« AnteriorContinuar »
the medium instrument and expression of addition to these, an eternal law of recti. life, then this perplexity is at an end, and tude, derived not from experience and feel. every thing becomes clear. We have no ing, but from reason or from God. A firm difficulty in conceiving, that between two and unshaken faith is indispensible for our living and mutually operating spiritual na- welfare. But the faith which the English tures, there may exist a third nature ap- philosophers have established upon the dicparently inanimate, to serve as the bond of tates of common sense and moral feeling, is connexion and mutual operation, to be their like the props upon which it leans, uncera word and language, or to serve as the sepa- tain and unworthy of our confidence. It is ration and wall of partition between them. not worthy of the name of faith; the name We are familiar with such an idea, from applied to the impression made upon us by our own experience, because we cannot have reason and external experience, and, with any intercourse of thought with our brother equal propriety, to the impressions we remen, or even analyse our thoughts, except ceive in a totally different way from the inthrough the operation of exactly similar ternal voice of conscience and the revelations means. The simple conviction, however, of a superior nature. That which is called that the sensible world is merely the habi- faith among these men, is nothing more tation of the intellectual, and a medium of than the weak and self-doubting faith of ne. separation as well as connexion between in- cessity,-a thing as incapable of standing the tellectual natures, had been lost along with test of time, as the frail faith of custom is the knowledge and idea of the world of in- to resist the arguments of unprincipled sotellect, and the animating impression of its phistry. This nation is powerful and free existence. The philosophy of the senses in its whole being and life. Even in poe. stumbled, in this way, at the very threshold, try, it regards the profound and internal and proceeded to become more and more rather than the outward and ornamental, perplexed in every step of its progress. but by means of its own errors it is crampBerkeley believed that the external world ed and confined in its philosophy. In rehas no real existence, and that our notions gard to this mighty department of human and impressions of it are directly commu- intellect and exertion, the English of later nicated to us by the Deity. From the same times are neither original nor great; they doubts Hume fell into a totally different even appear to be fundamentally inferior to system, the sceptical,-a philosophy which some of the best writers among the French. humbles itself before its doubts, and denies If a few authors in England have pursued the possibility of attaining knowledge. This an intellectual path of their own, quite difman, by the penetrating and convulsive inferent from the common one, they have Auence of his scepticism, determined the fu- exerted no powerful, or at least no extenture condition of English philosophy. Since sive, influence over their fellow-country. his time nothing more has been attempted The attempts with which I myself than to erect all sorts of bulwarks against am acquainted do not indeed display genius the practical influence of this destructive such as might entitle them to much conscepticism : and to maintain, by various sideration. substitutes and aids, the pile of moral prin- “ We may compare the mode of philosociple uncorrupted and entire. Not only phical thought in England to a man who with Adam Smith, but with all their later bears every external mark of health and vi. philosophers, national welfare is the ruling gour, but who is by nature prone to a danand central principle of thought,-a prin- gerous distemper. He has repressed the ciple excellent and praiseworthy in its due first eruptions of the disease by means of situation, but quite unfitted for being the palliatives, but the evil has on that very aceentre and oracle of all knowledge and count had the more leisure to entwine itself science. The two great substitutes to which with the roots of his constitution. The I allude are neither scientifically nor prac- disease of philosophical error and unbelief tically of a durable and effective nature. can never be got the better of, unless by a Common sense is poor when compared with thorough and radical cure. I think, for certain knowledge, and moral feeling is a this reason, that it is extremely probable, very inadequate foundation for a proper sys
that it is almost certain, England has tem of ethics. Were the common sense of yet to undergo a mighty crisis in her philoman even as sound and universal as these sophy, and, of necessity, in her morality and English reasoners maintain, if we should her religion. take its conclusions for the last, and subject “ If we regard not so much the immethem to no higher view, we should find it diate practical consequences, but rather the more likely to cut than to unloose the knot internal progress of intellect itself, we shall of the great questions in philosophy. The be almost compelled to think error is less innate curiosity of man is not to be so satis- dangerous when open and complete, than fied, but, however frequently we may put it when half-formed and disguised. In the off, returns to the charge with undiminish- midst of moderate errors our self-love keeps ed pertinacity. Moral feeling and sym. us ignorant of our danger. But when erpathy are things too frail and uncertain for ror has reached its height, it is the nature å rule of moral action. We must have, in of the human mind to promote a re-action,
and to rise with new strength and power nent, could have received little addiout of the abyss into which at last it per. tion, except from betting. If they ceives itself to have fallen."
