Page images

him thus: "Dr. Bentley, I ordered my book- able; since we ought rather to look for the comseller to send you your books: I hope you pletion of his labours from the hands of his folreceived them." Bentley, who had purposely lowers, than demand from himself at once the avoided saying anything about Homer, pre-Hist. of Mod. Philos., 2d edit., Lond., 1847, i. 281– foundation and the superstructure."- MORELL: tended not to understand him, and asked, 295. See also 65, 128-132; ii. 3-5, 50, 69. "Books! books!' what books?" "My Homer," replied Pope, which you did me the honour to subscribe for." Oh," said Bentley, "ay, now I recollect-your translation: It is a pretty poem, Mr. Pope: but you must not call it Homer."]


This cannot be totally denied: but it must be remembered that necessitas quod cogit defendit: that may be lawfully done which cannot be forborne. Time and place will always enforce regard. In estimating this translation consideration must be had of the nature of our language, the form of our metre, and, above all, of the change which two thousand years have made in the modes of life and the habits of thought. Virgil wrote in a language of the same general fabric with that of Homer, in verses of the same measure, and in age nearer to Homer's time by eighteen hundred years; yet he found, even then, the state of the world so much altered, and the demand for elegance so much increased, that mere nature would be endured no longer; and perhaps, in the multitude of borrowed passages, very few can be shown which he has not embellished. Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets: Pope.

THOMAS REID, D.D., born 1710. was presented to the living of New Machar, Aberdeenshire, 1737, was Professor of Moral Philosophy in King's College, Aberdeen, 1752 to 1781, and died 1796. His best known works are Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man, Edin., 1785,4to, and Essays on the Active Powers of Man, Edin., 1788, 4to; both, Dubl., 1790, 3 vols. 8vo, and other editions. Sir William Hamilton_published a portion of Reid's Writings, Lond. and Edin., 1846, 8vo, pp. 914, 5th edit., 1858, Svo, not completed in that shape, but superseded by The Works of Thomas Reid, D.D., now fully collected, etc., 6th edit., Edin., 1863, 2 vols. 8vo, pp. xxiii. 1034, 30s.; Supplementary Part, to complete former Editions, 1863, Svo, 5s.

"The great aim of Reid's philosophy, then, was to investigate the true theory of perception; to controvert the representationalist hypothesis, as held in one sense or another by almost all preceding philosophers; and to stay the progress which scepticism, aided by this hypothesis, was so rapidly making. That Reid has done much for the advancement of mental science is almost universally admitted: to complain that he did not accomplish more, or follow out the track which he opened to its furthest results, is perhaps unreason

"Thomas Reid, a sincere inquirer after truth, who maintained the existence of certain principles of knowledge, independent of experience, and treated moral philosophy as the science of the human mind, allowing it, however, no other foundation than that of Common Sense, or a species of Intellectual Instinct."- TENNEMANN: Manual of The Hist. of Philos., trans. by Johnson, Oxf., 1832, 382.



Since we ought to pay no regard to hypothesis, and to be very suspicious of analogical reasoning, it may be asked, from what source must the knowledge of the mind and its faculties be drawn?

I answer, the chief and proper source of this branch of knowledge is accurate reflec tion upon the operations of our own minds. Of this source we shall speak more fully after making some remarks upon two others that may be subservient to it. The first of them is attention to the structure of language. The language of mankind is expressive of their thoughts, and of the various operations of their minds. The various operations of the understanding, will, and passions, which are common to mankind, have various forms of speech corresponding to them in all languages, which are the signs of them, and by which they are expressed: and a due attention to the signs may, in many cases, give considerable light to the things signified by them.

There are in all languages modes of speech by which men signify their judgment, or give their testimony; by which they accept or refuse; by which they ask information or advice; by which they command, or threaten, or supplicate; by which they plight their If such faith in promises or contracts. operations were not common to mankind, we should not find in all languages forms of speech by which they are expressed.

All languages, indeed, have their imperfections,-they can never be adequate to all the varieties of human thought; and therefore things may be really distinct in their nature, and capable of being distinguished by the human mind, which are not distinguished in common language. We can only expect in the structure of languages those distinctions which all mankind in the common business of life have occasion to make.

