listens to historical 
evidence, when it happens to favour his own con- 
clusions. Many remarkable instances of this 
occur in his long and rambling argument (some- 
what in the style of Montaigne) against the ex- 
istence of innate practical principles ; to which 
may be added, the degree of credit he appears 
to have given to the popular tales about mer- 
maids, and to Sir William Temple's idle story 
of Prince Maurice's " rational and intelligent 
parrot." Strange ! that the same person who, 
in matters of reasoning, had divested himself, 
almost to a fault, of all reverence for the opinions 
of others, should have failed to perceive, that, of 
all the various sources of error, one of the most 
copious and fatal is an unreflecting faith in hu- 
man testimony ! 

The disrespect of Locke for the wisdom of 
antiquity, is another prejudice which has fre- 
quently given a wrong bias to his judgment. 
The idolatry in which the Greek and Roman 
writers were held by his immediate predecessors, 
although it may help to account for this weak- 
ness, cannot altogether excuse it in a man of so 
strong and enlarged an understanding. Locke 
(as we are told by Dr Warton) " affected to de- 
preciate the ancients ; which circumstance (he 
adds), as I am informed from undoubted autho- 
rity, was the source of perpetual discontent and 
dispute betwixt him and his pupil. Lord Shaftes- 



' Lbib. Op. Tom. VI. p. 226. 

* Descartes has struck into nearly the same train of thinking with the above, but his remarks apply much better to the 
writings of Locke than to his own. 

" L'expe'rience m'apprit, que quoique mes opinion."; surprennent d'abord, parce qu'elles sont fort diffe'rentes des vul- 
gaires, cependant, apres qu'on les a comprises on les trouve si simples et si conformes au sens commun, qu'on cesse 
entierement de les admirer, et par la meme d'en faire cas : parceque tel est le naturel des hommes qu'ils n'estinient 
que les choses qui leur laissent d'admiration el qu'ils ne possedent pas tout-a-fait. C'est ainsi que quoique la sante soit 
le plus grand de tous les biens qui concement le corps, c'est pourtant celui auquel nous faisons le moins de re'flexion, 
et que nous goutons le moins. Or, la connoissance de la v^rite est comme la sante' de I'ame ; lorsque on la possede on 
n'y pense plus." — Lettres, Tome I. Lettre xliii.) 



I 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



121 



bury ; who, in many parts of the Characteristics, 
has ridiculed Locke's philosophy, and endea- 
voured to represent him as a disciple of Hobbcs." 
To those who are aware of the direct opposition 
between tlie principles of Hohbes, of Montaigne, 
of Gassendi, and of the other minute philosophers 
with whom Locke sometimes seems unconsci- 
ously to unite his strength, — and the principles 
of Socrates, of Plato, of Cicero, and of all the 
soundest moralists, both of ancient and of mo- 
dern times, the foregoing anecdote will serve at 
once to explain and to palliate the acrimony of 
some of Shaftesbury's strictures on Locke's 
Ethical paradoxes.' 

With this disposition of Locke to depreciate 
the ancients, was intimately connected that con- 
tempt which he everywhere expresses for the 
study of Eloquence, and that perversion of taste 
which led him to consider Blackmore as one of 
the first of our English poets. ^ That his own 
imagination was neither sterile nor torpid, ap- 
pears sufficiently from the agreeable colom-ing 
and animation which it has not unfrequently 
imparted to his style : hut this power of the mind 
he seems to have regarded with a peculiarly jea- 
lous and untrlendly eye ; confining his view ex- 
clusively to its occasional effects in misleading 
the judgment, and overlooking altogether the 
important purposes to which it is subservnent, 
both in our intellectual and moral frame. Hence, 
in all his wi'itings, an inattention to those more 
attractive aspects of the mind, the study of which 
(as Burke has well observed) " while it com- 
municates to the taste a sort of philosophical 
solidity, may he expected to reflect back on the 
severer sciences some of those graces and ele- 
gancies, without which the greatest proficiency 
in these sciences will always have the appear- 
ance of something illiberal." 

To a certain hardness of character, not unfre- 
quently united with an insensibility to the charms 
of poetry and of eloquence, may partly be as- 
cribed the severe and forbidding spirit which 



has suggested some of the maxims in his Tract 
on Education,^ He had been treated, himself, 
it would appear, with very little indulgence by 
his parents ; and probably was led by that filial 
veneration which he always expressed for their 
memory, to ascribe to the early habits of self- 
denial imposed on him by their ascetic system 
of ethics, the existence of those moral qualities 
which he owed to the regulating influence of his 
own reason in fostering his natural dispositions ; 
and which, under a gentler and more skilful cul- 
ture, might have assumed a still more engaging 
and amiable form. His father, who had served 
in the Parliament's army, seems to have retain- 
ed through life that austerity of manners which 
characterised his puritanical associates ; and, 
notwithstanding the comparative enlargement 
and cultivation of Mr Locke's mind, something 
of this hereditary leaven, if I am not mistaken, 
continued to operate upon many of his opinions 
and habits of thinking. If, in the Conduct of 
the Understanding, he trusted (as many have 
thought) too much to nature, and laid too little 
stress on logical rules, he certainly fell into the 
opposite extreme in everything connected with 
the culture of the heart ; distrusting nature al- 
together, and placing his sole confidence in the 
effects of a systematical and ^^gilant discipline. 
That the great object of education is not to 
thwart and disturb, but to study the aim, and to 
facilitate the accomplishment of her beneficial 
arrangements, is a maxim, one should think, 
obvious to common sense ; and yet it is only of 
late years that it has begun to gain ground even 
among philosophers. It is but justice to Rous- 
seau to acknowledge, that the zeal and elo- 
quence -nith which he has enforced it, go far 
to compensate the mischievous tendency of some 
of his other doctrines. 

To the same causes it was probably owing, 
that Locke luis availed himself so little in his 
Conduct of the Understanding, of his own favou- 
rite doctrine of the Association of Ideas. He 



' Plebeii Philosophi (says Cicero) qui a Platonc et Socrato, et ab ea faniilia cUssiilent. 

= " All our Kngliah poets, except Milton," says Molyneux in & letter to Locke, " liave been mere bailad-maliers in 
comparison to Sir Itichard Blackmore." In reply to wliicli Locke says, " There is, 1 with pleasure find, a strange har- 
mony throughout between your thoughts and mine." — (Locke's Works, XoX. IX. pp. 423, i'lG.) 

' Such, for example, as this, that " a child should never be suffered to have what he craves, or so much as spcakt fjr^ 
much less if he cries for it !" A maxuii (as his correspondent iSIolyneux observes) " which seems to bear hard on the 
tender spirits of children, and the natural atfections of parents." — (Locke's Works, Vol IX p. 319.) 

DISS. I. PART II. Q 



122 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



has been, indeed, at sufficient pains to warn pa- 
rents and guardians of the mischievous conse- 
quences to be apprehended from this part of om: 
constitution, if not diligently watched over in 
our infant years. But he seems to have alto- 
gether overlooked the positive and immense re- 
sources which might be derived from it, in the 
culture and amelioration, both of our intellec- 
tual and moral powers ; — in strengthening (for 
instance), by early habits of right thinking, the 
authority of reason and of conscience ; — in blend- 
ing with our best feelings the congenial and 
ennobling sympathies of taste and of fancy ; — 
and in identifying, with the first workings of 
the imagination, those pleasing views of the 
order of the universe, which are so essentially 
necessary to human happiness. A law of our 
nature, so mighty and so extensive in its influ- 
ence, was surely not given to man in vain ; and 
the fatal purchase which it has, in all ages, af- 
forded to Machiavellian statesmen, and to poli- 
tical religionists, in carrying into effect their 
joint conepu-acy against the improvement and 
welfare "of our species, is the most decisive proof 
of the manifold uses to which it might be turn- 
ed in the hands of instructors, well disposed and 
well qualified humbly to co-operate with the ob- 
vious and unerring purposes of Divine Wisdom. 



A more convenient opportunity will after- 
wards occur for taking some notice of Locke's 
writings on Money and Trade, and on the Prin- 
ciples of Government. They appear to me to 
connect less naturally and closely with the li- 
terary history of the times when they appeared, 
than with the systematical views which were 
opened on the same subjects about fifty years 
afterwards, by some speculative politicians in 
France and in England. I shall, therefore, de- 
lay any remarks on them which I have to ofiFer, 
till we arrive at the period when the questions 
to which they relate began everywhere to at- 
tract the attention of the learned world, and to 
be discussed on those general principles of ex- 
pediency and equity, which form the basis of 
the modern science of Political Economy. With 
respect to his merits as a logical and metaphysi- 
cal reformer, enough has been already said for 
this introductory section : but I shall have oc- 
casion, more than once, to recur to them in the 
following pages, when I come to review those 
later theories, of which the germs or rudiments 
may be distinctly traced in his works ; and of 
which he is, therefore, entitled to divide the 
praise with such of his successors as have rear- 
ed to maturity the prolific seeds scattered by 
his hand.^ 



SECTION II. 



Continuation of the Review of Locke and Leibnitz, 



LEIBNITZ. 



Independently of the pre-eminent rank, 
which the versatile talents and the universal 
learning of Leibnitz entitle him to hold among 
the illustrious men who adorned the Continent 
of Em-ope during the eighteenth centmy, there 
are other considerations which have determin- 



fixing the commencement of the period, on the 
history of which I am now to enter. The 
school of which he was the founder was strong- 
ly discriminated from that of Locke, by the ge- 
neral spirit of its doctrines ; and to this school 
a large proportion of the metaphysicians, and 



ed me to unite his name with that of Locke, in also of the mathematicians of Germany, Hol- 



' And yet with what modesty does LocVe speak of his own pretensions as a Philosopher ! " In an age that produces such 
masters as the great Huygenius and the incomparable Mr Newton, it is ambition enough to be employed as an under- 
labourer in clearing the ground a little, and removing some of the rubbish that lies in the way to knowledge." — (Esiay on 
Human Understanding. Ejiistle to Vie Reader.) See Note Z. 



DISSERTATIOM FIRST. 



123 



land, France, and Italy, have ever since his 
time had a decided leaning. On the funda- 
mental question, indeed, concerning the Origin 
of our Knowltdge, the philosophers of the Con- 
tinent (with the exception of the Germans, and 
a few eminent individuals in other countries) 
have, in general, sided with Locke, or rather 
with Gassendi ; but, in most other instances, a 
partiality for the opinions, and a deference for 
the authority of Leibnitz, may be traced in their 
speculations, both on metaphysical and physical 
subjects. Hence a striking contrast between 
the characteristical features of the continental 
philosophy, and those of the contemporary sys- 
tems which have succeeded each other in our 
own island ; the great proportion of our most 
noted writers, notwithstanding the opposition 
of their sentiments on particular points, having 
either attached themselves, or professed to attach 
themselves, to the method of inquiry recom- 
mended and exemplified by Locke. 

But the circumstance which chiefly induced 
me to assign to Leibnitz so prominent a place 
in this historical sketch, is the extraordinary 
influence of his industry and zeal, in uniting, 
by a mutual communication of intellectual lights 
and of moral sympathies, the most powerful 
and leading minds scattered over Christendom. 
Some preliminary steps towards such an union 
had been already taken by Wallis in England, 
and by Mersenne in France ; but the literary 
commerce, of which they were the centres, was 
conflned almost exclusively to Mathematics and 
to Physics ; while the comprehensive corre- 
spondence of Leibnitz extended alike to every 
pursuit interesting to man, either as a specu- 
lative or as an active being. From this time 
forward, accordingly, the history of philosophy 
involves, in a far greater degi'ee than at any 
former period, the general history of the human 
mind ; and we shall find, in our attempts to 
trace its farther progress, our attention more 
and more irresistil)ly withdrawn from local de- 



tails to more enlarged views of the globe which 
we inhabit. A striking change in this literary 
commerce among nations took place, at least in 
the western parts of Europe, before the death 
of Leibnitz ; but, during the remainder of the 
last century, it continued to proceed with an 
accelerated rapidity over the whole face of the 
civilised world. A multitude of causes, un- 
doubtedly, conspired to produce it ; but I know 
of no individual whose name is better entitled 
than that of Leibnitz, to mark the era of its 
commencement. " 

I have already, in treating of the philosophy 
of Locke, said enough, and perhaps more than 
enough, of the opinion of Leibnitz concerning 
the origin of our knowledge. Although expressed 
in a difl'erent phraseology, it agrees in the most 
essential points with the iiuiafe ideas of the Car- 
tesians ; but it approaches stiU more nearly to 
some of the mystical speculations of Plato. Tlie 
very exact coincidence between the language of 
Leibnitz on this question, and that of his con- 
temporary Cudworth, whose mind, like his owni, 
was deeply tinctured ^vith the Platonic Meta- 
physics, is not unworthy of notice here, as an 
historical fact ; and it is the only remark on tliis 
part of his system which I mean to add at pre- 
sent to those in the preceding liistory. 

" Tlie seeds of our acquired knowledge," says 
Leibnitz, " or, in other words, our ideas, and 
the eternal truths which are derived from them, 
are contained in the mind itself; nor is this won- 
derful, since we know by our owti consciousness, 
that we possess within ourselves the ideas of er- 
istence, of unity, of substance, of action, and other 
ideas of a similar nature." To the same purpose, 
we are told by Cudworth, that " the mind con- 
tains in itself \artually (as the future plant or 
tree is contained in the seed) general notions of 
all things which unfold and discover themselves 
as occasions invite, and proper circumstances 
occur." 

The metaphysical theories, to the establish- 



■ The followinj; niaxlms of Lcibiiitz deserve the serious attention of all who have at heart the improvement of mankind : 

" On trouve dans le monde plusieurs i>ersonnes bien intentionnees ; mais le mal est, qu'elles ne s'entendent point, et ne 

travaillcnt point de concert. S'il y avoit moyen de trouver une espt'cc de glu pour les reunir, on foroit quelque chose. 

lie mal est souvent que les gens de bien ont quelqucs caprices ou opinions ))articiiUires, qui iont qu'ils sent contraires 

entr'eux L'esprit sectaire consiste pro])rement dans celte pretention de vouloir que les autres se reglent sur nos 

niaximcs, au lieu qu'oii se devroit contenter de voir qu'on aille au but principal." — (Leib. Op. Tom. I. p. 740.) 



124 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



nient of which Leibnitz chiefly directed the force 
of his geniiis, are the doctrine oi Pre-established 
Harmony ; and the scheme of Optimism, as new mo- 
delled by himself. On neither of these heads will 
it be necessary for me long to detain my readers. 

1. According to the system of Pre-established 
Harmony, the human mind and human body 
are two independent but constantly correspond- 
ent machines ; — adjusted to each other like two 
unconnected clocks, so constructed, that, at the 
same instant, the one should point the horn-, and 
the other strike it. Of this system the follow- 
ing summary and illustration are given by Leib- 
nitz himself, in his Essay entitled Thcodiccea : 

" I cannot help coming into this notion, that 
God created the soul in such manner at first, 
that it should represent within itself all the 
simultaneous changes in the body ; and that he 
has made the body also in such manner, as that 
it must of itself do what the soul wills : — So that 
the laws which make the thoughts of the soul 
follow each other in regular succession, must 
produce images which shall be coincident with 
the impressions made by external objects upon 
our organs of sense ; while the laws by which 
the motions of the body follow each other, are 
likewise so coincident with the thoughts of the 
soul, as to give to our volitions andactions the very 
same appearance, as if the latter were really the 
natural and the necessary consequences of the 
former." — (Leib. Op. I. p. 163.) Upon another 
occasion he observes, that " every thing goes on 
in the soul as if it had no body, and that every 
thing goes on in the body as if it had no soul." 
(md. II. p. 44.) 

To convey his meaning still more fully, Leib- 
nitz borrows from JNL- Jaquelot"^ a comparison, 
which, whatever may be thought of its justness, 
must be at least allowed some merit in point of 
ingenuitj'. " Suppose that an intelligent and 
powerful being, who knew, beforehand, every 
particular thing that I should order my footman 
to do to-morrow, should make a macliine to re- 
semble my footman exactly, and punctually to 
perform, all day, whatever I directed. On this 
supposition, would not 7ny u-ill In issuing all the 



details of my orders, remain, in every respect, 
in the same circumstances as before? And would 
not my machine-footman, in performing his dif- 
ferent movements, have the appearance of acting 
only in obedience to my commands ?" The in- 
ference to be drawn from this comparison is, 
that the movements of my body have no direct 
dependence whatever on the volitions of my 
mind, any more than the actions of my machine- 
footman would have on the words issuing from 
my lips. The same inference is to be extended 
to the relation which the impressions made on my 
diflFerent senses bear to the co-existent percep- 
tions arising in my mind. The impressions and 
perceptions have no mutual connection, resembling 
that of physical causes with their eflFects; but 
the one series of events is made to correspond 
invariably with the other, in consequence of an 
eternal harmony between them pre-established by 
their common Creator. 

From this outline of the scheme of Pre-establish- 
ed Harmony, it is manifest, that it took its rise 
from the very same train of thinking which 
produced Malebranche's doctrine of Occasiotial 
Causes. The authors of both theories saw clearly 
the impossibility of tracing the mode in which 
mind acts on body, or body on mind ; and hence 
were led rashly to conclude, that the connection or 
union which seems to exist between them is not 
real, but apparent. The inferences, however, 
which they drew from this common principle 
were dii-ectly opposite ; Malebranche maintain- 
ing, that the communication between mind and 
body was carried on by tlie immediate and in- 
cessant agency of the Deity ; while Leibnitz con- 
ceived, that the agency of God was employed 
only in the original contrivance and mutual ad- 
justment of the two machines ; — all the subsequent 
phenomena of each being the necessary results 
of its own independent mechanism, and, at the 
same time, the progressive evolutions of a com- 
prehensive design, harmonising the laws of the 
one with those of the other. 

Of these two opposite hj'potheses, that of Leib- 
nitz is by far the more unphUosophical and un- 
tenable. Tlie chief objection to the doctrine of 



Author of a Book entitled ConformHe de la Foi avec la Raison. 



I 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



125 



occaskmal causes is, that it presumes to decide 
upon a question of which human reason is alto- 
gether incompetent to judge ; — our ignorance of 
the mode in wliich matter acts upon mind, or 
mind upon matter, furnishing not the shadow of 
a proof that the one may not act directly smd 
immediately on the other, in some way incom- 
prehensible by our faculties. ^ But the doctrine 
of Pre-established Harmony, besides being equally 
liable to this objection, labours under the ad- 
ditional disadvantage of involving a perplexed 
and totally inconsistent conception of the nature 
of Mechanism ; — an inconsistency, by the way, 
with which all those philosophers are j ustly charge- 
able, wlio imagine that, by likening the universe 
to a machine, they get rid of the necessity of 
admitting the constant agency of powers essen- 
tially different from the known qualities of mat- 
ter. The word Mechanism properly expresses a 
combination of natural powers to produce a cer- 
tain effect. Wlien such a combination is success- 
ful, a machine, once set a-going, will sometimes 
continue to perform its office for a considerable 
time, without requiring the interposition of the 
artist : And hence we are led to conclude, that 
the case may perhaps be simUiar with respect to 



the imiverse, when once put into motion by the 
Deity. This idea Leibnitz carried so far as to 
exclude the supposition of any subsequent agency 
in the first contriver and mover, excepting in 
the case of a mii'acle. But the falseness of the 
analogy appears from this, that the moving force 
in every machine is some natural power, such 
as gravity or elasticity ; and, consequently, the 
very idea of mechanism assumes the existence of 
those active powers, of which it is the professed 
object of a mechanical theory of the universe to 
give an explanation. WTiether, therefore, with 
Malcbranche, we resolve every effect into the 
immediate agency of God, or suppose, with the 
great majority of Newtonians, that he employs 
the instrumentality of second causes to accom- 
plish his pui'poses, we are equally forced to ad- 
mit with Bacon, the necessity not only of a first 
contriver and mover, but of his constant and effi- 
cient concun'ence (either immediately or me- 
diately) in carrying his design into execution : — 
" Opus (says Bacon) qitod operatur Deus a pri- 
nwrdio usque adfinem." 

In what I have now said I have confined my- 
self to the idea of Mechanism as it applies to the 
material luiiverse ; for, as to this word, when 



' The mutual action, or (as it was called in the schools) the mutual influence f in^ifcTat^ of soul and body, was, till the 
time of Descartes, the prevailing hypothesis, both among the learned and the vulgar. The reality of this influx, if not 
positively denied by Descartes, was at least mcntionL'd by liim as a subject of doubt; but by JIalebranche and Leibnitz it 
was confidently rejected as absurd and impossible. (See their works passim.) Gravesaude, who had a very strong leaning 
towards the doctrines of Leibnitz, had yet tlie good sense to perceive the inconclusiveness of his reasoning in this particu- 
lar instance, and states in opposition to it the tuUowing sound and decisive remarks: " Non concipio, quomodo mens in 
corpus agere possit ; non etiam video, quomodo ex motu nervi perceptio sequatur ; non tamen inde sequi mihi apparet, 
oranem influxum esse rejiciendum. 

" Substantia; incognita? sunt. Jam videmus naturam mentis nos latere ; scimus banc esse aliquid, quod ideas habet, has 
confert, &c. scd ignoramus quid sit subjectum, cui hae proprietates conveniant. 

" Hoc idem de corpore dicimus ; est extensum, impenetrabile, &c. sed quid est quod habet hasce proprietates ? Nulla 
uubis via aperta est, qua ad banc cognitionem pervenirc possimus. 

" Inile concludimus, multa nos latere, qua; proprietates mentis et corporis spectant. 

" Invicta demonstratione constat, non mcntem in corpus, ncque hoc in iUam agere, ut corpus in corpus agit ; sed mihi 
non videtur inde conchuU posse, omnem influxum esse impossibilem. 

" Motu suo corpus non agit in aliud corpus, sine resistente ; sed an non actio, omnino diversa, et cujus ideam non habemus, 
in aliam substantiam dari possit, et Ita tamen, ut causa etlectui respondeat, in re adeo obscura, determiniU-e non ausim. 
Difficile ccrte est Influxum negare, quando exacto perpendimus, quomodo in minimis qute mens percijiit, relatio detnr cum 
agitationibus in corpore, et quomodo hujus motus cum mentis determinationibus conveniant. Attendo ad ilia qua; medici, 
et anatomici, nos de liis docent. 

" Nihil, ergo, de systemate influxus determmo, prtcter hoc, mihi nondum hujus inipossibilitatem satis clare demonstratam 
esse videri." — ( Introilmtio ad PhUotnphiam. ) See Note A A. 

With respect to the manner in which the mtercourse between Mind and ^Matter is carried on, a very rash assertion escaped 
Mr Locke in the first edition of his Essay. " The next thing to be considered is, how bodies produce ideas in us, and that 
it manifistlij hi/ impulse, the ontij rcay which h'C can conceive bodies operate in." — (Essay, B- IL ch. viii. S !'•) 

In the course of Locke's controversial discussions with the Hishop of Worcester, he afterwards became fully sensible of 
this important oversiglit ; and he had the candour to acknowledge his error in the following terms : " 'Tis true, I have 
said, tliat bodies operate by impulse, and nothing else, -ind so I thought when I writ it, and can yet conceive no other 
way of tlieir operations, llut I am since convinced, by the judicious Mr Newton's incomparable book,^ that it is too bold a 
presum])tion to limit (iod's power in this i)oint by my narrow conceptions. •••••• And, tborelore, in the next edi- 
tion of my hook, I will take care to liavelliat passage i-ectified." 

It is a circumstance that can only be accounted for by the variety of Mr Locke's other pursuits, that in all the later edi- 
tions of the Essay which have fallen in my way, the proposition in ciuestion has been allowed to remain as it originally stood. 



12B 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



applied by Leibnitz to the mind, which he calls 
a Spiritual Automaton, I confess myself quite un- 
able to annex a meaning to it : I shall not, there- 
fore, offer any remarks on this part of his sys- 
tem.^ 

To these visionary speculations of Leibnitz, 
a strong and instructive contrast is exhibited in 
the philosophy of Locke ; a philosophy, the main 
object of which is less to enlarge our knowledge, 
than to make us sensible of our ignorance ; or 
(as the author himself expresses it) " to prevail 
with the busy mind of man to be cautious in 
meddling with things exceeding its comprehen- 
sion ; to stop when it is at the utmost extent of 
its tether ; and to sit down in a quiet ignorance 
of those tilings, which, upon examination, are 
found to be beyond the reach of our capacities." 

" My right hand wi'ites," says Locke, in 

another part of his Essay, " whilst my left hand 
is still. What causes rest in one, and motion in 
the other ? Nothing but my ^vill, a thought of 
my mind ; my thought only changing, my right 
hand rests, and the left hand moA'es. This is 
matter of fact which cannot be denied. Explain 
this and make it intelligible, and then the next 

step will be to understand Creation In the 

meantime, it is an overvaluing ourselves, to re- 
duce all to the narrow measure of our capaci- 
ties ; and to conclude all things impossible to be 
done, whose manner of doing exceeds our com- 
prehension If you do not understand the 

operations of your own finite Mind, that think- 
ing thing ^vithin you, do not deem it strange 
that you cannot comprehend the operations of 
that eternal infinite Mind, who made and governs 



all things, and whom the heaven of heavens can- 
not contain.""— (Vol. II. pp. 249, 250.) 

This contrast between the philosophical cha- 
racters of Locke and of Leibnitz is the more de- 
serving of notice, as something of the same sort 
has ever since continued to mark and to discri- 
minate the metaphysical researches of the Eng- 
lish and of the German schools. Various ex- 
ceptions to this remark may, no doubt, be men- 
tioned ; but these exceptions will be found of 
trifling moment, when compared with the indis- 
putable extent of its general application. 

The theory of pre-established harmony led, 
by a natural and obvious transition, to the scheme 
of Optimism. As it represented all events, both 
in the physical and moral worlds, as the neces- 
sary effects of a mechanism originally contrived 
and set a-going by the Deity, it reduced its au- 
thor to the alternative of either calling in ques- 
tion the Divine power, wisdom, and goodness, 
or of asserting that the universe which he had 
called into being was the best of all possible 
systems. Tliis last opinion, accordingly, was 
eagerly embraced by Leibnitz ; and forms the 
subject of a work entitled TTieodiccea, in which 
are combined together, in an extraordinary de- 
gree, the acuteness of the logician, the imagina- 
tion of the poet, and the impenetrable, yet sub- 
lime darkness, of the metaphysical theologian.' 

The modification of Optimism, however, adopt- 
ed by Leibnitz, was, in some essential respects, 
peculiar to himself. It differed from that of 
Plato, and of some other sages of antiquity, in 
considering the human mind in the light of a 
spiritual machine, and, of consequence, in posi- 



' Absurd as the hypothesis of a Pre-estahlisJied Harmony may now appear, not many years have elapsed since it was the pre- 
vailing, or rather universal creed, among the philosophers of Germany. " II fut un temps" (says the celebrated Euler) 
" ou le systCme de Tharmonie pre-^tablie etoit tellement en vogiie dans toute I'Allemagne, que ceux qui en doutoient, pas- 
soient pour des ignorans, ou des esprits homes." — ( Lcttres de M. Ecler a unc Princesse d'Allemagnc, 83e Leltre.) It would 
be amusing to reckon up the succession of metaphysical creeds whicli have been since swallowed with the same implicit faith 
by this learned and speculative, and (in all those branches of knowledge where imagination has no influence over the judg- 
ment) profound and inventive nation. 

^ That this is a fair representation of the scope of Locke's philosophy, according to the author's own view of it, is demon- 
strated by the two mottos prefixed to the Essay on Human Understanding. The one is a passage of the book of Eccksiastes^ 
which, from the place it occupies in the fi-ont of his work, may be presumed to express what he himself regarded as the most 
important moral to be drawn from his speculations. " As thou knowest not what ie the way of the spirit, nor how the bones 
do grow in the womb of her that is with child ; even so, thou knowest not the works of God, who maketh all things." The 
other motto (from Cicero) strongly expresses a sentiment which every competent judge must feel on comparing the above quo- 
tations from Locke, with the monads and the prc-estaUislied harmony of Leibnitz. "• Quam bellum est veUe confiteri potius 
nescire quod nescias, quam ista eff'utientem nauseare, atque ipsum sibi displicere !" See Note B B. 

^ " LaThe'odiceeseule (says i'ontenelle) suffiroit pour representor M.Leibnitz. Une lecture immense, des anecdotes 
curieuses sur les livres ou les personnes, beaucoup d'equite' et nnjme de faveur pour tons les auteurs cit&, fut ce en les 
combattant ; des vucs sublimes et lumineuses, des raisonnemens au fond desquelson sent toujours I'esprit georaetrique, un 
style ou la force domine, et ou cependant sont admis les agr^mens d'une imagination heureuse." — Eloge de Lcilmitz. 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



127 



tively denying the freedom of human actions. 
According to Plato, every thing is right, so far 
as it is the work of God ; — the creation of beings 
endowed with free will, and consequently liable 
to moral delinquency — and the government of 
the world by general laws, from which oc- 
casional evils must result, — furnishing no ob- 
jection to the perfection of the universe, to which 
a satisfactory reply may not be found in the 
partial and narrow views of it, to which our fa- 
culties are at present confined. But he held at 
the same time, that, although the permission of 
moral e^al does not detract from the goodness of 
God, it is nevertheless imputable to man as a 
fault, and renders him justly obnoxious to 
punishment. This system (under a Variety of 
forms) has been in all ages maintained by the 
wisest and best philosophers, who, while they 
were anxious to vindicate the perfections of God, 
saw the importance of stating their doctrine in 
a manner not inconsistent with man's free will 
and moral agency. 

The scheme of Optimism, on the contrary, as 



proposed by Leibnitz, is completely subversive 
of these caidinal truths. It was, indeed, view- 
ed by the great and excellent author in a very 
different light ; but in the judgment of the most 
impartial and profound inquirers, it leads, by a 
short and demonstrative process, to the annihi- 
lation of all moral distinctions.^ 

It is of great importance to attend to the dis- 
tinction between these two systems ; because it 
has, of late, become customary among sceptical 
writers, to confound them studiously together, 
in order to extend to both that ridicule to which 
the latter is justly entitled. This, in particu- 
lar, was the case with Voltaire, who, in many 
parts of his later works, and more especially in 
his Candide, has, under the pretence of expos- 
ing the extravagancies of Leibnitz, indulged his 
satirical raillery against the order of the uni- 
verse. The success of his attempt was much 
aided by the confused and inaccurate manner 
in which the scheme of optimism had been re- 
cently stated by various writers, who, in their 
zeal to " vindicate the ways of God," had been 



' It is observed by Dr Akenside, tbat " the Theory of Optimism has hecn delivered of late, especially abroad, in a man- 
ner which subverts the freedom of human actions ; whereas Plato appears very careful to preserve it, and has been in that re- 
spect imitated by the best of his followers."' — (Notes on the 2d Book of the Pleasures of the Imagination.) 

I am jjcrfectly aware, at the same time, that different opinions have been entertained of Plato's real sentiments on this sub- 
ject ; and I readily grant that passages with respect to Fate and Necessity may be collected from his works, which it would be 
very difficult to reconcile with any one consistent scheme — (See the Notes oi' Mosheimon his Latin Version of Cudworth's 
Intellectual System, Tome. I. pp. 10. 310, et scij. Lugd. Batav. 1773.) 

Without entering at all into this question, I may be permitted here to avail myself, for the sake of conciseness, of Plato's 
name, to distinguish that modification of optimism which I have opposed in the text to the optimism of Leibnitz. The follow- 
ing sentence, in the loth Book Dc Republica, seems sufficient of itself to authorise this liberty : — 'A^irn Si aii^TiTti, bv rifiZi xai 
artuxCvft TXitfv Kai TxaTTov avTTJ; tKtt7T6s i^u. airTx ikoftitn. &iot dvaiTio;. Virtus inviolabilis ac libera quam prout h(merabit quis out 
ne^Hget, ita plus aut minus ex fa possidcbit. Eligcntis rjiiiJem culpa est omnis. Deus vero extra culpam. 

A short abstract of tlie allegory with which Leibnitz concludes his Thcodica-a, will convey a clearer idea of the scope of that 
work, than I could hope to do by any metaphysical comment. The groundwork of this allegory is taken from a dialogue 
on Free-Will, written by Laurcntius Valla, in opposition to Boethius ; — in which dialogue, Sextus, the son of Tarquin 
the Proud, is introduced as consulting Apollo about his destiny. Apollo predicts to him that he is to violate Lucretia,' and 
afterwards, with his family, to be expelled from Home. (Erul inopsqnc cades irata pulsus iih urbe.) Sextus complains of the 
prediction. Apollo replies, that the fault is not his; that he has only the gift of seeing into futurity ;• that all things are 
regulated by .lupiter ; and that it is to him his complaint should be addressed. (Here finis/ies the allegory of Valla, which 
Leibnitz thus continues, agreeably to his own principles.; In consequence of the advice of the Oracle, Sextus goes to Dodonato 
complain to Jupiter of the crime which he is destined to perpetrate. " Why (says he), oh Jupiter ! have you made me 
wicked and miserable ? Either change my lot and my will, or admit that the fault is yours, not mine." Jupiter replies to 
him : " Ilenounce all thoughts of Rome and of the crown ; be wise, and you shall be happy. If you return to Home you 
arc undone." Sextus. unwilling to submit to such a sacrifice, quits the Temple, and abandons himself to his fate. 

After his departure, the higli priest, Theodorus, asks Jupiter why he had not given another Will to Sextus. Jupiter 
sends Theodorus to Athens to consult Minerva. The goddess shows him the Palace of the Destinies, where are represen- 
tations of all possible worlds, f each of them containing a Sextus Tarquinius with a difierent IVill, leading to a catastrophe 
more or less happy. In the last and best of these worlds, forming the summit of the pyramid composed by the others, the 
liigh priest sees Sextus eo to Home, throw every thing into confusion, and violate the wife of his friend. " Vou see" (says 
the Goddess of Wisdom) "it was not my father that made Sextus wicked. He was wicked from aU eternity, and he was 
always so in consequence of his own will. J Jupiter has only bestowed on him that existence which he could not refuse him 
in the best of all possible worlds. He only transferred him from the region ofposnble to that of actual beings. What great 

• " Futura novi, non facio." 

f World (it must be remembered) is here synonymous with Unimrse. 

J "Vides Sextum a Patre meo non fuisse tactum improbum, talis quippe ab omni oetemitate fuit, et quidem semper li- 
bere ; existere tantum ei concessit .Jupiter, quod ipsum profecto ejus sapientia nmndo, in quo ille continebatur, denegare 
non poterat : ergo Sextum e regione possibilium ad rerum existentium classem transtulit." 



128 PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 

led to hazard principles more dangerous in their position, that no event in the universe could 

consequences, than tlie prejudices and errors possibly have been different from what has actu- 

which it was their aim to correct.' ally taken place.' The distinguishing feature of 

The zeal of Leibnitz in propagating the dogma this article of the Leibnitzian creed is, that, while 

of Necessity is not easily reconcileable with the^ the Hobbists and Spinozists were employing their 

hostility wliich, as I have already remarked, he ingenuity in connecting together Materialism 

uniformly displays against the congenial doctrine and Necessity, as branches springing from one 

of Materialism. Such, however, is the fact, and common root, Leibnitz always speaks of the soul 

I believe it to be quite unprecedented in the pre- as a machine purely spiritual,^ — a machine, how- 

\-iousliistory of philosophy. Spinoza himself has ever, as necessarily regulated by pre-ordained 

not pushed the argument for necessity further and immutable laws, as the movements of a clock 

than Leibnitz, — the reasonings of both conclud- or the revolutions of the planets. In consequence 

ing not less forcibly against the free-will of God of holding this language, he seemed to represent 

tlian against the free-wUl of man, and, of con- Man in a less degrading light than other neces- 

sequence, terminating ultimately in this pro- sitarians ; but, in as far as such speculative te- 

events does the crime of Sestug draw after it ? Tlie liberty of Rome — the rise of a government fertile in civil and mili- 
tary virtues, and of an empire destined to conquer and to civilise the earth." Theodorus returns thanks to the goddess, 
and acknowledges the justice of Jupiter. 

' Among this number must be included the author of the Essay on Man, who, from a want of precision in his metaphy- 
sical ideas, has unconsciously fallen into various expressions, equally inconsistent with each other and with his own avowed 
opinions : 

If plagues and earthquakes break not Heaven's design, 

Why then a Borgia or a Catiline ? — 

Who knows but He whose hand the lightning forms, 

Who heaves old Ocean, and who wings the storms, 

Pours fierce ambition on a Cjesar's mmd. 

Or turns young Amnion loose to scourge mankind ? — 

• • • • » 

— The general order since the whole began, 

Is kept in Nature, and is kept in Man. 
This approaches very nearly to the optimism of Leibnitz, and has certainly nothing in common with the optimism of Plato. 
Nor is it possible to reconcile it with the sentiments inculcated by Pope in other parts of the same poem. 

What makes all physical and moral ill ? 

There deviates Nature, and here wanders Will. 
In this last couplet he seems to admit, not only that Will may wander, but that Nature herself may deviate from the general 
Older ; whereas the doctrine of his universal prayer is, that, while the material world is subjected to established laws, man 
is left to be the arbiter of his own destiny : 

Yet gav'st me in this dark estate 

To know the good from ill, 

And, binding Nature fast in fate, 

Left free the human wiU. 
In the Dunciad, too, the scheme of Neceisity is coupled with that of Materialism, as one of the favourite doctrines of the sect 
of free-thinkers. 

Of nought so certain as our Reason still, 

Of nought so doubtful as of Soul and WiU. 
" Two things" (says Warburton, who professes to speak Pope's sentiments) " the most self-evident, the existence of our 
souls and the freedom of our will !" 

= So completely, indeed, and so mathematically linked, did Leibnitz conceive all truths, both physical and moral, to be 

with each other, that he represents the eternal geometrician as incessantly occupied in the solution of this problem, The 

Stale of one Blonad (or elementary atom) icing given, to determine the state, past, present, and future, of the ahok universe. 

