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to the present Author, there may be readers who would hesitate to pronounce him absolutely master of any ground in the intellectual world, in the sense of a very accurate, decisive, hardreasoned judgement of a subject; but every reader will perceive, especially in passing over the latter part of the work, that his excursions sometimes go a great length in the region of thought, though in an unsteady and too often ineffective manner. Не readily invades the precincts of very high and abstracted speculations; but then he is involved in great cloudiness and confusion. We see him, and lose him; and lose him in a manner which makes us suspect that he loses himself. In a glimmering between darkness and light, he throws out, however, among vague and impalpable semblances of grand ideas, some striking and even valuable sentiments, of a conception above the faculty of common-place minds. In matters of taste, too, we think he has expressed, and sometimes very happily, here and there, a fine, fleeting, discriminative perception, which passes us like a vivid transient ray of light. The book contains, in short, many passages that indicate a spirit finer than the ordinary substance of minds, though compounded and conformed in a manner which has caused great want of regular tenour and systematic design and force in its operations.
After having written thus far, we turned to that earlier pumber of our Journal, where this Author's former work was noticed ; and we find that we have, without being distinctly aware of it till this comparison, been saying what is of nearly identical import with what was said in that instance. We most willingly repeat and confirm the testimony there given to a certain liberality and high tone in the strain of the Author's sentiments. He is an ardent hater of tyranny and war, a despiser of the vain pomps of courts and artificial life, an admirer of moral and intellectual greatness, and an enthusiast, we believe a genuine ope, for Nature.
Perhaps it had been the wiser course, both in the former instance and the present, to bave illustrated the quality of our Author's composition chiefly by extracts, instead of labouring at a characteristic description, by which it is after all impossible to convey a distinct idea of a inode of thought and style so very peculiar. That had been also for us a much easier operation; but we confess that the sensibility, the enthusiasm, the taste, the literary attainments, and the apparently benevolent dispositions of the writer, excited a degree of interest wbich would not let us perform our task so slightly. In transcribing a few paragraphs in the way of specimen, we shall not be understood as pretending to give more than a very partial exemplification of what we have attempted to describe. "Nor indeed do we quote
with any thing like a special selection : numberlėss other passages would serve as well. A section on the beauty of virtue' begins thus :
• If the ancients gave strength to Hercules, beauty to Venus, and sublimity to Jupiter ;-virtue combines the qualities of them all, and is to happiness what the sculptor is to his marble, the painter to his canvas, and'the musician to his instrument. It is the best of all escutcheons, as education is the best of all inheritances.- A quality without which the patent of a dukedom were but an imaginary distinction.--And as Newtonian mathematics open the widest road to mechanical science, its practice forms the vestibule to every honour, and confers more dignity than all the stars, ribbands, and crescents, which decorate the nobility of England, Germany, or Turkey. Like the harps of Milton, virtue is always in tune. She strikes the chords, and melody lulls us in private, and harmony in public. Like the flowers of Congo, at the rising and setting of the sun, she charms the senses with delightful odours:--she is an armour to the soul, as health is an armour to the body: she engenders a beauty in those who practise her precepts, and renders every object which depreciates her despicable and ugly.' p. 75.
'The character of conquerors,' is a fair specimen of our Author's style of invective.
