Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

to them for every shilling he wanted, that was obliged to court those who were always abusing him, and could do nothing of himself. And once added, that a good deal of that liberty that made them so insolent, if she could do it, should be much abridged; nor was it possible for the best prince in the world to be very solicitous to procure benefits for subjects that never cared to trust him. At other times she was more upon her guard.'—Ib. p. 30.

George il. was, in consequence, greatly unpopular, and the national feeling vented itself in various ways. His immorality disgusted the more sober part of the nation, his personal carriage extinguished all esteem and attachment, and his frequent visits and protracted residence at Hanover, were resented as an insult by his English subjects. The popular feeling was expressed in pasquinades and practical jokes, of which Lord Hervey gives the following specimen :

* An old lean, lame, blind horse was turned into the streets, with a broken saddle on his back and a pillion behind it, and on the horse's forehead this inscription was fixed :

Let nobody stop meI am the King's Hanover Equipage, going to fetch his Majesty and his to England.'

*At the Royal Exchange, a paper with these words was stuck up :

" It is reported that his Hanoverian Majesty designs to visit his British dominions for three months in the spring.' ..On St. James's gate this advertisement was pasted :

"Lost or strayed out of this house, a man who has left a wife and sit children on the parish ; whoever will give any tidings of him to the churchwardens of St. James's parish, so as he may be got again, shall receive four shillings and sixpence reward. N.B. This reward will not be increased, nobody judging him to deserve a Crown.''-Ib. p. 191.

We have marked several other passages for extract, but having already exceeded our limits, must refer our readers to the volumes themselves. No future historian will attempt to record the reign of George ji. without availing himself of the information they supply. They are absolutely needful to a clear apprehension of the politics of this period, and will take their rank accordingly. We could specify a hundred cases in which the writer is hasty, prejudiced, or insincere; but, after all the deduction which truth requires, his Memoirs are by far the best, the fullest, and the most truthful narratire we have yet received, of one of the least attractive periods of our history.

Mr. Croker has discharged his task with great skill. The biographical notice of Lord Hervey, which he has prefixed, is a fitting Introduction to the 'Memoirs,' and the numerous Notes interspersed, form an admirable specimen of what such illustrations should be.

205

Art. V.-An Estimate of the Human Mind; A Philosophical Inquiry

into the Legitimate Application and Extent of its Leading Faculties, as connected with the Principles and Obligations of the Christian Religion. By John Davies, D.D. A new edition, with large additions.

London. John W. Parker. 8vo. pp. 631. Joon Foster has indicated a sorely prevailing evil, in his complaint of the lack of what may be called conclusive writing and speaking. Many of his readers must have recognized in that remark, the utterance of a feeling which they could not have expressed so happily, but which has often awakened their impatience. We read, or we listen, perhaps not without interest; but at the close of a passage, or a paragraph, a chapter or a discourse, we do not feel, as Foster says, that anything is settled, or done. We have yielded an assent, or a half assent, to each successive sentence: but at the close, we are where we were at the beginning, not perfectly ceriain whether the speaker or writer has attained his object, or what precisely his object was, and uncertain whether to throw the blame of our uncertainty, on him, or on ourselves.

We do not mean to say, nor do we suppose that Foster meant, that no train of thought can be thoroughly satisfactory to the hearer's or reader's mind, unless it be a train of reasoning, and 'conclusive' in the sense of demonstrative.' A train of thought may be highly satisfying, impressive, or instructive, that is bound together, not by logic, but by association. It may be explanatory or illustrative. It may appeal to the feelings, or kindle the imagination, or refresh the memory. The author who expresses plainly and forcibly a thought that had before been vague and undefined, or supplies us with a link between two proposi. tions that had before lain disjointed, and apart, in our minds, as truly enriches us, as if he communicated a new truth or exploded a positive error. He who produces a vivid impression from a familiar object and strikes fresh sparks of feeling out of old thoughts, who new points a trite but useful truth with an apt metaphor, or sets a keen edge on our worn and blunted convictions, renders us a most important service. On the other hand, we can put up with a dull path, if it lead to a spot worth visiting; and the toil of a dry argument is well repaid by an enlarged prospect of truth, or the repose of more secure conviction. But a train of thought which is abstract without being logical, and contemplative without being imaginative,-neither riveted by argument, nor fired by fancy,is apt to be a very tedious affair, And of all subjects, metaphysics is that in which this inconclusive style of writing is, as Dogberry says, 'most tolerable and not to be endured. It is bad enough in reference to religion ; but we forgive a man on account of his good intentions, and hope that to some minds, not afflicted with logical acumen, he may be useful. But any one who publishes on metaphysics, challenges the severest ordeal. He is a bold man, and ought to be very sure of his ground, who deems himself qualified to offer anything really new, true, and valuable, on topics which have exercised to the utmost, the energies of the strongest and most piercing intellects; and of which, it requires more than average capacity, even to see the difficulties.