" " Cuncta itaque in homine certa sunt, et in antecessum deterrainata, uli in cseteris rebus omnibus, et anima humana 
eitspirituale quoddamautomatum.''^ — Leib. Op. Tom. I. p. 156. 

In a note on this sentence, the editor quotes a passage from Bilfinger, a learned German, in which an attempt is made to 
vindicate the propriety of the phrase, by a reference to the etymology of the word automaton. This word, it is observed, when 
traced to its source, literally expresses something which contains within itself its principle of motion, and, consequently, it ap- 
plies still more literally to Mind than to a machine. The remark, considered in a philological point of view, is indisputably 
just ; but is it not evident, that it leads to a conclusion precisely contrary to what this author would deduce from it ? What- 
ever may have been the primitive meaning of the word, its common, or rather its universal meaning, even among scientific 
writers, is, a material machine, moving without any foreign impulse ; and, that this was the idea annexed to it by Leibnitz, 
appears from his distinguishing it by the epithet spiritualc, — an epithet which would have been altogether superfluous had he 
intended to convey the opinion ascribed to him by Bilfinger. In applying, therefore, this language to the mind, we may 
conclude, with confidence, that Leibnitz had no intention to contrast together mind and body, in respect of their moving or 
actuating principles, but only to contrast them in respect of the substances of which they are composed. In a word, he con- 
ceived both of them to be equally maelnnts, made and wound up by the Supreme Being ; but the machinery in the one case to 
be material, and in the other spirituaL 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 129 

nets may be supposed to liave any practical of- of the atheistic creed, with an air of Platonic 

feet on human conduct, the tendency of his doc- mysticism. The influence of his example appears 

trines is not less dangerous than that of the most to me to have contributed much to con-upt the 

obnoxious systems avowed by his predecessors. ' taste and to bewilder the speculations of his coun- 

Theschemeof necessity was still farther adorn- trymen ; gi^^ng birth, in the last result, to that 

cd and sublimed in the Theodiccea of Leibnitz, heterogeneous combination of all that is pernicious 

by an imagination nurtured and trained in the in Spinozism, with the transcendental eccentrici- 

school of Plato. " INIay there not exist," he asks ties of a heated and exalted fancy, which, for 

on one occasion, " an immense space beyond the many years past, has so deeply tinctured both 

region of the stars ? and may not this empyreal their philosophy and their works of fiction.^ 
heaven be filled with happiness and glory? It Inotlierpartsof Em'ope, theeflfectsof theTXeo- 

may be conceived to resemble an ocean, where dicasa have not been equally unfavourable. In 

the rivers of all those created beings that are des- France, more particularly, it has furnished to 

tined for bliss shall finish their course, when the few who have cultivated ^^dth success the 

arrived in the starry system, at the perfection of Philosophy of Mind, new weapons for combat- 

tlieir respective natures." — (Leib. Op. Tom. I. ing the materialism of the Gassendists and Hob- 

p. 133.) '^ bists ; and, in England, we are indebted to it for 

In various other instances, he rises from the the hrresistible reasonings by which Clarke sub- 
deep and seemingly hopeless abyss of Fatalism, verted the foundations on wliicli the whole su- 
to the same lofty conceptions of the universe; perstructure of Fatalism rests.* 
andhasthusinvcsted the most humiliating article It may be justly regarded as a proof of the 

' The fullowiiii; remark in !Madame de Stael's interesting and eloquent review of German philosophy bears marks of a 
haste and precipitation witli whicli lier criticisms are seldom chargealjle : " L,es opinions de Leibnitz tendent surtout au 
peri'ectionneraent moral, s'il est vrai, comma les philosoplies Allemands ont tache de le prouver, que le libre arbitre repose 
sur la doctrine qui affranchit I'ime des objets extcrieures, et que la vertu ne puisse exister sans la parfaite independance 
du vouloir." 

' The celebrated Charles Bonnet, in his work entitled, Contemplation de la Nature^ has indulged his imagination so far, in 
following out the above conjecture of Leibnitz, as to rival some of the wildest flights of Jacob Behmen. " 3Iais IVchelle 
de la creation ne se termino point au plus c'levc's des mondes plan^taires. Lh commence im autre univers, dont I'c'rendue 
est peut-Ctre ii celle de I'univers des Fixes, ce qu'est I'espace du syst(;me solaire U la capacitu d'une noix. 

" I.a, commc des Astres rcsplendissans, brillent les Hieharcuies Celestes. 

" I.a rayonnent de toutes parts les Avoes, les Archajjges, les SERAPniys, les Chebubins, les Trones, les Veiitvs, 
les Principaute's, les Dominations, les Puissances. 

"Au centre de ces Aur.usTrs Spheres, e'clate le Soleii. de Justice, l'Ohient d'Ekhaut, dont tous les Astres 
empruntent leur lumi^re et leur splendeur." 

" La T/uodicec de Leibnitz," the same author tells us in another passage, " est un de mes livrcs de devotion : J'ai intitule 
mon Exeraplaire, Mar.nel de Philosophic ChrHiennc." 

" " The gross appetite of Love (says Gibbon) becomes most dangerous when it is elevated, or rather disguised, by sen- 
timental passion." The remark is strikingly applicable to some of the most popular novels and dramas of Germany ; and 
something very similar to it will be found to hold with respect to those speculative extravagancies which, in the German 
systems of philosophy, are ciriaieil or disguised by the imposing cant of moral enthusiasm. 

In one of Leibnitz's controversial discussions with Dr Clarke, there is a passage which throws some light on his taste, not 
only in matters of science, but in judging of works of imagination. " Du temps de M. Boyle, et d'autres excellens hommes 
qui lleurissoient en Angleterre sous Charles II. on n'auroit pas ose nous debiter des notions si ermses. (The notions here al- 
luded to arc those of Ncu'ton tcmeernina the larp of gravitation.) J'espt're que le beautemps reviendra sous un aussi bon gou- 
vernement que celui d'i present. Le capital de Jf. Boyle etoit d'inculquer que tout se faisoit viiehaniquement dans la phy- 
sique. Blais c'est un niallieur des hommes, de se degouter enfin ile la raison meme, et de s'ennuyer de la lumiere. Les 
chimeres commencent h revcnir, et plaisent parce qu'cUcs ont quelque chose de merveillcux. II .arrive dans le pays philo- 
sophique ce qui est arriv^ dans le pays pocli(|ue. On s'est lasso des romans raisonnables, tel que la CUlie Franfoisc ou 
CAnimene Allemande ; et on est revenu depuis quelque temps aux Contcs des Fiet." — (Ti/Kyuic/ncfcri/iJcJI. Leibnitz, p. 2C6.) 

From this passage it would seem, that Leibnitz looked forward to the period, when the dreams of the Newtonian philo- 
sophy would give way to some of the exploded mechanical theories of the universe ; and when the Fainj-trjes then in fa- 
sliion (among which number must liave liecn included those of Count .\nthony Hamilton) would be supi)lantcd by the re- 
vival of such reasonable Homanccs as the Grand CIclia. In neither of these instances does there seem to be much probability, 
at present, that his prediction will be ever verified. 

The German writers, who, of late years, have made the greatest noise among the sciolists of this country, will be found 
less indebted for their fame to the now lights which they have struck out, than to the unexpected and gi-otesque forms in 
which they have combined together the materials supplied by the invention of former ages, and of otlier nations. It is this 
combination of truth and error in their philosojihical systems, and of right and wrong in their works of fiction, which has 
enabled tliem to perplex the understandings, and to luisettle the princijilos of so many, both in ^letaphysics and Kthics. 
In point of profound and extensive erudition, the scholars of CJermany still continue to maintain their long cstiiblishcd su- 
periority over the rest of Kuro|)c. 

* A very interesting account is given by Leibnitz, of the circumstances which gave occasion to his TItcodiccra, in a letter 
DISS. I. PAUr II. u 



130 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



progress of reason and good sense among 
the Metaphysicians of this country since the 
time of Leibnitz, that the two theories of which 
I have been speaking, and wliicli, not more tlian 
a century ago, were honoured by the opposition 
of sucli an antagonist as Clarke, are now re- 
membered only as subjects of literary history. — 
In the arguments, however, alleged in support of 
tliese theories, there are some logical principles 
involved, which still continue to have an ex- 
tensive influence over the reasonings of the 
learned, on questions seemingly the most remote 
from all metaphysical conclusions. The two 
most prominent of these ai'c, the principle of 
tlie Sufficient Reason, and the Law of Continuity ; 
both of them so intimately connected with some 
of the most celebrated disputes of the last cen- 
tm'y, as to require a more particidar notice than 
may, at first sight, seem due to their importance. 
I. Of the principle of the Sufficient Reason^ 
the following succinct account is given by Leib-. 
nitz himself, in liis controversial correspondence 
with Dr Clai"ke : " The great foundation of 



Mathematics is the principle of contradiction or 
identity ; that is, that a proposition cannot be 
true and false at the same time. But, in order 
to proceed from Mathematics to Natural Philo- 
sophy, another principle is requisite (as I have 
observed in my Tlieodiccea) ; I mean, the prin- 
ciple of the Sufficient Reason ; or, in other words, 
that nothing happens without a reason why it 
should be so, rather than otherwise : And, ac- 
cordingly, Archimedes was obliged, in his book 
De jEcjuilibrio, to take for granted, that if there 
be a balance, in which every tiling is alike on 
both sides, and if equal weights are hung on the 
two ends of that balance, the whole will be at 
rest. It is because no reason can be given why 
one side should weigh down rather than the 
other. Now, by this single principle of the 
Sufficient Reason, may be demonstrated the being 
of a God, and all the other parts of Metaphysics 
or Natural Theolog)'; and even, in some measure, 
those physical truths that are independent of 
Mathematics, such as the Dpiamical Principles, 
or the Principles of Forces." 



to a Scotch gentleman, Jlr Burnet of Kenmev ; to T\liom he seems to have unbosomed himself on all subjects without any 
reserve : " IVIon livre intitule' Essais de TUcodicic, sur la bunte lie Dieu, la liherte' de rhomnie, et I'origine de mal, sera 
bientot achere. La plus grande partie de cet ourrage avoit ete faiteparlambeaux, quand je me trouvois chez la feue Heine 
de Prusse, ou ces matieres e'toient souvent agite'es a I'occasion du Dictionnaire et des autres ouvrages de 31. Bayle, qu'on 
y lisoit beaucoup. Apres la mort de cetle grande Priiicesse, j'ai rassemble' et augment^ ces pieces sur rexbortation des 
amis qui en e'toient inform^s, et.j'en ai fait I'ouvrage dont je viens de parler. Comme j'ai meditd sur cette matiere depuis 
ma.jeunesse, je pretends de I'avoii" discute'e a fond." — (Leibnitz, Opera, Tom. VI. p. 2ii4.) 

In another letter to the same correspondent, he expresses himself llius: 

" La plupart de mes sentimens out e'te enfin arrC-te's apres une de'liberation de 20 ans: ear j'ai commence bien jeune £l 
mediter, et je n'avois pas encore 15 ans, quand je me promenois des journees entieres dans un bois, pour prendre parti entre 
Aristote et Uemocrite. Cependant j'ai change et rt'change sur des nouvelles lumieres, et ce n'cst que dejjuis environ 12 ans 
que je me trouve satisfait, et que je suis arriv^ a des demonstrations sur ces matieres qui n'en paroissent point capables : 
Cependant de la maniere que je m'y prends, ces demonstrations peuvent etre sensibles comme celles des nombres, quoique 
le sujet passe I'iraagination." — (Hid. p. 253.) 

The letter from which this last paragraph is taken is dated in the year 1G97. 

My chief reason for introducing these extracts, was to do away an absurd suspicion, which has been countenanced by 
some respectable writers (among others by Le Clerc), that the opinions mamtained in the Tlicodkic of Leibnitz were not 
his real sentiments, and tliat his own creed, on the most important questions there discussed, was not very different from 
that of Bayle. Gil)bon has even gone so far as to say, that " in his defence of the attributes and providence of the Deity, 
he was suspected of a secret correspondence with his adversary." — (Antiquities of the House of Brnjisu-ick.) In support of 
this very improbable charge, I do not know that any evidence has ever been produced, except the following passage, in a letter 
of his, addressed to a Professor of Theology in the L^niversity of Tubingen (Pfaffius): — " Ita prorsus est, vir summe re- 
verende, uti scribis, de Theodicoea mea. Uem acu tetigisti; et miror, neminem hactenus fuisse, qui sensum hunc meum 
senserit. Keque enim Philosophorum est rem serio semper agere ; qui in fingendis hypothesibus, uti bene mones, ingenii 
sui vires experiuntur. Tu, qui Theologus, in refutandis erroribus Theologum agis." In reply to this it is observed, by 
the learned editor of Leibnitz's works, that it is much more probable that Leibnitz should have expressed himself ou this 
particular occasion in jocular and ironical terms, than that he should have wasted so much ingenuity and learning in sup- 
port of an hypothesis to which he attached no faith whatever ; an hypothesis, he might have added, with which the whole 
principles of his philosophy are systematically, and, as he conceived, mathematically connected. It is difficult to believe, 
that among the innumerable correspondents of Leibnitz, he should have selected a Professor of Theology at Tubingen, as 
the sole depository of a secret which he was anxious to conceal from all the rest of the world. 

Surely a solitary document such as this weighs less than nothing, when opposed to the details quoted in the beginning of 
this note ; not to mention its complete inconsistency with the character of Leibnitz, and with the whole tenor of his 
writings. 

For my own part, I cannot help thinking, that the passage in question has fiir more the air of persiflage provoked by 
the vanity of Pfaffius, than of a serious compliment to his sagacity and penetration. No injunction to secrecy, it is to 
be observed, is here given by Leibnitz to liis correspondent. 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



131 



Some of the inferences deduced by Leibnitz 
from tliis almost gi'atuitous assumption are so 
paradoxical, that one cannot help wondering he 
was not a little staggered about its certainty. 
Not only was he led to conclude, that the mind 
is necessarily determined in all its elections by 
the influence of motives, insomuch that it would 
be impossible for it to make a choice between two 
things perfectly alike ; but he had the boldness 
to extend this conclusion to tlic Deity, and to 
assert, that two things perfectly alike could not 
have been produced even by Dione Power. It 
was upon this ground that he rejected a vacuum, 
because all the parts of it would be perfectly 
like to each other ; and that he also rejected the 
supposition of atoms, or similar particles of mat- 
ter, and ascribed to each particle a inonad, or 
active principle, by which it is discriminated 
from every other particle. ' The application of 
his principle, however, on which he evidently 
valued liimself the most, was that to which I 
have already alluded; the demonstrative evidence 
with which he conceived it to establish the 
impossibility of free-agency, not only in man, 
but in any other intelligent being : ' a conclusion 
which, under whatever form of words it may be 
disguised, is liable to every objection which can 
be urged against the system of Spinoza. 

With respect to the principle from which these 
important consequences were deduced, it is ob- 
servable, tiiat it is stated by Leibnitz in terms 
so general and vague, as to extend to all the 
different dej)artmenls of our knowledge ; for he 
tells us, that there must be a sufficient reason for 



every existence, for every event, and for every 
truth. This use of the word reason is so extreme- 
ly equivocal, that it is quite impossible to annex 
any precise ide.a to the ])roposition. Of this it 
is unnecessary to produce any other proof than 
the application which is here made of it to things 
so very different as existences, events, and truths ; 
in all of which cases, it must of necessity have 
different meanings. It would be a vain attempt, 
therefore, to combat the maxim in the form in 
which it is commonly appealed to : Nor, indeed, 
can we either adopt or reject it, without con- 
sidering particidarly how far it holds in the va- 
rious instances to which it may be applied. 

The multifarious discussions, however, ofaphy- 
sical, a metaphysical, and a theological nature,' 
necessarily involved in so detailed an examina- 
tion, would, in the present times (even if this 
were a proper place for introducing them), be 
equally useless and uninteresting ; the peculiar 
opinions of Leibnitz on most questions connect- 
ed vAxh these sciences having already fallen into 
complete neglect. But as the maxim still con- 
tinues to be quoted by the latest advocates for 
the scheme of necessity, it may not be altogether 
superfluous to observe, that, when understood 
to refer to the changes that take place in the 
material iniiverse, it coincides entirely with the 
common maxim, that " every chjinge implies 
the operation of a cause ;" and that it is in con- 
sequence of its intuitive evidence in this particu- 
lar case, that so many have been led to acquiesce 
in it, in the unlimited terms in which Leibnitz 
has announced it. One thing will be readily 



- See Note CC. 

' The following comment on this part of the Leibnitzian system is from the pen of one of his greatest admirers, Charkt 
Bonnet : " Cette iMctaphvsique transcendante deviendra uii pou plus intelligible, si Ton fait attention, qu'cn vertu du 
principe de la raison siij/tsanti; tout est necessaircment lie dans I'univcrs. Toutes les Actions des Etres Simples sont har- 
moniques, oil suliordonnues les imcs aux aiitres. 1,'cxercice actuel de ractivile d'line mimadc donnJe, est detcrmind par 
I'exercice actuel de I'activite des monadcs auxquelles elle correspond immddiatement. Cette correspondaiice continue d'un 
point quclconque de I'univers.jusqu'il sos cxticmitJs. IJeprL-sentez-vouz les ordres circulaires et concentriqucs qu'une 
pierre excite dans une eaii dormantc : Klles vont toujours en s'c'largissant ct en s'atfoiblissant. 

" fliais, IV'tat actuel d'une monade est ndcessairement determine par son dtat antecJdcnt : Celui-ci par un I'tat qui a 
precede, et ainsi en remontant jusqu'h I'instant de la creation. •••••• ^ 

" Ainsi le passe', le present, et le futur ne forment dans la mCme monade qu'une seul chaine. Notre ])hilosophe disoit 
ingenieuscnient, que Ic present est toujours /rros rfc I'avcnir. 

" II disoit encore que TEternel cieumetre resolvoit sans cesse cc Probleme ; I'dtat d'une monade ctant donnd, en deter- 
miner I'dtat ))ass(;, prdsent, et futur de tout I'univers." — Bonnet, Tom. VIII. p. 303, 304, 305.) 

' Since the time of Leibnitz, the principle of the sufficient reason has been adopted by some mathematicians as a legiti- 
mate mode of reasoning in plane geometry ; in which case, the application made of it has been in general just and logical, 
notwithstanding the vague and loose manner in which it is expressed. In this science, however, the use of it can never be 
attendeil with much advantage ; except perhaps in demonstrating a few elementary truths (such as the 5th and 6th propo- 
sitions of Kiiclid's first book), wliich arc commonly established by a more circuitous process: and. even in these instances, 
the spirit of the re.isoiiing might easily be pi-oserved under a diUerent form, much less exceptionable in point of phraseology. 



132 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



granted, that the maxim, when applied to the 
determinations of intelligent and moral agents, 
is not quite so obvious and indisputable, as when 
applied to the changes that take place in things 
altogether inanimate and passive. 

Wliatthen, it maybe asked, induced Leibnitz, 
in the enunciation of his maxim, to depart from 
the form in which it has generally been stated, 
and to substitute, instead of the word cause, the 
word reason, which is certainly not only the more 
unusual, but the more ambiguous expression of 
the two ? Was it not evidently a perception of 
the impropriety of calling the motives from 
which we act the causes of oiu' actions ; or, at 
least of the inconsistency of this language with 
the common ideas and feelings of mankind ? 
The word rcascni is here much less suspicious, 
and much more likely to pass current without 
examination. It was therefore with no small 
dexterity, that Leibnitz contrived to express his 
general principle in such a manner, that the 
impropriety of his language should be most ap- 
parent in that case in Avhich the proposition is 
instantaneously admitted by every reader as self- 
evident ; and to adapt it, in its most precise and 
definite shape, to the case in which it was in the 
gi'eatest danger of undergoing a severe scrutiny. 
In this respect, he has managed his argument 
^vith more addi-ess than Collins, or Edwards, or 
Hume, all of whom have applied the maxim to 
}ni?id, in the very same words in which it is 
usually applied to inanimate matter. 

But on this article of Leibnitz's philosophy, 
which gave occasion to his celebrated controversy 
with Clarke, I shall have a more convenient op- 
portunity to offer some strictm'es, when I come to 
take notice of another antagonist, more formi- 
dable still, whom Clarke had soon after to contend 
with on the same ground. The person I allude to 
is Anthony Collins ; a writer certainly not once 
to be compared with Leibnitz, in the grasp of 
his intellectual powers ; but who seems to have 
studied this particular question with greater at- 
tention and accuracy, and who is universally al- 
lowed to have defended his opinions concerning 
it in a manner far more likely to mislead the opi- 
nions of the multitude. 

II. The same remark which has been already 
made on the principle of the Sufficient Reason 



may be extended to that of the Law of Continui- 
ty. In both instances the phraseology is so in- 
determinate, that it may be interpreted in vari- 
ous senses essentially different from each other ; 
and, accordingly, it would be idle to argue 
against cither principle as a general theorem, 
without attending sepai'ately to the specialties of 
the manifold cases which it may be understood 
to comprehend. Wliere such a latitude is taken 
in the enunciation of a proposition, which, so 
far as it is true, must have been inferred fi'om 
an induction of particulars, it is at least possible 
that, while it holds in smne of its applications, it 
may yet be far from possessing any claim to that 
universality which seems necessarily to belong 
to it, when considered in the light of a metaphy- 
sical axiom, resting on its own intrinsic c\A- 
dence. 

Wliether this vagueness of language was the 
effect of artifice, or of a real vagueness in the 
author's notions, may perhaps be doubted ; but 
that it has contributed greatly to extend his're- 
putatiou among a very numerous class of readers, 
may be confidently .asserted. The possession 
of a general maxim, sanctioned by the authori- 
ty of an illustrious name, and in which, as in 
those of the schoolmen, more seems to be meant 
than meets the ear, affords of itself no slight 
gratification to the vanity of many ; nor is it 
inconvenient for a disputant, that the maxims to 
which he is to appeal should be stated in so du- 
bious a shape, as to enable him, when pressed 
in an argument, to shift his ground at pleasure, 
from one interpretation to another. The extra- 
ordinary popularity which, in our own times, 
the philosophy of Kant enjoyed, for a few years, 
among the countrjTuen of Leibnitz, may, in like 
manner, be in a great degree ascribed to the 
imposing aspect of his enigmatical oracles, and 
to the consequent facility of arguing without end, 
in defence of a system so transmutable and so 
elusive in its forms. 

The extension, however, given to the Law of 
Cofntimiity, in the later publications of Leibnitz, 
and still more by some of Ms successors, has 
been far greater than there is any reason to 
think was originally in the author's contempla- 
tion. It first occurred to Mm in the course of one 
of his physical controversies, and was probably 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



133 



eaggestcd by the beautiful exemplifications of it 
which occur in pure geometry. At that time it 
does not appear that he li.ad the slightest idea of its 
being susceptible of any application to the ob- 
jects of natural history ; far less to the succes- 
sion of events in the intellectual and moral 
worlds. The supposition of bodies perfectly 
hard, lla^^^g been shown to be inconsistent with 
two of Ms leading doctrines, that of the constant 
maintenance of the same quantity of force in 
the Universe, and that of the proportionality of 
forces to the squares of the velocities, — he found 
liimself reduced to the necessity of asserting, 
tliat all changes arc produced by insensible gra- 
dations, so as to render it impossible for a body 
to have its state changed from motion to rest, or 
from rest to motion, without passing througli all 
the intermediate states of velocity. From this 
assumption he argued, with, much ingenuity, 
that the existence of atoms, or of perfectly liard 
bodies, is impossible ; because, if two of them 
should meet with equal and opposite motions, 
they would necessarily stop at once, in -v-iolation 
of the law of continuity. It would, pcrliaps, 
have been still more logical, had he argued 
against the universality of a law so gi-atuitously 
assumed, from its incompatibility with an hypo- 
thesis, which, wliethcr true or false, certainly 
involves nothing cither contradictory or impro- 
bable : but as this inversion of the argument 
would have undermined some of the fundamental 
principles of his physical system, he chose ra- 
tlier to adopt the other alternative, and to an- 
nounce tlie law of continuity as a metaphysical 
truth, which admitted of no exception whatever. 



The facility with which this kav has been adop^ 
ed by subsequent philosophers is not easUy ex- 
plicable ; more especially, as it has been main- 
tained by many who reject those physical errors, 
in defence of which Leibnitz was first led to 
advance it. 

One of the earliest, and certainly the most 
illustrious, of all the partizans and defenders of 
this principle, was John BernouLili, whose dis- 
course on motion first appeared at Paris in 1727, 
having been previously communicated to the 
Royal Academy of Sciences, in 1724 and 1726.^ 
It was from this period it began to attract the 
general attention of the learned ; although many 
years were yet to elapse, before it was to ac- 
quire that authority wliich it now possesses 
among our most eminent mathematicians. 

Ml- Maclaurin, whose Memoir on the Percus- 
sion of Bodies gained the prize from the Royal 
Academy of Sciences, in 1724, continued from 
that time, till his death, the steady opposer of 
this new law. In his Treatise of Fluxions, pub- 
lished in 1742, he observes, that " the existence 
of hard bodies void of elasticity has been reject- 
ed for the sake of wliat is called the Law of 
Continuity ; a law which has been supposed to be 
general, without suflicient gi'ound."* AjuI still 
more explicitly, in his Postln/mous Account of 
Newton's Philosophical Discoveries, he complains 
of those who " have rejected hard bodies as im- 
possiI)le, from far-fetched and metaphysical con- 
siderations ;" proposing to his adversaries this 
unanswerable question, " Upon what grounds 
is the law of continuity assumed as an universal 
law of nature ?"' 



' " En cffet (says Bernouilli), un pareil principe de iluretd (the supposition to wit of bodies perfectly liard) ne sqauroit 
exister ; c'est unc chiraere qui rc'pugne h cctte loi gonerale que la nature observe eonstaninicnt dans toutes ses op(^rations ; 
je parle de cet ordre imniuable et perpctuel etabli de|)uis la creation de I'univers, qu'on jiciit appclkr loi de continuite, 
en vertu de laquelle tout ce qui s'ext'cute, s'exdcute par dcs degriis infiniment jielits. 11 senible que le bon sons dicte, 
qu'aucun chan{;emont ne pout se faire par (mil ; tuttiira iwn opnatnr per sallum ; rien ne pout passer d'une extreniite' ii 
I'autrc, sans passer par tous les do<^ro3 du milieu," &c. The continuation of this passage (which I have not room to quote) 
is curious, as it suggests an argument, in (iroof of the law ofcontinmti/, from the princijile of the aiij/iriciil reason. 

It may be worth while to observe here, that though, in the above (luotation, IJeniouilli speaks of the law ofeonlinuUy as 
an arbitrary arrangement of the Creator, he represents, in the preceding paragraph, the idea of perfectly hard bodies, as in- 
volving a manifest contradiction. 

' ^laclaurin's Flii.vims, Vol. II. p. 4.t.'J. 

' Nearly to the same purpose Mr Robins, a matheniatiiian and |)hilosopher of the highest eminence, expresses himself 
thus : " 3M. Jtornouilli (in liis Diseimra sur les Lois ik la Communkalimi du Mom'rment), in order to prove that there are no 
bodies perfectly hard :unl inlloxiblo, lays it down as an inmiutable law of nature, that no body can pass from motion to rest 
instantaneously, or without having its velocity gradually diminished. That this is a law of nature, JI. Bernouilli thinks is 
evident from that principle, Natura hob opcratur per saltum, and from good sense. Bi7T how good sense can, of itself, 
WITHOUT exi'Ehiment, detehminf. any of the laws of nature, is to me vEiiv ASTONi.suiNG. Indeed, from any 
thing M. Bernouilli has said, it would have been altogetlier as conclusive to have begun at the other end, and have disput- 



134 PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 

In the speculations hitherto mentioned, the Charles Bonnet of Geneva, a man of unques- 
law of continuity is applied merely to such sue- tionable talents and of most exemplary worth, 
cessive events in the material world as are con- was, as far as I know, the first who entered 
nected together by the relation of cause and fully into the views of Leibnitz on this point 5 
effect ; and, indeed, chiefly to the changes which perceiving how inseparably the law of con- 
take place in the state of bodies with respect tinuity (as well as the principle of the suffi- 
to motion and rest. But in the pliilosophy of cient reason) was interwoven with his scheme of 
Leibnitz, we find the same law appealed to as universal concatenation and mechanism ; and 
an indisputable principle in all his various re- inferring from thence not only all the paradoxi- 
searches, physical, metaphysical, and theologi- cal corollaries deduced from it by its author, 
cal. He extends it with the same confidence to but some equally bold conclusions of his own, 
mind as to matter, urging it as a demonstrative which Leibnitz either did not foresee in their full 
proof, in opposition to Locke, that the soul never extent, or to which the course of his inquiries 
ceases to think even in sleep or in cfeZ^J^«M?«;' nay, did not particularly attract his attention. The 
inferring from it the impossibility that, in the most remarkable of these conclusions was, that 
case of any animated being, there should be all the various beings which compose the uni- 
such a thing as death, in the literal sense of verse, form a scale descending downwards with- 
that word.' It is by no means probable that out any chasm or saltus, from the Deity to the 
the author was at all aware, when he first intro- simplest forms of unorganised matter ;' a pro- 
duced this principle into the theory of motion, position not altogether new in the history of 
how fai" it was to lead him in his researches con- philosophy, but which I do not know that any 
cerning other questions of greater moment ; nor ■miter before Bonnet had ventm-ed to assert as 
does it appear that it attracted much notice from a metaphysical and necessary truth. With what 
tlie learned, but as a new mechanical axiom, till important limitations and exceptions it must 
a considerable time after his death. be received, even when confined to the compa- 

ed, that no boilv can pass instantaneously from motion to rest ; because it is an immutable law of nature that all bodies 
shall be flexible."_(RoniNS, Vol. II. p. 174. 175.) 

In quoting these passages, I would not wish to be understood as calling in question the universality of the Law of Con- 
thmitij in the phenomena of moving bodies ; a point on which I am not led by the subject of this discourse to offer any 
opinion ; but on which I intend to hazard some remarks in a Note at the end of it — See Note D D. All that I would here 
assert is, that it is a toa', the truth of which can be inferred only by an induction from the phenomena ; and to which, ac- 
cordingly, we are not entitled to say that there cannot possibly exist any exceptions. 

' " Je tiens que Tame, et meme le corps, n'est jamais sans action, et que I'lime n'est jamais sans quelque perception ; 
mcme en dormant on a quelque sentiment confus et sombre du lieu ou Ton est, et d'autres choses. Mais qiiatid l'e.rperience 
■neleconfirmeroHpas^jecroisqu'Uycnadimonsiraiion. C'est a peu pres comme on ne scauroit prouver absolument par les 
experiences, s'il n'y a point de vuide dans I'espace, et s'il n'y a point de repos dans la matiere. Et cependant ces questions 
me paroisscnt decidees ddmonstrativement, aussi bien qu'k M. Locke." — (Leib. Op. Tome II. p. 220.) 

= See Note E E. 

' " Leibnitz admettoit comme un principe fondamental de sa sublime phllosophie, qu'il n'y a jamais de sauts dans la 
nature, et que tout est continu ou nuaMC(^ dans le physique et dans le moral. CVtoit sa fameuse Lot dc Conilnuiit, 
qu'il croyoit retrouver encore dans les mathi^matiques, et cj'avoit et^ cette loi qui lui avoit inspire la singuliere pre- 
diction dont je parlois."* " Tons les Otres, disoit il, ne forment qu'une seule chaine, dans laquelle les differentes classes, 
comme autant d'anneaux, tiennent si dtroitement les unes aux autres, qu'il est impossible aux sens et a I'imagination de 
fixer pre'cisL'ment le point oil quelqu'un commence ou finit : toutes les especes qui bordent ou qui occupent, pour ainsi 
du'e, les re'gions d'inflection, ct de rebroussement, devoit ttre e'quivoques et doutes de caracteres qui peuvent se rapporter 
aux especes voisins egalement. Ainsi, I'existence des zoophytes ou Plunt-Aniniuu.v n'a rien de monstrueux ; mais il est 
meme convenable a I'ordre de la nature qu'il y en ait. Et telle est la force du principe de continuite chez moi, que non 
seulementje ne serois point idtonne d'apprendre, qu'on eut trouvt? des etres, qui par rapport a plusieurs propri^tes, par 
exemple, celle de se nourrir ou de se multiplier, puissent passer pour des vige'taux a aussi bon droit que pour des 
animaux, . . . J'en serois si peu etonne', dis-je, que meme je suis convaincu qu'il doit y en avoir de tels, que I'Histoire 
Naturelle parviendra peut-Otre U connoitre un jour," &c. &c — ( Conicmplation de la Katurc, pp. 341. 342.) 

Bonnet, in the sequel of this passage, speaks of the words of Leibnitz, as a pi'ediction of the discovery of the Polypus, 
deduced from the Mctaph>jsical principle of the Law of Continuity. But would it not be more philosophical to regard 
it as a query founded on the analogy of nature, as made known to us by experience and observation ?-|- 

• La prijdiction de la decouverte des Polypes. 

+ Ad eum modum summus opifex rerura seriem concatenavit a planta ad hominem, ut quasi sine ullo cohocreant 
intervallo ; sic 'AtoifaTa eum plantis bruta conjungunt ; sic cum homine simia quadrupedes. Itaque in hominis quaque 
specie invenimus divinos, humanos, feros. — Scaligee, (prefixed as a motto to Blr AVhite's Essay on the rrgular gradation 
in Man. London, 1799-) 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



135 



rative anatomy of animals, has been fully de- 
monstrated I)y Cuvier;* and it is of material 
consequence to remark, that these exceptions, 
how few soever, to a metaphysical principle, are 
not less fatal to its truth than if they exceeded in 
number the instances which are quoted in sup- 
port of the general rule.* 

At a period somewhat later, an attempt has 
been made to connect the same law of contimdty 
with tlie history of human improvement, and 
more particularly w\\\\ the progress of invention 
in the sciences and arts. Helvetius is the most 
noted writer in whom I have observed this last 
extension of the Leibnitzian principle ; and I 
have little doubt, from his known opinions, that, 
when it occurred to him, he conceived it to af- 
ford a new illustration of the scheme of necessi- 
ty, and of the mechanical concatenation of all 
the phenomena of human life. Arguing in sup- 
port of liis favourite paradox concerning the ori- 
ginal equality of all men in point of mental capa- 
city, he represents the successive advances made 
by different indi^'iduals in the career of discovery, 
as so many imperceptible or infinitesimal steps, 
each indi\Tidual sui'passing his predecessor by a 
trifle, till at length nothing is wanting but an 
additional mind, not superior to the others in 



natural powers, to combine together, and to 
turn to its own account, their accumulated la- 
bours. " It is upon this mind," he observes, 
" that the world is always ready to bestow the 
attribute of genius. From the tragedies of Tlie 
Passion, to the poets Hardy and Rotrou, and to 
the Mariamne of Tristan, the French theatre 
was always acquiring successively an infinite 
number of inconsiderable improvements. Cor- 
neille was born at a moment, when the addition 
he made to the art could not fail to form an 
epoch ; and accordingly Corneille is universally 
regarded as a Genius. I am far from wishing," 
Helvetius adds, " to detract from the glory of 
this gi-eat poet. I wish only to prove, that Na- 
ture 7iever proceeds per sxl.tv'si, and thatihe Law 
of Continuifij is always exactly observed. The re- 
marks, therefore, now made on the dramatic 
art, may also be applied to the sciences which 
rest on observation."' — (De P Esprit, Dis. IV. 
Chap. I.) 

With this last extension of the Laio of Con- 
tinuity, as well as vdth that of Bonnet, a care- 
less reader is the more apt to be dazzled, as there 
is a large mixture in both of unquestionable 
truth. The mistake of the ingenious ^Titers 
lay in pushing to extreme coses a doctrine, which, 



' Lecons d'Analomie ComparCc. 

» While Bonnet was thus employing his ingenuity in generalising, still farther than liis preilccessors had done, the law 
of continuity, one of the most distinguished of his fellow citizens, with whom lie appears to have been connected in the 
closest and most confidential friendship (the very ingenious At. Le Sage), was led, in the course of his researches concerning 
physical cause of gi-avitation, to deny the existence of the law, even in the descent of heavy bodies. " The action of 
nty (according to him) is not continuous." In other words, " each of its impressions is finite ; and the interval of time 



the 

grav . ^ „ , 

which'separates it from the following impression is of a finite duration." Of this proposition he otfers a proof, which he 

considers as demonstrative ; and thence deduces tlie following very paradoxical corollary, 'I'liat " Projectiles do not move 

in curvilinear patlis, but in rectilinear polygons." * — " Cost ainsi (he adds) qu'un pri^s, qui vu de pres, se trouve couvert 

de parties vertes reellement separe'es, oSre cependant aux personnes qui le regardent de loin, la sensation d'une verdure 

continue : Et qu'un corps poll, auquel le microscojic decouvre niille solutions de continuite, paroit ii I'oeil nu, poss^der une 

continuity parfaite." 

" G^nJralemcnt, le simple bons sens, qui veut, qu'on suspende son ju^ement sur ce qu'on ignore, et que Ton ne tranche 
pas hardiment sur la non-existence do ce qui crhappe h nos sens, auroit du enipecher des gens qui s'appelloient philosophcs 
lie decider si dogmatiquement, la continuite reelle, de ce qui avoit une continuitt! apparente ; et la non-existence des in- 
tervalles qu'ils n'apercevoient pas." — (Essai de Chtjmie Micaniquc. Couronne en 1758, par rAcademic de Rouen : Imprime' 
11 Geneve, 1701. pp- 94- 3'>. 'Jli.) 

^ It may, perhaps, be alleged, that the above allusion to the Law of Conlinuity was unreduced merely for the sake of il- 
lustration, and that the autlior did not mean his words to be strictly interpreted ; but this remark will not be made by those 
who are acquainted with the iihilosopliy of Helvetius. 

