Page images

dulgence. The soul of man is the subject of hopes and fears, of pains and pleasures, desires and aversions: these are not only natural to him but essential, coming in aid of his intellectual faculties, sweetening life when duly regulated, criminal only when excessive. Memory records past pleasures. This is not sufficient; we possess therefore the desire to re-enjoy them, for what would be the use of a perception of pleasure if there were no desire to seek it? The object capable to impart it would exist in vain. We might have been so framed that the perception of pleasure should have been unaccompanied by any desire to seek it; nay, had a blind necessity been the cause of existence, so far from there being any pleasurable emotions, each object might have impressed our organization with agony ;-the light might have burned the eyes, sound have made the ear ache, each sense might have been an inlet to pain, and cach feeling of the soul burdensome to life. Why is it not so? How happens it that the atheist's blind necessity should have acted so that by our very nature we avoid pain and pursue pleasure? There is, says Dr Crombie, a wonderful luck in the chance of the atheist, and a surprising method in his omnipotent necessity.

Our desires are as numerous as the objects which yield us pleasure are multiplied; and each is so manifestly adapted to the well-being of man in his individual and social character, that it is impossible to avoid shutting our eyes to this wise and benevolent adjustment of means to ends exhibited in us. The desire of life is necessary to the continuance of our being-the desire of knowledge to our advancement in art and science. The love of fame, of superiority, of wealth, are in themselves neither virtuous nor vicious; under due regulation they promote individual enjoyment, and the common good. Even hatred and resentment are natural, and necessary to man in some stages of barbarism. The solitary savage is protected by these passions from the tyranny of his kind. Hatred to vice is an auxiliary to virtue; indignation is natural, and is virtuous when turned against hypocrisy, villainy, and tyranny. To enquire why such affections are given us, is vain; it is sufficient to show that they tend to good when not abused. They exhibit no anomaly, and our mental constitution is in perfect accordance with the plan of physical nature; both are sustained by a succession or combination of contrarieties, and physical commotions and moral perturbations alike tend to settle into an equilibrium.

If we examine the benevolent affections of our nature, they strongly proclaim their origin from a good and intelligent source. Man, as a solitary being, would never attain either knowledge or virtue. It is by associating with his fellows that

he arrives at wisdom, and power, and moral perfection. But without the social and sympathetic affections, society could not exist. To fit him for communion with his fellow men, he possesses these affections; and, as a motive to cultivate them, their exercise is accompanied with one of the most gratifying pleasures of which our nature it susceptible. Without this motive the instinct might be less active; without the affections society could not exist; without society knowledge and virtue would be unattainable; and without these acquirements man would be a wretched and pitiable creature. This chain of dependent and connected circumstances furnishes evidence of design. A review of the active principles of our nature leads us to the same important conclusion. We are gifted with no instinct, endowed with no passion, born with no appetite, which is not necessary to our individual preservation, our moral improvement, or our social enjoyment. And while, like conflicting principles in the physical world, they necessarily jar one with another, and produce commotion,-feeling being opposed to feeling, passion to passion, and reason striving to direct and control their energies, yet by an established law, which can be ascribed to nothing but wisdom and design, and to which all the discordant elements of nature are subjected, these perturbations, evidently exceptions to the general rule, are made to issue in that equilibrium, in which consists the tranquillity and harmony of the system.

The next division of the subject is that embracing the enquiry as to the existence of a presiding power. This is a subject in which the consistent theologian can find little or no difficulty. The notion entertained by some of the ancient sages, that the concerns of man are too insignificant for the notice of the eternal and exalted Sovereign of the universe, he dismisses as irrational. Whatever it was not beneath the dignity of the Divine Being to create, it cannot derogate from his dignity to preserve. The notion, too, of a Providence embracing only the more important concerns of the system, he rejects as inconsistent with the attributes of benevolence and omnipresence. The omniscience of the Deity implies a universal superintendence; and whether the system be governed by laws established at its formation, or by the continued agency of the Creator, we must conclude, unless we assent to a contradiction, that no evil can take place unseen by an Omniscient eye. To attribute an imperfect providence to an all-perfect being, would be an absurdity. The occasional anomalies and seeming frustrations of the Divine counsels which led Cudworth to adopt the doctrine of a plastic nature, can be regarded by the rational and consistent theist in no other light than as varieties ordained by the same wisdom

by which the usual course of nature is sustained. The exceptions, as well as the conformities to the general law, are equally the appointments of the Supreme Being. Such is the outline of Dr Crombie's view of the doctrine of Providence.

