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in his own mind,-his creed is far
lectual vision, and a wish to arrive at conviction, he has chosen the best of what was before him, within the region of precedent and authority. He has plucked the fairest produce of the domain of our ancestors from the trees that they planted, and which have been cultivated till now in their accustomed methods. But he has not leaped the boundaries, and gone forth to search for hobler plants and richer fruit, nor has he dared to touch even the tree of knowledge which flourishes within the garden. He has looked for truth among the speculations of a thousand minds, and he has found little but its outward forms. He has abstracted something here, and added something there; he has classed opi nions, and brought them into comparison; and picked out this from one, and joined on that to another; now wavered to the right, now faltered to the left; and scarce rejecting or believing any thing strongly, has become learned with unprofitable learning, and filled his mind with elaborate and costly furniture, which chokes up its passages, and darkens its windows. He has slain a hundred systems, and united their lifeless limbs into a single figure. But the vital spirit is not his to give. It is not the living hand of Plato or Bacon, which points out to him the sanctuary; but the monuments and dead statues of philosophers block up the entrance to the Temple of Wisdom. His mind is made up of the shreds and parings of other thinkers. The body of his philosophic garment is half taken from the gown of Locke, and half from the cassock of Butler; the sleeves are torn from the robe of Leibnitz, and the cape is of the ermine of Shaftesbury; and wearing the cowl of Aquinas, and shod in the sandals of Aristotle, he comes out before the world with the trumpet of Cicero at his lips, the club of Hobbes in one hand, and the mace of Bacon in the other,
Having thus formed his opinions from books, without having nourish ed any predominant feeling or belief
He seems to us to be a man of doubting and qualifying mind, who would willingly find out the best if he had courage to despise the throng, to desert their paths, and boldly go in search of it. He heads the crowd
in the road they are travelling; but he will not seek to lead them in a new direction. Nor is it only in any one particular department of thought that he seeks to support himself by the doctrines of his predecessors, and the prejudices of his contemporaries; in short, to move the future by the rotten lever of the past. It is a propensity which guides and governs him in all his labours. In politics, he is a professed whig; that is, a man who, provided no great and startling improvements are attempted, is perfectly willing that mankind, as they creep onward, should fling off, grain by grain, the load with which they now are burthened though he holds it certain that we are doomed by nature to sweat and groan for ever under by far the larger portion of our present fardels. He will not venture to conclude that the whole of a political system is bad; but his reason and his good feelings tell him that the separate parts are all indefensible. He halts perpetually between two opinions; aud while decidedly a friend to the people, he is not near so certainly an enemy to bad government. He is too wise and too virtuous not to know that reform must begin; but he is too cautious and timid to pronounce how far it shall be allowed to go. What he would do in politics, is all good; but he seems afraid to proceed to extremity, even in improvement. This propensity arises in part from his natural hesitation and weakness of temperament but is strengthened, and in his view sanctioned, by the effects of his historical studies. For he seems to have been very much influenced by the feeling of exclusive respect for the past, which is so apt to creep unconsciously and gradually, like the rust of time upon a coin, over the minds of those who devote themselves chiefly to by-gone ages. They do not see how far the path is open before us, because their eyes are constantly turned backwards; and, from the same cause, they are liable, in moving onward, to stumble
over the slightest impediment. Sir James Mackintosh has obviously escaped (thanks to his speculative and benevolent habit of feeling) from the worst degree of this tendency; and, in charging him with it at all, we are not sure that his attempt to reform the criminal law might not be held up to us as a sufficient and complete answer. But it certainly does seem, that it has acted upon him in a certain degree, in connection with the bent of his moral and metaphysical opinions, to prevent him from hoping, and therefore from attempting, any great amelioration of mankind. He is, moreover, from his habits of research and study, far too much of the professor, to be all that he ought to be of the statesman. With his eloquence, his knowledge of the laws, his station in general opinion, and his seat in Parliament, he might make himself an instrument of the widest good. But, alas! he retreats from the senate to the library, and, when he casually emerges into affairs, he, who might be the guiding star of his country, if he be not a mere partisan, appears as little bet ter than a book-worm.