Let me add, that, in selecting Corneille as the only cxem))lification of this theory, Helvetius has been singularly unfor- 
tunate. It would have been difficult to have named any other modem poet, in whose works, when conqiared with those of 
his immediate predecessors, the Law of Coutinuilij has been more remarkably violated. "Corneille (says a most judicious 
French critic) est, pour ainsi dire, de notre tems ; niais ses coiiteniporains n'cn sont pas. Lc Cid, let Horaces, C'tnna, Po- 
licucte, forment le commencement de cette chaine brillante qui reiinit notre litterature actuelle de celle du r^gne de Riche- 
lieu et de la minority de I.ouis XIV. ; mais autour do ces points lumineux rcgne encore une nuit profonde ; leur A.-lat les 
rapproche en apparence de iios yeux ; le reste, ropoussii dans I'obscurite, seniblc bien loin de nous. I'our nous Corneille 
est moderne, et Kotrou ancieii," &c. (For detailed illustrations and proofs of these positions, see a slight but masterly his- 
torical sketch of the French Theatre, by BI. Suard.) 

• " Ullas vero curvas in rerum natura esse negavere multi. Nominabo tantum, qui nunc occumint : Luimum, Bauonem, 
liegium, Bonartem, et quem jiarum abest, qu'm addani Ilobbcsium." — (Leibkitz, Uj). Tom. II. p. 47) 



136 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



when kept -within certain limits, is not only so- 
lid but important ; a mode of reasoning, which, 
although it may be always safely followed out in 
pure Mathematics (where the principles on 
which we proceed are mere definitions), is a 
never-failing source of error in all the other 
sciences ; and which, when practically applied 
to the concerns of life, nifiy be regarded as an 
infallible symptom of an understanding better 
fitted for the subtle contentions of the schools, 
than for those average estimates of what is ex- 
pedient and practicable in the conduct of affairs, 
which form the chief elements of political saga- 
city and of moral wisdom. ^ 

If on these two celebrated principles of Leib- 
nitz, I have enlarged at greater length than may 
appear to some of my readers to be necessary, 
I must remind them, 1st, Of the illustration 
they afford of what Locke has so forcibly m-ged 
with respect to the danger of adopting, upon the 
faith of reasonings a priori, metaphysical conclu- 
sions concerning the laws by which the universe 
is governed : 2d!i/, Of the proof they exhibit of 
the strong bias of the human mind, even in the 
present advanced stage of experimental know- 
ledge, to grasp at general maxims, without a 
careful examination of the grounds oil which 
tliev rest ; and of that less frequent, but not less 
unfortunate bias, which has led some of our 
most eminent mathematicians to transfer to 
sciences, resting ultimately on an appeal to facts, 
those habits of tliinking which have been formed 
amidst the hypothetical abstractions of pure 
geometry : Lastly, Of the light they throw on 
the mighty influence which the name and autho- 
rity of Leibnitz have, for more than a century 
past, exercised over the strongest and acutest 
understandings in the most enlightened coun- 
tries of Europe. 



It would be improper to close these reflections 
on the pliilosophical speculations of Leibnitz, 
without taking some notice of his very ingenious 
and original thoughts on the etymological study 
of languages, considered as a guide to our con- 
clusions concerning the origin and migrations of 
different tribes of our species. These thoughts 
were published in 1710, in the Memoirs of the 
Berlin Academy ; and form the first article of 
the fu"st volume of that justly celebrated collec- 
tion. I do not recollect any author of an ear- 
lier date, who seems to have been completely 
aware of the important consequences to which 
the prosecution of this inquiry is likely to lead ; 
nor, indeed, was much progress made in it by 
any of Leibnitz's successors, till towards the end 
of the last century ; when it became a favomitc 
object of pursuit to some verj^ learned and inge- 
nious men, both in France, Germany, and Eng- 
land. Now, however, when our knowledge of 
the globe, and of its inhabitants, is so wonder- 
fully enlarged by commerce, and by conquest ; 
and when so great advances have been made in 
the acquisition of languages, the names of which, 
till very lately, were unheard of in this quarte;: 
of the world ; — there is every reason to hope for 
a series of farther discoveries, strengthening pro- 
gressively, by the multiplication of their mutual 
points of contact, the common evidence of their 
joint results ; and tending more and more to 
dissipate the darkness in which the primeval 
history of our race is involved. It is a field, of 
which only detached corners have hitherto been 
explored ; and in which, it may be confidently 
presumed, that unthought of treasures stUl lie 
hid, to reward sooner or later the researches of 
our posterity. * 

My present subject does not lead me to speak 
of the mathematical and physical researches. 



' Locke lias fallen into a train of thought very similar to that of Bonnet, concerning the Scale of Beings ; but has ex- 
pressed himself \f ith far greater caution ; — r tating it modestly as an inference deduced from an induction of particulars, not 
as the result of any abstract or metaphysical principle — (Sec Locke's Worhs^ Vol. III. p. 101.) In one instance, indeed, he 
avails himself of an allusion, which, p.t first sight, may appear to favour the extension of the mathematical Law of Coiitinmly 
to the works of creation ; but it is evident, from the context, that he meant this allusion merely as a popular illustration of 
a fact in Natural History ; not as the rigorous enunciation of a theorem applicable alike to all truths, mathematical, physi- 
cal, and moral. " It is a hard matter to say where sensible and rational begin, and where insensible and irrational end ; 
and who is there quick-sighted enough to determine precisely, which is the lowest species of living things, and which is the 
first of those who have no life? Things, as far as we can observe, lessen and augment, as the quantity does in a regu'.ar 
cntu; where, though tliere be a manifest odds betwixt the bigness of the diameter at a remote distance, yet the difference 
between the upper end under, where they touch one another, is hardly discernible." — {Ibid.) 

See some Reflections on this speculation of I^ocke's in the Sjiectator, No. 519. 

= See Note F t". 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



137 



■which have associated so closely the name of Leib- 
nitz with that of Newton, in the histoiy of modern 
science ; of tlie inexhaiistible treasures of his 
erudition, both classical and scholastic ; of his 
vast and manifold contributions towards the 
elucidation of German antiquities and of Roman 
jurisprudence ; or of those theological controver- 
sies, in which, while he combated fl'itli one hand 
the enemies of revelation, he defended, ^^dth the 
other, the orthodoxy of his ov\7i dogmas against 
the profoundest and most learned divines of Eu- 
rope. Nor would I have digressed so far as to 
allude here to these particulars, were it not for 
tlie imparallelcd example they display, of what 
a ^^gorous and versatile genius, seconded by 
habits of persevering industry, may accomplish, 
within the short span of human life. Even the 
relaxations with which he was accustomed to fill 
up his moments of leisure, partook of the general 
character of his more serious engagements. By 
early and long habit, he had acquired a singular 
facility in the composition of Latin verses ; and 
he seems to have delighted in loading his muse 
with new fetters of his own contrivance, in ad- 
dition to those imposed by the laws of classical 
prosody. * The number, besides, of his literary 
correspondents was immense ; including all that 
was most illustrious in Em-ope : and the rich 
materials everywhere scattered over his letters 
are sufficient of themselves to show, that his 
amusements consisted rather in a change of ob- 
jects, than in a suspension of his mental acti-sd- 
ty. Yet while we admii'e these stupendous mo- 
imments of his intellectual energj-, we must not 
forget (if I may borrow the language of Gibbon) 
that " even the powers of Leibnitz were dissipat- 
ed by the multiplicity of his pursuits. He at- 
tempted more than he could finish ; lie designed 
more tlian he could execute ; his imagination 
was too easily satisfied with a bold and rapid 
glance on the subject which he was impatient to 
leave ; and he may be compared to those heroes 



whose empire has been lost in the ambition of 
univei'sal conquest." ' 

From some expressions which Leibnitz has 
occasionally dropped, I think it probable, that 
he himself became sensible, as he advanced in 
life, that his time might have been more pro- 
fitably employed, had his studies been more con- 
fined in their aim. " If the whole earth (he has 
observed on one occasion) had continued to be 
of one language and of one speech, human life 
might be considered as extended beyond its pre- 
sent term, by the addition of all that part of it 
which is devoted to the acquisition of dead and 
foreign tongues. Many other branches of know- 
ledge, too, may, in this respect, be classed with 
the languages ; such as Positive Laws, Cere- 
monies, the Styles of Courts, and a great pro- 
portion of what is called critical erudition. The 
utility of all these arises merely from opinion ; 
nor is there to be found, in the innumerable 
volumes that have been written to illustrate 
them, a himdredth part, wliich contains any- 
thing subser\-ient to the happiness or improve- 
ment of mankind." 

The most instructive lesson, however, to be 
drawn from the history of Leibnitz, is the in- 
competency of the most splendid gifts of the un- 
derstanding, to advance essentially the interests 
either of Metaphysical or of Ethical Science, un- 
less accompanied with that rare devotion to trutli, 
which maybe regarded, if not as the basis, at least 
as one of the most indispensable elements, of mo- 
ral genius. The cluef attraction to the study 
of philosophy, in his mind, seems to have been 
(what many French critics have considered as a 
chief source of the cliarms of the imitative arts) 
the pride of concjuering difficulties .- a feature of 
his character which he liad probably in his own 
eye, when he remarked (not without some de- 
gree of conscious vanity), as a peculiarity in the 
turn or cast of his intellect, that to him " all 
difficult things were easy, and all easy things 



' A remarkable instance of tliis is mentioned by himself in one of his letters. " Annos natus tredecim una die treccntos 
versus hcxametrog cfFudi, sine elisione oiiines, quod lioc fieri facile posse forte alBrmassem." (Leib. Op. Tom. V. p. 304.) 
He also nmuscil himself occasionally with writing verses in German and in French. 

* .May 1 presume to remark farther, that the native powers of Leibnitz's mind, astonishing and preternatural as they 
certainly were, seem sometimes oppressed and overlaid under the weight of his still moie astonishing erudition ? The in. 
fluence of his scholastic reading is more peculiarly apparent in warping his judgment, and clouding his reason, on all ques- 
lions connected with Metaphysical Theology. 

DISS. I. PART. II. S 



138 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



difficult."* Hence the disregard manifested in 
Lis writings to the simple and obvious conclu- 
sions of experience and common sense ; and the 
perpetual cflfort to unriddle mysteries over which 
an impenetrable veil is drawn. " Scilicet su- 
blime et erectum ingenium, pulchritudinem ac 
sjjcciem excelsse magnaeque glorise vehementius 
quam caute appetebat." It is to be regretted, 
that the sequel of this fine eulogy does not equal- 
ly apply to him. " Mox mitigavit ratio et aetas; 
retinuitque, quod est difficillimum, et in sapientia 
modum." ^ How happily docs tliis last expression 
characterise the temperate wisdom of Locke, 
when contrasted with that towering, but impo- 
tent ambition, which, in the Theories of Opti- 
mism and of Pre-established Harmony, seemed 
•to realize the fabled revolt of the giants against 
the sovereignty of the gods ! 

After all, a similarity may be traced between 
these two great men in one intellectual weakness 
common to both ; a facility in the admission of 
facts, stamped sufficiently (as we should now 
tliink) by their ovm intrinsic evidence, with the 
marks of incredibility. The observation has 
been often made with respect to Locke ; but it 
would be difficult to find in Locke's wi'itings, 
any thing so absurd as an account gravely trans- 
mitted by Leibnitz to the Abbe de St Pierre, 
and by him communicated to the Royal Acade- 
my of Sciences at Paris, of a dog who spoke. * 
No person liberally educated could, I believe, 
be found at present in any Protestant country of 
Christendom, capable of such credulity. By 
what causes so extraordinary a revolution in the 
minds of men has been effected, within the short 
space of a hundred years, I must not here stop to 
inquire. Much, I apprehend, must be ascribed 
to our enlarged knowledge of natm'e, and more 
particularly to those scientific voyages and tra- 
vels which have annihilated so many of the 
prodigies which exercised the wonder and sub- 
dued the reason of ovn- ancestors. But, in what- 
ever manner the revolution is to be explained, 
there can be no doubt that this growing dispo- 
sition to weigh scrupulously the jjrobabiliti/ of 



alleged Jacts against the faith due tothe testi- 
monies brought to attest them, and, even in 
some cases, against the apparent evidence of our 
own senses, enters largely and essentially into 
the composition of that philosophical spirit or 
temper, which so strongly distinguishes the 
eighteenth century from all those which preced- 
ed it.* It is no small consolation to reflect, 
that some important maxims of good sense have 
been thus familiarised to the most ordinary un- 
derstandings, which, at so very recent a period, 
failed in producing their due effect on two of 
the most powerful minds in Europe. 

On revie^ving the foregoing paragraphs, I am 
almost tempted to retract part of what I have 
written, when I reflect on the benefits which the 
world has derived even from the errors of Leib- 
nitz. It has been well and justly said, that 
" every desideratum is an imperfect discovery ;" 
to which it may be added, that every new pro- 
blem which is started, and still more every at- 
tempt, however abortive, towards its solution, 
strikes out a new path, which must sooner or 
later lead to the truth. If the problem be sol- 
vible, a solution will in due time be obtained : 
if insolvible, it will soon be abandoned as hope- 
less by general consent ; and the legitimate field 
of scientific research will become more fertile, 
in proportion as a moi-e accwatc survey of its 
boundaries adapts it better to the limited re- 
sources of the cultivators. 

In this point of view, what individual in mo- 
dern times can be compai-ed to Leibnitz ! To 
how many of those researches, which still use- 
fully employ the talents and industry of the 
learned, did he not point out and open the 
way ! From how many more did he not warn 
the wise to withhold their curiosity, by his bold 
and fruitless attempts to burst the barriers of 
the invisible woi'ld ! 

The best elogc cf Leibnitz is furnished by the 
literary history of the eighteenth century ; — a 
histoiy which, whoever takes the pains to com- 
pare with his works, and with his epistolary 
correspondence, will find reason to doubt 



' " Sentio paucos esse mei characteris, et omnia facilia milii difficilia, omnia contra difficilia mihi facilia esse." — Leib. 
Oji. Tom. VI. p. 302. 

' Tacitus, Agric. ' See Note G G. ■• See Note H H. 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



J39 



whether, at the singular era when he appeared, 
he coulrl have more accelerated the advancement 
of knowledge by the concentration of his studies, 
than he has actually done by the universality 



of his aims ; and whether he does not afford one 
of the few instances to wliich the words of the 
poet may literally be applied : 

" Si non errasset, fecerat ille minus." ' 



SECTION III. 



Of the Metaphysical Speculatims of Newton and Clarke. Digression with respect to the System of 
Spinoza. — Collins and Jonathan Edwards. — Anxiety of both to reconcile tlie Schetne of Necessity 
with Man's Moral Agency. — Departure of some later Necessitarians from their views.* 



The foregoing review of the philosophical 
writings of Locke and of Leibnitz naturally 
leads our attention, in the next place, to those of 
our illustrious countrymen Newton and Clarke ; 
the former of whom has exhibited, in his Prin- 
cipia and Optics, the most perfect exemplifica- 
tions which have yet appeared, of the cautious 
logic recommended by Bacon and Locke ; while 
the other, in defending against the assaults of 
Leibnitz the metaphysical principles on which 
the Newtonian philosophy proceeds, has been 
led, at the same time, to vindicate the authority 
of various other trutlis, of still higher impor- 
tance, and more general interest. 

The chief subjects of dispute between Leibnitz 
and Clarke, so far as the principles of the New- 
tonian philosophy are concerned, have been long 
ago settled, to the entire satisfaction of the learn- 



ed world. The inonads, and the plenzon, and the 
pre-established harmony of Leibnitz, already rank, 
in the public estimation, with the vortices of 
Descartes, and the plastic natui'e of Cudworth ; 
while the theory of gravitation prevails every- 
where over all opposition ; and (as Mr Smith 
remarks) " has advanced to the acquisition of 
the most universal empire that was ever esta- 
blished in philosophy." On these points, there- 
fore, I have only to refer my readers to the col- 
lection published by Dr Clarke, in 1717, of 
the controversial papers which passed between 
him and Leibnitz during the two preceding 
years; — a correspondence equally curious and 
instructive ; and which, it is to be lamented, 
that the death of Leibnitz in 171G prevented 
from being longer continued.' 

Although Newton does not appear to liaA'c de- 



' See Note 1 1. 

■ 111 conlbrmity to the plan announced in the preface to this Dissertation, I confine myself to those autliors whose opinions 
liave had a marked and general influence on the subsequent history of philosophy ; passing over a multitude of othernames 
well worthy to be recordeil in the annals of metaphysical science. Among these, 1 shall only mention the name of Boyle, 
to whom the world is indebted, beside some very acute remarks and many fine illustrations of his own upon metaphysical 
questions of the highest moment, ibr the philosojiliical arguments in defence of religion, whicli have added so much lustre 
to the names of Uerliam and Bentley ; and, far above both, to that of Clarke.* The remarks and ittustratioiu, which I here 
refer to, are to be found in liis Inquinj into t/te Vulgar Notion of Nature, and in his Essay, inquiring -x/ictlter, and hoir, a Natu- 
ralist should ciiiisider I'iiuil Causes. Both of these tracts display powers which miglit have placed their author on a level with 
Descartes and Locke, liad not his taste and inclination determined him more strongly to other pursuits. I am inclined to 
think, that neitlier of them is so well known as were to be wished. I do not even recollect to have seen it anywhere no- 
ticed, that some of tlie most striking and bcautiiul instances of design in the order of the material world, which occur in the 
Sermons preached at Boyle's Lecture, are borrowed from the works of the founder. •)■ 

Notwithstanding, however, these great merits, he has written too little on such abstract subjects to entitle liira to a place 
among English metaphysicians ; nor has he, like Newton, started any leading thoughts whicli have since given a new direc- 
tion to the studies ot metaphysical inquirers. From the slight specimens lie has left, there is reason to conclude, that his 
mind was still more happily turned than that of Newton, for the prosecution of that branch of science to which their con- 
temporary I.ocke was then beginning to invite the attention of the public. 

" From a letter of Leibnitz to M. Kcmond de Montmort, it appears that he considered Newton, and not Clarke, as his 

• To tlie Kiiglish reader it is unnecessary to observe, that I allude to the Sermons preached at tlie Lc>cture foundeil by 
the Honourable Uobert Boyle. 

•(• Those instance;), more especially, which arc drawn from the anatomical structure of animals, and the adaptation of their 
perceptive organs to the habits of life for which they are destined. 



140 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



voted much of his time to Metaphysical re- 
searches, yet the general spirit of his physical 
investigations has had a great, though indirect, 
influence on the metaphj'sical studies of his suc- 
cessors. It is justly and profoundly remarked 
by Mr Hume, that " while Newton seemed to 
draw off the veil from some of the mysteries of 
nature, he showed, at the same time, the imper- 
fections of the mechanical philosophy, and there- 
by restored lier ultimate secrets to that obscurity 
in which they ever did, and ever will remain." 
In this way, his discoveries have co-operated 
powerfully vsdth the reasonings of Locke in pro- 
ducing a general conviction of the inadequacy of 
our faculties to unriddle those sublime enigmas 
on which Descartes, Malebranche, and Leib- 
nitz, liad so recently wasted their strength, and 
which, in tlie ancient world, were regarded as 
the only fit ol)jects of philosophical curiosity- 
It is chiefly too since the time of Newton, that 
the ontology and pneumatology of the dark ages 
have been abandoned for inquiries resting on the 
solid basis of experience and analogy ; and that 
philosophers have felt themselves emboldened 



by his astonishing discoveries concerning the 
more distant parts of the material universe, to 
argue from the known to the unknown parts of 
the moral world. So completely has the pre- 
diction been verified which he himself hazarded, 
in the form of a query, at the end of his Optics, 
that " if natural philosophy should continue to 
be improved in its various branches, the bounds 
of moral philosophy would be enlarged also." 

How far the peculiar cast of Newton's genius 
qualified him for prosecuting successfully the 
study of Mind, he has not afibrded us sufficient 
data for judging; but such was the admiration 
with which Ids transcendent powers as a Mathe- 
matician and Natural Philosopher were univer- 
sally regarded, that the slightest of his hints on 
other subjects have been eagerly seized upon as 
indisputable axioms, though sometimes with 
little other evidence in their favour but the sup- 
posed sanction of his authority.^ The part of 
his works, however, which chiefly led me to con- 
nect his name with that of Clarke, is a passage 
in the Scholium annexed to his Principia,' which 
may be considered as the germ of the celebrated 



real antagonist in this controversy. " M. Clarke, ou plutot M. Newton, dont M. Clarke soutient les dogmes, est en dispute 
avec moi sur la plulosophie." — (Leib. Op. Tom. V. p. 33.) From another letter to the same correspondent we learn, that 
Leibnitz aimed at nolhinjj less than the complete overthrow of the Newtonian philosophy ; and that it was chiefly to his 
grand principle of the sufficient reason that he trusted for the accomplishment of this object. " J'ai reduit IMtat de notre 
dispute a ce grand axiome, que rkn n'criste on n'arrive sans qu'il y ait nne raison svffisanie, pourquoi il en est plutot ainsi qu'au- 
Ircment. S'il continue a me le nier, ou en sera sa sincerity ? S'il me I'accorde, adieu le vuide, les atomes, et toute la phihso. 
phic de M. Nc-Mon." — (Ibid.) See also a letter from Leibnitz to M. des Jlaizeaux in the same volume of his works, p. 39. 
' Witness Hartley's PhysioUgical Theory of the Mind, founded on a query in Newton's Optics ; and a long list of theories 
in medicine, grafted on a hint thrown out in the same query, in tlie form of a modest conjecture. 

' This Scholium, it is to be observed, first appeared at the end of the second edition of the Principia, printed at Cambridge 
in 1713. The former edition, published at Ijondon in 1087, has no Sclio'.ium annexed to it. From a passage, however, in a 
letter of Newton's to Dr Bentley (dated 1G92). it seems probable, that as far back, at least, as that period, he had thoughts 
of attempting a proof o priori of the existence of God. Alter some new illustrations, drawn from his own discoveries, ot the 
common argument from final causes, he thus concludes : " There is yet another argument for a Deity, which I take to be a 
very strong one ; but, till the principles on which it is grounded are better received, I think it more advisable to let it 
sleep." — (Four Letters from Sir I. Nexcton to Dr Bentley, p. 11. London, Dodsley, 1750.) 

It appears from this passage, that Newton had no intention, like his predecessor Descartes, to supersede, by any new ar- 
gument of his own for the existence of God, the common one drawn from the consideration o{ final causes ; and, therefore, 
nothing could be more uncandid than tlie following sarcasm pointed by Pope at the laudable attempts of his two country- 
men to add to the evidence of this conclusion, by deducing it from other principles : 
" Let others creep by timid steps and slow. 
On plain experience lay foundations low, 
By common sense to common knowledge bred. 
And last to Nature's cause thro' Nature led : 
We nobly take the high priori-roai. 
And reason downwards till we doubt of God." 
That Pope had Clarke in his eye when he wrote these lines, will not be doubted by those who recollect the various other 
occasions in which he has stepped out of his way, to vent an impotent spleen against this excellent person. 
" Let Clarke live half his life the poor's support, 
But let him live the other half at court." 
And again : 

" Even in an omament its place remark ; 
Nor in a hermitage set Dr Clarke :" 
in which last couplet there is a manifest allusion to the bust of Clarke, placed in a hermitage by Queen Caroline, together 
with those of Newton, Boyle, Locke, and WoUaston. See some fine verses on these busts in a poem called the Grotto, by 
Matthew Green. 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



141 



argument a priori for the existence of God, which 
is commonly, though, I apprehend, not justly, 
regarded as the most important of all Clarke's 
contributions to Metaphysical Philosophy. I 
shall quote the passage in Newton's own words, 
to the oracular conciseness of wliich no English 
version can do j ustice. 

" ^ternus est et infinitus, omnipotens et om- 
nisciens ; id est, durat ab tetcrno in reternum, et 

adcst ab infinito in infinitum Non est 

seternitas et inHnitas, sed retcrnus et infinitus ; 
non est duratio et spatium, sed durat et adest. 
Durat semper et adest uhique, et existendo sem- 
per et uhique durationem et spatium constituit." ' 
Proceeding on these principles, Dr Clarke argued, 
that, as immensity and eternity (which force 
themselves irresistibly on our belief as necessary 
existences, or, in other words, as existences of 
which the anniliilation is impossible) are not 
substances, but attributes, the immense and eter- 
nal Being, whose attributes they are, must exist 
of necessity also. The existence of Ciod, there- 
fore, according to Clarke, is a truth that follows 
with demonstrative evidence from those concep- 
tions of space and time which are inseparable 

from the human mind " These (says Dr 

Reid) are the speculations of men of superior 
genius; but whether they be as solid as they are 
sublime, or whether they be the wanderings of 
imagination in a region beyond the limits of the 
human understanding, I am at a loss to deter- 
mine." After this candid acknowledgment from 
Dr Reid, I need not be ashamed to confess my 
own doubts and difficulties on the same ques- 
tion.' 

But although the argument, as stated by 
Clarke, does not carry complete satisfaction to 
my mind, I think it must be granted that there 
is something peculiarly wonderful and over- 
whelming in those conceptions of immensity and 
eternity, which it is not less impossible to banish 
from our thoughts, than the consciousness of our 
own existence. Nay, further, I think that these 



conceptions are very intimately connected with 
the fundamental principles of Natural Religion. 
For when once we have established, from the 
e^-idences of design everywhere manifested 
around us, the existence of an intelligent and 
powerful cause, we are unavoidably led to apply 
to this cause our conceptions of immensity and 
eternity, and to conceive Him as filling the infi- 
nite extent of both with his presence and -ndth 
his power. Hence we associate with the idea of 
God those awful impressions which are naturally 
produced by the idea of infinite space, and per- 
haps still more by the idea of endless duration. 
Nor is this all. It is from the immensity of 
space that the notion of infinity is originally de- 
rived ; and it is hence that we transfer the ex- 
pression, by a sort of metaphor, to other subjects. 
AVlien we speak, therefore, of iiifinite power, ■n'is- 
dom, and goodness, our notions, if not wholly 
borrowed from space, are at least gi-eatly aided 
by this analog}' ; so that the conceptions of Im- 
mensity and Eternity, if they do not of them- 
selves demonstrate the existence of God, yet ne- 
cessarily enter into the ideas we form of his na- 
ture and attributes. 

To these various considerations it may be 
added that the notion of necessary existence which 
we derive from the contemplation of Space and 
of Time, renders the same notion, when applied 
to the Supreme Being, much more easy to be 
apprehended than it would otherwise be. 

It is not, therefore, surprising, that Newton 
and Clarke should have fallen into that train of 
thought which encom-aged them to iittcmpt a 
demonstration of the being of God from our 
conceptions of Immensity and Eternity; and 
still less is it to be wondered at, that, .in pursu- 
ing this lofty argument, they should have soar- 
ed into regions where they were lost in the 
clouds. 

I have said above, that Clarke's demonstra- 
tion seems to have been suggested to him by a 
passiige in Newton's Scholium. It is, however, 



' Tims translated by Dr Clarke : " God is eternal and infinite, omnipotent "and omniscient ; that is, lie endures from 
everlasting to evcrlastint;, and is present from infinity to infinity. He is not eternity or infinity, but eternal and infinite. 
He is not duration or space, but lie endures and is jircscnt. He endures always, and is present everywliero, and by exist- 
ing always and everywhere, constitutes duration and space." — (See Clarke's 'Fourth lirpli/ to LcUmilz.) 

' An argument substantially the same with this for the existence of God, is liintcd at very distinctly by Cudworth, 
Intellect. Si/stan, Chap. V. sect.' 3. 4. Also by Dr Henry More, Enchir. MHojili. Cap. «. sect. 8. Sec Mosheim's Traml. qf 
Cudworth, Tom. II. p. 350. 



142 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



more than probable that he had himself struck 
into a path very nearly approaching to it, at a 
much earlier period of his life. The following 
anecdote of his childhood, related, upon his own 
authority, by liis learned and authentic, though, 
in many respects, weak and visionary biogra- 
pher (\Miiston), exhibits an interesting example 
of an anomalous development of the powers of 
reflection and abstraction, at an age when, in 
oi'dinary cases, the attention is wholly engross- 
ed with sensible objects. Such an inversion of 
the common process of nature in unfolding our 
different faculties, is perliaps one of the rarest 
phenomena in the intellectual world; and, 
wherever it occm's, may be regarded as strongly 
symptomatic of something peculiar and decided 
in the philosophical character of the individual. 
" One of his parents," says Wliiston, " ask- 
ed him when he was veiy young, Whether God 
could do every thing ? He answered, Yes ! He 
was asked again. Whether God could tell a lie ? 
He answered. No ! And he understood the ques- 
tion to suppose, that this was the only thing 
that God could not do ; nor durst he say, so 
young was he then, that he thought there was 
any thing else which God could not do ; while 
yet, well he remembered, that he had, even then, 
a clear conviction in his own mind, that there was 



one thing which God could not do ; — that he could 
not annihilate that space which was in the room 
where they were."^ 

With this early and deep impression on his 
mind, it is easy to conceive how Newton's 
Scholium should have encouraged him to resume 
the musings of his boyish days, concerning the 
necessary existence of space ; and to trace, as 
far as he could, its connection with the prin- 
ciples of Natural Theology. But the above anec- 
dote affords a proof how strongly his habits of 
thought had long before predisposed him for the 
prosecution of a metaphysical idea, precisely the 
same with that on which this Scholium proceeds. 

It would be superfluous to dwell longer on 
the history of these speculations, which, what- 
ever value they may possess in the opinion of 
persons accustomed to deep and abstract rea- 
soning, are certainly not well adapted to ordi- 
nary or to imcultivated understandings. This 
consideration furnishes, of itself, no slight pre- 
sumption, that they were not intended to be the 
media by which the bulk of mankind were to be 
led to the knowledge of truths so essential to 
human happiness ; and, accordingly, it was on 
this very ground, that Bishop Butler, and Dr 
Francis Hutcheson, were induced to strike into 
a different and more popular path for establish- 



' The question concerning the necessary existence of Space and of Time formed one of the principal subjects of discus- 
sion between Clarke and Ijcibiiitz. According to the former, space and time are, both of them, infinite, immutable, and 
indestructible. According to his antagonist, " space is nothing but the order of things co-existing," and " time nothing 
but the order of things successive !" The notion of real absolute Space, in jiarticular, he pronounces to be a mere chimera 
and supcTjkUd imagination ; classing it witli those prejudices which Bacon called idola tribns — (See his 4th J'apcr^ § 14.) 

It has always appeared to me a thing quite inexplicable, that the great majority of philosophers, both in Germany and 
in France, have, on the above question, decided in favour of Leibnitz. Even D'Alembert himself, wlio, on most metaphy- 
sical points, reasons so justly and so ])rofoundly, has, in this instance, been carried along by the prevailing opinion (or, per- 
haps, it would be more correct to say, by the fashionable phraseology) among his countrymen. " Y auroit-il un espace, 
s'il n'y avoit point de corps, et une duree s^il n'y avoit rien ? Cos questions viennent, ce me semble, de ce qu'on suppose au 

temps et a I'cspace plus de re'alit(^ qu'ils n'en ont Les cnfants, qui disent que le vuide n'est rien, ont raison parce 

qu'ils s'en tiennent au simples notions du sens commun:' et les philosophes qui veulent re'aliser le vuide se perdent 
dans leurs speculations : le vuide a ete enfante' par les abstractions, et voila Tabus d'une me'thode si utile a bien des e'gards. 
S^il n^y avoit point dc corps ct de succession^ Vcspacc ci Ic temps scroient possibles^ mats ih n'cxistcroicnt pas.^^ — (Melanges^ &c 
T. v. § xvi.) Bailly, a writer by no means partial to D'Alembert, quotes, with entire approbation, the foregoing observa- 
tions ; subjoining to them, in the following terms, his own judgment on tlie merits of this branch of the controversy be- 
tween Clarke and Leibnitz. " La notion du temps et de I'espace, est un des points sur lesquels I,eibnitz a combattu cen- 
tre Clarke ; mais U nous semble que I'Anglois n'a rien opposu de satisfaisant auxraisons de Leibnitz." — (Eloge de Leibnitz.) 

As for the point here in dispute, I must own, that it does not seem to me a tit subject for argument; inasmuch as I can. 
not even form a conception of the proposition contended for bj' Leibnitz. The light in which the question struck Clarke 
in his childhood, is the same in which I am still disposed to view it ; or rather, I should say, is the light in which I must 
ever view it, while the frame of my understanding continues unaltered. Of what data is human reason possessed, from 
which it is entitled to argue in opposition to truths, the contraj'y of which it is impossible not only to prove, but to express 
in terms comprehensible by our {acuities ? 

For some remarks on the scholastic controversies concerning space and time, see the First Part of this Dissertation, Note I. 
See also Locke's Essay, Book ii. Chap. 13. §§ IC, 17, 18. 

• I quote the sequel of this passage on the authority of Bailly (see his Eloge on Leiimitz), for it is not to be found in the 
copy of the Melanges before me printed at Amsterdam in 1767. 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



143 



lag the fundamental principles of religion and 
morality. Both of these writers appear to have 
oommunicated, in very early youth, their douhts 
and ohjections to Dr Clarke ; aud to have had, 
even then, a glimpse of those inquiries hy which 
they were afterwards to give so new and so for- 
tunate a direction to the ethical studies of their 
countrymen. It is sufficient here to remark 
this circumstance as an important step in the 
progress of Moral Philosophy. The farther il- 
lustration of it properly belongs to another part 
of this discourse. 

The chief glory of Clarke, as a metaphysical 
author, is due to the boldness and ability with 
which he placed himself in the breach against 
the Necessitarians and Fatalists of liis times. 
With a mind far inferior to tliat of Locke, in 
comprehensiveness, in originality, and in ferti- 
lity of invention, he was nevertheless the more 
wary and skilful disputant of the two, possess- 
ing, in a singular degree, that reach of thought 
in grasping remote consequences, which effec- 



tually saved him from those rash concessions 
into which Locke was frequently betrayed by 
the greater warmth of his temperament, and vi- 
vacity of his fancy. This logical foresight (the 
natural result of his habits of mathematical 
study) rendered him peculiarly fit to contend 
with adversaries, eager and qualified to take ad- 
vantage of every vulnerable point m his doc- 
trines; but it gave, at the same time, to his 
style a tameness, and monotony, and want of 
colouring, which never appear in the easy and 
spiiitcd, though often unfinished and imequal, 
sketches of Locke. Voltaire has somewhere 
said of him, that he was a mere reasoning ma- 
chine fun moulin a raisonnement), and the ex- 
pression (though doubtless much too unquali- 
fied) possesses a merit, in point of just discri- 
mination, of which Voltaire was probably not 
fully aware. ^ 

I have already taken notice of Clarke's de- 
fence of moral liberty in opposition to Leibnitz ; 
but soon after this controversy was brought to a 



' In the extent of his learning, the correctness of his taste, and the depth of his scientific acquirements, Clarke possess- 
ed indisputahle advantages over Locke ; with which advantages he combined another not less important, the systematical 
steadiness with which his easy fortune and unbroken leisure enabled him to pursue his favourite speculations through ll:e 
whole course of his life. 

On the subject of Free-will, Locke is more indistinct, undecided, and inconsistent, than might have been expected from 
his powerful mind, when directed to so important a question. This was probably owing to his own strong feelings in fa- 
vour of man's moral liberty, struggling with the deep impression left on his philosophical creed by the writings of 
Hobbes, and with his deference for the talents of his own intimate friend, Anthony Collins." That I.ocke conceived him- 
self to be an advocate for frce-zcill, appears indisputably from many expressions in his Chapter on Po:ccr ; and yet, in that 
very chapter, he has made various concessions to his adversaries, in which he seems to yield all that was contended for by 
Hobbes and Collins : And, accordingly, he is ranked, with some appearance of truth, by Priestley, with those who, while 
they opposed verbally the scheme of necessity, have adojitcd it substantially, without being aware of their mistake. 

In one of Locke's letters to IMr IMolyneux, he has st;ite<l, in the strongest possible terms, his conviction of man's free 
agency ; resting this conviction entirely on our indisputable consciousness of the fuci. This declaration of Locke I consi- 
der as well worthy of attention in the argument about Free AVill ; for, although in questions of pure sjieculation, the au- 
tliority of great names is entitled to no weight, excepting in so far as it is sujuiorted by solid reasonings, the case is other- 
wise viiih facts relating to the phenomena of the human mind. The patient attention with which Mr Locke had studied 
these very nice phenomena during the course of a long life, gives to the results of his metaphysical experience a value of 
the same sort, but much greater in degree, with that which we attach to a delicate experiment in chemistry, when vouched 
by a Black or a Davy. The ultimate appeal, after all, must be made by every person to his own consciousness ; but 
when we have the experience of Locke on the one hand, and that of Priestley and Belsham on the other, the contrast is 
surely sufficient to induce every cautious in(iuircr to re-examine his fe^Ungs before he allows himself to listen to the 
statements of the latter in prefeience to that of the former. 

For the information of some of my readers, it may be proper to mention that it has of late become fashionable among a 
certain class of metaphysicians, boldly to assert, that the evidence of their consciousness is decidedly in favour of the scheme 
of" necessity. 

But to return to Mr Locke. The only consideration on this subject which seems to have staggered him, was the difficul- 
ty of reconcilinp this opinion with the prescience of God. As to this theological difficulty, I have nothing to say at present. 
The only (juestion which I consider as of any consequence, is the matter of fact ; and, on this point, nothing can be more 
explicit and satisfactory than the words of Locke. In examining these, the attentive reader will be satisfied, that Locke's 
declaration is not (as Priestley asserts) iu favour of the Liberty of Spontaneity, but in favour of the Liberty of Indifference ; 
for as to the former, there seems to be no difficulty in reconciling it with the prescience of God. " I own (says Jlr Locke) 
freely to you the weakness of my understanding, that though it be unquestionable that there is omnipotence and omnisci- 
ence in God our Maker, and though / cannot have a clearer perception of anijthiug than that J am free; yet I cannot make free- 
dom in man consistent with omnipotence and omniscience in Ciod, tliougli I am as fully persuaded of both as of any truth 
I most firmly assent to ; and therefore 1 have long since given off the consideration of that question ; resolving all into 
this short conclusion, that, if it be possible for God to make a free agent, then man is free, though I see not the aviy of it." 



