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of superior being. Prior was himself a man of good family and independent fortune, of considerable intelligence, culture, and public spirit, who, after settling in Dublin, took for many years an active part in the political and scientific movements of the time. But he was wholly unable to resist the fascination of Berkeley's mind and manner, and the correspondence shows the complete command which the latter had acquired over him. Berkeley often indeed writes to him in a tone of authority, as though he were addressing a younger relative, an agent or dependent even, rather than an equal and a friend. And Prior cordially accepts the relation, and is glad to become Berkeley's humble servant, and promptly do his bidding, in any matter, great or small. Prior's steadfast devotion is one of the earliest and most striking examples of the extraordinary personal influence Berkeley exercised over almost all who were brought into immediate association with him.
At the age of fifteen, Berkeley left the old Kilkenny School and the pleasant banks of the Nore for Trinity College, Dublin, where he was matriculated in March 1700. He remained at Trinity College thirteen years, first as scholar and undergraduate, then as Fellow and tutor, absorbed in his own pursuits, and enjoying the learned leisure and academical associations in which his ardent and studious nature found so exquisite a charm. The years thus spent cover the whole period of his strictly philosophical life and labours. metaphysical impulse he received in the early years of his college course, after kindling all the energies of his mind to a pitch of concentrated and sustained enthusiasm, seems to have worked itself out by the time he left for London in 1713. During the closing years of this period were published the three works by which alone Berkeley ranks as a psychologist and metaphysician. In later years, indeed, he produced a number of treatises on ethical, mathematical, and political subjects, but, excepting the last, almost the only references to philosophy proper they contain are repetitions of what had been better said in his early works. The most important of these — The • Principles of Human Knowledge'-was, indeed, published as a first part, and the author's notes and writings contain allusions to a second and third part, to be afterwards issued in order to complete the original plan of the work. But, these parts never appeared, and there is nothing to show that. Berkeley ever attempted to complete the original scheme. No fragment in the way of preparation for the other parts is found amongst the Berkeley papers
. The truth appears to be that, subsequently to the publication of the dialogues between Hylas
and Philonous, the philosophical fervour of his early youth passed away never to return, except in a feebler form, as a kind of after-glow, towards the close of life. That he should have produced his philosophical works while still almost a student, is certainly a marvellous proof of Berkeley's precocity as a thinker. The first, and, in some respects, the best — The
New Theory of Vision '-appeared when he was only twentyfour, the second a year later, and the last after an interval of three years. All were published before he was twenty-nine, and his philosophical career may be said to have virtually closed before he reached the age of thirty. This sufficiently shows that philosophy, the pursuit of rational truth, was an accident and episode rather than the motive and object of his life.
We know very little of Berkeley's habits while a student at Trinity College, but one or two of the more authentic traditions of his behaviour illustrate his absorption in his own conceptions, and his somewhat impulsive tendency to realise any ideal that possessed his mind or powerfully affected his imagination. In his walks he seems to have had an air of unconscious abstraction or rapt self-communion, so marked as to excite notice and give him a reputation for eccentricity. • Ordinary people, it is said, did not understand him, and ‘.
laughed at him. Soon after his entrance, he began to be looked at as either the greatest genius or the greatest dunce in college. Those who were slightly acquainted with him 'took him for a fool; but those who shared his intimate friend• ship thought him a prodigy of learning and goodness of heart.' The vulgar judgment thus pronounced on the behaviour of the young philosopher was a kind of rude anticipation of the varying historical judgment pronounced on his works. Those who are slightly acquainted with them often look on their author as little better than a fool or a fanatic, while those who, yielding to the charm of his style, have become denizens of Berkeley's philosophical household, regard him as amongst the greatest of philosophers and wisest of men. Another tradition connecting him with Goldsmith's uncle Conterini, brings into prominent relief the realistic tendency of his mind, his disposition, without much forethought or calculation of results, to carry into execution any scheme or fancy that for the moment excited him. According to the story, curiosity had on one occasion led him to go and witness an execution. He ' returned pensive and melancholy, but inquisitive about the 'sensations experienced by the criminal in the crisis of his • fate. He informed Conterini of his eccentric curiosity. It ' was agreed between them that he should himself try the
' experiment, and be relieved by his friend on a signal arranged,
after which Conterini, in his turn, was to repeat the experi'ment. Berkeley was accordingly tied up to the ceiling, and
the chair removed from under his feet. Losing consciousness, “his companion waited in vain for the signal. The enthusiastic • înquirer might have been hung in good earnest—and as soon • as he was relieved, he fell motionless upon the floor. On * recovering himself, his first words were, “ Bless my heart, «« Conterini, you have rumpled my band !” The account is probably authentic, as it is in perfect harmony with Berkeley's impetuosity in following any idea that possessed him. Nor is there anything extravagant or surprising in his comparative insensibility to the danger he had so narrowly escaped. For, although never particularly self-denying, he was often, in his more absorbed or enthusiastic moods, eminently self-forgetful.