There may be peculiarities in a particular language of the causes of which we are ignorant, and from which, therefore, we can

draw no conclusion. But whatever we find common to all languages must have a common cause; must be owing to some common notion or sentiment of the human mind. We gave some examples of this before, and shall here add another. All languages have a plural number in many of their nouns; from which we may infer that all men have notions, not of individual things only, but of attributes, or things which are common to many individuals; for no individual can have a plural number.

Another source of information in this subject, is a due attention to the course of human actions and conduct. The actions of men are effects; their sentiments, their passions, and their affections are the causes of those effects; and we may, in many cases, form a judgment of the cause from the effect. The behaviour of parents towards their children gives sufficient evidence even to those who never had children, that the parental affection is common to mankind. It is easy to see from the general conduct of men what are the natural objects of their esteem, their admiration, their love, their approbation, their resentment, and of all their other original dispositions. It is obvious, from the conduct of all men in all ages, that man is by his nature a social animal; that he delights to associate with his species; to converse, and to exchange good offices with


Not only the actions but even the opinions of men may sometimes give light into the frame of the human mind. The opinions of men may be considered as the effects of their intellectual powers, as their actions are the effects of their active principles. Even the prejudices and errors of mankind, when they are general, must have some cause no less general; the discovery of which will throw some light upon the frame of the human understanding. Essays on the Intellectual and Active Powers of Man, Essay I. Ch. v.

WILLIAM MELMOTH, born 1710, a Commissioner of Bankruptcy, 1756, died 1790, published a Translation of the Letters of Pliny the Consul, with Occasional Remarks, Lond., 1746, 2 vols. 8vo; reprinted in 2 vols. 8vo in 1747, 48, '57, '70, 86, '96, 1807; Translations of the Letters of Cicero to several of his Friends, with Remarks, 1753, 3 vols. 8vo; reprinted in 3 vols. 8vo, 1778 and '79, and in 2 vols. 8vo, 1814; Translation of Cato; or, An Essay upon Old Age, and Lælius, or An Essay on Friendship, with Remarks, 1773-77, 2 vols. 8vo (the Cato was reprinted 1777, '85, 8vo, the Lælius,

1785, 8vo); some poems, and Letters [74] on Several Subjects, by Sir Thomas Fitzosborne [William Melmoth], 1740, 8vo, 14th edit., 1814, 8vo; Boston, Mass., 1805, 8vo. See Memoirs of a late Eminent Advocate [Wm. Melmoth, K.C.] and Bencher, etc., Lond., 1796, 8vo, pp. 72.

"His Translations of Cicero and Pliny will speak for him while Roman and English eloquence can be united."-MATHIAS: Pursuits of Lit., 1797, edit. 1812, roy. 4to, 300, n.

"A translation [of Pliny] supposed to equal the original both in beauty and tone."-DR. ADAM CLARKE.

"One of the few translations that are better

than the original."-DR. WARTON, in a note on Pope's works.


The beauties of style seem to be generally considered as below the attention both of an author and a reader. I know not, therefore, whether I may venture to acknowledge, that among the numberless graces of your late performance, I particularly admired that strength and elegance with which you have enforced and adorned the noblest senti


There was a time, however (and it was a period of the truest refinements), when an excellence of this kind was esteemed in the number of the politest accomplishments; as it was the ambition of some of the greatest names of antiquity to distinguish themselves in the improvement of their native tongue. Julius Caesar, who was not only the greatest hero, but the finest gentleman, that ever perhaps appeared in the world, was desirous of adding this talent to his other most shining endowments: and we are told he studied the language of his country with much application as we are sure he possessed it in its highest elegance. What a loss, Euphronius, is it to the literary world that the treatise which he wrote upon this subject is perished, with many other valuable works of that age! But though we are deprived of the benefit of his observations, we are happily not without an instance of their effects; and his own memoirs will ever remain as the best and

brightest examplar, not only of true generalship, but of fine writing. He published them, indeed, only as materials for the use of those who should be disposed to enlarge upon that remarkable period of the Roman story; yet the purity and gracefulness of his style were such that no judicious writer durst attempt to touch the subject after him.

Having produced so illustrious an instance in favour of an art for which I have ventured to admire you, it would be impertinent to add a second, were I to cite a less

authority than that of the immortal Tully. This noble author, in his dialogue concerning the celebrated Roman orators, frequently mentions it as a very high encomium, that they possessed the elegance of their native language; and introduces Brutus as declaring that he should prefer the honour of being esteemed the great master and improver of Roman eloquence, even to the glory of many triumphs.

