Obrazy na stronie
PDF

The general demand for biographical composition tempted some of our most popular original writers to embark in this delightful department of literature. Southey, as we have seen, was early in the field; and his more distinguished poetical contemporaries, Scott, Moore, and Campbell, also joined. The first, besides his admirable memoirs of Dryden and Swift, prefixed to their works, contributed a series of lives of the English novelists to an edition of their works published by Ballantyne, which he executed with great taste, candour, and discrimination. He afterwards undertook a Life of Napoleon Bonaparte, which was at first intended as a counterpart to Southey's Life of Nelson, but ultimately swelled out into nine volumes. The hurried composition of this work, and the habits of the author, accustomed to the dazzling creations of fiction, rather than the sober plodding of historical inquiry and calm investigation, led to many errors and imperfections. It abounds in striking and eloquent passages; the battles of Napoleon are described with great clearness and animation; and the view taken of his character and talents is, on the whole, just and impartial, very different from the manner in which Scott had alluded to Napoleon in his Vision of Don Roderick. The great diffuseness of the style, however, and the want of philosophical analysis, render the Life of Napoleon more a brilliant chronicle of scenes and events than a historical memoir worthy the genius of its author. The friends of Sir Walter attributed his mental disease in great measure to the labour entailed upon him by this Life of Napoleon. A Life of Napoleon, in four volumes, 1828, was published by WILLIAM HAZLITT, the essayist and critic (1778–1830), but it is a partial and prejudiced work.

MR. MooRE published a Life of Richard Brinsley Sheridan, 1825; Notices of the Life of Lord Byron, 1830; and Memoirs of Lord Edward Fitzgerald, 1831. The last has little interest. The Life of Byron, by its intimate connection with recent events and living persons, was a duty of very delicate and difficult performance. This was further increased by the freedom and licentiousness of the poet's opinions and conduct, and by the versatility or mobility of his mind, which changed with every passing impulse and impression. “As well, says Mr Moore, ‘from the precipitance with which he gave way to every impulse, as from the passion he had for recording his own impressions, all those heterogeneous thoughts, fantasies, and desires that, in other men's minds, “come like shadows, so depart,” were by him fixed and embodied as they presented themselves, and at once taking a shape cognizable by public opinion, either in his actions or his words, in the hasty letter of the moment, or the poem for all time, laid open such a range of vulnerable points before his judges, as no one individual ever before, of himself, presented. Byron left ample materials for his biographer. His absence from England, and his desire ‘to keep the minds of the English public for ever occupied about him —if not with his merits, with his faults; if not in applauding, in blaming him, led him to maintain a regular correspondence with Mr Moore and his publisher Mr Murray. He also kept a journal, and recorded memoranda of his opinions, his reading, &c., something in the style of Burns. His letters are rich and varied, but too often display an affectation of wit and smartness, and a still worse ambition of appearing more profligate than he was in reality. Byron had written memoirs of his own life, which he presented to Moore, who sold the manuscript to Murray, the publisher, for 2000 guineas.

