Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

an

66

year or two after, he seems to have a logical confutation of its arguments' formed the first design of his " Essay I intend farther to inquire into the naon Truch.” He thus mentions it in ture of that modification of intellect a letter to Sir William Forbes.

which qualifies a man for being a scep

tic; and I think I am able to prove I am a member of a club in this town who style themselves the Philosophical However, it will be summer before I

that it is not genius, but the want of it. Society. We have meetings every fort. night, and deliver discourses in our turn.

can finish my project. I own it is not

without indignation that I see sceptics I hope you will not think the worse of this Socie'y, when I tell you, that to it

and their writings (which are the bare the world is indebted for ". A compara

not only of science, but also of virtue tive view of the Faculties, of Man," and

so much in vogue in the present age." Enquiry into Human Nature, on the Principles of Common Sense.” Cri- Some years after, in a letter to ticism is the field in which I have hith. Dr Blacklock, when the work was erto (chiefly at least) chosen to expati.

now nearly completed, he explairs ate; but an accidental question lately fur.

more fully his views on the subjeci. nished me with an hint, which I made the subject of a two hours discourse at: In my younger days I read chiefly our last meeting. I have for some time for the sake of amusement, and I tound wished for an opportunity of publishing myself best amused with the classics, something relating to the business of and what we call the belles lettres. Me. my own profession, and I think I have taphysics I disliked; mathematics pleasnow found an opportunity; for the doc- ed me beiter; but I found my mind trine of my last discourse seems to be neither improved nor gratined by that of importance, and I have already finish. study. When Providence allotted me ed two-thirds of my plan. My doc- my present station, it became incumtrine is this : that as we know nothing bent on me to read what had been writ. of the eternal relations of things, that to ten on the subject of morals and human us is and must be truth, which we feel nature : the works of Locke, Berkeley, that we must believ- ; and that to us is and Hume, were celebrated as masterfalsehood, which we feel that we must pieces in this way ; to them therefore I disbelieve. I have shown, that all ge- had recourse. But as I began to study nuine reasoning does ultimately termi- them with great prejudices in their fanate in certain principles, which it is, vour, you will readily conceive bow impossible to disbelieve, and as impossi- strangely I was surprised to find them, ble to prove : that therefore the ultimate as I thought, replete with absurdities. standard of truth to us is common sens", I pondered these absurdities; I weighor that instinctive conviction into which ed the arguments, with wbich I was all true reasoning does resolve itself: sometimes not a fitile confounded; that therefore what contradicts common and the result was, that I began at sense is in itself absurd, however subtle last to suspect my own understanding, the arguments which support it: for and to think that I had not capacity for such is the ambiguity and insufficiency such a study. For I could not conceive of language, that it is easy to argue on it possible that the absurdities of these either side of any question with acuteness authors were so great as they seemed to sufficient to confound one who is not ex- me to be ; otherwise, thought I, the pert in the art of reasoning. My prin. world would never admire them so ciples, in the main, are not essentially much. About this time some excellent different from Dr Reid's ; but they seem antisceptical works made their appear. to offer a more compendious method of ance, particularly Reid's " Inquiry in. destroying scepticism. I intend to to the Human Mind.”. Then it was show (and have already in part shown) that I began to have a little more conthat all sophistical reasoning is marked fidence in my own judgement, when I with certain characters which distin- found it confirmed by those of whose guish it from true investigation : and abilities I did not entertain the least disthus I fatter myself I sball be able to trust. I reviewed my authors again, discover a method of detecting sophis. with very different temper of mind. try, even when one is not able to give A very little truth will sometimes en

