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and the intellectual operations dependent on them have perished with their sources. How can a corpse see or feel i its eyes are eaten out, and its heart is black and without motion. What intercourse can two heaps of putrid clay and crumbling bones hold together! When you can discover where the fresh colours of the faded flower abide, or the music of the broken lyre, seek life among the dead. Such are the anxious and fearful contemplations of the common observer, though the popular religion often prevents him from confessing them even to himself.
The natural philosopher, in addition to the sensations common to all men inspired by the event of death, believes that he sees with more certainty that it is attended with the annihilation of sentiment and thought. He observes the mental powers increase and fade with those of the body, and even accommodate themselves to the most transitory changes of our physical nature. Sleep suspends many of the faculties of the vital and intellectual principle ; drunkenness and disease will cither temporarily or permanently derange them. Madness or idiotcy may utterly extinguish the most excellent and delicate of those powers. In old age the mind gradually withers; and as it grew and was strengthened with the body, so does it together with the body sink into decrepitude. Assuredly these are convincing evidences that so soon as the organs of the body are subjected to the laws of inanimate matter, sensation, and perception, and apprehension, are at an end. It is probable that what we call thought is not an actual being, but no more than the relation between certain parts of that infinitely varied mass, of which the rest of the universe is composed, and which ceases to exist so soon as those parts change their position with regard to each other. Thus colour, and sound, and taste, and odour exist only relatively. But let thought be considered as some peculiar substance, which permeates, and is the cause of, the animation of living beings. Why should that substance be assumed to be something essentially distinct from all others, and exempt from subjection to those laws from which no other substance is exempt! It diners, indeed, from all other substances, as electricity, and light, and magnetism, and the constituent parte of air and earth, severally differ from all others. Each of these is subject to chango and to decay, and to conversion into other forms. Yet the difference between light and earth is scarcely greater than that which exists between life, or thought, and fire. The difference between the two former was never alleged as an argument for the eternal permanence of either, in that form under which they first might offer themselves to
our notice. Why should the difference between the two latter substances be an argument for the prolongation of the existence of one and not the other, when the existence of both has arrived at their apparent termination t To say that fire exists without manifesting any of the properties of fire, such as light, heat, &c, or that the principle of life exists without consciousness, or memory, or desire, or motive, is to resign, by an awkward distortion of language, the affirmative of the disputeTo say that the principle of life way exist in distribution among various forms, is to assert what cannot be proved to be either true or false, but which, were it true, annihilates all hope of existence after death, in any sense in which that event can belong to the hopes snd fears of men. Suppose, however, that the intellectual and vital principle differs in the most marked and esses ted manner from all other known substances; that they have all some resemblance between themselves which it in no degree participates. In win: manner can this concession be made an argument for its imperishability! All that we see or know perishes and is changed. Life and thought differ indeed from everything else. But that it survives that period, beyond which we have no experience of its existence, such distinction and dissimilarirv affords no shadow of proof, and nothing but oar own desires could have led us to conjecture or imagine.
Have we existed before birth! It is difficult to conceive the possibility of this. There is, in tor generative principle of each animal and plant. % power which converts the substances by which it is surrounded into a substance homogeneous with itself. That is, the relations between certain elementary particles of matter undergo a chanzvt and submit to new combinations. For when wc* use the words principle, power, catue, &c„ we mean to express no real being, but only to class under those terms a certain scries of co-existing phenomena ; but let it be supposed that this principle is a certain substance which escapes the observation of the chemist and anatomist It certainly auf Ik; though it is sufficiently unphilosophical to allege the possibility of an opinion as a proof of its truth. Does it see, hear, feel, before its combination with those organs on which sensation depend." I Does it reason, imagine, apprehend, without thosr ideas which sensation alone can communicate I If we have not existed before birth ; if, at the period when the parts of our nature on which th<«irh: and life depend, seem to bo woven together. th» j are woven together ; if there are no tvantt* t>. supposo that we have existed before that period at which our existence apparently commence*.
then there are no grounds for supposition that we shall continue to exist after our existence has apparently ceased. So far as thought and life is concerned, the same will take place with regard to us, individually considered, after death, as had place before our birth.
It is said that it is possible that we should continue to exist in some mode totally inconceivable to us at present This is a most unreasonable presumption. It casts on the adherents of annihilation the burthen of proving the negative of a question, the affirmative of which is not supported by a single argument, and which, by its very nature, lies beyond the experience of the human understanding. It is sufficiently easy, indeed, to form any proposition, concerning which we are ignorant,
just not so absurd as not to be contradictory in itself, and defy refutation. The possibility of whatever enters into the wildest imagination to conceive is thus triumphantly vindicated. But it is enough that such assertions should be either contradictory to the known laws of nature, or exceed the limits of our experience, that their fallacy or irrelevancy to our consideration should be demonstrated. They persuade, indeed, only those who desire to be persuaded.
