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On the University of GlasgowMoral Philosophy. Class.
ly the case in the outset of the course.
He is well aware, that the view of the Intellectual Powers, which has been given in another place, is very different from his own. That view he recals to our mind and proceeds to consider its accuracy, In the course of this consideration, the opinions of Reid and Stewart, occupy the greater part of his attention. His enquiry into the justice of these, exhibits a model of the most severe and conclusive reasoning. The result of the enquiry is a total refutation of their system of mind. We do not mean to say, that he disagrees with them in every particular, but he dissents very widely from their leading doctrines, respecting the elemen
It is one of Mr. Mylne's greatest excellencies that he keeps always to the subject in hand. This is more than can be said for Mf. Stewart or his successor in office. These gentlemen, particularly the latter, never omit an opportunity of flying off from their iminediate business for the sake of fine writing. Dr. Brown's lectures are certainly the finest specimens of composition we have ever heard, but are no more to be compared with. Mr. Mylne's, for the closeness of their logic, than a piece of mere declamation, to the essay on the Human Understanding. Indeed their fineness is an evidence of bad taste. For it is plain that whatever sets the imagination a glowing, when the subject of study is mind, must distract the attention from its proper business. However much a lecture, full of nice conceits, and brilliant figures may amuse, it will certainly fail to instruct. Accordingly though we have felt exceedingly gratified by these poetico-prose lectures, we have uniformly found that the pleasure was purchased at the expense
of solid information. Lectures of this sort are about as much calculated to teach metaphysics as the stage is to teach. morals. In both cases the largeness of the meal which is pro vided for the imagination, leaves little room for any thing to satisfy the understanding.
The admirers of Mr. Stewart are so loud in his praise, that they will scarce bear to be told of his faults, among which we are wayward enough to reckon, the very finesse of his lectures, and the extreme gracefulness of his elocution. These qualifications suit amazingly, in a teacher of literary ornament, but are quite out of place in a follower of Bacon and Locke. There is not a passage in the works of these philosophers which might be called pretty. Indeed the notion of prettiness, either in writing or delivery, is in the general case, utterly inconsistent with soli
On the University of GlasgowMoral Philosophy Class.
dity of talent. We have certainly no wish to underrate the talents of Mr. Stewart, but we submit, that if he had paid less attention to the
graces of writing; if he had rendered his lectures as instructive as they were certainly amusing, he would have done much for philosophy and the permanency of his own fame that he has left undone.
The scholar of Mr. Mylne will find little to say against him on this score. His delivery is easy, and his language always suited to the subject. He will in vain endeavour to deteet him in the use of figure for the sake of ornament alone, of employing illustrations by way of displaying his ingenuity, or peradventure to eke out a scanty paragraph. All that is said is made to tell on the matter in hand.
One never comes away from his lecture with the impression that the subject has been insufficiently handled, or that any thing has been studiously kept back, and something else over eagerly brought forward, to favour a particular view. Mr. Mylne even invites the students to canvass his opinions. We have known instances of the seniores maintaining doctrines very opposite to those of the lecture, and submitting them to Mr. Mylne's examination. This practice, which in some places would be considered inconsistent with sound discipline, is here attended with no bad effects. For it leads the students to a more careful examination of the subject, than they might otherwise have thought necessary, and in general to habits of correct thinking on metaphysical topics.
The object of the course is the instruction of men, in their duty towards themselves, towards the Deity, and towards one another. For this purpose, Mr Mylne considers, 1st, Man as endowed with powers of Intellect Action, and what these powers are. 2d. T'he doctrines of Natural Religion - The Being and Attributes of God --The Immortality of the Soul, &c. 3d. The Rise, Progress and Structure of Society, with the duties which the social compact imposes on its members. This is the di. vision which he adopts, as nearly as we can gather from our notes of his lectures. In following it out, he is led to treat of the “much vexed” doctrines of Utility, Liberty and Necessity, Providence, &c. On most of these, he refuses to give a decided opinion of his own, but puts it in the power of the students to judge for themselves, by fairly exhibiting the opposing arguments which are held concerning them. This practice, tends to cher
ish a spirit of speculation among the students, which shows itself, in the number of voluntary essays on controversial points, furnished in the course of the session. These are given in to the Professor to be examined by him in private, but are afterwards criticised in the hearing of the whole class. The number and the merits of the voluntary essays are the chief circumstances on which the students found when awarding the prizes.
With a view to render the students conversant with the opinions of the ancients as well as of the moderns on morals, they are required to prepare a portion of some ancient ethical treatise, two or three times a-week. On this they are minutely examined, and the professor offers such illustrative observations as occur in the course of the reading. On one day of each week, they are also required, to read an essay, on a subject connected with the lecture-a practice which is attended with very obvious advantages.