The friends of the noble poet became alarmed on account of the disclosures said to have been made in the memoir, and offered to advance the money paid for the manuscript, in order that Lady Byron and the rest of the family might have an opportunity of deciding whether the work should be published or suppressed. The result was, that the manuscript was destroyed by Mr Wilmot Horton and Colonel Doyle, as the representatives of Mrs Leigh, Byron's half-sister. Moore repaid the 2000 guineas to Murray, and the latter engaged him to write the Life of Byron, contributing a great mass of materials, and ultimately giving no less than £4870 for the Life-(Quarterly Review, 1853). Moore was, strictly speaking, not justified in destroying the manuscript which Byron had intrusted him with as a vindication of his name and honour. He might have expunged the objectionable passages. But it is urged in his defence, that while part of the work never could have been published, all that was valuable or interesting to the public was included in the journals and memorandum-books. Mr Moore's Notices are written with taste and modesty, and in very pure and unaffected English. As an editor he preserved too much of what was worthless and unimportant; as a biographer he was too indulgent to the faults of his hero; yet who could have wished a friend to dwell on the errors of Byron? MR CAMPBELL, besides the biographies in his Specimens of the Poets, published a Life of Mrs Siddons, the distinguished actress, and a Life of Petrarch. The latter is homely and earnest, though on a romantic and fanciful subject. There is a reality about Campbell's biographies quite distinct from what might be expected to emanate from the imaginative poet, but he was too indolent to be exact. Amongst other additions to our standard biography may be mentioned the Life of Lord Clive, by SIR JoHN MALcolM; and the Life of Lord Clarendon, by MR. T. H. LISTER. The Life of Sir Walter Raleigh, by MR PATRICK FRAsERTYTLER (published in one volume in the Edinburgh Cabinet Library), is also valuable for its able defence of that adventurous and interesting personage, and for its careful digest of state-papers and contemporaneous events. Free access to all public documents and libraries is now easily obtained, and there is no lack of desire on the part of authors to prosecute, or of the public to reward these researches. A Life of Lord William Russell, by LoRD JoHN RUssELL, is enriched with information from the family papers at Woburn Abbey; and from a similarly authentic private source, LoRD NUGENT wrote Memoirs of Hampden. The Diaries and Journals of Evelyn and Pepys, so illustrative of the court and society during the seventeenth century, have already been noticed. To these we may add the Memoirs of Colonel Hutchinson, written by his wife, Mrs Lucy Hutchinson, and first published in 1806. Colonel Hutchinson was governor of Nottingham Castle during the period of the Civil Wars. He was one of the best of the Puritans, and his devoted wife has done ample justice to his character and memory in her charming domestic narrative. Another work of the same description, published from family papers in 1822, is Memoirs of the Lives and Characters of the Right Hon: George Baillie of Jerviswood, and of Lad Grisell Baillie, written by their daughter, Lady Murray of Stanhope. These memoirs refer to a later period than that of the Commonwealth, and illustrate Scottish history. George Baillie—whose father had fallen a victim to the vindictive tyranny of the government of Charles II.—was a Presbyterian and Covenanter,

but neither gloomy nor morose. He he's under Queen Anne and George I., and died in 1738, aged seventy-five. His daughter, Lady Murray, who portrays the character of her parents with a skilful yet tender hand, and relates many interesting incidents of the times in which they lived, was distinguished in the society of the court of Queen Anne, and has been commemorated by Gay, as one of the friends of Pope, and as ‘the sweet-tongued Murray.’ While the most careful investigation is directed towards our classic authors—Shakspeare, Milton, Spenser, Chaucer, &c., forming each the subject of numerous memoirs—scarcely a person of the least note has been suffered to depart without the honours of biography. The present century has amply atoned for any want of curiosity on the part of former generations, and there is some danger that this taste or passion may be carried too far. Memoirs of ‘persons of quality"—of wits, dramatists, artists, and actors, appear every season. Authors have become as familiar to us as our personal associates. Shy, retired men like Charles Lamb, and dreamy recluses like Wordsworth, have been portrayed in all their strength and weakness. We have lives of Shelley, of Keats, Hazlitt, Hannah More, Mrs Hemans, Mrs Maclean (L. E. L.), of James Smith (one of the authors of The Rejected Addresses), of Monk Lewis, Hayley, and many authors of less distinction. In this influx of biographies worthless materials are often elevated for a day, and the gratification of a prurient curiosity or idle love of gossip is more aimed at than literary excellence or sound instruction. The error, however, is one on the right side. ‘Better,’ says the traditional maxim of English law, “that nine guilty men should escape than that one innocent man should suffer'—and better, perhaps, that nine useless lives should be written than that one valuable one should be neglected. The chaff is easily winnowed from the wheat; and even in the memoirs of comparatively insignificant persons, some precious truth, some lesson of dear-bought experience, may be found treasured up for ‘a life beyond life. In what may be termed professional biography, facts and principles not known to the general reader are often conveyed. In lives like those of Sir Samuel Romilly, Mr Wilberforce, Mr Francis Horner, and Jeremy Bentham, new light is thrown on the characters of public men, and on the motives and sources of public events. Statesmen, lawyers, and philosophers both act and are acted upon by the age in which they live, and, to be useful, their biography should be copious. In the life of Sir Humphry Davy by his brother, and of James Watt by M. Arago, we have many interesting facts connected with the progress of scientific discovery and improvement; and in the lives of Curran, Grattan, and Sir James Mackintosh (each in two volumes), by their sons, the public history of the country is illustrated. Sir John Barrow's lives of Howe and Anson are excellent specimens of naval biography; and we have also lengthy memoirs of Lord St Vincent, Lord Collingwood, Sir Thomas Munro, Sir John Moore, Sir David Baird, Lord Exmouth, Lord Keppel, &c. On the subject of biography in general, we quote with pleasure an observation of Mr Carlyle: “If an individual is really of consequence enough to have his life and character recorded for public remembrance, we have always been of opinion that the public ought to be made acquainted with all the inward springs and relations of his character. How did the world and man's life, from his particular position, represent themselves to his mind? How did # existing circumstances modify him from

