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to dwell rather on the fair than on the dark side of the Chancellor's character, and, before pronouncing an unqualified condemnation, carefully to separate the faults of the age from those of the individual.
An affecting allusion of his own, in one of his greatest works, to the errors and misfortunes of his public life, if it does not atone for his faults, may at least have some effect in softening the asperity of our censures. “ Ad literas potius quam ad aliud quicquam natus, et ad res gerendas nescio quo fato contra genium suum abreptus." (De Aug. Sc. L. viii. c. iii.)
Even in Bacon's professional line, it is now admitted, by the best judges, that he was greatly underrated by his contemporaries. “ The Queen did acknowledge,” says the Earl of Essex, in a letter to Bacon himself, “ you had a great wit, and an excellent gift of speech, and much other good learning. But in law, she rather thought you could make show, to the utmost of your knowledge, than that you were deep.”
“ If it be asked,” says Dr. Hurd,“ how the Queen came to form this conclusion, the answer is plain. It was from Mr. Bacon's having a great wit, an excellent gift of speech, and much other good learning.” (Hurd's Dialogues.)
The following testimony to Bacon's legal knowledge (pointed out to me by a learned friend) is of somewhat more weight than Queen Elizabeth's judgment against it: “What might we not have expected,” says Mr. Hargrave, after a high encomium on the powers displayed by Bacon in his Reading on the Statute on Uses," " what might we not have expected from the hands of such a master, if his vast mind had not so embraced within its compass the whole field of science, as very much to detach him from professional studies!”
It was probably owing in part to his court disgrace, that so little notice was taken of Bacon, for some time after his death, by those English writers who availed themselves, without any scruple, of the lights struck out in his works. A very remarkaable example of this occurs in a curious, though now almost forgotten book, (published in 1627,) entitled, An Apology or Declaration of the Power and Providence of God in the Government of the World, by George Hakewill, D. D. Archdeacon of Surrey. It is plainly the production of an uncommonly liberal and enlightened mind; well stored with various and choice learning, collected both from ancient and inodern authors. Its general aim may be guessed at from the text of Scripture prefixed to it as a motto, “ Say not thou, what is the cause that the former days are better than these, for thou dost not inquire wisely concerning this ;” and from the words of Ovid, so happily applied by Hakewill to the “common error touching the golden age,”
“Prisca juvent alios, ego me nunc denique natum
Gratulor." That the general design of the book, as well as many incidental observations cor tained in it, was borrowed from Bacon, there cannot, I apprehend, be a doubt; and yet I do not recollect more than one or two references (and these very slight ones) to his writings, through the whole volume. One would naturally have expected, that, in the following passage of the epistle dedicatory, the name of the late unfortunate Chancellor of England, who had died in the course of the preceding year, might have found a place along with the other great clerks there enumerated : “ I do not believe that all regions of the world, or all ages in the same region, afford wits always alike; but this, I think, (neither is it my opinion alone, but of Scaliger, Vives, Budæus, Bodin, and other great clerks,) that the wits of these latter ages, being manured by industry, directed by precepts, and regulated by method, may be as capable of deep speculations, and produce as masculine and lasting births, as any of the ancienter times have done. But if we conceive them to be giants, and ourselves dwarfs; if we imagine all sciences already to have received their utmost perfection, so as we need not but translate and comment on what they have done, surely there is little hope that we should ever come near them, much less match them. The first step to enable a man to the achieving of great designs, is to be persuaded that he is able to achieve them; the next, not to be persuaded, that whatsoever hath not yet been done, cannot therefore be done. Not any one man, or nation, or age, but rather mankind is it which, in latitude of capacity, answers to the universality of things to be known.” In another passage, Hakewill observes, that, if we will speak properly and punctually, antiquity rather consists in the old age,
than in the infancy or youth of the world." I need scarcely add, that some of the foregoing sentences are almost literal transcripts of Bacon's words.