As barren of principle as are the poles of vegetation; in continual mutiny with their own inordinate passions; pitiful only with intent to effect a wider and more certain ruin; and formed to stab a group of sleeping or of smiling infants ;-to gain a robe of purple and a meretricious title among men, some there are who would crimson every valley of the earth, and derive an exquisite pleasure in striding, with rapture, over the ruins of the world. With countenances as ferocious as those (that) of Marius or Jugurtha, it were impossible to charmthem into humanity :-they become anathemas ; and deserving no other audience than serpents, tygers, and crocodiles, to listen to their melody, their amusements are
“ To quaff the tears of orphans, bathe in blood,
" And find a music in the groans of nations.” · These are inen who, if they were capable of writing, would select for the exercise of their pens, subjects relating to deserts, to blights, to gangrenes, and to poisons. Condemned to eternal sterility in all the fruits of affection ; cursed with hands labouring against every man, and rapacious of ruin ;~even the few virtues they possess lose the character of virtues, as sapphires are said to lose their beauty on the bosoms of the incontinent. Fiercer and more untractable than the sons of Ishmael ;-expecting every favour which fortune can bestow, yet bearing evident signs of hate to all the human race ;-viewing with rapture the burning of cities ;-palsying every effort with which freedom shakes the nightmare of her slavery ; — every plan bespeaks a ruin;-every step creates a desert ;-and while poisons operate in every fountain to cover their dishonourable diadems with a vain and worthless glory, dissatified in pursuit, and disgusted Vol. VII. N.S.
in enjoyment, they weep for greater worlds to conquer and to ruin ! The eye that
weeps for Thammuz is dry for Israel !-- Then would they shut the faithful mouth of history :-proclaiming to the historian that silence is a royal quality. As well may they attempt to keep the sea from rolling, or the sun from shining-for, as surely as the four cardinal points of the ecliptic mark the four seasons of the year, will they discover, when perhaps too late, that neither birth, nor wealth, nor honour, nor glory, can save their hearts from agony, nor their names from infamy.
• When objects are viewed with a military eye, the finest of landscapes are degraded into ramparts, bastions, and circumvallations : cannons speak the logic of kings; tyranny implies a glorious epitaph; while on the spot where Attila's horse sets his foot, grass
is doomed to wither," His tent is the box of Pandora ; his march is the march of the furies; his word strikes fear and desperation into the boson of nations; he palsies where he touches: and he withers where he breathes. And if some natural impulses of pity are at length excited, he gives to those whom he has injured a cloth “ dip't in the blood” of husbands and of children, wherewith to dry their tears! Oh! mockery of ruin!' p. 67.
We transcribe a paragraph on the justification of Provi
dence,' from among a multitude of passages of an aspiring character which occur in the last division of the work,—that on Science.
Then may we listen, with the rapture of a seraph, to the history of our own creation ! For then the plan of providence will be justified. Then shall we repeat our orisons and praises to that great original, who permits the grass to wither, and the excellent to linger in all the agonies of sorrow, and all the miseries of neglect and want. Then shall we see that the moral world is equally susceptible of being resolved into harmony as the natural. For then, having acquired a knowledge of nature, and of final causes, we shall see the wisdom that has ordained on earth's “melancholy map" the overflowing of rivers, the sterility of the poles, and the deserts of continents. Why plants of a poisonous quality are permitted to grow ;-why vegetation is checked and life destroyed;
-why serpents and other noxious reptiles press the earth, and pestilate the air ;--why man should build up mansions in old age ; and travel from country to country to heap up wealth that he is never permitted to enjoy ;-why good deeds are misinterpreted; and why the modesty of virtue crouches before the glare of impudence; why vice rides triumphant, and why innocence is appalled :-above all, why, forgetting the laws of nature, and conquering all his best and noblest sympathies, man wages war on excellence, and carries fire and slaughter into unoffending countries ! Cruelties, which, as they appear to be unnecessary, would almost justify the conclusion that we brought into the world an original depravity, the result of vices and crimes indulged and perpetrated in a pre-existent state.'
There is, we think, somewhat more of order, and what may be called máturation, in this part on Science,' than in any equal portion of either of the Author's works. But the radical fault is every where too palpable.
On reverting to our notice of “ The Philosophy of Nature,' we perceive we felt it necessary to intimate some degree of accusation (but certainly not in harsh terms) on the ground of reJigion. It did appear to us, while exercising the utmost candour of which we were capable, that there was too little recollection of Divine revelation, both in the occasional sentiments of a directly religious reference, and in the discriminations and adjudgements of moral qualities. Our impression was, that the moral theory of the work, (if we may apply such a term to an aggregation of things so little reduced to a definite form,) was a poetical, a sentimental, a philosophical, rather than a Christian theory. In intimating or expressing this judgement, however, we made but a similar charge to what we should gravely and deliberately fix on the majority of the acknowledged and popular fine writers of our country.