See Note K K. 



144 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



conclusion by the death of his antagonist, he 
had to resume the same argument, in reply to 
his countryman, Anthony Collins ; who, follow- 
ing the footsteps of Hobbes, with logical talents 
not inferior to those of his master, and with a 
weight of personal character in his favour, to 
which his master had no pretensions, ^ gave to 
the cause which he so warmly espoused, a de- 
gree of credit among sober and serious inquir- 
ers, which it had never before possessed in Eng- 
land. I have reserved, therefore, for this place, 
the few general reflections which I have to offer 
on this endless subject of controversy. In stat- 
ing these, I shall be the less anxious to con- 
dense my thoughts, as I do not mean to return 
to the discussion in the sequel of this historical 
sketch. Indeed, I do not know of anything 
that has been advanced by later writers, in 
support of the scheme of necessity, of which 
the germ is not to be found in the inquiry of 
Collins. 

In order to enter completely into the motives 
which induced Clarke to take so zealous and so 
prominent a part in the dispute about Free 
WUl, it is necessary to look back to the sys- 
tem of Spinoza ; an author, wath whose pecu- 
liar opinions I have hitherto avoided to dis- 
tract my readers' attention. At the time when 
he wrote, he does not appear to have made 
many proselytes ; the extravagant and alarming 
consequences in which his system terminated, 
serving with most persons as a sufiicient anti- 
dote against it. Clarke was probably the first 



who perceived distinctly the logical accuracy of 
his reasoning ; and that, if the principles were 
admitted, it was impossible to resist the conclu- 
sions deduced from them.* It seems to have 
been the object both of Leibnitz and of Collins, 
to obviate the force of this indirect argument 
against the scheme of necessity, by attempting 
to reconcile it with the moral agency of man ; 
a task which, I think, it must be allowed, was 
much less ably and plausibly executed by the 
former than by the latter. Convinced, on the 
other hand, that Spinoza had reasoned from his 
premises much more rigorously than either Col- 
lins or Leibnitz, Clarke bent the whole force of 
his mind to demonstrate that these premises 
were false ; and, at the same time, to put in- 
cautious reasoners on their guard against the 
seducing sophistry of liis antagonists, by show- 
ing, that there was no medium between admit- 
ting the free-agency of man, and of acquiescing 
in all the monstrous absurdities which the creed 
of Spinoza involves. 

Spinoza, ' it may be proper to mention, was an 
Amsterdam Jew of Portuguese extraction, who 
(with a view probably to gain a more favourable 
reception to his philosophical dogmas) withdrew 
himself from the sect in which he had been edu- 
cated, and afterwards appears to have lived 
chiefly in the society of Christians;* without, 
however, making any public profession of the 
Christian faith, or even submitting to the cere- 
mony of baptism. In his philosophical creed, 
he at first embraced the system of Descartes, 



' In speaking disrespectfully of the personal character of Hobbes, I allude to the base seri'ilitv of his political principles, 
and to the suppleness with which he adapted them to the opposite interestsof the three successive governments under which 
his literary life was spent. To his private virtues the most honourable testimony has been borne, both by his friends and 
by his enemies. 

^ Dr Reid's opinion on this point coincides exactly with that of Clarke. See his Essays on the Active Powers of Man, 
(p. 289, 4to. Edition), where he pronounces the system of Spinoza to be " the genuine, and the most tenable system of ne- 
cessity." 

' I5orn 1632, died 1C77- It is observed by Bayle, that " although Spinoza was the first who reduced Atheism to a sys- 
tem, and formed it into a body of doctrine, connected according to the method of geometricians, yet, in other respects, his 
opinion is not new, the substance of it being the same with that of several other philosophers, both ancient and modern, 
European and Eastern." — See his Diet. art. Spinoza, and the authorities in Note S. 

It is asserted by a late German writer, that " Spinoza has been little heard of in England, and not at all in France, and 
that he has been zealously defended and attacked by Germans alone." The same writer informs us, that " the philosophy 
of Leibnitz has been little studied in France, and not at all in England." — (Lectures on the History of Literature, by Fhed. 
ScnLEGEi,. English Transl. published at Edin. 18 IB. Vol. II. p. 243.) 

Is it possible that an author who pronounces so dogmatically upon the philosophy of England, should never have heard 
the name of Dr Clarke ? 

■* The Synagogue were so indignant at his apostacy, that they pronounced against him their highest sentence of excom- 
munication called Schammafa. The form of the sentence may be found in the Treatise of Selden, De Jure Katurce et Gentium, 
Lib. IV. c. 7. It is a document of some curiosity, and will scarcely suffer by a comparison with the Popish form of ex- 
communication recorded by Sterne. For some farther particulars with respect to Spinoza see Note LL. 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



145 



and began his literary career with a work en- 
titled, Eenati Descartes Principioriim Pbiloso- 
phicB, Pars Prima et Secunda, More Geometrico 
Dorumstratce, 1663. It was, however, in little 
else than his physical principles that he agreed 
with Descartes; for no two philosophers ever 
differed more widely in their metaphysical and 
theological tenets. Foutenellc characterises his 
system as a " Cartesianism pushed to cxtra- 
Tagance" (tine Cartesianisme outreej ; an expres- 
sion which, although far from convening a j ust 
or adequate idea of the whole spirit of his 
doctrines, applies very ha])pily to his boldness 
and pertinacity in following out his avowed 
principles to the most pai'adoxieal consequences 
which he conceived them to involve. The re- 
putation of his writings, accordingly, has fallen 
entirely (excepting perhaps in Germany and in 
Holland) with the philosophy on whicli they 
were grafted ; although some of the most ob- 
noxious opinions contained in them are still, 
from time to time, obtruded on the world, un- 
der the disguise of a new form, and of a phra- 
seology less revolting to modern taste. ' 

In no part of Spinoza's works has he avowed 



himself an atheist ; but it will not be disputed, 
by those who comprehend the drift of his rea- 
sonings, that, in point of practical tendency, 
Atheism and Spinozism are one and the same. 
In this respect, we may apjdy to Spinoza (and 
I may add to Vanini also) what Cicero has said 
of Epicurus, Verbis reliquit Deos, re sustulit ; — 
a remark which coincides exactly with an ex- 
pression of Newton's in the Scholium at the end 
of the Principia : " Deus sine dominio, provi- 
dcntia, et causis finalibus, nihil aliud est quam 

FaTUM et NATUItA."* 

Among other doctrines of natural and reveal- 
ed religion, which Spinoza affected to embrace, 
was that of the Divine Omnipresence ; a doc- 
trine which, combined •ndth the Plenum of Des- 
cartes, led him, by a short .ind plausible pi'ocess 
of reasoning, to the revival of the old theory 
which represented God as i/ie soul of the world; 
or rather to that identification of God and of 
the material universe, which I take to be still 
moi'c agreeable to the idea of Spinoza.' I am 
particularly anxious to direct the attention of 
my readers to this part of his system, as I con- 
ceive it to be at present very generally misrepre- 



' " On vient de proposer h I'Acad^mie de Berlin, pour sujet de concours : " Quels sont les points A.s contact du Car- 
tesianisme etdu sysleme de Spinoza?" — (Rcchcrchcs rhilosophiqiics, par 31. de Ronald, 1818.) 

• One of the most elaborate and acute refutations of Spinozism which has yet appeared is to be found in Bayle's Die. 
tlonary, where it is described as " tlie most monstrous scheme imaginable, and the most diametrically opposite to the 
clearest notions of the mind." — The same author atfirms, that " it has been fully overthrown even by the weakest of its 
adversaries." — " It does not, indeed, appear possible" (as ]Mr JIaclaurin has observed) " to invent another system equallv 
absurd; amounting (as it does in fact) to this proposition, that there is but one substance in the univei'se, endowed with 
infinite attributes (particularly infinite extension and cogitation), which produces .ill other things necessarily as its own 

modifications, and which alone is, in all events, both physiciil and moral, at once cause and cflect, agent and patient Vir-j) 

of Newton's Discover'us^ Book I. Chap. 4. 

' Spinoza supposes that tliere are in God two eternal properties, thought and extension ; and as he held, with Descartes, 
that extension is the essence of matter, he must necessarily have conceived matenaiUy to be an essential attribute of God. 
" Per Corpus intelligo niodum, qui Dei essentiam (juatenus ut res extcnsa consideratur, certo et determinate modo cxpri- 
mit." — CEl/iica ordine Gconulrico Dcmo'islruta, Pars 2. Defin. 1. See also Kthic Pjirs 1 . Prop. 1 4.) AVitli respect to the other 
attributes of God, he held, that God is tlie cuuse of all things ; hut that he acts, not from choice, but from necessity ; and of 
consequence, that he is the invoKintary author of all the good .and evil, virtue and vice, which are exhibited in human life. 
" Res nullo alio modo, ncque alio ordine a Deo produci potuerunt, (juam productir sunt." — Ibid. Pars 1. Proji. .33.) In one 
of his letters to Jlr Oldenh'.irgli (Letter 21), he acknowledges, that his ideas of God and of n.ature were very difteront 
from those entertained by moJiin Cliristians ; adding bv way of explanation, " Deum rcrum omnium causam immanentera, 
non vero transeuntem statuo;" — an expression to which I can annex no other meaning but this, tliat God is inseparably 
and essentially uni'cd with his works, and that they form together but one being. 

The diversity of opinions entertained concerning the nature of Spino;5ism has been chiefly owing to this, that some have 
formed their notions of it from the books which Spinoza published during his life, and others fiom his posthumous re- 
mains. It is in the last alone (particularly in iiis El/ihs) that liis system is to l>e seen completely imveiled and inulisguis- 
cd. In the former, and also in the letters addressed to his friends, he occasionallv accommodates himself, with a very tem- 
porising spirit, to what he considered as the prejudices of the world. In proof of tliis, see liis Tractaliis Tliculogko-PotUiciu, 
and his epistolary correspondence, passim ; above idl, his letter to a young friend who had apostatised from Protestantisnj 
to the Ciitholic Church. Tlie letter is .-iddressed, " NobiUssimo Juveni, Alberto Burgh." — (Srix. Op. T. II. p. C95.) 

The edition of Spinoza's works to wliich my references are made, is the complete and very accurate one published at 
Jena in 11)02, by Ilenr. Eberh. (iottlob Paulus, who styles himself Doctor and Professor of Theology. 

This liMrned divine is at no pains to conceal his admiration of the character as well as talents of his author; nor does he 
seem to have much to object to the system of Spinozism, as explained in his posthumous work upon Kthics ; — a work which, 
the editor admits, contains the only genuine exposition of Spinoza's creed. '• Sedes systematis quod sihi condidit in ethica 
est." — ( Prirf. IlcratiT £dilioii)s, p. ix.) In what manner all this was reconciled in his theological lectures with the doctrines 
either of natural or of revealed religion, it is not very easy to imagine. Perhaps he only affords a new example of what 
DISS. I. TAUT II. T 



146 PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 

sented, or, at least, very generally misunder- tant affinity to tlie absurd creed with which 
stood ; a thing not to be wondered at, consider- they have been confounded. I am afraid that 
ing the total neglect into which his works have Pope, in the following lines of the Dimciad, 
long fallen. It is only in this way I can ac- suffered himself so far to be misled by the ma^ 
count for the frequent use which has most un- lignity of Warburton, as to aim a secret stab 
fairly been made of the term Spinozism to stig- at Newton and Clarke, by associating their figu- 
matise and discredit some doctrines, or rather rativc, and not altogether unexceptionable Ian- 
some modes of speaking, which have been sane- guage, concerning space (when they called it 
tioned, not only by the wisest of the ancients, the sensorium of the Deity), with the opinion of 
but by the highest names in English philosophy Spinoza, as I have just explained it.' 

and literature; and which, whether right or „ m . -^r \. ■ r^ • . tt- i 

"= " Thrust some Mechanic Cause into His place, 

wrong, will be found, on a careful examina- or bind in matter, or diffuse in space." 

tion and comparison, not to have the most dis- 

Dr Clarke long ago remarked, that " Believing too much and too little have commonly the luck to meet together, like two 
tilings moving contrary ways in the same circle." — (Third Letter to Dodwell.) 

A late German writer, who, in his own opinions, has certainly no leaning towards Spinozism, has yet spoken of the mo- 
ral tendency of Spinoza's writings, in terms of the warmest praise. " Tlie morality of Spinoza (says 51. Fred. SclUegel) 
is not indeed tliat of the Bible, for he himself was no Christian, but it is stiU a pure and noble morality, resembling that of 
the ancient Stoics, perhaps possessing considerable advantages over that system. That whicli makes him strong when op- 
posed to adversaries who do not understand or feel his depth, or who unconsciously have fallen into errors not much diffe- 
rent from his, is not merely the scientific clearness and decision of his intellect, but in a much higher degree the openhearted- 
ness, strong feeling, and conviction, with which all that he says seems to gush from his heart and soul." — (Lect. ofFnEn. 
ScHLEGEL, Eng. Transl. Vol. II. p. 244.) The rest of the passage, which contains a sort of apology for the system of Spinoza, 
is still more curious. 



Although it is with the metaphysical tenets of Spinoza alone that we are immediately concerned at present, it is not al- 
together foreign to my purpose to observe, that he had also speculated much about the principles of government ; and that 
the coincidence of liis opinions with those of Hobbes, on this last subject, was not less remarkable than the similarity of 
their views on the most important questions of metapliysics and ethics. Unconnected as these different branches of know- 
ledge may at first appear, the theories of Spinoza and of Hobbes concerning alt of them, formed parts of one and the same 
system ; the whole terminating ultimately in the maxim with which, according to Plutarch, Anaxarchus consoled Alex- 
ander after the murder of Clytus : Uiv -ri T^ix^» itri rah K^iTsZToi iixa'mv losj. Even in discussing the question about Liber- 
ty and Necessity, Hobbes cannot help glancing at this political corollary. " The power of God alone is a sutHcient justifica- 
tion of any action he doth.". ..." That n hich he doth is made just by his doing it.". ..." Power irresistible justifies 
all actions really and properly, in whomsoever it be found." — (Of Libertij and Nccessitij, addressed to the Lord INIarquis of 

Newcastle.) . Spinoza has expressed himself exactly to the same purpose (See his Tractatus PoUticus, Cap. 2. §§ 3, 4.) So 

steadily, indeed, is this practical application of their abstract principles kept in view by both these writers, that not one 
generous feeling is ever suffered to escape the pen of either in favour of the rights, the liberties, or the improvement of 
their species. 

The close affinity between those abstract thories which tend to degrade human nature, and that accommodating morality 
wliich prepares the minds of men for receiving passively the yoke of slavery, although too little attended to by the writers 
of literary history, has not been overlooked by those deeper iroliticians who are disposed (as has been alleged of the first of 
the Ca;sars) to consider tlieir fellow-creatures' " but as rubbish in tlie way of their ambition, or tools to be employed in re- 
moving it." This practical tendency of the Epicurean philosophy is remarked by one of the wisest of the Koman states- 
men ; and we learn from the same high authority, how fashionable this philosophy was in the higher circles of his country- 
men, at that disastrous period which immediately preceded the ruin of the Uepub'lic. " Nunquam audivi in Epicuri schola, 
Lycurgum, Solonem, BlUtiadem, Themistoclem, Epamhiondam, nominari; qui in ore sunt caeterorum omnium philoso- 
phorum." — (De Fin. Lib. ii. c. 21.) " Nee tamen Epicuri licet obUvisci, si cupiam ; cujus imaginem non modo in tabulis 
nostri familiares, sed etiam in poculis, et annulis habeut." (Ibid. Lib. v. c. 1.) 

The prevalence of Hobbism at the court of Charles II. (a fact acknowledged by Clarendon himself) is but one of the 
many instances which might be quoted from modern times in confirmation of these remarks. 

The practical tendency of such doctrines as would pave the way to universal scepticism, by holding up to ridicule the 
extravagancies and inconsistencies of the learned, is precisely similar. We are told by Tacitus {Annal. Lib. 14), that 
Nero was accustomed, at the close of a banquet, to summon a party of philosophers, that he might amuse himself with lis- 
tening to the endless diversity and discordancy of their respective systems: nor were there wanting philosophers at 
Rome, the same historian adds, who were flattered to be thus exhibited as a spectacle at the table of the Emperor. AVTiat a 
deep and instructive moral is conveyed by this anecdote ! and what a contrast does it afford to the sentiment of one of 
Nero's successors, who was himself a pliilosopher in the best sense of tlie word, and whose reign furnishes some of the 
fairest pages in the annals of the human race ! " I search for truth (says Marcus Antoninus), by which no person has 
ever been injured." Z>!IZ yk^ Tn» i.\nhi7.-i, !j(f>' ».- Hi); ■jriin'li sfxu/Sn. 



' Warburton, indeed, a.\-«a.ys professes great respect for Newton ; but of his hostility to Clarke it is unnecessary to produce 
any other proof than his note on the following line of the Uunciad : 

" Where Tindal dictates, and SUenus snores." B. iv. /. 492. 

May I venture to add, that the noted line of the Essay on Man., 

" And showed a Newton as we show an ape," 
could not possibly have been written by any person impressed with a due veneration for this glory of his species ? 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



147 



How little was it suspected by the poet, when 
this sarcasm escaped him, that the charge of 
Spinozism and Pantheism was afterwards to be 
brought against himself, for tlie sublimest pas- 
sage to be found in his writings ! 

" All are but parts of one stupendous whole, 
A^Tiose body Nature is, and God the soul. 

Lives throuf^h all Life, extends through all extent. 
Spreads uudhided, oijcrates unspent."' 

Bayle was, I think, the writer who first led the 

way to this misapplication of tlie term Spinozism ; 

and Ids object in doing so was plainly to destroy 

the effect of the most refined and philosophical 

conceptions of the Deity which were ever formed 

by the unassisted power of human reason. 

" Estne Dei sedes nisi terra, et pontus, et aer, 

£t coelum, et virtus ? Superos quid quoerimus ultra ? 
Jupiter est quodcumque vides, quocumque nioveris." 

" Is there a place that God would choose to love 
Beyond this earth, the seas, yon Heaven above. 
And virtuous minds, the noblest throne for Jove ; 
AVhy seek we farther then ? Behold around. 
How all thou seest does with the Gwl abound, 
Jove is alike to all, and always to be found." 

Rowe's Lucan. 

Who but Bayle, could have thought of extract- 
ing anything like Spinozism from such verses as 
these ! 



On a subject so infinitely disproportioned to 
our facidties, it is vain to expect language which 
will bear a logical and captious examination. 
Even the Sacred Writers themselves are forced 
to adapt their phraseologj' to the comprehension 
of those to whom it is addressed, and frequently 
borrow the figurative diction of poetrj' to convey 
ideas which must be interpreted, not according 
to the letter, but the spirit of the passage. It is 
thus that thunder is called the voice of God ; 
the wind. His breath ; and the tempest, the blast 
of His nostrils. Not attending to this circum- 
stance, or rather not choosing to direct to it the 
attention of his readers, Spinoza has laid hold 
of the well kuow-n expression of St Paul, that 
" in God we live, and move, and have our being," 
as a proof that the ideas of the apostle, concern- 
ing the Divine Nature, were pretty much the 
same with his own ; a consideration which, if 
duly weighed, might have protected some of the 
passages above quoted from the uncharitable cri- 
ticisms to which they have frequently been ex- 
posed.' 

To return, however, to Collins, from whose 
controversy with Clarke I was insensil)ly led 
aside into this short digression about Spinoza ; 



' This passage, as AVarton has remarked, bears a very striking analogy to a noble one in tlie old Orphic verses quoted in 
the treatise n.j"; x«»^e, ascribed to Aristotle ; and it is not a little curioiis, that tlie same ideas occur in some specimens of 
Hindoc poetry," translated by Sir AV. Jones; more particularly in the Hymn to Xairuyna, or the Spirit of God, taken, as 
he informs us, from the writings of their ancient authors : 

Omniscient Spirit, whose all-ruling power 
Uids from each sense bright emanations beam; 
Glows in the rainbow, sparkles in the stream, 
&c. &c. 

• 3Ir Gibbon, in commenting upon the celebrated lines of Virgil, 

" Spiritus intus alit, totainque infusa per artus, 
" Mens agitat moleni, et iiiagno se corpore niiscet," 
observes, that " the mind which is infused into the different parts of matter, and which minolSs itsei-F with the mighty 
mass, scarcely retains any property of a spiritual substance, and bears too near an alTinity to the principles which the im- 
pious Spinoza revived rather than invented." Ile.ndds, however, that " the poverty of human language, and the obscu- 
rity of human ideas, make it difficult to speak worthily of llie onr.AT rinsT cause ; and that our most religious poets 
(particularly Pope and Thomson), in striving to express the presence and energy of the Deity in every part of the universe, 
deviate unwarily into images whicli require a favourable construction. But these writers (he candidly remarks) deserve that 
favour, by the sublime manner in which they celebrate the Great l-'ather of the universe, and by those effusions of love 
and gratitude which are inconsistent with tlie materiaUst's svsteni." — {Misc. ffoiks, "Vol. IL jip. 50!1, 510.) 

May I be permitted here to remark, that it is not only diftcult but impossible to speak of the omnipresence and omnipo- 
tcnceof God, without deviating into such images? 

With the doctrine of the Anima Mundi, some philosophers, both ancient and modern, have connected another theory, 
according to which the souls of men are portions of the Supreme Being, with whom tliey are re-united at death, and in 
whom thL'y are finally absorbed and lost. To assist the imagination in conceiving this theory, death has been compare<l to 
the breaking of a phial of water, immersed in the ocean. It is needless to say, that this incomprehensible jargon has no 
necessary connection with the doctrine which represents God as the soul of the world, and that it would have been 
loudly disclaimed, not only by Pope and Thomson, but by Kpictetus, Antoninus, and all the wisest and soberest of the 
Stoical scliool. 'Whatever objections, therefore, maybe made to tliis doctrine, let not its supposed consequences be charged 
upon any but those who may expressly avow tliem. On such a subject, as Gibbon has well remarked, "we should be slow 
to suspect, and still slower to condemn." — (Ibid. p. 510.) 

Sir William Jones mentions a very curious modification of this theory of absorption, as one of the doctrines of the Vednvta 
school. " The Vedanta school represent Eltjsian happiness as a total absorption, though nut sueh at to destroy cwscitutiuss, 
in tlie Divine Essence." — (Dissertation on the Gods of Greect, Italy, and India. j 



148 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



I liave already said, that it seems to have been 
the aim of Collins to vindicate the doctrine of 
Necessity from the reproach brought on it by its 
supposed alliance with Spinozism ; and to retort 
upon the partizans of fi-ce-vvill the charges of 
favouring atheism and immorality. In proof of 
this I have only to quote the account given by 
the author himself, of the plan of his work : 

" Too much care cannot be taken to prevent 
being misunderstood and prejudged, in handling 
questions of such nice speculation as those of 
Liberty and Necessity ; and, therefore, though I 
might in justice expect to be read before any 
judgment be passed on me, I think it proper to 
premise the following observations : 

" 1. First, Though I deny liberty in a certain 
meaning of that word, yet I contend for liberty, 
as it signifies a power in man io do as he toills or 
pleases. 

" 2. Secondly, When I affirm necessity, I con- 
tend only for moral necessity ; meaning thereby, 
that man, who is an intelligent and sensible 
being, is determined by liis reason and his senses ; 
and I deny man to be subject to such necessity 
as is in clocks, watches, and such other beings, 
which, for want of sensation and intelligence, 
are subject to an absolute, physical, or mecha- 
nical necessity. 

" 3. Thirdly, I have undertaken to show, that 
the notions I advance are so far from-being in- 
consistent with, that they are the sole founda- 
tions of morality and laws, and of rewards and 
punishments in society ; and that the notions I 
explode are subversive of them." ^ 

In the prosecution of his argument on this 
question, Collins endeavours to show, that man 
is a necessary agent, 1. From our experience. 
(By experience he means our own consciousness 
that we are necessary agents.) 2. From the 
impossibility of liberty. '^ 3. From the conside- 
ration of the Di\'ine prescience. 4. From the 
nature and use of rewards and punishments ; 
and 5. From the nature of morality. ' 



In this view of the subject, and, indeed, in the 
very selection of his premises, it is remarkable 
how completely Collins has anticipated Dr Jona- 
than Edwards, the most celebrated and indis- 
putably the ablest champion of the scheme of 
Necessity who has since appeared. The coinci- 
dence is so perfect, tliat the outline given by the 
former, of the plan of his work, might have 
served with equal propriety as a preface to that 
of the latter. 

From the above summary, and still more from 
the whole tenor of the Philosophical Inquiry, it is 
evident, that Collins (one of the most obnoxious 
writers of his day to divines of all denomina- 
tions) was not less solicitous than his successor 
Edwards to reconcile his metaphysical notions 
^vitll man's accoiintableness and moral agency. 
The remarks, accordingly, of Clarke upon Col- 
lins's work, are equally applicable to that of Ed- 
wards. It is to be regretted that they seem 
never to have fallen into the hands of this very 
acute and honest reasoner. As for Collins, it is 
a remarkable cii'cumstance, that he attempted 
no reply to this tract of Clarke's, although he 
lived twelve years after its publication. The 
reasonings contained in it, together with those 
on the same subject in his correspondence with 
Leibnitz, and in his Demonstration of the Being 
and Attributes of God, form, in my humble opi- 
nion, the most important as well as powerful 
of all his metaphysical arguments.* The ad- 
versaries with whom he had to contend were, 
both of them, eminently distinguished by inge- 
nuity and subtlety, and he seems to have put 
forth to the utmost his logical strength, in con- 
tending with such antagonists. " The liber- 
ty or moral agency of man (says his friend 
Bishop Hoadly) was a darling point to him. He 
excelled always, and showed a superiority to all, 
whenever it came into private discourse or pub- 
lic debate. But he never more excelled than 
when he was pressed with the strength Leibnitz 
was master of; which made him exert all his 



* A Philosophical Inquiry concerning Human Liberftj, 3d edit. Lond. 1735. 
■ See Note M M. 

' See Note N N. 

* Voltaire, who, in all probability, nerer read either Clarke or Collins, has said that the former replied to the latter only 
by Theological reasonings : " Clarke u'a ripondn a Collins qu'en Thtologien." — C Quest, sur rEncyclopidic, Art. Liberie.) Nothing 
can be more remote from the truth. The argument of Clarke is wholly Metaphysical; whereas, hks antagonist, in various 
instances, has attempted to wrest to his own purposes the words of Scripture. 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



149 



talents to set it once again in a clear light, to 
guard it against the evil of metaphysical obscu- 
rities, and to give the finishing stroke to a sub- 
ject which must ever be the foundation of mo- 
rality in man, and is the ground of the account- 
ableness of intelligent creatures for all their 
actions."' 

It is needless to say, that neither Leibnitz nor 
Collins admitted the fairness of the inferences 
wluch Clarke conceived to follow fi-om the 
scheme of necessity : But almost every page in 
the subsequent history of this controversy may 
be regarded as an additional illustration of the 
soundness of Clarke's reasonings, and of the sa- 
gacity with which he anticipated the fatal er- 
rors likely to issue from the system which he 
opposed. 

" Thus (says a very learned disciple of Leib- 
nitz, who made his first appearance as an author 
about thirty years after the death of his mas- 
ter)' — thus, tlie same chain embraces the phy- 
sical and moral worlds, binds the past to the 
present, the present to the future, the futuie to 
eternity." 

" That wisdom which has ordained the ex- 
istence of this chain, has doubtless willed that 
of every link of which it is composed. A Ca- 
ligula is one of those links, and this link is 
of iron : A Marcus Aurelius is another link, 
and this link is of gold. Buth are necessary 



parts of one whole, which could not but exist. 
Shall God then be angry at the sight of the iron 
link ? What absurdity ! God esteems this 
link at its proper value : He sees it in its cause, 
and he approves this cause, for it is good. God 
beholds moral monsters as he beholds physical 
monsters. Happy is the link of gold ! Still more 
happy if he know that he is only fortunate.^ He 
has attained the highest degree of moral perfec- 
tion, and is nevertheless without pride, knowing 
that what he is, is the necessary result of the 
place which he must occupy in the chain." 

" The gospel is the allegorical exposition of 
this system ; the simile of the potter is its sum- 
mary."* (Bonnet, T. VIH. pp. 237, 238.) 

In what essential respect does this system 
differ from that of Spinoza? Is it not even 
more dangerous in its practical tendency, in 
consequence of the liigh strain of mystical devo- 
tion by which it is exalted ?* 

This objection, however, does not apply to 
the quotations which follow. They exhibit, 
without any colourings of imagination or of en- 
thusiasm, the scheme of necessity pushed to the 
remotest and most alarming conclusions which 
it appeared to Clarke to involve ; and as they 
express the serious and avowed creed of two of 
our contemporaries (both of them men of dis- 
tinguished talents), may be regarded as a proof, 
that the zeal displayed by Clarke against the 



' Preface to tlie folio ed. of Clarke's Works — The vital importance which Clarke attached to this question, has given 
to the concluding paragraphs of his remarks on Collins, an earnestness and a solemnity of which there are not many instances 
in his writings. These paragraphs cannot be too strongly recommended to the attention of those well-meaning persons, 
who, in our o(vn times, have come forward as the apostles of Dr Priestley's " great and glorious Doctrine of Philosophical 
Necessity." 

' Charles Bonnet, bom 1720, died 1793. 

• The words in the original are, " Heureux le chainon d'or ! plus heurciix encore, s'il sail qu'il n'est <]u' hcurcux." The 
double meaning o{ hcurcux, if it render the expression less logically precise, gives it at least an epigrammatic turn, which 
cannot be preserved in our language. 

• See Note O O. 

• Among the various forms which religious enthusiasm assumes, there is a certain prostration of the mind, which, under 
the specious disguise of a deep humility, aims at exalting the Divine perfections, by annihilating all the powers which 
belong to Human Nature. " Nothing is more usual for fervent devotion (says Sir James Mackintosh, in speaking of 
some theories current among the Hindoos), than to dwell so long and so warmly on the meanness and worthlessness of 
created things, and on the all-suiliciency of the Supreme Being, that it slides insensibly from comparative to absolute lan- 
guage, and in the eagerness of its zeal to magnify the Deity seems to annihilate everything else." — (See Philosophy of 
Ute Human 2W111I, Vol. II. p. 529, 2d ed.) 

This excellent observation may serve to account for the zeal displayed by Bonnet, and many other devout men, in fa- 
vour of the Scheme of Necessity. " We have nothing (they frequently and justly remind us) but what we have re- 
ceived." — But the question here is simply a matter of fact, whether we have or have not received from God the gift of 
Free Will ; and the only argument, it must be remembered, which they have yet been able to advance for the nega- 
tive proposition, is, that this gift was impots'Mc, even for the power of God ; nay, the same argument which annmi- 
lates the power of Man, anniliilates that of God also, and subjects him, as well as all his creatures, to the control of 
causes which he is unable to resist. So completely does this scheme defeat the pious views in which it has sometimes 
originated. — I say sometimes ; for the very s.inie argument against the liberty of the Will is employed by Spinoza, ac 
cording to whom the free-agencr of man involves the absurd supposition of an impcrium in imjocrio in the universe.^ 
( Tradai. Polit. Cap. II. % 0) 



150 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



metaphysical principles which led ultimately to 
fSuch results, was not so unfounded as some 
worthy and ahle inquii-ers have supposed. 

May I be permitted to observe farther on 
this head, that, as one of these writers spent his 
life in the pay of a German prince, and as the 
other was the favourite philosopher of another 
sovereign, still more illustrious, the sentiments 
which they were so anxious to proclaim to the 
world, may be presumed to have been not very 
offensive, in their judgments, to the ears of their 
protectors ? 

" All that is must be (says the Baron de 
Grimm, addressing himself to the Duke of Saxe- 
Gotha) — all that is must be, even because it 
is ; this is the only sound philosophy ; as long 
as we do not know this universe a priori (as 
they say in the schools), ALL IS necessity.^ 
Liberty is a word without meaning, as you 
shall see in the letter of M. Diderot." 

The following passage is extracted from Di- 
derot's letter here referred to : 

" I am now, my dear friend, going to quit 
the tone of a preacher, to take, if I can, that of 
a philosopher. Examine it narrowly, and you 
will see that the word Liberty is a word devoid 
of meaning ; * that there are not, and that there 
cannot be free beings ; that we are only what 
accords ivith the general order, with our organi- 
zation, our education, and the chain of events. 
These dispose of us iuAdncibly. We can no 
more conceive a being acting without a motive, 
than we can one of the arms of a balance acting 
without a .weight. The motive is always exte- 
rior and foreign, fastened upon its by some 
cause distinct from oiirselves. What deceives 
us, is the prodigious variety of our actions, 
joined to the habit which we catch at our birth, 
of confounding the voluntary and the free. We 
have been so often praised and blamed, and 



have so often praised and blamed others, that 
we contract an inveterate prejudice of believing 
that we and they will and act freely. But if there 
is no liberty, there is no action that merits either 
praise or blame; neither ■x'ice nor virtue, no- 
thing that ought either to be rewarded or punish- 
ed. Wliat then is the distinction among men ? 
The doing of good and the doing of ill ! The 
doer of ill is one who must be destroyed, not 
punished. Tlie doer of good is lucky, not vir- 
tuous. But though neither the doer of good or 
of ill he free, man is nevertheless a being to 
be modified ; it is for this reason the doer of ill 
shoidd be destroyed upon the scaffold. From 
thence the good effects of education, of plea- 
sure, of grief, of grandeur, of poverty, &c. ; 
from thence a philosophy full of pity, strongly 
attached to the good, nor more angry with the 
wicked, than with the whirlwind which fills 
one's eyes with dust. Strictly speaking, there 
is but one sort of causes, that is, physical 
causes. There is but one sort of necessity, 
which is the same for all beings. This is what 
reconciles me to humankind : it is for this rea- 
son I exhorted you to philanthropy. Adopt 
these principles if you think them good, or show 
me that they are bad. If you adopt them, 
they will reconcile you too with others and 
with yoiu-self : you will neither be pleased nor 
angry with yourself for being what you are. 
Reproach others for nothing, and repent of 
nothing ; this is the first step to wisdom. Be- 
sides this, all is prejudice and false philosophy."* 
The prevalence of the principles h ere so earnest- 
ly inculcated among the higher orders in France, 
at a period somewhat later in the history of the 
monarchy, may be judged of from the occasion- 
al allusions to them in the dramatic pieces then 
cliiefly in request at Paris. In the Mariage de 
Figaro (the popularity of which was quite un- 



' The logical inference ought undoubtedly to have been, " as long as we know nothing of the universe o priori, we 
are not entitled to say of anything that it either is, or is not, necessary." 

' Does not this remark of Diderot apply with infinitely greater force to the word nccessiit/, as employed in this con- 
troversy ? 

' Nearly to the same purpose, we are told by BIr Belsham, that " the fallacious feeling of remorse is superseded by the doc- 
trine of necessity." — {Elcm. p. 284.) And again, " Bcmorse supposes free will. It is of little or no use in moral disci- 
pline. In a degree, it is even pernicious." — (Ibid. p. 40G.) 

Nor does the opinion of Hartley seem to have been different. " The doctrine of Necessity has a tendency to abate all 
resentment against men. Since all they do against us is by the appointment of God, it is rebelHou against biro to be offend- 
ed with them." 

for the originals of the quotations from Grimm and Diderot, see Note P P. 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



151 



exampled), the hero of the piece, an intriguing 
valet in the service of a Spanish courtier, is in- 
troduced as thus moralising, in a soliloquy on 
his own free-agency and personal identity. Such 
an exhihition upon the English stage would have 
been universally censored as out of character and 
extravagant, or rather, would have been com- 
pletely unintelligible to tlie crowds by which our 
theatres are filled. 

" Oh bisarre suite d'evenemens ! Comment 
cela m'a-t-il arrive ? Pourquoi ces choses et non 
pas d'autres ? Qui les a fixees snr ma tete ? 
Force de parcourir la route ou je suis entre sans 
le savoir, comme j'en sortirai sans le vouloir, je 
I'ai jonchee d'autant de fleurs que ma gaiete me 
la permit : encore je dis vm gaiete, sans savoir 
si elle est a moi plus que le reste, ni meme qui 
est ce moi dont je m'occupe." 

That tliis soliloquy, though put into the mouth 
of Figaro, was meant as a picture of the philo- 



sophical jargon at that time afiFectcd by courtiers 
and men of the world, will not be doubted by 
those who have attended to the importance of 
the roUes commonly assigned to confidential valets 
in French comedies, and to the habits of fami- 
liarity in which they are always represented as 
living with their masters. The sentiments which 
they are made to utter may, accordingly, be 
safely considered as but an echo of the lessons 
which they have learned from their superiors. ^ 

My anxiety to state, without any interruption, 
my remarks on some of the most important 
questions to which the attention of the public 
was called by the speculations of Locke, of 
Leibnitz, of Newton, and of Clarke, has led me, 
in various instances, to depart from the strict 
order of Chronologj^. It is time for me, how- 
ever, now to pause, and, before I proceed far- 
ther, to supply a few chasms in the foregoing 
sketch. 



SECTION IV. 

Of some Autltors who have contributed, by their Critical or Historical Writings, to diffuse a Taste for 
Metaphysical Studies. — Bayle — Fontenelle — Addison. Metaphysical Works of Berkeley. 