without—how did he modify these from within? With what endeavours and what efficacy rule over them? with what resistance and what suffering sink under them ? In one word, what and how produced was the effect of society on him? what and how produced was his effect on society? He who should answer these questions in regard to any individual, would, as we believe, furnish a model of perfection in biography. Few individuals, indeed, can deserve such a study; and many lives will be written, and, for the gratification of innocent curiosity, ought to be written, and read, and forgotten, which are not in this sense biographies.’ We have enumerated the most original biographical works of this period, but a complete list of all the memoirs, historical and literary, that have appeared would fill pages. Two general biographical dictionaries have also been published; one in tem volumes quarto, published between the years 1799 and 1815 by Dr Aikin; and another in thirty-two volumes octavo, re-edited, with great additions, between 1812 and 1816 by Mr Alexander Chalmers. An excellent epitome was published in 1828, in two large volumes, by John Gorton. A general biographical dictionary by the Rev. H. I. Rose, editor of the Encyclopaedia Metropolitana—who died in 1838, aged fifty-seven—has been published in twelve volumes. In Lardner's Cyclopaedia, Murray's Family Library, and the publications of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, are some valuable short biographies by authors of established reputation. The Lives of the Scottish Poets have been published by Mr David Irving, and a Biographical Dictionary of Eminent Scotsmen by Mr Robert Chambers, in four volumes octavo. A more extended and complete general biographical dictionary is still a desideratum.

METAPHY SICAL WRITERS.

We have no profound original metaphysician in this period, but some rich and elegant commentators. PROFEssoR DUGALD STEwART expounded and illustrated the views of his distinguished teacher, Dr Reid; and by his essays and treatises, no less than by his lectures, gave additional grace and popularity to the system. Mr Stewart was the son of Dr Matthew Stewart, professor of mathematics in the University of Edinburgh, and was born in the college buildings, November 22, 1753. At the early age of nineteen he undertook to teach his father's mathematical classes, and in two years was appointed his assistant and successor. A more congenial opening occurred for him in 1780, when Dr Adam Fergusson retired from the moral philosophy chair. Stewart was appointed his successor, and continued to discharge the duties of the office till 1810, when Dr Thomas Brown was conjoined with him as colleague. The latter years of his life were spent in literary retirement at Kinneil House, on the banks of the Firth of Forth, about twenty miles from Edinburgh. His political friends, when in office in 1806, created for him the sinecure office of Gazette writer for Scotland, with a salary of £600 per annum. Mr Stewart died in Edinburgh on the 11th of June 1828. No lecturer was ever more popular than Dugald Stewart—his taste, dignity, and eloquence rendered him both fascinating and impressive. His writings are marked by the same characteristics, and can be read with pleasure even by those who have no great partiality for the metaphysical studies in which he excelled. They consist of Philosophy of the Human Mind, one volume of