This desire to be for ever as we are; the reluctance to a violent and unexperienced change, which is common to all the animated and inanimate combinations of the universe, is, indeed, the secret persuasion which has given birth to the opinions of a future state.
SPECULATIONS ON METAPHYSICS.
I. It is an axiom in mental philosophy, that we can think of nothing which we have not perceived. When I say that we can think of nothing, I mean, we can imagine nothing, we can reason of nothing, we can remember nothing, we can foresee nothing. The most astonishing combinations of poetry, the subtlest deductions of logic and mathematics, are no other than combinations which the intellect makes of sensations according to its own laws. A catalogue of all the thoughts of the mind, and of all their possible modifications, is a cyclopedic history of the universe.
But, it will be objected, the inhabitants of the various planets of this and other solar systems; and the existence of a Power bearing the same relation to all that we perceive and are, as what we call a cause does to what we call effect, were never subjects of sensation, and yet the laws of mind almost universally suggest, according to the various disposition of each, a conjecture, a persuasion, or a conviction of their existence. The reply is simple; these thoughts are also to be included in the catalogue of existence; they are modes in which thoughts are combined ; the objection only adds force to the conclusion, that beyond the limits of perception and thought nothing can exist.
Thoughts, or ideas, or notions, call them what you will, differ from each other, not in kind, but in force. It has commonly been supposed that those distinct thoughts which affect a number of persons, at regular intervals, during the passage of a multitude of other thoughts, which arc called
real, or external object!, are totally different in kind from those which affect only a few persons, and which recur at irregular intervals, and are usually more obscure and indistinct, such as hallucinations, dreams, and the ideas of madness. No essential distinction between any one of these ideas, or any class of them, is founded on a correct observation of the nature of things, but merely on a consideration of what thoughts are most invariably subservient to the security and happiness of life ; and if nothing more were expressed by the distinction, the philosopher might safely accommodate his language to that of the vulgar. But they pretend to assert an essential difference, which has no foundation in truth, and which suggests a narrow and false conception of universal nature, the parent of the most fatal errors in speculation. A specific difference between every thought of the mind, is, indeed, a necessary consequence of that law by which it perceives diversity and number; but a generic and essential difference is wholly arbitrary. The principle of the agreement and similarity of all thoughts, is, that they are all thoughts ; the principle of their disagreement consists in the variety and irregularity of the occasions on which they arise in the mind. That in which they agree, to that in which they differ, is as everything to nothing. Important distinctions, of various degrees of force, indeed, are to be established between them, if they were, as they may be, subjects of ethical and ceconomical discussion ; but that is a question altogether distinct.
By considering all knowledge as bounded by perception, whose operations may be indefinitely combined, we arrive at a conception of Nature inexpressibly more magnificent, simple and true, than accords with the ordinary systems of complicated and partial consideration. Nor does a contemplation of the universe, in this comprehensive and synthetical view, exclude the subtlest analysis of its modifications and parts.
A scale might be formed, graduated according to the degrees of a combined ratio of intensity, duration, connection, periods of recurrence, and utility, which would be the standard, according to which all ideas might be measured, and an uninterrupted chain of nicely shadowed distinctions would be observed, from the faintest impression on the senses, to the most distinct combination of those impressions; from the simplest of those combinations, to that mass of knowledge which, including our own nature, constitutes what we call the universe.
We are intuitively conscious of our own existence, and of that connection in the train of our successive ideas, which we term our identity. We are conscious also of the existence of other minds; but not intuitively. Our evidence, with respect to the existence of other minds, is founded upon a very complicated relation of ideas, which it is foreign to the purpose of this treatise to anatomise. The basis of this relation is, undoubtedly, a periodical recurrence of masses of ideas, which our voluntary determinations have, in one peculiar direction, no power to circumscribe or to arrest, and against the recurrence of which they can only imperfectly provide. The irresistible laws of thought constrain us to believe that the precise limits of our actual ideas are not the actual limits of possible ideas; the law, according to which these deductions are drawn, is called analogy ; and this is the foundation of all our inferences, from one idea to another, inasmuch as they resemble each other.
We see trees, houses, fields, living beings in our own shape, and in shapes more or less analogous to our own. These are perpetually changing the mode of their existence relatively to us. To express the varieties of these modes, we say, we move, they move; and as this motion is continual, though not uniform, we express our conception of the diversities of its course by—it has been, it it, it shall be. These diversities are events or objects, and are essential, considered relatively to human identity, for the existence of the human mind. For if the inequalities, produced by what 1ms been
termed the operations of the external universe were levelled by the perception of our being, uniting, and filling up their interstices, motioa and mensuration, and time, and space ; the elements of the human mind being thus abstracted, sensation and imagination cease. Mind cannot be considered pure.
