« PoprzedniaDalej »
at the same time of universal interest, are too often considered as so true that they lose all the powers of truth, and lie bed-ridden in the dormitory of the soul, side by side with the most despised and exploded errors.
But as the class of critics, whose contempt I have anticipated, commonly consider themselves as men of the world, instead of hazarding additional sneers by appealing to the authorities of recluse philosophers, for such, in spite of all history, the men who have distinguished themselves by profound thought, are generally deemed, from Plato and Aristotle to Cicero, and from Bacon to BerkeleyI will refer them to the darling of the polished court of Augustus, to the man, whose works have been in all ages deemed the models of good sense, and are still the pocket-companion of those who pride themselves on uniting the scholar with the gentle
This accomplished man of the world has given us an account of the subjects of conversation between himself and the illustrious statesmen who governed, and the brightest luminaries who then adorned, the empire of the civilized world:
Sermo oritur non de villis domibusve alienis,
Nec male, necne, lepus saltet. Sed quod magis ad nos
Quidve ad amicitias, usus rectumne, trahat nos;
Et quæ sit natura boni, summumque quid ejus.—HOR.*
* Serm. II. vi. 71. Conversation arises not concerning VOL. I.
Berkeley indeed asserts, and is supported in his assertion by Lord Bacon and Sir Walter Raleigh, that without an habitual interest in these subjects, a man may be a dexterous intriguer, but never can be a statesman. Would to Heaven that the verdict to be passed on my labours depended on those who least needed them! The water lily in the midst of waters lifts up its broad leaves, and expands its petals at the first pattering of the shower, and rejoices in the rain with a quicker sympathy, than the parched shrub in the sandy desert.
God created man in his own image. To be the image of his own eternity created he man! Of eternity and self-existence what other likeness is possible, but immortality and moral self-determination? In addition to sensation, perception, and practical judgment-instinctive or acquirable-concerning the notices furnished by the organs of perception, all which in kind at least, the dog possesses in common with his master; in addition to these, God gave us reason, and with reason he gave us reflective self-consciousness; gave us principles, distinguished from the maxims and generalizations
the country seats or families of strangers, nor whether the dancing hare performed well or ill. But we discuss what more nearly concerns us, and which it is an evil not to know: whether men are made happy by riches or by virtue : whether interest or a love of virtue should lead us to friendship; and in what consists the nature of good, and what is the ultimate or supreme good-the summum bonum.
of outward experience by their absolute and essential universality and necessity; and above all, by superadding to reason the mysterious faculty of free-will and consequent personal amenability, he gave us conscience-that law of conscience, which in the power, and as the indwelling word, of a holy and omnipotent legislator commands us-from among the numerous ideas mathematical and philosophical, which the reason by the necessity of its own excellence creates for itself,-unconditionally commands us to attribute reality, and actual existence, to those ideas and to those only, without which the conscience itself would be baseless and contradictory, to the ideas of soul, of free-will, of immortality, and of God. To God, as the reality of the conscience and the source of all obligation; to free-will, as the power of the human being to maintain the obedience, which God through the conscience has commanded, against all the might of nature; and to the immortality of the soul, as a state in which the weal and woe of man shall be proportioned to his moral worth. With this faith all nature,
all the mighty world
Of eye and ear
presents itself to us, now as the aggregated material of duty, and now as a vision of the Most High revealing to us the mode, and time, and particular
Wordsworth. Lines near Tintern Abbey.-Ed.
instance of applying and realizing that universal rule, pre-established in the heart of our reason.
"The displeasure of some readers," to use Berkeley's words,*" may, perhaps, be incurred by my having surprized them into certain reflections and inquiries, for which they have no curiosity. But perhaps some others may be pleased to find themselves carried into ancient times, even though they should consider the hoary maxims, defended in these essays, barely as hints to awaken and exercise the inquisitive reader, on points not beneath the attention of the ablest men. Those great men, Pythagoras, Plato, and Aristotle, men the most consummate in politics, who founded states, or instructed princes, or wrote most accurately on public government, were at the same time the most acute at all abstracted and sublime speculations ;the clearest light being ever necessary to guide the most important actions. And whatever the world may opine, he who hath not much meditated upon God, the human mind, and the summum bonum, may possibly make a thriving earth-worm, but will most indubitably make a blundering patriot and a 'sorry statesman."
* Siris, 350. The words in italics are substituted for the original.-Ed.
Blind is that soul which from this truth can swerve,
I EARNESTLY entreat the reader not to be dissatisfied either with himself or with the author, if he should not at once understand every part of the preceding essay; but rather to consider it as a mere annunciation of a magnificent theme, the different parts of which are to be demonstrated and developed, explained, illustrated, and exemplified in the progress of the work. I likewise entreat him to peruse with attention and with candour, the weighty extract from the judicious Hooker, prefixed as the motto to a following essay.t In works of reasoning, as distinguished from nar
*Musophilus. The line in italics is substituted.-Ed.
+ Essay IV. Sect. On the Principles of Political Knowledge. See Eccl. Pol. I. c. I. 2.-Ed.