had met, David Hume would probably Upon the whole, we consider this have declined the contest. There is work as by far the most rational and something extremely ludicrous in this profound view of the history of litera- headlong pugnacity, when manifested ture which has yet been presented by an individual who is supposed to to Europe ; and when we compare it make reflection his business ; and Dr with the ideas concerning the same Johnson seems to have been the only subject which are commonly circulat- modern philosopher whose propensities ed in this country, it is easy to per- were likely to have revived those scenes ceive that another nation has got the described by Lucian, in his Banquet start of us in point of reflection, and and other pieces. This was not altois also much wiser in point of feeling. gether owing to bigotry. His characThe considerations in which it abounds ter seems to have been originally enare of a kind which have been too
dowed with an overplus of the noble much overlooked in this country. Our spirit of resistance ; so that even had philosophy, if we be not greatly mis- his temperament been less morbidly taken, has much need of such a sup- irritable, and his prejudices less inveplement as the present.
terate, he would still have betrayed an However noble and elevating the inclination to push against the movegreat scope of Schlegels lucubrations ments of other minds.
Upon the may be, yet, when we compare them whole, it is probable that the cultivawith the present state of literature in tion of his conversational powers was this country, the feeling with which not favourable to his powers of comwe close the volumes is very far from position, because it habituated him to being a happy one. It is a melan- seek less after truth in its substantive choly fact, that a single generation of form than truth corrective of error, abstract reasoners is enough to vitiate and to throw his thoughts into such a the pedigree of national sentiment and form as could be most conveniently association ; and although the ancient used in argument. Although gifted literature and history remain, they with great powers, both of observation cannot resume their influence so exa
and reflection, he passed his life in too tensively as before. Perhaps, in Eng- great a ferment ever to make any reland, nothing has contributed so much gular philosophical use of them. He as the host of periodical publications was full of those stormy and untoward to obliterate sentiment, and substitute energies peculiar to the English charmetaphysical restlessness in its place. acter, and would have required someOur journals, with their eternal dis- thing to wreak himself upon, before quisitions, have been operating with he sat down to reflect. slow but sure effect in mouldering This English restiveness and undown all large aggregates of associa- towardness, with which the Doctor tion, which could form centres of was somewhat too much impregnated, gravity of sufficient power to control makes a ridiculous figure in literature, and regulate the orbits of our feelings. but constitutes a very important eleFor a long while not many ideas have ment when introduced into active life. reached the people except through It is in a great measure a blind eletheir medium. But these journals ment; but in the political dissensions are like sieves, that require every sub- of a free country, it is a far safer one stance to be granulated before it can
than the scheming and mischievous pass through them.
propensities of personal vanity and ambition. It is a quality which rather inclines sturdily to keep its own place, than to join in a scramble.
David Hume's temperament was THESE two remarkable individuals, well calculated for a philosopher of although contemporaries, never came the Aristotelian class; that is to say, personally in contact. Dr. Johnson one who founds his reasonings upon was looked upon by his friends as the experience, and upon the knowledge colloquial champion of England ; and gathered by the senses. His whole probably the exultation which they constitution seems to have been untelt in seeing him thrash every oppo- commonly sedate and tranquil, and no
SAMUEL JOHNSON AND DAVID HUME.
part of it much alive or awake, but his and his countrymen have always been understanding. Most of the errors of notorious for dialectical propensities. his philosophy, perhaps, arose from It is remarkable, that no particular his overlooking elements of human intellectual faculty has ever been set nature which were torpid within him- down as predominating in the English self, and which could not be learnt by composition. Her great men have exthe mere external observer of man- celled in every different way, both in kind. He knew more of the virtues isolated faculties and in the aggregain their practical results, than he knew tion of them. Englishmen have long of them as sentiments; and his theory been the first, both in delighting and of utility resembles that explanation instructing the nations; but owing to of musical concords which modern constitutional causes, they have also, physics have enabled us to draw from like Dr Johnson, been the most misthe vibrations of the atmosphere, but erable of mankind. Dr Johnson which is merely an external supple- thought that all foreigners were comment to the musical faculty within us, paratively fools. which judges of the harmony of sounds If we compare the lives of Hume by totally different means.
