« PreviousContinue »
nance that painted every sensation of the soul, and (Term of the Conquest of Timour, or Tamerlane; his his gestures that enforced each expression of the Triumph at Samarcand; his Death on the Road to tongue. In the familiar offices of life he scrupulously China (A.D. 1405); Character and Merits of Timour.] adhered to the grave and ceremonious politeness of his country: his respectful attention to the rich and From the Irtish and Volga to the Persian Gulf, powerful was dignified by his condescension and affa- and from the Ganges to Damascus and the Archipebility to the poorest citizens of Mecca ; the frankness lago, Asia was in the hand of Timour ; his armies of his manner concealed the artifice of his views ; and were invincible, his ambition was boundless, and his the habits of courtesy were imputed to personal friend. zeal might aspire to conquer and convert the Chrisship or universal benevolence. His memory was capa- tian kingdoms of the west, which already trembled at cious and retentive, his wit easy and social, his ima- his name. He touched the utmost verge of the land; gination sublime, his judgment clear, rapid, and but an insuperable though narrow sea rolled between decisive. He possessed the courage both of thought the two continents of Europe and Asia, and the lord and action ; and although his designs might gradu- of so many tomans, or myriads of horse, was not master ally expand with his success, the first idea which he of a single galley. The two passages of the Bosphorus entertained of his divine mission bears the stamp of and Hellespont, of Constantinople and Gallipoli, were an original and superior genius. The son of Abdallah possessed, the one by the Christians, the other by the was educated in the bosom of the noblest race, in the Turks. On this great occasion they forgot the diffe- || use of the purest dialect of Arabia ; and the fluency rence of religion, to act with union and firmness in of his speech was corrected and enhanced by the prac- the cominon cause : the double straits were guarded tice of discreet and seasonable silence. With these with ships and fortifications; and they separately powers of eloquence, Mahomet was an illiterate bar- withheld the transports, which Timour demanded of barian ; his youth had never been instructed in the either nation, under the pretence of attacking their arts of reading and writing ; the common ignorance enemy. At the same time they soothed his pride exempted him from shame or reproach, but he was with tributary gifts and suppliant embassies, and reduced to a narrow circle of existence, and deprived prudently tempted him to retreat with the honours of of those faithful mirrors which reflect to our mind the victory. Soliman, the son of Bajazet, implored his minds of sages and heroes. Yet the book of nature clemency for his father and himself; accepted, by a and of man was open to his view; and some fancy has red patent, the investiture of the kingdom of Romania, been indulged in the political and philosophical ob- which he already held by the sword; and reiterated servations which are ascribed to the Arabian traveller. his ardent wish, of casting himself in person at the He compares the nations and religions of the earth ; feet of the king of the world. The Greek emperor discovers the weakness of the Persian and Roman (either John or Manuel) submitted to pay the same monarchies ; beholds with pity and indignation the tribute which he had stipulated with the Turkish degeneracy of the times ; and resolves to unite, under sultan, and ratified the treaty by an oath of allegiance, one God and one king, the invincible spirit and primi- from which he could absolve his conscience so soon as tive virtues of the Arabs. Our more accurate inquiry the Mogul arms had retired from Anatolia. But the will suggest, that instead of visiting the courts, the fears and fancy of nations ascribed to the ambitious camps, the temples of the east, the two journeys of Tamerlane a new design of vast and romantic comMahomet into Syria were confined to the fairs of passa design of subduing Egypt and Africa, marchBostra and Damascus ; that he was only thirteen years ing from the Nile to the Atlantic Ocean, entering of age when he accompanied the caravan of his uncle, Europe by the straits of Gibraltar, and, after im. and that his duty compelled him to return as soon as posing his yoke on the kingdoms of Christendom, of he had disposed of the merchandise of Cadijah. In returning home by the deserts of Russia and Tartary, these hasty and superficial excursions, the eye of This remote and perhaps imaginary danger was averted genius inight discern some objects invisible to his by the submission of the sultan of Egypt; the honours grosser companions ; some seeds of knowledge might of the prayer and the coin attested at Cairo the sube cast upon a fruitful soil ; but his ignorance of the premacy of Timour; and a rare gift of a giraffe, or Syriac language must have checked his curiosity, and camelopard, and nine