« AnteriorContinuar »
contrary, in too great haste to produce their own discoveries, or prone to exaggerate the exaggerations of others, in order to transform them into something of their own. Rousseau, Diderot, and Helvetius have all exaggerated Locke. "Rien n'est plus voisin de l'ignorance d'un principe que son excessive generalisation."*
I have already quoted, several times, a work the celebrated Professor Dugald Stewart has lately given to the public in the form of Philosophical Essays. Without pretending to give a full account of it, I shall only say, that the metaphysics of Mr Stewart are those of common sense. † Second in skill to none of the other chemists of the human mind his country has produced, he does not carry the analysis of the mental substance farther than its refractory substance will admit; nor does he build up systems unsupported by experience. By this test, also, he tries those which have been reared already, and exposes the fallacy of several of them. Singularly happy in his quotations and illustrations, this writer knows how to throw on a subject naturally dry and unattractive the charms peculiar to works of imagination. You think you are listening to the wisdom of the sage Nestor, to his copious flowing and persuasive eloquence, calming the violence of his companions, and bringing them back from their wanderings and their errors. "When I study the intellectual powers of
• De Gerando,"quoted by Professor Dugald Stewart.
I am aware that the common sense of mankind has been looked upon as synonymous to the common prejudices of mankind ;—I mean here, only that sense which is the immediate result of general experience and consciousness, the corrective of paradox.
man," says Mr Stewart, "in the writings of Harts ly, of Priestley, of Darwin, or of Tooke, I feel as if I were examining the sorry mechanism that gives motion to a puppet. If, for a moment, I am carried along, by their theories of human knowledge, and of human life, I seem to myself to be admitted behind the curtain of what I once conceived to be a magnificent theatre. And while I survey the tinsel frippery of the wardrobe, and the paltry decorations of the scenery, I am mortified to discover the trick which had cheated my eye at a distance. This surely is not the characteristic of truth or of nature, the beauties of which invite our closest inspection, deriving new lustre from those microscopical researches, which deform the most finished productions of art. If, in our physical inquiries concerning the material world, every step that has been hitherto gained has at once exalted our conceptions of its immensity and of its order, can we reasonably suppose that the genuine philosophy of the mind is to disclose to us a spectacle less pleasing, or less elevating, than fancy or vanity had disposed us to anticipate?"
END OF VOL. I.
Printed by George Ramsay & Co.