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may nevertheless be turned to no mean advantage. It is calculated to inspire us with temperance and toleration. It tends impressively to evince to us, that this scene of things is but like the shadows which pass before us in a magic lanthorn, and that, after all, men are but the tools, not the masters, of their fate. It corrects the illusions of life, much after the same manner as the spectator of a puppetshew is enlightened, who should be taken within the curtain, and shewn how the wires are pulled by the master, which produce all the turmoil and strife that before riveted our attention. It is good for him who would arrive at all the improvement of which our nature is capable, at one time to take his place among the literal beholders of the drama, and at another to go behind the scenes, and remark the deceptions in their original elements, and the actors in their proper and natural costume.
And, as in the question of the liberty of human actions, so in that of the reality of the material universe, it is a privilege not to be despised, that we are so formed as to be able to dissect the subject that is submitted to our examination, and to strip the elements of which this sublunary scene is composed, of the disguise in which they present themselves to the vulgar spectator. It is little, after all, that we are capable to know; and the man of heroic mind and generous enterprise, will not refuse the discoveries that are placed within his reach. The subtleties of grammar are as the porch, which leads from the knowledge of words to the knowledge of things. The subtleties of mathematics defecate the grossness of our apprehension, and supply the elements of a sounder and severer logic. And in the same manner the faculty which removes the illusions of external appearance, and enables us to “look into the seeds of time,” is one which we are bound to estimate at its genuine value. The more we refine our faculties, other things equal, the wiser we grow: we are the more raised above the thickness of the atmosphere that envelops our fellow-mortals, and are made partakers of a nature superhuman and divine. · There is a curious question that has risen out of this proposition of Berkeley, of the supposed illusion we suffer in our conceptions of the material universe. It has been said, “Well then, I am satisfied that the chairs, the tables, and the other material substances with which I conceive myself to be surrounded, are not what they appear to be, but are merely an eternal chain of antecedents and consequents, going on according to what Leibnitz calls a ' preestablished harmony,' and thus furnishing the ground of the speculations which mortals cherish, and the motives of their proceeding. But, if thus, in the ordinary process of human affairs, we believe in matter, when in reality there is no such thing as matter, how shall we pronounce of mind, and the things which happen to us in our seeming intercourse with our fellow-men, and in the complexities of love and hatred, of kindred and friendship, of benevolence and misanthropy, of robbery and murder, and of the wholesale massacre of thousands of human beings which are recorded in the page of history? We absolutely know nothing of the lives and actions of others but through the medium of material impulse. And, if you take away matter, the bodies of our fellow-men, does it not follow by irresistible consequence that all knowledge of their minds is taken away also ? Am not I therefore (the person engaged in reading the present Essay) the only being in existence, an entire universe to myself?”
Certainly this is a very different conclusion from any that Berkeley ever contemplated. In the very title of the Treatise in which his notions on this subject are unfolded, he professes his purpose to be to remove “the grounds of scepticism, atheism and irreligion.” Berkeley was a sincere Christian, and a man of the most ingenuous dispositions. Pope, in the Epilogue to his Satires, does not hesitate to ascribe to him “every virtue under heaven." He was for twenty years a prelate of the Protestant church. And, though his personal sentiments were in the highest degree philanthropical and amiable, yet, in his most diffusive production, entitled The Minute Philosopher, he treats “ those who are called Free Thinkers" with a scorn and disdain, scarcely to be reconciled with the spirit of Christian ineekness.
There are examples however, especially in the fields of controversy, where an adventurous speculatist has been known to lay down premises and principles, from which inferences might be fairly deduced, incompatible with the opinions entertained by him who delivered them. It may therefore be no unprofitable research to enquire how far the creed of the non-existence of matter is to be regarded as in truth and reality countenancing the inference which has just been recited.
The persons then, who refine with Berkeley upon the system of things so far, as to deny that there is any such thing as matter in the sense in which it is understood by the writers on natural philosophy, proceed on the ground of affirming that we have no reason to believe that the causes of our sensations have an express resemblance to the sensations themselves d. That which gives us a sensation of colour is not itself coloured: and the same may be affirmed of the sensations of hot and cold, of sweet and bitter, and of odours offensive or otherwise. The immaterialist proceeds to say, that what we call matter has been shewn to be so exceedingly porous, that, for any thing we know, all the solid particles in the universe might be contained in a nutshell, that there is no such thing in the external world as actual contact, and that no two particles of matter were ever so near to each other, but that they might be brought nearer, if a sufficient force
• See above, p. 380.
could be applied for that purpose. From these premises it seems to follow with sufficient evidence, that the causes of our sensations, so far as the material universe is concerned, bear no express resemblance to the sensations themselves.
How then does the question stand with relation to mind? Are those persons who deny the existence of matter, reduced, if they would be consistent in their reasonings, to deny, each man for himself, that he has any proper evidence of the existence of other minds than his own?
He denies, while he has the sensation of colour, that there exists colour out of himself, unless in thinking and percipient beings constituted in a manner similar to that in which he is constituted. And the same of the sensations of hot and cold, sweet and bitter, and odours offensive or otherwise. He affirms, while he has the sensation of length, breadth and thickness, that there is no continuous substance out of himself, possessing the attributes of length, breadth and thickness in any way similar to the sensation of which he is conscious. He professes therefore that he has no evidence, arising from his observation of what we call matter, of the actual existence of a material world. He looks into himself, and all he finds is sensation; but sensation cannot be a property of inert matter. There is therefore no assignable analogy between the causes of his sensations, whatever they may be, and the sensations themselves; and the material world, such