ostriches, represented at SamarI cannot perceive in the life or writings of Mahomet cand the tribute of the African world. Our imaginathat his prospect was far extended beyond the limits tion is not less astonished by the portrait of a Mogul of the Arabian world. From every region of that who, in his camp before Smyrna, meditates and alsolitary world the pilgrims of Mecca were annually most accomplishes the invasion of the Chinese empire. assembled, by the calls of devotion and commerce: Timour was urged to this enterprise by national in the free concourse of multitudes, a simple citizen, honour and religious zeal. The torrents which he had in his native tongue, might study the political state shed of Mussulman blood could be expiated only by and character of the tribes, the theory and practice of an equal destruction of the infidels ; and as he now the Jews and Christians. Some useful strangers might stood at the gates of paradise, he might best secure be tempted or forced to implore the rites of hospi- his glorious entrance by demolishing the idols of China, tality; and the enemies of Mahomet have named the founding mosques in every city, and establishing the Jew, the Persian, and the Syrian monk, whom they profession of faith in one God and his prophet Maaccuse of lending their secret aid to the composition homet. The recent expulsion of the house of Zingis of the Koran. Conversation enriches the understand was an insult on the Mogul name; and the disorders ing, but solitude is the school of genius; and the uni- of the empire afforded the fairest opportunity for reformity of a work denotes the hand of a single artist. venge. The illustrious Hongvou, founder of the From his earliest youth Mahomet was addicted to dynasty of Ming, died four years before the battle of religious contemplation : each year, during the month | Angora ; and his grandson, a weak and unfortunate of Ramadan, he withdrew from the world and from youth, was burnt in his palace, after a million of the arms of Cadijah : in the cave of Hera, three miles Chinese had perished in the civil war. Before he from Mecca, he consulted the spirit of fraud or enthu- eracuated Anatolia, Timour despatched beyond the siasm, whose abode is not in the heavens but in the Sihoon a numerous army, or rather colony, of his old mind of the prophet. The faith which, under the and new subjects, to open the road, to subdue the name of Islam, he preached to his family and nation, pagan Calmucks and Mungals, and to found cities is compounded of an eternal truth and a necessary and magazines in the desert; and by the diligence of fiction—that there is only one God, and that Mahomet his lieutenant, he soon received a perfect map and is the apostle of God.
description of the unknown regions, from the source
of the Irtish to the wall of China. During these pre- gree by the praise or confession of his bitterest enemies. parations, the emperor achieved the final conquest of Although he was lame of a hand and foot, his form Georgia, passed the winter on the banks of the and stature were not unworthy of his rank; and his Araxes, appeased the troubles of Persia, and slowly vigorous health, so essential to himself and to the returned to his capital, after a campaign of four years world, was corroborated by temperance and exercise. and nine months.
In his familiar discourse he was grave and modest, On the throne of Samarcand, he displayed in a and if he was ignorant of the Arabic language, he short repose his magnificence and power ; listened to spoke with fluency and elegance the Persian and the complaints of the people, distributed a just mea- Turkish idioms. It was his delight to converse with sure of rewards and punishments, employed his riches the learned on topics of history and science; and the in the architecture of palaces and temples, and gave amusement of his leisure hours was the game of chess, audience to the ambassadors of Egypt, Arabia, India, which he improved or corrupted with new refinements. Tartary, Russia, and Spain, the last of whom pre- In his religion he was a zealous, though not perhaps sented a suit of tapestry which eclipsed the pencil of an orthodox, Mussulman; but his sound understandthe oriental artists. The marriage of six of the em-ing may tempt us to believe that a superstitious reverperor's grandsons was esteemed an act of religion as ence for omens and prophesies, for saints and astrowell as of paternal tenderness; and the pomp of the logers, was only affected as an instrument of policy. ancient caliphs was revived in their nuptials. They in the government of a vast empire he stood alone were celebrated in the gardens of Canighul, decorated and absolute, without a rebel to oppose his power, a with innumerable tents and pavilions, which displayed favourite to seduce his affections, or a minister to the luxury of a great city and the spoils of a victo- mislead his judgment. It was his firmest maxim,
