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formal laws of reasoning, and had insisted, by preference, upon the practical uses of discourse, as the living application of logic, treating of style and of the arts of persuasion and exposition; and here in his other chair, of Moral Philosophy, he was practically illustrating the vivifying power of the art he had formerly sought to expound to his pupils. “When the subject of his work,” says Dugald Stewart, speaking of the “Theory of Moral Sentiments, “when the subject of his work leads him to address the imagination and the heart, the variety and felicity of his illustrations, the richness and fluency of his eloquence, and the skill with which he wins the attention and commands the passions of his hearers, leave him, among our English moralists, without a rival.”
Such, then, were the matters which this great lecturer handled, and such was the form he gave them. Two personal characteristics stand out in apparent contrast with what he accomplished: he is said to have been extremely unpractical in the management of his own affairs, and yet he fathered that science which tells how other people's affairs, how the world's affairs, are managed; he is known to have been shy and silent, and yet he was the most acceptable lecturer of his university. But it is not uncommon for the man who is both profound and accurate in his observation of the universal
and permanent forces operative in the life about him, to be almost altogether wanting in that sagacity concerning the local and temporary practical details upon which the hourly facilitation and comfort of his own life depend; nor need it surprise any one to find the man who sits shy and taciturn in private, stand out dominant and eloquent in public. “Commonly, indeed," as Mr. Bagehot has said, “the silent man, whose brain is loaded with unexpressed ideas, is more likely to be a successful public speaker than the brilliant talker who daily exhausts himself in sharp sayings.” There are two distinct kinds of observation: that which makes a man alert and shrewd, cognizant of every trifle and quick with every trick of speech; and that which makes a man a philosopher, conscious of the steady set of affairs and ready in the use of all the substantial resources of wise thought. Commend me to the former for a chat; commend me to the latter for a book. The first will sparkle; the other burns a steady flame.
Here, then, is the picture of this Old Master: a quiet, awkward, forceful Scotchman, whose philosophy has entered everywhere into the life of politics and become a world force in thought; an impracticable Commissioner of Customs, who has left for the instruction of statesmen a theory of taxation: an unbusiness-like pro
fessor, who established the science of business; a man of books, who is universally honored by men of action; plain, eccentric, learned, inspired. The things that strike us most about him are, his boldness of conception and wideness of outlook, his breadth and comprehensiveness of treatment, and his carefully clarified and beautified style. He was no specialist, except in the relations of things.
Of course, spreading his topics far and wide in the domain of history and philosophy, he was at many points superficial. He took most of his materials at second hand; and it has been said that he borrowed many of his ideas from the French. But no matter who mined the gold, he coined it; the image and superscription are his. Certain separate, isolated truths which served under him may have been doing individual, guerilla warfare elsewhere for the advancement of science; but it was he who marshalled them into drilled hosts for the conquering of the nations. Adam Smith was doubtless indebted to the Physiocrats, but all the world is indebted to Adam Smith. Education and the world of thought need men who, like this man, will dare to know a multitude of things. Without them and their bold synthetic methods, all knowledge and all thought would fall apart into a weak analysis. Their minds do not lack in thoroughness; their thoroughness simply lacks in minute
ness. It is only in their utterances that the mind finds the exhilaration and exaltation that come with the free air that blows over broad uplands. They excite you with views of the large aspects of thought; conduct you through the noblest scenery of the mind's domain; delight you with majesty of outline and sweep of prospect. In this day of narrow specialties, our thinking needs such men to fuse its parts, correlate its forces, and centre its results; and our thinking needs them in its college stage, in order that we may command horizons from our study windows in after days.
The breadth and comprehensiveness of treatment characteristic of the utterances of such a teacher are inseparable attributes of his manner of thought. He has the artist's eye. For him things stand in picturesque relations; their great outlines fit into each other; the touch of his treatment is necessarily broad and strong. The same informing influence of artistic conception and combination gives to his style its luminous and yet transparent qualities. His sentences cannot retain the stiff joints of logic; it would be death to them to wear the chains of formal statement; they must take leave to deck themselves with eloquence. In a word, such men must write literature, or nothing. Their minds quiver with those broad sympathies which constitute the life of written
speech. Their native catholicity makes all minds receive them as kinsmen. By reason of the very strength of their humanity, they are enabled to say things long waiting to be said, in such a way that all men may receive them. They hold commissions from the King of Speech. Such men will not, I am persuaded, always seek in vain invitations to those academic platforms which are their best coignes of vantage. But this is not just the time when they are most appreciated, or most freely encouraged to discover themselves; and it cannot be amiss to turn back to another order of things, and remind ourselves how a master of academic inspiration, possessing, in a great power to impart intellectual impulse, something higher than a trained capacity to communicate method, may sometimes be found even in a philosophical Scotchman.