The philosophical fame of Bacon in his own country may be dated from the
establishment of the Royal Society of London; by the founders of which, as appears from their colleague, Dr. Sprat, he was held in so high estimation, that it was once proposed to prefix to the history of their labors some of Bacon's writings, as the best comment on the views with which they were undertaken. Sprat himself, and his illustrious friend Cowley, were among the number of Bacon's earliest eulogists; the latter, in an Ode to the Royal Society, too well known to require any notice here; the former, in a very splendid passage of his History, from which I shall borrow a few sentences, as a conclusion and ornament to this note.
“For, is it not wonderful, that he who had run through all the degrees of that profession, which usually takes up men's whole time ; who had studied, and practised, and governed the common law; who had always lived in the crowd, and borne the greatest burden of civil business ; should yet find leisure enough for these retired studies, to excel all those men, who separate themselves for this very purpose ? He was a man of strong, clear, and powerful imaginations ; his genius was searching and inimitable; and of this I need give no other proof than his style itself; which, as for the most part, it describes men's minds, as well as pictures do their bodies, so it did his above all men living. The course of it vigorous and majestical ; the wit bold and familiar; the comparisons fetched out of the way, and yet the more easy :* In all expressing a soul equally skilled in men and nature.”
Note (G.) page 75. The paradoxical bias of Hobbes's understanding is never so conspicuous as when he engages in physical or in mathematical discussions. On such occasions, he expresses himself with even more than his usual confidence and arrogance. Of the Royal Society (the Virtuosi, as he calls them, that meet at Gresham College) he writes thus : “ Conveniant, studia conferant, experimenta faciant quantum volunt, nisi et principiis utantur meis, nihil proficient." And elsewhere : * Ad causas autem propter quas proficere ne paullum quidem potuistis nec poteritis, accedunt etiam alia, ut odium Hobbii, quia nimium libere scripserat de academiis veritatem: Nam ex eo tempore irati physici et mathematici veritatem ab eo venientem non receptu. ros se palam professi sunt." In his English publications, he indulges in a vein of coarse scurrility, of which his own words alone can convey any idea. ways,” says he, addressing himself to Dr. Wallis and Dr. Seth Ward, two of the most eminent mathematicians then in England, “you uncivil ecclesiastics, inhuman divines, de-doctors of morality, unasinous colleagues, egregious pair of Issachars, most wretched indices and vindices academiarum; and remember Vespasian's law, that it is unlawful to give ill language first, but civil and laroful to return it.”
“ So go your
Note (H.) page 78. With respect to the Leviathan, a very curious anecdote is mentioned by Lord Clarendon. “ When I returned,” says he," from Spain, by Paris, Mr. Hobbes frequently came to me, and told me that his book, which he would call Leviathan, was then printing in England, and that he received every week a sheet to correct; and thought it would be finished within a little more than a month. He added, that he knew when I read the book I would not like it; and thereupon mentioned some conclusions ; upon which I asked him why he would publish such doctrines; to which, after a discourse between jest and earnest, he said, “ The truth is, I have a mind to go home.'” In another passage, the same writer expresses himself thus : “ The review and conclusion of the Leviathan is, in truth, a sly address to Cromwell, that, being out of the kingdom, and so being neither conquered nor his subject, he might by his return submit to his government, and be bound to obey it. This review and conclusion he made short enough to hope that Cromwell might read it; where he should not only receive the pawn of this new subject's allegiance, by declaring his own obligations and obedience; but by publishing such doctrines, as, being diligently infused by such a master in the art of government, might secure the people of the kingdom (over whom he had no right to command) to acquiesce and submit to his brutal power.”
By the word easy, I presume Sprat here means the native and spontaneous growth of Bacon's own fancy, in opposition to the traditionary similies borrowed by commonplace writers from their predecessors.