which was published in 1792, a second in 1813, and a third in 1827; also Philosophical Essays, 1810; a Dissertation on the Progress of Metaphysical and Ethical Philosophy, written in 1815 for the Encyclopaedia; and a View of the Active and Moral Powers of Man, published only a few weeks before his death. Mr Stewart also published Outlines of Moral Philosophy, and wrote memoirs of Robertson the historian, and Dr Reid. “All the years I remained about Edinburgh, says Mr James Mill, himself an able metaphysician, “I used, as often as I could, to steal into Mr Stewart's class to hear a lecture, which was always a high treat. I have heard Pitt and Fox deliver some of their most admired speeches, but I never heard anything nearly so eloquent as some of the lectures of Professor Stewart. The taste for the studies which have formed my favourite pursuits, and which will be so to the end of my life, I owe to him. A handsome edition of the collected works of Dugald Stewart, edited by Sir William Hamilton, vols. I. to IX, was published in Edinburgh, 1854-56. DR THoMA's BRowN (1778–1820), the successor of Stewart in the moral philosophy chair of Edinburgh, was son of the Rev. Samuel Brown, minister of Kirkmabreck, in Galloway. His taste for metaphysics was excited by the perusal of Professor Stewart's first volume, a copy of which had been lent to him by Dr Currie of Liverpool. He appeared as an author before his twentieth year, his first work being a Review of Dr Darwin's Zoonomia. On the establishment of the Edinburgh Review, he became one of the philosophical contributors; and when a controversy arose in regard to Mr Leslie, who had, in his essay on heat, stated his approbation of Hume's theory of causation, Brown warmly espoused the cause of the philosopher, and vindicated his opinions in an Inquiry into the Relation of Cause and Effect. At this time our author practised as a physician, but without any predilection for his profession. His appointment to the chair of moral philosophy seems to have fulfilled his destiny, and he continued to discharge its duties amidst universal approbation and respect till his death. Part of his leisure was devoted to the cultivation of a talent, or rather taste for poetry, which he early entertained: and he published The Paradise of Coquettes, 1814; The Wanderer of Norway, 1815; and The Bower of Spring, 1816. Though correct and elegant, with occasionally fine thoughts and images, the poetry of Dr Brown wants force and passion, and is now utterly forgotten. As a philosopher he was acute and searching, and a master of the power of analysis. His style wants the rich redundancy of that of Dugald Stewart, but is also enlivened with many eloquent passages, in which there is often a large infusion of the tenderest feeling. He quoted largely from the poets, especially Akenside; and was sometimes too flowery in his illustrations. His Lectures on the Philosophy of the Human Mind are highly popular, and form a class-book in the university. In some of his views Dr Brown differed from Reid and Stewart. His distinctions have been pronounced somewhat hypercritical; but Mackintosh considers that he rendered a new and important service to mental science by what he calls ‘secondary laws of suggestion or associationcircumstances which modify the action of the general law, and must be distinctly considered, in order to explain its connection with the phenomena.'

[Desire of the Happiness of Others.] [From Dr Brown's Lectures.]

It is this desire of the happiness of those whom we love, which gives to the emotion of love itself its