It is truly wonderful to consider, recognised by all as are the talents and acquirements of Sir James Mackintosh, how little effect he produces upon the public mind. Every body is willing to respect his judgment, and to learn from his knowledge; but the prophet will not speak. He holds a sceptre which he will not wield, and is gifted with a futile supremacy. He is one of the many able men who do nothing, because they cannot do all. He seems to spend his time in storing up informa tion for the "moth and rust to corrupt." He has none of the eager earnestness of mind, which would make him impatient at seeing the great and mingling currents of human life flow past him, without himself plunging into the stream. He forgets that, if he had written teu times as much, it would probably be only a few degrees less precious than what he has accomplished: and the world
would have been influenced nearly ten times more by his abilities and knowledge. He would, doubtless, then have been prevented from heaping into his memory so much of the deeds and sayings of other men; but he would have done more good, and said more truth, himself. He would not so thoroughly have known past history; but he would have been a nobler subject for future historians. Even his opinions on the constitution and laws of the human mind, he has never put forth boldly and formally; nor would it be easy to prove, from either his avowed or his anonymous productions, at what point he stands between Kant and Hume. On one great subject, namely, the essential difference between right and wrong, he has more than once declared himself; and as this point is at present of great interest, and larger masses of belief seem daily ranging themselves on opposite sides, it is one with regard to which we will venture to say a very few words. It is the theory of Sir James Mackintosh that expediency is the foundation of morality, but a large and universal expediency, which embodies itself in rules that admit of no question or compromise. He thus stands among the advocates of "utility," but on the border nearest to their antagonists. His principle is obviously much less liable to fluctuation and uncertainty, than that of the reasoners who, like him, basing their system on expediency, perpetually recur to the first principle of the doctrine, and will never take for granted, however general may be the assent of mankind, that any rule of conduct is right, unless they can demonstrate its beneficial consequence. The whole question, however, is evidently one of fact, and it would be futile to say that a different notion from that of the "Utilitarians" would be more useful than theirs, supposing that, as they pretend, their creed can be proved to be the true one. But on this ground we are content to place the matter; and we are just as certain, as of the existence of our
senses, that there is, in the human mind, a simple and primary idea of the distinction between right and wrong, not produced by experience, but developing itself in proportion to the growth of the mind. We do not say that the contrary belief is false, because it produces the state of moral disease which, we think, we can observe in the greater number of its supporters; but we maintain, that it is at once the result and the evidence, in short, the symptom, of that unhealthy condition. It is one of the characteristics of that mental habit in which there is so much of narrowness both in thought and feeling, and which has so strong a tendency to repress all that there is within us of nobler and more hopeful power. It seems certain that the habitual recurrence to expediency, as the standard of our conduct, must have the tendency to make us less and less moral, and more and more selfsh beings; until it has completely extinguished those sympathies which unite us to all our race, and which never were acted upon uniformly by any one who was accustomed to calculate their re-action upon himself.
That Sir James Mackintoth holds the theory of expediency in such a manner as to diminish his benevolence, we certainly do not believe. Like all the good men who have adopted this system, he probably feels a power which his intellect denies; and it is this which adds all the sanction and glory, which he and they are conscious of, to the relations that connect them with their species. But that his denial of any other basis of moral distinction than expediency has tended very much to cramp the general strain of his speculations, we are just as certain; and we think that the traces of this result, or rather of the character of mind which produced both evils, may be observed in his earliest production. The "Vindicia Gallica" is a very clever book to have been written by a There is in it a very young man. completeness and vigour of reason
ing, and a fulness and almost eloquence of style, which would do credit to any time of life, and justly brought distinction to the youth of Sir James Mackintosh. But there is perhaps in that very nearness to excellence an evidence that there could be no closer approach. A child of three feet high, and of the exact proportions of a man, is a miracle in boyhood; but he will never grow, and the man will be a dwarf. The mind, exhibited in the work in question, is not in the immaturity of greatness, but second-rate power in its highest development. There are in it none of the eager rushings to a truth, which is yet beyond our reach,-none of those unsuccessful graspings at wide principles, and abortive exertions to make manifest those ideas of which as yet we only feel the first stirrings,-none of those defeated attempts, the best warrant of future success, which we find in the earlier works of master intellects. It is not that he has an imperfect view of an extensive field, but that he seems circumscribed by a boundary, within which all is clear to him, but beyoud which he does not attempt to look. There are no chasms, such as in thinking over a
ON A BOAT AT SEA, SEEN FROM THE NEEDLES' LIGHT-HOUSE.