But to add reason to precedent, and to view this art in its use as well as its dignity will it not be allowed of some importance, when it is considered that eloquence is one of the most considerable auxiliaries of truth? Nothing, indeed, contributes more to subdue the mind to the force of reason than her being supported by the powerful assistance of masculine and vigorous oratory. As, on the contrary, the most legitimate arguments may be disappointed of that science they deserve by being attended with a spiritless and enfeebled expression. Accordingly, that most elegant of writers, the inimitable Mr. Addison, observes, in one of his essays, that "There is as much difference between comprehending a thought clothed in Cicero's language and that of an ordinary writer, as between seeing an object by the light of a taper and the light of the sun."

It is surely then a very strange conceit of the celebrated Malebranche, who seems to think the pleasure which arises from perusing a well-written piece is of the criminal kind, and has its source in the weakness and effeminacy of the human heart. A man must have a very uncommon severity of temper indeed who can find anything to condemn in adding charms to truth, and gaining the heart by captivating the ear; in uniting roses with the thorns of science, and joining pleasure with instruction.

The truth is, the mind is delighted with a fine style upon the same principle that it prefers regularity to confusion, and beauty to deformity. A taste of this sort is indeed so far from being a mark of any depravity of our nature, that I should rather consider it as evidence, in some degree, of the moral rectitude of its constitution, as it is a proof of its retaining some relish at least of harmony and order.

One might be apt indeed to suspect that certain writers amongst us had considered all beauties of this sort in the same gloomy view with Malebranche: or, at least, that they avoided every refinement in style as unworthy a lover of truth and philosophy. Their sentiments are sunk by the lowest expressions, and seem condemned to the first curse of creeping upon the ground all the days of their life. Others, on the con

trary, mistake pomp for dignity; and, in order to raise their expressions above vulgar language, lift them up beyond common apprehensions, esteeming it (one should imagine) a mark of their genius that it requires some ingenuity to penetrate their meaning.

But how few writers, like Euphronius, know how to hit that true medium which lies between those distant extremes! How seldom do we meet with an author whose expressions, like those of my friend, are glowing but not glaring, whose metaphors are natural but not common, whose periods are harmonious but not poetical: in a word, whose sentiments are well set, and shown to the understanding in their truest and most advantageous lustre. Fitzosborne's Letters.


I can by no means agree with you in thinking that the love of fame is a passion which either reason or religion condemns. I confess, indeed, there are some who have represented it as inconsistent with both; and I remember, in particular, the excellent author of The Religion of Nature Delineated has treated it as highly irrational and absurd. As the passage falls in so thoroughly with your own turn of thought, you will have no objection, I imagine, to my quoting it at large, and I give it you, at the same time, as a very great authority on your side. "In reality," says that writer, "the man is not known ever the more to posterity because his name is transmitted to them: he doth not live because his name does. When it is said Julius Cæsar subdued Gaul, conquered Pompey, &c., it is the same thing as to say, The conqueror of Pompey was Julius Cæsar, i.e., Cæsar and the conqueror of Pompey is the same thing; Cæsar is as much known by one designation as by the other. The amount then is only this: that the conqueror of Pompey conquered Pompey; or, rather, since Pompey is as little known now as Cæsar, somebody conquered somebody. Such a poor business is this boasted immortality! and such is the thing called glory among us! To discerning men this fame is mere air; and what they despise, if not shun.”

But surely ""Twere to consider too curiously," as Horatio says to Hamlet, "to consider thus." For though fame with posterity should be, in the strict analysis of it, no other than that what is here described, a mere uninteresting proposition amounting to nothing more than that somebody acted meritoriously, yet it would not necessarily follow that true philosophy would banish the desire of it from the human breast. For this

passion may be (as most certainly it is) wisely implanted in our species, notwithstanding the corresponding object should in reality be very different from what it appears in imagination. Do not many of our most refined and even contemplative pleasures owe their existence to our mistakes? It is but extending (I will not say improving) some of our senses to a higher degree of acuteness than we now possess them, to make the fairest views of nature, or the noblest productions of art, appear horrid and deformed. To see things as they truly and in themselves are, would not always, perhaps, be of advantage to us in the intellectual world, any more than in the natural. But, after all, who shall certainly assure us that the pleasure of virtuous fame dies with its possessor, and reaches not to a farther scene of existence? There is nothing, it should seem, either absurd or unphilosophical in supposing it possible, at least, that the praises of the good and the judicious, that sweetest music to an honest ear in this world, may be echoed back to the mansions of the next: that the poet's description of fame may be literally true, and though she walks upon earth, she may yet lift her head

into heaven.