lighten

a

m

lighten a vast extent of Science. I who knew both the men, am very sen. found that the sceptical philosophy was sible of the gross falsehood of these re. not what the world imagined it to be, ports. As to the affair of the manunor what I, following the opinion of the scripts, it was, I am convinced, candour world, had hitherto imagined it to be; and modesty that induced them to it. but a frivolous, though dangerous, sys. But the world knows no such thing: and tem of verbal subtilty, which it required therefore may be excused for mistaking neither genius, nor learning, nor taste, the meaning of actions that have really nor knowledge of mankind, to be able an equivocal appearance. I know.liketo put together ; but only a captious wise that they are sincere, not only in temper, an irreligious spirit,a moderate the detestation they express for Hume's. command of words,an extraordinary de- irreligious tenets, but also in the comgree of vanity and presumption. You pliments they have made to his talents; will easily perceive that I am speaking for they both look upon him as an exof this philosophy only in its most extra- traordinary gevius, a point in which I vagant state, that is, as it appears in the cannot agree with them. But while I works of Mr Hume. The more I study thus vindicate them from imputations it, the more am I confirmed in this o. which the world from its ignorance of pinion. But while I applauded and ad- circumstances has laid to their charge, mired the sagacity of those who had led I cannot approve them in every thing. me into, or at least encouraged me to I wish they had carried their researches proceed in, this train of thinking, I was a little farther, andexpressed themselves not altogether satisfied with them in a. with a litile more firmness and spinother respect.

I could not approve rit. For well I know that their works, that extraordinary adulation which some for want of this, will never produce that of them paid to their arch-adversary.-- effect which (if all mankind were cool I could not conceive the propriety of metaphysical reasoners) might be expaying compliments to a man's heart pected from them. There is another at the very time one is proving that his thing in which my judgement differs aim is to subvert the principles of truth, considerably from that of ihe gentlemen virtue, and religion ; nor to his under. just mentioned. They have great metastanding, when we are charging him physical abilities; and they love the mewith publishing the grossest and most taphysical sciences. I do not. I am contemptible nonsense. I thought I convinced that this metaphysical spirit then foresaw, what I have since found is the bane of true learning, true taste, to happen, that this controversy would and true science; that to it we owe be looked upon rather as a trial of skill all this modern scepticism and atheism; between two logicians, than as a disqui. that it bas a bad effect upon the human sicion in which the best interests of faculties, and tends not a little to sour mankind were concerned : and that the the temper, to subvert good principles, world, especially the fashionable part of and to disqualify men for the business it, would still be disposed to pay the of life.

P.130. greatest deference to the opinions of him who, even by the acknowledgement of

The publication of this work, how. bis antagonists, was confessed to be the ever, had nearly heen stopt; as the best philosopher and the soundest rea- bookseller, alarmed by the abstrusesoner. All this has happened and more. .ness of the subject, was unwilling to Sume, to my certain knowledge, have purchase it. This difliculty was resaid, that Mr Hume and his adversaries moved by the friendly interference of did really act in concert, in order mu.

Sir William and Mr Arbuthnot, in tually to promote the sale of one ano. ther's works; as a proof of which, they

the following manner : mention not only the extravagant coin- In this dilemma, it occurred to me, pliments that pass between them, but that we might, without much artifice, also the circumstance of Dr R. * and bring the business to an easy conclusion Dr C. † sending their manuscripts to, by our own interposition. We therebe perused and corrected by Mr Hume före resolved, that we ourselves should before they gave them to the press. 1, be the purchasers, at a sum with which

we knew Dr Beattię would be well sa. * Dr Reid. + Dr Campbell.

tisfied

a

[ocr errors]

P. 147.

tisfied, as the price of the first edition. work in some respects, more suitBut it was absolutely necessary that the ed to the wants of the bulk of readers. business should be glossed over as much It is easily understood ; written io a as possible ; otherwise, we had reason

conversation style, and with a variety to fear he would not give his consent to our taking on us a risk, which he him., of familiar and agreeable illustrations. self had refused to run.

And even with regard to that degree I therefore wrote to him (nothing of asperity which pervades it, and to surely but the truth, although, I con- the contempi, sometimes rather ill fess, not the whole truth,) that the ina- founded, which he expresses for the riuscript was sold for fifty guineas, talents of his opponents, these cerwhich I remitted to him by bank. bill; tainly are not to be generally approv. and I added, that we had stipulated with

ed of in philosophical composition ; the bookseller who was - to piint the book, that we should be partners in the yet, as upon the bulk of readers they publication. On such trivial causes do produce a more powerful impression things of considerable moment often de. Than mer. reasoning, and as the op. pend; for liad it vot been for this inter- posite party do not appear to have ab. ference of ours in this somewhat ambi- stained from them, something may be guous inanner, perhaps the “ Essay on

said in favour of their occasional use. Truth," on which all Dr Beattie's future fortunes hinged, might never have seen

Grievous complaints were made by the light.