Whole forests were cut down to supply that, whatever might be the consequence, the word of fuel for the kitchens; the plain was spread with pyra- the prince should never be disputed or recalled ; but mids of meat and vases every liquor, to which his foes have maliciously observed, that the commands thousands of guests were courteously invited ; the of anger and destruction were more strictly executed orders of the state, and the nations of the earth, were than those of beneficence and favour. His sons and marshalled at the royal banquet; nor were the am- grandsons, of whom Timour left six-and-thirty at his bassadors of Europe (says the haughty Persian) ex- decease, were his first and most submissive subjects ; cluded from the feast ; since even the casses, the and whenever they deviated from their duty, they smallest of fish, find their place in the ocean. The were corrected, according to the laws of Zingis, with public joy was testified by illuminations and mas- the bastonnade, and afterwards restored to honour and querades; the trades of Samarcand passed in review ; command. Perhaps his heart was not devoid of the and every trade was emulous to execute some quaint social virtues ; perhaps he was not incapable of loving device, some marvellous pageant, with the materials his friends and pardoning his enemies; but the rules of their peculiar art. After the marriage-contracts of morality are founded on the public interest; and had been ratified by the cadhis, the bridegrooms and it may be sufficient to applaud the wisdom of a their brides retired to the nuptial chambers ; nine monarch for the liberality by which he is not imtimes, according to the Asiatic fashion, they were poverished, and for the justice by which he is dressed and undressed ; and at each change of apparel, strengthened and enriched. To maintain the harpearls and rubies were showered on their heads, and mony of authority and obedience, to chastise the contemptuously abandoned to their attendants. A proud, to protect the weak, to reward the deserving, general indulgence was proclaimed ; every law was to banish vice and idleness from his dominions, to relaxed, every pleasure was allowed ; the people were secure the traveller and merchant, to restrain the free, the sovereign was idle ; and the historian of depredations of the soldier, to cherish the labours of Timour may remark, that, after devoting fifty years the husbandman, to encourage industry and learning, to the attainment of empire, the only happy period and, by an equal and moderate assessment, to inof his life was the two months in which he ceased to crease the revenue without increasing the taxes, are exercise his power. But he was soon awakened to indeed the duties a prince; but, in the discharge the cares of government and war. The standard of these duties, he finds an ample and immediate rewas unfurled for the invasion of China; the emirs compense. Timour might boast that, at his accession made their report of two hundred thousand, the select to the throne, Asia was the prey of anarchy and and veteran soldiers of Iran and Touran ; their bag: rapine, whilst under his prosperous monarchy a child, gage and provisions were transported by five hundred fearless and unhurt, might carry a purse of gold from great wagons, and an immense train of horses and the east to the west. Such was his confidence of camels ; and the troops might prepare for a long merit, that from this reformation he derived an absence, since more than six months were employed excuse for his victories, and a title to universal in the tranquil journey of a caravan from Samarcand dominion. The four following observations will to Pekin. Neither age nor the severity of the winter serve to appreciate his claim to the public gratitude ; could retard the impatience of Timour; he mounted and perhaps we shall conclude, that the Mogul emon horseback, passed the Sihoon on the ice, marched peror was rather the scourge than the benefactor of seventy-six parasangs (three hundred miles) from his mankind. 1. If some partial disorders, some local capital, and pitched his last camp in the neighbour- oppressions, were healed by the sword of Timour, the hood of Otrar, where he was expected by the angel of remedy was far more pernicious than the disease. By death. Fatigue, and the indiscreet use of iced water, their rapine, cruelty, and discord, the petty tyrants accelerated the progress of his fever; and the con- of Persia might afflict their subjects; but whole queror of Asia expired in the seventieth year of his nations were crushed under the footsteps of the reage, thirty-five years after he had ascended the throne former. The ground which had been occupied by of Zagatai. His designs were lost; his armies were fourishing cities was often marked by his abominable disbanded; China was saved ; and fourteen years trophies by columns or pyramids of human heads. after his decease, the most powerful of his children Astracan, Carizme, Delhi, Ispahan, Bagdad, Aleppo, sent an embassy of friendship and commerce to the Damascus, Boursa, Smyrna, and a thousand others, court of Pekin.