and Johnson, we find Hume spending The coldness of David Hume's char- his years in a manner well enough acter enabled him to shake off all vul- suited for the cultivation of his metagar peculiarities of thought and feel- physical powers, but too secluded, and ing, and to ascend into the regions of too much at ease, to make him practipure and classical intellect. No Eng- cally acquainted with human passions. lish writer delivers his remarks with In all his writings, Hume appears as a so much grace. The taste which he philosophical spectator, capable of esfollowed in his compositions was timating the wisdom or folly of men's founded upon the most generalized conduct in relation to external cirprinciples, and the most extended cumstances, and of prognosticating its considerations of propriety; and the result; but not very capable of enterconsequence is, that they possess a ing sympathetically into their feelings, beauty which, whatever may be the or of strongly conceiving the impulses
, fluctuations of human opinion, will by which they are guided. Johnson never decay. He was utterly beyond had better opportunities of observation, the contagion of contemporary notions, of which we see the products in his and seems to have habituated himself writings ; and he might have obto write as addressing a remote poste- served still better, had his attention rity, in whose eyes the notions which not been so often engrossed by the ferduring his time had stirred and im- mentation of absurd prejudices in his pelled the world, would perhaps be own mind. He was generally more considered as the mere infatuations of anxious to know whether a man was a ignorance and barbarism. The worthy Whig in politics, or a High-churchDavid is entitled to less credit for man, or a Dissenter, than to underthose passages where he seems im- stand the mechanism which had been pressed with a belief that his own implanted in the individual by nature. writings might continue to be perused Johnson, during his lifetime, enat some future era, when Christianity joyed more fame than Hume, and would only be remembered as an ex- more personal authority in the world ploded superstition. However, there þf letters. His growling was heard was perhaps more scepticism than all over Parnassus. The influence he vanity in this. His writings are ela- had on English literature consisted, borately perspicuous. He thought he not in disseminating any new system saw the foundations of all human opi- of opinions, but in teaching his counnions sliding so fast, that he was de- trymen how to reason luminously and termined to give his own works as fair concisely, and in making the taste for a chance as possible of being under- reflection more popular than it was stood, if they survived the wreck. before.
David Hume had too little personal Johnson had certainly more of what character about him, to bear the marks is commonly called genius than Hume. of any particular nation. The sedate Possessing a stronger imagination and self-possession for which he was re- warmer feelings, it would have been markable, has sometimes, however, less difficult for him than for the been ascribed to Scotsmen in general, sceptic to have mounted into the re
gions of poetry; as may be seen in his temporary of Mahomet, but Menil tale of Anningait and Ajut, and some places him in the beginning of the other pieces. Hume is said to have sixth century, coinciding pretty nearcomposed verses in his youth, which ly, as our readers will remark, with would probably be written in imitation the opinions of Sir William Jones and of the coldest and most artificial mo- De Sacy. Of the condition of the dels. Although Johnson had ima- poet, little is known with accuracy. gination, there was no native grace or It appears, however, to be quite cerelegance in his mind, to guide him in tain, that he was no other than that forming poetical combinations; and same Antara, the celebrated knightperhaps there is not in any English errant of Arabia, the memory of whose book a more clumsy and ungainly adventures were long preserved in the conception than that of the Happy popular legends of his country, and Valley in Rasselas. Any thing that which formed the subject of the great Hume had, beyond pure intellect, Arabic romance which goes by his seems to have been a turn for plea- name. Many of these very advensantry, which his strict taste prevented tures are indeed alluded to by the poet him from ever obtruding gratuitously himself in his own great poem, which upon the reader.
was honoured with the prize at Meca During the time when these men flourished, it may be safely averred, In the Anecdota taken from Tebrizi, that the influence of intellect was and two other scholiasts, (S. 10. 11.) completely predominant over that of genius in this country. No great poet
Reiske translated the words, W
الكي الا العلب والصي arose, who produced moral impressions
fit to be weighed against the speculative calculations to which the times “Nil animum inspirat, nil tam instiwere giving birth.
gat ad egregia facinora, quam mulgere camelos et stringere ubera.”
Menil preserves the same ironic sense; MENIL'S EDITION OF ANTARA.
but instead of omsw he reads the seOf the seven celebrated Arabic poems modo ad irruendum incitas nisi (per 0
cond person gust “Profecto nullo known by the name of Al-Moallakat, that is, the suspended (on the walls of the pera servilia), quod debeam nunc mulgere temple at Mecca), the fourth is that now
camelos, nunc earum papillas, ne lacedited by the two eminent orientalists tent, nodo colligare.” The acceptation
in which both of these translations renamed in the title-page. It is now two years since M. Menil first pub- ceive the word omst is quite indelished a valuable introduction to the fensible, and the changing of the perpoem of Antara, in a
son in that of Menil is quite useless. Philologica de Antara ejusg. poemate Arabico :" this is reprinted with the There can be no doubt that cousu present work, without apparently any should be taken as the fourth conjualteration, under the name of Prole- gation in the sense, bene tractare nogomena. The name, age, and condi- vit; so that the meaning should run, tion of the poet, are here inquired in- -A slave knows nothing about seizto with much minuteness; as well as ing an enemy; his only skill is to the design, plan, and contents, and milk camels, &c. metre, of the poem itself. Many ex- The manuscript of the seven Mocellent observations are subjoined con- allakat, from which Mr Menil has cerning MSS., scholiasts, and various edited the poem of Antara, was brought editions of the Moallakat. Reiske from the east by the late Scheid, and supposed Antara to have been a con- is now in the possession of Profes
sor Willmet. Its date is the year of Antaræ Poema Arabicum Moallakah the Hegira 545, or of our era 1150 : cum integris Zouzenii Scholiis. E codice Manuscripto edidit, in Lat. serm. transtulit, et lectionis varietatem addidit Vincentius * Of this most singular work some speElias Menil. Observat. ad tot. poema sub- cimens have lately been inserted by Hanjunxit Joannes Willmet. Lugd. Bat. Lucht- mer in his learned Fundgruben des Orients.