Mr Hume and his friends, against Dr Beattie now seriously began the severity of this work ; but it was the task of preparing his manuscript favourably received by the public in for the press. Several friends, io general ; and Lord Lyttleion, Mrs whom he shewed it, strongly advised Montague, Dr Porteous, Dr Johnliim to correct some asperities to

son, with many other literary men which he had given way, and he of eminence, expressed their high complied with this advice to a certain approbation of it. extent, though he might probably,

Dr Beattie seems always to have with advantage, have gone somewhat found this an ungrateful study, and farther. However, all things being complains even of his health being at last arranged, in the month

of May injured by it. On completing there. 1770, the ** Essay on Truth” made fore the publication of his work, he its appearance.

returned with pleasure to his " fond The time of its publication was

and first pursuit.” Some years befavourable. The pernicious tendency fore he had began the composition

of the Minstrel. In a letter to Dr of the sceptical tenets which were Then afloat, and the extensive circula. Blacklock, he gives the following action for which they were indebted to

count of its origin. the talents of some of their supporters, My performance in Spenser's stan. and particularly of Mr Hume, had za has not advanced a single line these produced, in all serious and religious many months. It is called the “ Min

u strel." persons, a general disposition to wel

The subject was suggested

bv a dissertation on the old minstrels, come any attempt which might be which is prefixed to a collection of balmade to refute them. Beattie, when lads lately published by Dodsley in compared to Reid and Campbell, was three volumes. I propose to give an indeed rather superficial, and the de. account of the birth, education, and adgree oftemperand candour with which ventures of one of those bards; in which they carried on the controversy (and of

I shall have full scope for description, which he expresses such unmerited sentiment, satire,and even a certain spe

cies of humour and of pathos, which, in disapprobation) gave them another he opinion of my great master, are by point of superiority. Yet was his

no means inconsistent, as is evident

from

P. 193•

[ocr errors]

of

from his works. My hero is to be born the excellent; use he makes of it. Would
in the south of Scotland ; which you it were in my power to do him any ser-
know as the native land of the Eug. vice!"
Jish minstrels ; I mean of those mirstitis We may easily conceive how much
who travelled into England, and sup. Dr Beattie must have been gratified
ported themselves there by singing their by this letter. And here we cannot
ballads to the liarp. His father is a
shepherd. The son will have a natural pass over a criticism made by several
taste for music and the beauties of nas correspondents and admitted even by
ture; which, however, languishes for himself, upon the want of incident in
want of cuiture, till in due time be this poem. In this there appears to us
meets with a hermit, who gives himn some to be a great want of discernment, as
instruction ; but endeavours to check

to the nature of Dr Beattie's genius.
his gemus for poetry and adventures, by His excellence consists almost wholly
representing the happiness of obscurity in the expression of that gentle and
and sulitude, and the bad reception which
poetry las met with in almost every age.

tender enthusiasm which is inspired The poor swain a quiesces in this advice, by the solitary contemplation of the andresolves to follow his father’semploy: beauties of nature. Whenever he ment ; when, on a sudden, the country touches upon this theme, whether in is invaded by the Danes or English bor- poetry or prose, he is always delightderers, (i know not which) and be is

ful. stript of all his little fortune, and obliged whether he be equally qualified to

But we have great doubts by necessity to commence minstrel.This is all that that I have as yet con

excel in heroic or narrative poetry cested of the plan. I have written 150 any kind. No rule is more important lines, but my hero is not yet born, tho' for a poet than that of " Nihil now in a fair way of being so, for his invita Minerva," and we think it parents are described and married. I fortunate that Dr Beattie should have know not whether I shall ever proceed been led to confine himself to that tone any farther; however, I am not dissatis- of poetry which was best calculated fied with what I have written”. P. 102.

for displaying his peculiar excellences, Having now completed the first

(To be continued.)
canto, he published it soon after the
second edition of the Essay on

II. Ballads and Lyrical Pieces. By Truch. It met with universal admira- Walter Scott, Esq. 8vo, 78. 6d. tion ; but the most Aattering praise

Constable and Co. which it received was that contained in the following letter from Lord THESE ballads are collected out Lyttleton. It was addressed to Mrs

of the Minstrelsy of the Scottish Montague, who had presented him Border, and Mr Lewis's Tales of

Wonder, where they first appeared.