were sacked, or burned, or utterly destroyed in his The fame of Timour has pervaded the east and presence, and by his troops ; and perhaps his conWest; his posterity is still invested with the imperial science would have been startled if a priest or philotitle; and the admiration of his subjects, who revered sopher had dared to number the millions of victims him almost as a deity, may be justified in some de- whom he had sacrificed to the establishment of peace
and order. 2. His most destructive wars were rather reward, the talents of a Christian engineer. The inroads than conquests. He invaded Turkestan, Genoese, who transported Amurath into Europe, must Kipzak, Russia, Hindostan, Syria, Anatolia, Armenia, be accused as his preceptors; and it was probably by and Georgia, without a hope or a desire of preserv- their hands that his cannon was cast and directed at ing those distant provinces. From thence he departed the siege of Constantinople. The.first attempt was laden with spoil; but he left behind him neither indeed unsuccessful; but in the general warfare of troops to awe the contumacious, nor magistrates to the age, the advantage was on their side who were protect the obedient natives. When he had broken most commonly the assailants; for a while the prothe fabric of their ancient government, he abandoned portion of the attack and defence was suspended ; and them to the evils which his invasion had aggravated this thundering artillery was pointed against the walls or caused; nor were these evils compensated by any and towers which had been erected only to resist the present or possible benefits. 3. The kingdoms of less potent engines of antiquity. By the Venetians, Transoxiana and Persia were the proper field which the use of gunpowder was communicated without he laboured to cultivate and adorn, as the perpetual reproach to the sultans of Egypt and Persia, their inheritance of his family. But his peaceful labours allies against the Ottoman power; the secret was soon were often interrupted, and sometimes blasted, by the propagated to the extremities of Asia ; and the advanabsence of the conqueror.
While he triumphed on tage of the European was confined to his easy ricthe Volga or the Ganges, his servants, and even histories over the savages of the new world. If we consons, forgot their inaster and their duty. The public trast the rapid progress of this mischievous discovery and private injuries were poorly redressed by the with the slow and laborious advances of reason, science, tardy rigour of inquiry and punishment; and we must and the arts of peace, a philosopher, according to his be content to praise the institutions of Timour as the temper, will laugh or weep at the folly of mankind. specious idea of a perfect monarchy. 4. Whatsoever might be the blessings of his administration, they evaporated with his life. To reign, rather than to (Letter of Gibbon to Mrs Porten- Account of his Mode govern, was the ambition of his children and grand
of Life at Lausanne.] children, the enemies of each other and of the people. A fragment of the empire was upheld with some glory
December 31, 1783 by Sharokh, his youngest son ; but after his decease, The unfortunate are loud and loquacious in their the scene was again involved in darkness and blood; complaints, but real happiness is content with its own and before the end of a century, Transoxiana and silent enjoyment; and if that happiness is of a quiet Persia were trampled by the Uzbecks from the north, uniform kind, we suffer days and weeks to elapse and the Turkmans of the black and white sheep. The without communicating our sensations to a distant race of Timour would have been extinct, if a hero, friend. By you, therefore, whose temper and under. his descendant in the fifth degree, had not fled before standing have extracted from human life, on every the Uzbek arms to the conquest of Hindostan. His occasion, the best and most comfortable ingredients, successors (the great Moguls) extended their sway my silence will always be interpreted as an evidence from the mountains of Cashmir to Cape Comorin, and of content, and you would only be alarmed (the danger from Candabar to the Gulf of Bengal. Since the reign is not at hand) by the too frequent repetition of my of Aurungzebe, their empire has been dissolved ; their letters. Perhaps I should have continued to slumber, treasures of Delhi have been rifled by a Persian I don't know how long, had I not been awakened by robber; and the richest of their kingdoms is now the anxiety which you express in your last letter. ** possessed by a company of Christian merchants, of a From this base subject I descend to one which more remote island in the northern ocean.
seriously and strongly engages your thoughts-the
consideration of my health and happiness. And you [Invention and Use of Gunpowder.]