II.—WHAT METAPHYSICS ARE. ERRORS IK THE C3TAX. METHODS OF CONSIDERING THE*.
We do not attend sufficiently to what passe* within ourselves. We combine words, combined a thousand times before. In our minds we assume entire opinions ; and in the expression of those opinions, entire phrases, when we would philosophise. Our whole style of expression and sentiment is infected with the tritest plagiarisms. Our words are dead, our thoughts are cold and borrowed.
Let us contemplate facts; let us, in the great study of ourselves, resolutely compel the mind torn rigid consideration of itself. We are not content with conjecture, and inductions, and syllogisms, in sciences regarding external objects. As in these, let us also, in considering the phenomena of mind, severely collect those facts which cannot be disputed. Metaphysics will thus possess this conspicuous advantage over every other science, that each student, by attentively referring to his own mind, may ascertain the authorities upon which any assertions regarding it are supported. There can thus be no deception, we ourselves being the depositaries of the evidence of the subject which we consider.
Metaphysics may be defined as an inquiry concerning those things belonging to, or connected with, the internal nature of man.
It is said that mind produces motion ; and it might as well have been said, that motion produces mind.
III.—DIFFICULTY OF ANALYZING THE HCXAN MI Ml.
If it were possible that a person should give a faithful history of his being, from the earliest epochs of his recollection, a picture would be presented such as the world has never contemplated before. A mirror would be held up to all men in which they might behold their own recollections, and, in dim perspective, their shadowy hopes and fears,—oil that they dare not, or that daring and desiring, they could not expose to the open cye» of day. But thought can with difficulty viat the intricate and winding chambers which it inlialiit*. It is like a river whose rapid and perpetual stream flows outwards ;—like one in dread who speeds through the recesses of some haunted pile, and •lares not look behind. The caverns of the mind are obscure, and shadowy ; or pervaded with a lustre, beautifully bright indeed, but shining not beyond their portals. If it were possible to be where we have been, vitally and indeed—if, at the moment of our presence there, we could define the results of our experience,—if the passage from sensation to reflection—from a state of. passive perception to voluntary contemplation, were not so dizzying and so tumultuous, this attempt would be less difficult.
IV.—HOW TDK ANALYSIS SHOULD BE CARRIED ON.
Most of the errors of philosophers have arisen from considering the human being in a point of view too detailed and circumscribed. He is not a moral, and an intellectual,—but also, and pre-eminently, an imaginative being. His own mind is his law; his own mind is all things to him. If we would arrive at any knowledge which should be serviceable from the practical conclusions to which it leads, we ought to consider the mind of man and the universe as the great whole on which to exercise our speculations. Here, above all, verbal disputes ought to be laid aside, though this has long been their chosen field of battle. It imports little to inquire whether thought be distinct from the objects of thought. The use of the words external and internal, as applied to the establishment of this distinction, has been the symbol and the source of much dispute. This is merely an affair of words, and as the dispute deserves, to say, that when speaking of the objects of thought, we indeed only describe one of the forms of thought— or that, speaking of thought, we only apprehend one of the operations of the universal system of beings.
V.—CATALOGUE OP THE PHENOMENA OP DREAMS, AS CONNECTING SLEEPING AND WAKING.
1. Let us reflect on our infancy, and give as faithfully as possible a relation of the events of sleep.
And first I am bound to present a faithful picture of my own peculiar nature relatively to sleep. I do not doubt that were every individual to imitate me, it would be found that among many circumstances peculiar to their individual nature, a sufficiently general resemblance would be found to prove the connection existing between those peculiarities and the most universal phenomena. I shall employ caution, indeed, as to the facts which I state, that they contain nothing false or exaggerated. But they contain no more than certain elucidations of my own nature; concerning the degree in which it resembles, or diners from,
that of others, I am by no means accurately aware. It is sufficient, however, to caution the reader against drawing general inferences from particular instances.
I omit the general instances of delusion in fever or delirium, as well as mere dreams considered in themselves. A delineation of this subject, however inexhaustible and interesting, is to be passed over.
What is the connection of sleeping and of waking?
2. I distinctly remember dreaming three several times, between intervals of two or more years, the same precise dream. It was not so much what is ordinarily called a dream; the single image, unconnected with all other images, of a youth who was educated at the same school with myself, presented itself in sleep. Even now, after the lapse of many years, I can never hear the name of this youth, without the three places where I dreamed of him presenting themselves distinctly to my mind.