Admirers, also, of the sublimity and beauty of Nature as we were, and strongly inclined to sympathy with its most poetical enthusiasts, we yet could not help feeling a real difficulty of understanding, (on the supposition of a perfect sincerity in the Author's expressions,) how such an absorbing passion could leave room for the distinct superior sentiment of which the Divine Being is the proper object. Not but there were solemn references sometimes to that Being; but it struck us that the strain of thought had too much of the effect of substituting his creation for himself as the final object of a profound complacency, or of an affectionate rapture. At least, the sentiment strictly religious did not seem to be happily preserved, nor discriminated with the proper clearness and emphasis, through the course of the enthusiastic devoirs to Nature. And then as to what appeared the leading doctrine of the work, nainely, that the scenery of Nature has in itself, absolutely, a mighty power of influence to promote human goodness and happiness,--the contrary we think might have been strongly argued a priori ; but there needed no argument when there was a glaring matter of fact.
With respect to the present work, in which a number of just and pleasing sentiments are scattered through a vast assemblage of literary facts and allusions, inspirited with all kinds of fancies, we think there is a pervading error analogous to that of the former work; it appears to attribute to literature, arts, and science, an efficacy for the production of moral improvement and happiness, which it is notorious, as a plain matter of fact, they do not possess, if we are to judge from the character of á vast majority of their proficients, and from the state of nations in which they have most flourished. The Author does not in the - first part of the book-on happiness in general-lay down such a decided scheme of rectitude and happiness, as would have furnished him with discriminative principles for constant application through the sequel. If we may presume that, had he deliberately laid down such a scheme, it would have been formed upon the principles of the Christian Revelation, we may then suggest, that not a few things which have been admitted into this work, would have been felt to be of very doubtful value for his purpose.
A scheme which makes the essence of human felicity on earth, to consist in the expectation of eternal felicity, progressively approached under the auspices of a God of mercy, who, for the sake of the Great Sacrifice, pardons the guilty being, and conducts it through a discipline of purification, will know how to avail itself largely of science and literature, and the contributions and resources of genius and a as subordinate means and accessories to felicity. It will shew distinctly how they can be made to subserve the grand purpose; and it will cite with careful selection its examples of distinguished persons who, happy as Christians, have been the happier for being men of science or literature, and admirers of the beauties and wonders of Nature and Art. But a scheme so failing to recognise this grand and simple theory, as to attempt, or at least seem to attempt, to constitute a happiness of which those mere accessories shall be the essential elements, must necessarily admit a great many things at more, if we may so express it, than their worth : it must reject the just rules of relation and proportion; it must disregard contradictions, accept things of the most equivocal appearance, enormously exaggerate the good, to the amount, in fact, of a quite falsified estinate, and palliate or suppress the evil; and in its alleged verifications by example, it must be very little rigorous as to the pertinency and sufficiency of the instance produced. What must be the distress for practical evidence in favour of a scheme of happiness, when its plau-. sive exhibiter produces as an example of happiness in deaththe emperor Julian ! Julian, the systematic, considerate, deliberate hater of Heaven's most beneficent manifestation, and
oppressor of its believers!
"The uses of learning and philosophy in the hour of death were finely exemplified by the closing scene of Julian.' p. 216.
Does the Author wish to be understood as thinking it could really be a happy death that that hater of Christ could die, by virtue of his philosophy? Then, any other contemner of that same great object of Christian faith and devotion, has but to assume, in like manner, the heroics of philosophy, to make a safe, a noble, and justly congratulated exit. It will be difficult for the readers of such a passage, to avoid making an obvious inference. It is, however, but fairness to our Author, to say,