will give me credit when I assure you, with sincerity,
that I have not repented a single moment of the step The only hope of salvation for the Greek empire which I have taken, and that I only regret the not and the adjacent kingdoms, would have been some having executed the same design two, or five, or even more powerful weapon, some discovery in the art of ten years ago. By this time I might have returned war, that should give them a decisive superiority over independent and rich to my native country; I should their Turkish foes. Such a weapon was in their have escaped many disagreeable events that have hands; such a discovery had been made in the criti- happened in the meanwhile, and I should have avoided cal moment of their fate. The chemists of China or the parliamentary life, which experience has proved Europe had found, by casual or elaborate experiments, to be neither suitable to my temper nor conducive to that a mixture of saltpetre, sulphur, and charcoal, my fortune. In speaking of the happiness which I produces, with a spark of fire, a tremendous explosion. enjoy, you will agree with me in giving the preference It was soon observed, that if the expansive force were to a sincere and sensible friend ; and though you compressed in a strong tube, a ball of stone or iron cannot discern the full extent of his merit, you will might be expelled with irresistible and destructive easily believe that Deyverdun is the man. Perhaps velocity. The precise era of the invention and appli- two persons so perfectly fitted to live together were cation of gunpowder is involved in doubtful traditions never formed by nature and education. We have and equivocal language ; yet we may clearly discern both read and seen a great variety of objects ; the that it was known before the middle of the fourteenth lights and shades of our different characters are hapcentury; and that before the end of the same, the use pily blended ; and a friendship of thirty years bas of artillery in battles and sieges, by sea and land, was taught us to enjoy our mutual advantages, and to familiar to the states of Germany, Italy, Spain, support our unavoidable imperfections. In love and France, and England. The priority of nations is of marriage some harsh sounds will sometimes interrupt small account; none could derive any exclusive bene- the harmony, and in the course of time, like our fit from their previous or superior knowledge; and in neighbours, we must expect some disagreeable mothe common improvement, they stood on the same ments; but confidence and freedom are the two pillars level of relative power and military science. Nor was of our union, and I am much mistaken if the building it possible to circumscribe the secret within the pale be not solid and comfortable. * In this season of the church ; it was disclosed to the Turks by the I rise (not at four in the morning, but) a little before treachery of apostates and the selfish policy of rivals ; eight; at nine I am called from my study to break. and the sultans had sense to adopt, and wealth to fast, which I always perform alone, in the English
style; and, with the aid of Caplin," I perceive no dif- This inconstancy weakens the energies of the mind, ference between Lausanne and Bentinck Street. Our creates in it a dislike to application, and even robs it mornings are usually passed in separate studies; we of the advantages of natural good sense. never approach each other's door without a previous Yet let us avoid the contrary extreme, and respect message, or thrice knocking, and my apartment is method, without rendering ourselves its slaves. While already sacred and formidable to strangers. I dress we propose an end in our reading, let not this end be at half past one, and at two (an early hour, to which too remote; and when once we have attained it, let I am not perfectly reconciled) we sit down to dinner. our attention be directed to a different subject. InWe have hired a female cook, well skilled in her pro- constancy weakens the understanding; a long and exfession, and accustomed to the taste of every nation; clusive application to a single object hardens and 43, for instance, we had excellent mince-pies yester- contracts it. Our ideas no longer change easily into day. After dinner and the departure of our company, a different channel, and the course of reading to which one, two, or three friends—we read together some amus- we have too long accustomed ourselves is the only one ing book, or play at chess, or retire to our rooms, or that we can pursue with pleasure. make visits, or go to the coffee-house. Between six We ought, besides, to be careful not to make the and seven the assemblies begin, and I am oppressed order of our thoughts subservient to that of our only with their number and variety. Whist, at shil. subjects; this would be to sacrifice the principal to lings or half-crowns, is the game I generally play, and the accessory. The use of our reading is to aid I play three rubbers with pleasure. Between nine and us in thinking. The perusal of a particular work ten we withdraw to our bread and cheese, and friendly gives birth, perhaps, to ideas unconnected with the converse, which sends us to bed at eleven ; but these subject of which it treats. I wish to pursue these sober hours are too often interrupted by private or ideas; they withdraw me from my proposed plan of numerous suppers, which I have not the courage to reading, and throw me into a new track, and from resist, though I practise a laudable abstinence at the thence, perhaps, into a second and a third. At best furnished tables. Such is the skeleton of my length I begin to perceive whither my researches life; it is impossible to communicate a perfect idea tend. Their result, perhaps, may be profitable; it of the vital and substantial parts, the characters of is worth while to try; whereas, had I followed the the men and women with whom í have very easily high road, I should not have been able, at the end connected myself in looser and closer bonds, accord- of my long journey, to retrace the progress of my ing to their inclination and my own. If I do not thoughts. deceive myself, and if Deyverdun does not flatter me, This plan of reading is not applicable to our
early I am already a general favourite; and as our likings studies, since the severest method is scarcely sufficient and dislikes are commonly mutual, I am equally to make us conceive objects altogether new. Neither satisfied with the freedom and elegance of manners, can it be adopted by those who read in order to write, and (after proper allowances and exceptions) with the and who ought to dwell on their subject till they worthy and amiable qualities of many individuals. have sounded its depths. These reflections, however, The autumn has been beautiful, and the winter I do not absolutely warrant. On the supposition that hitherto mild, but in January we must expect some they are just, they may be so, perhaps, for myself severe frost. Instead of rolling in a coach, I walk only. The constitution of minds differs like that of the streets, wrapped up in a fur cloak; but this exer- bodies; the same regimen will not suit all. Each cise is wholesome, and, except an accidental fit of the individual ought to study his own. gout of a few days, I never enjoyed better health. I To read with attention, exactly to define the exam no longer in Pavilliard's house, where I was pressions of our author, never to admit a conclusion almost starved with cold and hunger, and you may without comprehending its reason, often to pause, rebe assured that I now enjoy every benefit of comfort, flect, and interrogate ourselves, these are so many plenty, and even decent luxury. You wish me advices which it is easy to give, but difficult to follow, happy ; acknowledge that such a life is more con- The same may be said of that ost evangelical ducive to happiness than five nights in the week maxim of forgetting friends, country, religion, of passed in the House of Commons, or five mornings giving merit its due praise, and embracing truth spent at the Custom-house.