3. In dreams, images acquire associations peculiar to dreaming; so that the idea of a particular house, when it recurs a second time in dreams, will have relation with the idea of the same house, in the first time, of a nature entirely different from that which the house excites, when seen or thought of in relation to waking ideas.
4. I have beheld scenes, with the intimate and unaccountable connection of which with the obscure parts of my own nature, I have been irresistibly impressed. I have beheld a scene which has produced no unusual effect on my thoughts. After the lapse of many years I have dreamed of this scene. It has hung on my memory, it has haunted my thoughts, at intervals, with the pertinacity of an object connected with human affections. I have visited this scene again. Neither the dream could be dissociated from the landscape, nor the landscape from the dream, nor feelings, such as neither singly could have awakened, from both. But the most remarkable event of this nature, which ever occurred to me, happened five years ago at Oxford. I was walking with a friend, in the neighbourhood of that city, engaged in earnest and interesting conversation. We suddenly turned the corner of a lane, and the view, which its high banks and hedges had concealed, presented itself. The view consisted of a windmill, standing in one among many plashy meadows, inclosed with stone walls ; the irregular and broken ground, between the wall and the road on which we stood ; a long low hill behind the windmill, and a grey covering of uniform cloud spread over the evening sky. It was that season when the last leaf had just fallen from the scant and stunted ash. The scene surely was a common scene; the season and the hour little calculated to kindle lawless thought; it was a tame uninteresting assemblage of objects, such
as would drive the imagination for refuge in! and sober talk, to the evening fireside, and the dessert of winter fruits and wine. The effect which it produced on me was not such as could have 1 expected. I suddenly remembered to have that exact scene in some dream of long •
SPECULATIONS ON MORALS
I.—PLAN OP A TREATISE OH MORALS.
That great science which regards nature and the operations of the human mind, is popularly divided into Morals and Metaphysics. The latter relates to a just classification, and the assignment of distinct names to its ideas; the former regards simply the determination of that arrangement of them which produces the greatest and most solid happiness. It is admitted that a virtuous or moral action, is that action which, when considered in all its accessories and consequences, is fitted to produce the highest pleasure to the greatest number of sensitive beings. The laws according to which all pleasure, since it cannot be equally felt by all sensitive beings, ought to be distributed by a voluntary agent, are reserved for a separate chapter.
The design of this little treatise is restricted to the development of the elementary principles of morals. As far as regards that purpose, metaphysical science will be treated merely so far as a source of negative truth ; whilst morality will be considered as a science, respecting which we can arrive at positive conclusions.
The misguided imaginations of men have rendered the ascertaining of what it not true, the principal direct service which metaphysical science can bestow upon moral science. Moral science itself is the doctrine of the voluntary actions of man, as a sentient and social being. These actions depend on the thoughts in his mind. But there is a mass of popular opinion, from which the most enlightened persons are seldom wholly free, into the truth or falsehood of which it is incumbent on us to inquire, before we can arrive at any firm conclusions as to the conduct which we ought to pursue in tho regulation of our own minds, or towards our fellow-beings; or before we can ascertain the elementary laws, according to which these thoughts, from which these actions flow, are originally combined.
The object of the forms according to which human society is administered, is the happiness of the individuals composing the communities which they regard, and these forms are perfect or imperfect in proportion to the degree in which they promote this end.
This object is not merely the quantity of happiness enjoyed by individuals as sensitive beings, bat the mode in which it should be distributed since; them as social beings. It is not enough, if such a coincidence can bo conceived as possible, mat one person or class of persons should enjoy the highest happiness, whilst another is sufferin; » disproportionate degree of misery. It is necessary that the happiness produced by the common efforts, and preserved by the common care, should he distributed according to the just claims of each individual; if not, although the quantity produced should be the same, the end of society would remain unfulfilled. The object is in a compound proportion to the quantity of happiness produced, and the correspondence of the mode in which ii * distributed, to the elementary feelings of man as a social being.
The disposition in an individual to promote this object is called virtue; and the two constituent parts of virtue, benevolence and justice, are oorrelative with these two great portions of the only true object of all voluntary actions of a human being. Benevolence is the desire to be the author
* Here I teat obliged to leave of, overcomt bp thriOif horror. This remark closes this fragment, which was written In 1815. I remember well bfs coming to me from writing it, pale and agitated, to seek refuge in conversation from the fearful emotions it cxeited. No man. a* these fragments prove, had such keen sensations as SnWle^. His nervous temperament was wound up by the dciicaey of bis health to an intense degree of sensibility, and while his active mind pondered for ever upon, and drer coselusions from his sensations, his reveries increased their vivacity, till they mingled with, and made one with thought, and both became absorbing and lumaltuoc* even to physical pain—M. S