At a separate hour, Mr. Mylne gives lectures Ion Political Economy. These are chiefly attended by the advanced students, and people in business. We should have exhibited a short view of these lectures, had it been in our power to procure a copy of their outlines, which were published some years ago. At this distance from the University, however, there is not a single copy to be had.
M. Manse of Bogton, Dec. 1819.
Spaemen! the truth of a' their saws I doubt,
The pretence of being acquainted with future events seems to have been at once equally ancient and absurd. Common sense, it might be imagined, must convince all the world, that it is impossible to pry into the womb of futurity, and explore the transactions of distant times; yet we find, that people from the earliest
ages, have given credit to those who pretended to poso, sess the secret. And what is more to be lamented, as well as more to be wondered at, is, that in these more enlightened
tines, when idolatry and superstition are in a great measure banished from the land; the fallacy of pretending to know future events, is so far from losing ground together with them, that it seems to be in great repute at present; and it is to be feared will still continue. Young girls will always be desirous of having husbands, and young fellows of having wires; and these the false pretenders to science bestow very plentifully upon all persons who make application to them.
Now if we take a survey of the various ranks and degrees of these artists, we shall find that all have their several provinces, and separate profits. In the lowest class may be ranked the civil old woman who pretends to knowledge from the accidental position of cards. According to the difference of your sex, she promises you either the genteelest young lady, or the handsomyoung fellow in that
part of the country; and that fortune will always favour you and your children after
With these and a thousand other such sayings, she tickles your imagination, till such time as you actually believe.y
-you have plenty in possesand so plentifully reward her as the donor of it.' And thus when the old hag has accomplished her ends, then you must give place to another, who is flattered with the same golden dreams.
The next upon the list is the old gentlewoman with her venerable cloak, who mends cracked china, vr tells the secrets of old time with tea or coffee grounds; from the assistance and conveniency of her cloak, is enabled to cheat you out of your money, and whatever she can lay her fingers on.
The next in degree is the redoubted seventh son, of the seve:th son of Copernicus, who requires half a guinea to cast a nativity.
We must not omit the dumb lady, who being of a truly benevolent disposition, travels for the good of her fellow creatures, that by her medicines she may prevent evils, that would never come to pass; and by her excellent gifts, or endowments, foretel blessings that will never happen. The lady from the want of hearing, as well as speaking, is saved the trouble of many unnecessary questions ; but who notwithstanding, is generally very well qualified by her kind hostess to satisfy all her votaries. The last we shall introduce upon the stage is the famous for
tune-teller, who has studied the stars; and learned to read futurity in the skies. As he is a thorough proficient both in physiognomy and palmistry, so he expects to be paid in proportion for his oracles. His sacred fingers can only touch the king of metals; and inspired by that shining ore, he can at once discover all the future good or evil that will befal mankind.
Is it not amazing that such impostors should be able to cheat rational creatures out of their senses, and their money? But as it is too much a matter of fact, let us see if we can any way contribute to remedy it.
The following story, if duly attended to, will set such pretenders to a knowledge of futurity in the most contemptible light, Lewis XI. was a prince that put mighty confidence in this kind of impostors, and always when he rode out had one with him to consult on every occasion. Getting up one morning early, and seeing the sky clear, he consulted his astrologer about the weather, who told him it would be a fine day. Upon his word the king ordered his hounds and horses to be set out for the sport. On the way they met a peasant of the neighbouring town, drawing his ass, loaded with cabbages, to the market; the king had the curiosity to stop and ask the fellow what sort of weather he thought it would be? To which the peasant answered that he believed there would be a great deal of rain, for he had observed his ass frequently shook his ears, and rubbed his tail against the posts, which, added he, was a sure sign of rain. The king and the conjuror laughed heartily at the fellow's prognostication : but they had not been out long, when, to their sorrow, they found he had foretold the truth. The king on his · return, justly concluded that the ass was much wiser than his conjuror, and therefore turned him adrift, and ordered the ass a place, where he might be kept at ease as long as he lived. This and a thousand other such instances as recorded, would, if properly considered, destroy all the credit of such false pro"phets.
In a word, none but the great Author of our being, who is perfect in wisdom and knowledge, can see into futurity; and as he only knows what is best, and most proper for any of the children of men, so if we, after doing our duty cheerfully, rely on his all-wise providence, and confidently trust in his all-powerful protection, we may rest ourselves assured that he who is our fruest friend, will guard and secure us from the many