wherever it is to be found.
But what ought we to read ? Each individual [Remarks on Reading.)
must answer this question for himself, agreeably to
the object of his studies. The only general precept (These remarks form the preface to a series of memoranda that I would venture to give, is that of Pliny, 'to read begun by Gibbon in 1761, under the title of Abstract of my much, rather than many things ;' to make a careful Readings.]
selection of the best works, and to render them fami* Reading is to the mind,' said the Duke of Vivonne liar to us by attentive and repeated perusals. Without to Louis XIV., what your partridges are to my chops.' expatiating on the authors so generally known and It is, in fact, the nourishment of the mind; for by approved, I would simply observe, that in matters of reading we know our Creator, his works, ourselves reasoning, the best are those who have augmented the chiefly, and our fellow-creatures. But this nourish- number of useful truths; who have discovered truths, ment is easily converted into poison. Salmasius had of whatever nature they may be; in one word, those tead as much as Grotius, perhaps more ; but their bold spirits who, quitting the beaten track, prefer being different modes of reading made the one an en- in the wrong alone, to being in the right with the lightened philosopher, and the other, to speak multitude. Such authors increase the number of our plainly
, a pedant, puffed up with a 'useless eru- ideas, and even their mistakes are useful to their sucdition.
With all the respect due to Mr Locke, I Let us read with method, and propose to ourselves would not, however, neglect the works of those acaan end to which all our studies may point. Through demicians who destroy errors without hoping to subneglect of this rule, gross ignorance often disgraces stitute truth in their stead. In works of fancy, great readers ; who, by skipping hastily and irregu- invention ought to bear away the palm ; chiefly that larly from one subject to another, render themselves invention which creates a new kind of writing; and incapable of combining their ideas. So many de- next, that which displays the charms of novelty in tached parcels of knowledge cannot form a whole. its subject, characters, situation, pictures, thoughts,
and sentiments. Yet this invention will miss its • His English valet de chambre. effect, unless it be accompanied with a genius capable
of adapting itself to every variety of the subject-suc- and ideas. From the structure of our minds he concessively sublime, pathetic, flowery, majestic, and tended that we must for ever dwell in ignorance; and playful; and with a judgment which admits nothing thus, by perplexing the relations of cause and effect, indecorous, and a style which expresses well what he boldly aimed to introduce a universal scepticism, ever ought to be said. As to compilations which are and to pour a more than Egyptian darkness into the intended merely to treasure up the thoughts of others, whole region of morals.' The Treatise on Human I ask whether they are written with perspicuity, Nature' was afterwards re-cast and re-published whether superfluities are lopped off, and dispersed ob- under the title of An Inquiry concerning the Human servations skilfully collected ; and agreeably to my Understanding; but it still failed to attract attention. answers to those questions, I estimate the merit of He was now, however, known as a philosophical i such performances.
writer by his Essays, Moral, Political, and Literary, published in 1742; a miscellany of thoughts at once
original, and calculated for popularity. The other METAPHYSICAL WRITERS.
