Page images

You will there find it of great advantage. People are for ever reasoning wrong in common conversation, and on the motives and consequences of their daily conduct. From the want of just thought and accurate reasoning on common emergencies, they hastily form wrong conclusions, and fall into foolish actions; the slaves of prejudice, ignorance, passion, and absurdity. All this might easily be avoided, by exercising plain common sense, sufficiently informed; or, in other words, by sound Logic, You will derive much happiness and dignity from accustoming yourself to submit your fancies, humours, caprices, and all your eager desires, to the touchstone of a syllogism. When any new question arises in common life, no less than books, which requires a sound judgment, form the matter into a syllogism, and abide by the conclusion, whatever it may be, faithfully and resolutely. By using yourself to this method in little things, you will naturally adopt it in great ones; and the result will be, sound judgment in writing, speaking, and acting; decision in thought, and firmness in conduct. A most valuable effect this, of studying in the school of Aristotle. It will give you a superiority over more than half mankind, who seldom allow themselves time to reason closely and justly, if they reason at all. I am, &c.


My LoRD, IN the plan of academical education established in some of the universities, Metaphysics succeed the study of Logic. - . But I really cannot recommend them to your par

ticular notice. If your genius leads you to them, you will follow its bias, and probably succeed in the pursuits. But they are, to the generality of men, a dull, if not a useless study. It is difficult to point out their utility to men designed for active life. They are indeed an innocent amusement, and serve to fill up the time of the contemplative, But as your view is to be a general scholar, not merely for the praise of scholarship, or the pleasure of contemplation, but in order to be an accomplished speaker, you will make yourself acquainted with some little treatise of Metaphysics, which may give you a general idea of them, and enable you to ascertain their use and value. I inclose you a little volume, containing a treatise on them by Francis Hutcheson, the Scotch professor: and if you can read it without falling asleep over it, you may acquire from it no inconsiderable share of elementary knowledge in the recondite science of Metaphysics; a science no further to be pursued by you, than as it is a branch of general erudition. Read also Locke's Essay on the Human Understanding, and you will perhaps have proceeded as far in these abstruse researches as your time will allow, and indeed as far as your present occasions will require. Should you hereafter become a professed philosopher, you will penetrate more deeply, and extend your views more widely, in the dreary region of Metaphysics, where to the eye of genius and imagination, no blossom blows, noverdure softens the horror of the scene. I am, &c.



The time you save by shortening the period of your application to metaphysics, may be usefully devoted to the more valuable parts of Logic. Mistake me not so much as to suppose that I despise Logic in general. It is only the scholastic part which I wish you to neglect. Rational logic, or common sense improved by rules, is a most valuable art; and I should be glad to observe in you a taste for its cultivation. Logic, you know, is divided into four parts. The first teaches to conceive clear ideas of single objects: the second, to form a judgment on them : the third, to argue from them conclusively: and the fourth, to arrange them in the best and most lucid order. Nothing can contribute more than this, to accomplish the orator and the man. Logic, divested of its pedantic and unnecessary subtilties, is very justly termed an instrument; or as Aristotle termed it, an organon, to facilitate the attainment of all other sciences. After reading Sanderson or Watts, form in your own mind a little logical system for daily use. Accustom yourself to conceive clearly, to judge or affirm on solid grounds, to reason irrefragably, and to methodize in the most convenient and luminous arrangement. Carrying this organon, as philosophers call it, or instrument, about you, like your watch, or your eyeglass, you will find it of perpetual service. It will give you an advantage in the transaction of all business, whether public or private. Few men possess

it. Many have indeed read the common treatises on Logic; but they were either puzzled or disgusted, or both, with the dull subtilties of the schools, and never disentangled the good from the bad, so as to be able to avail themselves of it after leaving the university. You will extract the kernel, and throw

away the shell.

A clear head is certainly one of the most valuable blessings which a man, and especially a man of business, such as you intend to be, can possess. Nature must have done a great deal towards producing it; but the Manual of Logic which I recommend, that is, a little system compiled by yourself, and divested of every thing superfluous, will improve and assist nature wonderfully.

It is impossible but that he who has long exercised his mind in defining, dividing, distinguishing, arguing, and methodizing, should excel the majority of men with whom he converses. And there is a pleasure in these operations, which will lead him who has once tasted it, to pursue them on all occasions which require deliberation.

Indistinctness of ideas, falsehood, blunders, inconclusive argumentation and confusion, are painful; and yet, to the misfortune of human nature, they are

Error, guilt, sorrow, and every species of folly and misery, are the consequences; and therefore your Lordship, on a due consideration of the matter, can want no exhortation to study an art, which tends to improve man in that very faculty in which he excels all the animal creation.

But, my Lord, cautions are necessary to be added to almost every piece of advice. While I urge you to reason on every thing, you must remember that I mean that you should reason in silent thought, and not obtrude your arguments on every occasion, and


in all company. A cavilling, wrangling, disputatious habit will not be borne. You must think with the wise, and, on many occasions, condescend to talk with the vulgar. You will go into few companies, and be present in little business, where some parties do not err against every rule of Logic; in perceiving indistinctly, judging falsely, arguing absurdly, and in placing things in a preposterous order. You must hear, and bear with patience; taking care to let your own mind be regulated by your invaluable organon, or portable rule of reason. As Logic is but little attended to in the course of what is called a polite education, you will have the advantage, on most occasions, of a singular solidity in your eloquence. You will often gain your point, and be admired and esteemed for great abilities in the conduct of business, when you have done no more than exercise your common sense, unwarped by fancy, prejudice, and passion. You very justly observe, that I have often, in your hearing, expressed my contempt of scholastic logic. I still avow it. But lest you should suppose that I condemned rational logic with it, I have been here more diffuse in endeavouring to convince you that I entertain the highest esteem for it. Logic, well cultivated, and understood in the sense in which I have recommended, will not fail, with your parts, learning, and other aecomplishments, to render you a distinguished and convincing speaker. I am, &c.


My LoRD, A witling, who intended to throw contempt upon logic, made an anagram of the word logica, and

« PreviousContinue »