That there is no exaggeration or misrepresentation of facts la these passages, with the view of injuring the character of Hobbes, may be confidently presumed from the very honorable testimony which Clarendon bears, in another part of the same work, to his moral as well as intellectual merits. “Mr. Hobbes,” he observes, " is a man of excellent parts; of great wit; of some reading ; and of somewhat more thinking;
ho has spent many years in foreign parts and observations ; understands the learned as well as modern languages; hath long had the reputation of a great philosopher and mathematician; and in his age liath had conversation with many worthy and extraordinary men. In a word, he is one of the most ancient acquaintance I have in the world, and of whom I have always had a great esteem, as a man, who, besides his eminent learning and knowledge, hath been always looked upon as a man of probity, and of a life free from scandal.”
Note (I.) p. 109. It is not easy to conceive how Descartes reconciled, to his own satisfaction, his frequent use of the word substance, as applied to the mind, with his favorite doctrine, that the essence of the mind consists in thought. Nothing can be well imagined more unphilosophical than this last doctrine, in whatever terms it is expressed; but to designate by the name of substance, what is also called thought, in the course of the same argument, renders the absurdity still more glaring than it would otherwise have been.
I have alluded, in the text, to the difference between the popular and the scholastic notion of substance. According to the latter, the word substance corresponds to the Greek word ovoice, as employed by Aristotle to denote the first of the predicaments ; in which technical sense it is said, in the language of the schools, to signify that which supports attributes, or which is subject to accidents. At a period when every person liberally educated was accustomed to this barbarous jargon, it might not appear altogether absurd to apply the term substance to the human soul, or even to the Deity. But, in the present times, a writer who should so employ it may be assured, that, to a great majority of his readers, it will be no less puzzling ihan it was to Crambe, in Martinus Scriblerus, when he first heard it thus defined by his master Cornelius. How extraordinary does the following sentence now sound even to a philosophical ear! and yet it is copied from a work published little more than seventy years ago, by the learned and judicious Gravesande : Substantiæ sunt aut cogitantes, aut non cogitantes; cogitantes quas novimus, Deum et mentem nostram. Duæ etiain substantiæ, quæ non cogitant, nobis notæ sunt, spatium et corpus.” Introd. ad Phil. $ 19.
The Greek word ovsíc (derived from the participle of siped) is not liable to these objections. It obtrudes no sensible image on the fancy; and in this respect, has a great advantage over the Latin word substantia. The former, in its logical acceptation, is an extension to Matter of an idea originally derived from Mind. The lat. ter is an extension to Mind of an idea originally derived from Matter.
Instead of defining mind to be a thinking substance, it seems much more logically correct to define it a thinking being. Perhaps it would be better stil), to avoid, by the use of the pronoun that, any substantive whatever, “ Mind is that which thinks, wills," &c.
The foregoing remarks afford me an opportunity of exemplifying what I have elsewhere observed concerning the effects which the scholastic philosophy has left on the present habits of thinking, even of those who never cultivated that branch of learning. In consequence of the stress laid on the predicaments, men became accustomed in their youth to imagine, that, in order to know the nature of any thing, it was sufficient to know under what predicament or category it ought to be arrange ed; and that, till this was done, it remained to our faculties a subject merely of ignorant wonder. Hence the impotent attempt to comprehend under some common
*“When he was told, a substance was that which was subject to accidents, then soldiers, quoth Crambe, are the most substantial people in the world.” Let me add, that, in the list of Philosophical reformers, the authors of Martinus Scriblerus ought not to be overlooked. Their happy ridicule of the scholastic Logic and Metaphysics is universally known; but few are aware of the acuteness and sagacity displayed in their allusions to some of the most vulnerable passages in Locke's Es. say. In this part of the work it is commonly understood ihat Arbuthnot had the principal share.
name (such as that of substance) the heterogeneous existences of matter, of mind, and even of empty space; and hence the endless disputes to which the last of these words has given rise in the schools.