metaphysical works of Hume are, an Inquiry con
cerning the Principles of Morals, the Natural History The public taste has been almost wholly withdrawn of Religion, and Dialogues on Natural Religion, which from metaphysical pursuits, which at this time con
were not published till after his death. The moral stituted a favourite study with men of letters. Ample system of Hume, that the virtue of actions depends scope was given for ingenious speculation in the in- wholly upon their utility, has been often combated, ductive philosophy of the mind; and the example of and is generally held to be successfully refuted by a few great names, each connected with some parti- Brown. In his own day, Dr Adam Smith thus cular theory of moral science, kept alive a zeal for ridiculed the doctrine. It seems impossible," he such minute and often fanciful inquiries. In the says, that the approbation of virtue should be a higher branch of ethics, honourable service was ren sentiment of the same kind with that by which we dered by Bishop Butler, but it was in Scotland that approve of a convenient and well-contrived buildspeculative philosophy obtained most favour and ing; or that we should have no other reason for celebrity. After a long interval of a century and praising a man than for that for which we commend a half, DR FRANCIS HUTCHESON (1694-1747) intro- à chest of drawers ! Mr Hume's theory as to duced into Scotland a taste for metaphysics, which, miracles, that there was more probability in the in the sixteenth century, had prevailed to a great error or bad faith of the reporter than in any inextent in the northern universities. Hutcheson was
terference with the ordinary laws of nature, which a native of Ireland, but studied in the university of the observations of scientific men show to be unGlasgow for six years, after which he returned to swerving, was met, to the entire satisfaction of the his native country, and kept an academy in Dublin. public, by the able disquisition of Dr George Camp. About the year 1726 he published his Inquiry into bell, whose leading argument in reply was, that we Beauty and Virtue, and his reputation was so high have equally to trust to human testimony for an that he was called to be professor of moral philo- account of those laws, as for a history of the transsophy in Glasgow in the year 1729. His great work, actions which are considered to be an exception a System of Moral Philosophy, did not appear till after from them. In drawing his metaphysical theories his death, when it was published in two volumes, and distinctions, Hume seems to have been unmoved quarto, by his son. The rudiments of his philosophy by any consideration of consequences. He saw that were borrowed from Shaftesbury, but he introduced they led to universal scepticism—to doubts that a new term, the moral sense, into the metaphysical would not only shake all inductive science to pieces, vocabulary, and assigned to it a sphere of consider- but would put a stop to the whole business of life'able importance. With him the moral sense was a
to the absurd contradiction in terms, 'a belief that capacity of perceiving moral qualities in action, there can be no belief'—but his love of theory and which excite what he called ideas of those qualities, paradox, his philosophical acuteness and subtlety, in the same manner as external things give us not involved him in the maze of scepticism, and he was merely pain or pleasure, but notions or ideas of hard
content to be for ever in doubt. It is at the same ness, form, and colour.' We agree with Dr Brown time to be admitted, in favour of this remarkable man, in considering this a great error; a moral sense con- that a genuine love of letters and of philosophy,' sidered strictly and truly a sense, as much so as any and an honourable desire of distinction in these of those which are the source of our direct external walks—which had been his predominating sentiment perceptions, and not a state or act of the understand and motive from his earliest years, to the exclusion ing, seems a purely fanciful hypothesis. The an- of more vulgar though dazzling ambitions—had procient doctrine, that virtue consists in benevolence, bably a large concern in misleading him. In matters was supported by Hutcheson with much acuteness ; strictly philosophical, his thoughts were original but when he asserts that even the approbation of and profound, and to him it might not be difficult to our own conscience diminishes the merit of a bene
trace the origin of several ideas which have since volent action, we instinctively reject his theory as
been more fully elaborated, and exercised no small unnatural and visionary. On account of these para- influence on human affairs. doxes, Sir James Mackintosh charges Hutcheson with confounding the theory of moral sentiments
[On Delicacy of Taste.] with the criterion of moral actions, but bears testi
[From Hume's *Essays.') mony to the ingenuity of his views, and the elegant simplicity of his language.
Nothing is so improving to the temper as the study of the beauties either of poetry, eloquence, music, or painting. They give a certain elegance of sentiment
to which the rest of mankind are strangers. The The system of Idealism, promulgated by Berke
* Of this ruling passion of Hume we have the following outley and the
writings of Hutcheson, led to the first burst in his account of the reign of James 1.: Such a supeliterary production of DAVID HUME-his Treatise riority do the pursuits of literature possess above every other on Human Nature, published in 1738. The leading occupation, that even he who attains but a mediocrity in them, doctrine of Hume is, that all the objects of our merits the pre-eminence above those that excel the most in the knowledge are divided in two classes—impressions common and vulgar professions.'