See 4th volume, 3d part.
It surpasses, not only in antiquity, Jones translated this with the scholibut in accuracy and in completeness, ast, “ Have the bards who preceded all copies previously known to the me left any theme unsung?" and addscholars of Europe. Even the scholia ed to it, by way of connecting it with have the vocal and diacritical marks. the second hemistich,“ What, thereThe author of these scholia, Zuzeni, of fore, shall be my subject? Love only whom, personally, nothing is known, must supply my lay.” The unsufferexplains first of all every rare or diffi- able harshness of this rendering is obcult word by itself, and then a para- vious; and the sense becomes much phrase of the whole verse is its contrexion, it might have been wished more easy if popüs be translated that Mr Menil had followed more ruins, in which meaning pur occlosely the example of the MS. in giving each scholium immediately after
curs in Abulfeda's Annals, III. S. 210, the verse to which it belongs. The where, in the narrative of a great order of the MS. is indeed entirely earthquake, he says : Guro neglected. The text is first printed by itself: then follows the Latin ver- pulis pills punts « Through the sion; then the variae lectiones, from inward-tumbling buildings there came two MSS. preserved in the library at many men.”
M. Willmet will not Leyden, and from the text of Jones (which is printed in Roman charac-render the expression page des ters); then come the Arabic scholia; post longam meditationem.
“ Indig: and last of all we have the commen- nus enim,” says he, amator mihi taria of M. Willmet. The accuracy videtur fuisse poeta, si longa meditawith which the Arabic text, both of tione opus habuisset ad mansionem the poem and its scholia, is printed, amasiæ suæ in animum sibi revocandeserves every praise: the writer of dam.” But the poet evidently means this may be allowed to say so, for he to say, that the former residence of has compared it throughout with a his mistress is so much changed, that very fine transcript of the Parisian he can scarcely know it again. And Codex. In general the version is suf- so Zuzeni explains the expression by ficiently close; but there occur seve la o des postquam de iis dural little mistakes, occasioned, we suspect, by hurry, and an inattention to bitasset; to say nothing of some strong the minutiæ of the pointing. The objections to Willmet's own rendertranslation's chief fault is, that it is ing, post suspicionem. by far too frequently paraphrastic. Of
The fifth verse, this the very first verse furnishes an instance.
ای روضه اننا تضن نبتها غيث قليل الدمن ليس بمعلم هل غادر الشعراء من متردم
ام هل عروق الدار بعد توهم
ped gje des plus ciggs dos pl odorem) qualem exhalat pratum ad
is thus translated by Menil : “ Aut
( The literal translation of this is: huc intactum, quod suis luxuriet her“Num reliquerunt poetae quicquam bis, quod quidem pluvia riget ; sed resarciendum? Sed num agnoscis habi- nullum omnino inficiat fimetum, netaculum post longam meditationem?” que, ullum pecoris dedecoret vestigi-Menil gives this so: « Ullamne re
According to this version,
روضة is coupled with قليل الدم liquerint poetae sedium amastarum
suarum ruinam, quam non carminibus velut restituerint ? Certe, tu, Antara,
Lül but it evidently belongs of right nonne, quam fueras suspicatus, agno- to cuirs and so the scholiast underveris amasiae domum?” In the rendering of the first hemistich Menil differs stood it: tro from Zuzeni, who interprets it thus:
Um quod (pratum) rigat pluvia
سقاه مطر لم یکن
Non nullas sordes advehens; that is, a ، لم يترك الاول للاخر شيا
reliquit prior posteriori quidquam," overflow as might leave mud up
moderate shower, bringing no such And “ Non reliquerunt poetae quidquam, de quo carmen condi possit. on the herbage. The word niej