But can it be reasonable to extinguish a passion which nature has universally lighted up in the human breast, and which we constantly find to burn with most strength and brightness in the noblest and best formed bosoms? Accordingly, revelation is so far from endeavouring (as you suppose) to eradicate the seed which nature has thus deeply planted, that she rather seems, on the contrary, to cherish and forward its growth. To be exalted with honour, and to be had in everlasting remembrance, are in the number of those encouragements which the Jewish dispensation offered to the virtuous; as the person from whom the sacred author of the Christian system received his birth, is herself represented as rejoicing that all generations should call her blessed.

right conduct, or to raise any suspicion concerning their solidity. The temper and dispositions of mankind are so extremely different that it seems necessary they should be called into action by a variety of incitements. Thus, while some are willing to wed virtue for her personal charms, others are engaged to take her for the sake of her expected dowry, and since her followers and admirers have so little hopes from her in present, it were pity, methinks, to reason them out of any imagined advantage in reversion. Fitzosborne's Letters.


born in Edinburgh, 1711, after unsatisfactory experiences of the study of law and published his Treatise of Human Nature, commerce, came to London in 1737, and Lond., 1739, 3 vols. 8vo; Essays, Moral and Political, and Dialogues concerning Natural Religion, 1741-42-51-52-57, 5 vols. 12mo; Essays and Treatises, 3d edit., 1756, 4 vols. 12mo; other Essays (see his Philosophical Works, now first collected, Edin., 1826, 4 vols. 8vo, with Additions, Boston, Mass., land, Lond., 1754-62, 6 vols. 4to; many edi1854, 4 vols. 8vo); and his History of Engtions. See his Life and Writings by T. E. Ritchie, Lond., 1807, 8vo; Life and Correspondence, edited by J. H. Burton, Edin., 1847, 2 vols. 8vo; Letters of Eminent Persons to David Hume, Edin., 1849, 8vo.

Hume published at London the Treatise of Human

"It was in his twenty-seventh year that Mr.

ciples of knowledge and belief, and the most forNature, the first systematic attack on all the prinmidable, if universal scepticism could ever be more than a mere exercise of ingenuity. . . . The great speculator did not in this work amuse himself, like Bayle, with dialectical exercises, which only inspire a disposition towards doubt, by showing in detail the uncertainty of most opinions. He aimed at proving, not that nothing was known, but that nothing could be known,-from the structure of the understanding to demonstrate that we are doomed forever to dwell in absolute and universal ignorance."-SIR JAMES MACKINTOSH: Dissert. on the Progress of Ethical Philos., prefixed to Encyc. Brit., also in his Miscell. Works.

"[Hume's] Essays on Commerce, Interest, Balance of Trade, Money, Jealousy of Trade, and Public Credit, display the same felicity of style and illustration that distinguish the other works of their celebrated author."-J. R. McCULLOCH: Lit. of Polit. Econ., Lond., 1845, 8vo.

To be convinced of the great advantage of cherishing this high regard to posterity, this noble desire of an after-life in the breath of others, one need only look back upon the history of the ancient Greeks and Romans. What other principle was it which produced that exalted strain of virtue in those days, that may well serve as a model to these; Was it not the consentiens laus bonorum, the incorrupta vox bene judicantum (as Tully calls it), the concurrent approbation of the good, the uncorrupted applause of the wise, that animated their most generous pursuits? To confess the truth, I have been ever in-grounded enough for those writers and investigators of history who judged his works from the clined to think it a very dangerous attempt to usual point of view, because he was not only negendeavour to attempt to lessen the motives of ligent in the use of the sources of history, but also

As an historian Hume's carelessness and inaccuracy are notorious:

"Hume was not, indeed, learned and well

superficial."-SCHLOSSER'S Hist. of the 18th Cent., Davison's trans., Lond., 1844, ii. 78.