principal delight, by affording to us constant means of gratification. He who truly wishes the happiness of any one, cannot be long without discovering some mode of contributing to it. Reason itself, with all its light, is not so rapid in discoveries of this sort as simple affection, which sees means of happiness, and of important happiness, where reason scarcely could think that any happiness was to be found, and has already by many kind offices produced the happiness of hours before reason could have suspected that means so slight could have given even a moment's pleasure. It is this, indeed, which contributes in no inconsiderable degree to the perpetuity of affection. Love, the mere feeling of tender admiration, would in many cases have soon lost its power over the fickle heart, and in many other cases would have had its power greatly lessened, if the desire of giving happiness, and the innumerable little courtesies and cares to which this desire gives birth, had not thus in a great measure diffused over a single passion the variety of many emotions. The love itself seems new at every moment, because there is every moment some new wish of love that admits of being gratified; or rather, it is at once, by the most delightful of all combinations, new, in the tender wishes and cares with which it occupies us, and familiar to us, and endeared the more by the remembrance of hours and years of well-known happiness. The desire of the happiness of others, though a desire always attendant on love, does not, however, necessarily suppose the previous existence of some one of those emotions which may strictly be termed love. This feeling is so far from arising necessarily from regard for the sufferer, that it is impossible for us not to feel it when the suffering is extreme, and before our very eyes, though we may at the same time have the utmost abhorrence of him who is agonising in our sight, and whose very look, even in its agony, still seems to speak only that atrocious spirit which could again gladly perpetrate the very horrors for which public indignation as much as public justice had doomed it to its dreadful fate. It is sufficient that extreme anguish is before us; we wish it relief before we have paused to love, or without reflecting on our causes of hatred; the wish is the direct and instant emotion of our soul in these circumstances—an emotion which, in such peculiar circumstances, it is impossible for hatred to suppress, and which love may strengthen indeed, but is not necessary for producing. It is the same with our general desire of happiness to others. We desire, in a particular degree, the happiness of those whom we love, because we cannot think of them without tender admiration. But though we had known them for the first time simply as human beings, we should still have desired their happiness; that is to say, if no opposite interests had arisen, we should have wished them to be happy rather than to have any distress; yet there is nothing in this case which corresponds with the tender esteem that is felt in love. There is the mere wish of happiness to them—a wish which itself, indeed, is usually denominated love, and which may without any inconvenience be so denominated in that general humanity which we call a love of mankind, but which we must always remember does not afford, on analysis, the same results as other affections of more cordial regard to which we give the same name. To love a friend is to wish his happiness indeed, but it is to have other emotions at the same instant, emotions without which this mere wish would be poor to constant friendship. To love the natives of Asia or Africa, of whose individual virtues or vices, talents or imbecility, wisdom or ignorance, we know nothing, is to wish their happiness; but this wish is all which constitutes the faint and feeble love. It is a wish, however, which, unless when the heart is absolutely corrupted, renders it impossible for man to be wholly indifferent to man; and this great object is that which nature had in view. she: by a provident arrangement, which we cannot but admire the more the more attentively we examine it, accommodated our emotions to our means, making our love most ardent where our wish of giving happiness might be most effectual, and less gradually and less in proportion to our diminished means. From the affection of the mother for her new-born infant, which has been rendered the strongest of all affections, because it was to arise in circumstances where affection would be most needed, to that general philanthropy which extends itself to the remotest stranger on spots of the earth which we never are to visit, and which we as little think of ever visiting as of exploring any of the distant planets of our system, there is a scale of benevolent desire which corresponds with the necessities to be relieved, and our power of relieving them, or with the happiness to be afforded, and our power of affording happiness. How many opportunities have we of giving delight to those who live in our domestic circle, which would be lost before we could diffuse it to those who are distant from us! Our love, therefore, our desire of giving happiness, our pleasure in having given it, are stronger within the limits of this sphere of daily and hourly intercourse than beyond it. Of those who are beyond this sphere, the individuals most familiar to us are those whose happiness we must always know better how to promote than the happiness of strangers, with whose particular habits and inclinations we are little if at all acquainted. Our love, and the desire of general happiness which attends it, are therefore, by the concurrence of many constitutional tendencies of our nature in fostering the generous wish, stronger as felt for an intimate friend than for one who is scarcely known to us. If there be an exception to this gradual scale of importance according to intimacy, it must be in the case of one who is absolutely a stranger—a foreigner who comes among a people with whose general manners he is perhaps unacquainted, and who has no friend to whose attention he can lay claim from any prior intimacy. In this case, indeed, it is evident that our benevolence might be more usefully directed to one who is absolutely unknown, than to many who are better known by us, that live in our very neighbourhood, in the enjoyment of domestic loves and friendships of their own. Accordingly we find, that by a provision which might be termed singular—if we did not think of the universal bounty and wisdom of God—a modification of our general regard has been prepared in the sympathetic tendencies of our nature for this case also. There is a species of affection to which the stranger gives birth merely as being a stranger. He is received and sheltered by our hospitality almost with the zeal with which our friendship delights to receive one with whom we have lived in cordial union, whose virtues we know and revere, and whose kindness has been to us no small part of the happiness of our life. Is it possible to perceive this general proportion of our desire of giving happiness, in its various degrees, to the means which we possess, in various circumstances of affording it, without admiration of an arrangement so simple in the principles from which it flows, and at the same time so effectual—an arrangement which exhibits proofs of goodness in our very wants, of wisdom in our very weaknesses, by the adaptation of these to each other, and by the ready resources which want and weakness find in these affections which everywhere surround them, like the presence and protection of God himself? ‘0 humanity ' exclaims Philocles, in the Travels of Anacharsis, ‘generous and sublime inclination, announced in infancy by the transports of a simple tenderness, in youth by the rashness of a blind but happy confidence, in the whole progress of life by the facility with which the heart is ever ready to contract attachment! O cries of nature ! which resound from one £mity of the universe to the other, which