In our own times, Kant and his followers seem to have thought, that they had thrown a new and strong light on the nature of space, and also of time, when they introduced the word forms (forms of the intellect) as a common term applicable to both. Is not this to revert to the scholastic folly of verbal generalization ? And is it not evident, that of things which are unique (such as matter, mind, space, time,) no classification is practicable? Indeed, to speak of classifying what has nothing in common with any thing else, is a contradiction in terms. It was thus that St. Augustine felt, when he said, “
Quid sit tempus, si nemo quærat a me, scio ; si quis interroget, nescio.”. His idea evidently was, that, although he annexed as clear and precise a notion to the word time, as he could do to any object of human thought, he was unable to find any term more general, under which it could be comprehended; and consequently, unable to give any definition, by which it might be explained.
Note (K.) p. 110. “Les Méditations de Descartes parûrent en 1641. C'étoit, de tous ses ouvrages, celui qu'il estimoit le plus. Ce qui caractèrise surtout cet ouvrage, c'est qu'il contient sa fameuse démonstration de Dieu par l'idée, démonstration si répétée depuis, adoptée par les uns, et rejetée par les autres; et qu'il est le premier où la distinction de l'esprit et de la matière soit parfaitement développée, car avant Descartes on n'avoit encore bien approfondi les preuves philosophiques de la spiritualité de l'âme.” Eloge de Descartes, par M. Thomas. Note 20.
If the remarks in the text be correct, the characteristical merits of Descartes' Med. itations do not consist in the novelty of the proofs contained in them of the spiritusality of the soul (on which point Descartes has added little or nothing to what had been advanced by his predecessors,) but in the clear and decisive arguments by which they expose the absurdity of attempting to explain the mental phenomena, by analogies borrowed from those of matter. Of this distinction, neither Thomas, nor Turgot, nor D'Alembert, nor Condorcet, seem to have been at all aware.
I quote from the last of these writers an additional proof of the confusion of ideas upon this point, still prevalent among the most acute logicians. “ Ainsi la spiritualité de l'âme, n'est pas une opinion qui ait besoin de preuves, mais le résultat simple et naturel d'une analyse exacte de nos idées, et de nos facultés.” (Vie de M. Turgot.) Substitute for spirituality the word immateriality and the observation becomes equally just and important.
Note (L.) p. 111. The following extract from Descartes might be easily mistaken for a passage in the Novum Organon.
“ Quoniam infantes nati sumus, et varia de rebus sensibilibus judicia prius tulimus, quam integrum nostræ rationis usum haberemus, multis præjudiciis a veri cognitione avertimur, quibus non aliter videmur posse liberari, quam si semel in vitâ, de iis om. nibus studeamus dubitare, in quibus vel minimam incertitudinis suspicionem reperi.
“Quin et illa etiam, de quibus dubitabimus, utile erit habere pro falsis, ut tanto clarius, quidnam certissimum et cognitu facillimum sit, inveniamus.
“ Itaque ad serio philosophandum, veritatemque omnium rerum cognoscibilium indagandam, primò omnia præjudicia sunt deponenda ; sive accuratè est cavendum, ne ullis ex opinionibus olim à nobis receptis fidem habeamus, nisi prius, iis ad novum examen revocatis, veras esse comperiamus.” Princ. Phil. Pars Prima, SS lii. Ixxv.
Notwithstanding these and various other similar coincidences, has been asserted, with some confidence, that Descartes had never read the works of Bacon. “Quelques auteurs assurent que Descartes n'avoit point lu les ouvrages de Bacon; et il nous dit lui-même dans une de ses lettres, qu'il ne lut que fort tard les principaux ouvrages de Galiléo.” (Eloge de Descartes, par Thomas.) of the veracity of Des. cartes, I have not the slightest doubt; and therefore I consider this last fact (however extraordinary) as completely established by his own testimony. But it would require more evidence than the assertions of those nameless writers alluded to by Thomas, to convince me that he had never looked into an author, so highly extolled as Bacon is, in the letters addressed to himself by his illustrious antagonist, Gassendi At any rate, if this was actually the case, I cannot subscribe to the reflection subVOL. VI.
joined to the foregoing quotation by his eloquent eulogist. “Si cela est, il faut convenir, que la gloire de Descartes en est bien plus grande."