My heart goes with thee, little boat,
That boundless world, a human heart,
And ob methinks 'tis sweet to float
Thou seem'st to have a pulse of life,
Thy sunny sail and tilting prow
But airy though thou seem`st, and light
A toy to young winds given,
subject almost every young man mest have felt that he did not know how to fill up, but which he knew, at the same time, required to be closed by some idea which he could not at the time command. There is nothing of this sort from beginning to end of the book; and therefore a phiesopher might have predicted even then that the writer would never reform a science, or create a system. The department of thought in which, from the time he is understood to have given to it, and from its own exceeding imperfection, he would have been most likely to work out some great regeneration, is the phi losophy of international law. Yet it stands very nearly where it did: and Sir James Mackintosh does not seew even to have attempted to introduce new principles, into a mass, of ruie and custom that is still, in a great degree, what it was made by the necessities or ignorance of our semibarbarous forefathers. He seems to us, in short, to be distinguished chiefly by readiness in accumulating the thoughts of others, by subtlety in discerning differences, and by the greatest power of expression which can exist without any thing of poeti cal imagination.
The sea's white blossom as thou art, Or bubble of its foam,
I see not him thy helm who guides,
Thou gladd'st my gaze, but nought besides,
And yet in thee are hopes and fears, The yearnings Nature gives, Remembrances of joys and tears, Which cling to all that lives,—
And thoughts perhaps of holy mood, And aspirations high,
The inward sense of Truth and Good, And human sympathy;—
The image these of him whose voice Ordain'd the ark should be,Therefore, O little boat, rejoice,God also is with thee.
THERE are no more delightful
or unfailing associations than those afforded by the various operations of the husbandman, and the changes on the fair face of nature. We all know that busy troops of reapers come with the yellow corn; whilst the yellow leaf brings a no less busy train of ploughmen and seedsmen preparing the ground for fresh harvests; that woodbines and wild roses, flaunting in the blossomy hedgerows, give token of the gay bands of haymakers which enliven the meadows; and that the primroses, which begin to unfold their pale stars by the side of the green lanes, bear marks of the slow and weary female processions, the gangs of tired yet talkative bean-setters, who defile twice a day through the intricate mazes of our cross-country roads. These are general associa tions, as well known and as universally recognised as the union of mince-pies and Christmas. I have one, more private and peculiar-one, perhaps, the more strongly impressed on my mind, because the impression may be almost confined to myself. The full flush of violets which, about the middle of March, seldom fails to perfume the whole country, always brings to my recollection one solitary and silent coadjutor of the husbandman's labours, as unlike a violet as possible Isaac Bint, the molecatcher.
I used to meet him every spring, when we lived at our old house, whose park-like paddock, with its finely clumped oaks and elms, and its richly timbered hedgerows, edging into wild, rude, and solemn firplantations, dark, and rough, and hoary, formed for so many years my constant and favourite walk. Here, especially under the great horsechesnut, and where the bank rose high and naked above the lane, crowned only with a tuft of golden 48 ATHENEUM, VOL. 9, 2d series.
broom-here the sweetest and prettiest of wild flowers, whose very name hath a charm, grew like a carpet under one's feet, enamelling the young green grass with their white and purple blossoms, and loading the very air with their delicious fragrancehere I used to come almost every morning, during the violet-tide-and here almost every morning I was sure to meet Isaac Bint.
I think that he fixed himself the more firmly in my memory by his singular discrepancy with the beauty and cheerfulness of the scenery and the season. Isaac is a tall, lean, gloomy personage, with whom the clock of life seems to stand still. He has looked sixty-five for these last twenty years, although his dark hair and beard, and firm manly stride, almost contradict the evidence of his sunken cheeks and deeply lined forehead. The stride is awful: he hath the stalk of a ghost. His whole air and demeanour savour of one that comes from under-ground. His appearance is "of the earth, earthy." His clothes, hands, and face are of the colour of the mould in which he delves. The little round traps which hang behind him over one shoulder, as well as the strings of dead moles which embellish the other, are encrusted with dirt like a tombstone ; and the staff which he plunges into the little hillocks, by which he traces the course of his small quarry, returns a hollow sound, as if tapping on the lid of a coffin. Images of the churchyard come, one does not know how, with his presence. Indeed he does officiate as assistant to the sexton in his capacity of grave-digger, chosen, as it should seen from a natural fitness-a fine sense of congruity in good Joseph Reed, the functionary in question, who felt, without knowing why, that, of all men in the parish, Isaac Bint was best fitted to that solemn office.