fill us with remorse when we oppress a single human being; with a pure delight when we have been able to give one comfort! love, friendship, beneficence, sources of a pleasure that is inexhaustible! Men are unhappy only because they refuse to listen to your voice; and, ye divine authors of so many blessings! what gratitude do those blessings demand ' If all which was given to man had been a mere instinct, that led beings, overwhelmed with wants and evils, to lend to each other a reciprocal support, this might have been sufficient to bring the miserable near to the miserable; but it is only a goodness, infinite as yours, which could have formed the design of assembling us together by the attraction of love, and of diffusing, through the great associations which cover the earth, that vital warmth which renders society eternal by rendering it delightful.’

The Discourse on Ethical Philosophy—already alluded to—by SIR JAMES MACKINTosh, and his review of Madame de Staël's Germany in the Edinburgh Review, unfold some interesting speculations on moral science. He agrees with Butler, Stewart, and the most eminent preceding moralists, in admitting the supremacy of the moral sentiments; but he proceeds a step further in the analysis of them. He attempts to explain the origin and growth of the moral faculty, or principle, derived from Hartley's Theory of Association, and insists repeatedly on the value of utility, or beneficial tendency, as the great test or criterion of moral action. Some of the positions in Mackintosh's Discourse were combated with unnecessary and unphilosophical asperity by JAMEs MILL, author of an able Analysis of the Phenomena of the Human Mind, 1829, in an anonymous Fragment on Mackintosh. Mill was a bold and original thinker, but somewhat coarse and dogmatical. In 1830 DR JoHN ABERCROMBIE (1781–1844) published Inquiries Concerning the Intellectual Powers and the Investigation of Truth—a popular metaphysical work, directed chiefly against materialism. The same author published The Philosophy of the Moral Feelings, 1833, and some medical treatises. None of these writers viewed mind in connection with organisation, but this mode of inquiry has been pursued by Dr Gall and his followers, with results which are popular with a considerable portion of the public, both in this country and in America. The leading doctrines of Gall are, that the brain is the organ of the mind, that various portions of the encephalon are the organs of various faculties of the mind, and that volume or size of the whole brain and its various parts is, other circumstances being equal, the measure of the powers of the mind and its various faculties in individuals. This system is founded upon observation—that is to say, it was observed that large brains, unless when of inferior quality, or in an abnormal condition, were accompanied by superior intellect and force of character; also that, in a vast number of instances which were accurately noticed, a large development of a special part of the brain was accompanied by an unusual demonstration of a certain mental character, and never by the opposite. From these demonstrations the fundamental character of the various faculties was sought to be eliminated. The system is well known under the name of Phrenology; and it has been expounded and enforced, in clear and admirable English, by the late MR GEORGE CoMBE 1788–1858). Mr Combe was a Writer to the ignet in Edinburgh, but strongly attached to literary and philosophical pursuits. He was much respected by his fellow-citizens, and was known over all Europe and America for his speculations on mental science, the criminal law, the currency, &c. The principal works of Mr Combe are Essays on Phrenology, 1819; The Constitution of Man, 1828; System of Phrenology, 1836; Notes on the United

George Combe.

States of America, three volumes, 1841; Phrenology applied to Painting and Sculpture; and pamphlets on the Relation between Science and Religion, on Capital Punishments, on National Education, the Currency Question, &c.

[Distinction between Power and Activity.] [From the System of Phrenology.]