Though we have few personal details of Berkeley's life at Trinity College, we are able, by means of the Commonplace Book, to trace in outline his course of study, and follow the movements of his thought, especially during the earlier years of his residence. The subjects that chiefly attracted his attention, partly from natural inclination, and still more perhaps from the academic influences around him, were mathematics and, philosophy, physics and metaphysics. There is indeed a tradition or rather conjecture that at this period he fed ‘his iinagination with the airy visions of romances, and that
these helped to dissolve his sense of the difference between illusion and reality. This is evidently a biographical myth arising from a total misconception of the nature of Berkeley's idealism. Weak minds absorbed in the emotional excitement of romance-reading become indifferent to the activities of life, and are said therefore to live in a world of imagination, where the characters and events are alike unreal. The result is a
. kind of paralysis of intellectual and volitional effort. But, so far from having the least sympathy with such a state of mind, Berkeley was, in this sense, a terrible realist. His idealism is, in fact, the result of intense and over-eager mental action. Mind is, with him, the only real force in nature, all we perceive and experience being in the last resort the result of a living and ceaseless activity of intellect and will. His mind was at once too serious and too active to be interested in any romances then available. He would have found them intolerably wearisome and dull. Anyone with a true insight into Berkeley's character would thus discredit the myth, apart from Mrs. Berkeley's express testimony that her husband at all times * strongly disliked such works, regarding them as no better
than fooleries.' The only romances, indeed, he would be likely to read, in the early days of his college course, were the philosophical romances of Descartes and Malebranche, of Locke and Newton; and there is abundant evidence that he read and studied these with the keenest interest.
His first enthusiasm at college appears, however, to have been of a mathematical kind, and the early impulse in this direction was given by his tutor, the Rev. John Hall, whose exhortations, he expressly tells us, first incited him to the • delightful study of mathematics. Here, as elsewhere, he
' soon took a line of his own, offering new and independent proofs of arithmetical processes, and proposing new methods in the use of algebraical signs and exercises. Here, too, as elsewhere, his enthusiasm was obviously fed and sustained by the exhilarating conviction of doing what had not been done before, or doing better what had been previously very imperfectly done. Having thus made, as he thought, some slight discoveries, his desire for influence and recognition led him to rush into print before he had taken his Master's degree. The practical enthusiasm of his nature, the union of unwonted fervour with constructive ingenuity and an eye for definitive results, comes curiously out in these mathematical miscel• lanies,' the firstfruits of his studies.' He displays a kind of missionary ardour in urging his favourite studies on the attention of others. He celebrates in highflown language the marvellous power of algebra, describing it as the great and wonderful art, the highest pinnacle of human knowledge, the kernel and key of all mathematics, the foundation of all the sciences. In order to allure the college youths to the study of this noble art, he had invented an algebraical game, of which he describes the working, accompanied with an elaborate diagram. He thinks this algebraical game may take the place of draughts and chess amongst active-minded students, impatient of mathematics, and who spend their time in games of chance and skill. And, in urging the study of algebra by this means on their notice, Berkeley gives a curiously simple illustration of the art or artifice of persuasion in which he afterwards became so great a proficient--that of seeming to harmonise with those he addresses, and humouring them at first in their opinions, beliefs, and practices. Taking the
. gamesters on their own ground, he formally appeals to them as follows:
'I address you academic youths who have energy of mind, sagacity, and penetration, but are averse to the cloistered seclusion and severe study of those who are commonly called Pumps, preferring to display
your talents among your fellow-idlers in play and games. You see that algebra is a mere game, affording abundant scope both for chance and skill
. Why should you not then come to this gaming table? You need not fear here what happens in cards, chess, and draughts, that while some take part in the games, others stand idly by, for whoever wishes to join the sport can at once both play and work. But I think I hear some one replying : Do you fancy that we can be thus deceived ? We are not to be lured, under the show of a game, into studying a difficult science, to be mastered only by great labour. I answer that algebra is difficult in the same sense as a game, for without some difficulty there is no recreation or amusement. For all plays are so many arts and sciences. Nor is there any distinction between this and others except that while they afford only present gratification, this is at once a delightful pastime, and brings with it results of permanent value.' This passage, from one of Berkeley's earliest treatises, already indicates the turn for animated dialogue and direct personal appeal which is so fully and admirably illustrated in his later writings. We wonder if the more studious fellow-commoners at Trinity College are still called pumps. In any case, the appeal to idle and gambling students to join the pumps was hardly likely to be of much avail. But that it should have been made at all is a striking exemplification of the blended ardour and simplicity of Berkeley's nature.
In this mathematical tract, Berkeley refers more than once to the fact of his being already engaged in other studies, and at the close he quotes with special reference to the subject in hand, but in terms of high general praise, the opinions of Descartes, Malebranche, and Locke. Elsewhere in the treatise, he designates Locke as vir sapientissimus. These names indicate the new direction his studies had taken. From his bent of nature and the influences around him, it was almost certain that young Berkeley would be attracted to the new philosophy in the double direction of physics and metaphysics. As we have seen, he had a keen native turn for novelties, both speculative and practical, and the dominant influences in the newer intellectual atmosphere at Trinity College at the time he entered it were of the very kind to foster and develope this tendency. A fresh life inspired by the physical discoveries of Newton and Halley, Boyle and Hook, and by the metaphysical speculations of Descartes and Malebranche, Locke and Leibnitz, animated the studies of the place, and reduced to comparative insignificance the outworn elements of scholastic discipline still retained in its curriculum. William Molyneux, the friend and correspondent of Locke, as well as of Flamstead and Halley, was the leader of the new movement, and by his enlightened zeal and persistent effort did more perhaps than