The question respecting the nature of man as a being purely material, or as constructed of two distinct substances—one ma terial, and the other not material-is next discussed at great length, and closed with the following passage, which presents a clear and striking summary of the author's conclusions:- Man ' in every stage and condition of his being, is occupied with sen'sible objects. These at all times engage his chief attention. In his earliest and rudest state of existence, he thinks of nothing but providing for the necessities of corporeal nature. 'mental constitution he is profoundly ignorant. Seeing nothing ' around him but matter, and its changing forms, he has no con'ception of the possibility of any other than material substance. "If surrounding phenomena should impress him with the belief 'that there are beings superior to himself, he imagines them to be corporeal. He entertains no apprehension of any existent, which is not visible or tangible. He is a materialist. As his ' experience, however, extends, he becomes more and more acquainted with the qualities and properties of physical ob'jects. Ages elapse before he proceeds beyond the limits prescribed by external sense. But, as he advances in knowledge, his curiosity is proportionably excited; and, acquiring in the ad'vancement of society, more leisure for reflection, he begins to 'look inward to his own mind, and mark with attention what passes there. When he becomes acquainted with its various faculties, and what they are capable of accomplishing, observing ' also the subserviency of the body to the government of the will, 'he perceives that his mental powers are so unlike to the qualities and properties of gross matter, that they must belong, he con'cludes, to something of a more refined character than brute ' material substance. Unable, however, to divest himself of the ' notion that nothing can exist which may not be seen or touched, he forms a conception of some attenuated matter, some ' aerial being, by whatever name it may be called, whether 'soul, or breath, or spirit, which lives and thinks within him. It is still, however, material; and he perceives, on reflection, 'that the difficulty, though apparently diminished, is not re'moved. He is thence led to proceed one step farther, and to 'conclude, that the simple indivisible being, which he believes himself to be, can have no resemblance to matter, which is composed of parts.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

• Immaterialism, then, it would seem, is not the doctrine of

6 a rude and uncultivated mind. It is the result of examination and reflection. It can obtain only when philosophy has 'shed her light over the constitution of man as an intelligent being; and wherever it does obtain, it is an infallible evidence ' of considerable progress in metaphysical science.

The hypothesis of materialism is what man, guided by sense only, naturally adopts-a hypothesis, which his continual 'communication with material objects, has a natural tendency 'to suggest and to recommend.


It is its inadequacy, however, to explain the phenomena of Mind, that reduces the philosopher to the necessity of main'taining that they cannot belong to a material substance. He feels the difficulties which attend the adoption of this alter'native; but they are the difficulties arising from the limitation of his perceptions to sensible objects. He presumes not to say what the soul is; but he is persuaded that it is not mate'rial. He denies it to be a property or an effect, and affirms it 'to be a substance and a cause, imperceptible indeed by cor'poreal organs, but known, through internal sense and reflection, by its powers and properties, as matter is known through external sense, by its sensible qualities. Of neither substance, in abstract, can we form any conception.'-Vol. II. p. 451.

The last chapter is devoted to the Doctrine of a Future State; but we cannot afford room for any abstract of it. We beg, in conclusion, to recommend the work, as presenting a useful course of instruction on the all important subject to which it is devoted.

ART. VIII.-The Life and Writings of Henry Fuseli, M.A.R.A. The former Written, and the latter Edited by JOHN KNOWLES, F.R.S. 3 vols. 8vo. London: 1831.

W E feel indebted to Mr Knowles for this publication. Fuseli's life was certainly not an eventful one, nor has the biographer done much towards supplying the place of that source of interest by tracing very minutely the progress of his mind, the gradual formation of his views, and those triumphs over the difficulties of his art, which are to the painter what the struggles of active life are to other men. Indeed, it does not appear that many materials exist which could have been available for such a task. His literary correspondence was not extensive; nor does he seem to have indulged much in the description of his own feelings and impressions, which, considering his natural frankness and exuberant self-esteem, rather surprises us. But though the

account of his life will not add much to our acquaintance with his inner man, still it contributes something, and that plainly and perspicuously enough, towards our picture of his outward presence and habits; and we are glad to think, that one who, for nearly half a century, has exercised an influence over British art, both by precept and example, will not sink into the grave without a more enduring record than the passing echo of newspaper criticism.

Henry Fuseli or Fuëssli (for such was his family name, though, in deference to English ears, he altered it when he came to England) was born at Zurich in 1741, and was destined by his father for the church. He manifested very early a predilection for drawing and also for entomology, but his passion for drawing his father did every thing in his power to repress, conceiving that his chance of success in the church depended on his exclusive attention being devoted to his theological and classical studies. But there is no armour against fate:'-the studies which young Fuseli did not venture to pursue openly, he indulged in secretly, purchasing with his small allowance of pocket-money, candles, pencils, and paper, in order to make drawings when his parents believed him to be in bed, which he afterwards disposed of to his companions. Nay, sometimes he had the boldness while his father was reading to him in the evenings the sermons of Götz or Saurin, to employ his pencil at the other end of the table, concealing his drawing with his hand. The more effectually to disguise his employment, he learned to use his left hand for the purpose, and the practice rendered him ambidextrous during his life. Even at this early age his sketches, many of which are still preserved, indicate the bent of his mind. They are chiefly on classical and mythological subjects of an extraordinary character, or occasionally scenes of broad humour and caricature. The models to which he principally looked, the sketches of Christopher Maurin, Ringli, Ammann, and other masters of Zurich, although displaying freedom of hand, were not likely to give him very exalted notions of form, and accordingly a general clumsiness pervades the figures in his earlier sketches, which, however, in other respects display an inventive fancy, and much skill in telling the story which it is his object to represent.

His theological studies, which, though not altogether congenial to his views, he continued to pursue, introduced him into the society of Lavater, and many other men afterwards eminent in German literature. Having acquired a considerable knowledge of English, French, and Italian, he read much and on all subjects. From the novels of Richardson and the passionate reveries of Rousseau, he passed to the infinite variety of Shak

« PreviousContinue »