These remarks may seem an ungracious introduction to our criticism of the volume before us. Yet really it is not our fault that they suggest themselves. We have not the slightest personal knowledge of the author; but we can assure our readers that we opened his volume with all the respect due to a handsome octavo of six hundred and thirty pages, by a doctor of divinity, treating on the highest themes of human speculation, and bearing on its cover, the significant words, 'New Edition.' We hailed it as a fresh omen of the revival of metaphysics. If the opinion, which, after careful examination, we feel bound to give, be less favourable than we expected, it is not from any want of inclination to judge favourably. Indications appear, throughout the volume, of piety and good sense. On many points, the author's views are both sober and sound : and he shows himself acquainted not merely with the form, but with the reality of christianity. Many of the remarks, for example, in Book V, on the use and the abuse of the affections in religion, are very judicious, if not very original. Of the extent of the author's reading, the comparatively few references to metaphysical writers scarcely enable us to judge; though, from the manner in which he speaks of Locke and Brown, and the vague allusions to many authors,' and 'opinions frequently held,' we should not imagine it to be very wide. But he has evidently thought much on metaphysical questions. And we are informed in the preface, that some members of the council of the London University,' (University College) considered Dr. Davies qualified, several years ago, to become a candidate for the professorship of moral and political philosophy in that institution. A genius for making discoveries in a science, however, or even a talent for expounding its principles, is no necessary adjunct to a taste for its cultivation. And with all deference to the unknown gentlemen thus mysteriously hinted at in the preface, and every wish to do justice to our author, he appears to us deficient in some of the most important qualities of a metaphysician.

The two tests of a metaphysical thinker, we take to be, his power of analysis, and his power of expressing thought. Analysis is the only weapon by which new conquests can be effected in this territory. Next to the power of effecting these, is the faculty of exhibiting, in luminous and compact form, truths already discovered. And the style of a writer will be found, we apprehend, a faithful index of what may be expected from him in either respect. Even the cumbrous nomenclature of a Kant, the cloudy phraseology of a Coleridge, may safely be taken as indicating some pervading deficiency either in the mind, or in the system, that could not express itself more perspicuously. Such thinkers as Locke, Leibnitz, Berkeley, Pascal, impress their own royal mintage on the ore of thought; and it is the form, often, as much as the value of the thought, that gives it currency.

In the former respect,—the power of analysis, Dr. Davies is lamentably deficient. At the outset, his object is intimated to be, to consider the great scheme of christianity, as bearing a relation, and as directly addressing itself, to one or other of the following faculties of man's soul :-his reason-his will his conscience-his imagination-or his affections. (Pref. p. iv.) Passing over, for the present, the vagueness of the very object of the work, as, thus set forth, we would ask, why is the mind regarded as divided into these faculties, and no others ? ' Reason' as we afterwards find (p. 62,) is used by our author to signify

that capacity of the mind, by which a judgment is formed on a cool and discriminating survey of the grounds of beliefthat intellectual faculty, in the exercise of which, a conclusion is arrived at, after a careful and diligent examination of premises.' In briefer terms, reason, according to our author, is the faculty of judgment and ratiocination. What then are we to say of that faculty-call it reason, understanding, intellect, what you will, by which ideas, such as those of love, truth, goodness, responsibility, of reason itself, and conscience, of eternity, and of God, are created ? Does not christianity address itself to this faculty ? What, again, shall we say of the interpreting faculty, (by whatever name it may be distinguished) whereby language and signs of all kinds become conductors of thought; which recognizes the spiritual under the disguise of the material and the typical, and to which all nature is a glorious language, replete with meaning, and eloquent of deity? Does not revelation address itself far more directly to this, than to the mere logical faculty which Dr. Davies calls reason? Under which of his divisions, moreover, shall we rank faith? Nowhere, if we remember correctly, has the author attempted either to analyse or to define faith. Yet is it not among the leading faculties of the soul ?' Or has the great scheme of christianity' no relation to it?

If we turn to those parts of the volume, in which these faculties are severally discussed, we find a deficiency of analytic penetration and precision, such as might be augured from the preface. Book II, for example, is occupied with an inquiry into the nature and extent of the faculty of volition, as connected with moral agency, and religious obligation. By way of beginning at the beginning, Section 1, treats of the choice of simple tendency, as displayed in material substances ;' and Section II, of sensitive preference, the next stage of the elective process. Thus at the very outset, the readers' mind is distracted and confused, by inquiries perfectly foreign from the matter in hand, and by those very analogies from material and animal nature, which a clear-headed metaphysician would most cautiously avoid. Whether the forces that govern the material universe, are of a spiritual nature, and whether animals are endowed with reason and will, are questions in themselves deeply interesting : but to mix them up with an inquiry into human volition, can produce nothing but confusion. Section IV, we may observe, is devoted to the establishment of the very original and abstruse position, that Life may be regarded as a first principle,-as a fundamental and indispensable requisite to a moral agent, to a being capable of exercising rational volition.” (p. 166.) When at length we come to inquire what the nature and extent of the faculty,' really are, we are told :

· Volition, or willing, indeed, is more an act of mind yielding to this superior claim,' (viz. the result of 'a latent, if not a palpable and open algebraic process of calculating the plus and minus of enjoyment expected to be enjoyed from the respective candidates for preference and superior regard,') 'and recognizing its legitimate demand to attention and pursuit, than any particular power or faculty existing in the mind. It is that determination of the judgment, frequently accompanied with a strong feeling of the heart, which tells in clear and intelligible language, that such an object or such a line of conduct is that which, has inost aptitude to give happiness, either with respect to loveliness or permanence, or perhaps to both.'

This account, miserably erroneous, and inadequate, as we believe, of the most wonderful faculty of our nature, that which makes us persons, not things,' is given without the slightest hint that it has been, or may be questioned. We wonder if the learned author ever met with a volume entitled ' Aids to Reflection! It is not our object, here, to discuss his view of volition. But we must say that it appears to us to lead inevitably to the

« НазадПродовжити »