« PreviousContinue »
hieroglyphics of which every idle word is recorded ! Yea, in the very nature of a living spirit, it may be more possible that heaven and earth should pass away, than that a single act, a single thought, should be loosened or lost from that living chain of causes, with all the links of which, conscious or unconscious, the free-will, our only absolute Self, is co-extensive and co-present But not now dare I longer discourse of this, waiting for a loftier mood, and a nobler subject, warned from within and from with. out, that it is profanation to speak of these mysteries-rois undi φαντασθείσιν, ως καλόν το της δικαιοσύνης και σωφροσύνης πρόσωπον, και ήτε έσπερος οτε έωος ούτω καλά. Το γάρ ορών προς το δρώμενον συγγενές και ομοιον ποιησάμενον δεί επιβάλλειν τη θέα. ου γάρ αν πώποτε είδεν οφθαλμός ήλιον, ήλιοειδής μη γεγενημένος" ουδε το καλόν αν ίδη ψυχή, μη καλή γενομένη!! –to those to whose imagination it has never been presented, how beautiful is the countenance of justice and wisdom; and that neither the morning nor the evening star are so fair. For in order to direct the view aright, it behoves that the beholder should have made himself congenerous and similar to the object beheld. Never could the eye
have be. held the sun, had not its own essence been soliform,” (i. e. pre. configured to light by a similarity of essence with that of light) “ neither can a soul not beautiful attain to an intuition of beauty."
11 (Plotinus. Enn. I., lib. vi., ss. 4 and 9. Ed.)
(f the necessary consequences of the Hartleian Theoryof the original
mistake or equivocation which procured its admission Memoria technica.
We will pass by the utter incompatibility of such a law-if law it may be called, which would itself be the slave of chances with even that appearance of rationality forced upon us by the outward phænomena of human conduct, abstracted from our own consciousness. We will agree to forget this for the moment, in order to fix our attention on that subordination of final to efficient causes in the human being, which flows of necessity from the assumption, that the will and, with the will, all acts of thought and attention are parts and products of this blind mechanism, instead of being distinct powers, the function of which it is to control, determine, and modify the phantasmal chaos of association. The soul becomes a mere ens logicum ; for, as a real separable being, it would be more worthless and ludicrous than the Grimal. kins in the cat-harpsichord, described in the Spectator. For these did form a part of the process; but, in Hartley's scheme, the soul is present only to be pinched or stroked, while the very squeals or purring are produced by an agency wholly indepen. dent and alien. It involves all the difficulties, all the incomprehensibility (if it be not indeed, ús éponye daxiı, the absurdity), of in. tercommunion between substances that have no one property in
of the convenient consequences that bribed the judgment to the admission of the Dualistic hypothesis. Accordingly, this caput mortuum of the Hartleian process has been rejected by his followers, and the consciousness considered as a 1 result, as a tune, the common product of the breeze and the harp : though this again is the mere remotion of one absurdity to make way for another, equally preposterous. For what is harmony but
a mode of relation, the very esse of which is percipi ?-an ens rationale, which pre-supposes the power, that by perceiving creates it? The razor's edge becomes a saw to the armed vision ; and the delicious melodies of Purcell or Cimarosa might be disjointed stammerings to a hearer, whose partition of time should be a thousand times subtler than ours. But this obstacle too let us imagine ourselves to bave surmounted, and “at one bound high overleap all bound.” Yet according to this hypothesis the disquisition, to which I am at present soliciting the reader's attention, may be as truly said to be written by Saint Paul's church, as by me : for it is the mere motion of my muscles and nerves; and these again are set in motion from external causes equally passive, which external causes stand themselves in interdepen. dent connexion with everything that exists or has existed. Thus the whole universe co-operates to produce the minutest stroke of every letter, save only that I myself, and I alone, have nothing to do with it, but merely the causeless and effectless beholding of it when it is done. Yet scarcely can it be called a beholding; for it is neither an act nor an effect; but an impossible creation of a something nothing out of its very contrary! It is the mere quick. silver plating behind a looking-glass; and in this alone consists the poor worthless I! The sum total of my moral and intellectual intercourse, dissolved into its elements, is reduced to extension, motion, degrees of velocity, and those diminished copies of configurative motion, which form what we call notions, and notions of notions. Of such philosophy well might Butler say
The metaphysic's but a puppet motion
The inventor of the watch, if this doctrine be true, did not in
[Miscellaneous Thoughts. Ed.]
reality invent it; he only looked on while the blind causes, the only true artists, were unfolding themselves. So must it have been too with my friend Allston, when he sketched his picture of the dead man revived by the bones of the prophet, Elijah.' So must it have been with Southey and Lord Byron, when the one fancied himself composing his Roderick and the other his Childe Harold. The same must hold good of all systems of philosophy; of all arts, governments, wars by sea and by land; in short, of all things that ever have been or that ever will be produced. For, according to this system, it is not the affections and passions that are at work, in as far as they are sensations or thoughts. We only fancy, that we act from rational resolves, or prudent motives, or from impulses of anger, love, or generosity. In all these cases the real agent is a something nothing everything, which does all of which we know, and knows nothing of all that itself does.
The existence of an infinite spirit, of an intelligent and holy will, must, on this system, be mere articulated motions of the air. For as the function of the human understanding is no other than
[This expression of regard for the great painter of America may well justify the publication of the following beautiful sonnet, which Mr. Allstop, a master of either pencil, did the Editor the honor to send to hin
On the late Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
The human soul ;-as when, push'd off the shore,
Cambridge Port, Massachusetts, America Ed.]
merely to appear to itself to combine and to apply the phenonena of the association; and as these derive all their reality from the primary sensation; and the sensations again, all their reality from the impressions ab-extra ; a God not visible, audible, or tangible, can exist only in the sounds and letters that form his name and attributes. If in ourselves there be no such faculties as those of ihe will, and the scientific reason, we must either have an innate idea of them, which would overthrow the whole system; or we can have no idea at all. The process by which Hume degraded the notion of cause and effect into a blind product of delusion and habit, into the mere sensation of proceeding life (nisus vitalis) associated with the images of the memory ;' this same process must be repeated to the equal degradation of every fundamental idea in ethics or theology.
Far, very far am I from burdening with the odium of these consequences the moral characters of those who first formed, or have since adopted the system! It is most noticeable of the excellent and pious Hartley, that, in the proofs of the existence and attributes of God, with which his second volume commences, he makes no reference to the principles or the results of the first. Nay, he assumes as his foundations, ideas which, if we embrace the doctrines of his first volume, can exist nowhere but in the vibrations of the ethereal medium common to the nerves and to the atmosphere. Indeed the whole of the second volume is, with the fewest possible exceptions, independent of his peculiar system. So true is it, that the faith, which saves and sanctifies, is a collective energy, a total act of the whole moral being ; that its living sensorium is in the heart; and that no errors of the understanding can be inorally arraigned unless they have proceeded from the heart. But whether they be such, no man can be certain in the case of another, scarcely perhaps even in his own. Hence it follows by inevitable consequence, that man may perchance determine what is a heresy; but God only can know who is a heretic. It does not, however, by any means follow that opinions fundamentally false are harmless. A hundred causes may co-exist to form one complex antidote. Yet
3 [See Inquiry concerning the Human Understanding. Sect. vii. Ed.]