"Hume is convicted [by Mr. Brodie] of so many inaccuracies and partial statements, that we really

think his credit among historians for correctness of assertion will soon be nearly as low as it has long been with theologians for orthodoxy of belief." -Edin. Rev., xi. 92-146: review of Brodie.

"The conversation now turned upon Mr. David Hume's style. JOHNSON: Why, sir, his style is not English; the structure of his sentences is French. Now, the French structure and the English structure may in the nature of things be equally good. But if you allow that the English language is established, he is wrong. My name might originally have been Nicholson as well as Johnson; but were you to call me Nicholson now, you would call me very absurdly."-BOSWELL'S

Johnson, edit. 1847, 150.

"The perfect composition, the nervous language, the well-turned periods of Dr. Robertson, inflamed me to the ambitious hope that I might one day tread in his footsteps: the calm philosophy, the careless inimitable beauties of his friend and rival often forced me to close the volume with a mixed sensation of delight and despair."-GIBBON: Autobiography, in his Miscell. Works. CHARACTER OF ALFRED, KING OF ENGLAND. The merit of this prince, both in public and private life, may with advantage be set in opposition to that of any monarch or citizen which the annals of any age or nation can present to us. He seems, indeed, to be the complete model of that perfect character which, under the denomination of a sage or wise man, the philosophers have been fond of delineating, rather as a fiction of their imagination, than in hopes of ever seeing it reduced to practice: so happily were all his virtues tempered together, so justly were they blended, and so powerfully did each prevent the other from exceeding its proper bounds. He knew how to conciliate the most enterprising spirit with the coolest moderation; the most obstinate perseverance with the easiest flexibility; the most severe justice with the greatest lenity; the greatest rigour in command with the greatest affability of deportment; the highest capacity and inclination for science with the most shining talents for action. His civil and his military virtues are almost equally the objects of our admiration, excepting only, that the former being more rare among princes, as well as more useful, seem chiefly to challenge our applause. Nature, also, as if desirous that so bright a production of her skill should be set in the fairest light, had bestowed on him all bodily accomplishments,-vigour of limbs, dignity of shape and air, and a pleasant, engaging, and open countenance. Fortune alone, by throwing him into that barbarous age, deprived him of historians worthy to transmit his fame to posterity; and we wish to see him delineated in more lively colours, and

with more particular strokes, that we may at least perceive some of those small specks impossible he should be entirely exempted. and blemishes from which, as a man, it is History of England.


It is difficult to give a just summary of this prince's qualities; he was so different from himself in different parts of his reign, that, as is well remarked by Lord Herbert, his history is his best character and descripity which he maintained at home, and the tion. The absolute and uncontrouled authorregard he obtained among foreign nations, are circumstances which entitle him to the appellation of a great prince; while his tyranny and cruelty seem to exclude him from the character of a good one.

He possessed, indeed, great vigour of mind, which qualified him for exercising dominion over men: courage, intrepidity, vigilance, inflexibility: and though these of a regular and solid judgment, they were qualities lay not always under the guidance accompanied with good parts and an extensive capacity; and every one dreaded a contest with a man who was never known to yield or to forgive; and who in every controversy was determined to ruin himself or his antagonist.

A catalogue of his vices would compre hend many of the worst qualities incident to human nature: violence, cruelty, profusion, rapacity, injustice, obstinacy, arrogance, bigotry, presumption, caprice: but neither was he subject to all these vices in the most extreme degree, nor was he at intervals altogether devoid of virtues. He capable at least of a temporary friendship was sincere, open, gallant, liberal, and and attachment. In this respect he was unfortunate, that the incidents of his times served to display his faults in their full light: the treatment he met with from the court of Rome provoked him to violence; the danger of a revolt from his superstitious subjects seemed to require the most extreme severity. But it must at the same time be acknowledged that his situation tended to throw an additional lustre on what was great and magnanimous in his character.

The emulation between the Emperor and the French King rendered his alliance, notwithstanding his impolitic conduct, of great importance to Europe. The extensive powers of his prerogative, and the submission, not to say slavish disposition of his parliament, made it more easy for him to assume and maintain that entire dominion by which his reign is so much distinguished in English history.

It may seem a little extraordinary that

« EelmineJätka »