The extraordinary, and well-merited “I read your “Minstrel last night, celebrity, which Mr Scott has acqui. with as much rapture, as poetry, in her noblest, sweetest charms, ever raised in red by his “Lay of the last Minstrel," my soul. It seemed to me, that my

naturally attracted the curiosity of once most beloved minstrel, Thomson, poetical readers towards his other was come down from heaven, refined performances ; and as these were disby the converse of purer spirits than persed in the above-mentioned pubthose he lived with here, to let me hear lications, which are both of considerhim sing again the beauties of nature, able magnitude and price, the present and the finest feelings of virtue, not with human, but with angelic strains ! I collection of them into a small volume beg you to express my gratitude to the is likely to be generally acceptable. poet for the pleasure he has given me.

It contains the following : Your eloquence alone can do justice to Glenfinlas, or Lord Ronald's Coronach... my sense of his admirable genius, and The Eve of Saint John,... Cadyow Castle

... The,

С

with a copy:

T

a

to be

.The Grey Brother,... Thomas the

Like the corpse of an outcast abandoned ro Rhymer, Part I. II. and III... The Fire

weather, King,...Frederick and Alice,... The Wild Till the mountain-winds wasted the teHuntsmen,... War Song,... The Norman

nantless clay. Horse-Shoe,... 'The Dying Bard,... The Nor yet quite deserted, though lonely exMaid of Toro,...Hellvellyn.

tended, Many of these pieces possess very

For, faithful in death, his mute favourite at. considerable merit ; though we can

tended,

The much-loved remains of her master denot but consider the Lay of the last

fended, Minstrelas decidedly the chef d'oeuvre And chased the hill-fox and the raven of Mr Scott ; for with greater force away. of genius, it unites a degree of sim. How long didst thou think that his silence plicity. which he had not before at

was slumber;

When the wind waved his garment, how tained. Glenfinlas, however, is a very oft didst thou start ; fine poem; and with the translations How many long days and long weeks didst (or paraphrases) from Burger, ap- thou number, pears to us the best of those formerly

Ere he faded before thee, the friend of published. At the end of the volume And, oh! was it meet, that...no requiem

thy heart; are several songs, produced for the read o'er him, musical collections of Messrs White No mother to weep, and no friend to deand Thomson. They seem

plore him, written later than the Lay, and prove,

And thou, little guardian, alone stretched

before him,... we think, that in the course of com. Unhonoured the Pilgrim from life should posing that poem, Mr Scott's genius

depart? had received a permanent improvement,

When a Prince to the fate of the Peas They are marked by that character of sant has yielded,

The tapestry waves dark round the dim. sedate and solemn tenderness in which

lighted hall; he particularly excels. We shall pre. With scutcheons of silver the coffin is shield, sent our readers with Hellvellyn, which ed, is thus prefaced :

And pages stand mute by the canopied

pall : In the spring of 1805, a young gentleman Through the courts, at deep midnight, the

of talents, and of a most amiable dispo- torches are gleaming ; sition, perished by losing his way on the

In the proudly-arched chapel the banners mountain Hellvellyn. His remains were

are beaming ; not discovered till three months after

Far adown the long aisle sacred music is wards, when they were found guarded

streaming, by a faithful terrier-bitch, his constart Lamenting a Chief of the People should aiterdant during fr quent solitary ram- fall. bles through the wilds of Cumberland and Westmoreland.

But meeter for thee, gentle lover of nature,

To lay down thy head like the meek I Climbed the dark brow of the mighty mountain Jamb; Hellvellyn,

When wildered, he drops from some cliff Lakes and mountains beneath me gleam- huge in stature, ed misty and wide;

And draws his last sob by the side of his All was still, save, by fits, when the eagle dam, was yelling

And more stately thy couch by this desert And starting around me the echoes re

lake lying, plied.

Thy obsequies sung by the grey plover On the right, Striden-edge round the Red

flying, tarn was bending,

With one faithful friend but to witness And Catchedicamı its left verge was desend. thy dying, ing,

In the arms of Hellvellyn and CatcheOne huge nameless rock in the front was dicam.

ascending, When I marked the sad spot where the This volume contains also the wanderer had died.

Dying Bard and the Maid of Toro, Dark green was that spot, mid the brown

which are both possessed of considermountain-beather, Where the Pilgrim of Nature lay stretchis able merit. ed in decoy,

Menu

« ZurückWeiter »