Note (M.) p. 123. From the indissoluble union between the notions of color and of extension, Dr. Berkeley has drawn a curious, and, in my opinion, most illogical argument in favor of his scheme of idealism ;-which, as it may throw some additional light on the phenomena in question, I shall transcribe in his own words.
“ Perhaps, upon a strict inquiry, we shall not find, that even those who, from their . birth, have grown up in a continued habit of seeing, are still irrevocably prejudiced on the other side, to wit, in thinking what they see to be at a distance from them. For, at this time, it seems agreed on all hands, that colors, which are the proper and immediate objects of sight, are not without the mind. But then, it will be said, by sight we have also the ideas of extension, and figure, and motion; all which may well be thought without, and at some distance from the mind, though color should not. In answer to this, I appeal to any man's experience, whether the visible extension of any object doth not appear as near to him as the color of that object; nay, whether they do not both seem to be in the same place. Is not the extension we see colored ; and is it possible for us, so much as in thought, to separate and abstract color from extension ? Now, where the extension is, there surely is the figure, and there the motion too. I speak of those which are perceived by sight."
Among the multitude of arguments advanced by Berkeley, in support of his favor. ite theory, I do not recollect any that strikes me more with the appearance of a wilful sophism than the foregoing. It is difficult to conceive how so very acute a reasoner should not have perceived that his premises, in this instance, lead to a conclusion directly opposite to what he has drawn from them. Supposing all mankind to have an irresistible conviction of the outness and distance of extension and figure, it is very easy to explain, from the association of ideas, and from our early habits of inattention to the phenomena of consciousness, how the sensations of color should appear to the imagination to be transported out of the mind. But if, according to Berkeley's doctrines, the constitution of human nature leads men to believe that extension and figure, and every other quality of the material universe, exists only within themselves, whence the ideas of external and of internal ; of remote, or of near ? When Berkeley says, “I appeal to any man's experience, whether the visible extension of any object doth not appear as near to him as the color of that object;" how much more reasonable wou!d it have been to have stated the indisputable fact, that the color of the object appears as remote as its extension and figure ? Nothing, in my opinion, can afford a more conclusive proof, that the natural judgment of the mind is against the inference just quoted from Berkeley, than the problem of D'Alembert, which has given occasion to this discussion.
Note (N.) p. 129. It is observed by Dr. Reid, that “the system which is now generally received with regard to the mind and its operations, derives not only its spirit from Descartes, but its fundamental principles; and that, after all the improvements made by Malebranche, Locke, Berkeley, and Hume, it may still be called the Cartesian system.” Conclusion of the Inquiry into the Human Mind.
The part of the Cartesian system here alluded to, is the hypothesis, that the communication between the mind and external objects is carried on by means of ideas or images ;-not, indeed, transmitted from wihout (as the Aristotelians supposed) through the channel of the senses, but nevertheless bearing a relation to the qualities perceived, analogous to that of an impression on wax to the seal by which it was stamped. In this last assumption, Aristotle and Descartes agreed perfectly; and the chief difference between them was, that Descartes palliated, or rather kept out of view, the more obvious absurdities of the old theory, by rejecting the uninteiligible supposition of intentional species, and by substituting, instead of the word image, the more indefinite and ambiguous word idea.
But there was another and very important step made by Descartes, in restricting the ideal Theory to the primary qualities of matter; its secondary qualities (of color, sound, smell, taste, heat, and cold) having, according to him, no more re
* Essay toward a New Theory of Vision, p. 255.