Among the many eminent persons who were 
eitljer driven from France, or who went into 
voluntary exile, in consequence of the revoca- 
tion of the edict of Nantz, the most illustrious by 
fai' was Bayle;' who, fixing his residence in 
Holland, and availing himself, to the utmost ex- 
tent, of the religious toleration then enjoyed in 
that country, diffused from thence, over Europe, 



a greater mass of accurate and curious informa- 
tion, accompanied by a more splendid display of 
acute and lively criticism, than had ever before 
come from the pen of a single individual.' 
Happy ! if he had been able to restrain ^\dthin 
due bounds his passion for sceptical and licenti- 
ous discussion, and to respect the feelings of the 
wise and good, on topics connected with religion 



■* A reflection of A'oltaire's on the writings of Spinoza may, I think, be here quoted without impropriety. " "\'ou3 ^te» 
tres contiis, liaruc Spinoza, mais etes %-ou3 aiissi dangcreux qu'on le (lit ? Je soutiens que non, et ma raison c'est que vous 
C'tcs coiifus, que vous avez c'crit en mauvais I,atin, ct qu'il n"y a pas <lix personnes en Kurope qui vous lisent d'un bout & 
I'autre. Quel est I'auteur dangereux ? C'est cclui qui est lu par les Obifs de la Cour, et par les Dames." — (Queit. tur 
PEncycUip. Art. Dicu.) 

Had Voltaire kept this last remark steadily in view in his own writings, how many of those pages would he have cancel- 
led which he has given to the world ! 

• Born in 1(!47, died 1705. 

' The erudition of Bayle is greatly undervalued by his antagonist Le Clerc. " Toutes les lumiferes phUosophiques de 
M. Bayle consistoient en quelque peu de Peripatetisme, qu'il avoit appris des Jt^suites de Toulouse, et un peu de Cartc'sia- 
nisme, qu'il n'avoit jamais approfbndi." — (Bib. C/iaitif, Tom. XII. p. 106.) 

In the judgment of Gibbon, " Bayle's learning was chiefly confined to the Latin authors ; and he had more of a certain 
multifarious reading than of real erudition. Le Clerc, his great antagonist, was as superior to him in that respect as inferior 
in every other. "^-(i.'j(rui(i Jiuisomits dc nut Lecturci, p. 62.) 



152 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



and mo^alitJ^ But, in the peculiar circum- 
stances in which he was educated, combined 
with the seducing profession of a literary ad- 
venturer, to which his hard fortune condemned 
him, such a spirit of moderation was leather to 
be wished than expected. 

Wlicn Bayle first appeared as an author, the 
opinions of the learned still continued to be di- 
vided between Aristotle and Descartes. A con- 
siderable number leaned, in secret, to the meta- 
physical creed of Spinoza and of Hobbes ; whUe 
the clergy of the Roman Catholic and the Pro- 
testant churches, instead of uniting their efforts 
in defence of those truths which they professed 
in common, wasted their strength against each 
other in fruitless disputes and recriminations. 

In the midst of these controversies, Bayle, 
keeping aloof as far as possible from all the 
parties, indulged his sceptical and ironical hu- 
mour at the common expence of the various 
combatants. Unattached himself to any sys- 
tem, or, to speak more correctly, unfixed in his 
opinions on the most fundamental questions, he 
did not prosecute any particular study with 
sufficient perseverance to add materially to the 
stock of useful knowledge. The influence, how- 
ever, of his writings on the taste and ^dews of 
speculative men of all persuasions, has been so 
great, as to mark him out as one of the most 
conspicuous characters of his age ; and I shall 
accordingly devote to him a larger space than 
may, at first sight, appear due to an author who 
has distinguished himself only by the extent of 
liis historical researches, and by the sagacity and 
subtlety of his critical disquisitions. 

We are informed by Bayle liimself, that his 
favourite authors, during his youth, were Plu- 
tarch and Montaigne: and from them, it has 
been .alleged by some of his biographers, he im- 
bibed his first lessons of scepticism. In what 
manner the first of these writers shoidd have 
contributed to inspire him with this temper of 



mind, is not very obvious. Tliere is certainly 
no heathen philosopher or historian whose mo- 
rality is more pure or elevated ; and none who 
has drawn the line between superstition and re- 
ligion with a nicer hand. ' Pope has with per- 
fect truth said of him, that " he abounds more 
in strokes of good nature than any other au- 
thor;" to which it may be added, that he abounds 
also in touches of simple and exquisite patlios, 
seldom to be met with among the greatest paint- 
ers of antiquity. In all these respects what a 
contrast does Bayle present to Plutarch ! 

Considering the share which Bayle ascribes 
to Montaigne's Essaj's in forming his literary 
taste, it is curious, that there is no separate 
article allotted to Montaigne in the Historical 
and Critical Dictionary. What is still more 
curious, there is more than one reference to 
this article, as if it actually existed ; without 
any explanation of the omission (as far as I recol- 
lect) from the author or the publisher of the work. 
Some A'ery interesting particulars, however, con- 
cerning Montaigne's life and wi-itings, are scat- 
tered over the Dictionary, in the notices of other 
persons, with whom his name appeared to Bayle 
to have a sufficient connection to furnish an 
apolog}'^ for a short episode. 

It does not seem to me a very improbable 
conjecture, that Bayle had intended, and per- 
haps attempted, to wi-ite an account of Mon- 
taigne ; and that he had experienced gi'cater 
difficulties than he was aware of, in the execu- 
tion of his design. Notwithstanding their com- 
mon tendency to scepticism, no two characters 
were ever more strongly discriminated in their 
most prominent features ; the doubts of the one 
resulting from the singular coldness of his mo- 
ral temperament, combined with a subtlety and 
over-refinement in his habits of thinking, which 
rendered his ingenuitj', acuteness, and erudition, 
more than a match for his good sense and sa- 
gacity; — the indecision of the other partaking 



' See, in particular, his account of the effects produced on the character of Pericles by the sublime lessons of Anaxagoras. 

Plutarch, it is true, had said before Bavle, that atheism is less pernicious than superstition ; but how wide the difference 
between this paradox, as explained and qualified by the Greek pliilosopher, and as interpreted and applied in the Reflection) 
m the Comet ! Mr Addison himself seems to give his sanction to Plutarch's maxim in one of his ])apers on Cheerfulness. 
" An eminent Pagan writer has made a discourse to show, that tiie atheist, who denies a Gud, does him less dishonour than 
the man who owns his being, but, at tlie same time, believes liim to be cruel, hard to please, and terrible to human nature. 
For my own part, says he, I would rather it should be said of me, that there was never any such man as Plutarch, than 
that Plutarch was ill-natured, capricious, and inhuman." — [Spectator, No. 494.) 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



153 



more of the shrewd and soldier-like etourderie of 
Henry IV. when he exclaimed, after hearing 
two lawyers plead on opposite sides of the same 
question, " Fentre St Gris ! il me semble que tous 
ks deux ont raison" 

Independently of Bayle's constitutional bias 
towards scepticism, some other motives, it is 
probable, conspired to induce him, in the com- 
position of his Dictionary, to copy the spirit and 
tone of the old Academic school. On these col- 
lateral motives a strong and not very favourable 
light is thrown by his own candid avowal in 
one of his letters. " In truth (says he to his 
correspondent ]VIinutoli), it ought not to be 
thought strange, that so many persons shovdd 
have inclined to Pyrrhonism ; for of all things 
in the world it is the most convenient. You 
may dispute with impunity against every body 
you meet, without any dread of that vexatious 
argument which is addressed ad hominem. You 
are never afraid of a retort ; for as you announce 
no opinion of your own, you are always ready 
to abandon those of others to the attacks of so- 
phists of every description. In a word, you 
may dispute and jest on all subjects without in- 



curring any danger from the lex talionis."^ It is 
amusing to think, that the Pyrrhonism which 
Bayle himself has here so ingeniously accounted 
for, from motives of conveniency and of literary 
cowardice, should have been mistaken by so 
many of his disciples for the sportive triumph 
of a superior intellect over the weaknesses and 
errors of human reason.* 

The profession of Bayle, wluch made it an 
o))ject to liim to turn to account even the sweep- 
ings of his study, affords an additional explana- 
tion of the indigested mass of heterogeneous and 
inconsistent materials contained in his Dictio- 
nary. Had he adopted any one system exxlusivc- 
ly, his work would have shrunk in its dimen- 
sions into a comparatively narrow compass.' 

^Vlien these different considerations are ma- 
turely weighed, the omission by Bayle of the 
article Montaigne will not be much regretted by 
the admirers of the Essays. It is extremely 
doubtful if Bayle would have been able to seize 
tlie true spirit of ]\Iontaigne's character ; and, 
at any rate, it is not in the delineation of charac- 
ter that Bayle excels. His critical acumen, 
indeed, in the examination of opinions and 



■ " En verilu, il iie faut pas trouver Strange que tant des gens aient donn^ dans le Pyrrlionisme. Car c'est la chose du 
monde le plus commode. Vous pouvez impuni^ment disputer contre tous venans, et sans craindre ces argumens ad hominem, 
qui font quelquefois tant de peine. Vous ne craignez point la rc'torsion ; puisque ne soutenant rien, vous abandonnez de 
bon coeur il tous Ics sophismes et h tous les raisonnemens de la terrc quelque opinion que ce soit. Vous n'c-tes jamais oblig^ 
d'en venir il la dt'l'ensive. Kn un mot, vous eontestez ct vous daubez sur toutes clioses tout votre saoul, sans craindre la 
peine du talion."— COcud. Dlv. de Bui/k; IV. p. 537-) 

' The estimate formed by Warl)urton of IJayle's character, both intellectual and moral, is candid and temperate. " A 
writer whose strength and clearness of reasoning can only be equalled by the gaiety, easiness, and delicacy, of liis wit; who, 
pervading human nature with a glance, struck into tlie province of paradox, as an exercise for tlie restless vigour of his 
mind: wlio, with a soul superior to the sharpest attacks of fortune, and a heart practised to tlie best philosophy, had not 
yet enough of real greatness, to overcome that last I'oible of sujierior geniuses, the temptation of honour, which the acade- 
mical exercise of wit is supposed to bring to its [)rofessors. — (Divine Lrguliim. ) 

If there be anything objectionable in this panegvric, it is tlie luupialiticd praise bestowed on Bayle's tri/, which, 
though it seldom fails in copiousness, in poignancy, or in that grave argumentative irony, by which it is still more characte- 
ristically marked, is commonly as deficient in guietii and ddicacy as that of Warburton himself. 

Leibnitz seems perfectly to have entered into the peculiar temper of his adversary Bayle, when he said of him, that 
" the only way to make Bayle write usefully, would be to attack him wlien he advances propositions that are sound and 
true; and to abstain from attacking him, when he says anything false or pernicious." 

" Le vrai moyen de faire c'crire utilement M. Bayle, ce seroit de Tattacpier, lorsqu'il t'crit des bonnes ehoses et vraies, 
car ce seroit le moyen de le piquer pour continuer. Au lieu qu'il ne faudroit point I'attaquer quand il en dil de mauvaises, 
car cela I'engagera ^ en dire d'autres aussi mauvaises pour soutenir les premit^res." — (Tom. VI p. 273.) 

Leibnitx elsewhere says of him : Ubi bene, nemo melius. — (Toiii. I. p. 257.) 

" " The inequality of Bayle's voUiminous works (says Gibbon) is explained by his alternately writing for himself, for 
the bookseller, and for jiosterity ; and if a severe critic would reduce him to a single folio, that relic, like the books of the 
Sybils, would become still more valuable." — (CJibbon's Mem. p. 30.) 

Mr (iibbon observes in another place, that, " if Bayle wrote his Dictionari/ to empty the various collections he had made, 
without any particular design, he could not have chosen a better plan. It permitted him everything, and obliged him to 
nothing. i5y the double freedom of a Dictionary and of Notes, he could pitch on what articles he pleased, and say what 
he pleased on those articles." — ( E.rtraits Raisonnis de mes Lceliircs, p. G4.) 

" How couhl such a genius as Bayle," says the same author, " employ three or four pages, and a great apparatus of 
learning, to examine whether Acliilies was fed with marrow only ; whether it was the marrow of lions and stags, or that 
oflionsonly ?" &c — r/6W. p. CO.) 

For a long and interesting passage with respect to Bayle's history and character, see Gibbon's ^[emoirs, &c. Vol. I. 
pp. •!!), 50, 51. 

DISS. 1. PART. II. V 



154 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



arguments, is unrivalled ; but Lis portraits of 
persons commonly exhibit only the coarser linea- 
ments which obtrude themselves on the senses 
of ordinary observers ; and seldom, if ever, 
evince that discriminating and divining eye, or 
that sympathetic penetration into the retire- 
ments of the heart, which lend to every touch 
of a master artist, the never-to-be-mistaken ex- 
pression of truth and nature. 

It furnishes some apology for the unsettled 
state of Bayle's opinions, that his habits of 
thinking were formed prior to the discoveries of 
the Newtonian School. Neither the vortices of 
Descartes, nor the monads and pre-established 
harmony of Leibnitz, were well calculated to 
inspire liim with confidence in the powers of the 
human understanding ; nor does he seem to have 
been led, either by taste or by genius, to the study 
of those exacter sciences in which Kepler, Galileo, 
and others, had, in the preceding age, made such 
splendid advances. In Geometry he never pro- 
ceeded beyond a few of the elementary proposi- 
tions ; and it is even said (although I apprehend 
with little probability) that his farther progress 
was stopped by some defect in his intellectual 
powers, which disqualified him for the successful 
prosecution of the study. 

It is not unworthy of notice, that Bayle was 
the son of a Calvinist minister, and was destin- 
ed by his father for his own profession; that 



during the course of his education in a college 
of Jesuits he was conA'erted to the Homan Ca- 
tholic persuasion ;^ and that finally he went to 
Geneva, where, if he was not recalled to the 
Protestant faith, he was at least most thorough- 
ly reclaimed from the errors of Popery." 

To these early fluctuations in his religious 
creed, may be ascribed his singularly accurate 
knowledge of controversial theology, and of the 
lives and tenets of the most distinguished di%ineB 
of both churches ; — a knowledge much more 
minute than a person of his talents could well be 
supposed to accumidate from the mere impulse 
of literary curiosity. In these respects he ex- 
hibits a striking resemblance to the historian of 
the Decline and Fall of the Boman Empire : Nor 
is the parallel between them less exact in the 
similar effects produced on their minds, by the 
polemical cast of their juvenile studies. Their 
common propensity to indulge in indecency is 
not so easily explicable. In neither does it seem 
to have originated in the habits of a dissolute 
youth ; but in the wantonness of a polluted and 
distempered imagination. Bayle, it is well 
knowTi, led the life of an anchoret;' and the li- 
centiousness of his pen is, on that very account, 
the more reprehensible. But, everything con- 
sidered, the gi-ossness of Gibbon is certainly the 
more unaccountable, and perhaps the more un- 
pardonable of the two.* 



' " For the benefit of education, the Protestants were tempted to risk their children in the Catholic Unirersities ; and 
in the 22d year of his age young Bayle was seduced by the arts and arguments of the Jesuits of Thoulouse. He remained 
about seventeen months in their hands a voluntary captive." (Gibbon's Misc. Works, Vol. I. p. 49.) 

- Accoriling to Gibbon, " the piety of Bayle was offended by the excessive worship of creatures ; and the study of physict 
convinced him of the impossibility of transubstantiation, which is abundantly refuted bv the testimonv of our senses." — 
(Ibid. p. 49.) ' ' 

The same author, speaking of his own conversion from Popery, observes (after allowing to his Preceptor Mr Pavillard 
" a handsome share" of the honour), "that it was principally effected by his private reflections;" adding the following 
very curious acknowledgment: " I still remember my soUtary transport at the discovery of a philosophical argument against 
the doctrine of Transulstantiation ; that the text of Scripture, which seems to inculcate the real presence, is attested only 
by a single sense — our sight ; while the real presence itself is disproved by three of our senses — the sight, the touch, and 
the taste." — (Hid. p. 58.) That this " philosophical argument" should have had any influence on the mind of Gibbon, even 
at the early period of life when he made " the discovery," would appear highly improbable, if the fact were not attested 
by himself; but as for Bayle, whose logical acumen was of a far harder and keener edge, it seems quite impossible to con. 
ceive, " that the study of physics" was at all necessary to o])en his eyes to the absurdity of the real presence ; or that he 
would not at once have perceived the futility of appealing to our senses or to our reason, against an article of faith which 
professedly disclaims the authority of both. 

' " Chaste dans ses discours, grave dans ses discours, sobre dans ses alimens, austere dans son genre de vie." — (Portrait 
de Bayle par JI. Sauhin, dans son Sermon sur I'accord de la Religion avec la Politique.) 

* Injustice to Bayl^.and also to Gibbon, it should be remembered, that over tlie most offensive passages in their works 
they have drawn the veil of the learned languages. It was reserved for the translators of the Historical and Critical Die. 
tionarii to tear this veil asunder, and to expose the indelicacy of their author to every curious eye. It is impossible to ob- 
serve the patient industry and fidelity with which they have executed this part of their task without feelings of indignation 
and disgust. For such an outrage on taste and decorum, their tedious and feeble attacks on the JIanicheisin of Bayle offer 
but a poor compensiition. Of all Bayle's suspected heresies, it was perhaps that which stood the least in need of a serious 
refutation; and, if the case had been otherwise, their incompetency to contend with such an ad verssry would have only 
injured the cause which they professed to defend. 



I 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



155 



On the mischievous tendency of Bayle's work 
to unsettle the principles of superficial readers, 
and, what is worse, to damp the moral enthusi- 
asm of youth, by shaking their faith in the re- 
ality of virtue, it would be superfluous to enlarge. 
The fact is indisputable, and is admitted even by 
his most partial admirers. It may not be equally 
useless to remark the benefits which (whether 
foreseen or not by tlic author, is of little conse- 
quence) haA'e actually resulted to literature from 
his indefatigable labours. One thing will, I ap- 
prehend, be very generally granted in his favour, 
that, if he has taught men to suspend their judg- 
ment, he has taught them also to think and to 
reason for themselves ; a lesson which appeared 
to a late philosophical divine of so great impor- 
tance, as to suggest to him a doubt, whether it 
would not be better for authors to state nothing 
but premises, and to leave to their readers the 
task of forming their own conclusions.^ Nor 
can Bayle be candidly accused of often discover- 
ing a partiality for any particular sect of philo- 
sophers. He opposes Spinoza and Hobbes with 
the same spirit and ability, and apparently with 
the same good fiiith, with which he controverts 
the doctrines of Anaxagoras and of Plato. 
Even the ancient sceptics, for whose mode of 
philosophising he might be supposed to have felt 
some degree of tenderness, are treated with as 
little ceremony as the most extravagant of the 
dogmatists. He has been often accused of a 
leaning to the most absurd of all systems, that 
of the Manicheans ; and it must be owned, that 
there is none in defence of which he has so often 



and so ably* exerted his talents ; but it is easy 
to perceive, that, when he does so, it is not from 
any serious faith which he attaches to it (per- 
haps the contrary supposition would be nearer 
the truth), but from the peculiarly ample field 
which it opened for the display of his contro- 
versial subtlety, and of his inexhaustible stores 
of miscellaneous information.' In one passage 
he has pronounced with a tone of decision which 
he seldom assumes, that " it is absurd, indefen- 
sible, and inconsistent with the regularity and 
order of the universe ; that the arguments in 
favour of it are liable to be retorted ; and that, 
granting it to be true, it would afford no solu- 
tion of the difficulties in question."* The ap- 
parent zeal with which, on various occasions, he 
has taken up its defence, may, I think, be reason- 
ably accounted for, by the favourable opportu- 
nity it afforded him of measuring his logical 
powers with those of Leibnitz.^ 

To these considerations it may be added, that, 
in consequence of the progress of the sciences 
since Bayle's time, the unlimited scepticism 
commonly, and perhaps justly imputed to him, 
is much less likely to mislead than it was a cen- 
tury ago ; while the value of his researches, and 
of his critical reflections, becomes every day 
more conspicuous, in proportion as more en- 
larged views of nature, and of human affairs, 
enable us to combine together that mass of 
rich but indigested materials, in the compilation 
of which his own opinions and principles seem 
to have been totally lost. Neither comprehen- 
sion, indeed, nor generalisation, nor metaphysical 



• See the preface to Bishop Butler's Sermons. 

• Particularly iji the article entitled Paulicians. 

» One of tlie earliest as well as the ablest of those who undertook a reply to the passages in Bayle which seem to favour 
Manichelsm, candidly acquits him of any serious design to recommend that sj'stem to his readers. " En r^pondant aux 
objections Manichdennes, je ne pretends faire aucun tort Si JI. Bayle : que je ne soup(;onne niillement de Ics favoriser. Je 
suis persuade qu'il n'a pris la libertL^ philosophique de dire, en bien des rencontres, le pour et le contre, sans ritn dissimu- 
ler, que pour donner de I'exercice h ceux qui entendent Ics matieres qu'il traite, et non pour favoriser ceux dont il explique 
les raisons." — (Purrliasiuna, on I'cnsiis Dhrrscs, p. 302, par I\I. I,E Clebc. Amsterdam, 1099.) 

* See the illustration upon the Sceptics at the end of the Dictionary-. 

* This supposition may be thought inconsistent with the well known fact, that the Theodici'c of Leibnitz was not pub- 
lished till alter the death of Bayle. But it must be recollected, that B.iyle had previously entered the lists with Leibnitz 
in the article Jiorariiis, where ho had urged some very acute and forcible objections against tlic scheme of preHSfablislicd har. 
mony ; a scheme which leads so naturally and obviously to that of optimism, that it was not difficult to foresee what ground 
Leibnitz was likely to take in defending his principles. The great aim of Bayle seems to have been to provoke Leibnitz 
to unfold the whole of his system and of its necessary consequences ; well knowing what advantages in the management of 
Buch a controversy would be on tlie side of the ass.iilant. 

The tril)ule paid by Leibnitz to the memory of his illustrious antagonist deserves to be quoted. " Sperandum est, 
Bcclium luminibus illis nunc circumdari, quod terris negutum est : cum credibile sit, bonam voluntatem ei nequaquam 
defuisse." 

" Candidus insuetum miratur linicn Olympi, 

Sub pedibusque videt nubes et sidera Daphnis." 



156 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



depth,' are to be numbered among the cbarac- 
teristlcal attributes of his genius. Far less docs 
lie ever anticipate, by the moral lights of the 
soul, the slow and hesitating decisions of the un- 
derstanding ; or touch with a privUeged hand 
those mysterious chords to which all the social 
s}Tiipathies of our frame are responsive. Had 
his ambition, however, been more exalted, or his 
philanthropy more warm and diffusive, he would 
probably have attempted less than he actually 
accomplished ; nor would he have stooped to en- 
joy that undisputed pre-eminence which the 
public voice has now unanimously assigned him, 
among those inestimable though often ill requit- 
ed authors, whom Johnson has called " the 
pioneers of literature." 

The suspense of judgment which Bayle's 
Dictionary inspires with respect to facts, is, per- 
haps, still more useful than that which it en- 
courages in matters of abstract reasoning. Fon- 
tenelle certainly went much too far, when he 
said of history, that it was only a collection of 
Fables Convemies ; — a most significant and happy 
phi-ase, to which I am sorry that I cannot do 
justice in an English version. But though Fon- 
tenelle pushed his maxim to an extreme, there 
is yet a great deal of important truth in the re- 
mai'k ; and of this I believe every person's con- 
viction will be stronger, in proportion as his 
knowledge of men and of books is profound and 
extensive. ' 

Of the various lessons of historical scepticism 
to be learned from Bayle, there is none more 
practically valuable (more especially in such 
revolutionary times as we have witnessed) than 
that which relates to the biographical portraits 
of distinguished persons, when drawn by their 
theological and political opponents. In illustra- 



tion of this, I have only to refer to the copious 
and instructive extracts which he has produced 
from Roman Catholic writers, concerning the 
lives, and still more concerning the deaths, of 
Luther, Knox,' Buchanan, and various other 
leaders or partizans of the Reformation. It 
would be impossible for any well-informed Pro- 
testant to read these extracts, ■ndthout indulging 
a smile at theii" incredible absurdity, if every 
feeling of Jevity were not lost in a sentiment of 
deep indignation at the effrontery and falsehood 
of their authors. In stating this observation, I 
have taken my examples from Roman Catholic 
libellers, without any illiberal prejudices against 
the members of that church. The injustice done 
by Protestants to some of the conscientious de- 
fenders of the old faith has been, in all probabi- 
lity, equally great ; but this we have no oppor- 
tunity of ascertaining here, by the same direct 
e\'idence to which we can fortunately appeal, in 
vindication of the three characters mentioned 
abo^'e. With the history of two of them every 
person in this country is fully acquainted ; and 
I have purposely selected them in preference to 
others, as theii- names alone are sufficient to cover 
with disgrace the memory of their calumniators.* 

A few years before the death of Bayle, Fon- 
tenelle began to attract the notice of Europe.' 
I class them together on account of the mighty 
influence of both on the literary taste of their 
contemporaries ; an influence in neither case 
founded on any claims to original genius, or to 
important improvements ; but on the attractions 
which they possessed in common, though in 
very different ways, as popular wiiters ; and on 
the easy and agreeable access which their works 
opened to the opinions and speculations of the 



' I speak of that metaphysical depth wbich is the exclusive result of what Newton called patient thinking. In logical 
quickness, and metaphysical subtlety, Bayle has never been surpassed. 

' Jlontesquieu has expressed himself on this subject, in nearly as strong terms as Fontenelle. " Les Histoires sont 
des faits faux compose's sur des faits vrais, ou bien hl'occasion des vrais." — (Pcnseo Diversea de Mojjtesquiec, Tom. V. 
de ses OJuvres. Ed. de Paris, 1818.) 

^ See Note QQ. 

* Of all Bayle's works, " the most useful and the least sceptical," according to Gibbon, " is his Commcntalre PliiloK- 
pliiquc on these words of the Gospel, Compel them to come in." 

The great object of this commentary is to establish the general principles of Toleration, and to remonstrate with the 
members of Protestant churches on the inconsistency of their refusing to those they esteem heretics, the same indulgence 
which they claim for themselves in Catholic countries. The work is diffuse and rambling, like all Bayle's compositions ; 
but the matter is excellent, and well deserves the praise ^^ liich Gibbon has bestowed on it. 

^ Bayle died in 1706. Fontenelle's first work in prose (the Dialogues of the Dead) was published as early as 1C83, and 
was quickly followed by his Convcrsaiioiis on the Plurality of Worlds. 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



157 



learned. Nor do I depart so far as might at 
first be supposed, from the order of chronology, 
in passing from tlie one to the other. For though 
Fontenelle survived almost to our own times 
(having very nearly completed a century at the 
time of his death), the interval between his 
birth and that of Baylc was only ten years, and 
he had actually published several volumes, both 
in prose and verse, before the Dictionary of Bayle 
appeared. 

But my chief reason for connecting Fonte- 
nelle rather witli the contemporaries of his youth 
than with those of his old age is, that, during 
the latter part of liis life, he was left far behind 
in his philosophical creed (for he never renoun- 
ced his faith as a Cartesian)' by those very 
pupils to whose minds he had given so power- 
ful an impulse, and whom he had so long taught 
by his example, the art (till then unknown in 
modern times) of blending the truths of the 
severer sciences with the lights and graces of 
eloquence. Even this eloquence, once so much 
admired, had ceased, before his death, to be re- 
garded as a model, and was fast gi\'ing way to 
the pui-er and more manly taste in writing, re- 
commended by the precepts, and exemplified in 
the historical compositions of Voltaire. 

Fontenelle was a ne))hew of the great Cor- 
neillc ; but his genius was, in many respects, 
very strongly contrasted with that of the author 
of the Cid. Of this he has himself enabled us 
to judge by the feeble and unsuccessful attempts 
in dramatic poetry, by which he was fii'st known 
to the world. In these, indeed, as in all his 
productions, there is an abundance of ingenu- 
ity, of elegance, and of courtly refinement ; but 
not the faintest vestige of the mens divinior, or 
of that sympathy with the higher and nobler 
passions which enabled Corneille to rc-auimate 



and to reproduce on the stage the heroes of an- 
cient Rome. The circumstance, however, which 
more peculiarly marks and distinguishes hia 
writings, is the French moidd in which education 
and habit seem to have recast all the original 
features of his mind ; — identifying, at the same 
time, so perfectly the impressions of art with the 
workmanship of nature, that one would think 
the PARISIAN, as well as the man, had started 
fresh and finished from her creative hand. Even 
in his Conversations mi the Plurality of Worlds, 
the dry discussions with the Marchioness about 
the now forgotten vortices of Descartes, are en- 
livened throughout by a never-failing spirit of 
light and national gallantry, which will for ever 
render them an amusing picture of the manners of 
the times, and of the character of the author. The 
gallantry, it must be owned, is often strained 
and affected ; but the affectation sits so well on 
Fontenelle, that he would appear less easy and 
graceful without it. 

The only other production of Fontenelle's 
youth which deserves to be noticed is his History 
of Oracles ; a work of which the aim was, to 
combat the popular belief that the oracles of an- 
tiquity were uttered by evil spirits, and that all 
these spirits became dumb at the moment of the 
Christian sera. To this work Fontenelle con- 
tributed little more than the agreeable and live- 
ly form in which he gave it to the world ; the 
ciiief materials being derived from a dull and 
prolix dissertation on the same subject, by a 
learned Dutchman. The publication excited a 
keen opposition among divines, both Catholic 
and Protestant ; and, in particular, gave occa- 
sion to a very angry, and, it is said, not con- 
temptible criticism, from a member of the So- 
ciety of Jesuits.' It is mentioned by La Harpe, 
as an illustration of tho rapid change in men's 



' Excepting on a few metaphysical points. The chief of these were, the question conceniin;; the orifjin of our ideas, 
and that relating to the nature of the lower animals. On (lie former of these subjects he has said explicitly : " 1,'An- 
cienne Philosophie n'a pas toujours eu tort. EUe a soutenu que tout ce qui e'toit dans I'csprit avoit passi par let sens, et 
nous n'aurions pas mal fait de conservcr cela d'elle." — (Fragment of un tutcndcd Treatise on the Human Mind.) On another ■ 
occasion, he states his own opinion on this point, in lancuage coinciding exactly with that of Gassendi. " A force d'opc'rer 
sur les nremiJ^res idJes formi'es par les sens, d'y ajouter, d'en rctrancher, de Ics rendre de i)articulieres universelles, d'univer- 
selles plus universelles encore, I'esprit les rend si dilTercntes de ce qu'elles etoient d'abord qu'on a quclquefois peine !v recon- 
nOitre leur origine. Cependant qui voucha prendre le fil et le suivre exactement, retouniera toujours de I'idde la plus 
sublime et la plus dlevee, il quelque idJe sensible et grossiire." 

' To this criticism, the only reply made by I'ontenello was a single sentence, which he addressed to a Jcmrnalist who 
Imd urged him to take up arms in liis own defence. " Je laissersi mon censeur jouir en paix de son triomphe; je consens 
que le dial)le ait <?tc' prophi^te, puiscpie le .Tesuite le veut, et qu'il croit eela plus orthodoxc." — (U'Alembeut, Etoge de la 
Matte.) AVe are told by D'Alerabert, tliat the silence of Fontenelle, on this occasion, was owing to the advice of I>a 



158 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



opinions which took place during Fontenelle's 
life, that a hook which, in his youth, was cen- 
sured for its impiety, was regarded hefore liis 
death as a proof of liis respect for religion. 

The most solid hasis of Fontenelle's fame is 
his History of the Academy of Sciences, and his 
Eloges of the Academicians. Both of these works, 
hut more especially the latter, possess, in an 
eminent degi-ee, all the charms of his former 
puhlications, and are wi'itten in a much simpler 
and hetter taste than any of the others. The 
materials, hesides, are of inestimable value, as 
succinct and authentic records of one of the most 
memorable periods in the history of the human 
mind ; and are distinguished by a rare imparti- 
ality towards the illustrious dead, of all coun- 
tries, and of all persuasions. The philosophi- 
cal reflections, too, which the author has most 
skilfully interwoven with his literary details, 
discover a depth and justness of understanding 
far beyond the promise of his juvenile Essays ; 
and afford many proofs of the soundness of his 
logical ^news, ' as well as of his acute and fine 
discrimination of the varieties and shades of 
character, both intellectual and moral. 

The chief and distinguishing merit of Fonte- 
nelle, as the historian of the Academy, is the 
happy facility with which he adapts the most 
abstruse and refined speculations to the compre- 
hension of ordinary readers. Nor is this excel- 
lence purchased by any sacrifice of scientific 
precision. What he aims at is notliing more 



than an outline ; but this outline is always exe- 
cuted with the firm and exact hand of a master. 
" Wlien employed in composition (he has some- 
where said) my first concern is to be certain 
that I myself understand what I am about to 
write ;" and on the utility of this practice every 
page of his Historical Memoirs may serve as a 
comment. ' 

As a writer of Eloges, he has not been equal- 
led (if I may be allowed to hazard my own opi- 
nion) by any of his countrymen. Some of those, 
indeed, by D'Alembert and by Condorcet, ma- 
nifest powers of a far higher order than belonged 
to Fontenelle ; but neither of these writers pos- 
sessed Fontenelle's incommunicable art of in- 
teresting the curiosity and the feelings of his 
readers in the fortunes of every individual whom 
he honoured by his notice. In this art it is not 
improbable that they might have succeeded bet- 
ter had they imitated Fontenelle's self-denial in 
sacrificing the fleeting praise of brilliant colour- 
ing, to the fidelity and lasting efiect of their 
portraits ; a self-denial which in him was the 
more meritorious, as his great ambition plainly 
was to unite the reputation of a bel-esprit with 
that of a philosopher. A justly celebrated aca- 
demician of the present times (M. CuATier), who 
has evidently adopted Fontenelle as his 'model, 
has accordingly given an interest and truth to 
his Eloges, which the public had long ceased to 
expect in that species of composition.' 

But the principal charm of Fontenelle's Ehge* 



Motte. " Fontenelle bien tent^ de terrasser son adversaire par la facility qu'il y trouToit, fiit retenu par les avis prudens 
de La Motte ; cet ami lui fit ciaindre de s'ali^ner par sa re'ponse une socie't^ qui s'appeloit Legion, quand on avoit affaire au 
dernier de ses niembres." The advice merits the attention of philosophers in all countries, for the spirit of Jesuitism is not 
confined to the Church of Rome. 

' An instance of this which happens at present to recur to my memory, may serve to illustrate and to confirm the above 
remark. It is unnecessary to point out its coincidence with the views which gave birth to the new nomenclature in 
chemistry. 

" If languages had been the work of philosophers, they might certainly be more easily learned. Philosophers would 
have established everywhere a systematical uniformity, which would have proved a safe and infallible guide ; and the man. 
ner of forming a derivative word, would, as a necessary consequence, have suggested its signification. The uncivilised 
nations, who are the first authors of languages, fell naturally into that notion with respect to certain terminntiona, aU of 
which have some common property or virtue ; but that advantage, unknown to those who had it in their hands, was not 
carried to a sufficient extent." 

' From tliis praise, however, must be excepted, the mysterious jargon in which (after the example of some of his con- 
temporaries) he has indulged himself in speaking of the geometry and calculus of infinites. " Nous le disons avec peine 
(says D'Alembert), et sans vouloir outrager les manes d'un homme ce'lebre qui n'est plus, il n'y a peut-etre point d'ouvraee 
oil Ton trouve des preuves plus fre'quentes de Tabus de la me'taphysiqiie, que dans I'ouvrage tres connu de M. Fontenelle, 
qui a pour litre Elimens de la Geometric de rinfini ; ouvrage dont la lecture est d'autant plus dangereuse aux jeunes g^o- 
metres que Tauteur y prtsente les sophismes avec une sorte d'^lt^gance et de grace, dont le sujet ne paroisaoit pas suscep- 
tible. "—(McfaHiTfj, &c. Tom. V. p. 264.) 

^ D'Alembert, in his ingenious parallel of Fontenelle and La Motte, has made a remark on Fontenelle's style when he 
aims at simplicity, of the .justness of which French critics alone are competent judges. " L'un et I'autreont ^crit en prose 
avec beaucoup de clarte', d'eli^gance, de simplicity meme ; mais La Motte avec une simplicity plus naturelle, et Fontenelle 



I 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



159 



arises from the pleasing pictures wlilch they 
everywhere present of genius and learning in 
the scenes of domestic life. In this respect, it 
has been justly said of them by M. Suard, ^ that 
" they form the noblest monument ever raised 
to the glory of the sciences and of letters." Fon- 
tenellc himself, in his Eloge of Varignon, after 
remarking, that in him the simplicity of his cha- 
racter was only equalled by the superiority of 
his talents, finely adds, " I have already be- 
stowed so often the same praise on other mem- 
bers of this academy, that it may be doubted 
whether it is not less due to the individuals, than 
to the sciences which they cultivated in com- 
mon." What a proud reply does this reflection 
aflFord to the Machiavellian calumniators of phi- 
losophy ! 

The influence of these two works of Fon- 
tenelle on the studies of the rising generation all 
over Europe, can be conceived by those alone 
who have compared them with similar produc- 
tions of an earlier date. Sciences which had 
long been immured in colleges and cloisters, 
began at length to breathe the ventilated and 
wholesome air of social life. The union of phi- 
losophy and the fine arts, so much boasted of in 
the schools of ancient Greece, seemed to promise 
a speedy and invigorated revival. Geometry, 
Mechanics, Physics, Metaphysics, and Morals, 
became objects of pursuit in courts and in camps ; 



the accomplishments of a scholar grew more and 
more into repute among the other characteristics 
of a gentleman : and (what was of still greater 
importance to the world) the learned discovered 
the secret of cultivating the graces of writing, 
as a necessary pa-ssport to truth, in a refined but 
dissipated age. 