There is a great distinction between power and activity of mind; and it is important to keep this difference in view. Power, strictly speaking, is the capability of thinking, feeling, or perceiving, however small in amount that capability may be ; and in this sense it is synonymous with faculty: action is the exercise of power; while activity denotes the quickness, great or small, with which the action is performed, and also the degree of proneness to act. The distinction between power, action, and activity of the mental faculties, is widely recognised by describers of human nature. Thus Cowper says of the more violent affective faculties of man:

* His passions, like the watery stores that sleep
Beneath the smiling surface of the deep,
Wait but the lashes of a wintry storm,
To frown, and roar, and shake his feeble form.'—IIope.

Again:
* In every heart
Are sown the sparks that kindle fiery war;
Occasion needs but fan them, and they blaze.”
-The Task, B. 5.

Dr Thomas Brown, in like manner, speaks of latent propensities; that is to say, powers not in action. ‘Vice already formed, says he, ‘is almost beyond our power: it is only in the state of latent propensity that we can with much reason expect to overcome it by the moral motives which we are capable of presenting:’ and he alludes to the great extent of knowledge of human nature requisite to enable us ‘to distinguish this propensity before it has expanded itself, and even before it is known to the very mind in which it exists,

and to tame those passions which are never to rage.' In Crabbe's Tales of the Hall a character is thus described:

“He seemed without a passion to proceed,
Or one whose passions no correction need;
Yet some believed those passions only slept,
And were in bounds by early habit kept.'

“Nature, says Lord Bacon, “will be buried a great time, and yet revive upon the occasion or temptation; like as it was with Esop's damsel, turned from a cat to a woman, who sat very demurely at the board's end till a mouse ran before her. In short, it is plain that we may have the capability of feeling an emotion—as anger fear, or pity—and that yet this power may be inactive, insomuch that, at any particular time, these emotions may be totally absent from the mind; and it is no less plain, that we may have the capability of seeing, tasting, calculating, reasoning, and composing music, without actually performing these operations. It is equally easy to distinguish activity from action and power. When power is exercised, the action may be performed with very different degrees of rapidity. Two individuals may each be solving a problem in arithmetic, but one may do so with far greater quickness than the other; in other words, his faculty of Number may be more easily brought into action. He who solves abstruse problems slowly, manifests much power with little activity; while he who can quickly solve easy problems, and them alone, has much activity with little power. The man who calculates difficult problems with great speed, manifests in a high degree both power and activity of the faculty of Number. As commonly employed, the word power is synonymous with strength, or much power, instead of denoting mere capacity, whether much or little, to act; while by activity is usually understood much quickness of action, and great proneness to act. As it is desirable, however, to avoid every chance of ambiguity, I shall employ the words power and activity in the sense first before explained; and to high degrees of power I shall apply the terms energy, intensity, strength, or vigour; while to great activity I shall apply the terms vivacity, agility, rapidity, or quickness. In physics, strength is quite distinguishable from quickness. The balance-wheel of a watch moves with much rapidity, but so slight is its impetus, that a hair would suffice to stop it; the beam of a steam-engine progresses slowly and massively through space, but its energy is prodigiously great. In muscular action these qualities are recognised with equal facility as different. The greyhound bounds over hill and dale with animated agility; but a slight obstacle would counterbalance his momentum, and arrest his progress. The elephant, on the other hand, rolls slowly and heavily along; but the impetus of his motion would sweep away an impediment sufficient to resist fifty greyhounds at the summit of their speed. In mental manifestations—considered apart from organisation—the distinction between energy and vivacity is equally palpable. On the stage Mrs Siddons and Mr John Kemble were remarkable for the solemn deliberation of their manner, both in declamation and in action, and yet they were splendidly gifted with energy. They carried captive at once the sympathies and the understanding of the audience, and made every man feel his faculties expanding, and his whole mind becoming greater under the influence of their power. Other performers, again, are remarkable for agility of action and elocution, who, nevertheless, are felt to be feeble and ineffective in rousing an audience to emotion. Vivacity is their distinguishing attribute, with an absence of vigour. At the bar, in the pulpit, and in the senate, the same distinction prevails. Many members of the learned professions display great fluency of elocution and felicity of illustration, surprising #with

[graphic]
« PoprzedniaDalej »