Nor was this change of manners confined to 
one of the sexes. The other sex, to whom na- 
ture has entrusted the first development of our 
intellectual and moral powers, and who may, 
therefore, be regarded as the chief medium 
through which the progress of the mind is con- 
tinued from generation to generation, shared also 
largely in the general improvement. Fontenelle 
aspired above all things to be the philosopher of 
the Parisian circles ; and certainly contributed 
not a little to diffiise a taste for useful know- 
ledge among women of all conditions in France, 
by bringing it into vogue among the higher 
classes. A reformation so great and so sudden 
could not possibly take place, without giving 
birth to much affectation, extravagance, and 
folly ; but the whole analogy of human affairs 
encourages us to hope, that the inconveniencies 
and e\ils connected with it will be partial and 
temporary, and its beneficial results permanent 
and progi'essive. ^ 

Among the various moral defects imputed to 
Fontenelle, that of a complete apathy and in- 



avec une simplicity plus i^tudiee : car la simplicite peut I'ttre, et des lors elle devient maniere, et cesse d'etre modMe." 
An idea very similar to this is happily expressed by Congreve, in his portrait of Amonl : 

Coquet and Coy at once her air, 

Both studied, though both seem neglected : 
Careless she is •u.nth artful carc^ 
Affecting to seem unaffected. 

' Notice sur la Vie et les Ecrits du Docteur Robertson. (Paris, I8I7.) 

" Among the various other respects in which Fontenelle contributed to the intellectual improvement of his countrymen, 
it ought to be mentioned, that he was one of the first writers in France who diverted the attention of metaphysicians from 
the old topics of scholastic discussion, to a philosophical investigation of the principles of the fine arts. Various original 
hints upon tliese subjects are scattered over his works : but the most favourable specimens of his talents for this very delicate 
species of analysis are to be found in his Dissertation on Pastorah, mvi in his Thcorij concerning the Delight vc derive from 
Truged;/.' His speculations, indeed, are not always just and satisfactory ; but they are seldom deficient in novelty or re- 
fiiiement. Their principal fault, perhaps, arises from the author's disposition to carry his refinements too far ; in con- 
sequence of which, his theories become chargeable with that sort of subUmated ingenuity which the French epithet Alambiqui 
expresses more precisely and forcibly than any word in our language. 

Somelliing of the same philosoj)hical spirit may be traced in Fenclon's Dialogues on Eloquence., and in his Letter <m 
Rhetoric and I'octry. The former of these treatises, besides its merits as a speculative discussion, contains various prac- 
tical hints, well entitled to the attention of those who aspire to eminence as public speakers; and of which the most 
apparently trifling claim some regard, as the results of the author's reflections upon an art which few ever practised with 
greater success. 

Let me add, that both of these eminent men (who may be regarded as the fathers of philosophical criticism in france) 
were zealous parlizans and admirers of the Cartesian metaphysics. It is tliis critical bi'anch of metaphysical science which, 

* In the judgment of Mr Hume, " there is not a finer piece of criticism than Fontcnelle's Dissertation on Pastorals ; in 
which, by a number of reflections and philosophical reasonings, he endeavours to fix the just medium between simplicity 
and refinement, which is suitable to that species of poetry." 



160 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



sensibility to all concerns but his own is by far 
the most prominent. A letter of the Baron de 
Grimm, written immediately after Fontenelle's 
death, but not published till lately, has given a 
new circulation in this country to some anec- 
dotes injurious to his memory, which had long 
ago fallen into oblivion or contempt in France. 
The authority, however, of this adventurer, who 
earned his subsistence by collecting and retail- 
ing, for the amusement of a German Prince, 
the literary scandal of Paris, is not much to be 
relied on in estimating a character with which 
he does not appear to have had any opportunity of 
becoming personally acquainted ; more especially 
as, during Fontenelle's long decline, the great 
majority of men of letters in France were dis- 
posed to throw his merits into the shade, as 
an acceptable homage to the rising and more 
dazzling glories of Voltaire.^ It is in the Aca- 
demical JNIemoirs of D'Alemhert and Condorcet 
(neither of whom can be suspected of any un- 
just prejudice against Voltaii-e, but who were 
both too candid to sacrifice truth to party feel- 
ings) that we ought to search for Fontenelle's 
real portrait:* Or rather (if it be true, as 
Dr Hutcheson has somewhere remarked, that 
" men have commonly the good or bad quali- 



ties which they ascribe to mankind") the most 
faithful Eloge on Fontenelle himself is to be 
found in those which he lias pronounced upon 
others. . 

That the character of Fontenelle would have 
been more amiable and interesting, had his vir- 
tues been less the result of cold and prudent 
calculation, it is impossible to dispute. But his 
conduct through life was pure and blameless ; 
and the happy serenity of his temper, which 
prolonged his life till he had almost completed 
his hundredth year, served as the best comment 
on the spii'it of that mUd and benevolent philo- 
sophy, of which he had laboured so long to ex- 
tend the empire. 

It is a circumstance almost singular in his 
history, that since the period of his death, his 
reputation, both as a man and as an author, 
has been gradually rising. The fact has been 
as remarkably the reverse with most of those 
who have calumniated his memory. 

"VVliile the circle of mental cultivation was 
thus rapidly widening in France, a similar pro- 
gress was taking place, upon a larger scale, and 
under still more favourable circumstances, in 
England. To this progress nothing contributed 



in my opinion, has been most successfully cultivated by French writers ; altliough too many of them have been infected 
(after the example of Fontenelle) with the ilisease of sickly and of hyprr-mctaphi/sical subtlety. 

From this censure, however, must be excepted the Abbe' Dubos, whose Crifical Reflections on Poetry and Painlhis is one 
of the most agreeable and instructive works that can be put into the hands of youth. Few books are better calculated for 
leading their minds gradually from literature to philosophy. The author's theories, if not always profound or just, are in 
general marked with good sense as well as with ingenuity ; and the subjects to which they relate are so peculiarly attrac- 
tive, as to fix the attention even of those readers who have but little relish for speculative discussions. " Ce qui fait la 
bonle'de cet ouvrage (says Voltaire) c'est qu'il n'y a que peu d'erreurs, et beaucoup de reflexions vraies, nouvelles, et pro- 
fondes. II manque cependant d'ordre et suv-tout de precision ; il auroit pu etre (^crit avec plus de feu, de grace, et d'eW- 
gance ; ^iiais Vecrivain pcnsc ctfaii penser." — (Steele de Louis XIV.) 

' As to Voltaire himself, it must be mentioned, to his honour, that though there seems never to have been much cordia- 
lity between him and Fontenelle, he had yet the magnanimity to give a place to this Nestor of French literature in his 
catalogue of the eminent persons who adorned the reign of Louis XIV. : a tribute of respect the more flattering, as it is 
the single instance in which he has departed from his general rule of excluding from his list the names of all his living con- 
temporaries. Even Fontenelle's most devoted admirers ought to be satisfied with the liberality of Voltaire's eulogy, in 
which, after pronouncing Fontenelle " the most universal genius which the age of Louis XIV. had produced," he thus sums 
up his merits as an author. " Enfin on I'a regard^ comme le premier des hommes dans I'art nouveau de rt^pandre de la 
lumi^re et des graces sur les sciences abstraites, et il a eu du merite dans tous les autres genres qu'il a traites. Tant de 
talens ont tte soutenus par la eonnoissauce des langues et de I'histoire, et it a etc sans contrcdit au-dessus de tous les tfavant qui 
n'ont pas eu le don de I'invention." 

' Condorcet has said expressly, that his apathy was confined entirely to what regarded himself; and that he was always 
an active, though frequently a concealeil friend, where his good offices could be useful to those who deserved them. . " On a 
<;ru Fontenelle insensible, parce que sachant raSitriser les mouvemens de son ame il se conduisoit d'apres son esprit, toujours 
juste et toujours sage. D'ailleurs, il avoit consenti sans peine a conserver cette re'putation d'insensibilit^ ; il avoit souffert 
les plaisanteries de ses societe's sur sa froideur, sans chercher h les detromper, parce que, bien siir que les vraies amis n'en 
seroit pas la dupe, il vovoit dans cette re'])utation un moyen commode de se delivrer des indifferens sans blesser leur amour- 
propre." — C Eloge de Fontenelle, par Coxdorcet.) 

Many of Fontenelle's sayings, the import of which must have depended entirely on circumstances of time and place un- 
known to us, have been absurdly quoted to his disadvantage, in their literal and most obvious acceptation. " I hate war 
(said he), for it spoils conversation." Can any just inference be drawn from the levity of this convivial sally, against the 
humanity of the person who uttered it ? Or rather, when counecled with the characteristical Jineise of Fontenelle's wit, 
does it not lead to a conclusion precisely opposite ? 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



161 



more powerfully than the periodical papers pub- 
lished under various titles by Addison' and his 
associates. The eflfect of these in reclaiming 
the public taste from the licentiousness and 
grossness introduced into England at the period 
of the Restoration ; in recommending the most 
serious and important truths by the united at- 
tractions of wit, humour, imagination, and elo- 
quence ; and, above all, in counteracting those 
superstitious terrors which the weak and igno- 
rant are so apt to mistake for religious and moral 
impressions — has been remarked by numberless 
critics, and is acknowledged even by those who 
felt no undue partiality in favour of the authors.* 
Some of the papers of Addison, however, are of 
an order still higher, and bear marks of a mind 
which, if early and steadily turned to philoso- 
phical pursuits, might have accomplished much 
more than it ventured to undertake. His fre- 
quent references to the Essay on Human Under- 
stating, and the high encomiums with which 
they are always accompanied, show how suc- 
cessfully he had entered into the spirit of that 
work, and how completely he was aware of the 
importance of its object. The popular nature 
of his publications, indeed, which rendered it 
necessary for him to avoid everything that 
might savour of scholastic or of metaphysical 
discussion, has left us no means of estimating 
his philosophical depth, but what are afforded 
by the results of his thoughts on the particular 
topics which he has occasion to allude to, and 
by some of his iucidental comments on the 
scientific merits of preceding authors. But 
these means are sufficiently ample to justify a 
very high opinion of his sound and unprejudiced 
judgment, as well as of the extent and correct- 
ness of his literary information. Of his powers 
as a logical reasoncr he has not enabled us to 



form an estimate ; but none of his contempo- 
raries seem to have been more completely tinc- 
tured wdth all that is most valuable in the me- 
taphysical and ethical systems of his time.' 

But what chiefly entitles the name of Addi- 
son to a place in this Discourse, is his Essays on 
the Pleasures of Imagination ; the first attempt 
in England to investigate the principles of the 
fine arts ; and an attempt which, notwithstand- 
ing many defects in the execution, is entitled to 
the praise of having struck out a new avenue to 
the study of the human mind, more alluring 
than any which had been opened before. In 
this respect, it forms a most important supple- 
ment to Locke's Survey of the Intellectual Powers ; 
and it has, accordingly, served as a text, on 
which the greater part of Locke's disciples have 
been eager to oflFer their comments and their 
corrections. The progress made by some of 
these in exploring this interesting region has 
been great ; but let not Addison be defrauded of 
his claims as a discoverer. 

Similar remarks may be extended to the hints 
suggested by Addison on Wit, on Humour, and 
on the causes of Laughter. It cannot, indeed, 
be said of him, that he exhausted any one of 
these subjects ; but he had at least the merit of 
starting them as problems for the consideration 
of philosophers ; nor would it be easy to name 
among his successors, a single WTiter who has 
made so important a step towards their solution, 
as the original proposer. 

The philosophy of the papers to which the fore- 
going observations refer, has been pronounced 
to be slight and superficial, by a crowd of modern 
metaphysicians, who were but ill entitled to erect 
themselves into judges on such a question.* The 
singular simplicity and perspicuity of Addison's 
style have contributed much to the prevalence 



' Born in 1672, died in 171!). 

• See Pope's ImUations of Horace, Book II. Epistle I. " Unhappy Dryden," &c. &c. 

' I quote tlie followinp passage from Addison, not as a specimen of his metaphysical acumen, but as a proof of his good 
sense in divining and obviating a difficulty which I believe most persons will acknowledge occurred to themselves when 
they first entered on metaphysical studies : — 

" Although we divide the soul into several powers and faculties, there is no such division in the soul itself, since it is 
Vie -ahole soul that remembers, understands, wills, or imagines. Our manner of considering the memory, understanding, 
will, imagination, and the like faculties, is for the better enabling us to express ourselves in such abstracted subjects of 
speculation, not that there is any such division in the soul itself." In another part of the same paper, Addison observes, 
that " what we call the faculties of the soul are only the different ways or modes in which the soul can exert herself."— 
{Spectator, No. 600.) 

For some important remarks on the words Poaeri and Faculliei, as applied to the Jlind, see Locke, B. II. Ch. xxi. § 20. 

* See Note R R. 

DISS. I. PAllT II. X 



162 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



of this prejudice. Eager for the instruction, 
and unambitious of tlie admiration of tlic multi- 
tude, he everywhere studies to bring himself 
down to their level ; and even when he thinks 
with the greatest originality, and writes with 
the most inimitable felicity, so easily do we en- 
ter into the train of his ideas, that we can hard- 
ly persuade oiu'selves that we could not have 
thought and written in the same manner. He 
has somewhere said of " fine writing," that it 
" consists of sentiments which are natui'al, with- 
out being obvious :" and his definition has been 
applauded by Hume, as at once concise and just. 
Of the tiling defined, his own periodical essays 
exhibit the most perfect examples. 

To this simplicity and perspicuity, the wide 
circulation which his works have so long main- 
tained among all classes of readers, is in a great 
measure to be ascribed. His periods are not 
constructed, like those of Johnson, to " elevate 
and surprise," by filling the ear and dazzling 
the fancy ; but we close his volumes with greater 
reluctance, and return to the perusal of them witii 
far greater alacrity. Franklin, whose fugitive 
publications on political topics have had so extra- 
ordinary an influence on public opinion, both in 
the Old and New Worlds, tells us that his style in 
writing was formed upon the model of Addison : 
Nor do I know anytliing in the history of his 
life which does more honour to his shrewdness 
and sagacity. The copyist, indeed, did not pos- 
sess the gifted hand of his master, — Museo con- 
tingens cuncta lepore ; but such is the eifect of 
his plain and seemingly artless manner, that the 
most profound conclusions of political economy 
assume, in his hands, the appearance of indis- 
putable truths ; and some of them, which had 
been formerly confined to the speculative few, 
are already current in every country of Europe, 
as proverbial maxims. * 

To touch, however slightly, on Addison's 
other merits; as a critic, as a wit, as a specula- 
tive politician, and, above all, as a moralist, 



would lead me completely astray from my pre- 
sent object. It will not be equally foreign to it 
to quote the two followng short passages, 
which, though not strictly metaphysical, are, both 
of them, the result of metaphysical habits of 
thinking, and bear a stronger resemblance than 
anything I recollect among the wits of Queen 
Anne's reign, to the best philosophy of the pre- 
sent age. They approach, indeed, very nearly to 
the philosophy of Turgot and of Smith. 

" Among other excellent arguments for the 
immortality of the soul, there is one drawn from 
the perpetual progress of the soul to its perfec- 
tion, without a possibility of ever arriA'ing at it; 
which is a hint that I do not remember to have 
seen opened and improved by others who have 
written on this suljjcct, though it seems to me 
to carry a great weight with it. A brute arrives 
at a point of perfection that he can never pass. 
In a few yeai's he has all the endowments he is 
capable of; and were he to live ten thousand 
more, would be the same thing he is at present. 
Were a human soul thus at a stand in her ac- 
complishments, were her faculties to be full- 
blown, and incapable of further enlargement, I 
would imagine it might fall away insensibly, 
and drop at once into a state of annihilation. 
But can we believe a thinking being, that is in 
a perpetual progi-ess of improvement, and tra- 
velling on from perfection to perfection, after 
having just looked abroad into the works of its 
Creator, and made a few discoveries of his in- 
finite goodness, wisdom, and power, must perish 
at her first setting out, and in the very begin- 
ning of her inquiries ?"* 

The philosophy of the other passage is not 
unworthy of the author of the Weallh of Nations. 
The thought may be traced to earlier ■^Titers, but 
certainly it was never before preseuted with the 
same fulness and liveliness of illustration; nor 
do I kno^', in all Addison's works, a finer in- 
stance of his solicitude for the improvement of 
his fair readers, than the address with which he 



' The expressions " Laissez nous fairc," and "pos Imp goiiverntr" which comprise, in a few words, two of the most im- 
])ortant lessons of Political AVisdom, are indebted chiefly for their extensive circulation to tlie short and luminous comments 
of Franklin (See his Political Fragments, § i.) 

■ This argument has been prosecuted with great ingenuity and force of reasoning (blended, however, with some of the 

pecuUarities of his Berkeleian metaphysics) by the late Dr James Hutton (See his Iinestigation of the Friiwiplei of Knozc- 

h-^lgf. Vol. III. p. 195, ctseq. Edin. 1794.) 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



163 



here insinuates one of the suhlimest moral les- 
sons, while apparently aiming only to amuse 
them with the geograpliical history of the muff 
and the tippet. 

" Nature seems to have taken a particular 
care to disseminate her blessings among the dif- 
ferent regions of the world, with an eye to the 
mutual intercourse and traffic among mankind ; 
that tlie natives of the several parts of the globe 
might have a kind of dependance upon one 
another, and be united together by their com- 
mon interest. Almost every degree produces 
something peculiar to it. The food often grows 
in one country, and the sauce in another. The 
fruits of Portugal are corrected by the products 
of Bai'badoes ; tlie infusion of a China plant, 
sweetened with tlie pith of an Indian cane. The 
Philippine Islands give a flavour to our Euro- 
pean bowls. The single dress of a woman of 
quality is often the product of a hundred cli- 
mates. The muff and the fan come together from 
the opposite ends of the earth. The scarf is 
sent from the torrid zone, and the tippet from 
beneath the pole. The brocade petticoat rises 
out of the mines of Peru, and the diamond neck- 
lace out of tlie bowels of Indostan." 

But I must not dwell longer on the fascinat- 
ing pages of Addison. Allow me only, before 
I close tlieni, to contrast tlie last extract with a 
remark of Voltaire, which, shallow and con- 
temptible as it is, occurs more than once, both 
in verse aud in prose, in his voluminous writings. 

II muril, \ Moka, dans le sable Arabique, 
Ce CafitI nJcessRire aux pays des frimats ; 
II met la Fiuvre en nos cUmats, 
Et le remtide en Amerique. 

(Epitrc au Hoi da Priissc, 1700.) 

And yet Voltaire is admired as a philosopher 
by many who will smile to hear this title bestow- 
ed upon Addison ! 

It is observed by Akenside, in one of the notes 
to tlie Pleasures of Imagination, that " Philoso- 
phy and the Fine Arts can liardly be conceiv- 



ed at a greater distance from each other than at 
the Revolution, when Locke stood at the head 
of one party, and Dryden of the other." He 
observes, also, that " a very great progress to- 
wards their re-union had been made within these 
few years." To this progress the chief impulse was 
undoubtedly given by Addison and Shaftesbur)'. 
Notwithstanding, however, my strong parti- 
ality for the former of these wTiters, I should 
be truly sorry to think, witli Mr Hume, that 
" Addison will be read with pleasure when 
Locke shall be entirely forgotten." — (Essay on 
the Different Species of Philosophy.) 

A few years before the commencement of 
these periodical works, a memorable accession 
was made to metaphysical science, by the pub- 
lication of Berkeley's New Theory of Vision, and 
of his Principles of Human Knowledge. Possess- 
ed of a mind which, however inferior to that 
of Locke in depth of reflection and in soundness 
of judgment, was fully its equal in logical acute- 
ness and invention, and in learning, fancy, and 
taste, far its superior, — Berkeley was singularly 
fitted to promote that re-union of Philosopliy and 
of the Fine Arts which is so essential to the 
prosperity of both. Locke, we are told, despis- 
ed poetry ; and we know from one of his own 
letters, that, among our English poets, his fa- 
vourite autlior was Sir Richard Blackmore. 
Berkeley, on the other hand, courted the society 
of all, from whose conversation and manners 
he could hope to add to the embellishments of 
his genius; and although himself a decided and 
High Church Tory,* lived in habits of friend- 
sliip with Steele and Addison, as well as with 
Pope and Swift. Pope's admiration of him 
seems to have risen to a sort of enthusiasm. He 
yielded to Berkeley's decision on a very delicate 
question relating to the exordium of the Essay 
on Man ; and on his moral qualities he has be- 
stowed the highest and most unqualified eulogy 
to be found in his writings. 



' See a volume of Sermons, preached in the chapel of Trinity College, Dublin. See also a Discourse addressed to Ma- 
gistratcs, &c. printed in \TAG. In both of these publications, the autlior carries his Tory principles so far, as to represent 
the doctrine ot passive obedience and non-resistance as an essential article of the Christian faith. " Tlie Christian religion 
niake.i every legal constitution sacred, by commanding our submission thereto. Let every loul be tubject to the higher powcri, 
saith St l'au),y«r the jpiiwcrt iliat be are ordained of God." 



164 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



" Even in a Bishop I can spy desert ; 
Seeker is decent ; Rundle has a heart ; 
Manners with candour are to Benson given ; 
To Berkeley every virtue under Heaven." 

With these intellectual and moral endow- 
ments, admired and blazoned as they were by 
the most distinguished wits of his age, it is not 
surprising that Berkeley should have given a 
popularity and fashion to metaphysical pursuits, 
which they had never before acquired in Eng- 
land. Nor was this popularity diminished by 
the boldness of some of his paradoxes : on the 
contrary, it was in no small degree the effect of 
them; the great bulk of mankind being always 
prone to mistake a singularity or eccentricity of 
thinking, for the originality of a creative genius. 

The solid additions, however, made by Berke- 
ley to the stock of human knowledge were im- 
portant and brilliant. Among these, the first 
place is unquestionably due to his New Theory 
of Vision ; a work abounding with ideas so dif- 
ferent from those commonly received, and, at 
the same time, so profound and refined, that it 
was regarded by all but a ie-w accustomed to deep 
metaphysical reflection, rather in the light of a 
philosophical romance, than of a sober inquiry 
after truth. Such, however, has been since the 
progress and diffusion of this sort of knowledge, 
that the leading and most abstracted doctrines 
contained in it, form noAV an essential part of 
every elementary treatise of optics, and are 
adopted by the most superficial smatterers in 
science as fundamental aiticles of their faith. 

Of a theory, the outlines of which cannot fail 
to be familiar to a great majority of my readers, 
it would be wholly superfluous to attempt any 
explanation here, even if it were consistent with 
the limits within which I am circumscribed. 
Suffice it to observe, that its chief aim is to dis- 
tinguish the immediate and natural objects of 



sight from the seemingly instantaneous conclu- 
sions which experience and habit teach us to 
draw from them in our earliest infancy; or, in 
the more concise metaphysical language of a 
later period, to draw the line between the ori- 
ginal and the acquired perceptions of the eye. 
They who wish to study it in detail, will find 
ample satisfaction, and, if they have any relish 
for such studies, an inexhaustible fund of enter- 
tainment, in Berkeley's own short but masterly 
exposition of his principles, and in the excellent 
comments upon it by Smith of Cambridge ; by 
Porterfield ; by Reid ; and, still more lately, by 
the author of the Wealth of Nations.''- 

That this doctrine, with respect to the acquir- 
ed perceptions of sight, was quite unknown to 
the best metaphysicians of antiquity, we have 
direct evidence in a passage of Aristotle's Nico- 
machian Ethics, where he states the distinction 
between those endowments which are the imme- 
diate gift of nature, and those which are the 
fruit of custom and habit. In the former class, 
he ranks the perceptions of sense, mentioning 
particularly the senses of seeing and of hearing. 
The passage (which I have transcribed in a 
Note) is curious, and seems to me decisive on 
the subject." 

The misapprehensions of the ancients on this 
very obscure question will not appear surprising, 
when it is considered, that forty years after the 
publication of Berkeley's Tlieory of Vision, and 
sixty years after the date of Locke's Essay, the 
subject was so imperfectly understood in France, 
that Condillac (who is, to this day, very gene- 
rally regarded by his countrymen as the father 
of genuine logic and metaphysics) combated at 
gi'eat length the conclusions of the English phi- 
losophers concerning the acquired perceptions of 
sight ; afiirming that " the eye judges naturally 
of figures, of magnitudes, of situations, and of 



' By this excellent judge, Berkeley's New Theory of Vision is pronounced to be " one of the finest examples of Philoso- 
phical Analysis that is to be found in our own, or any other language." — (Esiays on Philosojihical Subjects. Lond. 1795, 
p. 215.) 

^ Oy yet^ Ix Tit croXXax'iff ioftv, n VoWar-ii axouffoii Tas aurSnceti tka^ofitV) aXX* ayitrri\jv, ^^ovt%; iy^^i^ffafiiSec, & ^^ttra/jtivet t^Ofitu 
(Ethic. Nicomach. Lib. ii. cap. 1.) 

" For it is not from seeing often, or from hearing often, that we gel these senses ; but, on the contrary, instead of get- 
ting them by using them, we use them because we have got them." 

Had Aristotle been at all aware of the distinction so finely illustrated by Berkeley, instead of appealing to the percep- 
tions of these two senses, as instances of endowments coeval with our birth, he would have quoted them as the most 
striking of all examples of the effects of custom in apparently identifying our acquired powers with our original faculties. 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



165 



distances." His argument in support of this 
opinion is to be found in tlie sLvth section of 
his Essay on the Origin of Human Knowledge. 

It is difficult to suppose, that a person of 
mature years, who had read and studied Locke 
and Berkeley with as much care and attention 
as Condillac appears to have bestowed on them, 
should have reverted to this ancient and -siilgar 
prejudice ; without suspecting that his metaphy- 
sical depth has been somewhat overrated by the 
world. ^ It is but justice, however, to Condillac 
to add, that, in a subsequent work, he had the 
candour to acknowledge and to retract his er- 
ror ; — a rare example of that disinterested love 
of truth, which is so becoming in a philosopher. 
I quote the passage (in <a literal, though some- 
what abridged version), not only to show, that, 
in the above statement, I have not misrepre- 
sented his opinion, but because I consider this 
remarkable circumstance in his literary history 
as a peculiarly amiable and honourable trait in 
his character. 

" We cannot recall to oui- memory the igno- 
rance in which we were born : It is a state 
which leaves no trace behind it. We only re- 
collect our ignorance of those things, the know- 
ledge of which we recollect to have acquired ; 
and to remark what we acquire, some previous 
knowledge is necessary. That memory which 
now renders us so sensible of the step from one 
acquisition to another, cannot remount to the 
first steps of the progress ; on the contrary, it 
supposes them already made ; and hence the 
origin of our disposition to believe them connate 
with ourselves. To say that we have learnt to 
see, to hear, to taste, to smell, to touch, appears 
a most extraordinary paradox. It seems to us 
that nature gave us the complete use of our 
senses the moment she formed them, and that 
we have always made use of them without study, 



because we are no longer obliged to study in 
order to use them. I retained these prejudices 
at the time I published my Essay on the Origin 
of Human Knowledge ; the reasonings of Locke 
on a man born blind, to whom the sense of sight 
was afterwards given, did not undeceive me : 
and I maintained against this philosopher that the 
eye judges naturally of figures, of sizes, of situa- 
tions, and of distances." — Nothing short of his 
own explicit avowal could have couA-inced me, 
that a writer of so high pretensions and of such 
unquestionable ingenuity as Condillac, had real- 
ly commenced his metaphysical career under so 
gross and unaccountable a delusion. 

In bestowing the praise of originality on 
Berkeley's Theory of Vision, I do not mean to 
say, that the whole merit of this Theory is ex- 
clusively his own. In this, as in most other 
cases, it may be presumed, that the progress of 
the human mind has been gradual : And, in 
point of fact, it will, on examination, be found, 
that Berkeley only took up the inquiry where 
Locke dropped it ; following out his principles 
to their remoter consequences, and placing them 
in so great a variety of strong and happy lights, 
as to bring a doctrine till <A€7J understood but by 
a few, within the reach of every intelligent and 
attentive reader. For my own part, on com- 
paring these two philosophers together, I am at 
a loss whether most to admire the powerful and 
penetrating sagacity of the one, or the fertility 
of invention displayed in the illustrations of the 
other. ^\niat can be more clear and forcible 
than the statement of Locke quoted in the Note 
below; and what an idea does it convey of his 
superiority to Condillac, when it is considered, 
that he anticipated a priori the same doctrine 
which was afterwards confirmed by the fine 
analysis of Berkeley, and demonstrated by the 
judicious experiments of Cheselden ; while the 



' Voltaire, at an earlier period, had Seized completely the scope of Berkeley's theory ; and had explained it with equal 
brevity and precision, in the following passage of his Elements of the Xewtonian Philosophy: — 

" II faut absolument conclure, que les distances, les grandeurs, les situations ne sont pas, h proprement parler, des chases 
visrbles, c'est a dire, nc sont pas les objets propres et immcdiats dc la vue. Ij'objet propre et ininie'diat de la vue n'est 
autre chose que la lumiere coloree : tout le reste, nous ne le scntons qu'a la longue et par experience. Nous apprenons ii 
voir, prccist^nient comme nous a])prenons h parler et h lire. La difference est, que I'art de voir est plus facile, et que la 
nature est Jgalement ii tous notre niaitre. 

" Les jugemens soudains, presque unifomies, que toutcs nos ames !l un certain age portent des distances, des grandeurs, 
des situations, nous font penser, qu'il n'y a qu"!i ouvrir les yeux pour voir la nianicre dont nous voyons. On se trompe, il 
y faut le sccours des autres sens. Si les hommes n'avoient que le sens de la vue, ils n'auroient aucun moyen pour con- 
nflitre IVtendue en longeur, largeur et profondeur, et un \y\ir esprit ne la connoitroit peut-C-tre, Ji moins que Dieu ne la lui 
rtvtilat."— ./"Ay/. A'eaton, Chap. ^. 



166 PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 

French metaphysician, with all this accumula- to it by many who, in all probability, derived 
tion of evidence before him, relapsed into a pre- their whole information concerning it from the 
■judice transmitted to modern times, from the traditional and inexact transcripts of book-mak- 
very infancy of optical science ! ^ ing historians. In the introductory sentences 
I believe it would be difficult to produce from of his Essay, he states very clearly and candid- 
any writer prior to Locke, an equal number of im- ly the conclusions of his immediate predecessors 
portant facts relating to the intellectual phenome- on this class of our perceptions ; and explains, 
na, as well observed, and as unexceptionably de- with the gi-eatest precision, in what particulars 
scribed, as those which I have here brought under his o-ivn opinion differs from theirs. " It is, I 
my reader's eye. It must appear evident, besides, think, agreed by all, that distance, of itself, can- 
to all who have studied the subject, that Locke not be seen. For distance being a line directed 
has, in this passage, enunciated, in terms the end-wise to the eye, it projects only one point 
most precise and decided, the same general con- in the fund of the eye, which point remains in- 
clusion concerning the effect of constant and variably the same, whether the distance be 
eai'ly habits, which it was the great object of longer or shorter. 

Berkeley's Theory of Vision to establish, and " I find it also acknowledged, that the esti- 
which, indeed, gives to that work its chief value, mate we make of the distance of objects consi- 
when considered iu connection with the Philo- derably remote, is rather an act of judgment 
sophy of the Human Mind. grounded on experience, than of sense. For ex- 
Berkeley himself, it is to be observed, by no ample, when I perceive a gi-eat number of inter- 
means lays claim to that complete novelty in mediate objects, such as houses, fields, rivers, 
his Theory of Vision, which has been ascribed and the like, which I have experienced to take 



' " We are farther to consider," says Locke, " conceruing perception, that the iileas we receive by sensation are often in 
grown people altered by the judgment, without our taking notice of it. When we set before our eyes a round globe, of any 
uniform colour, x'. g. gold, alabaster, or jet, it is certain that the idea thereby imprinted in our mind is of a flat circle, va- 
riously shadowed, with several degrees of hght and brightness coming to our eyes. But we having by use been accustomed 
to perceive what kind of appearance convex bodies are wont to make in us, what alterations are made in the reflections of 
light by the difference of the sensible figure of bodies; the judgment presently, by an habitual custom, alters the appear- 
ances into their causes, so that, from what truly is variety of shadow or colour, collecting the figure it makes it pass for a 
mark of figure, and frames to itself the perception of a convex figure, and an uniform colour ; when the idea we receive 
from thence is only a plane variously coloured, as is evident in painting. • • • • 

" But this is not, I think, usual in any of our ideas, but those received by sight ;' because sight, the most comprehensive 
of all our senses, conveying to our minds the ideas of lights and colours, which are peculiar only to that sense ; and also 
the far different ideas of space, figure, or motion, the several varieties whereof change the appearances of its proper objects, 
viz. light and colours, we bring ourselves by use to judge of the one by the other. This, in many cases, by a settled habit 
in things whereof we have frequent experience, is performed so constantly and so quick, tliatwe take that for the perception 
of our sensation, which is an idea formed by our judgment ; so that one, viz. that of sensation, serves only to excite the 
other, and is scarce taken notice of itself: as a man who reads or hears with attention or understanding, takes little notice 
of the characters or sounds, but of the ideas that are excited in him by them. 

" Nor need we wonder that it is done with so little notice, if we consider how very quick the actions of the mind are per- 
formed ; for as itself is thought to take up no space, to have no extension, so its actions seem to require no time, but many 
of them seem to be crowded into an instant. I speak this iu compaiison to the actions of the body. Any one may easily 
observe this in his own thoughts, who will take the pains to reflect on them. How, as it were in an instant, do our minds 
with one glance see all the parts of a demonstration, which may very well be called a long one, if we consider the time it 
will require to put it into words, and step by step show it to anotlier? Secondly, we shall not be so much surprised 
that this is done in us with so little notice, if we consider how the facility which we get of doing things by a custom of (ioing 
makes them often pass in us without our notice. Jlalits, especially such as are begun very early, come at last to produce 
actions in us, which often escape our observations. How frequently do we in a day cover our eyes with our eye-lids, with- 
out perceiving that we are at all in the dark ? Men that have by custom got the use of a bye-word, do almost in every 
sentence pronounce sounds, which, though taken notice of b}' others, they themselves neither hear nor observe ; and, there- 
fore, it is not so strange, that our mind should of\en change the idea of its sensation into that of its judgment, and make one 
serve only to excite the other, without our taking notice of it." — (Locke's Works, Vol. I. p. 123, ct scq.) 

' Sir Locke might, however, have remarked something very similar to it in the perceptions of the ear ; a very large pror 
portion of its appropriate objects being rather judged of than aciuaWy perceived. In the rapidity (for example) of common 
conversation, how many syllables, and even words, escape the notice of the most attentive hearer ; which syllables and 
words are so quickly supplied from the relation which they bear to the rest of the sentence, that it is quite impossible to dis- 
tinguish between the audible and the inaudible sounds ! A very palpable instance of this occurs in the difficulty expe- 
rienced by the most acute ear in catching /rti^cr names or arithmetical sums, or words borrowed from unknown tongues, the 
first time they are pronounced. 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



167 



up a considerable space ; I thence form a judg- 
ment or conclusion, that the object I see beyond 
them is at a great distance. Again, when an 
object appears faint and small, wliich, at a near 
distance, I have experienced to make a Angorous 
and large appearance, I instantly conclude it to 
be far oflF. And this, 'tis evident, is the result 
of experience ; without which, from the faintncss 
and littleness, I should not have inferred any- 
thing concerning the distance of objects. 

" But when an object is placed at so near a 
disiaiice, as that the interval between the eyes 
bears any sensible proportion to it, it is the re- 
ceived opinion that the two optic axes, concm- 
riiig at tlie object, do there make an angle, by 
means of which, according as it is gi'eater or 
less, the object is perceived to be nearer or far- 
ther off. 

" There is another way mentioned by the 
optic writers, wliereby they will have us judge 
of those distances, in respect of which the 
breadth of the pupil hath any sensible bigness ; 
and that is, the greater or less divergency of 
the rays, which, issuing from the visible point, 
do fall on the pupil ; that point being judged 
nearest, which is seen by most diverging r.ays, 
and that remoter, which is seen by less diver- 
ging rays." 

These (according to Berkeley) are the " com- 



mon and current accounts" given by mathema- 
ticians of oui- percei^•ing near distances by sight. 
He then proceeds to show, that they are unsa- 
tisfactory; and that it is necessary, for tlie so- 
lution of this problem, to avail om-selves of prin- 
ciples borrowed from a higher philosophy : Af- 
ter which, he explains, in detail, his o^vn theory 
concerning the ideas (sensations) which, by ex- 
perience, become sigiis of distance;' or (to use 
his own phraseology) " by which distance is 
suggested* to the mind." The result of the 
whole is, that, " a man born blind, being made 
to see, would not at first ha\e any idea of dis- 
tance by sight. The sun and stars, the remotest 
objects as iccll as the nearest, would all seem to be 
in his Eye, or rather in his Mind."^ 

From tliis quotation it appears, that, before 
Berkeley's time, philosophers had advanced 
greatly beyond the point at which Aristotle 
stopped, and towards which Condillac, in his first 
publication, made a retrograde movement. Of 
this progress some of the chief steps may be 
traced as early as the twelfth century in the 
Optics of Alhazen ;* and they may be perceiA'ed 
still more cleai-ly and distinctly in various op- 
tical writers since the re\-ival of letters ; parti- 
cularly in the Optica Promota of James Gre- 
gory.* Father Malcbranchc went still farther, 
and even anticipated some of the metaphysical 



' For assisting persons unaccustomed to inetapliysical studies to enter into the spirit and scope of Berkeley's T'Aeori/, the 
best illustration I know of is furnished by tlie plienoniena of the PliaiUaimagoria. It is sufficient to hint at this application 
of these phenomena, to those who know anything of the subject. 

" The word suggest is much use<l by Berkeley, in this appropriate and technical sense, not only in his Theory of Vision, 
but in his Principles of Human KnoTc.'cdgc, and in his Minute Philusojilur. It expresses, indeed, the cardinal principle on 
which his Theory of Vision hinges ; and is now so incorporated with some (if our best metaphysical speculations, that one 
cannot easily conceive how the use of it was so long dispensed with. Locke (in the passage quoted in the Note, p. 107-) 
uses the word excite for the same pur])0se ; but it seems to imply an hypothesis concerning the mechanism of the mind, and 
by no means expresses tlie fact in question witli the same force and precision. 

It is remarkable, that Dr Ueid should have thoui>ht it incumbent on him to apologise for introducing into philosophy a 
word so Cimiliar to every person conversant witli Berkeley's works. " I beg leave to make use of the word suggestion, be- 
cause I know not one more proper to express a power of the mind, which seems entirely to have escajwd the notice of phi- 
losophers, and to which we owe many of our simple notions wliicli are neitlier imjiressions nor ideas, as well as many origi- 
nal princijilcs of belief. I sliall endeavour to explain, by an example, what I understand liy this word. We all know that 
a ccrtJiin kind of sound suggests immediately to the mind a coach passing in tlie street ; and not only produces the imagina- 
tion, but the belief, that a coach is passing. Yet there is no comparing of ideas, no jierception of agreements or disagree- 
ments to produce this belief; nor is there the least similitude between the sound we hear, and the coach we imagine and 
believe to be passing." 

So far Dr Ueid's use of the word coincides exactly with that of Berkeley ; but the former will be found to annex to it a 
meaning more extensive than the biter, by employing it to comprehend not only those i«/i;«a/i«i« which are the result of 
experience and liabit ; but another class of intimations (quite overlooked by Berkeley), those which result frora the original 
frame of the human min<l (See Ueid's Inquiry, chap. ii. sect. 7.) 

» I request the attention of my readers to this last sentence, as I have little doubt that the fact here stated gave rise to 
tlie theory which Berkeley afterwards adopted, conceining the non-existence of the material world. It is not, indeed, sur- 
prising that a conclusion, so very curious with respect to the objects of sight, should have been, in the first ardour of dis- 
covery, too hastily extended to those qualities abo which arc the appropriate objects of touch. 

* Alhazen, I,ib. ii. N N. 10. 12. 39. 

* See the end of Prop. 28. 



168 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



reasonings of Berkeley concerning the means by 
which experience enables us to judge of the dis- 
tances of near objects. In proof of this, it is 
sufficient to mention the explanation he gives of 
the manner in which a comparison of the percep- 
tions of sight and of touch teaches us gradually 
to estimate by the eye the distances of all those 
objects which are within reach of our hands, or 
of which we are accustomed to measui'e the dis- 
tance, by walking over the intermediate ground. 

In rendering this justice to earlier wi'iters, I 
have no wish to detract from the originality of 
Berkeley. With the single exception, indeed, 
of the passage in Malebranche which I have 
just referred to, and which it is more than pro- 
bable was unknown to Berkeley when his theory 
first occurred to him,^ I have ascribed to his 
predecessors nothing more than what he has 
himself explicitly acknowledged to belong to 
them. All that I wished to do was, to supply 
some links in the historical chain, which he has 
omitted. 

The influence which this justly celebrated 
work has had, not only in perfecting the theory 
of optics, but in illustrating the astonishing ef- 
fects of early habit on the mental phenomena in 
general, will sufficiently account to my intelli- 
gent readers for the length to which the fore- 
going observations upon it have extended. 

Next in point of importance to Berkeley's New 
Theory of Vision, which I regard as by far the 
most solid basis of his philosophical fame, may be 
ranked his speculations concerning the Objects 
of General Terms, and his celebrated argument 
against the existence of the Material World. 
On both of these questions I have elsewhere ex- 
plained my own ideas so fully, that it would be 



quite superfluous for me to resume the consi- 
deration of them here.* In neither instance are 
his reasonings so entirely original as has been 
commonly supposed. In the former, they co- 
incide in substance, although with immense im- 
provements in the form, with those of the scho- 
lastic nominalists, as re^-ived and modified by 
Hobbes and Leibnitz. In the latter instance, 
they amount to little more than an ingenious 
and elegant development of some principles of 
Malebranche, pushed to certain paradoxical but 
obvious consequences, of which jNIalebranche, 
though unwilling to avow them, appears to have 
been fully aware. These consequences, too, 
had been prcAnously pointed out by Mr Norris, 
a vei-y learned divine of the church of England, 
whose name has unaccountably failed in obtain- 
ing that distinction to which his acuteness as a 
logician, and his boldness as a theorist, justly 
entitled him ! ^ 

The great object of Berkeley, in maintaining 
his system of idealism, it may be proper to re- 
mark in passing, was to cut up by the roots the 
scheme of materialism. " Matter (he tells us 
himself) being once expelled out of nature, drags 
with it so many sceptical and impious notions. 
* * * * Without it your Epicureans, Hobbists, 
and the like, have not even the shadow of a 
pretence, but become the most cheap and easy 
triumph in the world." 

Not satisfied with addressing these abstract 
speculations to the learned, Berkeley conceived 
them to be of such moment to human happiness, 
that he resolved to bring them, if possible, with- 
in the reach of a wider circle of readers, by 
tlu'owing them into the more popular and amu- 
sing form of dialogues.* The skill with which 



' Berkeley's Theory was published when he was only twenty-five ; an age when it can scarcely be supposed that his me- 
taphysical reading had been very extensive. 

* See Philosophical Essays. 

' Another very acute metaphysician of the same church (Arthur Collier, author of a Demonstration of the Non-exUience 
and Impossibility of an External World) has met with still greater injustice. His name is not to be found in any of our Bio- 
graphical Dictionaries. In point of date, his publication is some years posterior to that of Norris, and therefore it does not 
possess the same claims to originality ; but it is far superior to it in logical closeness and precision, and is not obscured to 
the same degree with the mystical theology which Norris (after the example of JIalebranche) coimeeted with the scheme 
of Idealism. Indeed, when compared with the writings of Berkeley himself, it yields to them less in force of argument, 
than in composition and variety of illustration. The title of Collier's book is " Clavis Universalis, or a New Inquiry after 
Truth, being a Demonstration, &c. &c. By Arthur Collier, Rector of Langford Magna, near Sarum. (Lond. printed for 
Robert Gosling, at the Mitre and Crown, against St Dunstan's Church, Fleet Street, 1713.)" The motto prefixed by Col- 
lier to his work is from Malebranche, and is strongly characteristical both of the English and French Inquirer after Truth. 
" Vulgi assensus et approbatio circa materiam difficilem est certum argumentum falsitatis istius opinionis cui assentitur." 
— {Malcb. Be Inquir. Verit. Lib. iii. p. 194.) See Note S S. 

* I allude here chiefly to Alciphron, or the Minute Philosopher ; for as to the dialogues between Hylas and Philonoiu, they 
aspire to no higher merit than that of the common dialogues between A and B ; being merely a compendious way of stat- 
ing and of obviating the principal objections which the author anticipated to his opinions. 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



169 



he Las executed this very difficult and unpro- 
mising task cannot be too much admired. The 
characters of liis speakers are strongly marked 
and happily contrasted ; the illustrations exhibit 
a singular combination of logical subtlety and of 
poetical invention ; and the style, while it every- 
where abounds with the rich, yet sober colour- 
ings of the author's fancy, is perhaps superior, 
in point of purity and of grammatical correct- 
ness, to any English composition of an earlier 
date.i 

Tlie impression produced in England by 
Berkeley's Idealism was not so great as might 
have been expected ; but the novelty of his pa- 
radoxes attracted very powerfully the attention 
of a set of young men who were then prose- 
cuting their studies at Edinburgh, and who 
formed themselves into a society for the express 
purpose of soliciting from the author an expla- 
nation of some parts of his theory which seemed 
to them obscurely or equivocally expressed. To 
this correspondence the amiable and excellent 
prelate appears to have given every encourage- 
ment ; and I have been told by the best autho- 
rity, that he was accustomed to say, that his 
reasonings had been nowhere better understood 
than by this club of young Scotsmen.' The in- 
genious Dr Wallace, author of tlie Discourse on 



the Numbers of Mankind, was one of the leading 
members ; and with him were associated several 
other individuals whose names are now well 
known and honourably distinguished in the 
learned world. Mr Hume's Treatise of Human 
Nature, which was published in 1739, affords 
sufficient e^'^dence of the deep impression which 
Berkeley's writings had left upon his mind ; and 
to this juvenile essay of Mr Hume's may be 
traced the origin of the most important meta- 
physical works which Scotland has since pro- 
duced.. 

It is not, however, my intention to prosecute 
farther, at present, the history of Scottish phi- 
losophy. The subject may be more convenient- 
ly, and I hope advantageously resumed, after a 
slight review of the speculations of some Eng- 
lish and French writers, who, while they pro- 
fessed a general acquiescence in the doctrines of 
Locke, have attempted to modify his funda- 
mental principles in a manner totally incon- 
sistent with the views of their master. Tlie re- 
marks which I mean to offer on the modern 
French school will afford me, at the same time, 
a convenient opportunity of introducing some 
strictures on the metaphysical systems which 
have of late prevailed in other parts of the Con- 
tinent. 



SECTION V. 



Hartkian School. 



The English wi-iters to whom I have alluded 
in the last j)aragraph, I shall distinguish by the 
title of Dr Hartley's School ; for although I by 
no means consider this person as the first author 
of any of the theories commonly ascribed to him 
(the seeds of all of them having been previously 



sown in the university where he was educated), 
it was nevertheless reserved for him to combine 
them together, and to exhibit them to the world 
in the imposing form of a system. 

Among the immediate predecessors of Hart- 
ley, Dr Law, afterwards Bishop of Carlisle, 



' Dr Warton, after bestowing high praise on the Minute Philosopher, excepts from his encomium " those passages in the 
fourth dialogue, where the autlior has introduced his fanciful and whimsical opinions about vision." — (Essay on the Writings 
and Genius of Pope, Vol. II. p. 204.) — If I were called on to point out the most ingenious and original part of the whole 
work, it would bo the argument contained in the passages here so contemptuousli' alluded to by this learned and (on all 
questions of taste) most respectable critic. 

' The authority I here allude to is that of my old friend and preceptor, Dr John Stevenson, who was himself a member 
of the Jiankenian Club, and who was accustomed for many years to mention this fact in bin Academicai Prelections. 

DISS. I. TAUT H. Y 



170 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



seems to have been chiefly instrumental in pre- 
paring the way for a schism among Locke's dis- 
ciples. The name of Law was first known to 
the puhlic by an excellent translation, accom- 
panied by many learned, and some very judi- 
cious notes, of Ai'chbishop King's work on the 
Origin of Evil ; a work of which the great ob- 
ject was to combat the Optimism of Leibnitz, 
and the Manicheism imputed to Bayle. In 
making this work more generally known, the 
translator certainly rendered a most acceptable 
and important service to the world, and, indeed, 
it is upon this ground that his best claim to li- 
terary distinction is still founded. V In his own 
original speculations, he is weak, paradoxical, 
and oracular ; * afiecting, on all occasions, the 
most profound veneration for the opinions of 
Locke, but much moi'e apt to attach liimself to 
the errors and oversights of that great man, 
than to enter into the general spirit of his meta- 
physical philosophy. 

To this translation, Dr Law prefixed a Dis- 
sertation concerning the Fundamental Principle 
of Virtue, by the Reverend Mr Gay: a per- 
formance of considerable ingenuity, but which 
would now be entitled to little notice, were it 
not for the influence it appears to have had in 
suggesting to Dr Hartley the possibility of ac- 
counting for all our intellectual pleasures and 
pains, by the single principle of the Association 
of Ideas. We are informed by Dr Hartley 
himself, that it was in consequence of hearing 
some account of the contents of this dissertation. 



he was first led to engage in those inquiries 
which pi-oduced his celebrated Theory of Human 
Nature. 

The other principle on which this theory pro- 
ceeds (that of the vibrations and 'V'ibratinncles 
in the medullary substance of the brain) is also 
of Cambridge origin. It occurs in the form of 
a query in Sir Isaac Newton's Optics; and a 
distinct allusion to it, as a principle likely to 
throw new light on the phenomena of mind, is 
to be found in the concluding sentence of Smith's 
Hartrwnies. 

Very nearly about the time when Hartley's 
Theory appeared, Charles Bonnet of Geneva 
published some speculations of his own, pro- 
ceeding almost exactly on the same assumptions. 
Both writei's spealc of vibi-ations (ebrmilemens) 
in the nerves ; and both of them have recourse 
to a subtle and elastic ether, co-operating with 
the nerves in carrying on the communication 
between soul and body.* This fluid Bonnet 
conceived to be contained in the nerves, in a 
manner analogous to that in which the electric 
fluid is contained in the solid bodies which con- 
duct it ; differing in this respect from the Car- 
tesians as well as from the ancient physiologists, 
who considered the nerves as hollow tubes or 
pipes, within which the animal spirits were in- 
cluded. It is to this elastic ether that Bonnet 
ascribes the vibrations of which he supposes the 
nerves to be susceptible ; for the nerves them- 
selves (he justly observes) have no resemblance 
to the stretched cords of a musical instrument.* 



' King's argument in proof of the prevalence in this world, both of Natural and Sforal Good, over the corresponding 
Evils, has been much and deservedly admired ; nor are Law's Notes upon this head entitled to less praise. Indeed, it is 
in this part of the work that both the author and his commentator appear, in my opinion, to the greatest advantage. 

' As instances of tliis I need only refer to the first and third of his Notes on King; the former of which relates to the 
word suhstance ; and the latter to the dispute between Clarke and Leibnitz concerning spncc. His reasonings on both sub- 
jects are obscured by an affected use of hard and unmeaning words, ill becoming so devoted an admirer of Locke. The 
same remark may be extended to an Inquiry into the Idcus of Space and Time, published by Dr Law in 1734. 

The result of Law's speculations on Space and Time is thus stated by himself: " That our ideas of them do not imply 
any external idcatum or oijective reality ; that these ideas (as well as those of infinity and number) are universal or abstract 
ideas, existing under tliat /ormn/i/^ no where but in the mind ; nor afForduig a proof of any thing, but of the power which 
the mind has to form them." — (Law's Trans, of King, p. 7- 4th edit.) This language, as we shall afterwards see, approaches 
very nearly to that lately introduced by Kant. Dr Law's favourite author might have cautioned him against such jargon. 
(See Essay on the Human Understanding, Book II. Chap. siii. § 17, 18.) 

The absurd application of the scholastic word substance to empty space ; an absurdity in which the powerful mind of 
Gravesande acquiesced many years after the publication of the Essay on Human Understanding, has probably contributed, 
not a little to force some authors into the opposite extreme of maintaining, with Leibnitz and Dr Law, that our idea of 
space does not imply any exitenial idcatum or objective reality. Gravesande's words are these : " Suhstantise sunt aut 
cogitantes, aut non cogitantes ; cogitantes duas novimus, Deum et Mentem nostram : proeter has et aUas dari in dubium 
non revocamus. Diioe etiam substantioe, quae non cogitant, nobis notoe sunt Spatium et Corpus." — Gravesande, Introd. 
ad Philosopfiiam, § 19. 

' Essai Analytique de rAme, Chap. v. See also the additional notes on the first chapter of the seventh part of the Con- 
Umplatum de la Nature. 

' Mais les ner& sont mous, ils ne sont point tendus comme les cordes d'uu instrument ; les objets y exciteroient^Us done 



I 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



171 



Hartley's Theory diflFers in one respect from 
this, as he speaks of vibrations and Aabratiuncles 
in the medullary substance of the brain and 
nerves. He agT^ees, however, with Bonnet, in 
thinking, that to these vibrations in the nerves 
the co-operation of the ether is essentially ne- 
cessary ; and, tlierefore, at bottom the two hy- 
potheses may be regarded as in substance the 
same. As to the trifling shade of difference be- 
tween them, the advantage seems to me to be 
in favour of Bonnet. 

Nor was it only in their Physiological Theo- 
ries concerning the nature of the union between 
soul and body, that these two philosophers 
agreed. On all the great articles of metaphy- 
sical theology, the coincidence between their 
conclusions is truly astonishing. Both held the 
doctrine of Necessity in its fullest extent ; and 
both combined with it a vein of mystical devo- 
tion, setting at defiance the creeds of all esta- 
blished chui'ches. The intentions of both are 
allowed, by those who best knew them, to have 
been eminently pure and worthy ; but it cannot 
be said of either, that his metaphysical WTitings 
have contributed much to the instruction or to 
the improvement of the public. On the con- 
trary, they have been instrumental in spreading 
a set of speculative tenets very nearly allied to 



that sentimental and fanatical modification of 
Spinozism, which, for many years past, has pre- 
vailed so much, and produced such mischievous 
eflfects in some parts of Germany. '^ 

But it is chiefly by his application of the asso- 
ciating principle to account for all the mental 
phenomena, that Hartley is known to the world ; 
and upon this I have nothing to add to what I 
have already stated in another work. — (PhiL 
Essays, Essay IV.) — His Theory seems to be al- 
ready fast passing into obli\'ion ; the temporary 
popularity which it enjoyed in this country 
ha-vdng, in a great measure, ceased with the 
life of its zealous and indefatigable apostle Dr 
Priestley.* 

It would be unfair, however, to the translator 
of Archbishop King, to identify his opinions 
with those of Hartley and Priestley. The zeal 
with which he contends for man's free agency 
is sufficient, of itself, to draw a strong line of 
distinction between his Ethical System and 
theirs. — (See his Notes on King, passim.) — But 
I must be allowed to say of him, that the gene- 
ral scope of his wi'itings tends, in common with 
that of the two other metaphysicians, to depre- 
ciate the evidences of Natural Religion, and 
more especially to depreciate the evidences which 
the light of nature affords of a life to come ; — 



les vibrations analogues i celle d'une corde pincc'e? Ces vibrations secommuniqueroient-elles \ I'instant au siege de Tame? 
I^a chose paroit ditiicile !i concjevoir. Jfais si Ton admet dans les neri's un fluide dont la subtilit^ et I'elasticite approche de 
celle de la lumiere ou de I'etlier, on expliquera facilement par le secours de ce fluide, et la ci^le'rite avec laquelle les impres- 
sions se communiquent ii I'ume, et celle avec laquelle I'ame execute tant d'ope'rations diffe'rentes." — (Esmi Anal. Chap, v.) 

" Au reste, les ])liysiologistes qui avoient cru que les filets nerveux etoient solides, avoient c^d^ & des apparences trora. 
peuses. lis vouloient d'ailleurs taire osciller les nerfs pour rendre raison des sensations, et les nerfs ne peuvent osciller. 
lis sent mous, et nuUement elastiques. Un nerf coupe ne se retire point. C'est le fluide invisible que les nerfs renfer. 
ment, qui est doud de cette i^lasticite qu'on leur attrihuoit, et d'une plus grande ^sticitt? encore" — (Contemp. de la Nature, 
VII. Partie, Chap. i. Note at the end of the chapter.) 

M. Quesnai, the celebrated author of the Ecunomical System, has expressed himself to the same purpose concerning the 
supposed vibrations of the nerves : " Plusieurs physiciens ont pensi^ que le seul dbranlement des nerfs, causs? par les objets 
qui touchent les organes des corps, suffit pour occasioner le mouvement et le sentiment dans les parties ou les nerfs sont 
ebranle's. lis se representent les nerfs comme des cordes fort tendus, qu'un Idger contact met en vibration dans toute leur 
^tendiie. Des philosophes, peu instruits en anatomie, ont pu se former un telle iAie Alais cette tension qu'on sup- 
pose dans les nerfs, et qui les rend si susceptibles d'c<branlement et de vibration, est si grossiirement imaginee qu'il seroit 
ridicule de s'occuper serieuaenient a la refuter." {Econ. Animalc, sect. 3. c. 13.) 

As tliis passage from Quesnai is quoted by Condillac, and sanctioned by his authority (Trait!- des Aninuiux, Clmp. iii.), it 
would appear tliat tlie hypothesis which supjioses the nerves to perfonn their functions by means of vibrations was going 
fast into discredit, both among the metapliysicians and the physiologists of France, at the very time when it was beginning 
to attract notice in Kngland, in consequence of the visionary speculations of Hartley. 

' In a letter which I received from Dr Parr, he mentions a treatise of Dr Hartley's which appeared about a year before 
the publication of his great work ; to which it was meant by the author to serve as a precursor. Of this rare treatise I had 
never beliire licard. " You will be astoni-hed to hear," says Dr Parr, " that in this book, instead of the doctrine of ne- 
cessity, Hartley openly declares for the indilference of tlie will, as maintained by Archbishop King." We are told by 
Hartley liimsclf that his notions upon necessity grew upon him while lie was writing liis observations upon man ; but it 
is curious (as Dr Parr remarks), that in the course of a year, his ojiinions on so very essential a point should have under- 
gone a complete change. 

" Dr Priestley's opinion of the merits of Hartley's work is thus stated by himself : " Something was done in this field of 

knowledge by Descartes, very much by Mr Locke, but most of all by Dr Hartley, who has thrown more useful light upon 

the tlieory of the mind, than Newton did upon the theory of the natural world." (Jtemarkt on Had, Beattie, and Otvald, 

p. 2. London, 1774.) 



172 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



" a doctrine equally necessary to comfort the 
weakness, and to support our lofty ideas of the 
grandeur of human nature;"' and of which it 
seems hard to confine exclusively the knowledge 
to that portion of mankind who have been fa- 
voured with tlie light of Revelation. The in- 
fluence of the same fundamental error, arising, 
too, from the same mistaken idea, of thus 
strengthening the cause of Christianity, may be 
traced in various passages of the posthumous 
work of the late Bishop of LlandafF. It is won- 
derful that the reasonings of Clarke and of But- 
ler did not teach these eminent men a sounder 
and more consistent logic; or, at least, open 
their eyes to the ine\atable consequences of the 



rash concessions which they made to their ad- 
versai'ies. * 

Among the disciples of Law, one illustrious 
exception to these remarks occurs in Dr Paley, 
whose treatise on Natural Theology is unques- 
tionably the most instructive as well as inte- 
resting publication on that subject which has 
appeared in our times. As the book was in- 
tended for popular use, the author has wisely 
avoided, as much as possible, all metaphysical 
discussions ; but I do not know that there exists 
any other work where the argument from final 
causes is placed in so great a variety of pleasing 
and striking points of view. 



SECTION VI. 

Condillac, and other French Metaphysicians of a later date. 

. While Hartley and Bonnet were indulging of his countrymen to the method of studjdng 
their imagination in theorising concerning the the phenomena of Mind recommended and ex- 
nature of the union between soul and body, emplified by Locke. ' Of the vanity of expect- 
Coudillac was attempting to draw the attention ing to illustrate, by physiological conjectures, 



' Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments, 6th ed. "Vol. I. pp. 325, 326. 
. Dr Law's doctrine of the sleep of the soul, to which his high station in the church could not fail to add much weight in 
the judgment of many, is, I believe, now universally adopted by the followers of Hartley and Priestley ; the theory of vi- 
brations being evidently inconsistent with the supposition of the soul's being able to exercise her powers in a separate state 
from the body. 

= Without entering at all into tlie argument with Dr Law or his followers, it is sufficient here to mention, as an histori- 
cal fact, their wide departure from the older lights of the English church, from Hooker downwards. " All religion," saya 
Archbishop Tillotson, whom I select as an unexceptionable organ of their common sentiments, " is founded on right no- 
tions of God and his perfections, insomuch that Divine Revelation itself does suppose these for its foundations ; and can 
signify nothing to us unless they be first known and believed ; so that the principles of natural religion are the foundation 
of that which is revealed." — (Sermon 41.) " There is an intrinsical good and evil in things, and the reasons and respects of 
moral good and evil are fixed and immutable, eternal and indispensable. Nor do they speak safely who make the Divine 
will the rule of moral good and evil, as if there were nothing good or evil in its own nature antecedently to the will of God ; 
but, that all things are therefore good and evil because God wills them to be so." — (Sermon 88.) " Natural religion is obe- 
dience to the natural law, and the performance of such duties as natural light, without any express and supernatural reve- 
lation, doth dictate to men. These lie at the bottom of all religion, and are the great fundamental duties which God re- 
quires of all mankind. These are the surest and most sacred of all other laws ; those which God hath rivetted in our souls 
and written upon our hearts ; and these are what we call moral duties, and most valued by God, which are of eternal and 
perpetual obligation, because they do naturally oblige, without any particular and express revelation from God ; and these 
are the foundation of revealed and instituted reUgion ; and all revealed religion does suppose them and build upon them."— 
Sermons 48. 49. 

' It may appear to some unaccountable, that no notice should have been taken, in this Dissertation, of any French me- 
taphysician during the long interval between Malebranche and Condillac. As an apology for this apparent omission, I beg 
leave to quote the words of an author intimately acquainted with the history of I'rench literature and philosophy, and emi- 
nently qualified to appreciate the merits of those who have contributed to their progress. " If we except," says BIr Adam 
Smith, in a J\femoir jiublished in 1755, " the jNIeditations of Descartes, I know of nothing in the works of French writers 
which aspires at originality in morals or metaphysics ; for the philosophy of Regius and that of jMalebranche are nothing 
more than the meditations of Descartes unfolded with more art and refinement. But Hobbes, Locke, Dr Mandeville, 
Lord Shaftesbury, Dr Butler, Dr Clarke, and j\Ir Hutcheson, each in his own system, all different and all incompatible, 
have tried to be original, at least in some points. They have attempted to add something to the fund of observations col- 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



173 



the manner in which the intercourse hetween 
the thinking principle and the external world is 
carried on, no philosopher seems ever to have 
been more completely aware ; and, accordingly, 
he confines himself stiictly, in all his researches 
concerning this intercourse, to an examination 
of the general laws by which it is regulated. 
There is, at the same time, a remarkable coin- 
cidence between some of his views and those of 
the other two writers. All of the three, while 
they profess the highest veneration for Locke, 
have abandoned his account of the origin of our 
ideas for that of Gassendi ; and, by doing so, 
have, with the best intentions, furnished arms 
against those principles which it was their com- 
mon aim to establish in the world. * It is much 
to be regretted, that by far the greater part of 
those French writers who have since speculated 
about the human mind, have acquired the whole 
of their knowledge of Locke's philosophy through 
this mistaken comment upon its fundamental 
principle. On this subject I have already ex- 
hausted all that I have to offer on the eifect of 
Condillac's wi-itings ; and I flatter myself have 
sufficiently shown how widely his commentary 
differs from the text of his author. It is this 
commentary, however, which is now almost 
universally received on the Continent as the 
doctrine of Locke, and which may justly be re- 
garded as the sheet-anchor of those systems 
which are commonly stigmatised in England 
with the appellation of French philosophy. Had 
Condillac been sufficiently aware of the conse- 
quences which have been deduced (and I must 



add logically deduced) from liis account of the 
origin of our knowledge, I am persuaded, from 
his known candour and love of truth, that he 
would have been eager to acknowledge and to 
retract his error. 

In this apparent simplification and generali- 
sation of Locke's doctrine, there is, it must be 
acknowledged, something, at first sight, ex- 
tremely seducing. It relieves the mind from 
the painful exercise of abstracted reflection, and 
amuses it with analogy and metaphor when it 
looked only for the severity of logical discus- 
sion. The clearness and simplicity of Condil- 
lac's style add to the force of this illusion, and 
flatter the reader with an agreeable idea of the 
powers of liis own understanding, when he finds 
himself so easily conducted through the darkest 
labyrinths of metaphysical science. It is to this 
cause I would chiefly ascribe the great popula- 
rity of his works. They may be read with as 
little exertion of thought as a history or a novel ; 
and it is only when we shut the book, and at - 
tempt to express in our own words the sub- 
stance of what we have gained, that we have the 
mortification to see our supposed acquisitions 
vanish into air. 

The philosophy of Condillac was, in a more 
peculiar manner, suited to the taste of his own 
country, where (according to Mad. de Stael) 
" i(^w read a book but with a ^^ew to talk of 
it."* Among such a people, speculations which 
are addressed to the power of reflection can 
never expect to acquire the same popidarity 
with theories expressed in a metaphorical lan- 



lected by their predecessors, and already the common property of nianliind. Tliis branch of science, which the Englisli 
themselves neglect at present, appears to have been recently transported into France. I discover some traces of it not only 
in the Ennjclopi'tlk; but in the T/ieor;/ of Affrccaltle Saisiilh>:is\ by M- de I'ouilly ; and much more in the late discourse of JI. 
Kousseau, On the Ori!;in and Foundation of the IncquaUtij of Ranks among Men." 

Although I perfectly agree with 5Ir Smith in his general remark on the sterility of invention among the French meta- 
physicians posterior to Descartes, when compared to tliosc of England, I cannot pass over the foregoing quotation with- 
out expressing my surprise, Ij/, To find the name of JMalebranche (one of the highest in modern philosophy) degraded to 
a level with that of Regius; and, 2%, To observe Blr Smith's silence with respect to Buffier and Condillac, while he men- 
tions the autlior of the Theory of Agreeable Sensations as a metaphysician of original genius. Of tlie merits of Conilillac, 
whose most important works were published several years before this paper of Jlr Smith's, I am about to speak in the text ; 
and those of Buffier I shall have occasion to mention in a subsequent part of this discourse. In the mean time, I shall only 
say of him, that I regard him as one of tlie most original as well as sounil philosophers of whom the eighteenth centurv has 
to boast. 

' Condillac's earliest work appeared three years before the publication of Hartley's Theory. It is entitled, " Essai siir 
rOrigine det ConnoUtances Ilumaines. Ourragc oii I'on ridiiit a un scul princlpc tout cequi concernc Fentcndi-nunt humain." This 
Kit! principc is the association of ideas. The account which both authors give of the transformation of sensations into ideas 
is substantially tlic same. 

' " Kii France, on ne lit gucre un ouvrage que pour en parler." — (Allemagne, Tom. I. p. 292.) The same remark, I am 
much afraid, is becoming daily more and more applicable to our own island. 



174 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



gnage, and constantly recalling to the fancy the 
impressions of the external senses. The state 
of society in France, accordingly, is singularly 
unfavourahle to the inductive philosophy of the 
human mind ; and of this truth no proof more 
decisive can he produced, than the admiration 
with which the metaphysical writings of Con- 
dillac have heen so long regarded. 

On the other hand, it cannot he denied that 
CondiUac has, in many instances, been eminent- 
ly successful, both in observing and describing 
the mental phenomena ; but, in such cases, he 
commonly follows Locke as his guide ; and, 
wherever he trusts to his own judgment, he 
seldom fails to wander from his way. The best 
part of his works relates to the action and re- 
action of thought and language on each other, a 
subject which had been pre\'iously very pro- 
foundly treated by Locke, but which Condillac 
has had the merit of placing in many new and 
happy points of view. In various cases, his 
conclusions are pushed too far, and in others 
are expressed without due precision; but, on 
the whole, they form a most valuable accession 
to this important branch of logic ; and (what 
not a little enhances their value) they have 'been 
instrumental in recommending the subject to 
the attention of other inquirers, still better qua- 
lified than their author to do it justice. 

In the speculation, too, concerning the origin 
and the theoretical history of language, Condil- 
lac was one of the first who made any consider- 
able advances ; nor does it reflect any discredit 
on his ingenuity, that he has left some of the 
pi'iucipal difficulties connected with the inquiry 
very imperfectly explained. The same subject 
was soon after taken up by Mr Smith, who, I 
think, it must be owned, has rather slurred over 
these difficulties, than attempted to remove 
tliem; an omission on his part the more re- 
markable, as a very specious and puzzling ob- 
jection had been recently stated by Rousseau, 
not only to the theory of Condillac, but to all 



speculations which have for their object the so- 
lution of the same problem. " If language" 
(says Rousseau) " be the result of human con- 
vention, and if words be essential to the exer- 
cise of thought, language would appear to be 
necessary for the invention of language."' — 
" But" (continues the same author) " when, by 
means which I cannot conceive, our new gram- 
marians began to extend their ideas, and to 
generalise their words, their ignorance most 
have confined them within very narrow bounds. 
How, for example, covdd they ima- 
gine or comprehend such words as matter, mind, 
substance, mode, figure, motion, since our phi- 
losophers, who have so long made use of them, 
scarcely understand them, and since the ideas 
attached to them, being purely metaphysical, 
can have no model in nature ?" 

" I stop at these first steps" (continues Rous- 
seau), " and intreat my judges to pause, and 
consider the distance between the easiest part of 
language, the invention of physical substantives, 
and the power of expressing all the thoughts of 
man, so as to speak in public, and influence so- 
ciety. I entreat them to reflect upon the time 
and knowledge it must have required to dis- 
cover numbers, abstract words, aoriets, and all 
the tenses of verbs, particles, syntax, the art of 
connecting propositions and arguments, and 
how to form the whole logic of discourse. Aa 
for myself, alarmed at these multiplying diffi- 
culties, and convinced of the almost demon- 
strable impossibility of language having been 
formed and established by means merely human, 
I leave to others the discussion of the problem, 
' Wliether a society already formed was more 
necessary for the institution of language, or a 
language already invented for the establishment 
of society ?'" * ■«'' 

Of the various difficulties here enumerated, 
that mentioned by Rousseau, in the last sentence, 
was plainly considered by him as the greatest 
of all ; or rather as comprehending under it all 



' That men never could have invented an artificial language, if they had not possessed a natural language, is an observa- 
tion of Ur Reid's ; and it is this indisputable and self-evident truth which gives to Rousseau's remark that imposing plau- 
sibility, which, at first sight, dazzles and perplexes the judgment. I by no means say, that the former proposition affords 
a key to all the difficulties suggested by the latter ; but it advances us at least one important step towards their solution. 

^ DUcours suT V Origins et les Fondemens de V Inij^alite parmi la Hommet. 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



175 



the rest. But this difficulty arises merely from 
his own peculiar and paradoxical theory about 
the artificial origia of society ; a theory which 
needs no refutation, but the short and luminous 
aphorism of Montesquieu, that " man is born in 
society, and there he remains." The other dif- 
ficulties touched upon by Rousseau, in the for- 
mer part of this quotation, are much more se- 
rious, and have never yet been removed in a 
manner completely satisfactory : And hence 
some very ingenious writers have been led to 
conclude, that langu^e could not possibly have 
been the work of human invention. This ar- 
gument has been lately urged ^vith much acute- 
ness and plausibility by Dr IVIagee of Dublin, 
and by M. de Bonald of Paris. ^ It may, how- 
ever, be reasonably questioned, .if these philoso- 
phers would not have reasoned more logically, 
had they contented themselves with merely af- 
firming, that the problem has not yet been solv- 
ed, without going so far as to pronounce it to 
be absolutely insolvable. For my own part, 
when I consider its extreme difficidty, and the 
short space of time during which it has engaged 
the attention of the learned, I am more dispos- 
ed to wonder at the steps which have been al- 
ready gained in the research, than at the num- 
ber of desiderata which remain to employ the 
ingenuity of our successors. It is justly re- 
marked by Dr Ferguson, that, " when language 
has attained to that perfection to which it ar- 



rives in the progress of society, the speculative 
mind, in comparing the first and the last stages 
of the progress, feels the same sort of amaze- 
ment with a traveller, who, after rising insen- 
sibly on the slope of a hill, comes to look down 
from a precipice, to the summit of which he 
scarcely believes he could have ascended with- 
out supernatural aid."* 

With respect to some of the difficulties point- 
ed out by Rousseau and his commentators, it 
may be here remarked in passing (and the ob- 
servation is equally applicable to various pas- 
sages in Mr Smith's dissertation on the same 
subject), that the difficulty of explaining the 
theory of any of our intellectual operations af- 
fords no proof of any difficulty in appljdng that 
operation to its proper practical purpose ; nor 
is the difficulty of explaining the metaphysical 
nature of any part of speech a proof, that, in its 
first origin, it implied any extraordinarj' effijrt 
of intellectual capacity. How many metaphy- 
sical difficulties might be raised about the ma- 
thematical notion of a line ? And yet this notion 
is perfectly comprehended by every peasant, 
when he speaks of the distance between tw^o 
places ; or of the length, breadth, or height of 
his cottage. In like manner, although it may 
be difficult to give a satisfactory account of the 
origin and import of such words as of or by, we 
ought not to conclude, that the invention of 
tliem implied any metaphysical knowledge in 



' The same tlieory has been extended to the art of writing; but if M« art was first taught to man by an express reve- 
lation from Heaven, what account can be given of its present state in the great empire of China? Is the mode of writing 
practised there of divine or of human origin ? 

• Principles of Moral and Political Science, Vol. I. p. 43. Edin. 1782. To this observation may be added, by way of com- 
ment, the following reflections of one of the most learned prelates of the English church : — " Man, we are told, had a lan- 
guage from the beginning; for lie conversed with God, and gave to cVery animal its particular name. But how came man 
by language ? He must either have had it from inspiration., ready formed from his Creator, or have derived it by the exer- 
tion of those faculties of the mind, which were implanted in him as a rational creature, from natural and external objects 
with which he was surrounded. Scripture is silent on the means by which it was acquired. We are not, therefore, war- 
ranted to affirm, that it was received by inspiration, and there is no internal evidence in language to lead us to such a sup- 
position. On tills side, then, of the question, we have nothing but uncertainty ; but on a subject, the causes of which are 
80 remote, nothing is more convenient than to refer them to inspiration, and to recur to that easy and comprehensive argu- 
ment, 

that is, man enjoyed the great privilege of speech, which distinguished him at first, and still continues to distinguish him 
as a rational creature, so eminently from the brute creation, without exerting those reasoning faculties, by which he was in 
other respects enabled to raise hirasell' so much above their level. Inspiration, then, seems to have been an argument 
adopted and made necessary by the difficulty of accounting for it otherwise; and the name of inspiration carries with it an 
awfulness, which tiirbids the unhallowed approach of inquisitive discussion." — (Essay on the Study of Antiquitia, by Dr JJch- 
oiss, 2d edit. Oxford, 1782. Pp. «5, iUi.) 

It is farther remarked very sagaciously, and I think very decisively, by the same author, that " the supposition of man 
having reeeivecl a language ready formed from his Creator, is aclually inconsistent with the evidence of tlie origin of our 
ideas, which exists in language. l''or, as the origin of our ideas is to be traced in llie words through whicli the ideas are 
conveyed, so the origin of language is referable to the source from whence our QfirslJ ideas are derived, namely, iMural and 
external objects."— fVWJ. pp. B3, 8-1.) 



176 PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 

the individual who first employed them. ^ Their simultaneous effort of the most sublime and 

import, we sec, is fully understood by children comprehensive abilities."* 

of three or four years of age. It is, however, less in tracing the first rudi- 

In this view of the History of Language I ments of speech, than in some collateral inqui- 

have been anticipated by Dr Ferguson. " Parts ries concerning the genius of different languages, 

of speech" (says this profound and original that Condillac's ingenuity appears to advantage. 

writer), which, in speculation, cost the gram- Some of his observations, in particular, on the 

marian so much study, are, in practice, familiar connection of natural signs with the growth of 

to the vulgar. The rudest tribes, even the idiot a systematical prosody, and on the imitative -arts 

and the insane, are possessed of them. They of the Greeks and Romans, as distinguished 

are soonest learned in childhood, insomuch that from those of the moderns, are new and cu- 

we must suppose human nature, in its lowest rious ; and are enlivened with a mixture of his- 

state, competent to the use of them ; and, with- torical illustration, and of critical discussion, 

out the intervention of uncommon genius, man- seldom to be met with among metaphysical 

kind, in a succession of ages, qualified to ac- writers. 

complish in detail this amazing fabric of Ian- But through all his researches, the radical 

guage, which, wlien raised to its height, appears error may, move or less, be traced, which lies 

so much above what could be ascribed to any at the bottom of his system;' and hence it is, 

• In this remark I had an eye to the following passage in Mr Smith's dissertation : — " It is worth while to observe, that 
those prepositions, which, in modern languages, hold the place of the ancient cases, are, of all others, the most general, and 
abstract, and metaj)hysical ; awrf, of consequence^ would prahahh/ he the iast hircnied. Ask any man of common acuteness, what 
relation is expressed by the preposition above? He will readily answer, that of superioritt/. By the preposition below 9 He 
will as quickly reply, that of inferiority. But ask him what relation is expressed by the preposition of? and, if he has not 
beforehand employed his thoughts a good deal upon these subjects, you may safely allow hira a week to consider of his 
answer." 

= The following judicious reflections, with which M Raynouard concludes the introduction to his Elimens de la Langve 
Jiomane, may serve to illustrate some of the above observations. The modification of an existing language is, I acknow- 
ledge, a thing much less wonderful than the formation of a language entirely new ; but the processes of thought, it is rea- 
sonable to think, are, in both cases, of the same kind; and the consideration of the one is at least a step gained towards the 
elucidation of the other. 

" La langue Ilomane est peut-etre la seule k la formation de laquelle il soit permis de remonter ainsi, pour d&ouvrir et 
expliquer le secret de son industrieux mecanisme. . . . J'ose dire que I'esprit philosophique, consulte sur le choix des 
moyens qui devraient ^pargner h I'ignorance beaucoup d'dtudes penibles et fastidieux, n'eut pas A4 aussi heureux quel'ig- 
norance elle-mtme ; il est vrai qu'elle avoit deux grands maitres ; la Ne'cessite et le Tems. 

" En considerant h quelle e'poque d'ignorance et de barbarie s'est forme' et perfectionnd ce nouvel idiome, d'apres des 
principes indiques seulement par Tanalogie et I'euphonie, on se dira peut-ttre comme je me le suis dit ; I'homme porta en 
soi-meme les principes d'une logique naturelle, d'un instinct regulateur, que nous admirons quelquefois dans les enfans. 
Oui, la Providence nous a dot^ de la faculte' indestructible et des moyens ingenieux d'exprimer, de communiquer, d'^temi- 
ser par la parole, et par les signes permanens oii elle se reproduit, cette pensee qui est I'un de nos plus beaux attributs, et 
qui nous distingue si e'minemment et si avantageusement dans I'ordre de la creation." — (Elimens de la Grammaire de la Langue 
Romane avant I'An. 1000. Pp. 104, 105. A Paris, 181(>.) 

In the theoretical history of language, it is more than probable, that some steps will remain to exercise the ingenuity of 
our latest posterity. Nor will this appear surprising, when we consider how impossible it is for us to judge, from our own 
experience, of the intellectual processes which pass in the minds of savages. Some instincts, we know, possessed both by them 
and by infants (that of imitation, for example, and the use of natural signs), disappear in by far the greater number of in- 
dividuals, almost entirely in the maturity of their reason. It does not seem at all improbable, that other instincts connect- 
ed with the invention of speech, may be confined to that state of the intellectual powers which requires their guidance : 
nor is it quite impossible, tliat some latent capacities of the understanding may be evolved by the pressure of necessity. 
The facility with which infants surmount so many grammatical and metaphysical difficulties, seems to me to add much 
weight to these conjectures. 

In tracing the first steps of the invention of language, it ought never to be forgotten, that we undertake a task more si- 
milar than might at first be supposed, to that of tracing the first operations of the infant mind. In both cases, we are apt 
to attempt an explanation from reason alone, of what requires the co-operation of very different principles. To trace the 
theoretical history of geometry, in which we know for certain, that all the transitions have depended on reasoning alone, is 
a problem which has not yet been completely solved. Nor has even any satisfactory account been hitherto given of the 
experimental steps by which men were gradually led to the use of iron. And yet how simple are these problems, when 
compared with that relating to the origin and progress of language ! 

^ A remarkable instance of this occurs in that part of Condillac's Cours d'Etude, where he treats of the art of writing : 
" Vous savez, Blonseigneur, comment les memes noms ont e'te transportf^s des objets qui tombent sous les sens k eeux qui les 
^chappent. Vous avez remarque', qu'il y en a qui sont encore en usage dans I'un et I'autre acceptation, et qu'il y en a qui 
sont devenus les noms propres des choses, dont ils avoient d'abord 4teies signes figure's. 

" I.es premiers, tel que le mouvement de I'ame, son penchant, sa rtjlexion, donnent un corps k des choses qui n'en ont pas. 
L,es seconds, tels que la pensee, la volonil, le desir, ne peignent plus rien, et laissent aux id^es abstraites cette spirituality 
qui les de'robe aux sens. Mais si le langage doit etre I'image de nos pens^es, on a perdu beaucoup, lorsqu' oubliant la pre- 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



177 



that, with all his skill as a writer, he never ele- 
vates the imagination, or touches the heart. 
That he wrote with the hest intentions, we have 
satisfactory evidence ; and yet hardly a philo- 
sopher can he named, whose theories have had 
more influence in misleading the opinions of liis 
contemporaries.' In France, he very early 
attained to a rank and authority not inferior to 
those which have been so long and so deserved- 
ly assigned to Locke in England ; and even in 
this country, his works liave been more gene- 
rally read and admired, than those of any fo- 
reign metaphysician of an equally recent date. 

The very general sketches to which I am here 
obliged to confine myself, do not allow me to 
take notice of various contiibutions to metaphy- 
sical science, which are to be collected from 
writers professedly intent upon other subjects. 
I must not, however, pass over in silence the 
name of Buffon, who, in the midst of those 
magnificent views of external nature, which 
the peculiar character of his eloquence fitted 
him so admirably to delineate, has frequently 
indulged himself in ingenious discussions con- 
cerning the faculties both of men and of brutes. 
His subject, indeed, led his attention chiefly to 
man, considered as an animal ; but the pecu- 



liarities which the human race exhibit in their 
physical condition, and the manifest reference 
which these bear to their superior rank in the 
creation, unavoidably engaged him in specula- 
tions of a higher aim, and of a deeper interest. 
In prosecuting these, he has been accused (and 
perhaps with some justice) of ascribing too 
much to the effects of bodily organisation on 
the intellectual powers ; but he leads his reader 
in so pleasing a manner from matter to mind, 
that I have no doubt he has attracted the curio- 
sity of many to metaphysical inquiries, who 
would never otherwise have thought of them. 
In his theories concerning the nature of the 
brutes, he has been commonly considered as 
leaning to the opinion of Descartes ; but I can- 
not help thinking, without any good reason. 
Some of his ideas on the complicated operations 
of insects appear to me just and satisfactory ; 
and while they account for the phenomena, 
wnthout ascribing to the animal any deep or 
comprehensive knowledge, are far from de- 
grading him to an insentient and unconscious 
machine. 

In his account of the process by which the 
use of our external senses (particularly that of 
sight) is acquired, Buffon has m general follow- 



ignification des mots, on a t'ffac^ jusqu'au traits qu'ils donnoient aux ide'es. Toutes les langues sent en cela plus ou 
efectueuses, toutes aussi onl des tableaux plus ou moins conserves." — (Cours d'Etude, Tome II. p. 212. h Parme, 



miere sig 

moins defectueuses, 

1775.) 

Condillac enlarges on this point at considerable length ; endeavouring to show, that whenever we lose sight of the ana- 
logical origin of a figurative word, we become insensible to one of the chief beauties of language. " lu the word examen, 
for example, a Frenchman perceives only the proper name of one of our mental operations. A Roman attached to it the 
same idea, and received over and above the image of weighing and balancing. The case is the same with the words Amc and 
anima ; pctiste and cogitatio. 

In this view of the subject, Condillac plainly proceeded on his favourite principle, that all our notions of our mental ope- 
rations are compounded of sensible images. ^Vhercas the fact is, that the only just notions we can form of the powers of 
the mind are obtained by abstracting from the qualities and laws of the material world. In proportion, therefore, as the 
analogical origin of a figurative word disappears, it becomes a fitter instrument of metaphysical thought and reasoning.— 
(See Phihioplihal Eaaijs, Part I. Kssay V. Cliap. iii.) 

' A late writer (M. de Bonald), whose pliilosophical opinions, in general, agree nearly with those of La Harpe, has, how. 
ever, appreciated very differently, and, in my judgment, much more sagaciously, the merits of Condillac : " Condillac a eu 
sur I'esprit philosophique du deniier siucle, I'influence que Voltaire h prise sur I'esprit religieux, et J. J. Rousseau siir les 
opinions politiques. Condillac a mis de la sc'chtVesse et de la minutie dans les esprits; Voltaire du penchant h la raillerie 

et h la frivolitt- ; Rousseau les a rendus chagrins et mt'contens Condillac a encore plus fausse' I'esprit de la 

nation, parce que sa doctrine utoit enseignce dans les premieres etudes h des jeimes gens qui n'avoient encore lu ni Rous- 
seau ni Voltaire, et que la maniere de raisonner et la direction philosophique de I'esprit s'e't&dent il tout." — (Rcchcrchcs 
Phil. Tome I. pp. 187, 188) 

The following criticism on the supposed perspicuity of Condillac's style is so just and philosophical, that I cannot refrain 
from giving it a place here : Condillac est, ou paroit ctre, clair et mcihoilique ; mais il faut prendre garde que la darti? 
des penst^es, conmie la transparence des objets jihysiques, peut tenir d'un dtfaut de profondeur, et que u mJthode dans les 
^rits, qui suppose la patience de I'esprit, n'cn prouve pas toiijours la justesse; et moins encore la I'e'condite. II y a aussi 
une clartc' de style en quelque sorte toute niaterielle, qui n'est pas incompatible avec I'obscurit^ dans les idi^es. Rien da 

Plus facile ii entendre que les mots de sensations transformecs dont Condillac s'est servi, parce que ces mots ne parlent qu'a 
imagination, qui se figure \ volonte des transformations et des changemens. JIais cette transformation, applique'e aux 
operations de I'esprit, n'est qu'un mot vide de sens ; et Condillac hii-meme auroit ete bicn embarrasst? d'en donner une 
explication satisfaisante. Ce philoso|)he me paroit plus heureux dans ses apperijus que dans ses demonstrations: I,a route 
de la v^rit^ semble quelquefois s'ouvrir devant lui, mais retenu par la circonspection naturelle h un esprit sans chaleur, et 
intiniid<5 par la faiblesse de son propre syst^me, il n'ose s'y engager." — (Ibid. Tome I. pp. 33. 34.) 

DISS. I. PART. II. Z 



178 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



ed the principles of Berkeley; and, notwith- 
standing some important mistakes which have 
escaped him in his applications of these prin- 
ciples, I do not know that there is anywhere to 
be found so pleasing or so popular an exposition 
of the theory of A'ision. Nothing certainly was 
ever more finely imagined, than the recital 
which he puts into the mouth of our first pa- 
rent, of the gradual steps by which he learned 
the use of his perceptive organs ; and although 
there are various parts of it which will not bear 
the test of a rigorous examination, it is impos- 
sible to read it without sharing in that admira- 
tion, with which we are told the author himself 
always regarded this favourite effusion of his 
eloquence. 

Nor are these the only instances in which 
Buffon has discovered the powers of a metaphy- 
sician. His thoughts on probabilities (a sub- 
ject widely removed from his favourite studies) 
aiFord a proof liow strongly some metaphysical 
questions had laid hold of his curiosity, and 
what new lights he was qualified to throw on 
them, if he had allowed them to occupy more 
of his attention.^ In lus observations, too, on 
the peculiar natm'e of mathematical evidence, 
he has struck into a train of the soundest think- 
ing, in which he has been very generally fol- 
lowed by our later logicians.* Some particular 
expressions in the passage I refer to are excep- 
tionable; but his remarks on what he calls 
Verites de De/ini(io7i are just and important; 
nor do I remember any modern writer, of an 
earlier date, who has touched on the same argu- 
ment. Plato, indeed, and after him Proclus, 
had called the definitions of geometry Hypothe- 
ses ; an expression which may be considered as 
involving the doctrine which BufFon and his 
successors have more fully unfolded. 

What the opinions of Buffon were on those 



essential questions, which were then in dispute 
among the French philosophers, his writings do 
not furnish the means of judging with certainty. 
In his theory of Organic Molecules, and of /»- 
ternal Moulds, he has been accused of entertain- 
ing views not very different from those of the 
ancient atomists ; nor would it perhaps be easy 
to repel the charge, if we were not able to op- 
pose to this wild and unintelligible hypothesis 
the noble and elevating strain, which in general 
so peculiarly characterises his descriptions of 
nature. The eloquence of some of the finest 
passages in his works has manifestly been in- 
spired by the same sentiment which dictated to 
one of his favourite authors the following just 
and pathetic reflection : — " Le spectacle de la 
nature, si vivant, si anime pour ceux qui recon- 
noissent un Dieu, est mort aux yeux de I'athee, 
et dans cette grande harmonic des etres ou tout 
parle de Dieu d'une voix si douce, il n'aper<joit 
qu'un silence eternel."' 

I have already mentioned the strong bias to- 
wards materialism which the authors of the En- 
cyclopedie derived from Condillac's comments 
upon Locke. These comments they seem to 
have received entirely upon credit, without ever 
being at pains to compare them with the origi- 
nal. Had D'Alembert exercised freely his own 
judgment, no person was more likely to have 
perceived their complete futility ; and, in fact, 
he has thrown out various observations which 
strike at their very root. Notwithstanding, 
however, these occasional glimpses of light, he 
invariably reverts to the same error, and has 
once and again repeated it in terms as strong as 
Condillac or Gassendi. 

The author who pushed this account of the 
origin of our knowledge to the most extraordi- 
nary and offensive consequences, was Helvetins. 
His book, De F Esprit, is said to have been com- 



' See his Esiai d' Arithmetique Morale. 

' See the First Discourse prefixed to his Natural History, towards the end. 

" Rousseau In a work by H^rault de Seclielles (entitled Voyages a Montbar, conicnant des detaiU ires intiressans nir U 

caractcre, la pcrsoiine, et les ecrits de Buffon, Paris, 1801), a very difl'erent idea of his religious creed is given from that which 
I have ascribed to him ; but, in direct opposition to this statement, we have a letter, dictated by Buffon, on his death-bed, 
to Sladame Necker, in return for a present of her husband's book. On Vie Importance nf Religious Opinions. The letter (we 
are told) is in the hand-writing of Buffon's son, who describes his father as then too weak to hold the pen. — (Melanges ex- 
traits des Miviuscrits dc Madame Necker. 3 Vols. Paris, 1788.) 

The sublime address to the Supreme Being, with which Buffon closes his reflections on the calamities of war, seems to 
breathe the very soul of Fenelon. " Grand Dieu ! dont la seule pre'sence soutient la nature et maintient I'hannonie de3 
loix de I'univers," &c. &c &c. 



V 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



179 



posed of materials collected from the conversa- 
tions of the society in which he hahitiially lived; 
and it has accordingly been quoted as an au- 
thentic record of the ideas then in fashion among 
the wits of Paris. The unconnected and desul- 
tory composition of the work certainly furnishes 
some intrinsic evidence of the truth of this 
anecdote. 

According to Helvetius, as all our ideas are 
derived from the external senses, * the causes of 
the inferiority of the souls of brutes to those of 
men, are to be sought for in the difference be- 
tween them with respect to bodily organisation. 
In illustration of this remark he reasons as fol- 
lows : — 

" 1. The feet of all quadrupeds terminate ei- 
ther in horn, as those of the ox and the deer; 
or in nails, as those of the dog and the wolf ; or 
in claws, as those of the lion and the cat. This 
peculiar organisation of the feet of these animals 
deprives them not only of the sense of touch, 
considered as a channel of information with re- 
spect to external objects, but also of the dexte- 
rity requisite for the practice of the mechanical 
arts. 

" 2. The life of animals, in general, being of 
a shorter duration than that of man, does not 
permit them to make so many observations, or 
to acquire so many ideas. 

" 3. Animals being better armed and better 
clothed by nature than the human species, have 
fewer wants, and consequently fewer motives to 
stimulate or to exercise their invention. If the 
voracious animals are more cunning than others, 



it is because hunger, ever inventive, inspires 
them with the art of stratagems to surprise their 
prey. 

" 4. The lower animals compose a society 
that flies from man, who, by the assistance of 
weapons made by himself, is become formidable 
to the strongest amongst them. 

" 5. Man is the most prolific and versatile 
animal upon earth. He is born and lives in 
every climate ; while many of the other animals, 
as the lion, the elephant, and the rhinoceros, are 
found only in a certain latitude. And the more 
any species of animals capable of making obser- 
vations is multiplied, the more ideas and the 
greater ingenuity is it likely to possess. 

" But some may ask (continues Helvetius), 
why monkeys, whose paws are nearly as dexte- 
rous as our hands, do not make a progress equal 
to that of man ? A variety of causes (he ob- 
serves) conspire to fix them in that state of in- 
feriority in which we find them : — 1. Men are 
more multiplied upon the earth. 2. Among the 
different species of monkeys, there are few 
whose strength can be compared Avith that of 
man ; and, accordingly, they form only a fugi- 
tive society before the human race. 3. Monkej'S 
being frugiverous, have fewer wants, and, there- 
fore, less invention than man. 4. Their life is 
shorter. And, finally, the organical structure 
of their bodies keeping them, like children, in 
perpetual motion, even after their desires are sa- 
tisfied, they are not susceptible of lassitude 
(ennui), which ought to be considered (as I 
shall prove afterwards) as one of the principles 



' In combaline the philosophy of Helvetius, La Harpe (whose pliilosophical opinions seem, on many occasions, to have 
been not a little inHuencod by bis private jjartialities and dislikes) exclaims loudly against the same princijjles to which he 
had tacitly given his unqualified approbation in speaking of Condillac. On this occasion he is at pains to distinguish between 
the doctrines of the two writers ; asserting that Condillac considered our senses as only the 0{-cas\onal causes of our ideas, 
while Helvetius represented the former as t\vi pruduciivc causes of the latter — (Court de TAthrat. Tome XV. pp. 348, 349.) 
But that this is by no means reconcileable with the general spirit of Condillac's works (although perhaps some detached expres- 
sions may be selected from them admitting of such an interpretation), appears sufficiently from the passages formerly quot- 
ed. In addition to these, I beg leave to transcribe the following : " Dans le systeme que toutes nos connoisances vienne'5t 
des sens, rien n'est i)lus aise que de se faire une notion cxacte des idees. Car elles ne sont que des sensations ou des por- 
tions extraites de quelque sensation pour ttre consideri?es h part ; ee qui produit deux sortcs d'id^es, les sensibles et les 
abstraites." — (Traili des Si/sthnes, Chap, vi.) " Puisquc nous avons vu que le souvenir n'est qu'une maniere de sentir, c'est 
une consequence, que les idt'es intellectuelles ne diftcrent pas essentiellement des sensations niLnies." — (Traiti. dct Seata- 
iions. Chap. viii. § 33.) Is not this precisely the doctrine and even the language of Helvetius ? 

In the same passage of the Lijch, from which the above quotation is taken from La Harpe, there is a sweeping judgment 
pronounced on the merits of Locke, which may serve as a specimen of the author's competency to decide on metaphysical 
questions : " Locke a prouvi^ autant qu'il est possible A I'homme, que I'amc est une substance simple et indivisible, et par 
const'quent immaterielle. Cependant, il ajoute, qu'il n'oseroit affirmer que Dieu ne puisse douer la niatlere de pens^e. 
Condillac est de son avis sur le premier article, et le combat sur le second. Je suis entierement de I'avis de Condillac, et 
tout let bom mituphysicietu conviennent que c'ettta teule inexactitude ju'on jiuitsc rtlcvcr dant Couvrage de Locke."— f Court de Litierai. 
Tome XV. p. 143.) 



180 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



to which the human mind owes its improve- 
ment. 

" By combining (he adds) all these differences 
between the nature of man and of beast, we may 
understand why sensibility and memory, though 
faculties common to man and to the lower ani- 
mals, are in the latter only sterile qualities."' 

The foregoing passage is translated literally 
from a note on one of the first paragraphs of the 
book De F Esprit ; and in the sentence of the 
text to which the note refers, the author trium- 
phantly asks, " Who can doubt, that if the wrist 
of a man had been terminated by the hoof of a 
horse, the species would still have been wander- 
ing in the forest ?" 

Without attempting any examination of this 
shallow and miseriible theory, I shall content 
myself with observing, that it is not peculiar to 
the philosophers of modern France. From the 
Memorabilia of Xenophon it appears, that it was 
current among the sophists of Greece ; and the 
answer given it by Socrates is as philosopliical 
and satisfactory as any thing that could possibly 
be advanced in the present state of the sciences. 

" And canst thou doubt, Aristodemus, if the 
gods take care oi man ? Hath not the privilege 
of an erect form been bestowed on him alone ? 
Other animals they have pro^^ded with feet, by 
which they may be removed from one place to 
another ; but to man they have also given the 
use of the hand. A tongue hath been bestowed 
on every other animal; but what animal, except 
man, hath the power of making his thoughts in- 
telligible to others ? 

" Nor is it with respect to the body alone that 
the gods have shown themselves bountiful to 
man. ^Vho seeth not that he is as it were a 
god in' the midst of this visible creation ? So 
far doth he surpass all animals whatever in the 
endowments of his body and his mind. For if 
the body of the ox had been joined to the mind 
of man, the invention of the latter would have 
been of little avail, while unable to execute his 



purposes with facility. Nor would the human 
form have been of more use to the brute, so long 
as he remained destitute of understanding. But 
in thee, Aristodemus, hath been joined to a 
wonderful soul, a body no less wonderful ; and 
sayst thou, after this, the gods take no care of 
me ? What wouldst thou then more to con- 
vince thee of their care ?" ' 

A very remarkable passage to the same pur- 
pose occurs in Galen's treatise, De Usu Partium. 
" But as of all animals man is the wisest, so 
hands are well fitted for the purposes of a wise 
animal. For it is not because he had hands 
that he is therefore wiser than the rest, as An- 
axagoras alleged ; but because he was wiser than 
the rest that he had therefore hands, as Ai-is- 
totle has most wisely judged. Neither was it 
his hands, but his reason, which instructed man 
in the arts. The hands are only the organs by 
which the arts are practised." ' 

The contrast, in point of elevation, between 
the tone of French philosophy, and that of the 
best heathen moralists, was long ago remarked 
by Addison ; and of this contrast it would be 
difl&ciilt to find a better illustration than the 
passages which have just been quoted. 

The disposition of ingenious men to pass sud- 
denly fi-om one extreme to another in matters of 
controversy, has, in no instance, been more 
strikingly exemplified than in the opposite theo- 
ries concerning the nature of the brutes, which 
successively became fashionable in France du- 
ring the last century. While the prevailing 
creed of French materialists leads to the rejec- 
tion of every theory which professes to discri- 
minate the rational mind from the animal prin- 
ciple of action, it is well known that, but a few 
years before, the disciples of Descartes allowed 
no one faculty to belong to man and brutes in 
common ; and even went so far as to consider 
the latter in the light of mere machines. To 
this paradox the author was probably led, partly 
by his anxiety to elude the objection which the 



' It is not a little surprising that, in the above enumeration, Helvetius takes no notice of the want ol language in the 
lower animals ; a faculty without which, the multiplication of individuals qould contribute nothing to the improvement of 
the species. Nor is this want of language in the brutes owing to any defect in the organs of speech ; as s\ifficiently appears 
from those tribes which are possessed of the power of articulation in no inconsiderable degree. It plainly indicates, there- 
fore, some defect in those higher principles which are connected with the use of artificial signs. 

' Mrs Sarah Fielding's Translation. 

• Gale.v, Dc Us. Part. 1. 1. c 3. 



f 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



181 



facQltics of the lower animals have been sup- 
posed to present to the doctrine of the immorta- 
lity of the soul, and partly by the difhcalty of 
reconciling their sufferings with the Divine 
Goodness. 

Absurd as this idea may now ajipear, none of 
the tenets of Descartes were once adopted with 
more implicit faith by some of the profoundest 
thinkers in Europe. The great Pascal admired 
it as the finest and most valuable article of the 
Cartesian system ; and of the deep impression it 
made on the mind of Malebranche, a most de- 
cisive proof was exhibited by himself in the pre- 
sence of Fontenelle. " M. de Fontenelle con- 
toit," says one of his intimate friends,^ "qu'un 
jour etant alle voir Malebranche aux PP. de 
I'Oratoire de la Rue St Honore, une grosse 
chienne de la maison, et qui etoit pleine, entra 
dans la salle ou ils se promenoient, vint caresser 
le P. Malebranche, et se rouler a ses pieds. 
Apres quelques mouvemens inutUes pour la 
chasser, le philosophe lui donna un grand coup 
de pied, qui fit jetter a la chienne un cri de dou- 
leur, et a M. de Fontenelle un cri de compas- 
sion. Eh quoi (lui dit froidement le P. Male- 
branche) ne s^avez vous pas bien que cela ne se 
sent point ?" 

On this point Fontenelle, though a zealous 
Cartesian, had the good sense to dissent openly 
from his master, and even to express his appro- 
bation of the sarcastic remark of La Motte, que 
cette opinion sur ies aniniaux etoit une dibauclie de 
raisonnement. Is not the same expression equally 
applicable to the opposite theory quoted from 
Helvetius ? * 



From those representations of human nature 
which tend to assimilate to each other the facul- 
ties of man and of the brutes, the transition to 
atheism is not very wide. In the present in- 
stance, both conclusions seem to be the neces- 
sary corollaries of the same fundamental maxim. 
For if all the sources of our knowledge are to be 
found in the external senses, how is it possible 
for the human mind to rise to a conception of 
the Supreme Being, or to that of any other truth 
either of natural or of revealed religion ? 

To this question Gassendi and Condillac, it 
cannot be doubted, were both able to return an 
answer, which seemed to themselves abundantly 
satisfactory. But how few of the multitude are 
competent to enter into these refined explana- 
tions ? And how much is it to be dreaded, that 
the majority will embrace, with the general prin- 
ciple, all the more obvious consequences which 
to their own gross conceptions it seems neces- 
sarily to involve ? Something of the same sort 
may be remarked in the controversy about the 
freedom of the human will. Among the multi- 
tudes whom Leibnitz and Edwards have made 
converts to the scheme of necessity, how com- 
paratively inconsiderable is the number who 
have acquiesced in their subtle and ingenious 
attempts to reconcile this scheme with man's ac- 
countableness and moral agency ? 

Of the prevalence of atheism at Paris, among 
the higher classes, at the period of which we are 
now speaking, the Mcmoires and Correspondance 
of the Baron de Grimm afford the most unques- 
tionable proofs.' His fi-iend Diderot seems to 
have been one of its most zealous abettors ; who, 



' The Abbd Trublet in the Mercure de Juillct, 1757 (See CEuvres de Fontenelle, Tome II. p. 137. Amsterdam, 1764.) 

• In I.a Fontaine's Discours d. Madame Jc la Sahlicrc (lAv. X. Fable I.), the gnod sense with which he points out the ex- 
travagance of both these extremes is truly admirable. His argument (in spile of the fetters of rhyme) is stated, not only 
with his usual prace, but with singular clearness and precision ; and considering the period when he wrote, reflects much 
honour on his philosophical sagacity. 

• The SystciiK- dc la Xalure (the boldest, if not the ablest, publication of the Parisian atheists) appeared in 1/70. It bore 
on the title-page the name of Mirabaud, a respectable but not very eminent writer, who, after long filling the office of per- 
petual secretary to the Trench Academy, died at a very advanced'age in 1760. (He was cliiefly known as the author of 
very inditferent translations of Tasso and Arimto.) It is now, however, universally admitted tliat Jlirabaud had no share 
whatever in the composition of the Si/slcme de la Nature. It has been ascribed to various authors ; nor am I quite certain, 
that, among those who are most competent to form a judgment upon this point, there is yet a perfect unanimity. In 
one of the latest works which has reached tliis country from France (the Correspondance incdiir dc Galiani, l8Ut), it seems to 
be assumed by the editors, as an acknowleilged liict, that it proceeded from the pen of the Baron d'llolbach. The Abbe 
Galiani having remarked, in one of bis letters to Jladame Kpinay, t^iat it appeared to him to cotne from the same hand witli 
the Clirislianiamc Devaili and the MilUairc Philosophe, the editors remark in a note, " On peut rendre homage U la sagacite 
de I'Abbc' Galiani. /,« Christiamsme Devoile est en elf'et le premier ouvrage philoso|)hique du Baron d'Holbach. C'est en 
vain que la Biographic Uiiivcrsclk nous assure, d'a|)res le temoignage de Voltaire, que cet ouvrage est de Damilaville." 

Having mentioned the name of Damilaville, I am tempted to add, that the article relatini» to him in the Biogrnphie Uni. 
vorielle, notwithstanding the incorrectness with which it is charged in the foregoing passage, "is not unworthy of the reader's 



182 



PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS. 



it appears from various accounts, contributed to 
render it fashionable, still more by the extraor- 
dinary powers of his conversation, than by the 
odd combination of eloquence and of obscurity 
displayed in all his metaphysical productions.' 

In order, however, to prevent misapprehen- 
sion of my meaning, it is proper for me to cau- 
tion my readers against supposing that all the 
eminent French philosophers of this period were 
of the same school with Grimm and Diderot. 
On this subject many of our English wi-iters 
have been misled by taking for gi-anted that to 
speak lightly of final causes is, of itself, sufficient 
proof of atheism. That this is a very rash as 
well as uncharitable conclusion, no other proof 
is necessary than the manner in which final 
causes are spoken of by Descartes himself, the 
great object of whose metaphysical writings 
plainly was, to establish by demonstration the 
existence of God. The following vindication of 
this part of the Cartesian philosophy has been 
lately offered by a French divine, and it may be 
extended with equal justice to BufFon and many 
others of Descartes's successors : " Quelques au- 
teurs, et particulierement Leibnitz, ont critique 
cettei partie de la doctrine de Descartes ; mais 
nous la croyons irreprochable, si on veut bien 
I'entendre, et remarquer que Descartes ne parle 
que des Fins totales de Dieu. Sans doute, le 
soleil par exemple, et les etoUes, ont ete faits 
pour I'homme, dans ce sens, que Dieu, en les 
creant, a eu en vue I'utilite de I'homme ; et cette 
utilite a ete sa fin. Mais cette utilite a-t-elle 
ete I'unique fin de Dieu ? Croit-on qu'en lui 
attribuant d'autres fins, on afifoibliroit la re- 



connoissance de Thomme, et 1' obligation ou il 
est de louer et de benir Dieu dans toutes ses 
CEUvres ? Les auteurs de la vie spirituelle, les 
plus mystiques meme, et les plus accredites, ne 
I'ont pas cru." — (M. I'Abbe Emery, Editor of 
the T/ioughts of Descartes upon Religion and Mo- 
rals, Paris, 1811, p. 79.) 

As to the unqualified charge of atheism, which 
has been brought by some French ecclesiastics 
against all of their countrymen that have pre- 
sumed to differ from the tenets of the Catholic 
church, it will be admitted, with large allow- 
ances, by every candid Presbyterian, when it is 
recollected that something of the same illiberali- 
ty formerly existed under the comparatively 
enlightened establishment of England. In the 
present times, the following anecdote would ap- 
pear incredible, if it did not rest on the unques- 
tionable testimony of Dr Jortin : " I heard Dr 
B. say in a sermon, if any one denies the unin- 
terrupted succession of bishops, I shall not 
scruple to call him a downright atheist. This, 
when I was young (Jortin adds), was sound, 
orthodox, and fashionable doctrine." — (Tracts, 
Vol. I. p. 436.)' 

How far the effects of that false philosophy of 
which Grimm's correspondence exhibits so dark 
and so authentic a picture, were connected with 
the awful revolution which soon after followed, 
it is not easy to say. That they contributed 
greatly to blacken its atrocities, as well as to re- 
volt against it the feelings of the whole Chris- 
tian world, cannot be disputed. The experi- 
ment was indeed tremendous, to set loose th« 
passions of all classes of men from the restr^nts 



attention, as it contains some very remarkable marginal notes on the Christianhme Devoile, copied from Voltaire's own 
handwriting. 

Since writing the above note, I have seen the Memoirs of M. Suard, by M. Garat (Paris, 1820), in which the biographer, 
whose authority on this point is perfectly decisive, ascribes with confidence to Baron d'Holbach the Syiteme de la Nature, 
and also a work entitled La Morale et La Legislation Univcrselle (Vol. I. pp. ilO, 211.) 

According to the same author, the Baron d'Holbach was one of Diderot's proselytes. — (lUd. p. 208.) His former creed, 
it would appear, had been very different. 

' And yet Diderot, in some of his lucid intervals, seems to have thought and felt very differently. See Kote TT. 

» See Note U U. 

Of the levity and extravagance with which such charges have sometimes been brought forward, we have a remarkable 
instance in a tract entitled Athei Drtccti, by a very learned .'esuit Father Ilardouin ; (see his Opera rario Posthuma, Amsterdam, 
1733, in fol.) where, among a number of other names, are to be found those of Jansenius, Descartes, JIalebranche, Amauld, 
Nicole, and Pascal. Large additions on grounds equally frivolous, have been made in later times, to this list, by authors, 
who having themselves made profession of Atheism, were anxious, out of vanity, to swell the number of their sect. Of 
this kind was a book published at Paris, under some of the revolutionary governments, by Pierre St/lvain Marechal, en- 
titled Dictionnaire dcs Athecs. Here we meet with tlie names of St Chrysostom, St Augustin, Pascal, Bossuet, Fenelon, 
Bellarniin, I^abruyere, Leibnitz, and many others not less unexpected. This book he is said to have published at the 
suggestion of the celebrated astronomer Lalande, who afterwards published a supplement to the Dictionary, supplying the 
omissions of the author. See the Biograp/iie Univcrselle, articles Marechal, Lalande. 



DISSERTATION FIRST. 



183 



imposed by religious principles ; and the result 
exceeded, if possible, what could have been an- 
ticipated in theory. The lesson it has afforded 
has been dearly purchased ; but let us indulge 
the hope that it will not be thrown away on the 
generations which are to come. 

A prediction, which Bishop Butler hazarded 
many years before, does honour to his political 
sagacity, as well as to his knowledge of human 
nature ; that the spirit of irreligiou would pro- 
duce, some time or other, political disorders, si- 
milar to those which arose from religious fana- 
ticism in the seventeenth century.^ 

Nearly about the time that the Encyclopedie 
was imdertaken, another set of philosophers, 
since known by the name of Economists, formed 
themselves into an association for the pui"pose of 
enlightening the public on questions of political 
economy. The object of their studies seemed 
widely removed from all abstract discussion ; 
but they had, nevertheless, a metaphysical sys- 
tem of their own, which, if it had been brought 
forward with less enthusiasm and exaggeration, 
might have been useful in counteracting the 
gloomy ideas then so generally prevalent about 
the order of the universe. The whole of their 
theory proceeds on the supposition that the ar- 
rangements of nature are wise and benevolent, 
and that it is the business of the legislator to 
study and co-operate with her plans in all his 
own regidations. With this principle, another 
was combined, that of the indefinite improve- 
ment of which the human mind and character 
are susceptible ; an improvement which was re- 
presented as a natural and necessary consequence 



of wise laws, and which was pointed out to le- 
gislators as the most important advantage to be 
gained from their institutions. 

These speculations, whatever opinion may be 
formed of their solidity, are certainly as remote 
as possible from any tendency to atheism, and 
still less do they partake of the spirit of that 
philosophy which would level man vnih. the 
brute creation. With their practical tendency 
in a political \\e\<f we are not at present concern- 
ed; but it would be an unpardonable omission, 
after what has been just said of the metaphysi- 
cal theories of the same period, not to mention 
the abstract principles involved in the Economi- 
cal System, as a remarkable exception to the ge- 
neral observation. It may be questioned, too, 
if the authors of this system, by incorporating 
their ethical views with their political disquisi- 
tions, did not take a more effectual step towards 
discountenancing the opinions to which they were 
opposed, than if they had attacked them in the 
way of direct argument.* 

On the metaphysical theories which issued from 
the French press during the latter half of the 
last century, I do not think it necessary for me 
to enl.arge, after what I have so fully stated in 
some of my former publications. To enter into 
details with respect to particular works would 
be superfluous, as the remarks made upon any 
one of them are nearly applicable to them all. 
The excellent writings of M. Prevost, and of 
M. Degerando, will, it is to be hoped, gradually 
introduce into France a sounder taste in this 
branch of philosophy.* At present, so far as I 
am acquainted with the state of what is called 



' " Is thera no danger that all this may raise somewhat like that levelling spirit, upon atheistical principles, which, in 
the last ace, prevailed upon enthusiastic ones ? Not to speak of the possibility, that different sorts of people may unite in 
it upon these contrary principles." — C Sermon preached brfure the House of Lordt, January 30, 17-11.) 

As the fatal effects